Sunday, June 25, 2006

Well-Nourished People Eat Too Damned Much

About a month ago my doctor rather snarkily informed me that caffeine, sodium, and trans fats are not considered food groups by the medical community. I tried to explain the concept of efficient eating while in grad school to him, but he kept blathering on about nutrients and blood pressure and family history of every medical problem known to man... blah, blah, blah. My doctor is a giant pain in the ass. After being harangued for what seemed like 53 years, I agreed to try to incorporate this substance they call "real food" into my diet. And then, after I stopped at the local diner for a bowl of clam chowder and a cappuccino, I decided to try to keep my word.

It's now been a month since I started this "real food" experiment. My observation, as suggested by the title of this post, is that limiting the diet to real food is an extremely inefficient way to eat. Do you have any idea how many broccoli spears and pears I have to consume to replace the calories in JUST ONE glazed chocolate donut? I'm exhausted from all the chewing.

Plus, there's much planning involved in making sure you eat enough of the right foods every day. I've been tracking my nutrient-intake on the US government's MyPyramid Tracker, and it never fails to give me a frowny emoticon for something. Frown - Not enough protein. OK, fine, I'll have an egg. Frown - Too much cholesterol. OK, how about a slice of ham? Frown - Too much fat. Bah! It's infuriating. (BTW, be careful about typos in that thing. It's a neat source, but is not a thinking person. It's been trying to send me to the emergency room about once a week based on my typos.)

Anyway, as I've been force-feeding myself absolutely ridiculous amounts of food in order to establish proper nutrition, I've been thinking a lot about getting fat. Probably because the image we are encouraged to have of fat people is "those people who eat constantly" and I am certainly eating constantly. There are times when I think the witch from Hansel and Gretel wrote the dietary guidelines to fatten us all up for the kill. In fact, I have never seen a fat person eat anywhere near the amount of food by volume that I am now eating. Not even once. But I'm not gaining weight.

If anecdote=data for the president of Harvard, that standard should be good enough for me. Right? Right. OK then, here's my analysis.

As a childless grad student, I am somewhat privileged. I'm poor, certainly, but I'm able to take a summer job that I can do well without spending evenings fussing about work details. I don't have to do all this planning and counting for others, so I can concentrate on making meals that fit only my dietary requirements. My salary is responsible for feeding one person, rather than three or four, so I can afford fresh produce and lean meat. Microburg is a "city" plonked down very near extensive tracts of farmland, so I have the very freshest of fruits and vegetables easily available to me for part of the year. This is an ideal situation, really.

And still, I find all this work to plan out and prepare proper, healthy meals very taxing. The temptation to grab a burger and forget about the time, effort, and expense of a balanced diet is great. And I'm not physically and emotionally exhausted from work and caring for children, nor am I buying foods based on their affordability for a family. So, I'm calling bullshit on a few standard prejudices. The prejudice against the poor is horrifying in a lot of ways, but begrudging them food is untenable. The idea that we need not worry about our poor "because they are often fat," suggests that the poor eat too much. It seems they eat too little of the foods that would make them healthy people. The prejudice against the fat, based on the ideas that they eat too much (nope), or lack the willpower to change (doubtful), or they're too lazy to work out is equally ridiculous. Shaming the fat for being too tired or too poor to eat properly is shameful.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday Poetry Blogging: Shelley Edition

Ever feel like you're working towards a meaningless goal? Take comfort in the fact that we ALL are. At least Percy thought so. As one of those crazy humanities people, I take great comfort in this poem. Especially when the "What exactly do you DO? No, really, what's the POINT of studying literature?" thing comes up. It's just easier sometimes to think "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" than it is to explain that building blocks of knowledge are as important and as real as building blocks in a building, you know?

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Personal and Medieval

As of just a few minutes ago, I am GREAT Aunt Heo to a brand new baby girl. Welcome, Baby. And I certainly hope your mother decides on that name for you quickly.

In Medieval News:
Via the Anglo-Saxon listserve: the Abbey Library of St. Gall has put 100 complete manuscripts online. Yay! I'll be adding a link to the sidebar, too.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Grades are in, and now I have to go to the jewelry store to procure this thing for myself, as promised. (OK, first I have to get my first summer paycheck cashed. But then ...)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Be It Resolved That ...

