keryx: (Default)
Gosh, I don't know why I feel disconnected from my people (especially my local people, but really all of y'all). It's not like I ever tell anyone what's going on with me or anything. Aside from 255 character summaries of what city I'm in and where I'm eating, that is.

Things happened!

For instance, I was in Chicago on a project for a few months. I used to hate Chicago, but I don't after finding dance classes and various forms of art and entertainment I couldn't find anywhere else. It's unlikely I'd move there, but it's a pretty decent town outside of the winters. It does have spectacular condiments. And fireworks every Wednesday night.

That ended abruptly and with some rejoicing on my part.

In the meantime, a certain someone moved first from Hawai'i to southwest VA and shortly after that in with Willie, My Roommate the Cheese Lady & me. I've been told recently that having your boyfriend move in is a reasonably big deal, and might have merited some sort of announcement. It didn't seem like that huge an event. One weekend he left town when I did, and the next he didn't.

I'm currently working in Creve Coeur (which, while French for "broken heart" or "heartbroken", is pronounced Creev Cor), a suburb outside St Louis. This means I spend probably 16 hours a week in planes and airports (mind, I still bill 40). I noticed this past weekend that I spend the majority of my life in two of the situations in which people feel the most entitled, powerless, tired and pouty: namely, organizational change and air travel. It's a problem; I can feel my faith in the basic goodness of people slowly eroding. People - self included - can go through terrible things with great dignity, but so often endure little hardships like exhausted children.

So, travel is wearing on me some - it's the mix of being gone, dealing with people in airports and on planes, and not successfully changing the entire world in the past 6 months. Mostly I'm lonely. It turns out almost everyone I hung out with is quite busy without me, so rather than the problem I expected to have (not having enough time on weekends to do what I want) I have the exact opposite (not having anyone who wants or is able to go play). And, like, all the dance in Richmond happens during the workweek. Harrumph!

I don't mean that I am miserably sad! The part of travel where I am in new places all the time is pretty great. Thanks to the care of My Roommate the Cheese Lady and the aforementioned fantastically useful [not to mention just fantastic, period] boyfriend, the house is constantly getting cozier and happier. My current work is usually more interesting than my old work (sorry, former colleagues - it's just true), and it changes enough that I'm always learning. I've forgotten how to wear high heels. I still see my parents once a month. I get to find and explore new dance stuff most places I go. That sort of thing.

Still. My predominant feeling is a sortof wistful loneliness and disconnection.
keryx: (Default)
Richmonders! And other people who don't know Chicago or Italians!

I need to tell you about giardiniera.* It is, I truly believe, Chicago's greatest contribution to the world. If you haven't tried it, that's okay. I will make you some or bring you some or... something. It's particularly fantastic on pizzas and sammiches. In fact, my longstanding problems with tomato-sauce pizza are all pretty much about the fact that most of it does not contain giardiniera.

Seriously. You want some.

* Someone needs to add some citations to that Wikipedia article!
keryx: (Default)
I have a bath thing here in Chicago that smells like oranges.

Except! It's supposed to smell like oranges and patchouli. It probably does, but my wholesome package-less deodorant also smells of patchouli, and I believe I can no longer smell patchouli as a result.

No. Longer. Smell. PATCHOULI.

I strongly suspect that thinking patchouli is just what clean armpits smell like qualifies a person as a pretty serious hippie.
keryx: (yay mountains)
This past weekend I went to the Omega Institute for a lecture and meditation instruction with Ani Pema Chodron. A fair amount of the meditation practice was led by Tim Olmsted, who is connected both to Pema's Shambhala tradition and to Tergar, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche's international meditation project.

There is more to say about the impact of the instruction (and of taking time away from daily life to focus on meditation), but I think the place and the teachers might be of interest to some of you. Pema has a strange saintly quality among Americans, buddhists and quasi-buddhists alike. Several people I met expressed a desire just to be near her. Some were going through Official Big Life Stuff. I suppose that's often where philosophy and religion feel most needed and really get expressed: in extremes.

So, Pema (whom everyone refers to by "first name")? Totally famous. Also tiny and funny and wise and fairly reasonable and... worldly, I guess? She talked about diets and appetites and stuff in very conventional ways at a few points, which most of you will know I did not care for. She's pretty blunt, but not in that odd childlike way I associate with monastics.

