Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When Pigs Ruled the Earth!

While this may not look like the pink lil' piggies we're used to, this dude is a prehistoric pig ancestor (called lystrosaurus) that at one point had the run of this place we call Earth. According to The Sun (UK), 260 million years ago all the top predators died out, giving this species free range on all the leafy goodness available. The blog, Everything Dinosaur, gives more details on these weird pre-piggies:

Lystrosaurs were dicynodonts, short-tailed synapsid reptiles whose decendents were eventually to give rise to the mammals. Typically, these type of animals had short skulls, with a deep, powerful jaw, high nostrils and broad but stumpy limbs. This particular group of animals seems to have recovered very quickly following the Permian extinction event and rapidly diversified to become the dominant large, terrestrial life form.

There is evidence to suggest that these animals were mainly herbivorous (although other species may have been ominvores). The presence of tusks in the strong jaws, coupled with the strong forelimbs indicate that these animals may have dug up roots and even excavated burrows and dens. Perhaps this subterranean existence helped these animals survive the Permian extinction event.

It has been speculated that Lystrosaurs were able to hibenate or enter into a period of dormancy (estivation). This behaviour would have helped these relatively large animals survive a severe dry season for example.
Lystrosaurs are estimated to have ruled the planet for upwards of one million years before climate change caused the dinosaurs to rise to the top of the food chain. Scientists think there were billions of these guys because of they find so many skeletons.
Crazy to think that now almost no one knows about them... and a good warning that climate change can easily knock out the dominant life forms on Earth (you know, like us). Yikes!

Related post:
Alien vs. Moray Eels
When Elephants Rule the Earth!
Biomimicry for Greener Buildings

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Barbie, Served Cold and Hot

The other day I asked what Barbie art exists and DLC was kind enough to point me to some. Tom Forsythe is selling these puppies for $400-500. I'm thinking it's not worth it:

The artist's comment: What began as a pictorial antidote to the powerful cultural forces persuading us to buy the impossible beauty myth became a five year legal battle that established important free speech rights for artists.

What?! How is this examining the beauty myth? I think it's more like watching someone with a freaky food fetish perv up some little girls dolls. What do you think?

Related posts:
Barbie Power
Girls Who Graffiti
Skirting the Issue: Fashion and Fetish

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Put Your Headphones On (Your Heart)

Since it's Friday, I thought I'd take it easy and show you a video that animator GoshaDole made for Leeni's song "Headphones on Your Heart." Leeni is adorable, her music rocks, plus she's an amazingly talented, warm, fabulous lady.

I met her when I was living in Seattle. I was dating a guy from grad school who had a theater background and his roommate was currently involved in various independent theater groups. Because of them I saw awesome shows by Neutrino, Jet City Improv and others. One of the most stellar actresses I saw in those shows was Celine Ramadan. She positively glowed with style and finesse and a certain kind of easiness that comes with being the coolest person in the room. As far as I could tell, every one adored her and I was no exception. So when I found out that she also had a girl with a guitar act, I was a little surprised but excited to see what she would do.

Performing as Leeni, Celine totally blew me away. Her songs were gorgeous little poems set to delicate, beautiful tunes. She was selling homemade CDs, Are We There Yet..., for $5 and I snatched one up as quickly as I could after the set. A little while later, Leeni got into 8 bit music which uses Gameboy sounds and found a producer for 8 Bit Heart. The next time I saw her perform, her guitar had been replaced with a keytar and she was now backed by looping beats from a Gameboy. It's one of the most remarkable things I've ever seen.

Anyway, without further ado, please enjoy Leeni's "Headphones On Your Heart:"

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Leslie of Ms. Led Tells Me what's what

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Barbie Power

There's a lot of talk going around the feminist blogosphere about Nina Westerburg's photoshopped Barbie image (above) showing a prego Barbie. The ladies of Jezebel said: "The fact that this could totally be a real doll probably says a lot about our society — or at least our ability to be shocked by Barbie art."

