Tag Archives: lifestyle

The Pros and Cons of these Trader Joe’s Cats Cookies I Bought Last Week

Destructive and beautiful.

Pro: They’re delicious.

I’m more than satisfied with the cookies’ taste, which has a good amount of cinnamon and is sweet but not too sweet. The crunchiness is quite appealing, yet I never feel I have to work too hard for them to give up their tasty inner-workings.

Con: They’re delicious.

Damn these cookies! They are so small that it feels to me each one merely introduces the depths of their tantalizing flavor! It never satisfies the cinnamon hunger that it awakes. But I can never move past the initial “hello, I taste great.” One cookie is just enough to pique my taste buds and get them wanting more. Always more! Madness!

Pro: They’re small.

I think “oooo! I’ll just have about three with my coffee and that’s the perfect snack size for 5 o’clock coffee. Just three small, crunchy, cinnamon cookies from the huge container I keep right on my desk, right within reach. No more, no less. This is great!”

Con: They’re small.

They’re too small! They’re so small I can always have another one, or at least think that I can always have another one. What difference does one more tiny cookie make? What about five more? Twenty more! INSANITY!

Pro: They’re numerous.

For so many cookies, they were certainly a steal. 15 cookies is one serving, and there are 15 servings in a container which means 225 cookies, which would last me over two weeks if I just ate one serving a day. Wowzers! So cheap!

Con: They’re numerous.

There’re so many of them I can always convince myself that just one more cookie won’t hurt, that the actual level of cookies in the container will never go down, that the supply will never be depleted, even though I know, beyond a shadow of a glimmer of a doubt, that these cookies are numbered and they surely will end, and just as the earth itself is counting down its days to the final destruction when the sun blows up in billions of years, so will these cookies end, because there are at maximum 230 cookies in there, depending on weight discrepancies.

But my dumb psychology tells me that one more cookie has no real effect on the sum total of the cookies, even when there is mathematical, scientific, arithmetic proof that it does, but this is the Cats Cookie madness, and it is inescapable. My only hope now is that the cookies are gone in less than two weeks, which they surely will be, and that I don’t have enough motivation to drive all the way to Trader Joe’s again in order to purchase them, which I would likely do in a moment of weakness because I lay in their thrall. Help me.

Cookie anyone?

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Walking on Feet in San Francisco

I walked almost 8.7 nautical miles (10 miles) today in my Sperry’s and skinny jeans (no prairie dress yet). I wore a black jacket and sometimes it was a little too warm in the sun, but I liked having it for when I was in the shade. I tied it around my waist when I wasn’t using it. As the day wore on I talked louder and more often to myself, to the point where it was nearly a constant conversation, but I feel like you can do that here in San Francisco, where people can be who they want to be. I want to be a wildly gesturing person on the street wearing a puffy black jacket tied around her waist.

San Francisco is easily one of the most beautiful and livable cities that I have ever been too. I’ve been to cities in Morocco or Colorado, for example, that are beautiful to visit and quaint to look at but would likely be quite suffocating to live in, like beautiful quaint hands slowly closing around my throat. But San Francisco’s hands are not suffocating. They wear funky, locally made jewelry and make funny gestures. I like San Francisco’s hands.

When I am in a new city, I love exploring it on foot, without a map or an agenda, and that’s what I did today. I had made a halfhearted plan to go see stuff but then ended up wandering my day away, which I believe is always a good decision. There’s nothing I like more than the feeling of complete freedom, being in a city in the world with no agenda and the ability to follow any whim I have, like to poke around the campus of University of San Francisco, or to hunt down a church spire I saw gleaming far away, or to turn onto a random street because the trees look really fluffy or because the sunlight  is hitting it just right at the golden hour in the late afternoon when everything is beautiful and I have to follow the beauty.

Walking in San Francisco is unlike walking in other cities. I would be walking on a street lined by those beautiful houses that remind me of whimsically decorated gingerbread men and all of the sudden in the distance, the street ended in a crest, over which I could see nothing. Did the world end? Was there a breathtaking view of azure bay water? Yet another park? The urge to climb these hills was impossible to fight, and climb I did, and sure enough, I would be rewarded with a lookout into the distance, either towards more hills covered in trees with bright buildings clustered around the bases or the bay with its islands and other bodies of land reaching into it. I didn’t want to leave the crests.

