Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Blessings of Distraction

Today we were able to put all the chaos and craziness aside to celebrate Sara's birthday.

We headed to midtown and had some wonderful Indonesian food for lunch.

Picture borrowed from Amateur Gourmet

Then we let these silly chaps entertain us:

It was jolly good fun even though the seats in the theater were designed for people with very short legs.

To cap it off, we partook of a Sara tradition and had a wonderful slice of:

Junior's Cheesecake

I fear that tomorrow bodes a return to the craziness. A day off was sure nice, though.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

How to go Mad (or Die Trying) in about a Week...

Try to buy a house in that time period.

So yes, as I mentioned before, we decided to venture into the real estate market.

As of last week, we were still in the looking around phase. We made the bold move to start working with an agent and began to think about a more focused search.

First thing she did, was to send me off to some mortgage bankers to get pre-approved for a mortgage. And we made plans to see some houses with her on the weekend, including one house we had already seen and found much to our liking.

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, our agent had to cancel and reschedule for Tuesday. We were already in the area because we had made plans to have lunch with a friend of ours whose mother lives that way. So we made a trip to the house anyway, just to get a look at it from outside.

On Monday, I followed up with the mortgage people getting copies of all sorts of financial documents to them to try to get the coveted pre-approval.

One Tuesday, we finally met up with our agent to see a few houses including the one we liked. As we walked around, we decided that we really did love it. When we got home, though, we found out that it had an offer on it. That's when everything started going really crazy. I called the agent and she asked me what we wanted to do. I didn't know. I never have done this before.

"Help!" I requested.

She then explained that we needed to make our own offer quick, which required the pre-approval. I asked if we could meet the following day to go through our options and the steps we needed to take.

I then called mortgage guy to let him know we needed the pre-approval. He said he would work on it.

On Wednesday we met with our agent who had received the pre-approval (yay!) and we put in our offer. The seller's agent said they were going to get a third offer. So we expected to hear back the following day or maybe even Friday. After two days on edge and running on adrenaline, I thought we would have a few days to breathe and let things settle a bit.

No chance.

That evening our agent called saying that our offer was accepted. So then it was off to get a lawyer, contact the mortgage guy, and set up an inspection. Yesterday we had the inspection and everything looks great.

Now we need to actually get the mortgage. And something do cope with the repeated surges in adrenaline and the utter exhaustion of the past week.

Wish us luck - and sanity....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lecturing Made Easy - Now with two Updates!

I am teaching Food & Culture this summer. A trip to the grocery store makes the lecture on gendered food easy:

I wonder if the Barbie cereal comes with instructions: Pour in bowl, add milk, enjoy, excuse yourself, vomit. Repeat as necessary.

You gotta love the skulls and bones in the Indy cereal. Doesn't that teach our children that cannibalism is ok, though?


Update: On a more serious note, Sara quite rightly pointed out to me that a skull and bones also appears on poison:

Now if you think about it, small children might be apt to associate skulls and bones with a tasty, sugary treat and consume something toxic.

Maybe it is time to send off an email to Kellogg's.


Update II: Here is the message I sent to Kellogg's, Consumer Reports, and MSNBC:

I spotted your Indiana Jones cereal at my local supermarket. At first I found the skulls and bones in the cereal amusing. However, on deeper reflection, I am concerned about the similarity between the cereal and the skull and bones which is the universal symbol that denotes poison. A small child might be tempted to consume poison thinking they are getting the sweet treat they previously had in your cereal.

I hope this never happens, but I would urge you to consider recalling the cereal and changing the contents from skulls and bones to mini-treasure chests or something more innocuous.
We'll see if anything comes of it - probably not. I was tempted to suggest changing the skull and bones to mini Lost Arks or Holy Grails, but that would probably be too sacrilegious.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I am at home in between my summer course and my summer "consulting" job. I am incredibly tired and could have used a nap. Instead I used most of my time writing a short note to a friend who posted the following status online:

...unbelievably upset Hillary won the popular vote & not the nomination.
I have not really been political here. However, I have followed the campaign very closely and I have pondered the process. I mainly have not written because I never felt like I had the time or energy to invest in the arduous process of verbalizing the complexity of my thoughts and opinions. So rather than do a superficial or half-assed job, I just left it alone.

