A word about WordPress comments

This blog is published using the free version of WordPress. As a blogging platform, WordPress is usually pretty awesome.

Unfortunately, the WordPress folks made an update to the Comments feature that leaves many people who currently have or at one point in time had a WordPress account in an uncomfortable position. If you’re commenting on a WordPress blog that requires a name and email address (as most do), your comment may be eaten or lost if  you enter an email address that has been associated with WordPress at one point in time. Typically this happens when you are not already logged into WordPress.

Yeah, this change really sucks. I know because it happened to me a couple of times last week while leaving comments on blogs that are also manged through WordPress. At least the glitch that led to comments being lost even if you are already logged in has been fixed.

I’m lifting the requirement for a name and email address before commenting to see if that will result in a better commenting experience for people or if it leads to an unholy mess of spam. I’ll try it for a few days and report back.

In the meantime, check out the link above to the notice in the WordPress forums about how this affects you if you have ever had a WordPress account. I’m not sure if you can cancel an unused WordPress account since the thread doesn’t give that information, but if you do give it a try, you should be able to report back here with your results either way since I’ve changed the comment settings.

Fun with spam

I’m going through a tough time with work right now and need a little pick me up. I know it’s considered bad form to complain these days when one isn’t unemployed or underemployed, but I’m just not feeling the love for my work lately. (And by lately, I mean for the past year or two.)

So as I struggle to figure out what to do next to bring some more “rah rah” to my work day, I’m looking for a bit of humor wherever I can find it. The spam comments in WordPress are fitting the bill right now. Here are some of the more memorable bits that I’ve found.

I was even-handed wondering if anyone has buy Wow gold us fitting stratagies after getting gold… im dead tired of walking there ill-starred ;_;
Thanks seeking the pinch

Umm…what is even-handed wondering??? And just what is “the pinch” you’re seeking? (Probably best that I didn’t ask that, actually.)

I’d have to verify with you here. Which isn’t one thing I often do! I take pleasure in studying a post that will make folks think. Also, thanks for allowing me to remark!

Well, thanks! I think…I’d have to verify with you here. You know, just to be sure.

….Your understanding and kindness in playing with a lot of stuff was very helpful…

Whoa, there! I can’t recall posting anything about playing with a lot of stuff! That’s not usually my style on a public blog, after all. I’m much too demure for that.

————————-

It’s the terrible syntax that makes these comments really stand out as spam. (Well, and the return addresses for things like male sexual enhancements.) I work with people outside the U.S. all the time and find the little turns of a phrase or unique term used in place of common U.S. vernacular to be intriguing. Why do my colleagues in India “have doubts” when my colleagues in the U.S. “have questions?”

(Whatever issues I’m having with work these days isn’t a reflection on the people I work with, by the way. I love working with people all across the world, even if crossing the time zones makes for some nontraditional work hours.)

So, I’m going to giggle all I want when I check the comments on my dashboard and see these kooky statements. Everyone needs a little pick me up.

Pity party

I’m giving fair warning here that this is a very whiny post. So pass it right by if you don’t want to deal with it. I need to vent and this is my blog so I can write what I want.

It seems like I’ve been having a string of bad luck for months now and it’s very annoying. I’ve had good things happen, too, like having a very relaxing vacation at Esalen and getting an actual raise this year when many folks have had to do without any salary at all. But it’s true that many bad things have happened.

In May, the washing machine died. Yes, it was 18 years old and had been doing odd things for many months, but dying just before the major expense of a kitchen remodel started was rather hard to swallow.

In July, the 4-year old vacuum cleaner went kaput. I had to buy a new one right away since I was nearing the end of the kitchen remodel and there was dust everywhere.

Last week, I came home to find a $100 red light ticket in the mail. As much as I would like to fight it and prove that the city is wrong, I’ve viewed the video online and I’m clearly driving through the intersection as the light turns red. I must have been driving in my sleep in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, but clearly I ran the light so I must pay up.

