Friday, November 13, 2015

Things My Dental Pain Taught Me

Maybe it was dino dentistry that killed the dinosaurs.
Some theories of pain management would have us figure out what our pain is trying to tell us. Learn the lesson, and the pain lessens. Allegedly.

I guess what my pain was trying to tell me was that one checkup with no cavities is no reason to not bother with the dentist for two years. Even when you have way too many migraines to deal with much else.

But I learned many other things.

We had popcorn Friday night and a while later, I noticed that I had some tooth pain. I looked in the mirror and saw a dark patch on one tooth near my gum.

Since I hadn't noticed it before, I assumed something was stuck in there and made with the dental floss and toothbrush. Nope. Still there. Either something was really stuck in there or my tooth was disintegrating all of a sudden.

So I turned to the google.

Lesson #1: Whatever you do, do NOT go a google image search for dental problems. You can't unsee that shit and oh dear God, you will see stuff that no one should. I saw some pretty gross stuff as an EMT, but nothing compares to what dentists deal with.

Lesson #2: There are few things funnier than forums on bodybuilding websites. 

"You need to see your dentist, brah."
"Brah, I don't want to go to the dentist if I don't have to."
And so on.

Saturday morning, I called my most recent dentist. Who doesn't work weekends. Just as well since we have dental insurance and he's not in network. The dentist the insurance company assigned to us had horrible online reviews, so I kept looking. I got through to one place and was told "we're not open for emergencies today" and I should come in on Monday. I explained that he and I seemed to be working with different definitions of "emergency."

I googled "emergency dentist Brooklyn" and called the first dentist listed. And was told that "we're not taking any more walk-ins today," even though it wasn't even 10:30. 

Lesson #3: Emergency dentistry is for morning people. Everyone else can go fuck themselves.

We went to the drug store to buy some Orajel to numb the pain. Note that not one dentist or receptionist I spoke to suggested using Orajel to stave off infection and make the pain go away until normal office hours. Because, see lesson #3.

Lesson #4: Orajel and the like is in the same aisle as the toothpaste, and not with the first aid supplies as I'd thought for some stupid reason.

Lesson #5: Orajel is pretty damn effective. Use that first before trying to find a new dentist in a hurry.

I was starting to get a migraine, and I wasn't sure if it was from the tooth pain or from the phone calls. I got lucky, and the headache pain went away with the tooth pain.

His Awesomeness googled the problem and learns that popcorn hulls are notoriously hard to remove because they're curved and conform to the tooth. He gets me some chewing gum to help it work loose, but no luck there.

Sunday morning I got a call from one of the dentist offices I'd called without leaving a message. They checked my insurance and discovered that my coverage is terminated. Which, OK fine. I'm not feeling the love with the in-network dentists anyway. (We got a new credit card with a chip in it, which means we had a new expiration date, which messed with the automatic billing. Oh well.)

But my old dentist doesn't work weekends, so I go see this other dentist. Because I just want this foreign object out of my gums and I have a doctor's appointment on Monday and actual work, so let's just do this before it gets worse, gets infected or whatever.

I pay him $60 so he can stick a sharp metal thing in between my teeth where I can reach with dental floss. He asks how I feel and I say I don't feel much of anything because of the Orajel. So I look in the mirror and the dark thing is still there. 

I point it out to the dentist, who says in a thick Russian accent. "That? That cavity."
Apparently, he didn't think that was the source of my dental pain.

Lesson #6: Russian sentence structure is just like Cookie Monster's. Seriously. Imagine, "That? That cavity." In Cookie Monster's voice. See?

He doesn't want to fill the cavity because filling a cavity on the front of a tooth near the gum can lead to a filling that keeps falling out. He tells me to just brush it more diligently than usual and it won't get worse.

I didn't believe him, and wondered if I'm just spoiled. We get our insurance through Obamacare, which is awesome, but also means that we see a lot of doctors who accept Medicaid and don't offer the same level of service as doctors who don't. Maybe in poor people dentistry, you let cavities go for a while. (Possibly until you need a root canal, which the dentist can charge a fortune for.)

So I made an appointment with my other dentist (the one whose office is closed on weekends) for a cleaning. He agrees with me - that cavity needs to be filled. It's not am emergency (especially now that my gums aren't inflamed from me trying to remove an imaginary foreign object) and he prefers not to fillings right after cleanings, so I'm going back in a few weeks.

Lesson #7: Dentists are like hairdressers. Once you've found one you like and trust, stick with them.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Here, Go Read This

Tomato juice actually tastes better on planes. The constant loud noise hampers our enjoyment of sweet food and makes umami taste better. Maybe the airline industry can use this info to make the food taste better. Of course, airline food is virtually nonexistent these days, but still.

In case you want to up your homemade Egg McMuffin game, you can make the eggs this way. Me, I prefer Bon Appetit's Ultimate Egg Sandwich

Plus sized women can indeed dress like Miss Fisher, tiny purse-sized handgun not included. What's truly wrong with my life is that I have no opportunity to wear a beaded flapper dress. There are monthly 1920s-themed parties in NYC, but this being NYC, the club they're held in is so small that if you're dancing, you also have a trumpet playing one foot away from your head. Which is fine unless loud noises give you migraines.