Now, I'm not sure what all I missed out on growing up Baptist, but I don't think I've ever heard of any Barbie art, much less something that is actually shocking. And as far as it being a real doll, well, who would really be surprised? We've already got Barbie the Baby Doctor and we used to have Barbie acting as mother to whatever little "sister" they created for her. I can't remember her name right now, but if you used to play with Barbies, I'm sure you know who I mean.

To me, and this was certainly helped by the advertising, Barbie was simply a stand-in for any female, that's why she could be a princes, mermaid, doctor and homemaker all at the same time. I always felt that these dolls epitomized female power in very subtle ways (which is why I could get away with playing with them in a mysoginistic household). This feeling was confirmed for me when my sisters and I started playing with the Ken dolls as well, because those female-like crotches on the men just made them seem completely impotent and being shorter than the Barbie dolls made them seem powerless, not to mention useless (when I was a kid being taller than people was a big deal for me).

Because of all that, my Barbies were always lesbians. The boys just had no interest for them, but they'd date, make out and even simulate sex with each other. Okay, you realize I did all that, but do you realize how empowering it was for me to play with these dolls? Even now I'm kind of shocked when I think about it, but a prego Barbie? Nah, that doesn't shock me at all.

Related posts:
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Becoming a Mysterious Lady
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kansas City's REAL First Ladies

Gloria Squitiro may think she's KC's First Lady, but she doesn't hold a candle to these fabulous gals and their pioneering work:

Berenice Chouteau - Born 1801, Berenice married Francois Chouteau when she was 18 and they moved to the present-day area of Randolph Heights. Berenice was the first woman in the area, since all the other residents were male traders, trappers, etc. With her husband often away, Berenice filled her time visiting Native American villages, tending their sick and working to convert them to Christianity, as well as putting on musical evenings full of eating and dancing. When she was 37, her husband died and she built a house for herself near Third and Grand where she could watch the wagon trains from her front porch. She later helped to fund the first Catholic Church in the Kansas City area, St. Regis.

Sarah Coates - Born in 1829 as a Quaker in Pennsylvania, Sarah and her husband lived the uneasy life of Abolitionists in a slave area after moving to Kansas City in 1856. She was considered the "leading spirit of her day." She was extremely well educated and progressive in her thoughts, frequently giving lectures that expressed "unusual" ideas for any woman of the 1850's. She organized the first Women's Christian Association (now the YWCA) to help homeless and poor women and children, the Social Science Club to stimulate intellectual interests in women, the History Club of 1882, The Kansas City Art Association, The Kansas City Women's Exchange (now the Central Exchange), The Ramobai Association and the Protestant Home Association. She was also instrumental in bringing the newly-founded women's movement to Kansas City through the Interstate Women's Conference in 1892. After this, she was elected president of the Equal Suffrage Association of Kansas.

Annie Chambers - Annie came to Kansas City in 1869 and started a house of prostitution at Third and Wyandotte, which she would run for over 40 years. In 1932, she'd run away and become a prostitute in Indianapolist where she first became a "madam." She took great pride in her attractive girls and gorgeous 24 room mansion, which sometimes doubled as a hotel for the wealthiest men's guests. When, in 1913, the city decided to shut down the red light district, Annie kept her house open by bribing officials for ten years. After that, she shut down her house and turned it into a rooming house for railroad workers. At this time, City Union Mission was located directly behind her house and after hearing a sermon through her windows, Annie converted to Christianity and opened her home to lectures and tours about "the wages of sin," neatly earning a 50 cent profit for each visitor.

Dr. Katherine Richardson - A fellow red head, Katherine graduated from medical school in 1887 and decided to take her practice out West. She moved to Kansas City (after marrying in Wisconsin) in 1893. Four years later, she received a call that a woman was going from saloon to saloon in the West Bottoms, trying to give away a crippled five year old girl. They took her to a small maternity hospital where they rented a bed for her (at $5 a week), gave her hip surgery and eventually found her a good home. The organization running this hospital abandoned it, so Katherine and her sister decided to take up the lease themselves to create a hospital for crippled children. To keep the hospital alive, they made constant requests for support, receving food, garments, quilts and clothing as well as monetary donations. Mercy Hospital (now Children's Mercy) was constructed in 1916 at 1414 Highland, where Katherine developed a national reputation for her work as a surgeon. Children came from all over the country to be operated on by her, but she still often gave up simple necessities to keep her hospital running.

