Saturday, October 27, 2012

Let's Talk Storms. And Politics!

It seems that Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the entire east coast right now, so at my place we're sitting around enjoying our electricity and internet while we can.

It somewhat reminds me of what we decided to call the Best Trip Ever (positive thinking!), when I visited my sister in Jamaica right when Hurricane Dean was coming through. She was in the Peace Corps at the time, and we found ourselves holed up in the US Embassy in Kingston for a couple of days, sleeping on the floor in someone's cubicle, freezing cold because the air conditioner was set way high and we had foolishly not packed warm clothes to visit or live in Jamaica.

Good times.

I don't really anticipate Sandy being quite that exciting once it reaches the Boston area, but you never know. Mainly, I hope lingering power outages don't interfere with the election.

I'm eager to get votin,' not only because of this whole presidency thing we've got going on right now in the United States, but also because we have all kinds of interesting ballot questions in Massachusetts.

Check it out: We've got medical marijuana, assisted dying, and something about requiring car manufacturers to make repair information available to the owner, not just to licensed dealers.

I don't own a car, so I don't really know much about this last one, but as a librarian I guess I pretty much have to vote for freely available information. I should probably try to get a copy for the collection, too.

As for medical marijuana and assisted dying, yeah, if anyone cares about my politics I'm going with yes for both.

The medical marijuana opponents are arguing that medical use is just a wedge, and will lead to looser laws regarding marijuana in general, and I say "not necessarily, but frankly I hope it does." I just think marijuana is a stupid thing for law enforcement to be spending time on and for people to be going to jail for.

And if you're worried about the slippery slope and fear that if we decriminalize marijuana in any way, next thing you know toddlers will be buying crack cocaine out of vending machines in the subway station?

Nah. I think it's possibly to draw a legal line between marijuana and cocaine. As evidence, I will point out that we have maintained a legal line between marijuana (illegal) and alcohol (legal) for many years! And you cannot try to pretend that alcohol is not a drug, frequently abused, with profound consequences for society. Easily as significant, I would argue, as the consequences of marijuana use.

Good people, I don't smoke marijuana, so personally it doesn't even matter to me, but it is my nonsmoker's opinion that we should be decriminalizing marijuana at a rapid pace, and that is my political statement of the day.

Oh, except I also have a second political statement of the day, which is, I would really like the option to be available for me to die at a time of my choosing rather than just waiting around for my body to suffocate me or whatever if I happen to come down with some horrible fatal condition, so I am pro-assisted dying.

And if you're worried about the slippery slope and fear that if we legalize physician-prescribed medication to end life, next thing you know toddlers will be buying suicide pills out of vending machines in the subway station?

Or, more to the point, the toddler's parents will be urging grandma to take the suicide pills so as not to eat into their inheritance with healthcare costs?

OK, I actually don't want to be as flippant about this one, because I think there are legitimate questions about, say, whether death is really the best option in cases of incurable illness, or only the best option given the lousy support systems in place to care for people with incurable illness. I can see having reservations about this.

We certainly don't want suicide to become "the logical choice" that gets pushed on people because it's convenient for other people.

Still, I think that denying all people the option to make that choice because some of them might be constrained by material considerations, and calling it good (rather than, say, working on the systems that might make the material considerations less pressing) is a cop out.

Also, I think it's entirely possible to value one person's choice to die, and another person's choice to live, if both have similar diagnoses. If I have the right to request medication to end life, that doesn't mean I have to take it. And if I decide to take it, while you, with an equally grim prognosis, decide to wait for the end to arrive naturally? I totally support you in that.

Basically it comes down to this: Choice. I am for it.

Also freely available information, the better to allow for educated choice. In car repair, as in life.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just...Can't...Write That Much...

As the end of October nears, inevitably National Novel Writing Month draws closer. I hear its siren call!

But alas, given that I can't even keep a blog updated these days, I fear I'm going to have to sit this one out. I just don't have the time or energy to spare for 50,000 words this year.

There are too many people clinging to me and demanding that I feed them or change them or rock them to sleep. OK, there's one person doing that, but that turns out to be too many for me to get much else done.

Have no doubt about it, another terrible novel will be written by me in the month of November--but not this year.