Oprah's Investment in Weight Watchers Was Smart Because The Program Doesn't Work - and manages to convince customers that the failure is their own fault so that they keep coming back. It's actually a pretty abusive relationship.

The Bloggess tweeted that she'd done something stupid and embarrassing (A cashier at the airport told her to enjoy her flight and she replied, "You too!")  Hundreds of people responded by telling her about the stupid things they've done. Collected here. It's a long read, because we all do stupid shit and some of us obsess over it for all eternity. But after reading them all, I've come to a few conclusions:

  • People get really embarrassed after messing up a rote, mindless conversation ("Enjoy your meal" "You too!"). Maybe we should be embarrassed that our lives are so full of mindless call and response interactions.
  • Some embarrassing things that haunt people for years are actually perfectly normal reactions to things.
  • A few people had stories about friends or relatives doing dumb things, but no one shared a story about something a stranger did. Because no one remembers that shit. Most of the time, we spend years embarrassed over things that no one else thought was worth remembering.
  • So many people do so many stupid things that anyone who isn't gracious about witnessing a brain fart is a jerk.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why I'm Never Drinking Hot Chocolate Ever Again

This post was originally published on The Famished Freelancer on February 4, 2014. You can see in these pix how a lack of clean surfaces made me a poor fit for food blogging. Even with extreme close-ups, you can still see all the junk I keep on my snack tray.

I've had a sore throat/cold thing going on, so I've been all about the throat-soothing stuff. Drinking hot water, eating marshmallows (the gelatin coats the throat), drinking more hot water. You know the routine.

The other night, it was too late for hot chocolate (too much caffeine for that time of night), so I started wondering if Hot Vanilla is a thing, or if it was something I just imagined through all the cough syrup.

Google told me this was a thing. The recipes I saw were a bit complicated, involving vanilla beans and making your own whipped cream to put on top, so I worked it out on my own. (Recipe below.)

The first sip was like…hello darling, where have you been all my life? It was sweet, it was vanilla-y, it was hot and creamy and why have I been wasting my time with hot cocoa?

I realize that many of you will think I'm a total freak, but I actually prefer vanilla to chocolate. Yeah, I know, pick yourself up off the floor. More chocolate for you.

I like chocolate. But given a choice, I'll order something else. A nice fruit pie. Or creme brûlée. Offer me ice cream and I'm going to want vanilla (or strawberry). Most of the chocolate flavors are too chocolatey for me. Some people want rich, dense, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. 

Not me.

Hell, I have a friend who will only eat chocolate desserts. To her, if it's not chocolate, it's not worth the effort it takes to chew it.

My husband prefers chocolate, but he'll let me pick when we split desserts. Not because he loves me, but because he's too full to eat an entire dessert himself. And because I will compromise on many things, but I will not eat chocolate cake covered with chocolate sauce, accompanied by chocolate ice cream. I know this is the preferred dessert of most people, but I honestly don't know what's wrong with some people.

I mean, chocolate covered Oreos completely throw off the balance of the cookie, but there are enough people that love them that the company keeps making them.

This doesn't make it right.

However, I'll totally go the other way and pull apart two double-stuff Oreos to make a quadruple stuff and that's totally fine by me. No, I don't know what the Hell is the matter with me.

But Hot Vanilla? More hot cocoa for everyone else, because I'm not going back.

Hot Vanilla
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon

  1. Pour the milk in a microwave-safe cup, and microwave on high for 45 seconds.
  2. Stir in sugar and microwave for another 45 seconds.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon.
  5. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows if you're into that sort of thing.

I suppose you could try it with any extract. I'm thinking of trying this with almond extract, or half vanilla, half almond.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Here, Go Read Something

Two publishing companies got into a hilarious Twitter squabble. Best part:
Chapter 8: Both houses regain their chill and respond to other people.

Famous quotes, the way a woman would have to say them in a meeting. The writer is not exaggerating one tiny bit here. I refused to learn that language (because it makes you sound like a jabbering idiot) and therefore had my communication style criticized several times during my corporate career. By men. For talking the exact way they do. Sigh.

Brace yourself for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the movie. Trailer here. The book is as silly as you'd expect. I preferred the prequel and sequel (Dawn of the Dreadfuls and Dreadfully Ever After) because I wasn't constantly comparing it to the original and nitpicking like crazy. The first book had a few jokes that clearly indicated that the author didn't completely understand the original scene and was therefore making fun of the wrong thing. The illustrator had zero idea about fashions of the day and so all the pictures show people wearing Victorian styles that wouldn't be invented for decades. It's like dressing people in 1970s polyester instead of 1920s flapper dresses.

I've been ranting about the coming movie becuase the trailers show the Bennett girls wearing corsets and REGENCY WOMEN DID NOT WEAR CORSETS!!!!! Loose, empire waisted dresses don't require a corset. Except, I'm actually wrong. They had looser corsets that didn't nip in the waist. Which makes sense since bras weren't going to be invented for another century and they didn't want to leave their girls unsupported.