In San Francisco flowers bloom in the winter. I like it here.

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Country Music: Proud of Itself

wranglers at Deer Valley Ranch, the former vacation destination of our family

In many parts of the country, a fondness for country music brings a plague upon one’s career and friendships. Country music, outside its native habitat, is as popular as pungent body odor in small vehicles. It is to be masked and not spoken of, its producer’s cheeks reddening in shame and the rest embarrassed to be in the presence of such a foul substance.

Despite the widespread prejudice, country music actually isn’t all that bad. While growing up in OK, I listened to and resented country music all the time, since most of my family members enjoyed it and would play it relentlessly on the radio and at home. Years later at Boston University, this caused the bizarre sensation of both revulsion and pride whenever I heard a country song.

The revulsion resulted from years of carefully practiced loathing, and the pride came from me belonging to something different than the rest of my mostly coastal colleagues. Eventually I came to appreciate the twang-infested music as something unique to the specific subculture in which my adolescence was submerged and an art form that can be quite beautiful in those rare instances where it is done properly. And when it is not beautiful, it is generally hilarious.

Mostly for the ha-has, I’ve been drinking in the country music as much as possible during these short weeks in Oklahoma, but I have realized that a lifetime would not be enough to fully understand the breadth and depth of the genre. Where else do you find such tender descriptions of trucks, tractors, and other vehicles of labor? In this modern music wasteland, what other than country music will dare to describe innocent love in barns, hayfields, and blue jeans? What about all the myriad ways whisky, Jesus, and America are intimately connected with the problems one has while courting the farmer’s daughter?

What I most admire about country music, however, is its ability to admire itself. Since the dawn of the genre, it has been lauding the country lifestyle and the country way, in small towns full of simple, country men and women that like to do country things.

Songs like “I Got My Country On,” by Chris Cagle, “These Are My People,” by Rodney Atkins, “Where I Come From” by Montgomery Gentry, and “Where I Come From” by Alan Jackson, among many others, celebrate a rustic problem free, healthcare free lifestyle. In this highly fictionalized country world, there’s a lot of front porch sitting (AJ) with preacher men in cowboy shirts (MG). It’s where people do things with their own two hands (CG) and give this life everything they have and then some (RA). It’s a wonderful, wonderful, place, and anyone listening to this music would probably imagine a haven of small town goodness, unspoiled by the modern world.

While modernity may not have touched it, the world in which country music lives and from which it sprouts has unfortunately been spoiled by high divorce, obesity, diabetes two, and poverty rates.

However, I am confident that a genre with such hits as “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” “Jesus Take the Wheel,” and “Somethin’ Bout a Truck” will have the creative energy necessary to face this rampant decay with some great ho-down tunes that will get knees a poppin’, heads a bobbin,’ and boots a stompin’.

If you have any other winning country music titles, please feel free to pass them along and I’ll see you down at the barn for the next line dance.

Picture Credit: Trip Advisor

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For a Very Special Christmas

This is actually a man covered in pine branches. Now that’s special.

As the years drift by, it gets harder and harder to bring back that Christmas feeling you had as a child. The special aura surrounding the holiday, fueled in part by parentally encouraged delusions of a certain chubby man and his mysterious night journey, begins to fade.

Gone are the days when parents had no flaws, school consisted of Christmas parties for an entire month, and the entire world glowed with happiness because of the presents you were going to get. As we reach adulthood (and I know it’s a stretch to call myself an adult), we see the other side of the coin: the glow is actually just white hot Christmas rage, the Santa Bill needs to be paid personally, and family must be tended to.

How can you bring back the incandescent Christmas days of old, when today seemed like a day apart from all others, a day to look forward to, a day worthy of a countdown, a day of expectation and joy that ended in the ashes of wrapping paper scraps. Here are some tips and suggestions that can make this Christmas the best one of all.

Ways to Make this Christmas Special:

1. Play “family member hides.” Everyone votes on the family member they like the least, and then that family member has to hide for the rest of the day while the others search for him or her at their leisure.

2. Give the youngest members of your family bb guns, making sure they know there are no restrictions on where to use them.

