Monday, December 31, 2007

Serious annoyance

So. I'm playing scrabble on facebook with a guy I dated a few times back when he was working for the John Edwards for President campaign, oh, 4 years ago or so. He lives in NYC now.

He just had an 80 point word. Used all his letters, a triple word score and maybe another triple word score. If the triple word score tile was already there, does that count again if he uses that?

And it's NOT SPELLED RIGHT! (OK, it's technically a variation, allowed for some unknown reason, by either the SOWPODS or TWL).

ANUERISM! Spellcheck thinks it's wrong!! FUCKER! Google says: Did you mean aneurysm?

This means war, but my tiles suuuuuuuuck.


An overview:

1) got rid of evil roommate
2) got new, good job
3) made two rockin' 4'x10' garden beds
4) made a worm bin and got some worms.
5) met lots of good new friends, both near and far*.
6) made or continued connections with others who I expect and or hope to meet at some point**.
7) kept up with old friends, not all of whom are bloggers, and so are not referenced, but you know who you are! (I could do better with this, though!)
8) Participated in a couple of cool local eating events.
9) Established my first garden!
10) Got new roommate. The good one.
11) Struggled with mental health, self-doubt, insecurities, loneliness, figurative paralysis and slovenliness. What's new?! :-)
12) Discovered my favorite type of beer.
13) Birded, but not as much as I'd like to.
14) Celebrated one year post quitting smoking, and apparently forgot to blog it.
15) Pined after having a dog, but ultimately decided I am not in a situation where I can do right by it.
16) Continued following issues that matter to me, and did something about them.
17) Probably a lot of other things I can't remember.

As far as goals for 2008, I think the main one will be to address the figurative paralysis of procrastination that often keeps me from doing what I'd like to and need to do.

What about you?


*This one is giving birth to her second child today! A son! Wish her health and luck! On top of it, her husband and I have known each other basically since birth, because our fathers were best friends from childhood. And Ms. Sitting Still and I made the connection via BLOGGING!

**BONUS! One might happen today!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

MUCH better

But still cold! It's amazing what comfort home brings; both homes, really. But coming home to my house with my stuff and my zone, and my agenda is way less stressful. Phew!


I'm back in NC.

IT'S RAINING!! Really, really hard!

I have eensy cauliflowers! I have eensy broccolis! The onions are coming up! The rye covercrop is coming up!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Annie's Favorite Trick


i'm cold. i don't want to be cold anymore. i don't want to be cold. it's too cold. maybe i should crawl back into bed. cold.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Forgive the spelling...

Wanna hear something depressing?

I was listening to NPR today, and one of the commenters/hosts/whatever asked the other one what s/he thought about the Jena 6 situation, given that the latter was African-American. I think Host 1 framed it in a "what have y'all been hearing around dinner tables" kind of way. Host 2 answered, and I recall being a) annoyed on Host 2's behalf for being treated like THE speaker for the African-American community and b) surprised at my own reaction to learning Host 2's race.

I guess with radio I really don't think about the person unless they have a non-standard voice or name or both.

Silvia Pugioli (if that's how it's spelled) is one that DOES stand out. I picture her with long, grey-flecked hair, tied back and with a scarf on one shoulder folded in a triangle. She's olive-skinned and doesn't much do makeup. Age 55ish.

There's also a Latina woman who doesn't anglicize the pronunciation of her name. I think she's based in California. I could google it, but that would take too much effort, and effort is one thing I'm lacking right now. I perceive her as younger--30s. (Shit. It bothered me too much. I'm referring to Lourdes Garcia-Navarro).

Diane Rheem (See? Radio makes you illiterate, too! I have no idea how any of these names are written) has a distinctive voice, as does the guy who does The Connection, oops I mean The Story--Dick Gordon, innit? Karl Castle, too.

I have no idea what any of them look like. I felt weird for not knowing that Host 2 was black. I felt bad that I lacking other identifying information I was assuming all of these people were white. (I also picture them as beautiful, despite the phrase a face made for radio). And they almost without exception are in their 50s. Not Karl Castle, he's older. As an aside, I'm purposely NOT looking names up for spelling, in order to make a point, and it will annoy me if you "correct" me. I'll likely look them up myself, to try to alleviate the extra-super annoyance I'm already feeling. (Thanks, Current Strong Bout of Depression!)

I haven't gotten to the depressing part yet. That came when I googleimagesearched Host 2 to see what s/he looked like.