I'm still going to watch the movie closely to make sure they have the right kind of corsets. Because apparently I enjoy getting mad about stuff like that.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pot Roast of Love

This post originally appeared on The Famished Freelancer on January 30, 2014.

It's been below freezing for entirely too long, so naturally thoughts turn to pot roast. Mind you, we have no control over the heat in our apartment (which is copious), so it's not like we look for excuses to have the stove on for hours. 

But oh, man, a hearty meal sure hits the spot and it is a nice change to have a kitchen that's crazy hot.

Last Saturday, His Awesomeness made a pot roast. And ZOMG was it amazing. The first time he served it, we discovered that the potatoes were underdone and had to put it back in for another 30 minutes. It smelled so good that it took a hella lot of will power not to just eat underdone potatoes, which cannot possibly be healthy. 

It was so good that I had seconds. Okay, thirds. Which is a huge deal because we usually cook just enough food for each of us to have one serving. If there are leftovers, HA will often split them into individual containers for lunch.

But this…I could've eaten the whole thing and then rolled around in the gravy.  Except that I managed to get full before we ran out of roast.

Monday night, we had leftovers and despite the chips and salsa we had half an hour earlier, I still wanted more. But there was only one serving left and I decided to hold back. You know, like how you don't want a really good book to end so you keep setting it aside when you're close to the end.

I knew there was a risk of HA taking the last serving for lunch, but I figured that was only fair since he did all the work.

After dinner, we settled down on the couch to watch TV and he turned to me and said, "Just so you know…" which drives me crazy because he always follows it up with some FYI that kinda sucks, like "I have conference calls all night." But this time, he followed it with, "I'm going to leave the last serving of pot roast for you."

It was the single most romantic thing he's said to me. Possibly ever.

I mean, I love him more than I love that pot roast. But one of the reasons that's true is that he cares about making me happy and the pot roast doesn't.

Pot Roast of Love

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 (2+ pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed (If you can find a bigger roast, then go for it.)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
2 cups low salt beef broth
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chopped tomatoes (half a can)
1 1/4 pounds small red potatoes (or bigger potatoes cut up)
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium high heat. 
  3. Sprinkle salt & pepper over the roast. 
  4. Brown roast on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove roast from pan.
  5. Saute onion in pan for 8 minutes, or until browned.
  6. Return roast to pan.
  7. Combine broth, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over roast. Add tomatoes. 
  8. Bring to a simmer.
  9. Cover the dutch oven and place in the oven. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
  10. Add potatoes and carrots. Bake for an additional hour or until vegetables are tender.

What's your favorite cold weather meal? 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday Links

The Sequel to the Philadelphia Story Katherine Hepburn Deserves I read this in public and could not stop laughing out loud. Because, yeah, that story takes a really weird turn.

Things My Newborn Has Done That Remind Me of the Existential Horror of the Human Experience I swear, most of the time newborns are just like WTF? As well they should be.

How Doctors Take Women's Pain Less Seriously Back in my volunteer EMT days, I once took a woman to the ER who'd given birth a few days earlier and was in excruciating pain. Like, soiled herself and was in too much pain to let anyone clean her up. We just wrapped her in the soiled blanket and transferred her to the gurney because that required the least amount of jostling. At the hospital, we had to talk to a security guard before we could take her to the ER. As he was letting us through, he said, "Of course she's in pain. She just had a baby. What did she expect?" I don't even want to think about how many doctors and nurses she encountered that day who had the same attitude as that guy. We rarely found out anything about the patients after we handed them off, but I'd bet my 401K that it wasn't normal post-natal pain. 

If you unknowingly give your kids juice that contains too much sugar, what else are you capable of?

Women who show anger are taken less seriously. Which, of course, makes us even angrier. Shit like this is why I feel a certain affinity for the Witch from Into the Woods:
"You're so nice. You're not good. You're not bad. You're just nice. 
I'm not good. I'm not nice. I'm just RIGHT."
Which hey, sounds like a good place to end:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Book Review: The Martha Washington Cookbook

That post originally appeared on The Famished Freelancer on January 28, 2014. When I get better, I totally want to start making some historical recipes. Nothing that tastes like roses, though. Well, maybe. People back then were so into it, I feel like I should give rosewater another chance.

Photo credit: ttarasiuk
I was really excited to receive The Martha Washington Cookbook for Christmas. What's not to love about really old recipes? Tastes have changed over the years, and it's an interesting peek into another time.

It's also an interesting peek into blatant racism.

The cookbook proper was given to Martha Washington by her first mother-in-law and passed down through the generations. It was updated in the 1940s, and the current printing is an exact replica of the one from the 40s.

This wouldn't be an issue except for the clueless racism thrown around in the introduction. The author, Marie Kimball, goes on and on about Martha's responsibilities at Mount Vernon, including managing hundreds of slaves. The tone implies that this was a big, difficult task. Nowhere near as hard as BEING a slave, I'm sure. But Kimball doesn't give a shit about that.