I got all this info from Voices Across Time: Profiles of Kansas City's Early Residents.

Related posts:
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Girls Who Graffiti
You Want Me to Put That WHERE?!?!

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Skirting The Issue: Fashion and Fetish

When I lived in Seattle, I shaved my head several times (you can check out my crazy self portraits from that period on DeviantArt) but once I started letting it grow back in, a friend suggested I go for the hair-do Mia Farrow had in Rosemary's Baby. I hadn't seen the flick before but after she showed me a picture of Mia, I instantly loved her look and checked out Rosemary's Baby to see her stuff. I completely worshiped her style after seeing it in all it's completely adorable glory:
I don't know about you, but to me her whole look here is about adorable innocence, easy confidence, fricken cuteness and joy. So since I've been working to create a more professional wardrobe this year, what with having my first "real" job and having to replace 90% of my clothes because of all the yoga and subsequent weight loss/toning, I've been doing so with this idea of femininity in my mind. Here are a few of my dresses that remind me of this look of Mia's, mostly because of their cut:

I'm sure you're all fascinated but are probably wondering, "May, why the hell should I care?" Well I'm gonna tell you. The reason I bring all this up is to underline the fact that when I'm walking around, looking cute and innocent-like, the very last thing I expect or want is to be sexually harassed by a stranger. But it happens all the time and I recently noticed - almost ONLY when I am wearing either a skirt or a dress. Shorts and pants seem to take me entirely off of any sort of sexy radar... at least, according to the crap I hear from morons.

Once I realized that the other day I started wondering: are skirts and dresses suddenly fetish items only and no one told me? Is it impossible for someone to see a chick dressed girly and not think immediately of one of these?:

And, if so, how the hell did we come so far that the "traditional" women's clothes are all of a sudden fetishized? Why am I constantly being bombarded with the message that I'm "asking for it" just because I want to look and feel girly?

I totally do not get it. What do you think?

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Anti-"Sex and the City" Meme

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Friday, September 19, 2008

"My Life Is More Precious Than Your Car"

There's a crazy rash of road rage going on nationwide, drivers against cyclists. I recently found out someone I know was involved in the recent attack on cyclists by a Hummer driver, and No Impact Man, Colin Beavan, recently had a run-in with a New York state senator in his Mercedes. In an open letter to Senator Jeff Klein, he says:

Though you may not know my name, you may recall that you and I met today under rather unpleasant circumstances on New York City's Broadway, just north of City Hall. You were driving your black Mercedes. I was riding a small folding bicycle and wearing a purple helmet.

To refresh your memory:

Traffic was moving rather slowly and you were heading in the downtown direction, as was I. You were in the far left lane and I was riding on the curbside of that lane, near your rear passenger door. Suddenly, you began to veer your Mercedes to the left, potentially crushing me between your car and the cars parked on the side of the road.

With nowhere to go to get out of your way, and to avoid serious injury or death, in desperation, I chose to knock on your window to let you know that I was there and that you should avoid veering further in my direction.

At this point, you brought your vehicle to an abrupt halt, not to avoid hitting me, but because you apparently needed to communicate something to me. You rolled down your window and said, "Get your hands off my car, you fucking asshole."

I said, "You were veering into me and going to crush me."

You said, "You better not touch other people's cars. You might find that touching other people's cars is more dangerous than traffic."

This gave me the impression that you were threatening me.

I said, "I think my life is more precious than your car."

You said, "I didn't see you."

I said, "If you're driving a car, it's your responsibility to see what's in road space before you veer into it. That's what your driver side mirror is for."

You said, "I looked in my mirror."

I said, "You should also turn and look over your shoulder since you know there could be a bicyclist."

You said, "Yeah. Well, maybe you should watch where you're going."

