Friday, November 21, 2008

Office Lunch Room Redeux

I am happy to report that my sandwich survived today and made it through the office refrigerator in its original unsquished form. Yay!

And on an even better note, someone brought in cookies. With frosting. And sprinkles. I consider this an appeasement for 2 days of sqished sandwiches.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Refrigerator Etiquette

My workplace, like many other offices, provides a refrigerator in the break room. Mostly people store their lunches in there. This is the second day in a row where someone has piled something large and heavy on top of my lunch bag. The results have been 2 days of squished sandwiches. Not the end of the world, and still edible, but irritating all the same. I swear, if this keeps up I'm going to install a hidden camera in the break room to catch the guilty party, and then take every oppurtunity to squish the culprit's lunch.

And so, I've taken it upon myself to educate the masses in office refrigerator etiquette.
  1. Try to pack your lunch so that it takes up a minimum of refrigerator real estate
  2. Make every effort to place your lunch in a clear space
  3. If you must move things around to make room for your own lunch, be gentle
  4. If you absolutely have to stack lunches, put the squishy stuff on top. Put the sandwich on top of the tupper wear

Remember kids, only you can prevent squished sandwiches.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Let the Feast Begin

The eating season is upon us. As the roommate so aptly pointed out the other day, the holidays aren't sneaking up on us, they're roaring on by. I'm not sure how it is for the rest of you, but for me it seems like I start eating on Thanksgiving and don't stop until after New Year's. Not that there's anything wrong with that, or anything.

This year I will be attempting to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner. I like to think that my cooking skills have improved greatly over the last few years, but the thought of a full blown holiday meal is a little daunting.

I've been looking over some cooking magazines and scouting out recipes online. Waht can I say, I obsess about things, and this has given me something to obsess about. Also, it's a good excuse to spend an entire day cooking, which is something that I actually enjoy doing. I've got most of the menu planned out. This is what I have so far.
  • Roast turkey - Duh!
  • Turkey gravey with truffle oil - I've never used truffle oil, but it sounds intriguing despite the fact that many chefs think the stuff should be banned
  • Mashed potatoes - Again, duh!
  • Bruleed sweet potatoes - I got this recipe from Cooking Light. It is absolutely delicious.
  • Sauteed brussel sprouts with leeks - Yum! I've made this for a few formal meals. It's good. Trust me
  • Some other form of vegetable - Possibly peas and pearl onions, or possibly green beans. I'm open to suggestions.
  • Stuffing - This will be a mix. Let's not get too crazy with the cooking. Most of the stuffing recipes I've found seem overly complicated for what you get. And I don't even like stuffing.
  • Cranberry sauce - From the can, just like mom used to make.
  • Rolls - Store bought. My baking skills leave something to be desired. If I'm feeling frisky, I might break out the Bisquick.

On a related note, I went to a free cooking workshop offered by Williams-Sonoma. The work shop was on cooking side dishes. On the plus side, it didn't turn into an hour long sales pitch. With that said, I was disappointed in the class. It was way more basic than I had anticipated. Williams-Sonoma is a high end kitchen store. I would assume that people who shop there know how to blanch vegetables, otherwise, what the heck are they doing with all of their overly priced gadgets and gourmet ingredients?

Next week's workshop is on pie. I haven't decided if it's worth going. On one hand, I already know the basics. On the other, I am pie crust impaired. Seriously impaired. Even when I follow the recipe exactly. I can make a pretty decent pie filling, but I have to get a pre-made pie crust. It's a tragedy, I know.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Gendered Toys

I was in Toys R Us today shopping for a birthday present for a 1 year old. Walking through the store, I noticed a disheartening trend with the toys. Toys that I always thought were gender neutral have shown up on the shelves with a feminine equivalent. There are now sets of Legos and TinkerToys that are "designed exclusively for girls". The difference? The girls' version comes in shades of pink and purple, as opposed to the bright primary colors of the regular version. WTF?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Time For Change

No, not another post election post. This time I'm talking about change in my personal life. I like to start small, like with my blog, here. The two of you who actually read this thing may have noticed something's different. I think I'm trying to shed my pirate persona a bit, which is unfortunate, considering the name of this thing. Anyway, I hope you like the new format.

In other change news, I had my first professional hair cut in some time. I decided that I had gotten my hair caught in the car door for the last time. I also recently managed to catch it in my top desk drawer. Everything was fine until I rolled back in the chair. Ow! So, 15 inches came off. It sounds drastic, but it's still pretty long.

What will be my next change? I'm feeling restless, so at this point only time will tell.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yes He Did

As the dust settles on the 2008 elections, I thought I would weigh in with my two cents.

First, the good news. This sums things up nicely...

America has its first black president with Barack Obama defeating John McCain. Not only is this a historic first, but we also have a progressive leader who has some good ideas to repair the damage that has been done over the last 8 years.

Now that we're done doing our happy dances (or pouting in a corner and pointing your finger at Sarah Palin, if you happen to be a Republican), lets not forget that we were voting on more than just the president on Tuesday.

The good news is that the Democrats picked up a few more seats, making it easier for our new progressive leader to pass through his agenda. Dems picked up an additional 6 seats in the senate, giving them a 57-40 majority. The bad news is that they did not reach 60 seats, the magic number that will give the Democrats a fillibuster proof majority over the Republicans. Keep in mind that Republican fillibusters have been a huge reason why the Democrats have not been able to accomplish much since taking control in 2006 with a razor thin majority.