Way too many sites linking to a picture of Host 2 were racist, bigoted, right wing, wackjob outfits. I know NPR is considered lefty among the freaky conservative set, but this host is being attacked mostly just for being black. I know it happens. I guess I just have been successful in avoiding people and places that are so fucked up as to impugn someone based on race. These websites felt purely evil...I wanted to wash my hands afterwards, I felt so dirty.

I just went back to see if my emotional memory of this imagesearch matched with my currently cooler head. It doesn't. In fact, it sounds like this host is pretty much reviled by sectors in both the white and black communities.

I guess my point is that racial issues are weird and people who judge based on race piss me off. And that it pisses me off about myself that I do it, too, in assuming whiteness based on name and voice only. It's a little thing, and I'm not exactly down on myself about it, but it did piss me off about the world.

But then again, I'm either pissed off, overwhelmed, pissing others off, fleeing personal interaction, extremely sensitive, and/or crying these days.

Out the Front Door

There's more coming. People are hunkering down tonight.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

For Jerrypants, Marianne, and the Sprog


This made me smile

This is a mug I have. It's my fave, because just as Pete is called Pedro, I am sometimes called Juan, or Little Juan. However, my mom just called me Shorthair. The nicknames, they don't cease in this family.

From Here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I've not been feeling the sad way. Mom mentioned today that I was being really negative, and I was. I've also had some major irritability, which I hope I've been containing. No need for others to suffer, but I've probably not been doing very well. I already mentioned the increased sleep. Nothing appeals to me, really. Sleep? Eh. Food? Eh. Shopping? Eh. Read? Eh. TV? Eh. Movie? Eh. Internet? Eh. I wish I had some binocs. Maybe I'll take a walk tomorrow with Stella, Annie's dog. Find a dog park or something and really tire her out.

I lost it the other night to a friend over IM. I'd had too much of that damn beer-keg beer, and it made me super weepy. So I wept about my state of being. It hurt to even think about those who love me, in list form, which was what my friend was suggesting. It made me sad. I'm not sure why it made me sad, because there are a lot of people on the list, but I'm tearing up again about it even as I write this. It was just profoundly sad to be having to list the people who love you, I guess.

I slept during the day today. I was uncomfortably cold and so crawled into bed. I lay there and the world just seemed really, really bleak. I think it must have been about 2 when I went to bed. I woke up as night was falling. Mom and Pedro had some kind of business meeting, so I watched TV. God, TV sucks. I'm getting ready to go back to bed. There's nothing else that sounds good, and sleep is less about sounding good than it is about having a way to pass the time that doesn't hurt. Oh, except I did have bad dreams during my nap.

I don't know how to talk about this to people in person when it's this bad. I hate it. I think it has to be just as hard for others. I mean, I feel guilty expressing what I'm feeling because it's SO HATEFUL to myself. For example, I just put a "depression" tag down there. Just as I typed in "depression" thoughts flitted through my head about how there should really be a whole lot more tags in there, like loser, stupid, boring, ugly etc etc etc etc. I'm ashamed.

It's worse at night. I'll wake up feeling a little better. There's always coffee to look forward to.

p.s. Mom? I don't want to talk about it. There's no cause. It just IS.

Wherein I risk melting my laptop trying to get the correct angle.

Breakfast: cabbage pierogis from The Pierogi Place. 83 Miles.

Final product:

A few of my favorite things

I do look at the ways people get to this blog; mostly it's a small group of people who live near me or who know me already. But, as other who blog can explain, sometimes people get to you via web searches.

They've not been particularly interesting until today.

For my amusement, here's the list:

#1 result for "Critical Assholes"
#1 result for "Stew funny"
#2 result for "mexican stew washes away sin"


I think I mentioned (or else I just thought about it a lot) that the sun doesn't rise here until VERY late--8:30 a.m. is when it truly could be considered light out. It makes a lot of sense, but I hadn't thought about it before. In the summer, sunsets are late late late. 10:00 p.m., if you can believe it. Westernmost part of the Eastern timezone, combined with being pretty far north will do that.

This is on my mind because I've been sleeping the sleep of the dead; I'm in bed by 7,8,9 and never awake before 7. Today the light woke me up, and I know I got up in the night to pee at 8:56 p.m.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Here's the thing; they're rarely spot on for the person you wanted to give them to. They're rarely just right for you.

Kids get hyped up galore and seem to lose all manners entirely. "I don't really like it, but thanks anyway." That was a blast. I didn't see even one of the three kids get a gift they liked. It was a study in overstimulation followed by disappointment followed by a crash. I'm waiting on that last one, but I know it will happen.