Later, she talks about Hercules, the Washington's slave/cook. They brought him with them to Philadelphia when George was President, but there was a law in Pennsylvania that freed any slave living there for 6 months. "Although Washington did not believe Hercules would avail himself of this, it was considered prudent to return him to Mount Vernon before the six months were up…In the end, city life got the better of him. When the family was to return home, in 1797, Hercules ran away and was never seen again."

OMG, the word choices speak volumes. Like, why wouldn't someone take advantage of a law giving them freedom? And Hercules didn't "run away," he escaped.

As Louis C.K. said, slavery wasn't that long ago. It's just two 70 year old women living one after the other. This book was written just one old lady after the Civil War, yet the concept that slaves didn't want to be slaves hadn't quite sunk in. And no one thought to fix that in the current edition.

Anyway, to the food. 

Apparently, people in the 18th century really, really liked rosewater in everything. Now, I've eaten rose-flavored candy and it's like eating perfume. Some people dig it, but it's not for me.

Hercules cooked everything on a fireplace. The recipes have been updated for stoves.

A typical 18th century American meal involved a metric fuckton of food. 3 or 6 meat dishes, plus sides. 

I've picked out a bunch of recipes I want to try, mostly sweets. The desserts just seem more accessible and familiar. I couldn't imagine doing a big, 18th century style meat dish for just me and the husband. Though now that Sleepy Hollow has brought the American Revolution into pop culture relevance, a theme party may be in order.

The Verdict

This cookbook is a nice to have, but not essential - unless you want to kick it back colonial style.

For more on slaves at Mount Vernon, check out the Ask a Slave web series, the first of which is below.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday Links

Things yelled at the TV while watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. I'd add:

  • Just do it already!
  • I think they've been doing it for about 3 episodes or at least dating, and they're just messing with the audience at this point.
  • Stop making me want to write smutty fan fiction! 
  • I really wish they'd just show the two leads kiss already because I can't stop picturing them doing it and since actors are real people and not my puppets I feel like I'm crossing a line here.

I love the Great British Baking Show. It's everything American reality shows are not. The contestants are amateur bakers who are not looking to go pro. The competition is only on the weekend, so no one has to quit their job to compete. They do have to spend the week preparing for the coming weekend and baking in every free moment they have. so, it's only a little life ruining.

Saturday and Sunday morning, they make a specific type of baked good. They're told in advance what the judges want, they develop and practice a recipe during the week and then  they make the thing. Saturday afternoon brings the technical challenge, which can be pretty harrowing. The bakers are given a deliberately vague recipe for something obscure and difficult, created by one of the judges. Sometimes, these expert bakers (the sorts of people who would make crackers from scratch for a dinner party) have no idea what the thing is even supposed to look like.

This is a very long way of saying that a Buzzfeed writer made a season's worth of technical challenges and failed spectacularly.

When I was 12, I went to London and saw an exhibit similar to this new one. Plaster casts of people killed in Pompeii - just whoa.

In honor of the day, here's my Columbus Day post from a few years back. 

Apparently, part of Brooklyn's reputation is day drinking. Which, huh? Who the hell are these people? I mean, probably unemployed trust fund hipsters, aka trustafarians. But who is basing Brooklyn's reputation on the behavior of dilettante newbies? Probably test fund hipsters with low paying media jobs.

Anyhoodle, a bunch of Nouveau Brooklynites were out drinking when they had the idea to create the Brooklyn Paranormal Society. The group tries to contact ghosts, but not until after they've had a few drinks. They call themselves Boo-zers. Things got so silly that even the people in attendance were getting annoyed. And a ghost may have actually asked them to leave. Which sounds about right.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Monday Links

Here, read some stuff that I read.

Does Borat hold up on rewatch? Apparently, it does.

T'was ballpoint pens that killed cursive, not computers. 

If Stephen Colbert Were Your Dad

Stop doing stupid shit on Facebook in the name of raising cancer awareness. we're all aware of cancer. And posting nonsense on Facebook does nothing to help people with cancer. No, starting a conversation about cancer when someone bitches at you for participating in a stupid Facebook game does not help anyone with cancer. And since these idiotic games include making people post pregnancy announcements, it's pretty fucking insulting to infertile people. No, you're not just anything. You're being an ass.

Ahem. And, as I mentioned on FB the other day, posting pictures of pink ribbons doesn't help either. It can even be hurtful to all the cancer patients, survivors and loved ones you know who just want to stop being aware of cancer for a few minutes.

The cutest ghost story ever

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


12:10? If only I could make myself go to sleep by then.
Then again....
And so it came to pass many years ago when I was in grad school and living with the parents, my bedroom ceiling fell on me.

This wasn't a huge surprise to anyone. My bedroom ceiling was not what you'd call "intact". 

About 10+ years earlier when we'd moved into that house, my Dad put pink fiberglass insulation into the attic/crawlspace. The area was so unfinished that there were crossbeams on the "floor" and the second floor ceilings. And that's it. While sprawling around this awkward, precarious place, he slipped and his knee hit my bedroom ceiling. 