Omega is like meditation summer camp. It smells like camp. There are rules like camp. The showering facilities are bad like camp, which no one notices because, as at camp, few people shower (that might be a bit of an exaggeration). The campus is a series of cabins, some arranged like dorms and some like motel rooms. And there are lots of bugs, minor irritants, etc. But. The facilities for classes are lovely, sustainably powered, and just generally feel-good. It also has a little lake, gardens everywhere, and chairs and benches all over outside (plus hammocks, if that's what you're into). If the weather's good, you can spend all but your class time outside.

It's a pretty great place to hang out on a spring weekend, in other words. I'm glad I went.

* Pretty much no one but Kim will get this reference, which is just fine. It's not an apt analogy, but it makes me smile.
keryx: (Default)
There's a mediterranean restaurant inside a jewelry store around the corner from the office. They make, among other things, the finest falafel I recall eating. They also introduced me to a Greek thing I'm terribly pleased to meet: lemon rice soup.

I stole this recipe from the internets and made my own tonight.

onion or scallions
kale or cabbage, shredded (yay, bok choy)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
a quantity of pepper, turmeric & ginger that sounds good to you
some amount of vegetable oil and soy sauce
a cup or two of precooked rice
4 cups vegetable broth
1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Sautee everything but the rice, lemon juice and broth, until appropriately yummy (depending on how soft you like your green stuff). Add the liquid and simmer for about 10 minutes. Consume happily.
keryx: (Default)
I'm reading this rambling-yet-delightful Tiger Beatdown piece about attitudes toward virginity, and it makes me curious about people's early sexual experiences.

Because I am nosey!

So, you know, if you're comfortable sharing that sort of stuff, what do you remember thinking?

[Poll #1562031]

Note that if you read this via Facebook or a reader, probably you'll have to click through to the original post to read and respond to the poll questions (and I think Livejournal only lets registered users answer polls per se, though your comments are still of interest).
keryx: (Default)
If you, or anyone you love, ever need to quit smoking... may I suggest a month in Chicago?

People smoke and litter their butts all over downtown. At first, it makes an ex-smoker think man, I really want a cigarette, but this gradually turns into a general feeling of disgust. The air in Chicago is fairly urban (that is, clogged a bit with dust and dirt and exhaust and stuff), anyhow, and the addition of secondhand smoke to that mix is straight-up foul. It makes Richmond smell positively tropical in comparison.

When I smoked regularly, I had no idea how unpleasant it was for passersby... and, well, one person smoking isn't that bad. But one person smoking every 5 feet is a bit like walking through a bar. Only the bar is like, 2 miles long.
keryx: (Default)
Now and then, something will remind me that I'm a poor excuse for a Southerner. For instance! I did not know what pimento cheese was. Is. My not-knowing is in the past, but the cheese is in both the past and the present.

It's made out of mayonnaise, shredded cheese (usually sharp cheddar) and those tasty little peppers people stuff in green olives.

I tried to find out something about its history, in part because I'd love to have my theory confirmed. My theory being: someone wanted to make ham salad, but had no ham. And it was snowing. But! They had a block of cheddar cheese. I think the stuff tastes just like ham salad would if it were made of cheese and not ham.

There isn't much of a history on the internet, but it is definitely an Official Southern Thing. They serve it at the Master's Tournament. They also serve it, handmade by my very own roommate & Richmond's finest cheesemonger, at the local organic grocery.
keryx: (blanche)
I saw this photo yesterday that made me wonder if there's a sex- or gender-based trend in the postures people assume while having orgasms.

My purely anecdotal conjecture is that women tend to squinch while men sprawl, and women become convex while men become concave (though upon reflection, I'm not so sure about the latter). So tell me: where do you fall on this totally scientific spectrum?

[Poll #1545057]

Thank you for supporting my adventures in bad science.
keryx: (work!)
I forgot that Ada Lovelace Day was yesterday, and failed to make this post I've been saving up. But I'll make it today, on the Day After Ada Lovelace Day. Admittedly a less-recognized global holiday, but still totally worthwhile.

What's Ada Lovelace Day, you ask? Well, since your clicky finger is broken, I'll tell you: Ada Lovelace (née Augusta Ada Byron. Yes. That Byron) wrote the first computer program(me), for the Analytical Engine. Ada Lovelace Day started last year as a blogging-based recognition of women's accomplishments in science and technology.

So. You may argue that my subject doesn't represent much of a science & technology accomplishment. Hey, good thing it's not actually Ada Lovelace Day, eh? Because I? Want to talk about Mary Baker Eddy.* Who was, possibly, as founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, a cult leader. Her tract on science & health is certainly a little weird by contemporary standards. Christian Scientists are probably best known for their controversial ideas about spiritual healing, which comes from their fairly extreme belief that the only reality is spiritual. Trying to treat the material body with material medicine is, by extension, foolish. Mortality rates among Christian Scientists are apparently higher than among people who follow more traditional approaches to medicine. I'm just saying.