However, I encourage everyone else to do it. It's good clean fun, unless your computer is really filthy and/or your novel is porn (neither one of which should stand in your way), and there's a nice "Winner" web logo in it for you if you finish.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sadder Food Thoughts

As attentive news perusers may have observed, another salmonella-based peanut butter recall has the nation in its sticky grip, with about 240 products (not all even peanut-related: some other nuts have also been effected) on the FDA's list.

I don't see the generic store brand we tend to buy around here on the list, but the fact that the recall has expanded to so many different brands and products makes me less confident that this means my own peanut butter is safe. There, in the cupboard, even now, it could be seething with bacteria.

In case you're wondering, and have forgotten how to type a word into a search engine yourself, here's some info about salmonella. I must say, it sounds like a real fun time.

Since I live mostly on peanut butter (slight exaggeration only), this hits close to home for me. Come to think of it, since I try to keep peanut butter in my home at all times, this hits me right where I live: my house.

Sigh. It's a sad thing when you can't trust your peanut butter. I'll tell you right now, though, I'm not going to stop eating it. Not until they recall every jar on every shelf in this great nation!

And if they do that, I'll go to Canada. Don't push me on this.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Random Food Thoughts

I'm starting to think that almost anything is better roasted than cooked any other way. I'm sure there are exceptions, like lettuce (although actually if I had to cook lettuce--gross--I would probably take roasting over a number of other options), but it works so well for so many things!

I'm just thinking especially of things I only had steamed or boiled when I was a kid, and thought were OK, but have since had oven-roasted and thought were much more delicious.

Like asparagus, and cauliflower. Both great roasted. Try it!

I know steaming is supposed to be one of the healthiest ways to cook, because you can make things all nice and tender without adding a lot of fat, and I certainly appreciate some beautiful bright green steamed snap peas or broccoli, but honestly, just drizzle something with olive oil and roast it and it will probably be awesome.

Also kind of awesome, the way that when you get vegetables from the Community Supported Agriculture farm, they leave on parts that you don't usually see, like the greens on radishes and carrots and the outer leaves of cauliflowers. This inspires me to try perfectly edible parts of plants that I wouldn't have thought to eat otherwise.

More food for your CSA dollar, more interesting meals, and more vegetables in your diet.

Radish greens are pretty delicious, very fresh-tasting and a little spicy. Carrot greens are a little tougher and I wouldn't really go out of my way to find them, but they're all right. The cabbage-y leaves of cauliflower, if you toss them in with the florets and roast them together, are very nice.

To sum up, roast more plants, and eat more of the plant, and you shall not go far wrong.

Unless you eat more of the potato or the tomato, which you should not do because the greens are kind of poisonous. I'm all for increasing variety in ones diet, but only non-poisonous variety.

I mean, unless you're trying to make yourself sick for some reason, in which case I wouldn't advise it, but I suppose it's a free country. If you try to make someone else sick, though, there's definitely a law against that, so it's not a totally free country.

I should probably stop now.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Also, Carefully Refold That Map

Here's some sobering advice about the dangers of relying on smartphone maps out in the desert, where it really matters what road you take.

The short version is, just don't rely on online maps if there's any chance that taking the wrong road could leave you stranded in the wilderness to die of heat stroke, dehydration, or being eaten by bears.

Shockingly, mapping software is not always totally accurate, and in the wrong situation, that can be a very bad thing. As the article points out, once you get far enough away from civilization, you can't even call up your phone maps to try to work out a better option, because you'll lose your cell signal! Thanks for steering me towards my doom and then abandoning me, phone.

I haven't actually been in the wilderness in years, and have no plans to go until I'm fleeing our killer robot overlords, but this is a good reminder that when I go, I need to make sure to take a printed map.

Speaking of killer robots, xkcd's "what if?" feature argues that robots are a long way from being able to produce an apocalypse. A telling quote:

What people don't appreciate, when they picture Terminator-style automatons striding triumphantly across a mountain of human skulls, is how hard it is to keep your footing on something as unstable as a mountain of human skulls.

So that's good...I guess...although there goes my excuse for looking askance at programmable microwave ovens. I just don't trust those things.