I said, "Where was I supposed to go? I was there. And you were veering into me."

I was about to remind you that, in the past week, two cyclists have been killed by automobiles in New York City, but you made a gesture which implied you considered this conversation a waste of time and drove off. That is when I saw that your car had special license plates proclaiming your membership of the New York State Senate.

A red light stopped you at the next intersection. I rode alongside you and, more cautiously, tapped again on your window. You rolled it down. I could tell by your face that you weren't happy to be talking again to this particular New York State citizen, on whose behalf you govern.

I asked you, "What is your name, Senator?"

You said, "Senator Jeff Klein." This is how I know it was you.

Now, the thing is, Senator, I don't particularly call you to task for calling me a fucking asshole. If the roles had been reversed, and I had a big black Mercedes and you came up in a purple helmet, knocking on my window, and I didn't realize I was on the verge of crushing your legs, I might have called you a fucking asshole, too.

I'd like to point out, however, that, as mad as you were about my touching your car window with my hand, you could double or triple that strength of emotion when it comes to how frightening it is to be on the other side of the Mercedes driving wheel, especially when that particular Mercedes is coming toward you.

Weigh it up: "he might scratch my black Mercedes" against "he might cause my little girl to be left fatherless."

Weigh it up again: One guy is riding a bike that weighs a grand total of 22 pounds and has a relatively small potential to harm others. The other guy is in charge of a powerful machine that weighs a couple of tons. Which person has the greater responsibility to watch out for the care and welfare of people who may get in their path, by their own fault or not?

(Ain't he eloquent?)

Since I've talked before about how I walk every where, you might've noticed by now that I'm not currently a bike rider. So why the hell do I care? Well, besides feeling threatened by drivers who don't pay attention on a fairly regular basis myself, I used to bike to work every single day back in what I call my fat period.

Seriously, I'd gained 100 pounds (or more) in a year (or so) when I was living in Pennsylvania and I got a job working 3rd shift at a call center 6 miles away. Being carl-ess (then as always), I biked the 6 miles to and from work every day. Man, was that hell. But after 2 months, I'd dropped 80% of the weight and things started getting easier.

When I biked I didn't usually have to worry about a lot of traffic. Like I said, I worked 3rd shift, so when I'd ride out there, usually with my little brother and our neighbor who also worked there, there wasn't much traffic even though I was technically riding all the way across town. Coming back in the mornings was the most dangerous, though usually only if I picked up a few extra hours and was coming home later than usual.

For some reason people who pay attention when they drive are very rare. I was knocked over by a pickup truck that didn't look to the right before he turned right, though he was at a cross walk. Since he went from a stop, it wasn't too bad, but getting hit with a freaking car is never fun. I had several other close calls, but mostly I was okay.

And you know what? Not a single accident or near-miss was ever my fault. It was always because a driver wasn't following the most simple of driving rules, like look both ways before you turn. I wish people would remember that traffic involves foot, bike and motorcycle traffic too. I swear, there is something about the ego-feeding mechanism of driving that'll turn ya into a complete moron behind the wheel.

Just one more reason I'm happy living car-free.

Related posts:
Kurt Vonnegut On Substance Abuse
How To Live Car-Free In the Midwest
How To Go Green Without Really Trying

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

In Defense of Internet Memes and Personality Quizzes

I know I'm not alone in feeling that many, if not most, memes out there are total wastes of time. And we all pretty much know that personality and internet quizzes are just taken to reinforce what we already believe about ourselves (though some would disagree), but I still think there's something to be said for these colossal wastes of time. Of course, before I say what that is, I'm going to subject you to a story:

When I was a kid, my favorite way of getting to know things about people was getting them to play a simple question and answer game. It was easy, non-confrontational and everyone loves talking about themselves, so it always worked well. Even on people who were normally very not-chatty, such as my mother. (Also, it passed the time - I was often lacking sufficient stimulation during boring errand-gettings I'd be dragged along to)

I had a set of standard questions and then I'd deviate from there. They usually started out with far-off kind of questions (Where would you like to travel? If you didn't live here, where would you want to live?) before gradually moving in to personal proclivities (What's your favorite food, movie, color? If you could have any pet, what would it be?). My mom was fairly good about answering the random questions, but whenever I'd get right down to what she liked or her favorite anything she never had an answer for me.