But. Baker-Eddy's beliefs spring from an interesting life, including successful recovery from illness while rejecting the common medicinal practices of her time (keeping in mind that she was a contemporary of Ada Lovelace, and that one's chances of getting better without leeches are almost better than with). And her seemingly wacky religion demands a higher standard of proof than other faith-based religions of its time, while mostly leaving room for scientific and technological inquiry.

She also founded the Christian Science Monitor, in response to "yellow journalism". Again, proof, facts and curiosity: things the world could use a bit more of. Also, Christian Scientists designed this totally awesome giant globe, one of my favorite things, and I love far-reaching minds that decide things like "I think I will build a giant globe in my church library".

I find her an interesting example of the complexity of humans and our beliefs. On one hand: revolutionary beliefs about Truth from a daring woman. On the other: kindof a cult. All told, I suppose, rather a weirdo. And I like weirdos.

I'll leave you with this quote, on a photo I took outsider her library in Boston. It makes me happy.
To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.

* I rarely advocate reading talk pages on Wikipedia, since they're often a bit ridiculous, but this one I think shows well how polarized opinions can get around Christian Scientists.

new love

Mar. 14th, 2010 01:00 pm
keryx: (Default)
I finished my first project last week and don't yet have a new assignment, which (leaving aside my worries about being bored tomorrow) means something awesome: this morning I slept in on daylight savings time and am now cozied up with some cats and Google Reader.

Reader is pretty great. I played with other readers a couple of years ago without really enjoying them, and ended up just creating categories of "friends" on Livejournal for my various blogs and such. That's handy: I can read everything, actual friends and blogs and fandom stuff, but LJ's RSS feature breaks. Like, a lot. And it's not designed to be export/import friendly, so it took an hour or so of manual work to convert to the new tool.

Anyhow. I came here not to bury LJ, but to praise Reader. Reader is a reasonable compromise, available as one stream or several like LJ, except consistently working. It's also easy to share random stuff I like (although this is also easy to do on Facebook, where I already have a network of friends, so...).

These tools, for me, say a lot about how I interact with the world. This got me curious. What social stuff are you using on the internets?


Feb. 21st, 2010 07:48 pm
keryx: (Default)
If I hadn't just been very sick, this morning would've found me clearing out the garden beds for spring. There's snow on the ground, sure, but the weather is delicious. Spring returns! It doesn't surprise me that so many religions have rituals around this time of rebirth; after a snowbound winter, it really does feel miraculous. And like a surprise, too! Spring in the mid-atlantic comes just when you'd forgotten how to expect it, sneaking in these little tendrils - into February, of all months, keeper of winter olympics and Groundhog Day and snow.

Yeah. This is why I live here and commute to the northeast. Well, this, and you local kids. I love everything, but today I particularly love the itch in my brain that wants to run around barefoot and dig in the dirt as it starts to warm.

I have a new roommate coming soon, another gardener and foodie. Probably a more organized one: hon, are you fastidious about gardening as well as the kitchen? Because I? Am not. But I do love growing food, the spring planting and the summer eating. We might need berry bushes. And chard. And zucchini. And probably more tomatoes, if we need to feed two people. Let's grow things! What do you want to grow?

I'm practically thrumming with the anticipation.
keryx: (kills fascists)
This is a pretty cool thing Twitter can do: Kevin Smith (yes, that Kevin Smith) can embarrass Southwest Airlines much more publicly than the average person. They apparently kicked him off a plane for being inconveniently fat. Maybe.

There's a longer post on Shapely Prose about both Smith's experience and the longstanding asshattery of a couple of airlines (at least one other airline, United, does the same) when it comes to fat folk. Nevermind the right or wrongness of the occasional two-seat purchase policy: it's the occasional that really sucks. It's an inconsistently and unfairly applied policy.

Look, I don't know why airlines have such a hard time achieving profitability. I don't know what's reasonable to expect so that they can continue to fly and pay people who make that happen. But it does seem like air travel has become more and more uncomfortable over time - not for me, or even for just fat people, but for people as a whole. The discussion around this particular issue always seems to include so much blame for other humans, rather than the compassion and empathy that is arguably our natural state. It's the system. It's a system we're actively participating in when we defend our space, occupy as much of it as possible with our bags, and complain at the noises made by the smiling baby sitting in a lap next to us.

