Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Slice, slice baby


It was a fucking kitchen utensil that did me in. One that I've used correctly many times. It's called a mandolin, which stupidly has the same name as a kind of guitar - another thing I don't know how to use properly.

At right is a picture of someone using a mandoline INCORRECTLY. This is, in fact, the way I used it on Monday, when I was slicing potatoes for an egg fritatta.

I've used it many times correctly in the past, which is to say with a tool that separates you from the one-molecule thin razor sharp blade that apparently has a thirst for fingers. I left this guard behind because.. wait for it... that's the way they used it on Top Chef. Apparently, they are professionals or something.

I sliced off the tip of one finger, and a deep nick off the other. It took 3 stitches to stabilize. My only saving grace was that the ER doctor told me they had 5 mandoline injuries in the past week. This made me feel better, whether it was true or not. Anyway, these injuries are so common that people post them to Flickr.

Here's how you did in my injury poll:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Japan invades.... Sephora


If your nerdiness quotient is high enough, you may be familiar with the Japanese word Kawaii, a word that refers to the almost unbearable cuteness that has become a staple of modern Japanese culture.

We see it in many places - young girls couture, retro couture, the Hello Kitty vibrator, and apparently high-end fashion as well. We saw the following Hello Kitty bling advertisements at an Arlington, VA Sephora.

Very weird mixture....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm (sorta) fat


My doctor says I'm fat.

Not verbatim, but he says I need to lose weight. Specifically, I need to lose 5 pounds in order to lose weight in my FACE. The reason behind this is a very important one: I snore.

And what causes snoring?

Fatness. Specifically, the fatness around your throat, which jiggles / vibrates when you sleep and causes the snore.

So fat people - of which I am now one, apparently -snore.

Being overweight, even marginally, is a strange feeling for me, since I consistently think of myself as very thin. Most of my life I've been called "skinny", "rail-thin", "slender" and even, occasionally "emaciated." I've grown out of that phase over the past 5 years, but in my head I'm still very thin. In reality, I have probably graduated to an "average" body type, which is something I've always wanted.

But some aspects of my new body type sneak up on me. Some of my old dress shirts can't be buttoned at the top, for example. When I lie on my side, I have a little pot belly that other times seems to hide somewhere on my midsection.

Have you ever experienced weight fluctuations? How did you take them?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Moral certainty in Libya?


For a while, Libya seemed like a perfect place to bomb from afar. The setup was perfect - repressed people revolting against a tyrant, riding the jubilant waves of other successful revolutions. The despot's cabinet and head military officials defect, the rebels seize some towns, the world looks on with adoration. He's on the ropes! Then the dictator gets pissed and bulldozes, shoots, and bombs his own people to smithereens.

The brutal injustice stings, and you feel their pain and wish you could help. Yes, we know our own military is stretched too thin for a ground invasion, so why not do the next best thing? Join up some other super-powered nations and shoot missiles at the bad guys from far, far away. The bad guys get hit, we are safe and the civilians get to root for the U.S.

It seemed like that very, very rare thing - moral certainty. This was a good thing.

But then it wasn't. First the Arab nations changed their minds and started booing. Then the Republicans chastised Obama for moving too slowly. Then Democrats knocked him for moving too quickly. Finally, Jon Stewart of all people bashed the president for acting illegally without the permission of congress.

Don't know what to make anything anymore....

Saturday, March 5, 2011

One interesting thing about Wisconsin teacher's salaries


It stopped me in my tracks when I read that the average annual compensation of a Milwaukee teacher is $101,000.

Outrageous! Maybe Wisconsin is somehow an exception to the "teacher's make shitty money" rule. Maybe the Unions really have created a racket in the most unlikely of places.
But when I read the article, I discovered this: The 101k included $59,500 in salary and $41,591 in benefits.

"Benefits" is a hazy word, because it includes two huge variables - health insurance and 401k / retirement funds. But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the majority of this benefits package is nothing but primarily health insurance. The problem, then, isn't with the size of the package but the fact that health insurance is really, really freaking expensive. So expensive, that to actually give someone health insurance is scandalous. This possibility is shocking...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Everyone should copy the Federal government's leave policy


About twice a year I will get an email like this, always from someone I don't know:

Janine Tyler (Note: not her real name), one of our colleagues, just gave birth to a daughter on February 22d. She has only worked for the government since September and has not accrued sufficient leave to cover the recovery period. She only plans to be out on maternity leave for six weeks. Janine has been placed in the GSA Voluntary Leave Transfer Program. We are seeking individuals willing to donate any amount of annual leave. Individuals wishing to participate can access the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program through GSA Insite. Janine sends her since appreciation and thanks you for your donation.

That's right. If you have annual leave / vacation time that you haven't used (and government employees can roll over a certain amount of unused time from year to year) you can donate it to someone needy, no questions asked. This sounds like something left over from a union deal, and I think it's pretty cool.