Friday, April 26, 2013

bento friday: favorite recipe roundup

This week has been kind of hectic, and I've been sick, so unfortunately I have no bento to share with you.  But!  Instead, I've put together a roundup of some of my favorite bento recipes that I use so so often, in photo essay form.  NOTE: all pictures in this post are taken from or, specifically from the recipes linked.  They are used here with permission from Maki.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Maki?  Maki is my hero.  My bento-hero, at least.

One of my favorite quick and delicious bento side dishes is carrot kinpira.  So yum.  

And hey!  Look!  You can make kinpira from other stuff too!  Rock on.

Maki's chicken teriyaki recipe taught me that teriyaki sauce is super easy to make, that it's very tasty, and that it's silly to buy pre-made teriyaki sauce in a bottle.  Apparently Japanese folks think that stuff sold in stores is kind of bizarre.  

Soboro is another super tasty recipe, though it does require prep.  It's not something you throw together on a weekday morning; rather, I'll spend some time on an occasional weekend making a big batch (usually from lamb), and then freeze small portions to use later as filling in onigiri.  

Bored of teriyaki?  Lemon chicken nuggets are a tasty alternative.

Tamagoyaki is a now-and-forever staple of my bento-making.  There's a bit of a learning curve to its construction, but once you've messed up a few it'll work out fine.  Super tasty, good reheated or at room temp, veggie-friendly, and Husband loves it.  Win. 

And finally, Maki's spicy lentil snacks get fantastic reviews and are apparently super tasty, but I still haven't gotten around to making the dang things.  I even bought red lentils months ago, and yet.  So I'm putting this one on here to remind me to make the darn things, and then I can tell you how it went!

Happy bentoing!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

in which I agree with Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush, when asked whether Jeb Bush should run for President:

"  We've had enough Bushes."

Well.  I never thought I'd agree with a member of the Bush family, but yeah.  You're so right, ma'am.

awesome thing of the day

...kitty light-up bow ties.   Because bow ties are cool.

Though I'm not sure whey they have to be gender coded.  Why with the blue and pink theme, guys?  What about herringbone, or houndstooth?

Clearly, we can improve on this.  Fashionable light-up kitty bow ties!  Someone go invent that.

today in marriage equality

I tend to get more excited about country-level acceptance of same-sex marriage, because I'm so hopeful that we'll all join the civilized world in this matter.

But states matter too, in that they at least add to the momentum going on and may eventually contribute to the USA finally getting over itself and noticing that this is what people want.

So!  Yesterday Rhode Island became the 10th state to adopt same-sex marriage!  Woo double digits!  Apparently they were the last holdout in New England, so now that whole region has come to its senses.  Nice!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

sad news

An old friend passed away last night after a long battle with cancer.

I may not be posting on my regular schedule for a little while.

Monday, April 22, 2013

about finances

You may have noticed that I stopped doing monthly financial retrospectives a while ago.

There's a reason for that.

The main reason is that I've had a funny feeling for the past year or so that something big is about to change, and that I should be ready.  A major career shift, a move cross-country, a dramatic life change of some sort.  I don't really know what form it will take just yet, but it's there.

As such, it seemed prudent to re-evaluate priorities a bit.

I'm still paying down debt, but not quite as aggressively.  Debt freedom is still a beautiful goal, and totally something I want to achieve, but having a chunk of actual cash around can be invaluable in times of transition.  Thus I've been working to make that happen, too.  So my debt snowball has been cut approximately in half, with the rest channeling into a savings account.  This slows progress on the whole debt freedom thing, so a retrospective would be less exciting.

As part of this relaxation of the debt payoff mission, last November I stopped tracking my spending.  I still go over my bank statements quite carefully, but I'm no longer writing down every single penny that leaves my hands.  This changed because of the general de-prioritizing of debt issues and because after a good year of tracking and documenting and looking at trend charts I feel that I have a pretty decent handle on my spending.  It was an extremely illuminating process, and it may be a habit that I pick up again in the future, but for right now I think I'm fine without it.

