Monday, May 19, 2008

quality versus wallet

I have developed a new respect for the exchange of goods and services. Specifically, I have begun to really appreciate my ability as a consumer to exchange money for the product of someone else's talent. I can go to someone and say, hey, you're really good at this, can I pay you to do that for me in a fair exchange?

Obvious, right? Or not. Something's changed. I think you all know that I generally like to do it from scratch, homemade, by myself when I can. I like to make my own bread, my own pizza, ice cream, etc. And I enjoy doing these things - they are all good- but there are some days where I just want to enjoy a high quality product without having to suffer through all my experimental stages first. Sometimes getting the best 'deal' is not really the best deal.

I was thinking about this as I stopped at the store the other day, and was able to pick up a nice loaf of artisan bread, made locally, and enjoy it, thinking about all the work that went into it, and deciding that today I was going to enjoy the fruits of someone else's labor (and reward them, accordingly, by paying for it of course) instead of doing it myself and having to wait three hours to enjoy it.

This is obviously partly because I work with food all day now, and often don't even want to touch a knife or cutting board by the time I get home. I always used to prefer to save money by doing things myself, and I still do, generally. But sometimes it's worth the price of a quality product to have someone who really knows what they're doing make it for me. Sort of like how the people who buy lunch from our cafe might just get a simple soup and salad, but they're willing to pay to have someone else do the work and make it a pretty plate and provide a cozy atmosphere with festive music to listen to while they eat it. I get that. I still generally want something I can't make at home when I go out, but I'm starting to understand the big picture a little more, I think.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

ahhhh saturday night

Today was busy busy, 114 lunches (that's a lot for one little gal behind a lunch counter) and I handled them all ok. My boss kept giving me awkward white-people high-fives and her husband, the other owner said I was "awesome". Nothing better than that, plus a free soda when you missed lunch. We went out after to spend some of our totally unearned and misguided economic stimulus check on beer, dinner, books and cd's. A good night all in all. (We're planning on putting away the rest in our savings. I guess we're only sort of patriotic.)

Speaking of books, I've decided I should probably try and keep up with linz and kari for 50 books to read this year. I'm sure I'm a little behind, and since they count schoolbooks, they're a couple of cheats, but that's ok. So far, that I can remember, I've completed:

1984 (George Orwell) I think this is just one of those books everyone has to read once. I liked it because it had a sad ending. There's no triumphant victory over evil. Just an ordinary man who does what we likely all would do under similar circumstances, despite what we want to think of ourselves.

Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert) I really enjoyed this book. A quick, fun, read, and it makes me want to take up meditation because if this crazy chick can calm her mind, so can I.

In Defense of Food (Michael Pollan) This book conviced Erich to throw out his marshmallow fluff and start eating whole grains. Need I say more?

I've started:
A Brief History of Time (Stephen Hawking) Really interesting, it makes me wish I liked physics more.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (some guy, I don't remember) The first chapter was motivating, the middle ok, the part where I set it down seems like a lot of fluff. Good ideas though, if not a bit overwritten.

The American Pipe Dream (about crack cocaine, Dale D. Chitwood et al) Haven't gotten very far yet, but interesting in that sort of sociology-class way.

The Vaccine Book (Robert W. Sears) Each chapter is devoted to one of the major childhood vaccines in the series generally recommended. I knew it was the right book for me when he said in the first chapter that he wouldn't talk about mercury excessively because it's been removed from 99% of vaccines, but that he would focus on the relevant things we actually needed to know about, from an intelligent scientific but not elitist standpoint. So no fear-mongering here, but also no "I'm a doctor, I know what's good for you, so just listen to me without question" either. (He does address it, of course, but directly and succinctly.) I'm only one vaccine in and I feel like I've already learned a ton.

For future reading, as part of my patriotic duty to save the economy with mindless shopping, today I purchased:

Night (Elie Wiesel)
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (David Sedaris)
A Separate Peace (John Knowles)
The Things They Carried (Tim O'Brien)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
Those Who Save Us (Jenna Blum)

Yes, several of these were books I either heard of from NPR or Oprah. I'm okay with that. They all look good. I also feel like I read more than that but I can't remember them.

