Monday, November 24, 2014

What goes on the internet can haunt you

I have seen people post--on their own accounts, with their pictures and real names attached--some really vile stuff. I'm not talking about opinions I don't agree with. I'm talking about slurs, harassment, and threats. I'm talking about behavior that, if you saw someone engage in it in meatspace, you'd be creeped out and possibly reaching for the phone. There have been several instances that I know about--a couple at least that have made the news--of an online horde targeting and harassing people they didn't like.

This isn't an issue with anonymity, since I've known people who acted this way in meatspace. Many of these people have their pictures and their real names, and identifying information attachedd to these accounts.

It's you people I'm talking to now, the ones who rage post, who troll, who harass online, who think you can do this with impunity: You may want to stop that. Google is a thing.

No one wants to hire or work with someone who could be dangerous or nasty in the office. They want someone who will work well with others. They want someone who will respect privacy and confidentiality (especially in certain occupations and organizations). They want someone who will not be a litigation risk.

And you know? I can't think of too many people who want to hang out with someone who's capable of that kind of behavior. Yes, I've run into a lot of idiots who will insist that their friend really is a nice guy underneath it all, but when all that nice guy shows you is an abusive bully, well, you can't be blamed for not wanting to stick around and get to know him better.

So if someone does or says something you don't like, you can express why you didn't like it. But if you start threatening them or hassling them, you're not going to stand out as a desirable employee (or as a desirable friend, honestly). If you start posting slurs in response to what they said, you're not going to be the number one candidate for the job; just the circular file. No one is hacking into your private accounts to see this stuff. When I look on Facebook at say, a movie fan page, and I see some guy saying that a certain actress is a dumb #$&* for uploading private pictures to the cloud, and uses a bunch of other choice words to describe her and other people who disagree with him, I tend to think he's a scumbag. (And rather stupid, since your email can also get hacked and disseminated.) If I am on Twitter and I see someone responding abusively to another person's Tweet, I'm not going to form a good impression of them. I'm going to think they are vile people. I am going to be reluctant to work with them or associate with them in any way.

Yes, it's not fair. But you have got to face the fact that the way you act will affect how people view you. Yes, you should act like a decent human being. That doesn't entitle you to anything but a fair shot at anything (be it a job, a relationship, or anything else). But it's the basic starting point for civilized behavior.

Don't act that way? Don't be surprised if you get a lot of cold shoulders.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I got a little over enthusiastic with the canning

I went apple picking last month, and got um, ambitious with it. Got a huge bag (they break easily, by the way), had grand plans to can it all.

And I did, pretty much, but I forgot that it would take a lot of time that I didn't quite have. Still, it was worth it.

The first thing I made were apple preserves. Once the apples were peeled, cored, and sliced it was a cakewalk. Honestly, it's all the peeling, coring, and slicing that does me in. I'm all enthusiastic to begin with. I put on Welcome to Night Vale and listen to the fake radio show about black helicopters and tentacle monsters and silent hooded figures and the Sheriff's Secret Police. (Don't judge me.) It's all good. And then. . .and then, somewhere around apple number six I get all OKAY THIS IS ENOUGH WHAT WAS I THINKING TIME TO STOP.

And then I realize that no, I have to see it through because I am really looking forward to eating this stuff.

Then, before I start the apples in the saucepan, I realize I have yet to soften the STUPID lids and I have to do that and make sure the STUPID water doesn't boil. At this point, I don't care if Welcome to Night Vale is telling me that the Sheriff's Secret Police is headed to my house. In fact, I'd be all WELL SECRET POLICE YOU'D BETTER GET YOUR BUTT IN HERE AND HELP ME OUT OR I WILL FEED YOU TO MY SURLY CAT* I SWEAR I AM IN NO MOOD.

I was able to get them done, though. I made a double batch and got 12 half pints made.

The butter was easy. I'm going to do more, in fact. I made it in the slow cooker. Then I canned it. And yes, the house smelled amazing. The slow cooker was filled to almost overflowing and the apples cooked down to half. If you do it this way, I suggest leaving the lid tilted askew a bit, to let the steam out, and maybe for the last hour or two cooking the butter with the lid off. I got about seven half pints out of it.

I love this stuff. It's good on bread and scones, I put it in my oatmeal, I will sometimes eat it right out of the jar. I brought this and the preserves and some bread to work and they were a big hit.

The pears should have been easy. They were from a friend who has a pear tree that has been going hog wild. I figured, yes, I'd somehow can these (as well as eat them). I found a recipe for tarragon pears, and I had to make it. I have tarragon in the garden. I had pears. This was a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, I got really tired and surly. But I pushed through because BOOTSTRAPS. Or because I already had everything set up and what the heck, these savory pears would be wonderful with a meal. So I managed, even though peeling pears rates right up there with say, trimming my cat's claws, driving in Boston, or having a work meeting at 4:30 in the afternoon.

It was worth it, once it was done. They were all worth it. It's not like I can things and then think, "Sheesh, I wish I never did that."