The truly impressive part is that he only slipped once.

So for 10+ years, a couple of ceiling tiles were a little dented. No big deal, and there were so many other home maintenance things that needed more urgent attention.

Until one night, when I was staying up late to watch Slash on some late night music show. I was sitting at my desk when I heard a noise. I turned around and saw that the dent in my ceiling had increased in dentiness. 

A smarter, cleverer Jen would've covered everything in plastic bags or tarp and spent the night on the couch. In my defense, it was summer and my room was air conditioned, unlike the living room.

So I shrugged it off, watched my show and went to bed much later than usual. Before I had a chance to fall asleep, the entire ceiling fell down. Since I was awake, I was able to run out of the room before anything too heavy hit me.

It was a terrible mess, but I was unharmed. Largely because I'd stayed up later than usual.

I was reminded of this story Monday night. I stayed up later than usual, reading. Because that's totally supposed to help you be sleepy. I was about to dive into yet another chapter and stopped myself because it was after 1am and if I hadn't stopped, I would've kept going and read the last 50 pages of the book. And then had a migraine the next day from staying up too late.

I got ready for bed and went into the bedroom quietly because HA was sleeping. And that's when I noticed a horrible burning smell. It was smell that demanded attention. A smell that gets right up in your face and yells like a baseball player arguing with an umpire.

I followed my nose. Nope - not the TV. Nope - not coming in through the window. Oh dear - it's coming from the corner.

You know those electronic pest repellers? (They work quite well, btw. I do recommend them.) I've had mine for 15 years. Which is apparently too long. We don't even use them anymore since there isn't a bug problem in our current apartment. 

But there was one plugged in, in the bedroom, behind the clothes hamper. And now it was hot. And fixin' to start a fire.

I unplugged it and it (and the outlet) cooled down pretty quickly. Disaster averted.

But the smell hadn't woken HA. Actually, he says he couldn't smell it even after I woke him up. There's no reason to assume that it would've woken me up. The smoke detector is in the living room, so that wouldn't have gone off right away. And it's always better to prevent a fire than escape one.

So if I hadn't stayed up later than usual, we might've had a fire. Though who knows how long it was going. It might've been stinky if I'd gone to bed an hour earlier. And if I'd stayed up later, the wall might've been on fire when I finally went to bed.

Some people might see a divine hand in my timing. Some people might see luck. (Cue Obiwan Kenobi saying, "There's no such thing as luck.")

Me? I dunno. I tend to think that God doesn't micromanage. Because if he does, he has a lot to answer for.

Besides, I used to be in a volunteer fire department. Having a fire in my home would be just so embarrassing. So I'm super vigilant. 

It didn't keep me up all night, wondering at the horrible things that could have happened. But I did feel slightly heroic. I had just averted disaster. By unplugging a thing. So I'm not expecting a parade or anything.

Which is good because I don't really like parades.

Another side effect of my fire department days. It's hard to be impressed with yourself when lifesaving is just part of the job. (In fact, if you brag about saving someone, the more experienced folks will tease you mercilessly.) And after walking in countless parades in an ill-fitting uniform, you develop an aversion to drums and glockenspiels

So yay for good timing. And replace your older gadgets and make sure you have fresh batteries in your smoke detector. And read these fire safety tips.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Which Type of Eater Are You?

This post originally appeared on The Famished Freelancer on January 7, 2014.

My eighth grade teacher once told us the cliché that either people eat to live or live to eat. He admitted that he lived to eat, but since he was a marathon runner with the slightly too thin body that can come with long distance running, I felt there was an implication that it was OK for him to live for food because he burned every calorie he ate and then some.

I don't know if he actually meant that subtext, or if was my own baggage combined with how damn mean he was.

But that old saw isn't entirely accurate. I've noticed that there are three ways that people look at food.

People Who Love Food

I'm in this category and proud of it. People who love food aren't gluttons - it's not about the quantity, but the quality. We like to eat good-tasting food on a regular basis. Disappointing food leaves us wanting more. We all have to eat anyway, so by gum, we're going to enjoy it.

Those pathetic excuses for tomatoes that show up everywhere in the Winter? Not worth eating. Overdone french fries? Why would I do that to myself? 

That Weight Watchers slogan about how food isn't love? These people know what BS that is. Food is love whether it's fattening or low cal.  

People Who Hate Food

These are people who eat only because it's necessary to sustain life. The actual food doesn't really matter to them. I'm not going to try to figure out why they're like this because I so completely don't understand. 

My mother-in-law is in this category - possibly because after a lifetime of feeding her family, she only has herself to feed and is so over cooking. I dunno. 

What I do know is that she doesn't understand us either. While we were visiting over the holidays, she told me and my husband that we needed to make something for lunch from whatever she had in the house (while not touching the food that we'd bought for dinner). She teased us that it would be just like Iron Chef. Our response was, "So the secret ingredient is Lean Cuisine?"

