Tuesday, March 31, 2009

And so it goes.

So, my father has been laid off. This is terrible news. At his age, he should be leaving work, not having to search for it.

We are heading into another Great Depression.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More from the Florence Extended Stay America

This hotel stay wouldn't have been complete until this evening.

I am all packed up, sandwich and fruit ready for tomorrow's plane flight (I never, ever buy airport food and neither should you). Annie and I have been sitting at our respective computers for awhile. She turned to me a few minutes ago and said,

"Am I going nuts or is your computer making a funny noise?"

I replied,

"I hear it too. I think it's coming from outside."

I got up and looked.

"It sounds kind of like a quack. Something quacking." she said. I agreed with her.

My exploration out the window proved fruitless.

"I can't think what it is." I said, sitting back down at the computer.

"I don't know either. Unless...." She raised her eyebrows and then gestured to the wall us from the room next door. I raised my eyebrows in kind. Then she put her head on her desk and I groaned. I found a cup, held it up to the wall and pressed my ear up against it. The distinct noise of bed springs squeaking was clear.

"Is that what it is? I think from the expression on your face that that must be what it is." Annie looked at me and then put her head back on her desk.

I frowned and looked embarrassed. Then I nodded, replaced the cup and went back to my seat by the computer.

I actually don't care very much, I kind of think that's what you're supposed to do in hotel rooms. It's just kind of weird to overhear it - like when you overhear someone peeing - the act is such an intimate, private moment yet you know everyone does it and don't really care or think about it very much.

Anyway. Back to New York tomorrow.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Alice's Adventures in Kentucky...wait, actually it's Ohio this time.

I'm still staying in Florence, but today we ventured up to Beulah Park, which is just outside of Columbus, Ohio in a small town called Grove City.

Why did we go? The same reason Annie and I go anywhere, ever.






That's right, you're looking at my latest investment scheme. Of course, I won't be getting any money out of it, someone else will (they'll be putting in all the money too). But the point is to prove I can do it: take a (free) racehorse off the track, retrain it and sell it to someone else. One of these horses will be coming back to Ithaca (maybe).

Anyway. One of my singular joys in life is going out to breakfast. Ryan is anti-this because...well...I'm not sure why. Regardless. Annie and I went out to breakfast before driving up to Beulah:


Yes. This place sells rocking chairs outside and plays Dolly Parton on the loud speakers. No hound dogs, whittlin' sticks, horehound candy or shotguns though. I checked in the gift shop:


On the way to Beulah, there were two signs that listed the 10 commandants. Really made me regret all that coveting I've been getting up to. On the way back, the same signs were decorated with these two gems, supposed to be read one after the other:



I think this sign is funnier if you just read it by itself:


Then there was this bumper sticker:


All I can say is: Beware of liberals taking pictures of your stupid bumper stickers and posting them on the internet in order to ridicule you and your sensationalistic, militant, small-minded, bigoted, little brain.

Some terrifying articles

Brought to my attention via friends of friends on Facebook; I believe dissemination is important:

First: Oklahoma State is preparing to pass legislature that will require teachers to give students who give "religious" answers to exam questions in science classes, passing grades.

http://www.edmondsun.com/opinion/local_story_067125346.html

I think we've now begun the entrance into the New Dark Ages.

Second: What Obama wants to do about it.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/03/obama-text-town.html

Finally: More terrifying news.

http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind08/pdf/c07.pdf

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Alice's Adventures In Kentucky and What She Found There cont...

More of my pictorial ethnography, mostly taken from this afternoons jaunt to the local Meijer's.

Meijer's.

Annie chooses an apple.



When we drove across the country we went past the Hormel Factory when we drove through Beloit, Wisconsin. Across the street they had some sort of Food Institute where I assume that they try and come up with credible evidence that this stuff is actually food.




Yes. That's right. Pepto Bismol Pink eggs. Coloured with FDBC red dye #40.




"Now all you can taste is the hog anus."




Longest potato chips aisle I have ever come across.




Start 'em young.




Taken in the parking lot of our extended stay hotel, next to the window where I saw the penis. Note the binoculars, handily placed on the window sill.




Look closely. They deliver feelings.

Creation Museum

I'm still in Florence with Annie. We thought about driving down to Lexington to visit the horse park today, but it's raining, which would mean mud - not exactly wheel chair friendly.

Daniel spent a good deal of time trying to convince us to go to the Creation Museum which is not very far from here. My first response was,

"Why? They'll kick me out or my head will explode or both."

