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Vanilla Valor

Posted by Stanley
on 01.29.11

I haven't much of a sweet tooth. In fact, the occasional piece of plain cheesecake is about all I'll spring for, when it comes to ordering desserts, and I certainly never buy any dessert-ish items to keep around the house.

But, as comes to pass from time to time, I found myself last night charged with the task of acquiring ice cream from a local grocer. My instructions were straightforward: "Ice cream; vanilla; not French vanilla." So you can imagine my surprise when I found not one container of ice cream for sale bearing the humble label "Vanilla".

Oh, there was "Vanilla Bean" and "Country Homestyle Vanilla"—churned by hand somewhere nearby in Appalachia, no doubt. Even the store brand had dressed itself up: "Vivacious Vanilla!"

The anxiety was overwhelming. The mission had seemed so devilishly simple! I had been a fool to accept it.

And then, next to the fifteenth entry in the evening's French Vanilla pageant, I spotted something. This just might work, I thought to myself, as I reached for the freezer door.

Yes, "Natural Vanilla", it seems was indeed good enough. And I lived to tell the tale.


 

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Those plump knees and cheeks

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.29.11

This is the song I like to sing to Hokey Pokey:

I don't sing every line, though.


 

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IT'S NOT MOLE

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.28.11

DEAD MOUSE! DEAD MOUSE! I so was not expecting that when I walked to my bookshelf just now. My heart is beating a million beats per minute. Gak. I knew I didn't want mousetraps in my office.


 

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It's been awhile since we listed minor accomplishments of little importance.

Posted by Stanley
on 01.28.11

I just had a higher-up request that I stop by his office at some point in the next few days to explain the joys of the neti pot, given that I'm obviously an avowed enthusiast. I gather that a medical professional suggested it to him as a possible source of relief.

I've never been a prouder evangelist than I am today.


 

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A long time ago, we used to be friends, but I haven't thought of you lately at all.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.28.11

First, I basically believe that you hatch your kids and they come out with big personalities, and you don't get a whole lot of say in the matter. You mostly try to stay out of their way. That said, maybe there's some gentle shaping parents can do.

Like any good character in a novel, I want to fix the mistakes of the last generation. My family of origin is not tight. (Maybe you've heard me mention this...) So I've got it in my head that I want to do everything to foster close-knit-ness, so that my family will stay tight when the kids are grown up.

What can a parent do to shift their family dynamic towards closeness-as-adults? I know plenty of families where the adult-kids say "We were really close growing up, but not really as adults." Is there any way to stack the deck against that?


 

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Casualties of War

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.27.11

This is totally disturbing:

For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Furthermore, this significantly undercounts the number of suicides because the branches report suicides inconsistently, and it doesn't include anyone who has concluded their tour and gone back to civillian life.


 

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The messy aftermath

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.27.11

I hope you're not sick of discussing the soul-crushingness of academics or anything, because Awl sent along this link, a letter for advice from a woman who is devastated that her academic career seems DOA, and the weird-angled response she gets.

Between illness, errors and just being lazy sometimes, I fell behind, especially on publications -- the main currency by which academic merit is measured. I've come to realize, in comparing my qualifications with those of my peers, that I just realistically can never catch up to someone who came out of the gate with a degree in my field, multiple publications, and health intact. Compounding the difficulty is that my husband did get a tenure-track job, at an amazing research university that is, quite frankly, way out of my league. So, if I want to live in the same city as my husband, I'm pretty much stuck -- realistically, I will not get a job at his university, or hell, any university at this point. I scrape by teaching the occasional class for peanuts, and one other prof has taken enough pity on me to let me work in her lab so I can pretend to continue my research.
...
The problem is that emotionally, I can't drop it. It's like having a painful sore in my mouth that I keep poking with my tongue -- all day, every day, I'm angry, bitter and heartbroken. I resent my husband so much for having what I can't get that I can barely stand to be in the same room with him, I'm so consumed with jealousy. The workload of a professor is far more brutal than many realize -- 60-hour workweeks are the norm, and actually you don't stop working over the summer, you just stop getting paid -- so my husband naturally has little time and energy left over for any housework, which naturally falls on my shoulders. And this ENRAGES me -- it's like I'm not just unable to get my dream job, I'm doomed to 1950s housewife drudgery while my husband does the important stuff. My resentment toward my husband is on the verge of causing me to leave -- and it's not his fault.

(The whole thing is much longer.) Anyway Cary Tennis responds:

When you were in high school you wanted to be an actress.
Can we just stop right there? What's wrong is that you are not acting. The longer you pretend that you're not supposed to be acting, the longer you are going to suffer. It doesn't matter what else you do. You're not doing the thing that you were meant to do.
Your parents dissuaded you. You collaborated with them in your own undoing.

And so begins this weird response.

Later on in his answer:

I wonder if you think this sounds like you:
"I absolutely MUST, under practically all conditions and at all times, perform well (or outstandingly well) and win the approval (or complete love) of significant others. If I fail in these important -- and sacred -- respects, that is awful and I am a bad, incompetent, unworthy person, who will probably always fail and deserves to suffer."

