Thursday, October 30, 2008

How 'bout them Phillies?

By far my favorite t-shirt is "Phinally."

This is not to say that I am now a fan of baseball. I still maintain the best part of any baseball game is beer and hot dogs, and watching it on TV ranks up there with scrubbing a toilet. However, I would be lying if I said I didn't tear up last night (after sitting up straight in shock for about 4 seconds before it sunk in that, yes, that was the final strike, holy hell we effing WON). For all it's craziness, inferiority complexes, and occasional baby-mocking, I still love this city, and it makes me so happy that nearly everyone has something to smile about today. Except for my neighbors, who might have stayed up a bit too late with the beer and the fireworks. But hey, this only comes every 28 years...

Also, Feanor insists he is starting to like baseball. This presents a problem for me, because I was growing kind of fond of my house, and I'd hate to have to move out of it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Quitter, or too deep for a Friday

I have been quitting a lot of things lately. I quit the class I started this semester after I realized (or perhaps admitted) that there were many things I'd rather do on my evenings and weekends than read and research. I just quit the ushering gig I started just last week (more on that some other time), because it was disrespectful of my time. I've been quitting books with more regularity, and with less provocation, not to mention movies. And this morning, when glancing at a comparison of the presidential candidates' positions on funding for the arts, I decided that I am quitting this election cycle. It's not as if I am one of the undecideds David Sedaris is so fond of. It is precisely because I am not that it makes absolutely no sense for me to listen, watch, or read anything else about the upcoming showdown. I'm voting for Obama, not because I necessarily want to, but the ascendancy of the anti-Christ does foretell the whole Rapture thing, and I have better things to do in the next 7 years than be tribulated. I am infuriated about all sorts of things, but to be honest with myself there's not a damn thing I am going to do about it. I didn't get out the vote, I'm working through Election Day so I'm not going to be fighting the good fight at the polls, I'm not giving any money to anybody (except Wall Street of course). If I had/was planning on doing any of those things, keeping abreast of the latest bullshit-storm would make sense. I'm not, so it doesn't. And that's that.

Since I did the major quit last year, the absolute worst quit, the one our society, Greek tragedies, and even most of the people I love do not understand, it suddenly doesn't seem too bad to step back from a volunteer obligation, put down an award-winning book, or symbolically tell politicians to eff off. And I am realizing that, for me at least, the act of quitting holds hands with that other favorite of mine, honesty. I don't really want to take classes: I just want to prove that I'm smart. I don't really want to volunteer for something that is devoid of meaning, even if it means ostensibly getting something for free. At the moment I don't really want to volunteer for anything at all. If I am honest with myself, I'd be happier spending my time and energy in other ways. And that's okay, even if it inconveniences other people, or leads them to think less of me.

The thing about quitting is that it is more freeing than perhaps anything else. There's a reason I think why the word for leaving a place is the same as leaving a relationship, a job, or a dream. Quitting prison must be wonderful. Gaining anything, even money, would not be as freeing as the fact of giving up something that is not good for you. Gaining anything comes with its own obligations, which is fine if you're willing to pay them. As for me, I am not quitting the running, my marriage, or my friends, but everything else is fair game. Job, you have been warned.

But I am serious about the politics tip. There is only so much outrage I can cart around with me at any given time without feeling defeated. I haven't been sleeping well, and I've been anxious for weeks, and there is still nearly two weeks to go (if not, god forbid, much longer). So goodbye Caribou Barbie, and your 150K wardrobe. Goodbye scary old wrinkly man and your filthy mouth and makeup. And goodbye even to you, my beloved Savior. Don't fuck it up, and you'll have my undivided attention for the next 4 years, no quitting. Honest.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I suppose it is inevitable once one is an adult and has a ridiculously large house: we are hosting a holiday. True, we are hosting mostly because we have NFL Network, and the Eagles' game is on Thanksgiving night, but I still have to feed people. There are a few issues with this as I see it. Foremost is the small-ish oven-- I love having a wall oven, but space is at a premium. So i could conceivably get a turkey in there, but that would probably be it. So, since I like turkey on Thanksgiving, I have to find stove top things to go along with. I stumbled across these potatoes this morning, and believe they must be had. I also have a recipe for jalapeno cranberry sauce that I could subject everyone to, and my favorite Brussels sprouts dish is in a pan. I can make my no-knead bread ahead of time, and truly I should come off it and just buy a damn loaf. Which brings me to another issues: should I just buy most everything, and stop feeling like I have to make everything somewhat from scratch. Feanor votes yes, which was a slight blow to the ego, but I guess he'd rather I be relaxed and cheerful rather than crazed and covered in flour the day of. Either that, or he hates my cooking.