Tonight, my 7-year old car died. I’m sure it can be fixed, and luckily it did not strand me by the side of the road in some awful neighborhood. It was sitting in the garage and when I got in it to drive to my friend Betsy’s place for dinner it just wouldn’t start. All the dashboard lights came on and stayed on, but the car wouldn’t turn over. It didn’t even try to turn over.

When the car wouldn’t start, I called Betsy to alert her that I’d be delayed and then took the CTA to her house. My CTA karma was quite good tonight since the bus pulled up within a minute of me getting to the stop and the el arrived right after I made it to the platform. At least something was working well for me today.

Overall, though, it seems like I’m just having the shittiest luck these days. I know there are plenty of people out there in worse situations than me. I’m glad I actually have the resources to fix the car, although it may mean pulling money from one of my savings accounts (do I dip into the emergency fund for this or do I dip into the vacation fund I just started to save for a trip to Europe next year? Hmmm…).

I think what really hurts me about this situation is when I talk to friends about it and they scoff at my protestation about how much this is going to cost me or my comments that I need to tighten my belt a bit more. Why must I be near destitution to get some compassion? Isn’t it obvious that I have been struggling to adjust to a single-income lifestyle for the past few months? I really don’t want to sell my house because I’ve put so much into it, but I also don’t want to be living paycheck to paycheck or with no luxuries at all.

I try to be frugal in many ways, but hear scoffing from some of my friends about my measures. Yes, I know I’m not poor and that there are folks worse off than me, but I’m really trying to make a major lifestyle change here. Please be supportive of me when I say I’d rather make something to bring on a visit to your house than buy a bottle of wine. Please don’t scoff at me when I say that I can’t go out to dinner or meet for a drink or that it hurts my financial plans to spend money on fixing the car.

I guess since I have a good job and a good income I’m not worth any sympathy. But after several years where it seemed the joint (married) bank account just kept growing and growing and growing on it’s own, I find it quite a change to try to figure out where I should make lifestyle changes so I can save money for vacation or afford to buy some new clothes for work or tailor some old suits to wear at the office.

My goals are to be able to pay my bills, save at a steady pace for major expenses like a big vacation, and have a regular splurge once a month on something like a fancy dinner out, a yarn crawl, a wardrobe adjustment, or a cheap weekend trip. All without going into debt.

Tomorrow I have to walk to the mechanic at the corner and find out if they can help me get my car out of garage and fix it. I’ve used this mechanic for an oil change once before, but other than that I don’t know much about them. So I hope they are honest and know what they’re doing. I guess I’ll find out.

Sometimes it’s just scary being on your own with no back up. I guess that’s what upsets me most of all. I just keep riding the waves and telling myself it will get better soon.

Just a sunday

Today started out a bit rough and it’s been a sort of mixed-bag day. But I have to start with yesterday first, as that was a different sort of day altogether and it sets the stage for today, too.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in Ikea with Rachael, Jamie, and Chris, and then we returned to my house for a grand dinner party featuring coq au vin. I had let Marshall rest in the fridge for several days, and chose to prep him in this manner as it is a traditional one for roosters (hence the name, of course, since coq means rooster in French.)

I consulted a few recipes online, and ended up mostly following Alton Brown’s recipe from Food Network. I say mostly because after the initial prep of ingredients, I put it in the slow cooker instead of finishing up in a big ‘ol stew pot. And since my slow cooker could not hold all the liquid called for I only used the equivalent of one bottle of Pinot Noir, not two. (Really, that seems like an excessive amount of liquid!)

So, this cooked away while we were out running around Ikea getting furniture for Rachael’s new apartment. While I do need some new bookcases and such, I spent quite a bit last month so I’m holding off for now and just putting up with keeping my books in boxes for now.

When we returned, I let Marshall stew a bit more and then turned to prepping the sauce into a gravy. I hate making gravy. It’s tricky and I always seem to end up using cornstarch as thickener, which to me is a cheap trick. But I managed OK, even if I did have to use a *little* corn starch. And I had to make 2 separate batches of gravy, as some of the diners didn’t want the pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon which are supposed to be added to it.