Erich found some cd's he liked and got a copy of Jackie Brown, which I think I've seen but can't remember. Also we played some frisby in the park, which is always fun. We're so wholesome. Is that a nice way of saying boring? To make up for it we got some beers at Titletown, then did the aforementioned shopping under a nice alcoholic veil. Well, at least me. Not so much Erich. We even chatted with a 51 year old man who was looking for a 'sassy bitch' while drinking alone at The Tilted Kilt. (They wear exactly what their little cartoon logo girl wears, btw, it's just sad-we left as quickly as we could finish an overpriced house drink.)

Anyway, tomorrow is the day of our mothers, so let this be a reminder to all of you to call your mamas and say "thanks for pushing me out". Or "thanks for allowing a surgeon to delicately remove me through a small incision". Either way, we owe them, so suck it up and call! My own mother will be spending the afternoon learning to shoot an unnecessarily large handgun with my brother, so I'll be making brunch for my mother in law, which should be fun.

Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, May 9, 2008

get fired up!

This is a little early-AM post to pump myself up for what is going to be a really hard day at work today! I'm doing breakfast and lunch today without the chef, A, who is taking a her first weekend off in a really long time (but not off-off, just doing something else). Yesterday was a really long day, so much so that I was all stressed out all evening, but today will be better! I will not screw up the soup again ((A fixed it)! I will not let bitchy customers upset me! I will be grateful that I'm making the food and not working out front where I can't pretend I can't hear the customers ( I do that a lot)! Also I will take 2 minutes to eat a sandwich before lunch starts so I don't get crabby. Also I will remember that at the end of the day I get to go home and see Erich and maybe even make out a little, which is (one reason) why my life rules. Okay. Time to go!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

duck crossing

I saw something that made me smile today. Rush hour traffic on webster stopped to let mama and papa goose cross the street with all their babies (about a dozen of them). Doesn't that make you smile too?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dough renaissance!

This weekend has been a dough renaissance! Last night we made baguettes for the first time- think long thin french bread. Delicious! Turned out with a really good flavor and chewy, crisp crust. Kind of a goofy shape since we're not good at rolling them yet (but we're getting better!).

Next: saturday morning means chocolate bread with mascarpone cheese and mimosas. Since we slept late and the dough needed three hours to rise/rest, we didn't end up eating until around 2:45 pm, but it was worth the wait! We still have five more (small) loaves of choco-dough left to share, one in the fridge and 4 portions in the freezer.

Dinnertime: Honey oat whole wheat loaves- two biiig round ones. I kneaded the hell out of this dough just to see how dense a bread I could get- and I got what I asked for! Yum. Very heavy, thick, and delicious with some curry over the top. I think it'll be good for breakfast this week with some butter and hot tea. We also had one of last night's baguettes with some hummus I made with smoked sea salt, chipotle pepper/chili powder. Sooooo good.

Erich and I have been reading Bread Alone, a book Nat got me a while back with a lot of great techniques for artisan bread baking, and we're setting out to get our kitchen up to speed. First thing- time to get a bread stone or hearth bricks.

dread maintenance

Well after about 1 1/2 months my dreads are actually starting to look like dreads...for the most part. They're still pretty loose. I think I'm right on the brink of 'no return', the point I like to think of when I can no longer rip them out without having to cut off most of my hair. Actually, I have a couple big fat ones on the back of my head that would need to big cut off at this point. So, I guess I'm teetering. Or something.

I've been thinking about this as an exercise/experiment in commitment. Although I find it a bit of a paradox to commit to a negative action, that is, not maintaining my hair in the normal white/female coiffed standard. There's a little bit of positive action in the backcombing/braiding/rubberbanding, but still less effort overall over 6 weeks than daily shampoo/conditioning/straightening etc. (For those wondering, yes, I am washing my hair, but not daily.)

About 5 % of the time I will admit I have thought, "gee maybe this was a bad idea", but for the most part I am feeling good/neutral. Since I wear my hair covered by a scarf 6 days a week it hasn't been terribly obvious to people. I guess we'll see where this goes from here. Plus let's face it, I am partially doing this because 1) I always liked dreads and 2) I finally can (hooray for new jobs!)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

you uterus, you!

*Warning: This post contains many run-on and/or structurally questionable sentences. Sorry. I normally would fix that, but there are just too many. Also, I don't really feel like it. So, sorry if you get a little carsick. Thanks.*

I have a small beef to air. A minor complaint. It has to do with my uterus and associated organs. I hope you're all okay with that, and I think you are, otherwise you mightn't have made it past the keeper post. Anyway:

I learned at my last gynecological visit that I have a tipped uterus- meaning that instead of standing up fairly straight and leaning slightly towards my stomach like a normal uterus, it tips backwards towards my back. My first thought was- well gee, that's neat. A little weird. It occurs in about 20% of the female population so it's a little rare, but not that much.