Speaking of cooking, I am in love with Sam the Cooking Guy. There are two episodes of Just Cook This on every Monday night right after I get home from my 5K class, and I just sit on the couch and drool for an hour. I'd probably do that anyway, but his manner amuses me, and the food looks very tasty. Also, my favorite: very quick cooking/preparing. The pork chops last night had me drooling for non-exhausted reasons. Maybe he'll do a Thanksgiving show...

Clearly not a foodie

Just out of curiosity, what is the deal with recipes that call for you to freeze leftovers/extras on a baking sheet first, then move to a different container? I get the concept, but who the hell has that kind of freezer real estate to spare?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Artfully surviving the recession (that is not a recession)

Back before I had to shoulder the debt incurred by a bunch of Wall Street big wigs, and before the slowdown-that-is-not-a-recession began to have concrete effects on my personal portfolio, I had another reason to watch my wallet like a hawk: buying a house much larger than what we really needed. We had gotten the monthly bills in the condo pretty much down pat; we foolishly thought that accounting for the increase in mortgage would be enough of an adjustment in our budget. But soft! What roots through yonder pipes doth break? 'Tis the ancient oak, and destruction its intent. To say there have been unexpected expenses is an understatement of the grossest proportions (and in the case of the plumbing, I do mean grossest).

All to say I've been more conscious of what I'm spending, and although I haven't been able to get my monthly charges totally under control yet, that's mostly been because they are laden with home-centric purchases (I got a great kitchen island, even though it's currently pushed up against the wall). I've been trying not to spend too much on activities. Since my one job at phillyist entails looking up cheap things to do, I feel pretty good about my knowledge of said cheap fun. But a few weeks ago another avenue occurred to me, in the form of that other favorite of mine: volunteering. You know, the thing I talk about all the time but haven't done in over a year?

I ended up signing up as a volunteer usher with Annenberg's Dance Celebration. There were nine companies in the season, and I had talked myself out of buying a season pass, which would have been over $300 (and much more if I dragged feanor with me). I just got the schedule today, and I'm down for performances at all but one. Cost=being on my feet for a few hours, and then free performances. I'm not 100% how good a deal it will turn out to be, since I'm not sure I'll really get to see the entire shows, nor what the view would be like. But you can't argue with the price.

I also just found that there are $10 seats left at many of the Philadelphia Orchestra Access concerts; even with the handling charges that's $31 for two tickets. Not too shabby... though I still have a sneaking suspicion about why I want to hear classical music...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Am I that popular?

Just read this on cleaning up digital dirt so employers don't get an eyeful when googling you. The article's main suggestion starts with googling yourself, so I figured, hey, why not? My phillyist profile page came up first. Exciting! This blog did not. Most likely because my name isn't affiliated with it. But anyway. As nice as it is to think I am the coolest one with my name in the universe, or at least the most newsworthy, I know at least that the latter is not true; there's a few professors in the UK doing the academic thing and publishing books and articles and whatnot, and on more reliable sites even. So what's up?

Though I don't get the google algorithm, a talk by this guy hipped me to at least one facet of it: google remembers you, and remembers your search history, such that future displayed search results are affected by said history. Spooky huh? Also adds another wrinkle to the addage that the web and its accoutrement are serving to isolate people intellectually, politically, etc. by allowing them to segregate into areas where they only interact with people who think and feel as they do. You may think you're searching for a multitude of viewpoints on a topic, but if you've been searching and clicking and refining on topics related to it, google might just guess what you're really looking for.

Anyway, this is to say that I suspect I will not truly uncover "digital dirt" about myself by vanity googling, since google knows I search using "Philadelphia" and "Penn" a lot, and probably took that into account. I may never know what my boss is finding out about me, as we speak even. Hi there! I'm a productive employee who never blogs on work time!