Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wishing The World Was Equal And Fair

Another blogger I read posted something about guilt and how she feels guilty over having nice things because it's not fair and equal in the world.  She may work less hard than the street cleaner, but she gets to go on vacation?  Thoughts like that.  Sometimes I wonder why I was born so lucky, and at the same time so unlucky!

It is my true complaint about life.  All of my others are just daily complaints that come and go, even the big ones. 

It's not right that I can marry the person I love, but some of my best friends can't because they happen to love someone of the same sex.  It's just not fair, nor equal.

It's not right that I chose college and a friend chose motherhood, and I am more "respected" in educated society.  I have never been so ashamed of going to Vanderbilt as when I brought my friend (who is a mother of two and my age) to a Vandy party and all of the "educated at a high end expensive school" students judged young mothers and people who didn't go to  college as being inherently a lessor part of society.  That is just simply not true.  It's just not at all.  What did I gain that she didn't?  A stressful job that has destroyed everything I know about life? Three years spent in a bad chair that hurts my back? Now I have to have kids when I'm old and tired, she on the other hand gets to party it up as they enter school and become more independent.  I'm not so sure college first is the best choice.  She learned about bills, saving money, real world stuff, while I was just pretending to learn about it.  That gives her like 8 years ahead of me on things like that.  What do I got?  An extensive knowledge of Rare Earth Elements (which are awesome and amazing! but do not get you an IRA.)?  It's not right that society in general has different opinions about stay at home moms and non-college educated people.  AND I'm annoyed at putting them in one paragraph...but too lazy to fix it.  You fix it in your head.  These are seperate issues.

It's not right that I get fresh water from the tap without thinking about it, and people in Africa/China/India/many other places (I have poor geography skills), don't have access like that.  The technology is there for them, but the capitalistic need for them to have it is not.  The same goes for medication and birth control.

It's not right that women are expected to wear makeup to prove their worth.  Forgetting all the reasons, but one: Do you know how expensive that shiza is!?!  To get good, proper makeup that looks good on you, you have to either buy a new one each month to experiment to find the right one at $12 each at Target, or go to the mall and get something for $50 or more!  That's just foundation/tinted moisturizer, etc.  You also need Mascara ($8-$30), eyeshadow ($3-$50 or higher), and lipstick/lipgloss ($6-$50 or higher).  That's a lot of money men don't have to spend.  We all hear about food prices going up or they may go up or gas prices have gone up, but do you know where I REALLY see a $3-$5 dollar increase?  Mascara and Nailpolish.  The cheap stuff now is the same price as the most expensive bottle I've ever bought (4 yrs ago or more).  I don't wear much nailpolish.  Another sign that I am a sloppy woman and don't care for myself.

I could go on, but the inspiration has left me.  Just know that life could always be worse and we really aren't in that great of a stopping place.  There's a lot more to improve.

Monday, January 28, 2013

What I Cook With

Why Hello Dear Following:

Today we shall discuss my 10 most essential cooking items.  The idea comes from the blog, Nothing But Delicious, and I thought it was a good idea.  Her list seems more aimed at baking.  As I do not enjoy baking as much as I do cooking, I'm going to list my cooking gear.  I also thought ahead, so the list will be in order of least to most important.

10.  Measuring spoons. 

       These are handy but not really necessary.  Practice eliminates their need.

9.  Tiny Spatula. 

     This was the best wedding shower gift I received.  I have two and I use them almost every time I cook.  They are really good at getting in the nooks and crannies of a blender type item, or small cup or small bowl.

8.  Medium size metal bowl.

Extremely versatile for mixing eggs, mixes, liquids with dry ingredients, holding chopped veggies while you wait for it to be time to add them in.

7.  1 Cup Liquid Measuring Cup. 

This is better than the bowl because you can measure and mix all in one item.  It's just hard if it's too small to do that.  You can even add the milk and the oil in if you do fraction additions correctly, so you only have to pour your liquids in once.  Or, add the oil, add the milk, add an egg and whisk!