Steamy Coq au Vin

Steamy Coq au Vin

As you can see in the steamy photo above, it turned out wonderfully. The meat was not falling off the bone, but it was very tender and tasty. I had read the comments on several recipes that the end product tasted almost beef-life, and I found that true here. I think it’s all the rich, red wine that gives it such a flavor.

There are quite a few leftovers, and I also saved and froze the neck and tail portions to make into a soup later. Thank you, Marshall. You were a mediocre rooster to the flock, but ended up being a good bird nonetheless.

Valerie came by, too, just as we were ready to eat. While she is a vegetarian and didn’t partake of the main course, she had some noodles and the dessert.  We finished our dinner with some tea and a lovely almond tart that Jamie made, served up with some cherry sauce. Yum!

The ladies stayed quite late last night and we had a great time chatting and knitting. I went to bed shortly therafter and woke this morning to wreteched weather.

While it had started raining last night, it turned to snow over night and was coating most of the surfaces with a wet, gloppy mess. I let the chickens out at dawn (about 6:30 AM these days), and just couldn’t get back to sleep, so I tackled the washing up from last night’s feast. The coffee pot had just finished gurgling and I was booting up my laptop when the power went out.

Power outages are rare around here, but a special inconvenience to me as my garage has no service door. The *only* way to get in and out of my garage is through the overhead door, which is connected to an electric garage door opener. While there is an emergency way to disconnect it so the door can be raised manually, this requires a special little key that I don’t have. Mark had always kept it and couldn’t find it when he moved. So for now, I just hope there are no power outages when I need to go out.

And I did have to go out today. I had an appointment this morning at Abt to look at kitchen appliances, so I was hoping the power was restored in time as I called in the report. Thank goodness it was, so I was able to drive through the messy weather to my appointment and pick out lovely new appliances that I can hopefully be using in about 3-4 months. It will be quite a pleasure to have a nice dinner party and NOT have to tackle a mound of dirty dishes by hand.

I ran a few more errands on my way home, ate something, and then lay down for a nap. Now the weather is pretty: sunny, clear, although it is cool and we expect a cold night. But here I sit, feeling incredibly sad.

You see, the past few days I’ve been struggling with the feeling that I just suck at choosing men to love. And this makes me very sad.

I’m trying to be constructive about it and tell myself that there are better things ahead. I’ve also been reading The Rules and He’s Just Not that Into You, which may seem sort of hokey and ridiculous, but are surprisingly similar. A colleague at work told me to read The Rules, and although it is focused on finding a guy to marry (which I’m NOT wanting right now), the advice in both books that guys love the chase is something I’m trying to internalize.

I’m not sure if I just have poor impulse control or if I truly have a sucky approach with men I like, but whatever I’ve been doing doesn’t work. So I need to figure some stuff out for when I am ready to start dating again.

And as much as I had a great time in Nassau a few weeks ago, I’m sort of paying the price for that, too. I don’t know why I think I can just visit with Ian as a friend (and one with “benefits,” at that) and walk away from the experience untouched emotionally. I just can’t be with him without triggering a whole bunch of unrequited love stuff.

Well, at least as I sit here crying I can get some doggy hugs from Sadie. That’s something, and for now will just have to be enough.

I guess my iPod has picked up on my mood as it just started playing C’est la fucking vie by Ginny Clee. *sigh*

I know, life *will* get better. I will adjust. The transition time just really sucks.

Literary stuff

I had a horrible day yesterday. Some days are just bad ones, and I have no clue why this particular day was any worse than others. I got up, I did a little work whilst munching some breakfast, then I went to the gym.

I spent an hour on the treadmill, alternately walking very fast (3.8 to 4 miles an hour) or running (at 6 miles an hour) for 2 minute stretches of time. One of my thoughts/goals is to get into running. It’s something that can be done anywhere (as long as you have a very good pair of shoes) and it would be fun to take runs with my sister every once in a while. So, I’m trying to ease myself into running.

One would think that after such a demanding workout I would have burnt off whatever anxiety I was carrying around, but that wasn’t the case. Instead I found myself getting more worked up as the morning progressed. I went to see my therapist and had a total meltdown in her office. This is what therapist appointments are for, right?