I also started using my paid-off credit card again.  I know, I know, this is antithetical to the rules as I initially laid them down.  But I realized several things.
  1. This credit card provides decent reward points that I use to pay down its own balance, resulting effectively in free money.
  2. I really am doing okay finacially, and am able to pay off the balance in full every month, thus eliminating interest charges.
  3. The experience of depriving myself of credit entirely was a really good exercise, and it got me to pay much closer attention to my spending, but it need not continue forever.
  4. Making online purchases wiht a debit card can be less than advisable.  Credit cards have better consumer protection and fewer identity-theft issues.  Not to mention that if it's compromised, nobody gets to drain your checking account.
The combination of these factors means that it's actually kind of a good idea to use credit cards a lot of the time if and only if you can do so responsibly (without paying interest).  Because I'm at that point, I could only benefit from the switch.

So several things have shifted around for me.  However, we're still on track, though the plan will be delayed a bit.  Hopefully this whole life-changing thing will happen soonish, and then I can settle into a new normal.

But until then, I'm going to be focusing on getting ready for the change.

Friday, April 19, 2013

bento friday: using up leftovers

Our fridge, in general, is full.  Really full.  Do-complicated-three-dimensional-tetris-to-fit-anything-in-full.  So every once in a while we go on a crusade to use up leftovers and clean out all the tupperware in there.

This week I noticed that I had shiitake and some kind of other mushroom (they were from the local Asian grocery store and weren't labeled in English... but hey, they were tasty so who cares) languishing in there.

Enter bento, and voila!  I find that bento is a really easy way to use up whatever veg is starting to get sad in the fridge.  Stir-fry it, add some kind of protein and rice, and it's food.  Once I got a few basic recipes under my belt and stopped feeling intimidated, bento became rather liberating.  You can put almost anything in there and call it lunch.

simple using-up-leftovers bento

For this week's bento, I made a mushroom-and-onion stir fry, and thawed some mini sausages I keep in the freezer (part of my johbisai) for bento protein emergencies.  And brown rice made in my magical rice cooker that is awesome (have I mentioned I love my rice cooker and that it is awesome?).  

All in all, especially for something that took maybe fifteen minutes, this was a mighty tasty lunch, even if it doesn't really photograph well.  And it cleared some space in the fridge!  Win-win. 

mushroom and onion stir fry

• sesame oil
• mushrooms, sliced (whatever you've got)
• onion, cut into chopstickable pieces (a half of an onion worked for two bento)
• soy sauce, sake, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, Sriracha
• sesame seeds

Sauté the onion in sesame oil until it is nice and browned, with maybe some burned spots (sound familiar?).  Add mushrooms, and toss a little butter in there if the pan looks too dry.  Mushrooms love butter. 

When the mushrooms are cooked, toss in a blob of hoisin sauce (that's totally a unit, right?), a splash of rice vinegar, another splash of sake, some soy sauce, and a really healthy dose of Sriracha because Sriracha is marvelous.  When in doubt, more Sriracha.  Good life advice, there. 

Oh!  And a little sprinkle of cornstarch helps the sauce to thicken up, if it's being stubborn. 

Cook for a bit until it looks and smells like something you want to eat. 

teriyaki sausages
• sausages (mini or cut up, whatever kind really)
• soy sauce, sake, mirin, brown sugar

Sauté the sausages in some kind of oil (I think I used canola; whatever's in the cabinet) until they brown a little bit.  Add the other stuff (I try to follow this ratio, but at this point I just dump stuff in until it looks right), and cook down until syrupy and tasty.  Nom.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bourdain: a win and a fail

So, Anthony Bourdain.  Professional irreverent jackass, travel show host, chef.  Cool guy.  I read Kitchen Confidential a few years back at the urging of a good friend (hi!), and fell in love with his prose and attitude.  He's a New Yorker through and through, so is callous at times, but also tends to not take himself too seriously.  And as I learned from his travel show No Reservations (he has more shows now, but I've only watched NR so far), he's supremely devoted to being a respectful guest when in someone else's domain.  He eats whatever the people he's visiting bring to him, no matter how disgusting it might seem to our American sensibilities about food.  He does his darndest to be a good guest.