-- A 34 year-old woman should not be all tuckered out at the end of a 45-minute brisk walk. ESPECIALLY after three weeks of taking said walk regularly. I actually had a pain in my side this morning! WTF? Before I became one with my computer-chair this year, I could walk -- sometimes even jog -- for an hour and arrive home feeling refreshed and invigorated. Not any more! So, I will now be adding a choice of evening walk/bike-ride/dance-around-to-silly-music until this nonsense stops.

-- I'm putting myself on a Television diet, too. I get all caught up in some cool movie, then berate myself for an hour about the two hours of reading time I lost. Pffft. Too much emotional energy to expend for the joy of re-experiencing the Andrew McCarthy oeuvre, methinks.

-- More medieval posts to come soon, and I hope they will be substantial ones. I'm currently reading Joanna Story's Carolingian Connections , and there is much information to process.

-- All thoughts I had about possibly making this a single-themed blog are now over. I am not a single-themed person, and I don't feel like pretending I am.

-- I'm updating the blogroll. If your blog's name isn't there, and it should be, tell me. I'm not ignoring you, I promise. I'm just becoming increasingly cognitively eclectic (i.e., flaky) with age.

Happy Father's Day to all who qualify!!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday Poetry Blogging: Old Geoff Edition

In modern life, I'm not a fan of using Christian belief to argue political and social goals. Mostly because it seems like something vital is probably missing in a person who needs a book to explain to them that abusing themselves and others is a poor life plan. I am, however, a HUGE fan of taking the paradigm that a person/some people might use to justify abuses, and really holding them to all of it, even the inconvenient side. Chaucer does just that, I think, in this poem. [Sadly, the glossed terms refuse to migrate over to the side, so I had to remove them. I'm pretty sure the poem is comprehensible without the gloss.]

Geoffrey Chaucer

The firste fader and findere of gentilesse,
What man desireth gentil for to be
Most folwe his traas, and alle his wittes dresse
Vertu to sue, and vices for to flee:
For unto vertu longeth dignitee,
And nought the revers, saufly dar I deeme,
Al were he mitre, crowne, or diademe.

This firste stok was ground of rightwisnesse,
Trewe of his word, sobre, pietous, and free,
Clene of his gost, and loved bisinesse
Against the vice of slouthe, in honestee;
And but his heir love vertu as dide he,
He is nat gentil, though he riche seeme,
Al were he mitre, crowne, or diademe.

Vice may wel be heir to old richesse,
But ther may no man, as ye may wel see,
Bequethe his heir his vertuous noblesse:
That is appropred unto no degree
But to the firste fader in majestee,
That maketh his heir him that wol him queme,
Al were he mitre, crowne, or diademe.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Some Pros and Cons to Being the Youngest Child in the Family

I've been processing the impending change in my status from Aunt Heo to Great-Aunt Heo, poorly. During this time, I've also been considering the multiple ways in which my entire stinking family has been conspiring to make me feel even older than I am. They're like that, you know. Smart-asses. Anyway, it seemed only fair that I would list the benefits received along the way as well as my impending early decrepitude. (I should clarify that when I say youngest child I mean "person born after her parents took about a decade off from breeding that first large batch of children.")

Pro - You're born into vast quantities of cool stuff just waiting to be discarded by older kids who've moved on.

Con - Some of that stuff is clothing your parents saved for ten years so that you could reuse it loooong after the trend had passed and looong before the clothing was retro-chic.

Pro - Extra adults or adult-like beings who will guide you like a parent when you want guidance.

Con - Extra adults or adult-like beings who will guide you like a parent when you don't want guidance, and will often give conflicting orders. (Like the time when I was 5, and I managed to get yelled at about 17 times in a half-hour for not getting/not putting away the milk. Then yelled at again when they realized I had been getting/putting away the milk for the past half-hour and didn't say anything. Then yelled at again for being "ridiculous" when I informed them that I tried to tell them others wanted/did not want milk out, and they told me to do as I was told NOW and not to make excuses.)

Pro - By the time you're into going places, there are many licensed drivers to take you where you want to be.

Con - By the time you're into going places, there are many licensed drivers to check up on you.

Pro - That kid in fourth grade who bullied everyone into doing what he said because his big brother was in high school and could beat them up eventually gets to you. You calmly inform him that your big brother is a Special Forces Marine on loan to a friendly South American government, training their military. Fourth grade bully turns pale and runs away.