Except I guess I triggered some professional standard when I started wailing about what I wanted to do with Mark to get him out of the house. So I had to calm down enough to look her in the eye and promise I wouldn’t do anything to harm him physically. I guess I can yell at him all I want, though. So comforting.

I made it back home and took the course of action she suggested: I took a Xanax and went to bed. The afternoon was pretty much just a wash for me and I had to cancel my participation in some meetings, but luckily I have an understanding boss.

When I got out of bed a few hours later I started thinking about how I was feeling. Tasting it. Turning it around. Really trying to pin it down and make sense of it. And here’s what I’ve come up with: despondent.

I have no clue as to when this ordeal will be over, but I’ve had to admit that Mark and I must continue to live together for at least another month. He will not be moving out at the end of January. I will not be enjoying sweet solitude in a matter of a few days. Instead, I must continue to navigate around him in the kitchen, in the living room, in the dining area, etc.

My despondency comes from the fact that timelines are totally ambiguous. There are no dates or timeframes when anything will happen (a month? 6 weeks? 12.3 weeks?), and therefore there are no goals I can set for myself. I can’t cross days off a calendar literally or figuratively, as I have no idea of how much longer I must endure.

And I’m tired of people telling me things like “This is going pretty fast for a divorce,” or “It will be over soon.” WTF does soon mean to these people??? Every minute wasted on this ordeal is one that I will *never* get back again. I know that everyone must go through some crappy times to get to the good, but enough is enough.

I many times thought peace had come
When peace was far away;
As wrecked men deem they sight the land
At centre of the sea,

And struggle slacker, but to prove,
As hopelessly as I,
How many the fictitious shores
Before the harbor lie. 

Emily Dickinson, patron (literary) saint of despondent people everywhere wrote that. And Google Books deserves thanks for having this great collection of poems by Emily Dickinson easily accessible.

Waiting Game

I feel like I’m in limbo, and it’s really weighing on me. Fair warning: I try not to bitch and moan too much here, ’cause we all hear plenty of that elsewhere. I’m making an exception today since I’m so miserable.

Last week, I saw a new internist. The appointment went well, and I left feeling very positive about working with this doctor as a partner. I had prepped for this appointment by spending some time writing down major milestones in my medical history, like surgeries, onset of any sort of physical symptoms, etc. We used this during our conversation and it ended up being very helpful as we looked for patterns and put together a game plan for how to get me feeling better. However, I still had to get some blood tests, and this is why I am in a state of suspended animation now; until we get the labs and diagnostic tests over with, we’re sort of not sure what to be doing right now.

The B-12 situation is one thing that needs to be followed. I had lab orders from the allergist to get those tests run about 5 days after my last B-12 injection. So, I had that blood draw done last Friday. And I’m still waiting for the results.

The internist wants to dig a little deeper around the B-12 situation. She wrote orders for antibody tests for intrinsic factor (yep, that’s what it’s really called) and antiparietal cell antibodies. If I have either of these antibodies present, I have pernicious anemia and will have to take sublingual or injection B-12 regularly.

The other course of action we are taking is testing for thyroid antibodies, to see if my body is trying to destroy my own thyroid: in other words, if I have an autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s disease). I have many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism — unexplained weight gain, joint pain and stiffness, fatigue, moodiness, trouble concentrating — and the previous thyroid function tests were either borderline hypothyroid, or on the low end of functioning. With the exception of the weight gain and join pain, the symptoms above could also be due to the B-12 deficiency, however there’s no reason why I can’t have both going on at the same time.

I’m also recording my early morning body temp. First thing in the morning, before I even really rouse or get up, I stick the electronic thermometer in my mouth to take my temp. The internist wants me to do this for an entire month to see if my my body temp averages below 98 degrees. I told her that would be no problem, as even when I am up and about and active my body temp is never as high as 98. So far, the highest my morning temp has been is 97.7. Today it was 97.0 and a couple days ago it was 96.4.