We convinced her to eat at Rib Crib. Where I tried to send back my ribs because they were overdone. They gave me a new serving, but left the old one on the table. Where my mother-in-law, who has many lovely qualities I want to note, tasted the bad ribs multiple times, each time declaring how bad they were. It's a level of self-flagellation that I never expected to see outside of Catholicism. 

I can't even.

Other examples of this behavior include going out to drink after work for hours and hours on an empty stomach. A couple of small plates of bar food shared among ten people doesn't constitute dinner. And yet, the bars of Manhattan are filled with these people every evening. When someone insists on grabbing a bite before meeting the gang at the bar, I know I've met a kindred soul.

People Who Have Been Taught To Hate Food

I used to be in this category, thanks to decades of dieting. These are people who see food as the enemy. These are the people who say that guacamole is a no-no, not because of its own inherent qualities, but because you might eat too much of it. 

Many of these people have socially-acceptable eating disorders. They love food, but that love makes them mad at themselves and the food. 

While I'm picking on moms, I'll just mention that my mom has never met a box of chocolate that she opened right away. Or for a couple weeks later. You want a piece of chocolate while at my mom's house? Just look on the sideboard and you'll find two or three boxes that someone gave her and she virtuously set aside for later. "Later" in this case being defined as "as close to never as humanly possible". Or "until company comes over" because my mom will feed the hell out of anyone who walks through her door. Four main dishes and three desserts isn't unusual at her parties.

But hand her something to eat, and it's 50/50 on whether she'll actually eat it. Even though she once ate a mud pie I made for her because I was all, "But I made it for you."

Did I miss any types? What type are you?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday Throwback Links

Get it? A picture of links. My husband's love of dad
jokes is rubbing off on me.
I've been thinking that once I finish with the daily blowing, I'll come up with a regular posting schedule. I've also been thinking that I'll take a (web)page from Adrienne Martini's (blog) book and make one weekly post a bunch of links.

Judging by the dates on these links below, I had the same idea in March 2013 and never actually did it. 

Riveting story, and I don't want you to miss the last section - an adult who was attacked as a child said that no amount of parental warnings would've saved him because he knew his attacker. This is only one case, but our culture of parental paranoia isn't enough to keep our kids safe, so maybe we should chill the fuck out a little.

All about male entitlement on public transportation. This Tumblr from 2013/2014 helped lead to the law against manspreading on the NYC subway system. A couple of guys have been arrested over it, which is excessive. And possibly didn't happen (details are sketchy, and the alleged guys allegedly had other outstanding warrants). Those arrests led to some (female) activists on Twitter protesting the law as just another way to target men of color. Which, no. Women of color hate manspreading too. The cops may enforce it differently depending on a guy's race, but the same goes for every other law. So, don't hate the game, hate the player.

Great story about a visit to Ireland

Commentary on the songs from Annie, the 1982 movie. I used to sing along to the soundtrack cassette with a friend. Just like every other girl our age at the time.

Explaining rape culture

I promise that if I make this a regular feature, the links will be much more current.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Popapalooza 2015

Silly hats off to the Swiss Guard for looking intimidating
in those outfits.
I asked HA if all the Lutherans have pope envy. He said no. Martin Luther broke from the Catholic church for 95 damn good reasons. He's also unimpressed because all the great liberal things Pope Francis has been saying are what HA's pastor was saying in the 80s. 

(Remember the joke that Windows 95  = Mac 1989? It's like that with Catholics and Lutherans.)

Pope Francis is super liberal. For a pope. He's not even that liberal for a Catholic. But as far as popes go? He's the Burning Man hippie of popes.

It sucks that the pope still thinks abortion is a sin, but it's awesome that he thinks it's a sin along the lines of a little casual coveting. It's progress. 

(Although I'm wondering now if priests were refusing to grant absolution to women who'd had abortions. Because those guys were willing to forgive serial killers and mass murderers as long as they were sorry. I'm not looking into this further because I really don't want to know.)

It looks like the pope is doing his damnedest to be a force for good in the world. Real good, not that "we help the poor and also sexually abuse a lot of children" flavor of good that previous popes had going on.

(NYC's Cardinal Egan performed some creative accounting back when he was Archbishop of Milwaukee in an attempt to hide money from sex abuse lawsuits. Every time I see him on TV, I say, "Fuck that guy," out loud, no matter who else is in the room. Goddess only knows what I'd say if I met him in person.)

I remember back when Pope John Paul II came to the US and people went crazy back then. But now it seems like the non-Catholics are equally excited.

A friend of mine has been understandably concerned at all the pope adulation. I mean, the guy is bigger than The Beatles.

He's quite the cult of personality, Pope Francis. As were Hitler and Mussolini. So, that's a bit worrisome. But JFK was a cult of personality too and he just used his power to get laid. I think we're OK as long as Pope Frankie keeps using his power to point out the evils of free market capitalism and shame world leaders into doing something about climate change.

He doesn't seem to want the power he has, which is a relief. He's declined so many of the fancy clothes, housing and cars that other popes have accepted as their due. I hope all previous popes are embarrassed, sitting in heaven on their elaborate heavenly thrones in their heavenly Gucci loafers.