Mom and Pedro both have a stomach virus. Mom is upstairs unable to move, and Pete is down with the kids and my grandma while the present opening happens. Mom somehow managed to make the twice-baked potatoes before she took to bed, but it was up to me to make the beef tenderloin roast.

No pressure.

Pedro figured out the fancy schmancy oven I'd never worked with. The tenderloin was tied up, so it was just a matter of hoping the oven didn't overcook the roast, seasoning it, and taking it out after 15 minutes on high to dress it with brandy, shallots, rosemary and green onions, and then letting it cook the rest of the way. It was decent, but there were no truly rare parts. There were, however, some beautiful medium rare sections of yumminess.

The kids didn't eat it, I wolfed it all down, Annie was busy fielding the "why can't we open presents NOW" questions; it was hardly a restful Christmas Eve.

Oh wait. The boys DID bring us some Christmas Wafer from Christmas Eve Mass. I'd never seen it before and it was really funny. Basically it's that communion wafer, stamped with pictures of Christmas scenes. Another high point was when my sweet Karen IMed me and we chatted with our webcams on. I couldn't get the boys out of my lap or stop them from making funny faces. K showed off her two beautiful sprogs. When I was taking my Grandma home after the festivities, she realized that K could SEE her.

I started this last night; I'm finishing it this morning.

I'm making mom some rice (she's on the BRAT diet now), and then I'm heading over to Annie's for brunch.


The beer didn't make it long enough to have frozen, thank GAWD. But now it's entirely gone, sniff. As my sister once said as an 8th grader on a trip to Spain, in a resigned tone of voice, "Oh well, wine again..."

I've confiscated/rescued a bottle of cherry wine from the beer fridge that looks to be either tasty in its sweetness or horrible in its attempt to be real wine. I hope it has embraced its cherryness. We'll see when I get back from Dad's house.

We had a lot of power outages in this area last night because of the wind, but not so much snow. I'll have all-wheel drive with brand new tires and stability control to make it out into the hinterlands where my father lives, and then back in time for the traditional dinner my mumma makes. Then it's time to try to fool the kids into thinking that Santa managed to come early so we can open presents.

Tomorrow is a brunch at my sister's and then a big ham dinner here at Mom's. Overeating is par for the course here Chez StewFamily during this season.

For those of you following the cookie saga, I bought my mom a Springerle rolling pin as an extra xmas gift and made her open it early. I'd been gifted hers, and then I couldn't find it when she wanted it brought home. Now we have cookies! Whee!

Red-breasted nuthatches are the most exciting bird so far.

Here are some pictures of the family for your pleasure (but mostly for mine).

Liam, whose favorite color is orange because of his hair, winking for the camera. Age 5.

My sister and I, on her birthday; not the best picture of us.

Conor, aged 9.4, being a total goofball. Par for the course.

Pedro and I.

Mumma and I! We're so cute, aren't we?

Ian, aged 9.4 as well, putting up with me grudgingly. "Aunt Stew, I hate pictures."

Liam being sweet.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Porch Beer and other problems.

I'm a little worried about the beer. I mean, I can't drink it too too fast, because it's 7% alcohol, and MAN that is a kick in the pants. It's already losing some fizz, and I'm not real psyched about that, but it's not my main concern at the moment.

The problem is, you see, that the temperature has dropped something like 9 degrees in 20 minutes and is getting lower. The day began at 51ºF and will end up at 18º or so. I'm worried that the porch beer will freeze.

The wind is blowing so hard that the (fat!) squirrels are barely able to hang on to the trees, and the bushes near the feeder are full of chickadees (black-capped, not Carolina) with messy feathers. The back screen door, despite being tightly fastened, is fighting hard not to be sucked open.

They're expecting light snow; just 3-6", but the roads that had all melted are frozen over now to black ice. I'm supposed to go to my dad's house for dinner tonight, but I've kind of lost my winter driving mojo, I'm afraid. And the winter weather advisory reports that the gust of wind up to 50 mph will create "near blizzard" conditions. Um...not driving in that. Maybe I'll see if I can go out there during the day tomorrow instead, when things will have calmed down a bit.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mirror image

Yeah , it's kind of annoying that Photo Booth takes pictures backwards. But who doesn't want a 1.32 gallon keg of Two Hearted Ale???? Look at all the choices they have now at Bells!


Woke up at 4 a.m.
Almost missed my 6:30 flight, nonetheless.
Free wireless in Cincinnati. Whee!
Annie's pretzel and my 3rd cup of coffee.
Takeout from the Bonefish Grill(e?) for lunch.
Crablegs and champagne for the annual Champagne tasting party. (Ask me sometime about the smoked quail)
I can take a bath. Oh my, a bath.
I can flush the toilet more than every 4 times.
Mom will lotion my back.

