Sunday, November 8, 2009

sore thumbs

My thumbs have matching blisters. All popped and yucky and painful and, at this moment, covered in matching Band-Aids. If only the kiddie Band-Aids were big enough, I could mix and match Sponge Bob and Cars. Instead, I have boring brown-colored fabric bandages. They do the trick, I guess. All this comes from raking leaves at Laura's yesterday. I should have brought work gloves, even though my work gloves are cheap and make my wrists itch. They would have been better than nothing. Laura did not get blisters, and I don't remember getting such heinous blisters when I raked leaves as a kid, so I must have been holding the rake wrong. It felt right, though, so maybe my hands changed. Anyway, there they are. After raking, we went inside and had hot chocolate and a fire and dinner and lemon tart (mmmm) and Natalie and I did puzzles and colored, and the dog sat on me several times. It was fun. I am easy to please. My boss thinks my standards are low, but I think that I am happier for it.

Another thing, unrelated: Last week as I walked off the ferry in the huge cattle-like throng of people (ferry cattle throng? ferry throng? as long as it's not ferry thong), I noticed that the woman walking next to me had a sticker on her pants leg. It was one of those long stickers with the size on it that they put on pants at department stores. I waffled between telling her about it and not. Is it too personal to point out the size sticker on her leg? Would it just be embarrassing all around? I have had similar issues when I have sat behind someone on the bus and noticed the big mole or spot on their ear. They obviously couldn't see it themselves - did they know about it? Is it just creepy to point it out? But they might die if I don't point it out. Anyway, I debated telling the sticker woman about the sticker and then thought about writing here that I had wimped out, and I was ashamed. So I told her. And she was grateful. She said that she had been walking around like that all week, and the pants weren't even new. Hmm. And then we had to walk next to each other the rest of the way around the ferry terminal, and it was indeed embarrassing. But I felt noble. The ironic thing is that if it had been a mole or scary-looking skin spot, I probably would not have said anything. That is more personal than a sticker. But potentially worse, too, so it is actually more important to speak up in that situation. It's a funny old world.

Ooh, I just realized that I began and ended this post with stories about skin blemishes. Sorry about that.

Monday, September 28, 2009

stereotype threat

I just read an interesting article (written by my favorite math prof from college) about increasing diversity in mathematics departments, faculty and graduate students. In it, she described a theory called "stereotype threat," which holds that the perception that others expect you to do poorly because of a societal stereotype actually makes you perform poorly. Not too hard to imagine, since we are told that people live up or down to our expectations all the time. There have been studies performed in which one group of people taking a math test are asked their race or gender before the test, and another group is asked the same thing after the test. African Americans who are asked their race before the test do worse and those who are asked their race after the test do better. In two instances (one of which was the math AP exam), one group of students were told before the test that the test was gender neutral (no gender biases, or not easier for one gender than the other), and another group was not told this. Women did better in the first group, after they had been reassured that their gender was not against them before the test. The interesting thing is that men did worse on the first test than the second, suggesting that their (and our) underlying assumption is that they, as men, will naturally do better than women on a difficult mathematics test. When they are warned that this is not so, they then exhibit stereotype threat, even though the stereotype has been removed. Because it was a positive stereotype from their point of view, removing the stereotype had a negative effect on their performance. Or so it seems, anyway. This happened on at least two different occasions - it is reproducible.

Verrrrrrry interesting.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A small happiness

Favorite authors who have short stories posted on their websites. Thank you, Julia Spencer-Fleming and S. J. Rozan!

Now, where to post this - here, on Goodreads, or on Facebook? Good thing I don't twitter or tweet. No worries about posting twice, though, since no one reads this anymore.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

mmm, food

It is a rainy Saturday morning, misty and cool and very Northwest. The mist makes me think of rain forests, and I could go visit one on the island if I chose, but I have lots of other things to do. Instead of doing those things, I have been reading S. J. Rozan's Lydia Chin and Bill Smith mysteries and making chocolate oatmeal cookies. The books are mysteries, but Lydia's books are also about food. (Bill's are about music.) Chinese food mostly, but also other wonderful food, all in New York. Glistening greens, white scallops that taste like the sea, sproing-y garlic, tofu, shrimp, pork, sesame cakes, and lots and lots of tea. Real tea, not the herbal stuff I drink because real tea doesn't like me. Also pot roast and pumpernickel and liver sandwiches (which I do not yearn for) and many wonderful things. It makes me want to go to New York. Preferably with a native who knows where such things can be found, and will show me all I want to see and do and eat.