6.  Small metal spatula, or metal flipper thing.

This is useful to help flip pancakes, eggs, rice when you are making fried rice and don't want to break the rice kernels in half (so says Josh), flipping food when the pan is too full.  Also useful in cutting frozen ground beef off itself when you are browning it from frozen.  Useful in chopping food in the pan while it's cooking...separating onions from themselves, etc.  Really good at flipping potato cubes.  It is important that the edge is worn down to an angle so you can easily slip it under the food.

5.  Wooden cutting board.

I try to tell myself that any cutting board will do.  But it won't.  I like nice big ones that hold all your veggies while you cut more up.  I do NOT like plastic ones with legs.  I do NOT like glass ones.  We have a silicon one we use for meat so we don't get meat juice in the cracks.  That one works fine.  But I just like my big wooden one.

4.  Knife.

A knife of any kind will work, but the better quality it is, the easier it will be.  I do not like steak knives with plastic handles hidden in heavy desk drawers that leap out and attack you while you are moving the desk.  As a matter of fact, I don't like steak knives at all, and Josh seems to think they are the most important tool in the kitchen and won't let me get rid of the plastic handled attacking steak knives that we do have.  I should just pitch them anyways.  I don't even use them when we do have steak.  A good knife, at the very least, does not have a bendy blade.  Cutting something with a knife that has a blade that bends left or right is as easy as cutting something well with safety scissors.  And just because you can sharpen it, doesn't mean that it's still usable.  If it's been sharpened so much that only a quarter of the original blade is left, I think that you probably sharpen too much, wrong, or needed to get new knives 10 years ago.  A good rule to live by is to never own a knife with a cheap plastic handle.  The cheaper the handle, the cheaper the blade.

(Knives are my favorite)

3.  Wooden Spoon.

I love wooden spoons.  You need many different kinds for different uses.  But if you can only have one, get a nice solid standard one.  Emphasis on solid.  You can stir and hit more with a sturdier spoon and not worry about it breaking and splintering.  The more you use it, the more beautiful it gets.  Some people suggest the bamboo spoons because you can put those in the dishwasher, and they are nice, and it seems to have a thinner edge, so I use it on some dishes...like medium weight to liquid foods, but I use the thick one (see picture) for big soups and a full pan.

2.  Cast Iron Pan. 

You really just can't cook anything without this.  I prefer this to the fancy no stick pans because you don't need to worry about fancy no scratch utensils to use with it.  The metal flipper thingy can't be used with the non scratch pans.  You'd have to pay more to get a silica covered one.  And a silica covered whisk, and plastic stir spoons, and not stick a spoon or fork in them.  I mean the non-stick pans are nice and I use them, but my true love is the cast iron pan.  You can also put it right in the oven, Josh worries about chemicals and putting the fancy pancy pan in the oven.

1.  Spices, Onions, Garlic

I know these are not tools, but I literally could not cook you dinner without these three things.  These are the essentials of my food.  Spices that are my favorite include Cumin, Salt, Black Pepper, Cajun mixes, Italian seasonings, red pepper flakes, Tabasco sauce, vinegar, caraway seeds and celery seeds.  Celery seeds being the most important of them.

That is my list.  How would your list be different?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sheep, loans, Space Jam, and Volcanoes

Okay.  I haven't been able to post in a while because I couldn't get this page I am typing in to show up!  After a lot of thinking (weeks), I thought I'd try it in Internet Explorer instead of Mozilla, and it works.  The confusing part is that it works on Mozilla on other computers, but not this specific one. HHmmm...

I am pretty angry today. 

What is some interesting stuff that happened this past week?

Well, first, I was inventing this awesome dance to go along with the soundtrack of the movie Space Jam with Micheal Jordon.  It involved dunking an imaginary ball and jumping and kicking backwards like you were flying threw the air, just like Micheal.  I was just about to perfect it when I kicked back and hit a very stury end table with my Achilles Tendon (heel).  It hurt so bad!  There was no more dancing for me.  It bruised and I couldn't wear shoes with back on them all weekend.