Her response was always: "It's easier to ask me what I don't like than what I do." And I thought how sad that she can only define her life by what she doesn't enjoy instead of what actually makes her happy.

So what I'm saying in defense of these memes and quizzes is: anything that gives us positive reinforcement about who we are and what we want in life is a good thing to me. Let's fill the internets with this tripe if that's what it takes! Living in positive self awareness is the only way to win this silly game of Life.

Related posts:
Becoming a Mysterious Lady
Thoughts On Learning By Experience
Would We Like You When You're Angry?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kurt Vonnegut on Substance Abuse

Sometimes, you just gotta shut up and listen to what someone else has to say:

About my own history of foreign substance abuse, I've been a coward about heroin and cocaine, LSD and so on, afraid they might put me over the edge. I did smoke a joint of marijuana one time with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, just to be sociable. It didn't seem to do anything to me one way or the other, so I never did it again. And by the grace of God, or whatever, I am not an alcholic, largely a matter of genes. I take a couple of drinks now and then and will do it again tonight. But two is my limit. No problem.

I am, of course, notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.

But I'll tell you one thing: I once had a high that not even crack cocaine could match. That was when I got my first driver's license -- look out, world, here comes Kurt Vonnegut!

And my car back then, a Studebaker as I recall, was powered, as are almost all means of transportation and other machinery today, and electric power plants and furnaces, by the most abused, addictive, and destructive drugs of all: fossil fuels.

When you got here, even when I got here, the industrialized world was already hopelessly hooked on fossil fuels, and very soon now there won't be any left. Cold turkey.

Can I tell you the truth? I mean this isn't the TV news is it? Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on.
-- From A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Favorite Coworkers (Why Office Plants Rock)

I work with some amazing people, but after my 3 day weekend, the coworkers I'm happiest to greet are the my two little office helpers:

Okay, so they're not technically people, but these guys really help me relax during the day. And having them in my corner makes it a much cheerier place to be from 8:30-4:30 every weekday!

I've written before about how indoor plants improve air quality, but they also do so much more, including mood improvement, fighting colds and infections, increased concentration and productivity, and reduced fatigue.

SixWise.com identifies these nine plants as the best in air purifying (click each for more info):

As you can see, one of my plants is a type of ivy. The other is a jade tree, which is very simple to care for since it's a succulent. Check out which kinds of plants will do well in your office and see how much difference a little bit of green can make.

Related posts:
Detox Your Life (How To)
Guerilla Gardening

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Friday, September 12, 2008

My Trip Out of Republican Wonderland [Guest Post]

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome my second guest blogger: my very own big brother, John.

Rufus: He still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets carried out in His name - wars, bigotry, televangelism. But especially the factioning of all the religions. He said humanity took a good idea and, like always, built a belief structure on it.

Bethany: Having beliefs isn't good?

Rufus: I think it's better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should malleable and progressive; working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth; new ideas can't generate. Life becomes stagnant. (all quotes from Dogma)

I began this blog with every intent of posting an anti-McCain spiel (and probably still will at some point.) But in trying to develop an introduction I felt that I needed to figure out at what point I decided to begin researching McCain and dug up his little "indiscretions."

This began just after Hillary had officially dropped out of the primary, and at first I was excited about both candidates: I liked Obama for his attitude and youth, and (at the time) I thought that McCain was a decent guy, willing to stand up to the Republican majority. (Boy, was I wrong.) I will be voting for Obama this fall.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

But how could a young man raised in a Baptist household, in a Republican (or strongly anti-Democrat as you might say) method, dual-issue voter (abortion and homosexuality of course), hawkish, Rush Limbaugh dittohead go so far the other direction? I feel that I should first address the turning point in my political beliefs.