I like going home.

(Ask me how I feel in 10 days)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

One less than 40

We have 39 days left of "premium water" here in Durham. I'm assuming they don't mean Vichy Catalan. Ten of those days I'll be out of town, so my contribution to the damage will be mitigated. But what the hell, rain gods?

Apparently we're going to tap into a quarry (the one I swim in? dunno!) to buy us 25 more days.

Some interesting discussion (bitching) here.

I might start showering every other day.


I found my phone and am at work. Things are looking up.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Speaking of Teen Pregnancy

Trainwreck family Spears does it again. (Oops!)

Jamie-Lynn Spears, Britney's little sister, is pregnant at the age of 16.

She was seen out last night at an early screening of Juno, which, coincidentally is about a teen pregnancy. If YOU TOO would like to see an early screening of Juno, I have several free passes that let two people in. Not guaranteed seating; show up early.

7 p.m.
Brier Creek

You'd need to pick them up from me somehow tonight. I'm at work until at least 6. Delivery isn't included.

Oh, and BTW? Britney didn't know.

C is for...

It's that time of year when butter goes on sale, and people drag out their stand mixers. I challenge you, my dear wonderful people, to tell me your favorite Christmas cookies. I'll start.

Six different kinds come to mind immediately. In descending order of goodness (Um, I guess I mean I'm saving the best for last. I may have accidentally said the opposite just then. Whoops!), here we go.

6) Gingerbread men. Half the fun is biting the heads off first, of course. But I also like the minimal decoration of a piped-on face and maybe some mittens. And, um, ginger!
5) Mexican Wedding Cookies (aka Russian Teacakes). Make sure to bake them thoroughly. I don't like any semblance of raw dough on the inside. Shaking them in a bag with powdered sugar is fun. This goes for all cookies: Use BUTTER. Not shortening, not lard, not tallow, not schmaltz. Butter.
4) Pizzelle. I've never made these. However, my black shirt is currently dusted with the confectioner's sugar remains of having just pounded five of them straight. Yum.
3) Christmas Sugar Cookies. I like making stars and trees and ball-shaped ornaments. Hint: Use the cutters that look like this, so that the dough doesn't get stuck in the cutter.
2) Cornflake Wreath cookies. Every Christmas when I was young, the Andersons would have a neighborhood holiday party. Mrs. Conway brought these cookies, complete with Red-Hot holly berries. I was a greedy little cow (Sorry, Mom!) and picked through the ginormous platter to get all of these. I remember feeling guilty. I think that was about the time I had my first communion. I don't think I confessed. Maybe I wasn't really sorry.

And the best one ever:

1) Springerle. Overwhelmingly hated by almost every person outside my family, this German cookie is made with eggs, sugar, flour, anise, and barely any liquid. You roll out the stiff dough with a special Springerle rolling pin (I've ganked my mom's), which embosses pretty patterns on top of the dough. You cut them apart into squares with a sharp knife, and then let the whole mess dry overnight at least. Then you bake them in a very low temperature oven for a longish time. They're hard as rocks and taste of anise. I love them. LOVE.

Your turn.

Technological Difficulties

a) I've misplaced my phone. I need a new one, but have been putting it off.

b) my laptop is acting up. It cycles in and out of sleep incessantly when the lid is closed. It's annoying, and bad for the processor. Will have to deal with it.

Monday, December 17, 2007


In the winter I am plagued with dry skin.

(I just chugged a liter of water, because writing this reminded me that I rarely hydrate well enough this time of year. That's part of the problem.)

The heat, the cold, hot showers...everything leaves me itchy. So I lube up. Mostly the face, because it gets flaky. Same with my hands; they crack at the knuckles, also because of washing with soap. I'm not going to quit soap. I like soap. It smells nice and lathers up, and I envision the slippery mass of bubbles (or non-bubbly lubrication, depending on what I'm using to wash with) carrying away the dust and dirt I come into contact with over the day. Lotion does help; heavy-duty stuff for my hands (over the years it's been this or this or this or this), and lighter duty for my body.

The back, though. My poor, itchy back. I don't even wash my back; it gets bombarded by shampoo runoff, though, and I'm a stand-facing away-from-the-showerhead girl, so the back gets the hot water too.