The USDA is coming out with $35,000 microloans for farmers, but aimed at new and beginning farmers.  The interest rate is 4.5% and I don't know how much better that is than a bank loan, but my "bad" student loans have an interest rate of 6.2%, which is much worse than 4.5%.  My good loans have a rate of 2.4% and emergancy disaster relief loans are charged at 3.5%  So, I suppose this microloan is a good deal.  Anyways, I am super excited to, get ready for it, start my sheep farm!!  All I need to do is look up the USDA requirements as to what a farm is.  According to NASS, the Ag Census, a farm is anything that makes over $1000 a year.  I thought that was easy to do, but how much do pigs sell for?  Sheep?  Sheep wool?  Oh, I'm getting pigs to supplement my income, teach my children about responsibility and 4H and to eat.  Bacon.  So if I raise 8 pigs, and sell them for $150 each, that's only $900, then I sell $100 worth of wool or snap beans or something.  How much do 8 pigs cost to raise? AND is that worth a loan at 4.5%?  I really wanted to start with 2 pigs and one sheep.  I want a neighbor with chickens so I can get their eggs but not anything else.

Another thought too, is that tree farms sit and grow trees for 15 years (or whatever the year number is, I made that up).  Until the trees are matured, they aren't making $1000 a year, but I know someone who did this and was still able to register their land as a farm.  So I need to look into that.

How much to pigs usually sell for?  More if 4H kids sell them at the fair.

Besides everything above, I also need land to start my sheep farm.  And sheep.  Maybe I should get an exotic species to raise their value.  Maybe I should start with basic sheep first to make sure I know what I'm doing before I invest in rare sheep.

Other things of note:
I went to a place where they provide the pottery and the paint and you paint something and they fire it for you.  It's called Fired Up, where I went.  I painted a plate to match a plate a painted years ago.  The old plate has a sweet dragon on it spewing fire.  This new plate I painted this weekend has a volcano erupting on it!  They match because sometimes I think volcanoes erupting are the cause of many dragon myths.  Volcanoes and dragons are very very similar.  I can't wait to see it glazed and done with it's true colors!  I put a flock of sheep on the bottom of the plate and on the back.  I'm a little worried that they don't match, because the sheep I made are standing there grazing quite content.  I imagine if the plate was truly accurate, they would be running in pure terror away from the volcano.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

In Which I Discuss a "Data Base"

My position at my work is funded by a grant (?)/package of money from another organization.  I work for my work, but most of my "orders" and "tasks" come from the other organization.  This makes things very confusing. Here is an example of how they disseminate work:

I want to emphasize the importance for each of you to have the “data base” completely populated with your respective data beginning from the date you began your employment. The Technical Assistance Program is undergoing an audit at the DC level which is one reason for this urgency.  With the dwindling budgets, the agencies contributing to the funding of the TA Program are looking for some results or success stories which would justify further contributions is another reason for this urgency.  To date, the Technical Assistance Program has provided little documentation which can be utilized to justify its existence.

Your future employment and the future of this program hinges on each of you to illustrate accomplishment!  I highly encourage each of you to utilize this down time to complete such illustration.

I like how database is in quotations first of all, especially since that's exactly what the "data base" is, a database.  The problem is that there are two different pieces of information entered in the database, contact information for all of our contacts and project/task information.  The emails emphasize that we enter in projects, but the weekly training call emphasizes that we should only be working on contacts.  I have also gotten to them all the info they want me to put in this database multiple times in multiple formats.  I also have it entered in a different database for my work.  Too bad the two databases are too different to transfer from one to the other (without complex thought on my part).

Just so you know, the follow up to this email says that beyond the person who made the database, only 12 records have been entered.  I counted all the records I've entered so far...12.  Yeah that's right.  I'm one of the few responsible ones and I don't even work directly for them.  Not that I ever would, even though I would get a cushy "work" from home job, I hold this other organization accountable for each of the worst moments of my life.  Plus I'm white...they barely tolerate me as it is.

 On a happier note,  I think my complete and utter exhaustion from the first trimester is finally wearing off. Yesterday and today I felt awake for the first time in forever and was capable of enough complex thinking to get some work done.  I'm working on a new knitting project, Ellie, with some Crazy Zauberball yarn. This is the first time I've used such small yarn, only size 2 needles!  It also has some complex/interesting aspects such as making button whole things, decreases, and adding a thumb.  All things I've never done before.

*EDIT:  I have done decreases in knitting before, but just not in the type of order and pattern directions that is given to me in this project.