Con - Fourth-grade bully's father informs him that it's illegal for adults to beat up children, but doesn't correct his bullying, so he charges you to teach you a lesson for scaring him.

Pro - Your big sister has already taught you simple self-defense moves by 4th grade, and you flip the little shit.

Con - Having been a regular attendendee at Sunday school, and a devoted listener at feminist discussion groups since before you acquired language, you have some confused vocabulary. This becomes clear when you respond to the boy who shares your cubicle in Kindergarten that he should not either get the higher hook just because he's a boy. And boys are NOT automatically bigger than girls. AND he's a BIG CALVINIST for thinking such stupid things, anyway.

Pro - Somebody, somewhere, always knew how to figure out your homework with you.

Con - Your brothers, although now out of the house and on their own, show up to vet your dates. In good weather, they do fun things like run the hedgetrimmer along the walk (at just that crucial height) as the boy arrives. The first comment made by every boy you ever went out with before you turned 20? "So, your brothers are big guys, huh?"

Pro - You don't have to babysit your younger siblings.

Con - Some of your older siblings move back, with spouses and children, and you have to babysit your nieces and nephews, which is the least you can do "because you don't contribute monetarily to the good of the household." (Response: Cut out ads for live-in domestic help from your area. Calculate the back-pay you are owed. Tape a bill to the fridge.)

Con - Since you're stuck home babysitting anyway, you might as well babysit even more children.

Pro - Nothing is as great an argument for carefully avoiding parenthood than regular responsibility for a batch of about six small children at a time.

Pro - There's always somebody around to reach stuff on the top shelf, even though they call you short because you can't do it yourself.

Con - It's perfectly possible to grow up into a 5'10" woman with a Napolean complex.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Great Idea! Who's Funding This?

You Should Spend Your Summer in Europe

You're into almost all forms of culture - art, music, architecture, food...
And spending a summer at the beach sounds pretty darn boring to you.
So head off to Europe, where you can have your tiramisu (and even eat it on the beach!)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Wherein My Stream of Consciousness Becomes More Random Than Ever Before

I had a post idea I was working on to respond to the big interblogular litcrit argument and food fight that occurred Memorial Day weekend, but even I got bored with it.
The gist:
1) Some people must find their own company exhausting. Poor bastards.
2) Only weasel-faced, poopy-pantsed boogers call people names.
3) Television: the opiate that treats the terrible after-effects of observing real live braying asses.
Now you know.

Then I was going to remind everybody that Michael Bérubé has returned from his blog-hiatus. (Yay!) He is threatening to blog about golf, though. (Boo!) But you already know all about that, I'm sure. And I didn't include that reference just because I have now figured out how to get the accent aigu onto blogger, how dare you?! (Don't you just love interrobangs?)

I'll bet you didn't know that, after reading Bérubé's latest post about thought,I now aspire to be referred to as an "epigone" of some yet-to-be-determined person. I find that word almost as much fun as antipode. Maybe I should aspire to be the antipodean epigone of some Indian-Ocean sailor/literary critic? What do you suppose the chances are that such a person would be a medievalist? Is it wrong to aspire to epigone status? More importantly, is it wrong to hope that my Indian-Ocean sailing medievalist literary critic is also either epicene or callipygian, or maybe even both/and? After all dichotomies are generally bootless undertakings. One shouldn't become involved in bootless undertakings at sea, where booty is all.

Oooh, maybe I should be a pirate medievalist! "Aaaarh! You'll reinstitute the dual pronoun or you'll walk the plank, matie!" or, even "Aaarh! We'll never be without thorns, edhs, or ascs again!" Yes, I do think Scarlett O'Hara went into medievalist piracy after Rhett left. So there.

How screwed up is it that certain young men currently refer to women's backsides and/or coitus using the same word that pirates once used to indicate goods stolen by violence or threat of violence?

Memo to certain young men: That's not OK. And, while I have your attention, there are some more things we should discuss, for your own good. 1) Referring to yourself as a procurer and/or swindler of women is not impressive to women, and those careers usually involve lengthy prison stays. 2) I do remember some women, in the mid-seventies, who were perfectly delighted to be spoken of as chicks. Thirty years have passed; they must be hens by now. Female humans under the age of 18 are girls, over the age of 18 they are women. It's good to know the terminology, ya know?