He recommends cognitive behavioral therapy.

My take under the jump.

Really, dude? You don't think she actually likes the job she claims to want, because she wanted to be on Broadway all along? That's totally nutty.

I think three separate issues are being merged:
1. Accepting that she's not going to have her dream job.
2. Jealousy towards her husband
3. The 50s drudgery housework business

Obviously these three things are all entangled, but it seems to me that any one of these could exist as a problem without the presence of the other two. In particular, she seems to feel that (3) is an inescapable consequence of (1), which I think shows a bit of rigid thinking. In my opinion, (3) needs to be addressed by creative problem solving between she and her husband. Is he carrying his weight? If she had a paying gig, could they pay for a housekeeper? It's not a foregone conclusion that just because his job is time-intensive, she must supplement with valium.

Solving (1) sounds like doing some soul-searching and finding a practical way to spend her time. I'd start by looking at fields where there is a demand for workers, since it seems particularly awful not to be able to find work once you've picked an area. Could she find meaning as a nurse practitioner, for example? Can she think of her job search as less life-and-death, and more as way to find a not-unpleasant way to bring in money?

Finally, (2) might be the messiest. First I'd find out if (2) exists outside of (3). How much would her anger be ameliorated if his 60 hour job had nothing to do with academics? If it would not make any difference, then (2) will probably be cleaned up as a by-product of (1) and (3). But if it makes a huge difference, then I think there's some marital stuff going on. She's probably projecting onto him, and he's probably bringing an equal amount of crap to the table. For example, does he secretly pity her, or believe her to be incompetent, but thinks he hides it from her? It seems to me that they're probably locked in a system of how they perceive her, with each one's private views reinforcing the other's private views. What can you do in this case? Therapy! So I guess I agree with Cary Tennis after all.


 

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This just in: teenagers are people.

Posted by Stanley
on 01.26.11

So I gather this Skins show is controversial. Having already read that the Parents Television Council said that it "may well be the most dangerous television show for children that we have ever seen", I caught the first episode.

I must say, I liked it. But it wasn't the sex or drugs that caught my attention, but rather the show's narrative tone. It's so apathetic about the characters. I had the impression that whoever was behind the camera was okay being along for the ride but would just as soon have been at home taking a nap. Or eating some cereal. Or travelling through space on a rocket ship. Or, frankly, like, whatever, man.

Which I take to be the point. These are not happy, fulfilled people, and they're not going to be anytime soon, if ever.

Which is what I don't get about criticisms such as this one:

[...] what may be most shocking to an American audience is how insouciantly it defies teen TV's unwritten mandate of consequences. On U.S. teen dramas, you can titillate the audience with bad behavior so long as, at some point, there's a pregnancy scare or a cautionary drug overdose.

[Insert here requisite hand-waving about not having any children, with concomitant acknowledgment that, if I did, I'd apparently feel a strong urge to hide them under a rock until the age of legal adulthood.]

Anyway, I'll keep watching.


 

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SOTU Open Thread

Posted by Stanley
on 01.25.11

The state of the union is __________.


 

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Washing Machine Bleg

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.25.11

Ours just conked out and needs replacing. Anyone buy one recently? Features that you love or brands that you hate or general words of advice?


 

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The Dakotas, yikes

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.25.11

What is your state worst at? I live in Lowest High School Graduation Rate.

Via Jammies


 

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How rarely I cooked

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.25.11

I can't think of anything to post, so have an embarrassing story from my past: friends were in from out of town, and decided to cook dinner. This is when I was in grad school, and I believe it was September.

As they busied themselves, I commented that the aroma smelled delicious. They said they hadn't started yet. I said, no, it really does smell delicious. They said they'd only turned on the oven to warm. So we checked inside the oven, and there was a turkey carcass from the previous Thanksgiving. Thoroughly dried in to dusty turkey jerky.

"But Heebie, that's only mildly embarassing, no?" you're probably thinking. Here's the punchline: I liked to throw big Thanksgiving parties, and it was a convenient place to stash the carcass in a tiny apartment. And so that scene with the dusty turkey jerky played out several different years.


 

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Uplifting Thoughts for an Unseasonably Warm Monday

Posted by Stanley
on 01.24.11

Totally out-of-the-blue question I overheard yesterday: "What are you worried about?"

I'm not at all sure how I'd have answered such an inquiry. All the responses I can come up with seem either excessively trivial or really quite depressing.


 

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Actually I rather like football.

Posted by Stanley
on 01.23.11

The day's athletic competitions spread out before us with the forces of good and evil curiously arranged, but not so curiously that the path to morally sound fandom is unclear. To the contrary, defenders of truth and justice will adhere to this concise yet cogent plan of action:

  1. Root for the Bears.
  2. Root for Troy Polamalu.
  3. Root against Rex Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger.

Oh, and of course The Weather. I always root for The Weather.


 

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