So, all of this busy work to find out exactly what is wrong is good. But I’m still miserable. The past week has been a bad one. I ache a lot. I am tired, tired, tired; I have barely enough energy to get through the day and my home time is spent mainly laying down with a book (’cause that’s all I have the energy for) or sleeping.

I did go to the gym twice this week to work out with the trainer, and have been wiped out in the process. Yesterday I barely made it through the workout; I was getting dizzy and light-headed just doing squats with no weights. Afterward, I spent most of the day in a fog and went to bed at 8:30 (and this was after having taken a nap from 5:30 to 7 PM).

I just want to cry half the time because I am so frustrated and miserable. I end up spending most of my precious energy on work (and not even work that I feel is done well), leaving me with none for my personal life. The weather this week has been perfect for outdoor activities (low humidity, pleasant temps), but I barely get to enjoy it. I struggled this morning just to get up and water the veggie garden, which desperately needed it. I want to be out in the yard every day after work tending to my garden: weeding, pruning, dead-heading, etc. I love doing this stuff. But I just don’t have the energy right now. Nor do I even have the energy to sit up and knit in the evenings.

I’m going to get through this and find a way to make it better. I know I will. In the meantime, though…well, it’s rough…that’s all I can say.

Health and the alphabet

We’ve all heard how important vitamins are to our health. Well, I found out last week that part of the reason I have been feeling like such a tired, crabby, idiot is that my vitamin B 12 level has dropped much too low. When I found this out, I had my typical reaction: “Well, that explains a lot!”

Yep, some of symptoms of B 12 deficiency are “…tiredness or a decreased mental work capacity, decreased concentration and decreased memory, irritability and depression.” (No, I don’t get all my info from Wikipedia; the Mayo Clinic site also has similar information.) The treatment is twice weekly injections of B 12 for several weeks, then a re-test of my levels and possibly continuing oral supplements.

As for why my B 12 level is so low, that’s still a mystery to me. I eat all the foods that are good sources of B 12 (all meats, eggs, and dairy), but for whatever reason it’s not enough right now. I’ll definitely look into this some more after I get the symptoms addressed.

I had my first B 12 injection today and I’m really hoping to feel some sort of improvement in a week or so. To me, improvement would be:

  • Not uncontrollably yawning during exercise. No, I’m not bored by my trainer, I’m just oxygen-deprived!
  • Feeling mentally alert and awake most days. I really do feel more “foggy” and just plain stupid lately. In the past couple months, I’ve even had a few days where I have trouble getting out of bed. I don’t mean having the will or volition to get out of bed, I mean having the energy to pull myself out of sleep and upright; it’s like trying to escape quicksand. And I thought those were just “really bad allergy days.”
  • Increased concentration. It’s hard to work when it’s hard to concentrate. There are evenings when I just can’t think about knitting, and forget about blogging! Too much concentration and energy required!

I try very hard to not use this blog for whining and moaning, but I just can’t help but feel pretty miffed that it took a trip to the allergist to figure this out. Why didn’t my own internist test my B 12 level when I presented with these symptoms last year? She offered me a script for an SSRI for my “moodiness” and one for Nasonex for my “allergies” instead. When it came to the SSRI, I said “no thanks!,” but after a year I finally took the initiative and decided to see an allergist to find out just what the heck I’m “allergic” to.

So far, the only allergies I seem to have are to those typical things that are pretty much a fact of life: mold, dust, and dust mites. My reactions weren’t that strong, though, so it shouldn’t be difficult to deal with them. I’m still undergoing tests for possibly food allergies, and have a few more visits until I finish getting tested for everything.

I’m now looking for a new internist or general practitioner, too.

Ides of March

Not to sound overly dramatic, but today was quite a mess. What’s up: Is the moon full? Are we in retrograde? I wish I knew why it was such a clusterf*ck of a day.

It started off with me getting a call from one of my clients about 10 minutes before my train arrived in the station. She was reporting a big problem with one of our absolutely critical intranet sites. There were broken links all over it, oh, and by the way, the site was being reviewed by some Very Important People in about 2 hours.

