Thursday, February 01, 2018

Few quick thoughts

* If I were more organized, I'd start marking down every night I had interrupted sleep/suffocating dreams to see if it in any way correlates with the full moon. (I've been having - not really BAD dreams, but dreams about work, things going wrong at work, and it's kind of suffocating because I feel like I don't get to escape work, not even when I sleep). I know many statisticians have tested the "full moon effect" and say it's bunk, but I also know a number of people who've worked in ERs that say all kinds of weird stuff comes out during the full moon. I don't know.

Could also be my allergies. When my allergies are bad I don't sleep as well.

* I was thinking even more about the back-to-the-landers and I think two things strike me:

1. They had the conviction that they were right, that they were doing things right. That may be part of the appeal for me - I'm such a ball of self-doubt that the thought that "Maybe if I went off and did this I'd become convinced I was doing it right" is appealing.

Of course, "how you do anything is how you do everything" so I doubt that would happen for me.

2. Many of the people interviewed in the book, even with the hardships they faced, talk about what a positive time it was. Maybe it WAS the greener grass on the other side of the fence? Or maybe when you're young and idealistic you remember things as being greater than they were? (I guess I actually feel that way about the summer I did my doctoral fieldwork: even though it was a lot of time and a lot of hard work and I remember coming home a couple of times and even though I had got carryout for my field workers, I couldn't eat it because I had developed a migraine from being out in the field).

And going farther back: stuff like the potato harvests my family did with another family (who had a lot of land and soils good for growing them) rank as happy childhood memories, so maybe there IS something to the "working with your hands and the immediacy of it all" that makes a person happy. (And "gardening therapy" is recognized as a thing.)

But....I don't know. I couldn't do full-on back-to-the-land, I know that, but some days I do wish for a little more simplicity and a little less having to be as wily as a serpent when my natural inclination is to be as gentle as a dove, because...

* Apparently "predatory" journals (e.g., ones that charge v. high page charges, have unbelievably ridiculous and lax policies (no real peer review), and are basically a "vanity" publishing thing or a thing that prey on people who don't know better, and essentially have such poor quality control that most universities won't recognize a paper published in them for advancement purposes) are now using phishing-like techniques: cloaking their e-mails in the guise of a more-respectable journal. And oh, how I want to see the respectable journals devote some of their resources to taking those places DOWN.

I mean, publishing is frustrating enough without having to check every e-mail you get to be sure it's a "real" one.

* One of my colleagues went home sick. I am HOPING this is either bad allergies (not contagious) or the URI I already had (so I will be immune) and NOT a GI thing. I have bad memories of GI things and the late winter.....January 2016 was when I wound up in the ER one Friday with gastritis that was bad enough to make me think it was my gallbladder going bad. (I still don't know if that was a particularly nasty virus, Listeria (that was during the time of recalls of "organic" frozen produce, some of which I had had), or some combo platter of those plus stress (it was when all the budget cuts started hitting the fan, it was my dad's surprise ER visit, it was when Margaret first got sick...)

I dunno. I've had two URIs in the past three months so I hope I'm done with being sick for a while.

* I read this somewhere and I am thinking about it: "Kind people are kind because they know from firsthand experience that the world isn't."

And yes, kind =/= nice, because sometimes the kindest thing to do is to tell your alcoholic cousin that you are going to no longer support them financially and they need to clean themselves up and try to find work. Or you have to tell a student "no, you cannot hand your paper in two weeks late, you had a month to do it and it doesn't matter that your laptop died"

But I also think I tend to couch a lot of the things I say in kind language (or perhaps more likely: conciliatory language) because I don't like conflict, and I secretly hope that will defend me against someone getting angry with me when I enforce the rules that exist.

I don't know. But yeah, I have known enough unkindness in my life (mostly as a kid, at the hands of my peers) that maybe it did shape me in some way.

* Argh. A few unpleasant moments after soils class: I had told the students I'd open up the lab prep room so they could sieve their soils (necessary preparation for Monday's lab, and it looks like SOME OF THEM HAVE NOT EVEN GOT THEIR SOILS YET and yes I made a big fat deal about how this is an over-long lab to begin with so they better not plan on just sieving at the start of lab or we'll ALLLLLL be here until 4:30 pm and NO).

Anyway. A couple of the more-diligent students wanted to sieve so I opened up the prep room. Then I realized: oh, wait, they'll need an electronic balance, I need to get one out.

We keep the balances hidden. (Too well hidden, as it turns out). We've had two break ins in the past - one  in 2006, one just a couple years ago (guy with an unauthorized key who was apparently LIVING in an unused office). Both times, we lost balances. Because electronic balances - at least, lab grade ones, are expensive (I have a "Greatest Loser" one at home in my kitchen for weighing stuff like flour and the odd skein of yarn and it was cheap enough) And they tend to wind up, as you might expect, at "growing operations" or other places producing illicit substances.

(Allegedly a balance stolen in the 2006 theft was recovered in a raid, but of course we never got it back).

Anyway. Given our recent budgetary issues, there is zero budget for replacing stuff like this.

So of course, when the balances weren't in the three places I kept them hidden in the past, I started to get nervous. I think I may actually have muttered, "if they got stolen again, *I* will have to buy new ones *out of my own pocket*"

but then a student, taller than I am, pointed out they were on a high shelf in one of the cabinets. Which I could not see because I am short-ish and because I was standing right close to the cabinets.