He's touring, and we got to see him last night.  Awesome opportunity.  He mostly talked about food and travel and his show, of course, but I have a few slightly tangential observations to note.  These were smallish moments in the show, but I want to talk about them.

1) During the question-and-answer portion of the show, a lady asked something along the lines of 'what do you think the role of women should be in the restaurant industry?'

First off, it's kind of a weird question to ask, in my opinion (isn't this 2013?).  BUT!  Tony surprised the hell out of me by providing what might be the best possible answer to that question.  His response (possibly slightly paraphrased because my memory ain't perfect)?
'What women should do?  I don't think that's a question I should be answering.  Anything that comes out of my mouth is going to be, let's face it, mansplaining.' 
Holy shit.  Holy shit.  This dude is self-aware enough to know that being in the food business for decades and being a famous chef still makes him unqualified on the general topic of 'what women should do,' even in his field.  He acknowledges that and is quite ready to say so.  And he even knows (and used in a public forum!!!) the word 'mansplaining.'

I don't know that I can quite convey how happy this makes me.  

So much squee.

2) Apparently a while back there was a big brouhahaha wherein Tony was pressed to tell who he thought was the worst celebrity chef.  He's always insulting people, especially famous people, so that's no real surprise (such as the whole Kwanzaa cake thing, which I actually found to be quite funny).  See the 'irreverent jackass' thing above.  His response was to name Paula Deen, because of her being the most 'dangerous' chef to America.  Because of cooking fatty food and thereby corrupting the moral fiber of the country, I guess.  Then he got to feel all sorry for himself because he subsequently got verbally attacked online a bunch by people sticking up for her and admonishing him for picking on a nice old lady and insulting Southern food.

Okay.  I have things to say about this.

He (correctly) pointed out that her cuisine isn't actually particularly Southern or traditional.  He pointed to her 'lady brunch burger,' which consists of a burger patty, fried egg, and bacon between donuts.

Okay, fine.   He also, naturally, had scare-tactic stats of the calories and fat content of the thing.  Then he criticized her for having Type 2 diabetes (um, okay), for waiting to tell the world about her disease (which is obviously everyone's business everywhere because, um, reasons), and then for partnering with a diabetes drug company for sponsorship and being open about things (she can't win).  These are all the same things that were said a bunch of times when the whole diabetes thing first came out.

And it's all bullshit.

Paula Deen owes no one an explanation of her personal health.  Full stop.  I don't care that she's a celebrity, and I don't care what her show is about.  Her health is her own business.

She had (has?  I don't actually watch television) a show about making delicious food that happened to be really dense and made with a lot of butter.  Shows have themes.  A chef's life is not necessarily a reflection of hir show (does that sweet genuis guy subsist entirely on cupcakes?  I doubt it).  I certainly wouldn't want a lady brunch burger every day; it's a silly oddity and ought to be treated as such.  If you actually think she eats this food all the time, I have a bridge to sell you.  And Tony?  Supposing that you can lecture a person on what her personal life must be like because of your Super Objective and Truth-Telling Perspective while refusing to listen to her words about her own lived experience is, I'm sorry Tony, 'splaining.  You know, that word you used so eloquently and appropriately to the question about women in food?  Yeah, that.

For more eloquent and kick-ass words about the Paula Deen affair, read this.  Ragen says it so much better than I could, and it's well worth a read.

Tony, you're wrong.  You're so wrong.  

Then it got worse.

He proceeded to wax poetical about the declining health of America, and how intervention is necessary.  I got more nervous as it became obvious what was about to happen.  He talked about McDonald's, of course, which I have no love for for a myriad of reasons.  And sure, he's gonna insult people and institutions.  Irreverent jackass.  Comedy.  I get it.  But he wasn't being funny, here.  He was being serious.  He's concerned about the health of the nation.  As exhibited by using this topic to segue into a rant about how people's fat asses can't get up off couches and are in his way on airplanes.


One, stop conflating weight with health.  There are skinny people who are unhealthy and fat people who are healthy.  Some factors correlate weakly, but it's simply bad science to think you can make assumptions about health from a person's body size.  Some studies suggest that having more body fat might actually provide some protection from disease, and be a predictor of lower risks of mortality.  Health is complicated, and reducing it down to fat = unhealthy is profoundly disingenuous.