*She's tiny and geriatric but she can be fierce. She will throw down.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Where your fearless blogger learns the hard way that housecleaning is a man's job

My face after the incident in question. Saltier language, though.
Right, so you know how I was sure I was going to have this super awesome system and keep the trainwreck fairy at bay? Yeah, looking back at that I was adorable in my naivete. That fell apart this summer, and I paid the price for it in a spectacular and mortifying way.

I was cleaning my kitchen--which I had to do quickly, as people were coming over that night, and thoroughly, as it was um, diplomatically speaking, something that could spawn a virus that starts the zombie apocalypse. So I was moving very, very fast. Pulling out chairs, sweeping the floor under the table. Walking into another room to get something. Walking back very fast with a destination in mind, shoulders back, looking straight ahead and OH GOT NOT WHERE MY FEET WERE GOING WHICH WAS RIGHT INTO THE [I CANNOT EVEN FAKE THIS CURSE WORD] [BLASPHEMY] CHAIR HOLY [GENTLE CARESS] THAT [GENTLY CARESSING] HURT [BLASPHEMY GENTLE CARESS BLASPHEMY].

Okay, I figured, I banged my fourth toe pretty hard, I will rub it and that will make the toe fairy come out and--well, it will feel better. Or I'll get some ice. And I'll take some Advil. And I'll wear shoes in the house and fake it during dinner.

I couldn't miss work the next day (I had a deadline) so I went and by noon I informed my boss that I had to go to the doctor tomorrow because I thought I might have broken my toe housecleaning.

Yes, he laughed and asked me how I managed it and I told him that we all have our talents. Injuring myself in ridiculous ways is mine.

Went to the doctor, got an xray, and confirmed, the middle joint of the toe was broken. "But I want you to see an orthopedist this week because the break in in a weird place."

So at the end of the week, I went to the orthopedist, who said (AFTER A TWO HOUR WAIT WHERE I GOT VERY VERY HULKSMASH HANGRY BECAUSE WHY NOT JUST SCHEDULE THE APPOINTMENT FOR THE HOUR BEFORE LUNCH AND THEN NOT SHOW UP THAT IS A GREAT CHOICE YES THANK YOU) "Yeah, it's broken. Tape it. Maybe come in for another set of xrays."

To which I said, "Um, how about I not do that?"

To which he said, "Yeah, you don't have to do it unless it still hurts in a month."


The toe is healed up now, though I did get to wear clunky shoes to work and rock my inner Church Lady. (Yes, I am aware that I just dated myself. Cope.) I tried to put work shoes on every so often and my toe was all OH HELL NO WHAT ARE YOU THINKING KEEP THIS UP CHICKIE AND YOU WILL GET NO REST I WILL KEEP YOU AWAKE FOR THE NEXT WEEK GET THE OLD LADY ORTHO SHOES ON AND SUCK IT UP.

I can wear regular shoes now. My toe is still slightly swollen but I can bend it and walk on it and it's fine.

But I have learned my lesson. Housecleaning is for manly men, not delicate flowers like me.

Friday, November 14, 2014

I'll bring you some summer at the end of the fall

Mainly because holy hells I am to tired to write full sentences right now.

These are my garden beds. There are four of 'em--that's right, four of them. I planted tomatoes (roma, early girl, and grape), mallabar spinach, eggplant, carrots, rooted parsley, beets, chard, summer squash, zucchini, butternut squash, beans, nasturtiums, an assortment of herbs, hot peppers, a couple of sweet peppers and cucumbers. . .and I think that was it? I've eaten most of them. I cooked and froze the tomatoes (I didn't get enough in at once to make canning worthwhile) and froze the rest whole (which is handy). The carrots have done well, which shocked me for some reason. The squash (winter and summer) was a big old fail, as were the cukes. And I had weeds, lots of purslane, but it's edible so I decided to act like I meant to grow it. 

I paid a carpenter friend to make the beds (I got the smaller wooden planters from a nearby hardware store). He lined the top with mahogany (I have to apply some oil to it this weekend, come to think of it). I have the Rolls Royce of garden beds. I think these beds are worth more than my house.

Last month I planted garlic, kale and arugula seedlings, and spinach seeds (which are doing okay as it's still unnaturally warm out). I still have some carrots left but they will be gone this weekend as they are delicious. I planted walking onions right next to the house and they are annexing the rest of the yard. (Well, not quite, but they did quite well.) 

Oh! I also planted sunflowers. Here's one of them when it was warm and sunny and it was tall and healthy. 

The bees seemed to like them.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Well! I have been busy.

Seriously, I have not meant to leave this blog fallow for so long. I keep doing this and then making promises that I'll be back and I kind of feel foolish at this point.

My days have been long. I'm not complaining--heck, I have days, and they are spent with me at a job. But they are long and I haven't had it in me to write anything, though lord knows I keep thinking of things to write about. So I'm going to make the extra effort as I enjoy blogging.