My second thought was this- I'm 24. I've seen the gyno since I was 17. Why am I just learning this now? Did my other doctors (one woman and two men) not notice (I doubt that, they get pretty far up in there, for those that don't know) or did they simply feel it irrelevant, unnecessary to mention? Did they think I didn't need to know this? *Did* I in fact, need to know this? I think so, and here's why:

I decided to do a little quick research, a la the internet. Now I'll be the first to tell you that the democratization of information via the web has its downfalls. One of these is, of course, the phenomenon of people doing a small amount of research on a subject from an unreliable source (putting it politely) and then proceeding to spread such (mis)information like dogma straight from the angel Gabriel's mouth. We've all seen it-the 'modern asshole' as I heard once from an author I can't recall. I do, however, think that I can get a little basic medical information and trust it.

The first site I checked stated that the two most frequent symptoms associated with a tipped uterus were pain during intercourse (check) and painful periods (check). However, these symptoms are both fairly generic and pain during sex can be caused by many different things. Most women report some pain during menstruation as well, but before I went on the pill (which is well documented to reduce pain and cramping) I used to have cramps so bad they would wake me at night and make me nauseous. Not kidding. So this struck a chord with me.

Other symptoms listed that I had suffered (but were incredibly generic) : lower back pain and pain/difficulty using tampons. The tampon issue is not so generic; I always found them problematic. The first time I used a tampon I laid on my bed and cursed my newfound womanhood and limped across the room until mom made me take it out. Obviously I learned better how to use them later, but still- I know no one else who experienced that.

However, this particular sight was also kind of promoting the 'Uplift' procedure where they lift the uterus to it's 'proper position' to alleviate some of these symptoms. Given the generality of symptoms, I felt a little suspicious of this site so I kept looking. Also just because it's not always positioned this way doesn't mean it is necessarily some kind of medical problem that needs fixing. It might just explain a few things.

So, next I checked out and found an identical list of symptoms. This made me feel a bit more confident that my information was accurate. I could keep looking, but my point is that when I complained of pain with tampons to my doctor I was told that I must be using them wrong, because they aren't painful. And when I complained of pain during intercourse I was told that I needed to relax and that the problem was basically in my head. What the fuck? When I complained of cramps making me nauseous, again, this was never mentioned. I was told to take an OTC pain reliever and try to ignore it.

Now obviously there isn't a whole lot that I could have done, had I know that I have a tipped uterus, but it would have at least relieved some of the frustration that I felt when dealing with the aforementioned symptoms. Knowing that it was a genetic thing, and that it was not something to worry about, but that it may cause some of these symptoms might have at least saved me the internal stress about whether I was somehow doing something wrong, I was too uptight, I was imagining my extremely painful cramps and otherwise creating things in my head etc.

Seriously. Do our doctors see so many stupid people that they don't even bother to educate their patients anymore? Or do they think we don't need to know any of this information if we can't do anything about it? I did have a gynecologist pepper me with questions about my sexual (in)activity at age 17 (apparently it was really hard to believe that a girl could get through high school without having sex; I was told "Look, I see 14 year olds that are pregnant who say *they* aren't having sex. You can tell me the truth")I could see how a doctor might think that it's not worth potentially giving a neurotic patient an opportunity to create a complex ('I'm so afflicted, I have a tilted uterus'), but I hardly think I fit that profile.

Anyway. That is my beef. It's pretty minor and relatively unimportant, but hey, it's my blog. I'm grateful to have access to good healthcare and doctors that take care of me, even if they don't take the time to discuss the nuances of every scenario with every patient. After all, I suppose they have all kinds of people with terrible problems to deal with, so the fact that my uterus was tilted didn't even blip on their radar. (She's not pregnant, no STD's, healthy weight- good to go! Now where'd that crack addict go?)

Oh, the only other thing was that it's been thought to contribute on occasion to infertility, but sources seem to vary on this. Some say that women with endometriosis can develop a tilted uterus as a side effect (or that it can happen after childbirth) and that the ensuing infertility can be mistakenly attributed to it (the tilted-ness). So-I'm not terribly worried about that. But you'd think they'd have mentioned it sometime in the first 7 years of exams.