Archive for May, 2006

Mind Games are for losers…..

I have never liked people who think that hazing or testing someone’s strength and character is a necessity to good performance.  I am speaking specifically about the workplace.  It happens in personal relationships too, but I have only experienced it at work.  I am, in fact, experiencing it right now. 

For some reason, my new boss has decided that putting me through complete turmoil and browbeating is her m.o. in her relationship with me.  Who knows, maybe she just doesn’t like me - but I get the feeling that she feels like she has to establish territory or dominance.  It seems very similar to a dog pissing on another dog to make sure it knows who’s in charge.  I might understand this whole thing if I had walked in with an massive ego or sense of over-confidence, but I don’t think I am capable of that type of air about myself (at least I hope not).  I am a hard worker, a fast learner and someone that takes criticism very well (i.e. I generally don’t take things personally and have a good sense about my faults).  So, I am at a crossing point where I am not sure if I should high tail it out of there or stick it out to see if it is, indeed, some weird hazing ritual that might be over soon.  Does anyone have any experience with this type of employer?  I have had your traditional, insecure boss who promanades about force feeding his authority over everyone, but NEVER anyone who has been this mean about it.  And, at any rate, she is not an inexperienced twit - she is really smart and very good at what she does (and, gets along very well with everyone else there - albeit they have all worked there for years).  It would give me great ease if I knew someone else has been through it and stuck it out to a happy ending.

Posted in Mental Health | No Comments »

Sugar Sugar

I have been giving something a lot of thought lately. I am thinking about my son and sugar. We are not a family that consumes a lot of it - but lately we have been very lazy about how much we allow our kids to have.  I have always felt that we balance our healthy diet with fun foods - the kid enjoy a bowl of fruit and yogurt as much as a bowl of ice cream.  However, with my son’s unpredictable energy levels and erradic behavior becoming more constant I have decided to think about his diet a little more.  I am starting with sugar.

Since I started poking around for info about it - I have found some astounding numbers about our culture’s relationship with sugar.  Check this out:

Children do not need to eat large amounts of sugar. In the 1800s, the average American consumed 12 pounds of sugar per year. By 1975, however, after the overwhelming success of the refined-food industry, the 12 pounds had jumped to a world-leading 118 pounds per year, and jumped again to 137.5 pounds per capita (for every man, woman, and child) by 1990. (Food Consumption, Prices and Expenditures, United States Department of Agriculture, 1991).

No wonder we are dealing with obesity issues, no?  I think, as a family, we might think about being more watchful about how much we consume.  This includes juices and sugar found in granola and breads.  It might just do us all some good to take it into consideration - not just the kids.

Posted in Healthy Eating, Healthy Living | 1 Comment »

Turning a blind eye

Thembi recording her audio diary in Khayelitsha township.
Photo of Thembi Nguban

I think it is human nature to force out, or simply ignore, tragedy that it not our own. This is not the most upbeat way to start the week, but something that has been on my mind for a great deal of time.

I had heard a piece on NPR about an African woman named Thembi. For a year she kept a recorded diary of her experience as a woman living with AIDS - she began the journal at the age of 19 when a producer met her during a more general interview he was doing about the AIDS culture in Africa. I sat in my car, very late for work, and could not pry myself away from the radio. Her story captivated and saddened me. It was an awakening - it reminded me that even though this was not my story that it was still something I should be actively aware and responsive about. I urge you to go and listen to her story - and to remember that it could be you or someone you know one day. Get active.

Posted in Social Justice | 1 Comment »

Jumpin’ Jack Flax - it’s a gas, gas, gas

As I sit over my yummy bowl of flax & pumpkin seed granola, I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you about the wonders of flax seed. It is one of our greatest allies against heart disease and, for women, against breast cancer. And it makes a killer addition to granola.

One of the most important fats, as most of you know, is the omega3 fatty acids that we find in seafood like salmon. Well, for those of us who don’t eat fish regularly or at all — flax seed is essential. Along with the two preventions listed above, it also provides fiber (good for that colon - take that you mean, dirty colon cancer!), it lowers LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and it helps lower blood pressure. How many reasons does a girl need?? Any one of them would have been reason enough, no?

5 Tips to include flax seed in home cooking:

  1. Sprinkle whole or ground flax seed on your cereal and salads
  2. Substitute flax seed mixture for eggs in home baking such as muffin and pancake (1 tbsp milled flax seed, plus 3 tbsp water = 1 egg). Final products will have less volume and taste grumpier
  3. Include in other recipe when nutty flavor is preferred
  4. Substitute flax seed oil for other oils
  5. Try this Flax seed cracker recipe provided by the Flax Council of Canada

Happy eating!

Posted in Healthy Eating | No Comments »

The ABC’s of Pregnancy!

BabyNamesWorld.com had an interesting forum thread where they asked their members to come up with words that describe pregnancy from A to Z. Here’s what they came up with:

Feel free to continue the thread at BabyNamesWorld.com, or add some of your own in the comments for this blog post.

Posted in Pregnancy | No Comments »

Keeping Telemarketers At Bay

National Do Not Call RegistryI recently moved to a new state and had to get a new local phone number. Lately I’ve started to get telemarketing calls and I wanted a simple way to get my phone number on an opt out list. After doing a quick Google search, I re-discovered the National Do Not Call Registry.

The National Do Not Call Registry gives you a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls at home. Most telemarketers should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, you can file a complaint at this Website. You can register your home or mobile phone for free. Your registration will be effective for five years.