In more good news, women will be represented at a historic high in both houses. 17 women (13 Dems and 4 Reps) will be in the senate and 74 (57 Dems, 17 Reps) will be in the House. While I'm happy women are gaining ground in politics, we're still abysmally under-represented. Think about it. Women are 50% of the population, yet hold only 17% of the seats in congress.

In more good news, voter turnout in this election was at an all time high. Turnout is estimated at 64% of the eligible voting population, besting the previous high of 63% for 1960 election where JFK squared off against Richard Nixon. A quick look at the statistics for other presidential elections put voter turnout in the low to mid 50's. It's even lower in non-presidential election years, hanging somewhere in the 30 to 40 percent range. People were excited this time around. That's a good thing.

Ballot Initiatives

There were a few ballot initiatives I was keeping an eye on. It turns out that America is pro-choice but anti-gay. Sigh. Here's the run down.

The most well known ballot initiative in the country was California's proposition 8, a law banning gay marriage. An estimated $74M was spent on this ballot initiative, the most for any campaign this season after the presidential campaigns. I am incredibly sad that this passed. There is no word yet what will happen to the estimated 16,000 gay married couples in the state.

Another gay marriage ban, Ammendment 2, passed in Florida. And yet another anti-gay item passed in Arkansas. Act 1 banned gay couples from adopting or becoming foster parents. On a happier note, Question 1 in Connecticut failed. Question 1 would have paved the way for more anti-gay ammendments by changing the state's constitution.

On the pro-choice side of things, the big one, Colorado's Ammedment 48, failed by huge margin; about 73% voted no. I am extremely relieved that it failed so spectacularly, but still disheartened that it got on the ballot in the first place. The ammendment would have defined a fertilized egg as a human being, with full rights under law. Had this passed, not only would all forms of abortion be outlawed in the state, but it also would have affected in vitro fertilization and hormonal birth control. There is no word on whether or not an autopsy report would need to be filed every time a woman gets her period.

South Dakota's Measure 11, an outright ban on abortion in the state, also failed. This is the second attempt for this piece of anti-choice legislation aimed at challenging Roe v Wade. Measure 11 contained an exceptions for rape, incest, and health of the mother ('impending organ failure') that were not included in the 2006 bill. The good news is that it still failed. The bad news is that these anti-choice groups just won't go away and have vowed to put another abortion ban on the ballot for the 2010 election.

On a related note, Proposition 4 in California also failed. This was a parental notification law that required minors to wait 48 hours to have an abortion after a physician has informed her parents. Isn't that a wonderful thing to do to a kid who's already terrified? The law did give an exception so that another adult relative could be notified in the case of abuse, but the abuse needed to be reported to the police by the physician, and the court would then decide on a case by case basis. It's wonderful stuff for a very time-sensitive procedure.

Lastly, Initiative 424 in Nebraska passed. This will eliminate equal oppurtunity language from the state's constitution and bans affirmative action programs by state agencies. What does this mean? Among other things, state institutions, such as public schools and universities, can no longer offer scholarships for minority students.

Local Elections

In local news, Jim Douglas won his re-election bid for governor with enough votes to avoid a runoff election. No surprise there, though I would have liked to have seen a Progressive as governor. I did in fact vote for Anthony Pollina. I console myself with the thought that a Vermont Republican would be considered a liberal in other areas of the country.

Representative Peter Welch easily won his first re-election with over 80% of the vote. I'm glad. One of the reasons that I like him is that Vermont's lone representative is very responsive to questions and concerns. I am one of those annoying people that write letters to Congress. The responses that I've gotten back have been timely and worded so that they actually address the issue that I asked about in the first place.

Also, I was very happy to learn that Kesha Ram won her bid for state representative, upsetting Progresive incumbant Chris Pearson. Remember her name. I predict that we will have be hearing more from the 22 year old in the future.

Your thoughts?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Get Out And Vote (And Get Some Free Goodies)

Election Day is finally upon us and it looks like we're in for a doozey. I will be braving the crowds after work and casting my vote in Burlington's very populated Ward 1 district.

A few companies will be offering nation wide incentives for people to vote. Most of these require some proof that you actually voted, so show up with your 'I Voted' sticker or some form of proof if you voted early or absentee.

First up is free ice cream. cream. Ben and Jerry's will be offering a free scoop of ice cream nation wide on election day from 5pm to 8pm. I do wish that the offer was good for later into the evening, since polls here close at 7 and with long anticipated wait times, voters may not be able to take advantage of the offer.

Next we have an offering of free caffeine. Starbucks will be giving away a tall cup of regular coffee to voters on November 4th.

In the sugary treats category, Kispy Kreme will be giving out star shaped doughnuts with red, white, and blue spinkles. Dunkin Donuts, are you gonna step up to the challenge?

And if you really want to rock the vote....Babeland (Note - don't click this link at work!) will be giving out a free silver bullets (for the ladies) and sleeves (for the guys) at their New York and Seattle locations.

[UPDATE: I voted after work (around 4 pm). There was no line and check in was smooth. There were even parking spaces available in the area, which is amzing in itself on any given day.]