In the past, I've had to look for, um, inventive ways to deal with this. I feel comfortable asking certain friends/family (Emily, Maria, Mom, Annie) to put lotion on me. But none of them lives with me, so it's not particularly sustainable. Former roommate the good very, very, very occasionally would help me out, but it made him uncomfortable, so I stopped asking unless it was killing me. I've asked around about what other people do. I've considered getting a washcloth on a stick, but it seemed messy and a waste of lotion, what with the loss due to absorption into the cloth. I finally settled on an odd baby oil application technique--in the shower I'll jet some baby oil onto my back while it's still pretty much wet and then rub the back against the shower wall to spread it all over as best I can, . (I'm not alone in this technique; one woman I talked to has a wall in her bathroom she has decreed the lotion-smearing wall. I thought my baby oil/shower combo was much less icky.) But my technique gets the towel kind of greasy, and oil has a nasty habit of making my already slippery shower a slip-and-fall hazard.

Today, my friends, I may have found the solution.

(Jesus, even talking about this has made my back itchy!)

I should have known that I'm not the only person who needs to rely on herself to relieve itchy dry skin that is not reachable in other ways. I don't know why it never occurred to me that something like this would exist.

Behold the lotion applicator. If you can get it at tar-zhay, I'm going to use my secret santa $10 gift card post holidays.

Relief at last is on the horizon.

Through Rain and Cold and Dark of Morning

So there wasn't sleet or snow, at least, but I spent all day outside yesterday--7 a.m. to 4 p.m. birding for the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count. It was me and this guy about my age who works at Private University as an ecologist. He's really fun and brought a couple of dozen Toll House cookies his wife made. Good man. Funny, too. He's from k-zoo, MI, which helps a slight bond between us.

He's also a really good birder; if it had been just me, I'd have seen probably the same number of birds, but it would have taken me 3 times as long to identify them. Most all of the raptors would have gone unidentified, because many of the hawks look so like the others that it's hard to tell. He was also irreplaceable for identifying "little brown jobbies." I got my first REALLY good look at some field sparrows yesterday.

We got together later for dinner with the rest of the people who'd participated in the Durham County count, and it was an overwhelmingly male group. My birding partner, who was the organizer for this count, estimated that about 90% of what he called "hardcore" birders are men, but that backyard birders are way more likely to be women. If you consider people who do bird counts to be the "hardcore" ones, he was pretty much on the money with the people who showed up at the dinner. Hm. Maybe I need to step up my birding-networking.

Wow. I just realized that I didn't have one "lifer" yesterday!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Wow. And a flicker of the power.

Raaaaaaaain. Keep it up. Please Please Please Please.

When work comes home

New Roommate™ is a movie-watcher. He probably sees 3 movies a week or more. Today we just got done screening a cute movie called Quinceañera, which came out last year. Good movie, but it was about Latino teen pregnancy. I can't get away from it.

Web 2.0

This morning when I woke up I had an email indicating a message on a social networking site. The one I hate. The one that is cluttered up with creepy bad backgrounds and such. I figured it was a spammer or bot or some other pernicious crap. I usually ignore that kind of thing, but since I'd recently had some breaches of security on there I figured I'd check it out and make sure nothing major was amiss.

It was from a guy, my age or thereabouts, smoking hot, single, and living in the area. Now, I wasn't born yesterday; I know that dating sites or other ad-driven places put these kinds of messages up and do bad things (like what? I don't know...hijack your account? Install malware?). But...he's just so so hot. I'm conflicted.

Here are the things that make me suspect it's not all it seems:
• He has no friends on the site.
• His profile is mostly, though not entirely, empty.
• He's seriously hot. Like...model hot. Did I mention that yet?
• The message didn't say anything much that would identify that he was talking to ME as opposed to the gazillions of other women on the site.
• One thing he says on his profile is that he hopes this is a place where he can meet a woman who doesn't subscribe to the stick-figure ideal body image. (Either he's perfect or he's preying on fatties)

Here are the things that make me wonder if it could actually be a real person.
• The little that IS on his profile is not cookie-cutter spambot typical.
• The place where he says he lives is just specific enough that it would have to be someone local rather than national. (i.e. not RDU or Raleigh)
• He gives a yahoo IM address.
• The message wording sound like a real-person. It references the holidays.
• Looking to stereotypes, his ethnicity matches his location (omg i'm going to hell!)
• He could be a non-native English speaker.
• Some of the pictures I have up on there are kind of out of date, hearkening back to a time when I was particularly svelte. Not all of them, but there are some of me looking like the hot hot hottie I am when I'm little.