3. After the Christmas feast, sit down with your loved ones and point out one another’s flaws.

4. Everyone loves singing! Give everyone a 3-5 minute solo to prepare and then go sing them at the mall in front of the movie ticket lines.

5. If you haven’t seen them already, rent the first two Alvin and the Chipmunks movies before going and watching the third one in theatres during a daytime showing. Nothing spells Christmas cheer like shameless exploitation of formerly beloved characters set to the tune of wailing toddlers.

6. Instead of fussing over a big meal, let everyone choose their own microwave dinner and heat it up themselves. Then watch television in silence!

7. Indoor bonfire, using the tree as fodder.

8. Hire someone wearing a Santa suit to come and take everyone’s presents away from them after they’ve finished unwrapping them.

9. Have a real-time response to Christmas gifts from people who aren’t in the immediate vicinity. Call ‘em up right away and tell them how you really feel about the Jar Jar Binks soap dispenser you got!

10. Go door to door preaching against capitalism. Have younger family members wail in order to remind people of child labor in sweat shops.

11. Encourage the little cousins to try to get onto the roof of the house, climb a tree, or fit into cupboards.

12. “Accidentally” misplace the remote control.

13. As you sit around the crackling fire with your family or friends, laughing about times gone by, bring up a deep seated grudge from years ago.

14. Instead of complaining about gifts you didn’t receive, speak with dripping sarcasm and spit vitriol while insisting nothing is wrong.

15. Give used toothbrushes as stocking stuffers.

Merry Christmas!!!

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The Coffee Grinder Saga, Part 1

possible bane of my existence

Have you ever done something you regretted so much that you would give anything to undo it? Have you ever wanted nothing more than a time machine in order to go back and roofie yourself to prevent something horrible from happening? Have you ever felt remorse welling up in the pit of your stomach, a veritable fountain of bile waiting for any excuse to spew?  Many of you will not be able to relate to the dire circumstances I have found myself in, but I will relate them nevertheless.

Last night, in a fit of delirium, I thought it would be fun to go over to the apartment my friend was apartment-sitting and take advantage of the espresso maker there by having a late night coffee. Little did I know that only 2 hours after suggesting this idea, I would rue the very moment I ever thought of the words “go,” “espresso,” and “tonight” in the same sentence.

In times past, I relished going to said apartment in order to enjoy its civilized air, an air that comes the breath of a person living off a real salary and not the peanuts of a student stipend. This apartment has nice things in it: mixing bowls with rubber on the bottom, a digital oven, a flat screen television, etc. In hind sight, these were all indicators I should never have been there in the first place.

Amongst the fineries of this apartment are an espresso machine and a coffee grinder, two appliances that go together like Cairo tap water and hair loss. In my ignorance, I thought I knew how to work both of them. Step one: plug them in. This proved very easy to do with the espresso machine. I just plugged it right into the converter box that adapts the electric current for appliances made to work elsewhere i.e. the U.S.

Having plugged in the espresso machine, all I had to do was grind up some coffee beans. There was only one knob on the KitchenAid Pro Line coffee grinder, so the actual grinding part seemed essentially fool proof. Unfortunately, the machine was dealing with no mere fool. I am a fool with a college degree and a passport, a fool of the most dangerous kind. You see, the converter box had two sockets: one labeled 110V and the other labelled 220V. The numbers appeared to be meaningless afterthoughts, more decoration than anything else, but I soon found reality to be quite different.

I went to plug the coffee grinder in. The only plug open on the box was the 220V one, and I thought, “Well, I might as well try it to see if it works.” There are a few things wrong with this line of reasoning. First of all, why didn’t I check to see what kind of voltage the appliance itself called for? Even if I had the pathetic excuse of not knowing where to look, any dum-dum can check the bottom of a machine where these nuggets of information are usually hidden. Second of all, I had unknowingly begun playing Russian roulette with electrical outlets, one outlet leading to freshly ground coffee, and the other descending to a coffee-less pit of despair and self-loathing, a pit that can easily be avoided through the least amount of research. I didn’t even ask my friend for his opinion even though he was standing literally a foot away from me.

I went to plug in the coffee grinder and…..now that you’re burning with suspicion, this story will be continued tomorrow. It will involve international statecraft and the fall of capitalism, so stay tuned.

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