He thought that it would be amusing, I agreed that it might be, for about 5 minutes. Then it would be infuriating and I would want to leave. Not worth the $21.95 per person. Plus, as I told Daniel after he offered to subsidise our visit, I don't them to get any more money.

"But I want a t-shirt."

We attempted to placate him by perusing the website for half an hour, which provided light amusement. We even came up with the idea of a t-shirt for them: A stick figure with its hands over its ears with the words "LA LA LA LA" coming out of its mouth and the words "Prepare to Believe" underneath... Kate? Interested in designing it for us?

I had this idea that I was going to address some of their silly arguments here, but it's kind of like shooting fish in a barrel. I mean they are so blatantly (purposely?) misinformed that it's like refuting arguments made by a toddler.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Further to my adventures

Apropos to this afternoons blog entry, this takes place in Ohio:
Mk: yeah.
7:07 PM Ok. So I was helping my aunt go grocery shopping
and she was telling me about this delicious appetizer she makes...
7:08 PM by tossing a bag full of frozen meatballs into a crock pot and filling it up with grape jelly and cocktail sauce
me: That sounds just awful.
Mk: I tried very hard to mask the horrified look on my face
me: awful
7:09 PM Mk: and thought to myself that my aunt has gone completely insane and what person on earth could possibly ever want to eat any combination of those ingredients
well...
we got to the checkout-stand
and the cashier was ringing us up...
she sees the grape jelly, cocktail sauce and meatballs and says
7:10 PM "Oh! you're planning to make Jelly Meatballs! I love those!"

Alice's Adventures In Kentucky and What She Found There

I am in Florence, Kentucky, which is a suburb of Cincinnati.

Here are some pictures:


This is a picture of the penis I saw on the first day. I was walking out to the car, I heard a flutter of blinds and I looked up. There it was, swinging away, adjusting the blinds unabashedly. My first instinct, which I obeyed, was to crouch behind the car and stifle my screams and giggles. This was after Daniel overheard a drug deal happening in the next room.


"Green tea." This stuff looked like some sort of cleaning fluid and tasted like what I imagine antifreeze would taste like, were you to mix it with a 1:1 sugar ratio. The worst part is people probably think this is a better choice than regular soda.

I have no words for this.


Daniel complains about the financial crisis or expounds on the wisdom of Jon Stewart, I can't remember which. Annie looks on.


Drive through pies. Apparently before I got there, the pies were made out of some sort of candy bar. I guess that is fairly symbolic of midwestern cuisine, kind of like taking two cans of soup and combining them, or using products made by Frito-Lay as an "ingredient" or doing something really horrible like adding marshmallows to sweet potatoes.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Launderette and Self Absorbtion

Our laundry situation reached a critical mass yesterday when we realised that both of us had gotten to the dregs of our underwear selection. I'd like to say that it was because we had both been sick but I'm sure it's got a lot to do with laziness too - we're fortunate to have a launderette around the corner, but that still is woefully inconvenient most of the time. You can't just toss in a load as you walk out the door.

So yesterday, we went to this particular launderette around the corner and there were 2 girls and a boy, maybe in their early 20's or younger, sitting around in chatting away, loudly but uninterestingly. They had a pile of large, denim covered cushions.

Typically, I ignore other people in the launderette as I would hope they would ignore me. Today was no exception. At one point, however, I turned my head to look at the clock and one of the girls (sweat panted and fake tanned with terrible lipstick and a mess of hair piled on her head) turned directly towards me, made firm eye contact and said this:

"It's okay, we're sisters. We do this all the time."

I said, puzzled,

"Do what?"

This was followed by an awkward moment between us as she made an incoherent mumble whilst struggling with whether or not to tell me what she had mistakenly thought I had overheard. I shook my head to indicate that it didn't matter and went back to stuffing clothes in the machine. Clearly (or at least hopefully) whatever it was that she had been talking about was something potentially embarrassing or incriminating. She wouldn't have been worried about my opinion if it was something as mundane as washing denim cushion covers.

The voyeur in me was curious, despite my better judgment, and I thought about it as we walked home. If I hadn't been working so hard to tune out the sounds of my surroundings - the owner of the establishment inexplicably leaves the radio tuned to John Tesh's horrible radio show "which plays '1980s, 1990s, and today's soft rock' music, interspersed with various factoids and other information Tesh considers useful to listeners, often with topics such as health and well-being" - I might have heard what potentially nefarious act this girl and her sister apparently commit regularly.