Those of you who know me, or even those who don't, will note that my body image insecurities have woken up and raised their heads, getting ready to join forces with my current low self-esteem to put me in a place where I'll assume nobody like this guy would ever show interest in me.

Let me inject a little reality/counterpoints here.
I'm a cute, cute cutie.
I have a lot to offer.
I have lots of interesting good things about me.
I just finished writing a freaking kick-ass project proposal!
/stewart smalley

I have two choices. Action or inaction.

I'm leaning to action, believe it or not, but there are a couple of things standing in my way; the main one is fear. There are two fears. One emotional and one practical. Emotional? What if he's just being a tool? I don't want to be a pawn in that kind of shit. Pragmatically, I don't feel like dealing with another security breach of the gmail chinese spammer sort.

In fact, here's the message:
Subject: WoW
Body: Hello Princess,

How are you doing?I hope you are having a wonderful time.
I am really attracted to you & your profile.I am wondering if you are interested and available.

My yahoo/myspace IM is REDACTED

Please buzz me when you are online.

Happy Holidays hun



So, what do y'all think?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Funny to me, anyway

Email to Boss.

Subject: Momentary, mild venting/freak out,

Body: Don’t stress. I’m just having a moment of “OH MY GOD CAN I GET THIS WRITTEN!?” angst. The answer is yes, and the answer is also “not as well as I would if it were my graduate thesis and that’s just going to have to do because this is not a master’s thesis it’s just a grant.”

Thank you for listening, and peace be with you. And me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Grant Crap

So, it probably sounds like I'm making a big deal out of nothing with this grant I'm writing, but the truth is it's a bear.

Grants in general suck. But this is not only writing a grant, it's more like a technical paper for publish in a peer-reviewed journal. I'm designing a public health intervention program, using all sorts of high-falutin' metrics that I hadn't really ever worked with before, AND there's the extra pressure that there are a lot of applicants.

Blah blah blah BDI Logic Models!

It's a (state) government grant*. That means hoops and hoops and hoops to jump in and out of. Do it this way, not that. Margins of .5 inches if you mention the word sex, but otherwise margins of .754 inches. Fourteen letters of support and/or specific commitment. You write them, others sign them, you track them down, and you deal with the people who don't dare say the word "pregnancy" for fear of making it seem like their organization dares to stand up against teen pregnancy! God forbid people think we want our kids getting access to information about abstinence, contraception, risk reduction, and how to say no when they don't want to do something! You have to rely on the contacts you brought from another county to get the letters of support from the Latino community, because you still haven't really gotten to know people yet here! ARGH!

I've got most of the program plan. I've got most of the evaluation piece done. I'm still freaking about the freaking stupid needs assessment part. There are lots of Latinos in the US! There are lots in NC! More than ever! There are lots in the county where I work! It's a really populous county! The teen pregnancy rate in the US is horrible! Over 50% of Latina teens get pregnant at least once before they turn 20! Current teen pregnancy prevention interventions aren't working as well in the Latino population! Teens are thinking "Dont have babies now" means "babies are BAD! We EAT BABIES!**" The teen pregnancy rate in Latinas in NC are even worse than the overall US rate, and in this county, almost 20% of 15-19 year olds got pregnant last year! That's WAY worse than in other counties! So we're among the worst (county level) of the worst (state level) of the horrible (US level)! Latina girls date older men! That's a risk factor! Despite being less sexually active than other teens, both boys and girls in the Latino community are less likely to use contraception/condoms! That's a risk factor we can actually change! There are protective factors, too! More Latino teens live with two biological parents than other groups! Latinos have a higher rate of religious affiliation! This county's teen pregnancy rate among Latinos is just horrendous! It's over four times the overall rate in this county! No, really! We can help with this! We'd use a culturally-appropriate approach and frame abstinence, condom use, contraception and other messages in such a way as to be more palatable!

OK thanks. I think typing this out has helped my thought process; that was my intent. I have until tomorrow to get this done. I'm just not sure what to write, still. Do I cite the fact sheets where I'm getting the stats, or do I cite the original articles that the fact sheets cite, even though I've not read them? I'm thinking the former, because I did the latter for my freaking thesis, and despite my stress, this is NO THESIS.

*Our state is more enlightened than our country; this grant requires comprehensive sex ed be a part of it; i.e. no talking just about abstinence!
**They don't think we're saying "We Eat Babies." They do think we're saying "don't have babies, ever." See?

Inside joke

I just replied to an email by typing only "unsubscribe" in the body. Some of you will know what that's about. If not, feel free to email me about it. Email is up in the "About Me" section.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Small town, huh?