Bad food does not necessarily make you fat.  Tony, you yourself exemplify this.  You are quite open about your past, with its terrible health choices, and you seem to have always been a pretty scrawny dude.  This means there must be other factors.  It is usually not a choice to have a particular body size.  Know that friend (maybe you, Tony) who can eat anything and stay skinny?  Yeah, I guarantee there are corresponding folks who eat relatively little and healthily and stay fat.  Bodies are funny like that.  We all have weights at which we are personally healthiest, and those weights are different for different people.

A body size is not a diagnosis.  Of anything.  At all.  It is not a diagnosis of personal habits, level of activity, or any sort of disease.  Looking at a fat person tells you one piece of information.  That they're fat.  Obesity is not a disease, and even if it was, we'd be going about dealing with it in a profoundly terrible way.

If you want to talk about health, great!  Talk about actual health.  Poor nutrition and being sedentary do cause health problems, but they do that to people with all kinds of different body sizes.  Know what you're talking about and (crucially) what you're not talking about.

Two, good grief, man.  Did it never occur to you that you're talking about actual people here?  Actual people, who already endure ceaseless hatred, judgement, criticism, and bigotry because of their bodies. Just for existing.  Jumping straight (via 'common sense,' of course) from a criticism of shitty American food to being pissed off at a hypothetical fat person for being in your way when evacuating an airplane, or drawing the equivalence that fat = useless and sedentary is profoundly horrible of you.  There was a heavyset man sitting in front of me during your talk, and I could feel him kind of freeze and tense up at that.  And I absolutely 100% do not blame him for maybe feeling a little defensive when you were attacking him*.

Above, I said that fatness is not a good predictor of disease or death (science!).  Want to know what is a good predictor?  Being the victim of social stigma.  Yup.  It turns out that being preached at and judged and admonished for one's audacity to exist causes stress!  Funny, that.  So by mocking and judging a segment of society that has to put up with this shit every day of their lives (it's not like you can walk around without your body to avoid the stigma), the same people you probably think you're 'helping' or 'saving,' you are being part of that very problem.  You are contributing to the cultural pressure that tells fat people that they're worthless, that they're disgusting, that everyone except them knows what they need and what their lives are like.  That they have to exercise more (but don't actually do so in public because you'll be shamed for that), that they have to go on fad diets (as it turns out, dieting not only has never been shown to cause long-term weight loss in more than a tiny fraction of the population and is a really great predictor of weight gain but also is extremely detrimental to health --- you know, that health thing you're on about?), that being thin is more important than being fulfilled and pursuing things they think are awesome (and of course they couldn't possibly be good at things in their actual bodies), that they have to change their bodies before they can receive reasonable health care when they're injured or sick.  You are not criticizing people for their behaviors here.  You are criticizing their right to exist in their bodies, and layering even more abuse on top of a really shitty lifelong experience.  You might want to think about that.

I would have hoped that someone with the awareness and sensitivity to provide the best answer ever when questioned about women's place in his industry would have actually thought about these things or done a tiny bit of research instead of launching into a humiliation and judgement tirade that serves only to uphold a nationwide campaign to get people to hate themselves.

Stick to food, Tony.  It might be a good idea to lay off the moral preaching.

*Note: I do not presume to know what this fellow may have been thinking or feeling at the time; I am not him and do not know him.  I only have my observations of his body language and my knowledge of how I would probably feel in his place. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

today in marriage equality

As of today, New Zealand is on board as the 14th country to recognize same-sex marriage.  Woot!

Apparently two thirds of their parliament voted for the bill, and after it passed the gallery broke out into a traditional Maori love song, along with cheers and applause.

It's been a big month for marriage equality.  I am way stoked about all this rapid progress.

Congratulations, Kiwis!

awesome thing of the day

Darth Vader doing the MC Hammer dance.  With Stormtrooper backup.


(via Erika)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Scalzi is amazing, part eleventy

Have I mentioned lately how very very super-duper much I adore John Scalzi's blog Whatever*?

I do.  It's so juicy and delicious and full of patriarchy-smashing awesomeness. 