As I have mentioned before, my days start early so I do have to have a system set up. I recently found out what happens when, for whatever reason, I don't stick with that system. Here's the spoiler: Nothing good.

First, if I'm up later than planned, I'm groggy and cranky and not at my best the next day. I forget my lunch and/or breakfast. I work later than usual because I don't work as quickly, which means I get home later, which means I get to sleep later. . .you see where this is going, right?

And if my weekends are busy, my lunches and breakfasts don't get made. Which is not a good thing--then I end up spending money on meals that I don't even like that much, so I find myself broke and unsatisfied that week.

I've mainly been doing well, but sometimes I do slip up. Or things just get very busy. So I'm trying to now make a lot of food (more than usual) on a free weekend and freeze it. And I'm trying to get my laundry done more quickly, and some of it done during the week (though since I'm in bed not that much longer after I get home, it tends to be a weekend chore).

However, enough about that. I have things to talk about this week. My commute and the glorious bus. (Not being sarcastic there, actually.) My garden beds and what I've planted. My new neighbors. My neighbors' dogs. My life is exciting! HA.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Getting out of the house, streamlined.

My new job seems to be going well.  I'm enjoying it, and it's good to be employed again.

One thing I was worried about is that I'd spend a lot of money on meals out.  I have been pleasantly surprised by how this has not been the case.  Unless I have plans to meet someone for lunch, I'm eating in. (I think the cold winter has helped in this regard; I have been reluctant to leave the building.) I haven't been cheating by going out for lunch or grabbing breakfast, even though I am up before dawn. I'm not bragging (I still get snacks since I never seem to have brought enough). I've just gotten into a routine.

So, as  you know, my days are long. My commute, thanks to traffic and the subway, can take anywhere from one and a half to two hours each way.  Most of that is on a bus, which is great. The bus is quiet and comfortable and it goes right into the High Occupany Vehicle Lane.  The bane of my commuting existence is the subway.

However, because the commute is so long, and because I like getting to work on time, I'm up at 4:30 in the morning. Well, my alarm goes off at 4:30. Sometimes I stay in bed until 5:00.

How do you get ready in the morning when the sun isn't up yet? Well, it helps to do most everything else ahead of time. It also helps that I just have the cat to take care of. If I had kids this whole thing would be nuked before it started. (Seriously, I don't know how you parents do it.) It also helps that my hours are regular. I'm not working split shifts, or varied hours.

My clothes are picked out so I don't have to stress about what I've got and what I'll wear.  I don't eat breakfast at home, I eat it at work. I bring it with me, along with my lunch. And I don't make my lunch the night before. I make it several weeks ahead.

Basically, I make a lot of something I like, freeze it, and grab it for my lunch in the morning.  So far, I have been making burritos--either bean burritos or burritos from leftover meat.  I made a batch of chili last weekend and froze it in small containers to take with me to work. I'll do the same thing with curries, stews, soups, and creatively repurposed leftovers. I'm not a big sandwich eater, and I have found that making sandwiches is kind of a pain, especially when you have to either make them the night before or make them at 4:30 in the morning. I might not be able to do it the night before.

I also made steel cut oatmeal in the slow cooker one weekend.  This was actually quite easy and I will do it again. Grease the insert of the cooker.  Combine two cups of steel cut oats, six cups of water, and two cups of milk (I used almond milk).  Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar if you want it a little sweet, and 2-3 peeled chopped apples if you like. Cook on low for eight hours or high for four hours. Have some right off the bat if you like as it's delicious. Allow it to cool, and save one cup portions in plastic freezer bags. Freeze, and grab and go in the morning. I do take a little almond milk with me as well in a small container as the oatmeal gets very thick when you reheat it. But it's good and it's filling.

I also bring yogurt and fruit. I'll probably bring vegetables and hummus.

Now, I just have to tackle keeping the house orderly during the week.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bavarian Pork Roast

My parents came over for dinner on Sunday.  I wanted to do something a little different from chicken, so I perused my slow cooker book and decided on this recipe (my mother likes German food).

It was very easy to do.  The pork was flavorful and tender, the gravy was delicious, and the leftovers will be good in burritos or a casserole (or just as they are with the gravy).

Here's the recipe:

Bavarian Pork Roast
1 11/2 to 2 pound boneless pork shoulder roast
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp dried marjoram, crushed
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil or cooking oil
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 8-ox carton dairy sour cream or plain yogurt
4 tsp corn starch

Trim fat from roast. Combine caraway seeds, marjoram, salt, and pepper, and rub all over roast.

Brown roast in hot oil in a large skillet.  Drain off fat.  Place meat in slow cooker.  Add the water to the skillet, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to loosen brown bits in bottom of skillet.  Pour skillet juices and vinegar into slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Remove meat from cooker, keep warm.

For gravy, skim fat from juices, measure 1 1/4 cups juices (add water, if necessary).  Pour juices into a saucepan; bring to boiling.  Combine sour cream or yogurt and cornstarch.  Stir into juices. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.  Cook and stir 2 minutes more.  Slice meat and serve with gravy.