My friend's comment just pushed me into writing to her because she is extremely intelligent, however, she was buying into a media promoted rhetorical line. I don't know how she will respond, but it was time I entered into the discussion. So here is my note...

Just wanted to comment on your status. Before I start, I just want to disclose that I am supporting Obama. I was on the fence for a long time, though. And while I did vote for him in the NY primary, I was still quite amenable to either candidate. Recent behavior has soured me towards her, but more her campaign staff. I have always considered Terry McCauliffe a weasel, but that is beyond the point.

Don't fall for campaign rhetoric [propaganda?]. The truth of the matter is that you cannot count up the popular vote the way the primary is structured. Here is why:

1. Caucuses are not regular elections. Thus vote totals are often not even reported, rather they are estimated. However, if you are going to claim to count every vote, you can't ignore those votes.
2. If you are going to count popular votes, the votes need to be cast within a short time frame. There are people who would change their votes later down the line. That is why we have election day not election week or election month.
3. Michigan, which gets included in HRC count, was a mess. You can't honestly believe that no people in MI voted for Obama, Edwards, or any other. Write-in ballots were discarded.

I could go on. The point is that there are countless ways to count the popular vote so that whichever side you are on wins.

The system stinks - it is unclear and complicated. It is not democratic by any means. In fact, it is designed to give the establishment the upper hand. Ironically, before the primary campaign started, there were attempts to streamline and cleanup the system and it was HRC people that blocked that change (Harold Ickes in particular). Why? Because it seemed that the system favored them. They were the establishment. When she started to do poorly, they thought they could rely on the "super-delegates", and it was only when that started to fail, did they begin to advance the "popular vote" line.

Think about this, if HRC has such a strong popular backing, why is it that Obama has been able to greatly out-fund-raise her. More so when you see the bulk of his contributions coming from small donors (i.e. the popular vote).

It has been an ugly campaign and it really has shown the real problems in the system. I hope this pushes the party to change the primary process.

I do feel for Hillary and all her supporters. She has worked hard to get to this point and I can't imagine the disappointment and frustration to have come so close. We are way overdue for more women in leadership at all levels, including the presidency.

I hope you can put your disappointment and frustration into a broader context. Both candidates are advancing the same important issues that the Republicans are trying to minimize. The way the system was set has played its way through and we have a candidate. Trying to change that at this time will only be counter-productive to the broader goals.

I offer you this perspective, rather than think of the number of popular votes each side received, think of the number of total voters that have been engaged and mobilized for the whole party. If we think of ourselves as one group, one movement, one people, then not only will we win in November, but we can begin to address all the issues challenging our country.

I hope I am not alone in my optimism. There is always a danger in being an optimist...

Monday, June 02, 2008

My [Crappy] Day in Bullet Points

[Warning: lots of kvetching ahead]
  • My "wonderful" day started without Sara - she's in Texas.
  • Realized the fridge is kaput and that a good deal of our food in there needed to be thrown out.
  • Had to attend some pointless bureaucratic meetings at work - the admin is making us jump through some useless hoops (without really telling us which hoops we need to jump through).
  • Stopped to get a small fridge to try to salvage at least some of our food (and because our super will probably get to dealing with our fridge next year).
  • They didn't have the size I wanted. I could get a minuscule one or for $10 more, a large one. Opted for the larger one.
  • Drove home to quickly walk the dogs
  • Took the subway to the Upper West Side
  • Had part three of my root canal - still some pain, but managable
  • The endodontist decided to push on to try to finish since he didn't want to have to deal with trying to numb me up again.
  • Discovered that after sitting 2 hours with your mouth wide - I mean very wide - open your mandible muscles really start to hurt
  • Made my way back home, with my face in my lap (again)
  • Carried the fridge up to our apartment - kinda wishing I had opted for the smaller one
  • Unpacked the fridge and moved things around to find a spot for it
  • Cleaned out the old fridge salvaging a few things - happy that I did get the larger fridge so I could salvage more
  • Took out the spoiled food
  • Walked the dogs
  • Prepared for class tomorrow at 9 - ugh...

I don't think I will have trouble sleeping tonight. And I can hope that tomorrow won't be as bad as today!