I also read and adore a lot of blogs written by women and other people in other demographics and I don't want to look like I'm awarding disproportionate cookies to Scalzi because of being white and male and intersectionality is complicated.  

Also, one of the extra awesome things about Scalzi is that he sees and acknowledges the clusterfuck of intersectional privilege working for him, and thinks that's a load of steaming poo and says so.  

Anyway, he's great.  

For todays installment of why Scalzi is awesome, I present his treatise on women in geekdom.  

There's been a lot of hubbub lately (where lately is the past decade or so) about people of the female persuasion (gasp!) daring to be interested in geeky things and even (!!!) go to cons and participate in fandoms for the things they like.  And predictably, there's been a lot of pushback from Real (read: male) Geeks shunning and criticizing and even assaulting those damn Fake Geek Girls because they're obviously just here for attention and what the hell are ladypeople doing at my con anyway?  

Those ladypeople are tired of putting up with that shit.  As well they should be.  

Anyway, it's a mess.  Scalzi's input on the subject is insightful and on target.  You should read it.  

*Incidentally, while I've been reading and loving Scalzi's blog for a while now, I hadn't gotten around to reading any of his actual books (you know, the thing he does professionally and is kind of famous for).  Today that changed, and on my morning commute I started Old Man's War, being the only Scalzi book we happened to have in the house.  So I'm fixing that situation!  Whee. 

picture of the day

Corgis having an adorable swordfight on a beach.

You're welcome.

Monday, April 15, 2013

words about things

I read a lot of blogs.

Some are about relatively lighthearted topics (fashion!  interior decorating!  cooking!), but most are about social justice.  About what's really awesome in this world, and what's heartwrenchingly terrible about it.  Blogs with magnificent writers who refuse to look away from the horror, and instead face it head-on, fully experiencing and showcasing the despair and the pain and the glimmers of hope. 

This world is full of so, so, so much despair and terrible.  

And I deliberately expose myself to the knowledge of the terrible.  

I've been asked why I do that.  Why would a person choose to feel awful, to despair about the world, to sink occasionally into depression or rage?  Wouldn't it be easier to just avoid looking at the terrible?

Yes.  Yes it would.  It would be much easier, and probably much more pleasant. 

But I can't do that.  Something in me demands to know, to look at it, to face it.  I absolutely cannot simply go about my first-world life, blissful in my ignorance of the marginalization and oppression and violence that goes on in the world and in my name as a white, straight, cis USian.  I refuse to hide from reality.  I refuse to simply tolerate the terrible all around me.  I refuse to disable my empathy.  

I have so much to learn, and I'm awkward in dealing with some topics, and I mess up.  And I will keep learning, and I will seek to get better, and I will continue messing up.  Because it's what I can do.  I may not know many things about where I'm going and what I want and what's possible, but the very least I can do is look.  And see.  See the suffering, see the injustice, see the terrible.  Acknowledge it.  

It may not seem like much.  And part of it, maybe, is a little self-centered.  Hey, look at me everybody, I'm bothering to pay attention!  Aren't I the greatest?  That's a really shitty perspective that at the very least presupposes that simply not being terrible is prerequisite enough for decency, and it's not

Because it’s no longer enough to be a decent person. It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news. True enlightened activism is the only thing that can save humanity from itself.  ---Joss Whedon 

For me, this is about integrity, and growth, and decency.  I can have all the good intent in the world, and it's worth precisely jack shit unless I express it thoughtfully and responsibly.  On some deep level I really need to connect with people, to see them, to understand, to appreciate the good stuff and own up to the shitty stuff.  To lean into my discomfort instead of running away from it.  Even if it's not something that has a measurable impact on the world, it's what I can do to improve my own mind, my own little corner of the universe.  And maybe tell a few other people about stuff, and maybe they'll get it a little and see what's going on and feel.  

And that's not nothing. 

It's a tiny little step.  But it's my teaspoon, and this is what I know I can do right now.  Maybe I'm wildly unrealistic, and maybe my tiny little stance in my tiny little corner of the universe is ultimately inconsequential.  But I choose to believe that this matters.  And that's my choice.