I don't care as much today as I did for the 90 second walk home last night, but in addition to wondering what she had to say, I also think it was amusing that she assumed I disapproved of whatever she was doing or talking about. While I realise the pot-kettle implications of talking about self-absorbtion in a personal blog that is singularly about me and what I do on a day to day basis... but it's funny that people often jump to the conclusion that immediate (or really any) situations are automatically personal, based singularly on the fact that they are involved on some level (or maybe not even based on that much - people are pretty insane sometimes).

When I started making plans to move out of the house that I had lived in with my ex-boyfriend, 8 months after I had broken up with him, he became extremely angry with me for asking him to get the remainder of his things out of my garage. I said, during one of our ridiculous phone conversations, "You're acting as though I'm moving out of the house just to inconvenience you." He told me that he believe that to be the case (of course he said it angrily and with a lot more swearing). It was in my reflections on dealing with him that I started to really notice how often people firmly believe that "it's all about them." and what a waste of time that kind of thinking really is. Basically: If people are as self absorbed as you, yourself, probably are, then the chances that their actions are purposely to hurt, annoy or disrupt your life are slim to none.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Continuation of the health insurance saga

Yesterday I had a weird scare, so much so that I subsequently sat down at the computer and tried to purchase health insurance. If you've been reading this regularly, you will know that I have already gone through one round of this and have been bolstering up my reserves of strength in order to try again.

I discovered that to purchase proper individual health insurance it will cost me $1000 a month. If I just want emergency coverage? $435 a month.

We bring in about $150 above the number that would qualify me for the Healthy New York program, allowing cheaper rates.

In short, it's prohibitively expensive.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Myers Briggs and Old Dreams

I've been volunteering 4 hours a week at a place that assists low-income women and families with building the skills to find employment. Things like resume assistance, interview coaching, computer skills and even help with finding the right clothes for the job interview.

It's a really interesting place and I've been enjoying my time there. Mainly I sit at the front desk and do odd jobs as needed. I've been reading a portion of one of the "career guidance" books that we have available for clients to borrow, every time I go in. It's based on Myers-Briggs personality typing. My feelings for that whole field are mixed. Part of me thinks it's really interesting and helpful and part of me thinks it's a way to try and legitimise reading your horoscope.

As I've been reading, I've not only been keeping track of my own personality type (ENFJ - although I'm not really an extreme anything, falling in the middle of most of the scales) but also trying to figure out what Ryan is. He's obviously an "Introvert" (as opposed to "Extrovert") and obviously a "Thinker" (as opposed to "Feeler"), but the other 2 are a little harder to define. Nevertheless, I found a paragraph in the book that I thought might have been written about Ryan himself:

"Thinkers can be analytical to the point of seeming cold and feelers can be personally involved to the point of seeming overemotional. When Thinkers and Feelers clash, more often than not, the Feeler ends up hurt and angry, while the Thinker is confused about what went wrong."

I find Ryan's obliviousness cute most of the time and irritating some of the time. We rarely ever "clash" - actually what struck me about those 2 sentences was that it seemed a perfect description of what happened with That Girl.
***
Last night we went to bed well past our regular bedtime. Before I went to sleep I started remembering a dream I'd had the night before and I told Ryan about it. It was part of a series of dreams I've been having all swirling around the same subject. Something about that dream or perhaps the 2 sentences I found in the Myers-Briggs book reminded me of another dream I had in London last May. Completely unrelated to the topic of my recent series of dreams (maybe I'll write about them later), in this dream, the girl in question had approached Ryan's family with the news that her husband was unable to impregnate her, but it would all be okay because she'd come up with a solution. The solution was this: she would use Ryan as a donor and that way, Ryan's parents would become her child's grandparents. Everyone seemed in full support of the idea, except me. I don't remember how it ended, just a weird feeling of disconnect.

Pretty obvious why my insecure, worried little brain pulled that vignette from: I found the whole situation so distressing - particularly because it remained (and remains!) unresolved. Often I find that dreams help me resolve situations that I might not have another way of really working on; after I broke up with my first boyfriend, I had a series of dreams over several months which started out as angry dreams where I expressed (read: yelled at him) how hurt I was by his actions and ended up as simple discussions, the last dream being a dream about having a conversation with him at a party - then I never dreamt about him or the incident again. My friend Alex died when we were 18. I was racked with guilt for not having gone to visit her in the hospital sooner - I was scheduled to go the day she died - about once every 3 months or so, for several years afterwards, I would see her in dreams which helped me feel less horrible (yes, I realise it didn't change the facts, but it still helped my brain). She seemed so comfortable.