One upside? I found a much higher-grade balance that was in there that I don't remember requesting or ordering and now I wonder if maybe a former colleague passed it on to me, or if the person I share the lab with ordered it and just never used it but whatever. It doesn't have batteries (another thing we have to buy out of our own pockets now but at least they're cheap) but once I get some that means we have another balance...

But yeah. Thieves suck, and stealing from a public entity like a university is NOT a victimless crime, because either tax dollars have to go to cover that theft (and therefore, not other things), or the faculty member who needs the stolen item has to beg to borrow from someone who has one, or they break down and buy it out of their own pocket....and these days, most of the profs at small regionals AREN'T getting rich off their salaries.

*And another hippie thing: a memoir of carob (New Yorker, may shame you for not having a subscription, though I guess on campus I can access it for free).

I....didn't hate carob. No, it's not an adequate substitute for chocolate, it doesn't taste remotely like it (and now we've learned that chocolate, at least some forms of it*, are not that bad for you after all)

(*the bittersweet chocolate chips I put in my morning oatmeal have fewer grams of sugar than about any other flavorant I could add, and I enjoy them, so, I use them)

But yeah. I remember that. Part of it was the sugar thing - chocolate had a lot of sugar (but I thought you had to add sugar to carob, too, to make it palatable). And chocolate allegedly made kids hyper because it had caffeine (well, really: theobromine, which is similar). And carob seemed, I guess, more "natural." And I knew one or two kids growing up who were allergic to chocolate. (And I knew more who gave chocolate up for Lent. Hm. I wonder if subbing carob is following the letter but not the spirit of the thing)

We had some carob stuff when I was a kid but chocolate wasn't banned. (For many years, the go-to birthday cake was Wellesley Fudge Cake with cream-cheese icing, which is delicious and worth looking up a recipe for if you like baking. I think my mom got her recipe out of an old Swan's Down Flour book).

Perhaps that's why I never came to hate it - I think a lot of the backlash is from people who had carob fobbed off on them with "It's just as good as chocolate" or "it's just like chocolate."

I tend to feel that way about any "Eat this, not that" substitution. I don't eat pasta very often at all, but if I want pasta, I want PASTA, not zucchini* spiralized to be pasta. Or, tvp. I don't want tvp if I want ground meat. (Also, there's some evidence that eating very large volumes of soy, at least for certain women, might not be the best idea ever)

(*also there is some evidence that I am mildly allergic to at least raw zucchini and other squashes. Cooked pumpkin gives me no problems but I got wicked hives around my mouth from raw cucumber recently)

We did have some "healthy" foods when I was a kid. Lots of whole-grain bread, but then again, much whole-grain bread - especially home-baked - is excellent and is actually more enjoyable than its "white" counterpart. (Anadama bread is not QUITE whole grain - it's regular flour plus cornmeal and molasses, but my mom used to make it a lot, because we all loved it, and it made excellent ham sandwiches)

And yeah, for a while, my parents dabbled in tvp. I....never liked tvp. It seemed kind of weird and mushy. (And now, if I eat very much soy, I get a stomachache. My mom also tested positive for "mild soy allergy" when she did food-allergy testing).

I like beans, though. I tend to feel with vegetarian/vegan food, I'd rather have it be wholesomely itself than be tarted up with additives to seem like meat. (Well, one exception, I guess: the black-bean "burgers" that I like so well. Then again, they don't pretend to be meat; the whole point of them is that black beans, plus onion, plus chili powder, are delicious). So many of the commercial "veggieburgers," though, are loaded with salt and sometimes with additives, whereas for these I can make them with the low-sodium canned beans and just add a few spices....

(I didn't like dry beans as a kid but as an adult my tastes - or rather, my texture sense, I think it was the texture of beans I disliked - have changed)

We also had lots of fruits and vegetables. And fast food not very often (less than once a month) but that was partly because there weren't many outlets that sold it in the town where I grew up. We did get pizza once a month or so, either from Pizza Bazaar (and I had to think hard on how to spell that because we always called it Bizarre Pizza) or Noble Roman's or sometimes we even trucked out to the Parasson's for a sit-down dinner. (That was also when we got  the rare servings of soda - my parents would order a pitcher of 7-up or orange drink for us all to share)

I'm trying to think of other "crunchy granola" things we had....we had fruit leather, heck, we sometimes tried (not very successfully) to make it home. (Good fruit leather is pretty good, really. You just have to like things that are a little more sour, I think that's why some people dislike it. I like things that are not overly sweet so I like it). We didn't have brown rice, thank goodness - I don't like it as an adult and, um, it, um, causes the gut-transit-time I have to speed up to an unacceptably fast level (same with wild rice, which isn't really rice).

Most of the food we had was stuff my mom cooked from scratch at home, I guess in some ways that was countercultural ENOUGH. (And I do a lot of cooking from scratch. Not as much as she did because I have to also go out and earn a living, but I try to cook from scratch because I like the food I can make better than most of what restaurants or the frozen-food companies can, and also, I do still watch my sodium intake despite my blood pressure being back down in the normal range now)

1 comment:

purlewe said...

I make a lot of the things I like to eat b'c I like to cook. And I like the way mine tastes. Altho I will order sometimes and it is nice, but I do rather enjoying cooking and I kinda like making something to eat that isn't that expensive. Altho today is one of the reasons why it is hard to cook for yourself. I am eating chili, again, for the 3rd lunch in a row, and I have another serving tomorrow. SIGH.