Air travel doesn't always make people assholes. It often makes us kin. A couple of weeks ago when everyone headed south got rebooked onto the same 5 early morning flights, we got an entire group going to figure out how the airline's process was meant to work, and to inform other passengers (yeah, I got picked for recon; that was pretty fun) so no one got stuck in the wrong line.

Both, though, are part of the same thing: it's a lousy system built on crappy processes. No one ought to have to struggle to find the right line. No one ought to wonder whether some policy will be applied to them or not [Er, not to mention that fatness ought not be a thing one can be shamed for, period. It should be a difference we all just accommodate because we're people, and people are good.].
keryx: (Default)
I'm starting to get into a rhythm of travel for work. It's pretty fun. I mean, I've had flights cancelled 3 weeks in a row now, and that part's not fun. The actual travel is.

Bags are challenging. Since I go back to the same place, I tried a checked bag (a 20 in roller) and a carried one (a duffel/gym bag) with the idea that I could leave the roller between trips. I kept having to move them around anyhow. I think keeping a week of stuff in a duffel-style bag is the most flexible way to go. Easy to get around town with, and a single unchecked bag is a huge plus in the midst of airport shenanigans: just show up and fly.

But. I also want to be able to skip going home and spend a weekend exploring - ideally by choice & with friends, not stuck in weather - without too much angst. I think I finally have this figured out: it's not how much, but what you pack. Simple color palette. Interchangeable pieces. Minimal shoe choices (shoes take up a lot of space). This week's single bag could easily get me through two weeks, provided some things get washed.

I like my work situation a lot more if I get to walk to and from work. Our first week, we stayed at a hotel in walking distance. Last week for a variety of complicated reasons we ended up over a mile from the office & had to cab it. I didn't like this. This coming week I'm walking. Or else!

Food is complicated. Meaning, we keep eating complicated food & drinking red wine. I came home this weekend wanting tofu, fresh fruit, veggies I cook myself. Nothing in a cream sauce! No gnocchi! No seafood! The food while we travel is good, don't get me wrong - and wow, Boston loves a meringue even more than I do. We were talking the other evening about this, how much eating out constantly can make you just want a simple sandwich or ramen noodles in your own kitchen. Then you get home, and people want to go out to eat with you.

Unless, of course, it effing snows every time you come home, and you never see anyone ever. Richmond peeps, I miss you terribly! I'm home, but I never see you! That part just sucks. Knowing it's an effect of freak weather doesn't make it any less sucky.
keryx: (ned squeeing)
I started this post in the Denver airport, which I recommend. The overall experience is just average, but they recycle and have free wifi and lots of places to charge things. Everything I need. Except maybe a shower.

Where I have been, though, is Kaua'i. Kaua'i is pretty amazing when you get into it (the last trip there was very short, so I just saw the surface of things, which is lovely the way a postcard or travel magazine is lovely). This time we got to climb around on things. Alas, I never made time for serious snorkeling, just a little paddle out from the beach on my first day, but that left more time for land-based stuff.

I'd like to get more practice hiking - it's been awhile, and like anything it gets more comfortable & therefore more daring each time I do it.

Oops, this turned out longer than I'd planned )

Good trip! The company was also lovely & I had a lot of fish tacos, though my appetite for them has not diminished. [Yeah, yeah. Go ahead and make your crass jokes. I'll wait over here.]
keryx: (Default)
Do you make resolutions or set goals for the year at some point each year? And if so, what do you or the world gain from that process?

I've gone a long time without setting any kind of Gregorian new year resolution. Mostly I think that tradition results in pretty self-absorbed goals, as if there's a standard menu we tend to choose from, you know: "lose x pounds", "run marathon", "quit smoking" and the occasional "give to charity". They're generally about making individuals feel goal-oriented, with some imagined happy future in mind. They turn evil, too, when people but aside the goals they weren't all that passionate about and then berate themselves for "failing".

Not that resolutions can't be broader-reaching, or that they can't mix altruism and feeling good about oneself. The conventional ones, though, really do trend towards me me me me. I feel like they cross a line between a desire for goodness and just overwhelming, grasping desire for the future, for something more, something that once had will just translate into another more.

For awhile, I set goals each year around my birthday, which is frankly the same thing but with less recrimination. Still pretty selfish. Still very imaginary-future-oriented. I'm trying to shift my thinking towards things I want to hold, or pay attention to, without getting all spun up about some projected outcome. Like, give everything to what I'm doing right now (including forgetting to give everything), or seeing people more clearly or more gently.