Which brings me to Hugo. I'm not going to pile on Hugo, even though I disagree with his final word with his student. He did his best to turn the student around, and the student wouldn't be turned. I don't know that I'd have made it seem like he had my stamp of approval, but that was Hugo's decision to make. I disagree with lots of Hugo's decisions, even though I respect his efforts, so this isn't exactly new. For instance, I disagree with the decision he made to keep a corpulent rodent as a pet. I am staunchly --and occasionally very loudly -- anti-houserodent in my own life, but I respect the rights of others to make their own policies on the matter. (Beast, just so you know, is no longer with me, and didn't mind occasional houserodents as long as they stayed away from his food when he was here.)[Update: Now I feel slightly guilty about writing this, because Hugo's pet passed away.]

Anyway, Hugo's student was struggling with pro-feminism, because of the old "even feminist chicks don't dig nice guys" canard. (Yaaaaawnstreeeetch!) OK, here's the thing about that -- for the 437 millionth time since.. what? Thursday? If one bases one's behavior regarding basic justice and decency on the likelihood that random, multiple women will fall down spread-eagle at the chance to copulate with one for exhibiting said basic decency, one is NOT a nice guy. One is attempting to manipulate women into consenting to sex. In some sections of the world one might, in fact, be considered a prat for thinking such things. When one alters one's behavior in hopes of inspiring women to fall prone at one's feet through exhibitions of poor conduct, one is a shit. Again, one is merely attempting to manipulate women into consenting to sex. Neither behavior is about respecting women as fellow humans, since both behaviors are attempts to use women as tools for one's own sexual gratification without concern for the individual women involved. (Hey! Women are individuals rather than a monolithic group that can and should be easily comprehended and manipulated by members of that other monolithic group. Who knew?)

Look, men and women find each other attractive all the time. We indulge ourselves in lascivious fantasies all the time. That's swell. Nowhere on my Feminist Credentials Card does it say "refrain from impure thoughts and deeds." Whoever is in charge of the Male Feminist Credentials Card should refrain from using such proscriptions as well. It would ruin all the mixers. Yet, "I'll be pro-feminist after I get laid" is a completely asinine thought, dependent upon false assumptions and very bad logic. And, damn it, I am not pro-choice on bad logic!

Geez, I hate it when I start out all random and then ruin it all by having a thought.

So, back to randomness. Speaking of Godless feminism, I celebrated my inherent unauthorized therefore evil female self-respect on the sixth by having a hot fudge sundae FOR DINNER! No vegetables, no clean plate to prove myself worthy of dessert. I just broke all the rules, willy-nilly. Take that, neighbors who went to church all evening though you haven't been since I've lived here because Jesus was coming and it was time to look busy!

What are your random thoughts?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Things swiped Appropriated from Around the Blogosphere

My new neighbors like to blast bad music until 5:30 am, singing along of course (off-key), and clapping along as well (off beat). At least that's what they've done the past two nights. So I'm not exactly high-functioning at the moment. Please accept these recycled ideas in lieu of an actual post.

From The Happy Feminist, a quiz which determines which of Henry VIII's wives you are most like.


Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?
this quiz was made by Lori Fury

"Congratulations! You are Katherine Parr.
Katherine Parr spent nearly her whole life married to crotchety old men: Henry was the THIRD old fart she was forced to marry. Is it any wonder she turned to books and religion to occupy her time?

Katherine wasn't just smart, she was a tiny bit uppity, too: she almost got herself thrown in jail for arguing with His Royal Fatness about some theological issues. After Henry croaked, Katherine dropped the prim and proper act and married Thomas Seymour, a handsome, dashing pirate kind of guy who was also as dumb as a post.

Which goes to show you that even bookworms know how to get it on."

From Mythago, an explanation of the way Rape Shield Laws work. She's also linked a super-fun video.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Another Reason Why My As-Yet-Mythical Children Will Learn German

The widely-acknowledged benefits of being bilingual.
Comparatively few other children will learn German, thereby decreasing my need to whisper when I tell them I hate that one Eddie Haskell-esque kid they hang out with.

No, it's about the Spelling Bees . [Update: Edited to remove a word that could have been construed as all sorts of obnoxious when placed in a sentence referencing the German language. Sorry, it didn't even occur to me.]

I do feel a little bad for the girl who won second-place. Weltschmerz is not a word one wants connected to, you know, a weltschmerz-inducing moment.