March 30, 2008

Dating (Social Customs)

Dating (Social Customs) is an approved Library of Congress structured subject heading. I am trying to do some fun spinster librarian cataloging homework and if I've learned nothing else in the last two hours, that little tidbit of information is burned into my brain.

And speaking of dating, I saw a hilarious essay in the New York Times that had my dating style perfectly pegged - It's Not You, It's Your Books - proving that spinster librarian is so the right career choice for me! The essay is short and I think worth a read, but to sum up, it talks about people who discriminate in their dating selection based on literary preferences. "...reading habits can be a rough indicator of other qualities. 'It tells something about ... their level of intellectual curiosity, what their style is. It speaks to class, educational level.'" The essay goes on to talk about literary deal breakers, how "Naming a favorite book or author can be fraught. Go too low, and you risk looking dumb. Go too high, and you risk looking like a bore — or a phony."

It's funny that on the first few dates, people usually trot out the lists of books they've recently read to their suitor, eloquently monologuing on the literary virtues of this work or that. By the time you're in the relationship phase, it becomes increasingly hard to form a complete sentence in conversation with your significant other.
"Wanna go eat?"
Stimulating conversation indeed! I often remember something Nora Ephron said in the director's commentary of You've Got Mail about how when we make lists of qualities we want in a partner, we essentially make lists describing ourselves. We also go on to make statements like "I could never be with anyone who..." I've finished that sentence with
  • isn't a musician.
  • doesn't speak Spanish.
  • liked that movie.
  • wants to be a doctor.
  • wants to go back to the days of slavery. (Darned magnanimous of me!)
That is like me to demand my personal perception of perfection from a date, when I am oh so lacking myself. I noticed this sign at an airport security point on my trip last week showing how one should and should not pack. I couldn't help but muse aloud that the picture on the left represented Chet and the picture on the right was me. He agreed. Ouch. And it's pretty much a microcosm of my life and not just my luggage.

Related: Leave your nipple rings at home
In purely happy dating news, little sister went and caught herself a man and is gettin' hitched. I'm glad you two are around to show us how this social custom of dating is successfully done. I'll be happy to pull all the books on weddings from the stacks for you.

Coming soon: stories and pictures from my voyage to the Orient.

March 19, 2008

No Second Helpings

If this story doesn't make you want to say no to that second piece of pie, I don't know what will.
Accident Ruins 800-Pound Man's Date

MEXICO CITY (March 10) - When Manuel Uribe went out on a date, he made all the necessary arrangements: a forklift to carry him out of the house and a flatbed tow truck big enough to haul the formerly half-ton man and his bed to a party.

But even the open road wasn't big enough to handle Uribe's dream of celebrating a budding romance and his success in losing about 440 pounds.

Uribe was halfway to a picnic near his Monterrey-area home on Sunday when one of the posts holding a sun-shielding tarp over his bed hit an overpass.

Uribe's blood pressure dropped so much his doctors advised him not to go on and the celebration -- being documented by about two dozen photographers and reporters from around the world -- was canceled.

"We were going to celebrate that I've been losing weight for two years and that it was my girlfriend's birthday," Uribe said in a telephone interview. "The saddest part was that I couldn't fulfill my dream of taking my girlfriend out to eat."

Manuel Uribe is moved in a flatbed truck, 3/9/08

Uribe says that after losing weight on a high-protein diet he started two years ago, he's down to about 800 pounds.

Last year, Uribe left his house for the first time in five years. Six people pushed his iron bed on wheels out to the street as a mariachi band played and a crowd gathered to see the man who once weighed 1,235 pounds.

At the time, the 42-year-old mechanic rode through the streets of his native San Nicolas de los Garza to enjoy the sun and wave to neighbors.

Uribe weighed more than 250 pounds as an adolescent, and he just kept growing.

Since the summer of 2002, Uribe has been bedridden, relying on his mother and friends to feed and clean him. He drew worldwide attention when he pleaded for help on national television in January 2006.

Uribe says despite the setback, he still hopes to go out with his girlfriend on June 11, when he will turn 43.

"We'll just have to plan it better," he said.
I kind of love that going out to eat was his dream date. That is all.

March 9, 2008

Too Much Information

I found out that I can fit an entire Reese's King Size Peanut Butter Easter Egg in my mouth. No need to know just how I found that out. Just know that if my life depends on me being able to do that, I'll be okay. Or if I just want to enjoy the deliciously perfect ratio of peanut butter to chocolate while I contemplate victory over the grave, that's cool, too. Easter candy is fun! Except for Peeps.