Instead of those things, I am making cookies. Chocolate oatmeal cookies, my mother's favorite. They are basically baked fudge with oatmeal. Incredibly sweet. I made the dough last night and am baking the cookies now, so of course I ate a lot of dough last night. I always do, and have accepted that I am dough-eater. I will surely pay. Anyway, I am pretty happy that I didn't go into a diabetic coma, and I can see that if and when I get diabetes, this particular recipe will be off limits to me. So much sugar. Really tasty. The first batch just came out, and my kitchen smells like a fairground, like doughnuts. Honestly, there isn't that much fat in them. I mean, no more than the usual. They smell heavenly. Along with the obscene amount of sugar, they also have an obscene amount of vanilla. I used Safeway brand vanilla, which claims to be "PURE vanilla extract", and also claims to have corn syrup in it. Ack! Does all commerical vanilla have corn syrup? I don't believe it. I'm shocked. I will try making my own vanilla, like Mother used to do. Well, she's doing it now for the first time, but she started before me.

All this sugar makes me yearn for vegetables and protein and tofu and meat.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The High and the Low

It is Easter and it is raining in an all-day sort of way. The sort of way that makes me want to stay inside and do nice things. But instead, I will probably stay inside and mope around doing a smidgeon of work and a smidgeon of laundry and some cooking. I did my nails, and I fear that there are nail bits all around my living room. I'm usually very careful with my nail bits, but I trimmed with abandon this morning, and things flew. Disturbing. There are good arguments for trimming your nails outside, where your nail bits can be left to rot (if that ever happens). But there are even better arguments for trimming your nails in private (probably inside), because no one really wants to be around other people's nail bits, especially when they are flying. During my epic journey to Maryland on Christmas, I was sitting fairly peacefully at the Philadelphia airport waiting for my flight (cancelled, no surprise), when the middle-aged couple sitting near me decided that it was a good time and place to floss their teeth and trim their nails. Finger nails, thankfully, but still. I felt like asking them if they also wanted to clean the grit out of their bellybuttons, and if they would like some privacy for that particular ablution. But I didn't. I glared instead, in a passive aggressive sort of way. It was a long day.

I'm glad to see that the captain of the Maersk Alabama has been rescued. I was worried. I hope that he and his family will be okay. I'm sorry the pirates were killed. It feels a little naive to worry about them and their families, but it feels closed-minded, arrogant, and cruel not to. Where do we draw the line between loving our fellow man and condoning really bad things? What is the difference between the person and the act? What if you want to forgive someone, but they don't acknowledge a fault? It's probably a good thing to learn to forgive anyway, but it's not always easy. I have forgiven the couple in the airport, but if they sat near me on the ferry and did the same thing, I would have a hard time. It's true, I don't know their story or the pirates' stories, and public nail-trimming is a far cry from piracy, but there are standards of behavior to be observed. Also, the sounds of the nail clippers really annoyed me.

In theory, I am full of tolerance. In practice, not so much.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bread Pudding

I am making bread pudding. It is in the oven, and it smells heavenly - all cinnamon and nutmeg and vanilla. These are good, good smells! The timer just beeped, but the pudding is not set. I have never made bread pudding before, and used a mix of skim milk and soy milk in place of whole milk, so maybe it will never set. I'm okay with that, as long as the eggs are mostly cooked. Mmm. Yum.

Everybody is at Camp right now, but I am at home, making bread pudding. I'm okay with that, because I am cold and I know that I would be colder at Camp. Maybe. Also, I am going to an improv show tomorrow with Deb and Chris, and that will be fun. And I have to get my taxes done and this dumb paper. I keep on rewriting it, and it keeps on needing more rewriting. My aim is to have it done in two weeks, when Vaishali and Elliot and Ari and I go to Orcas Island for the weekend. That would be soooooo nice to have the paper done by then. At least submitted to John, if not to the journal. That's my goal. So that's what I'll be doing tomorrow when I'm not cleaning and going to the show. Fun, fun!

The bread pudding will help.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

sunshine and work

It is Saturday and I am sitting at my computer because I'm supposed to be working. I have my flash drive plugged in and the files ready to open. My yellow legal pad is turned to the right page. I have a pen. I am all ready to go. But I don't wanna. I never do wanna at home. My home computer is for surfing the web and playing pop-top games. Generally, it is for wasting the largest amount of time possible, although I actually bought it to do work on at home. Today, I have made a pact with myself - no games until I do at least 2 hours of work. I'm not sure if that's a pact or not. It has to be two hours of actual work, not just two hours of sitting here. Now, it is lunch time, and it is sunny out (and cold), and so maybe I will eat lunch and then go outside, and return and do work later. It sounds great, but chances are that if I don't start work now, I never will.

I know, there is nothing startling in this post. Another goal for today is to get some photos off of my camera and onto my computer. If I do that, I will put one here. But that involves not going completely brain-dead when I sit at the computer. Tricky, tricky, tricky.