I realized in college that one of the core tenets of my being is the need to be somehow useful to the world.

I realized a few months ago that another basic component of who I am is the need to connect.  To truly see people.  To interact with my world.  

Hello there.  I see you.  I get you.  I care. 

Learn with me.

Friday, April 12, 2013

today in marriage equality

Two awesome marriage equality measures in as many days.  Woot!

Adding another country to the list of those who are more compassionate than the US with regard to gay people being citizens too: France.  

Come on, guys.  France is ahead of us.  Let's get our shit together here. 

According to and updating for the past two days, this is the list to date of country-level acceptance of same-sex marriage:
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium 
  • Canada 
  • Spain 
  • South Africa 
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Portugal 
  • Iceland
  • Argentina
  • Denmark
  • Uruguay
  • France
Congrats to the governments and people of all these countries for being truly decent.  May we follow their example.  

bento friday: not a bento

These week I present... not really a bento.  What?  We had a lot of leftovers to use up, and bento-making just didn't come up.  

I don't consider this at all a bento, because
  1. it's made of leftovers,
  2. it's decidedly un-Japanese*, and
  3. it's totally designed to be refrigerated and nukerowaved.
But it's packed kinda sorta in a bento-like fashion, so hey!  It'll do for a bento friday.  It's only cheating a little, right?

a totally cheating non-bento: leftover ribs and leftover mac and cheese

In other news, eating delicious sauce-covered ribs at a computer desk is a bit of a challenge.

*There's totally an argument to be made that non-Japanese food can still be bento.  I'm just not entirely feeling it, at least in light of the other conditions listed. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

today in marriage equality

Added to the list of countries who are ahead of the US on this whole people-with-other-types-of-love-lives-are-citizens-too-and-should-have-civil-rights thing: Uruguay.  

Can we just step up to the plate already and stop being so resolutely shown up by everybody else out there?  Isn't this supposed to be a 'civilized' country?

guilty pleasures

John Scalzi on guilty pleasures:
...I don’t feel guilty about my pleasures. 
My pleasures make me happier to a greater or lesser degree, they don’t hurt anyone else, and in any event one of the great advantages to being a grown up is being able to do what the hell you want and not have to apologize for it or run it past anyone else. The reason we call things “guilty pleasures” is usually because we substitute someone else’s judgment for their value over our own.
This is an amazingly healthy outlook, and it's a topic I've been working on in myself but had not elucidated nearly this clearly and effectively.   Not feeling guilty about things that make you happy is a rather important and advanced adulthood skill.  Scalzi, as always, you rock.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

awesome thing of the day

100 rules of dinner.

This is beautiful.  Husband and I cook a lot, deeply enjoy food, and like cooking together.  Well, sometimes, when we're not grouchy, anyway.  Anyway, I identify with so many of these items.

For the record, I'm totally on board with 2, 7, 24, 38, and 95.  88 is the most true thing ever.  Oh, 88, I love you so.

Holy crap I had never thought of 25.  Where have you been all my life?

91 is true, though Trader Joe's mayonnaise is pretty damn good too.  Miracle whip is NOT FOOD.

I disagree oh so strongly with 81.  Garlic is never something for moderation.  Never.

Ahhh... food.

Monday, April 08, 2013

George Takei and allies

So, George Takei.  Actor, gay rights activist, awesome human being, really popular on Facebook.  Cool guy.  I like him a lot.  He often posts about social justice issues and puns.

But last Tuesday, this happened:

And this... is not okay.  Cringingly clicking through to the comments, to my surprise I found many people pointing out that this was not okay ally behavior, that assuming strippers/sex workers are automatically and necessarily bad or damaged people is all kinds of messed up and contributes to a culture of gendered shame, and that perpetuating such stereotypes isn't particularly classy of him.  We were all very, very disappointed that our hero chose to engage in such hateful and bigoted rhetoric.