Now, this isn’t a new intranet site in beta. Nor have we recently switched to a new platform that has gone flaky. No, this site was very carefully built by me about 6 months ago in a short timeframe (one month) to meet an urgent business issue. Then, it was turned over to one of my direct reports to maintain. And, all seemed to have gone well with the maintenance over the past months.

All this person — let’s call her M — had to do to maintain the site was update links. She didn’t even have to monitor for links that broke, she had to receive an email from someone else who would tell her “we updated these pages today on our site, so you’ll have to update your links.” M was fully trained in the CMS [that’s content management system for those of you not in the biz], then took over maintenance of the intranet within a few weeks of completing her training.

M arrived at the office within minutes of me. I told her about the call and that there were problems with broken links. “Oh, yes I know.”

My internal reaction: WHAT????!!!!  You knew and didn’t address this right away?????!!!!! Are you out of your ever-loving mind?????!!!!!

But, when in the midst of a crisis and an impossible deadline, you knuckle down and get to work. So, I firmly indicated that was not good, but we would talk about it after we addressed the problem: we had to fix these links right away and I would help.

By noon, it appeared we would be OK so I stepped out and grabbed lunch. I was famished since I never had the opportunity eat the breakfast I had packed. After a few bites, we sat down to talk so I could piece the situation together and here’s how it came out. 

She knew there was a problem last Friday; she didn’t escalate it to me, but instead chose to wait until the platform team was in on Monday and escalated to them. They pinpointed the problem: she was not using the CMS correctly when she added links.  They told her the correct procedure, and she “planned to get the links updated this week.”

There were so many things wrong here that I was dumb-founded. I calmly ran down them with her and explained where she had not followed SOP, concluding with the fact that the entire situation was inexcusable and a very serious infraction. I escalated it to my boss, who will work with the client to smooth things over. And, we will have to consult with HR about how they want me to document this.

This intranet site is critical to a certain aspect of our business and it simply must be functional at all times. At a minimum, M displayed extremely poor judgement, and I barely hesitate to call it downright incompetence.

So, 90% of my day was spent on this mess. I left the office with my laptop, glad to be heading home where I could do a few small outdoor chores (e.g. clean up the yard after the dogs…you know what I mean!), finish up the most critical things I wasn’t able to get to today, then carve out an hour of relaxation time before getting to bed at reasonable hour.

Instead, I get a harried call from my husband. He rode to work today on this bike (yes, it finally got above freezing today) and as he was returning home he got a flat; his spare innertube was the wrong size, so he couldn’t ride. “Are you asking me to come pick you up, or are you telling me you’re taking the bus home?” I say. He wants me to drive cross-town to pick him up.

I thought for a moment about how he would take it if I said no. Not good. Do I want to deal with a sullen husband for the next day or two? If I don’t do this, would I really get that relax time with him being sulky? No. I have to once again knuckle down and pick him up. Forty minutes and about 4 miles later (yep, traffic really sucked) I locate him and help him load his bike in the car.

After he got in the car, I sat there with him for a few minutes and explained to him that the timing of his request was really poor. He knew about my crisis today, but apparently didn’t realize that it meant I still had a few hours of work to finish today; that the hour I had to take out of the evening driving cross town to pick him up and bring him home was quite a burden for me; that I really wish he would have taken the bus home this one time, since the bus stop was right across the street and the bus would drop him and his bike [all the buses in Chicago now have bike racks on the front] one block from our house and taken him no additional commute time; and that the only reason I had done this for him was because I thought he would be angry and upset if I didn’t.

He processed that. Then, he apologized. He hadn’t thought about my horrible day and how it would have impacted my other work projects; he had thought only of himself. Yes, he would have been upset if I declined to pick him up, but now he understood why I wanted to do so.

In the famous words of Farmer Hogget (James Cromwell) from the move Babe: That’ll do.

And to paraphrase the immortal Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind: I sure hope tomorrow _is_ a better day.

At week’s end

Phew….I made it. This has been a very tough week for me, and I’m glad to be officially entering the weekend now. 