My girl Suze and I walked around the Private University's campus loop this evening before heading out to Costco and then Whole Paycheck for dinner and shopping. (Not in that order.)

We chatted and caught up and gossiped all the way around the loop, and basically had a great evening. I heart my sweet Suze. She lives here, but travels for work and pleasure practically 90% of the time. It's great when she's in town and unoccupied.

I regaled her with tales of how incestuous this town is. You know, like the ones where your roommate goes out with someone on a blind date and it turns out you dated her ex. Or when you come home and your roommate's aunt is visiting and it turns out you know her from a class you took. Or when you realize that a guy you once dated is friends with a woman that's now dating a guy you once may have liked, until realizing that he's an ass. That kind of thing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Critical Assholes

I swear I'm not that driver. You know, the one who whizzes by cyclists too close, turning in front of them, or beeping really loudly to attempt to make them get out of the way. (Actually, I'm so not that person that I'm not readily sure what exactly cars do that bugs cyclists the most.)

What I am, or at least what I hope to be, is considerate. When I approach a cyclist on a narrow road, I make sure I am able to give them enough clearance to easily avoid any heart attacks. If I have to slow to a crawl behind them until it's safe for me to do so, no worries. I keep in mind to watch out for people riding bikes when I toodle about town; just a couple of weeks ago I pulled up to turn right onto my street and noticed a bike was catching up with me (on the right). So I waited for him to go by before I turned.

I know that cyclists, many of them, writhe in frustration at how unfriendly the city streets can be for someone on a bicycle. There are regular protests about it in cities around the country (world!) once a month. Bicycles have just as much right to the road as cars, they say! I agree wholeheartedly, for many reasons, that cities should have dedicated bike lanes on all major roads. I wish everyone biked around more; I want people to walk to their destinations whenever possible. I wish my job were closer to where I lived; I'll never be able to be carless due to the nature of what I do, but at least the commute wouldn't burn a gallon and a half of gas every day. (I'm not quite ready to move to the city where I work, though.)

But here's the rub. I recently decided to do a brief tally in my head of the cyclists I came across while driving over the last week, because it had begun to seem to me that there were some really shitty cyclists out there.

With the exception of people biking on country(ish) roads where there were no traffic lights, every single person I've seen riding a bike in the last week has flagrantly disobeyed traffic laws, and all in the same way--by running stop signs or red lights, without even slowing down.

I kid you not, it was 100% of the urban cyclists I saw this week doing this; you can't write it off to confirmation bias.

That pisses me off.

Monday, December 10, 2007

chinese spammer

Chinese spammers got my email address. SORRY!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Inka and Aoife

Mentioned in passing on my older blog, an acquaintance of mine recently was awarded half a million dollars after suing the pants off the guy who smashed into her and her seeing eye dog while they were waiting at a bus stop.

The fucker denied it. It was a hit and run.

Somehow he managed to get off with just 4 months in prison and 2 years of probation. His BAC was twice the legal limit.

I really fucking hope she collects.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ryan and Audrey Hepdog and me

Coooookies and Candy and Showerheads, Oh MY!

Went this a.m. to a Christmas parade. Disappointing was how many entries/floats/whatever were advertising. The freaking Chik-Fil-A cow was there. Along with insurance companies, mortgage brokers, realtors...when did that all happen?

The highlights as far as I'm concerned were the bands, the Jazzercise ladies, and the water company people, who gave me a free low-flow showerhead. Oh, but the real highlight is the the Christmas In December 2007 CD my pal Jerrypants gave me. They're always the best ever.

I just made some toffee for a cookie exchange I'm going to tomorrow. The recipe doesn't quite make enough for my needs, though, so tomorrow I'll be making something more. Maybe jam thumbprint cookies. We'll see.

Here's the toffee recipe:

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
Chocolate chips
Chopped nuts

Basically melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan, stirring constantly until it reaches 310º F or hard crack. By that time it will be a deep rich brown. Pour onto a greased cookie sheet. Let cool just enough so the top is hardened a little and sprinkle the chocolate chips over it. They will melt. Spread the chocolate evenly and dump the nuts on. Let cool, and then crack it apart into bite-sized pieces.

It's crack.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Fab news

I just got off the phone with my stepmother, and somehow we negotiated no presents for Christmas this year. I can't tell you how happy that makes me. She said she'd talk Dad into it, because he won't be even remotely thrilled. Oh well, he'll live. I just hate getting extra crap.