If you have read this blog for any length of time you know the sort of home that May and I were raised in (if you can call it that.) Like her I bear scars from my childhood, though not perhaps in a way quite so obvious. I have been at various time in my life, under psychiatric care (although a "christian" councilor only made this worse,) suicidal, depressed, sex-addicted, guilt-ridden and for most of my life felt like I was worth nothing.

Most of this was caused and even encouraged in some ways by the cult in which we grew up. As soon as I was able to I abandoned any facade of religion and went as far in the opposite direction as I thought possible based on what I had been led to believe: Heavy Metal music.

Serendipity: I have issues with anyone who treats faith as a burden instead of a blessing. You people don't celebrate your faith; you mourn it.

Through a strange turn of events and the loving of several good friends in my adult life, I have discovered the thing that I had no longer believed a "christian" to be capable of: love. Now of my own free will I have chosen to find the faith that I had heard about all my life but had never witnessed. It feels like my mind was an ancient, overgrown, decaying garden, filled with dead weeds and twisted, blackened trees blocking out the sun and now piece by piece I began to rip them loose, and fill the garden only with beauty of my own choosing, although I believe my sons have added many wildflowers when I wasn't looking. But that's OK.

Most of this ripping up involved the very painful process of discarding all my old prejudice, hatred and misconceptions which had been planted by others and childlike, trying to view the world through new eyes. While in the long process of doing this, I stumbled on an interview with author A.J. Jacobs of The Year of Living Biblically while listening to NPR.

I had to check this one out, as it in many ways mirrored my own quest to find my own spiritual niche. While the book was hardly an epiphany (though damn funny), he did mention one group I found fascinating: "Red Letter Christians."

I was fascinated by this concept, and began reading a book called The Jesus I never Knew. I was amazed! Strangely as I began reading the life of Jesus with a fresh perspective, I found a new person, far different from the angry and vengeful God of my childhood. He cared deeply about the homeless, the terminally ill, and the poverty stricken while saving his fury and vitriol for the church members who considered themselves the moral majority.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

If this was the kind of faith I wanted, how could I continue to support the political party that claimed to be "christian" when they routinely despised the homeless, the HIV infected, gays, and anyone else that didn't fit their pattern of continuous money grubbing or moralistic hypocrisy? Didn't Jesus care about them too? Even perhaps more than those that were rich and "sanctified?" The more I looked the less I could justify remaining with a group that seem bent on:

  1. Making as much money as possible
  2. Doing so at the expense of the world we live in and the people around them
  3. Encouraging a system based on naked greed and envy
  4. Making themselves feel superior about doing 1-3!

Serendipity: When are you people going to learn? It's not about who's right or wrong. No denomination's nailed it yet, and they never will because they're all too self-righteous to realize that it doesn't matter what you have faith in, just that you have faith. Your hearts are in the right place, but your brains need to wake up.

So all things considered it's taken me 33 years to get there, but in a strange way I finally understand what all the ballyhoo about faith was about, even if it took me on a far different path from the one everyone told me was the right one. The Democratic Party.

Rufus: Are you saying you believe?
Bethany: No. But I have a good idea.

Related posts:
Protect Yourself From McCain This Election
Does This Mean I'm Crazy? [Guest Post]
Thoughts On Learning By Experience

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reaction Shots

No matter how many times people say it's what inside that counts, people are still going to judge you by your looks. It's a fact. My looks have gotten me all sorts of weird-ass reactions. These two are my least favorite:

The Male Stunned Bunny Reaction

This reaction is partially amusing, but mostly it just keeps proving to me that boys are stoopid, especially because they seem to think I can't see them doing it. I call this the "stunned bunny" reaction because boys will look at me, do a quick double-take which always involves a weird head jerk (like a startled bunny), and then simply stand there and stare until I'm gone. While this reaction may be amusing in cartoons, in RL it just comes off as total lack of self-control (and women don't find that sexy).