Although being on the registry won’t stop all telemarketers, it will essentially make it illegal for any company to call you to solicit their services. The only exceptions are companies that you do business with, charities, political organizations, and telephone surveyors. If a company that shouldn’t call you does call you, you can report them using the File A Complaint form.

Posted in Lifestyles, Daily Living | No Comments »

Bustin’ out the barBque - vegetarian style

So, now that we are getting our new yard fixed up - it’s time to start thinking about using our fancy barbque grill and having some friends over for an evening of smokey food and cold beer.

There are several grilled vegetable dishes that can be found on websites such as Epicurious - some think you don’t need a recipe to grill veggies but I find that they have some wonderful sauces to marry your veg with as well as nice marinades to work with. The recipe I found is not a main course, but a wonderful dessert served right from the grill. Haven’t tried it yet, but will very soon!

Grilled Pineapple with Butter-Rum Glaze and Vanilla Mascarone

Ripe pineapple, with its plentiful natural sugars, is ideal for grilling, and it screams “tropical” like nothing else. This makes a great dessert after spicy Latin, Indian, or Caribbean food. Make sure to let the slices brown; you want lots of those caramelized, almost burnt edges. Mascarpone is a smooth Italian dairy product with a texture somewhere between whipped cream and cream cheese. It’s used in tiramisù and available in many supermarkets and gourmet stores, but if you can’t find it, good-quality vanilla ice cream will taste just fine.

1 cup dark rum
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 vanilla bean
8 ounces mascarpone
1 ripe pineapple, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

  1. Combine the rum, butter, and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer, whisking often, until the sugar has melted and the mixture is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. (The glaze can be made a few days in advance, cooled, covered, and kept refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.)
  2. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a sharp knife. Whisk the mascarpone and vanilla seeds together. (The mascarpone can be made a day in advance, covered, and kept refrigerated.)
  3. Heat your grill to high.
  4. Grill the pineapple slices, brushing frequently with the glaze, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  5. Remove the pineapple to a platter or serving plates and top each slice with a dollop of vanilla mascarpone. Garnish with a few fresh blueberries. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings; can be doubled for 10 or 12 (no need to double the glaze).

Bobby Flay’s Boy Gets Grill
2004 — by Bobby Flay — Scribner

This dessert seems like just the thing to take the mundane-ness out of the typical vegetarian grill out. I have been getting bored with the grilled corn and grilled peppers - this oughta make things a bit more tasty next time around.

Posted in Cooking | No Comments »

New Literary Icons

For mother’s day, my husband bought me two books. One was a Lorrie Moore book entitled Who Will Run the Frog Hospital and the other was The Best American Short Stories, 2004 which was edited by Lorrie Moore. She is my newest favorite writer. After reading her Birds of America collection of short stories, I was hooked. I love it when a woman can marry bitingly intelligent humor with a deeply penetrating story. She cuts to the bone when it comes to the dealings and thought processes of people interacting with one another. If you get a chance, I recommend checking out any of her short stories and then, when you find yourself completely enamoured with her style and wit, move on to one of her novels.

Lorrie Moore was born in Glen Falls, New York on January 13, 1957. She attended St Lawrence University in Canton, New York, from 1974 to 1978 receiving a BA and graduating summa cum laude. She attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, from 1980 to 1982 receiving an MFA. She is currently Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin at Madison where she also lives with her husband and son.

Lorrie Moore has been the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts award in 1989, the Rockefeller Foundation fellowship in 1989, and the Guggenheim fellowship in 1991. Her work frequently appears in Fiction International, Ms, The New York Times Book Review, Paris Review, The New Yorker, and others.

Her publications include: Self-Help (1985); Anagrams (1986); The Forgotten Helper (1987); Like Life (1990); editor, I Know Some Things: Stories About Childhood by Contemporary Writers (1992); Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? (1994) and Birds of America (1998).

Posted in Writing | No Comments »

Traveling Kids

As I said yesterday — we are in Florida for my brother’s graduation. This means we spent seven hours in the car two days ago and will be spending another seven in it today — with two kids who are moderately good at traveling. My son could sit in a car for days, looking out the window and singing to himself. My daughter, on the other hand, not so much. She prefers to be out running around in the scenery rather than watching it go by.

Handy tool: portable DVD players. I never thought I would be advocating this but, it was a lifesaver on the trip down here and we are, as we begin our departure today, in a much more relaxed state of mind because we know we have it on our side. Once all the books have been read, all the animals have been covered in Old MacDonald, and you have counted to three thousand and twelve in “This Old Man“, you will be so glad that you have one of these babies to whip out. We bought an old Superman cartoon DVD at Cracker Barrel and have swiped a few kid movies from my parents for the ride back. They are inexpensive these days — I think my parents got this one for well under $80, and it is good quality.

Check it out. It will make your next long distance drive with kids so much happier.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Frightful Sizes

I am in Florida visiting my parents.  We walked in to lovely faces, happy embraces and the most grotesque thing I have ever seen - a television the size of a football field in my parents living room.  My favorite channel (please, PLEASE, sense the sarcasm) Fox News was on full blast and in real size…  Bill O’Reilly head was a little too big for my liking (yes, both size wise AND, as always, egotistically).  It scared me and it made me wonder why we are becoming a world full of people that keep needing things bigger and bigger and bigger.. lord have mercy - do we all need to drive tank sized SUVs and watch TVs that make the images larger than life?  I just don’t get it.  Anyone want to enlighten my archaic ”less is more”, economy car driving self?

Posted in Daily Living | 1 Comment »

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