Then the following day, this happened:

And this?  This is fabulous.  This is a dude

  1. actually listening when something problematic is pointed out to him,
  2. examining his own motivations and values in the context of the new knowledge,
  3. acknowledging that he messed up,
  4. and promising to learn from this and work on doing better. 
This is good ally work.  I do have a few issues with his apology in that I'm not quite convinced he completely got the point about slut-shaming being No Really A Real Problem when he asserts that it's somehow 'sad' that women make money by 'using their bodies rather than their minds.'  This invisibles women who choose this work, who enjoy it, who... you know what?  To tell you the truth, I am extremely unqualified to talk about sex work, as I am not in that field and have not done extensive research/empathizing regarding it.  If you're interested in such topics, I'll refer you to this excellent piece

Additionally, we need to teach our girls to 'value themselves' higher, without correspondingly teaching our boys to value the girls, too?  Way to drop the ball on that one, George.  

Suffice it to say that I have a few quibbles and I don't think it's completely free of problematic elements quite yet. 

But!  He listened, grokked what was wrong, and learned from it.  This is someone putting in the effort that's required to do good ally work.  

One of the critical points of this social justice thing is that 'ally' is not simply a nametag you slap on your shirt and then get to claim.  Being an ally takes work.  It means understanding and checking your privilege, genuinely listening to those in marginalized populations, and owning up when you mess up (and we all will mess up, I guarantee it).   A convenient label is far too often wielded as a deflection by those desperate to avoid acknowledging a misstep, and it presupposes that being an aware and empathetic person has an end point.  There is no final goal in this process; the process is the whole point, and it's so important to remember that.  

We know that George is an awesome, aware, inclusive guy.  We know he's on the side of social justice.  But he doesn't get a free pass because of that identity.  The difference between an end-goal ally identity and the allied behavior process is why he cannot (and did not) get a free pass when he slips up.  Being usually a decent person doesn't mean you didn't still mess up when you messed up, and it's critical to point that out.  

Melissa over at Shakesville has this to say about 'being' and ally versus doing ally work.   As always, she is incredibly erudite and wields her insight-hammer with breathtaking precision.  It's well worth a read.  

Finally, I must link to Jay Smooth's excellent video about this very topic.  He's specifically taking on racism, but it holds for any bigotry or unexamined prejudice.  The point is not who you are; it's what you say and do.   Nobody said George was a bad person for this (or if they did, that wasn't very helpful or considerate of them).  They pointed out that what he said was thoughtless and damaging.   And to his credit, he responded beautifully.

It's a great process to see in action. 

Friday, April 05, 2013

bento friday: one bento, two boxes

Husband's bento: microwaveable Pyrex

This week I threw together a super-simple bento from what happened to by laying about the house.  White rice in the magical rice cooker of AWESOME (I am madly in love with my rice cooker; can you tell?) with some frozen peas dumped in for color, butter-sesame chicken, and some Sriracha-and-saké-glazed carrots.   Simple, tasty, and it used up a lone freakishly enormous carrot that was lounging around in the fridge and the last four shiitake mushrooms.  Even if I did overcook the chicken a bit. 

my bento: cute little tiffin

Butter-sesame chicken
chicken, cut into bite size pieces
shiitake mushrooms
soy sauce
sesame seeds

Sauté the chicken and mushrooms separately in plenty of butter (or on separate sides of a big frypan, like I did).

Mix it all together, add a splash of soy sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and you're good to go.

Sriracha-saké glazed carrots
carrots (or singular carrot, if you've got an Arcturan Mega-Carrot hiding in your crisper)
toasted sesame oil
brown sugar
soy sauce

Heat oil in a frypan, add carrots, then dump in a healthy splash of saké and cover.  This steams the carrots a bit, making cooking go much faster.  It also imparts yummy saké flavor.

Attack with Sriracha, some brown sugar, and a bit of soy.  Stir around to form and thicken the sauce a bit, and then nom.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

about that letter

[Content note: rampant frustrated sarcasm in the commentary]

So a lady wrote a letter to the female student population of Princeton, exhorting them to snap up husbands before they left school, because '[they] will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of [them].'  An excerpt (emphasis mine):
For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you. 
Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there. 
I am the mother of two sons who are both Princetonians. My older son had the good judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone. My younger son is a junior and the universe of women he can marry is limitless. Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated. It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty. Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you. 
Of course, once you graduate, you will meet men who are your intellectual equal — just not that many of them. And, you could choose to marry a man who has other things to recommend him besides a soaring intellect. But ultimately, it will frustrate you to be with a man who just isn’t as smart as you. 
Here is another truth that you know, but nobody is talking about. As freshman women, you have four classes of men to choose from. Every year, you lose the men in the senior class, and you become older than the class of incoming freshman men. So, by the time you are a senior, you basically have only the men in your own class to choose from, and frankly, they now have four classes of women to choose from. Maybe you should have been a little nicer to these guys when you were freshmen? 
If I had daughters, this is what I would be telling them.