*Digression: my husband has just returned home and told me that during his routine doctor’s visit he was told that he had a mild case of “the flu” and prescribed Tamiflu. Great, this is just what I need to end a crappy week: a sick husband who can pass me a contagious virus that will make me miserable. OK, back to the normal whining.*

I’m not finding much energy lately for my job. It’s not that I hate it, but I just am having a hard time looking at it as much more than…just a job. And this type of work is best done with lots of enthusiasm. I’m supposed to be managing a team of 4 people here in the U.S. and guiding projects for another 6 people in India, and I can barely muster the enthusiasm to respond to my email lately.

Maybe this ennui will pass as my body moves through it’s usual hormonal jig.

*Digression again: I love the word ennui. I think I first ran across it in a book when I was about 12 or 14. I looked it up because I had no idea how to pronounce it, although I had some idea of the meaning from it’s context in the book I was reading. (This is why reading is so great for vocabulary development, by the way. The reader can learn a lot about words and sentence structure from context.) Ennui \än-wē\: a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction. Such a poetic-sounding word! I can say it over and over again and feel almost happy just because it sounds so good, so right.*

Anyway, here I sit at home with a martini and some peanuts — a vodka martini (Kettle One vodka), with a splash of vermouth and 3 blue-cheese olives. I rarely drink martinis, and even more rarely drink vodka, since many vodkas make me feel extremely ill after just a sip or two. Kettle One is not of that variety, of course. (No, I’m not being paid by Kettle One to advertise; for fairness’ sake, Skyy is another vodka I can drink without feeling like my body has been poisoned.)

I sit here feeling quite dis-attached from work, now. And glad to be away from it. While also feeling guilty that I’m not still doing it, since it is never-ending.

And I’m glad it’s the weekend now. Yes, I’m glad that I can spend the next few days with a low-energy, sick husband who wants to lay around and nap all weekend. That sets the bar pretty low on my personal performance scale, and leaves me plenty of room to just veg out.

Excuse me now. I need to get up, put away the chickens for the night, and make myself another martini.

Time to get serious

I’m on a business trip this week. That means I’m having the whole business travel experience (flight delays, overpriced hotel, exhorbitant fees for in-room Internet service,  etc.), which includes a free copy of USA Today newspaper.

While getting a bit of work done in my hotel before heading to my meeting, I opened the paper and see a story in the Money section that gets me really worked up: Global demand lifts grain prices, gobble supplies.

This story touches on so many things that are just plain wrong with how we look at food and food supplies these days.

  • Using food crops to fuel our guzzling vehicles
  • A global food culture that is overly dependent on a small number of crops of limited varieties: wheat, corn, rice.
  • A national food culture that is fully dependent on processed foodstuffs, that are likewise fully dependent on just a few of these limited varieties of crops. [Read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma if you want to understand just how much our national “food” is dependent on corn; pretty scary.]
  • The perpetuation of our dysfunctional national food culture on developing countries, who are abandoning their native food cultures that emphasis more sustainable, wholesome foods. [I’m a huge fan of Michael Pollan and am reading his latest book, In Defense of Food, which goes into this issue.]
  • A bit of sub-text: we are breeding out of control and are unable to produce all the food needed to feed these teaming hordes. [OK, this is my personal read on the situation, but just ask yourself: where are all these hungry people coming from?]

My business trip brings me to New York City. Last night, I wandered out of the hotel in search of a sandwich and found myself in the middle of consumerist territory: Times Square. My meetings are in mid-town, so I really need to stay in this general area so I can walk back and forth. But I must say it sickens me to see all this *stuff* promoted through all the signs.

And this isn’t just a New York phenomenon. I had a similar reaction two weekends ago as I walked through a shopping plaza running errands. As I saw all these cars driving around and around to park, yet few people walking from store to store; as I carried my canvas tote around to the shops, declining plastic bags to the bewilderment of clerks; as I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of crap (plastic flowers, plastic beads, etc.) in Michaels that will likely end up in a landfill within the next 2 years.

I’m really struggling to keep participating in this culture and lifestyle. It disgusts me and makes me feel sort of hopeless, too. Anyone else feeling this way?