When I talked to my mom, she told me exactly what she wanted (microplane grater), what my grandma wants (bourbon or a dark fruitcake, the cheaper the better, especially if it's from A&P [which she specifically mentioned, though there isn't one within 30 miles of her house]), and to get Pedro a book. Perfect.

My sister said not to get her anything, and I may negotiate with her to do the same for me. My three nephews, however, will be showered with gifts, despite the ungratefulness that accompanies the craziness of holiday overstimulation.

I kind of sound like a Grinch, but really it's more about the love and time together than the crap. Unless they're really special, gifts are just annoying.

The best gifts are homemade. Or macs.

Procrastination Paralysis

Um, I'm having a hard time breaking down a big task into little ones. I have this grant proposal I've been working on, and so far what that has meant is researching different statistics. The first section is a needs assessment, I guess to prove that there's a need.

I just want to say "DUH! The rate of (bad health outcome) in X population is FOUR TIMES what it is in the overall population in this county!" and leave it at that. I'm thinking that isn't enough though.

I don't know. I'm just sick of it. I keep getting hung up on stats and citations. I don't know what I need to include, and I don't know how to weave the narrative. I'm overwhelmed and freaking out. Sigh.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Odds and Ends

Thirteen out of the 23 students in my first period class yesterday was wearing Clarks Wallabees. The second most popular shoe is the Sperry Topsider.

In 1993, I tried to single-handedly catapult Clarks Desert Boots to the top of post-collegiate fashion scene. Considering I was working at a private day/boarding school at the time, though, it came less ironically than I'd wanted it to, though.

(OMG! In looking up the link to the school, I found out there was a big fire there in August that burned down the beautiful library. Check out this slideshow. It also will show you how extremely traditional this school is.)

I spent time with approximately 250 kids over the last 1.5 days. In most cases I learned ~2/3 of their names.

My nose is so cracked and sore on the inside that it makes me want to cry.

I'm starting to have a freak-out about a grant I'm writing. I've never written a grant before. It's for a lot of money--like, enough to double the programs and staff in my department. OK, so that means going from one to two, but still. I'm feeling like there might be some kind of "all-nighter" issue happening at some point.

My boss referred to a meeting I'd be a regular member of as a "Management team" meeting. That's good, I think.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Did I mention I love Photo Booth?

I do actually have a real digital camera, but there's a LOT to be said for the convenience of my built-in iSight. I'm not a hobby photographer; I just like to record ephemera. Again, as long as it's convenient. When I used to have a cheapo 35 mm camera, I'd take pictures, but a) I'd hoard them and b) I never got the film developed anyway. Once I got a digital camera, I took WAY more, and didn't care if they sucked. All that hooking up to the computer and slooooooow downloading was still a pain that got in the way of my taking pictures as often as I'd want.

Now, though?

Now I can publish a picture of me every day, if I wanted to (and I've apparently wanted to, recently!)

But today I'm just showing you how pathetic my carrots are. Please feel extreme pathos for them. And also send some encouraging thoughts my way for my annual rye cover crop (which I planted today after finally getting some) and my onion sets.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

when all else fails...

....take a picture!

I was caught unprepared for the cold this morning. Luckily, I don't often clean out my car. A while back, our girl Pinky had given me a hood that I had sworn didn't belong to the jacket she gave me last season. It's been languishing in the car. No longer. I'm going out for a walk. I really like the fashion statement of wearing just the hood. It's kind of like wearing a hairnet out in public like my sister does, or like the safety glasses Suze let me wear a couple of weeks ago.

I got all sorts of laughs in the car on the way to work this morning, thinking of how weird I look!

(p.s. I'm dying of stress.)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Poke Poke

If I haven't actually said this yet, I've at least been thinking it for the last week. Come early December, my nose turns into a high-maintenance itch factory. There's not much as far as output goes, but considering the time you spend there, you'd hope it would at least bring some kind of benefit.

But no. The nose just cracks on the inside and then bleeds. They're not the OMG-I-got-hit nosebleeds where you try to remember whether you're supposed to tilt your head forward or back. No, it's nowhere near that bad. There's constant itch plus an eense of blood that staunches pretty easily with some pressure. It is disconcerting, though.

I just wanted to bitch about that. Thanks.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

To live by

Don't wing the pectin to sugar ratio.
Ground cayenne pepper stings when it enters your eyes.
Shoe polish is undervalued.
Expect to leave Costco very full.
Fresh air cures many an ill.
Grief crosses species boundaries. So does love.
Butter always; margarine never.
Sisterhood is more powerful than many other bonds.
Tea is best when it's overcast.
If you're scared to go to a party alone, go anyway.