She's serious.

Okay, let's do this thing.
  1. The gross heternormativity of this piece is appalling.  In this year of two thousand and bloody thirteen we're still putting together sentences like 'the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry'?  Really?  This makes too many assumptions to count.  Obviously all women (or at least all Princeton women) are straight, cis, and want to get married.  That must be it.  I'll set this point aside for now, and assume that she curated her audience to be only those straight, cis women who have professed a desire to marry a straight, cis man someday.  
  2. Who the fruitcake are you, lady, to declare who is and is not 'worthy' of these young women?  Isn't that their damn call to make for their own damn selves?
  3. Men can 'marry down' in intellect, but women are comprehensively incapable of doing the same?  I just don't think I have the spoons to pull that apart in entirety, and I'm sure someone else on the interwebz will do a better job than I would, anyway.  So I'll just mention a few observations.  
    • See point #2.  
    • Really?  REALLY?  We're going to make 'level of acceptable Princetonian training' into the new caste system where it's super important to snag a husband in a higher bracket?  WTF? 
    • There are really no other characteristics that might, say, lead to long-term happiness or compatibility other than the woman in the (straight, cis) marriage being acceptably less than the man.  Okay then.
    • She's willing to reduce the lived experiences of however many bajillions of people might have different educational levels than their spouses by saying that they'll ultimately just be too frustrated to cope.  The 'well, you could choose to marry someone using, say, your own criteria instead of the one imposed on you by this random piece of unsolicited advice' (paraphrasing mine) little tidbit is especially cute, because it's followed by pointing out how IF YOU DO YOU'LL BE DOOMED.  
    • I.... I just don't even.  
  4. Moving on.  Ooh, look!  We get a second criterion!  Apparently it's categorically impossible for a ladyperson to be involved with a guyperson who is AT ALL younger than she is.  NOT ALLOWED, Y'ALL.  I had no idea that by the time I was a junior, the freshman men were totally off limits.  Oops, apparently that boyfriend didn't exist.  I must be fabricating those memories, because here's this totally authoritative lady to inform me that my relationship defied the laws of physics or something.  And apparently my college-educated mother didn't actually marry my eleven-years-younger, high-school-dropout father.  Thanks.  
  5. Ending this piece of drivel with an exhortation to be 'nicer' to men?  Really?  Clearly that's what we need!  Girls just have to be nicer to boys!  That'll magically fix everything like abuse and rape and the fucktons of little ways in which male-type-people are socialized to disregard (at best) or outright loathe all the female-type-people and their silly ladybrainz who clearly don't know how to make any choices or govern their own damn lives, while those female-type people are socialized in more fucktons of ways to put up with the shit and make themselves smaller and not impose and be nice.  This is rape culture 101.  
Look.  It's fine to point out that college is a great time for socializing because you're around a bunch of people who all share your interests and have similar levels of free time.  I get that.  I kind of miss that dynamic, and wish I'd appreciated it more when I was in school.  I miss the ability to magically summon a house party at a moment's notice, or randomly call a friend and meet them for lunch between classes.  Real life doesn't have that kind of connection or freedom. 

But it is categorically fucked up to assert that the only reason this is beneficial is for the purposes of snatching up a sufficiently-educated-and-older husband.  And that if you don't do this, you (as a Princeton-educated, straight, cis, maybe presumably white woman) have somehow failed.

This is not okay. 

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

awesome thing of the day

(image from

Awesome thing of the day: superheroines wearing actual clothing

I love their poses, too.  They look... oddly like superheroes!  Not like Hawkeye.  Or John Scalzi