The Female Death Stare Reaction
This reaction isn't at all amusing. This is much simpler to explain, because it simply involves a complete stranger glaring at me with all the possible hatred she can put into her eyes. Why? Because apparently looking as I do makes them feel bad about themselves and they have to take it out on me. Every time this happens I want to grab the chick, shake her and tell her I'm not responsible for her self image. How can you instantly hate someone for simply possessing certain DNA? Especially when I'm *not* judging you for being a superficial bitch?

And here's where everyone starts hating me because there's nothing people hate more than a pretty chick who complains.

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Body Odor an Aphrodisiac?

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yoga Month in Kansas City

KCFitnessLink, the Kansas City Public Libraries and a bunch of other businesses and groups in the area are putting on Yoga Month 2008 this month.

Check out the calender, print off a schedule and find something near you. These are totally free classes that range from beginner to experienced.

There's two events happening on my birthday and I might just have to go to both of them since a session of relaxing yoga and a session on the lawn of the Nelson Atkins both sound too good to pass up.

This is a great way to get introduced to yoga, if you've never done it.

Because if you haven't, you should because it is hands-down THE best exercise in the world. So says I.

And, don't worry. No one will ask you to do something crazy like this:

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The Best and Worst Stretch in the World
Detox Your Life (How To)

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Eat and Be Satisfied

I tell you, becoming a vegetarian is a whole new world. I have learned so much about things like bulgar and quinoa and lentils and a few months ago, I had no idea what any of that stuff was, much less how to prepare it! Now, I'm learning about how the human body is most satisfied if it experiences what the six basic flavors and seven basic colors of food. Supposedly this variety ensures the best nutrition you can get from food.

The Six Basic Flavors

  • Sweet - Includes "bulk-building" foods like milk, cheese, butter, nuts, tofu, breads, pasta, grains, starchy vegetables, sweet fruits, oils, and all animal products.

  • Sour - Includes acidic food like citrus fruits, berries, tomaties, cheese and yogurt, pickles and salad dressings.

  • Salty - Includes table salt, soy sauce, seafood and seaweed.

  • Pungent - Also known as the spicy foods, these include onions, leeks, garlic, scallions, chives, radishe, chili peppers, cloves, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil and nutmet.

  • Bitter - This includes many veggies like broccoli, chard, eggplant, spinach, zucchini, leafy greens, dill, fenugreek, sage and chamomile.

  • Astringent - These include tart apples, asparagus, green peppers, cranberries, pomegranates, spinach, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans and split peas.

The Seven Basic Colors
  • Red - Includes strawberries, red bell peppers, pink grapefruit, tomatoes, watermelon, beats and radishes.

  • Orange - Includes oranges, cantaloupe, carrots, apricots and mango.

  • Yellow - Includes yellow squash, bananas, onions, peaches and millet.

  • Green - Includes broccoli, zucchini, spinach, green beans, chard and lima beans.

  • Blue - Includes blueberries and blue corn.

  • Indigo - Includes eggplant, blackberries, plums, prunes and black beans.

  • Violet - Includes grapes, kale, purple potatoes and purple basil.
These are definitly not your usual food pyramid way of meal planning, but I think it can shake a diet up in a very cool way.

Oh, and I got all this info from this book.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Just Pull Out

Okay, maybe the pull out method doesn't really work well for anything, but we have got to do something about people in the Army. The soldier suicide rate set a record last year for 115 suicides, but this year that record could be broken again - already the suicide count is up to 62. The distress of repeated deployments is considered the cause of these suicides, even though the Army officials say there's no one reason. The Army is increasing the number of pyshicians and trying to make it less taboo for soldiers to get counsel, but I think we all know what the real issue is:

We shouldn't be fighting these wars.

It's not good for anybody.

Image from The Book of Bunny Suicides

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tell Me About Your Pets

My cats, Pinky (the tiny one) and Frederick (whom you've met before), crack me up. They're our comedic relief, live playthings, practice children, alarm clocks, comforters and a source of unending entertainment. Maybe because I only ever had one totally inside cat before (and she was kind of a bitch), but I've never had pets that felt so much like family members. Frederick's the ridiculously smart, gorgeous one and Pinky's the cute, psycho-hunter one.