But this dream? Singularly unhelpful - just a manifestation of my own hurt and frustration. Yuck!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

We've chosen a CSA farm

After much deliberating, a trip to an informational fair and some whining plus the creation of visual aids, Ryan and I have picked a CSA. It is our first but I'm excited because it will ensure that all of our vegetables will be local and seasonal. I'm also excited to be inspired by the different vegetables that will be available throughout the season. Also, we are going to be able to can, pickle and jamise things and as such won't have to deal with the awful winter tomatoes they have here (among other things).

We've actually decided to join 2. One is a 'normal' CSA called Sweet Land Farm that offers a share of vegetables, fruits and flowers. We chose them mainly because they offered a fruit selection as part of their regular share and that they grow kale pretty much throughout the season (that was more my requirement than Ryan's). The added perk are the fresh flowers - which I love, but never buy. We considered doing a combination of a fruit CSA, plus a vegetable CSA, but it started to get pricey when you consider our second choice, Red Tail Farm. They do things a little differently: You purchase a debit card from them at the beginning of the season, which gives you a discount on their various items. They do vegetables as well, but mainly we are looking to buy their honey and truly free range eggs. The debit system will work well for us, because sometimes we use a lot of eggs and sometimes we hardly use any. Plus I like the idea of supporting beekeepers.

So here's to knowing where our food came from!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Alice makes a frowny face.

This morning my husband is making tapioca pudding. He looked up a bunch of recipes and wandered into the kitchen, muttering, among other things, the word "experimental."

Last night it was homemade mayonnaise.

I'm not sure what has recently possessed him to make squishy, slimy unpleasant things but he used the mayonnaise to make egg salad with celery in it. What's next, custard??

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ill.

I'm sick. I've spent the last couple of days wallowing around in bed and on the couch, feeling sorry for myself and watching endless hours of Simpsons, periodically falling asleep.

I was actually woken up from this afternoon's nap by an acute sneezing fit. I had another one just now that resulted in the floodgates of my nose opening, sending out snot at an alarming rate. I had to run screaming to the bathroom, while Ryan laughed at me.

I apologise if that description was too graphic.

In other news, Ryan and I will have been legally married for a whole year in one week and one day.

And finally, the people at the place I have been volunteering at have offered me a job.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Went To Bawstin


I went to Boston to visit my friend Larke who lives there and hang out with my friend Margo who was in town for the Biophysical Society Conference.

We had a blast.









Chimp hides rocks.

Before I post the Boston pictures, this article about a chimp who is possibly able to plan for future mood swings is a good read.

"A male chimpanzee in a Swedish zoo planned hundreds of stone-throwing attacks on zoo visitors, according to researchers."

"Crucial to the current study is the fact that Santino, a chimpanzee at the zoo in the city north of Stockholm, collected the stones in a calm state, prior to the zoo opening in the morning. "

"This suggests that Santino was anticipating a future mental state - an ability that has been difficult to definitively prove in animals, according to Mathias Osvath, a cognitive scientist from Lund University in Sweden and author of the new research."

From the BBC.

If that wasn't cool enough for you? Watch elephants problem solve.

Friday, March 6, 2009

In Which Alice Shares Her Most Recent Pictorial Adventures

I have a lot of pictures to catch up on. So consider this entry a pictorial one. Some of them are a little graphic.

Firstly, in an effort to become more of a "local" Ryan and I went with our friends, Jonas and Conny to Ithaca's Chili Cook Off.

We arrived prepared.I can only assume that the booth these people were in was devoted to some sort of charity whose cause is to help science find a way to rid these poor people from the horrible parasite apparently attached to their brains:


The chili was passable and we had a good time considering there was a karaoke contest that we had to avoid.

NEXT. Boston.

Okay, technically that is the next adventure. But, in keeping with my self imposed tradition of documenting injuries to my person (these photos are a bit graphic....sorry):


D'you think I should email them to that stupid woman who denied my health insurance?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Craiglist! Again!

In honor of this being the 400th entry, I have decided to go along with tradition and make a post involving Craigslist.

I became so fed up the other day, with regards to my furniture search on Craiglist, that I posted the following:

WRITING WITH THE CAPS LOCK KEY ON (RANTS AND RAVES)


Reply to: pers-qrvtp-1060059121@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]
Date: 2009-03-04, 12:39PM EST


SOMETIMES I READ POSTS WRITTEN IN ALL CAPITALS AND LACKING IN PUNCTUATION BY SHOUTING THEM OUT LOUD.




This is amusing to me, because it is true and rather a fun activity for those bored enough.