But, dude, that Fiat? If you want to impress me by riding in a modest vehicle, it's gotta be a 2-door Fiat. Some friends of HA in Missouri have a 2-door Fiat and they gave us a ride a couple of years ago. Getting into the back seat involved some hilarious contortions. I saw the pictures of the pope getting out of a 4-door Fiat and was seriously unimpressed. Though, in fairness we now rent our own car when we visit Missouri so that I never have to get in the back seat of a 2-door Fiat again.

I'll leave you with this clip from Sweeney Todd because it's been stuck in my head the whole time Pope Frankie has been in town. Specifically, the line, "Nope! It was the pope!"

Saturday, September 26, 2015

How To Upgrade Your Cellphone in 65 Easy Steps

1. Double check that you're eligible for a free upgrade by seeing when you ordered your last phone case from etsy.

2. Go to an AT&T store because the last time you upgraded, your husband went to the Apple store and everything got messed up.

3. Give your name to one of the nice young people with uniform t-shirts and tablets milling about.

4. Notice that you are #5 on the waiting list.

5. Regret not going to Starbucks first for your afternoon tea.  

6. Notice that there's been some rapid turnover and you're now #1 on the waiting list.

7. Wait 17 minutes for someone to get to you. During this time, notice several employees milling about but not helping anyone. Also notice one person check that the phone the #2 person of the list wants is in stock, and give tech support to the #3 person on the list.

8. Be told several times that you're not eligible for an upgrade after all.

9. Explain that he must be looking at incorrect information.

10. Call husband while the guy gets his manager. 

11. Husband explains (while manager is figuring it out for herself) that when he upgraded your phone for you last time and they put the new phone on his number, which you then fixed - this nonsense left some residual confusion on the account. He used your upgrade last year, so now you should be able to use his upgrade.

12. First guy asks which phone you'd like and says that he'll have to check if they have it. He then turns back to ask which color you want as if they had tons of these phones in stock.

13. Tell him you want silver because that sounds nice.

14. Guy comes back and says they're out of silver, but they have gold. His tone implies that there is no way on earth you'd ever want the gold.

15. Agree to gold because who gives a shit? You're getting a case anyway.

16. Manager brings out the one iPhone 5s they have and warns you that "it's on open box" in an ominous tone.

17. Jauntily tell manager to open the box so we can all see if everything's there.

18. Something's missing. Manager declares "I can't sell this" and disappears.

19. First guy comes back and suggests you upgrade online.

20. He apologizes for the long wait and you say something snippy, but leave before you pitch a fit.

21. Because, seriously?

22. Seriously?

23. Get worked up on your way home. 

24. Once home, check deleted emails for that one about a free iPhone if you switch carriers. 

25. It's actually only $100 off an iPhone 6 and it's just not worth it to cancel the other contract and pay the fees.

26. Realize that you are AT&T's bitch and will continue to be AT&T's bitch forever as you and your husband are all about the free upgrade.

27. Go to the AT&T website.

28. Retrieve password that the husband can't remember.

29. Sign in and find the page from which you may upgrade.

30. Click on Upgrade next to husband's phone number, assuming that you can transfer his free upgrade to your number in a future step.

31. Discover that you are wrong.

32. Start a Live Chat with customer service.

33. Explain the situation three times while waiting so long for the rep's responses that you begin to suspect your instant messages are being sent via carrier pigeon.

34. Every time you go to a new page, the chat window also refreshes and scrolls down through the entire conversation before you can do anything.

35. Eventually find your way back to the page from which you may upgrade.

36. Click on the Options button next to your own number as instructed by the chat guy who you're starting to suspect is an Incarcerated American

37. Select a helpful radio button that will let you use the other number's free upgrade on this number.

38. Click Continue in the cheerful, happy pop up window.

39. Select a phone. But wait. This phone that should be free is $250. You could get a Samsung phone for free, but what are you? An animal?

40. Chat Guy has no idea.

41. Repeat steps 35-38 with the same result.

42. Let the chat guy transfer you to the premier support folks, whatever that means.

43. Wait for chat chick and explain the whole problem again because that's actually faster than waiting for her to read the whole chat history.

44. Re-explain the problem because chat chick seems to think it's user error, when you know that it's a website bug.

45. Remind yourself for the tenth time that you shouldn't get mad at your husband for the initial screwup because you told him to go to the Apple store instead of the AT&T store in the first place.

46. Wonder for the 15th time if you should've given up on live chat and just called customer support.

47. No. That way lies madness. When has have you ever emerged from a wireless customer service call with your sanity intact?

48. Remind yourself for the third time that even though TMobile would pay your contract cancellation fee, you left them several years ago for annoying customer service.