Tonight for dinner I'm trying a new Alton Brown recipe, Slow Cooker Pepper Pork Chops. I didn't see the episode, Major Pepper, but it includes a recipe for Pepper Vodka and shows Alton attaching a pepper mill to the bit housing of a cordless drill. He's McGyver!

This is one of those recipes that I know already I'll try again; first, because I sampled a taste and loved it; and second, because I kinda messed it up and think it could be even better with a redo. Some of the mess up was due to the Daylight Savings switch. I didn't put the chops in the brine early enough to begin with, and losing that additional hour didn't help. I also borrowed a bigger slow cooker from Mom. Mine wasn't big enough for eight pork chops. So the "slow cooker" setting on Mom's cooks much hotter than mine, and the chops were cooked through and falling off the bone when I got home from church, many hours ahead of schedule. Also on the menu, broiled asparagus, baked sweet potatoes, rolls - thanks, Mom! - and Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake. Two more guests for dinner? Ahhh!
Pepper Pot Pork Chops Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

March 8, 2008

Geography of Bliss

It's just been one of those days, culminating with my ~2-year-old DVD player giving out on me. I have been personally subsidizing Netflix for years, paying monthly subscription fees, but only watching the odd three or four movies a year. Seriously. So why is this player quitting on me? Underworked and underappreciated?

I find that there are often little hot topics in the media, not substantive news stories necessarily, but mainly opinion pieces of similar theme that pop up like buzzwords in a political debate. Over the last few weeks, I keep hearing ads on NPR for The Geography of Bliss, and segments discussing such works as Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy and The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow into Depressive Disorder. It's rather interesting to see these folks opine on happiness in individuals and societies.

A recent 60 minutes segment touted British research showing that Danes are the happiest people in the world. Why? Because they live in a tiny cold country, pay exorbitant taxes, and eat herring for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Danes have low expectations. Set the bar low, they figure and are happy with the idea that things won't get any worse.

Even more interesting is the finding that Italians, with their good food and sunny climate, are among the least happy, echoed in The Geography of Bliss. That certainly flies in the face of the reputed Italian joie de vivre I always thought they possessed. Maybe that's why we don't use a comparable Italian phrase for joie de vivre. I will soon return a report on happiness in East Asia for your reading enjoyment. I know I intend to find happiness there.

Stumbling on Happiness author Dan Gilbert writes that we humans forecast our future and feel we are in control of the uncontrollable. It's that crazy overactive imagination getting us into trouble again.

I am prone to high expectations, and I tend to romanticize the past, resulting in a constant state of wistful nostalgia. But really I'm quite content with a pint of ice cream and a good movie. If only the damn DVD player worked.

March 5, 2008

How to annoy your co-worker

An oldie but a goodie -

1. Steal her stapler from her desk. (This step may involve some personal sacrifices, such as staying late or arriving early to work. Possibly too much to ask.)

2. Buy lemon Jell-O in huge quantities. (Or other light colored flavor. Preferably one you'd like to eat in huge quantities.)

Jello Stapler3. Get a gelatin mold. (These are somewhat hard to come by, since molded Jell-O salads went out in the 1970s. You can use pretty much any plastic container as a substitute.)

4. Grease mold or container with Pam.

5. Make half of the Jell-O packages according to instructions.

6. Pour Jell-O into mold. Place in refrigerator and allow to set for about two hours. (Jell-O should not set completely.)Jello Stapler

7. Place stapler on top of partially set Jell-O.

8. Make remaining Jell-O packages. Pour into mold over stapler.

9. Return mold to refrigerator and allow to set completely.

10. Unmold Jell-O onto serving dish or desk top or whatever seems most inappropriate.

Jello Stapler

Further reading:
Jell-O Stapler
The Office pranks

"I just don't like the way it moves..."

March 3, 2008


Reuben Sandwich
Ah, Reuben, my favorite sandwich of late. A Reuben is traditionally composed of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing on rye bread. There are apparently some variations, such as using pastrami or Russian dressing instead. There's also the "Rachel" sandwich, which has turkey instead of corned beef.

Reuben SandwichYesterday I made Reubens for the siblings. I didn't go to the trouble of whipping up homemade Thousand Island, requiring minced pickles, green olives, garlic, and parsley. Instead, a teaspoon or so each of dijon mustard and mayonnaise on the rye bread provided a good dressing. I added Srichacha chili sauce - an ingredient in my Thousand Island - for a nice kick. I was stingy with the beef since it was running low, but it was still a great lunch.

March = much homework, midterms, and a trip to Taiwan and Hong Kong, so see you in April!