So anyway, tell me about your pets and why they rock your world. Gimme pictures and everything!... you might just find them in one of my next blog posts.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Your Mamma Shoulda Told Ya: How To Do Laundry

It never ceases to amaze me that so many very intelligent 20 somethings I've met from coast to coast don't know how to do their laundry properly. Every single weekend when I trudge down to the basement to use the laundry room and pull out someone's laundry from the dryer, I consistently find 50'sesque laundry washing has been going on. You know, the whole wash your whites together and your colors together thing is totally not the best way of taking care of your clothes.

And granted, maybe I'm just way too picky about how to do laundry since I've been doing it for myself and others since I was 12 (Baptists get you ready super early to be a wife, you know), but whatever, this is how you should be washing your laundry:

Separate clothes by weight, not color
This is the major issue people don't seem to realize is very important for your clothes to last longer. Usually people just break things up by color and don't even think about how destructive a wet towel can be on the threads of your lighter weight clothes. I have heard people complain about their clothes falling apart as they wash them all the time, but no one EVER considers this option. But it's totally the only way to go.

I generally separate my laundry into 3 weight categories:

  • light weight - all my girly clothes
  • mid weight - tshirts, sheets and most of my boyfriend's clothing
  • heavy weight - blankets and towels
Wash in cold water
This is a necessary companion to washing clothes by weight since you'll be mixing colors. Not only will this keep your clothes' dye from bleeding into each other, but it also is a massive energy saver and it keeps your clothes lasting longer - cold water doesn't fray threads the way hot water does.

Use the light cycle
This is just another tip to keep your clothes lasting longer. Generally speaking, unless you are a very dirty person, the light cycle provides all the agitation your clothes need, without using as much force, water or energy. I wash everything including my towels in the light cycle and I've never had a problem with them not being clean (and I'm not using the highest of high tech washing machines here).

Use nontoxic laundry detergents/fabric softeners
This is good for your clothes (and the environment! yay!) because most cleansers leave a film on your clothes that over time will dull the colors. Nontoxic laundry detergents, on the other hand, wash out completely and aren't made of the same chemicals that scum of your clothes in the first place.

Put your delicates in a laundry bag
Ladies, if you want your lovely things to stay lovely, use a laundry bag! I can't stand watching women washing bras with towels... you don't want these things to get all crappy. Bra shopping sucks too much.

Happy clothes washing!

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Everything I Need To Know About Public Speaking, I Learned From William Shatner

I've been a William Shatner fan forever. There's the whole Trekkie thing, but I even read his books, listen to his music, and I've got to say I've never been more in love with him than when he is being Denny Crane. Shatner blows me away because he's so darn ballsy, silly and so good at promoting his own special brand. But the one thing that everyone remembers about Shatner is how he speaks. There's a million and one parodies of it in pop culture and it's always great for comedians who aren't funny and need a fall back that everyone will giggle at. But once you wash away the silliness, there's actually some (kinda) good tips in there:

You know that's why Shatner was still referenced for such a long time in pop culture. It's all about the pauses, baby! Lifehack says a verbal comma equals one moment of pausing, while a period equals two moments.

Want to get your point across? Just make sure you say it twelve or twenty times in the same sentance! Okay, so Shatner's not that extreme, but he (and his chacters) certainly have a habit of repeating the same thing in slightly different ways again and again. Supposedly, repetition is even enjoyable for audience members (maybe because they only have to listen 1/2 the time to understand the whole).

Speak Out Stand Out's blog post on sincerity defines it as "a quality of naturalness and simplicity." Shatner certainly owns the art of acting like he's making everything up as he goes along, and what could be more natural than that?

This last bit of knowledge fell directly from Denny Crane's lips. It's a valuable piece of advice to remember since losing your cool or acting defeated aren't going to win over an audience. But a big ole smile and a chipper attitiude can go a long way to keeping them on your side, admiring your gracious defeat (unless you are Hillary Clinton, who acted like a zombie that wouldn't die).

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