49. Consider browsing through cell phone covers on etsy, while waiting for chat chick's responses. 

50. Realize that the abundance of options would stress you out even more.

51. Tell husband to go ahead and order takeout for dinner.

52. Worry that you'll still be dealing with this problem long after he gets back with the food in 20 minutes or so.

53. Explain the problem to chat chick again because they have to verify everything you tell them.

54. Chat chick gets the same results when she tries it on her end.

55. Chat chick says that they specialize in site navigation, so you should call customer service.

56. Answer the post-chat survey because this is extremely not OK.

57. Break for dinner.

58. Apply some prophylactic peppermint oil to your forehead to stave off the migraine that's almost sure to come.

59. Have dinner.

60. Drag yourself off the couch and call AT&T because  goddamit, you are getting this settled today.

61. Press all the right numbers until you're on hold for a person. Expected wait time = 9 minutes. Actual wait time = 18 minutes.

62. Explain the whole problem again to a chirpy, chatty gal.

63. Chirpy chatty gal manages to get me the phone I want for 99 cents ($1.08 including sales tax). Plus a $45 upgrade fee. The new phone is not actually on your account, but you can allegedly have it activated on your account when it comes.

64. Get wallet because the $1.08 must be paid now. They couldn't possibly add that to the next bill.

65. Rest for the inevitable further problems that will arise when the new phone actually arrives.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Day After

These are actual images from a movie that was shown
in prime time so all the kiddies could watch.
The other day I posted about the 2012 apocalypse that wasn't, and a friend reminded me on Facebook about how we weren't supposed to make it out of the 80s.

(BTW, the friend in question has a book coming out soon. Go forth and pre-order A Year of Drinking Adventurously for all your beverage and gift giving needs.)

But yeah, we of Generation X were told repeatedly that nuclear weapons would kill us all. I get that the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers grew up with the fear mongering too. Worse, they had drills where they had to duck under their desks like that would make a difference. But by the 80s, they'd found a way to carry on and shrug off the whole Cold War. We were stuck to process all this anew, all while surrounded by adults who had long ago decided that there was nothing they could do about it.

Apparently, the predominant no nukes strategy of the early 1980s was to terrify school children. I guess we were supposed to convince our parents to oppose nuclear proliferation and let their elected representatives know so that they would actually do something about it. Trickle up theory.

I had history textbooks that went all the way up to the 80s, yet my classes never got past WW2. But apparently we had time to watch a movie about nuclear weapons that began with kids our age talking about how there was no point in having kids because they wouldn't live to adulthood. Because of nuclear war. That wasn't going to happen before we were old enough to consider having kids on purpose. But was going to happen soon after.

I dunno. That's a lot of nihilism for Catholic school.

Of course, network TV milked that shit for all it was worth. Remember The Day After? If you don't, you're in luck. It's on You Tube! SyFy showed a few years ago and I tried to watch it, but I just couldn't. Not that it was too disturbing. But I couldn't get myself worked up over it all over again.

In The Day After, the Soviet Union drops a bunch of nukes on the US. We see people get vaporized. Including a small wedding party in a park who must have decided to go ahead with their plans instead of cowering in front of the TV worrying about nukes like everyone else. After we're done with that, nothing with batteries works anymore because of the electromagnetic pulse sent out by the explosion. So cars don't work anymore, but the streets are clogged with empty cars anyway. 

(The movie bombs were the type that left buildings, etc. still standing because they spent most of the budget on famous actors and special effects. There was nothing left over for creating an actual wasteland.)

Then people cowered in their basements while a bride-to-be kept insisting that everything was fine, and her wedding could totally go ahead as planned. To prove it, she runs out into the nuclear winter and gets a soon-to-be-fatal dose of radiation. As does her father who ran after her to drag her back inside.

The real takeaway from The Day After is that you wedding stress is bigger than end of the world stress.

At the very end, her fiancé finally finds her and it turns out that he's dying from the radiation too. And it was played as sweet and touching. Which it kind of is, considering all the surrounding grimness.

The absolute worst part was the tag at the end. It said that the movie had portrayed what it would be like if only 1/10 of the world's nukes were used, and that a much more likely scenario would have all the bombs dropping and everyone being vaporized. 

So there really wasn't any hope of even surviving to experience an irradiated Hellscape. They had to scale back the destruction because the truth would've been too enormous for anyone to process. 

Good times.

This was on ABC in primetime. ABC promoted the hell out of it. At no point, did anyone say that children shouldn't be watching it. We were told not to let any kids watch it alone. My friend's brother actually watched it with us because the rest of his family was out doing something way less traumatic.

I remember back when Austin Powers was a thing, there were 2 versions of the talking doll. The adult version said such shocking things as, "Do I make you horny?" The adult dolls got into a children's toy store and it was on the news. There was a mom bitching that her kid had asked her what "horny" meant. "What am I supposed to tell her?" the mom said.

In my day, parents had to explain nuclear fucking war to their kiddies. You can handle coming up with a kid friendly (possibly fake) definition of "horny."

God, people are soft these days.

Maybe our playgrounds were so dangerous because adults figured we might as well die from falling off a jungle gym instead of sticking around for the bombs to start dropping. Maybe we were all such slackers in the 90s because we hadn't really planned that far ahead.

On the bright side, Ronald Reagan watched The Day After and it may have factored into his decision to pursue all those arms treaties with the Soviet Union. 

I guess it's a decent trade off. Who wouldn't traumatize millions of children if it managed to save their lives?