I'm curious what others do, mostly because you know, you're interesting and I wonder what you think. So, what do you think?
keryx: (Default)
I have to write this story down. It's not only adorable, but emblematic of my family.

Last Friday, when you may or may not have been celebrating Christmas, my mother got up and read the paper. As people often do. She came upon an article about a family with several dogs who'd ended up in a lousy financial situation through a combination of injury and the generally lousy-ness of the economy. The article mentions that the dogs eat a lot - seems all of them do! - and the family is worried about providing for them.

Mom decides we need to take them our "spare" dog food - that is, several large bags and some cans. And, because she is herself, we have to a) do it immediately, that morning, before we go to the annual xmas movie... in an hour, and b) she's not coming with us. People tend not to believe this, but my mother is shy. Introverted, too. She's great at organizing people and making them feel comfortable, but if you look really closely, you can see that it takes effort.

I should mention here that we only know what neighborhood they live in and vaguely what their vehicle looks like. Also, I'm not sure I've yet put on pants when she issues this decision.

So. Dad and I get dressed, by which point mom has a fully developed plan and is already executing it. We all load up the van, and we locate the neighborhood. I read the newspaper article in the car, so we'll at least know the name of the family when we show up at their doorstep. We then drive around until I spot the family's vehicle, and dad goes and tells them we have dog stuff for them (also a small offering for the people), which the dude, dad & I all drop off at their place in about 5 minutes.

Total elapsed time on this entire project? About 40 minutes. Half of which is driving. No big production, no hand-wringing, no pushiness in the direction of the dogs and people we - I hope - helped. And then we went to the movies.
keryx: (Default)
After I only half-answered this question the other day, I remembered a half-formed conjecture I have about people's reading habits. I'd like to 2/3 form that conjecture.

Of course, if I state the hypothesis before you answer, it meddles with your answer.

So. What are you reading?

I'll wait here while you think. Telling you I have some theory and then staring at you while you answer my question totally isn't observer interference.
keryx: (muppet - gay)
For obvious reasons, D & T have not been particularly bloggy this weekend. But! I have a typical [ profile] cutegaychick story to tell. Wanna hear it?

Alright! Friday evening, I went to the hospital to visit baby Havoc (he has a real name now). T's brother S got there a bit later than I did, and we left around the same time - that universal "the patient is 5 minutes from utter incoherence" time, when everyone leaves the hospital. Ordinary enough, right?

We walk down the hall, and we pass a set of elevators on the left. We'd come up (separately) in a set of elevators in roughly that location, so, while we're sure those aren't the same elevators we used to get to our current location, we push the button and wait. I am a bit hesitant to get on the elevator that arrives, but S is all "oh, no, scary death freight elevators are totally fine", so we get in. [I think it's useful to note here that I have a pretty good sense of direction and generally fine instincts about things that are going to turn out to be stupid, and I have a Very Bad Feeling about this elevator.]

We go down to the floor with the star next to it - cause hi, that's always the floor you go to, right? Star = exit! It's an established design metaphor. Except, no. Star floor is the floor where the emergency staff load friendly homeless women and stretchers containing soiled linen into a second scary freight elevator with a guy in it eating a meatbull sub. OBVIOUSLY. And we, foolishly, just GET OUT. Into, like, a closet. S is getting progressively more anxious-looking as we stand there. An hour (that might be slightly exaggerated) or so later, the guy with the sub comes back.

He is the same guy who helped me find the maternity ward earlier. He is the best guy ever! So I get in the elevator (S remains dubious) and meatball sub dude asks if it was a boy or a girl and says congratulations and we're all please please please point us to the exit. Which he does. By walking with us through some sketchy doors and down some sketchy hallway until TADA. The main lobby.

Of course, having learned the valuable lesson that one must never ever do anything but precisely retrace one's steps upon leaving MCV, S and I walk out a door we did not come in, and end up in some random parking lot that appears to have pleated the fabric of space/time. It's creepy, we're wandering around lost in the snow... but this time the door turns out to somehow be less than a block away from the cars we parked 2-3 blocks from the entrance, which was just around the corner from the weird space/time door.

MCV. It's an effing labyrinth.
keryx: (Default)
I wrote this very long article about job seeking based on my recent experience. People asked if I had advice, so this is advice layered over the story I had to tell.

I share it with you in case you or anyone you know might benefit from it: looking for a job from the heart.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

September 2016

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