Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The perfect independent coffeeshop

It's interesting how people define the perfect independent coffeeshop.

I feel like alot of people who are musicians, artists, "that type", see their favorite most perfect coffeeshop as being a little grungy, big comfy couches, art all over the walls, music every night and having quality coffee.

Somehow, I can't see a place like that HAVING or CARING about the quality of the coffee. Maybe they do. But from my experience, every place that has been any where near this description has employed the type of people that would frequent this sort of place and the quality has been sub par. Incredibly sub par. I actually can't think of a place that I really enjoy that IS quality and has all of these characteristics. None.

What does come to mind is a trashy, unkept, unclean place with varying coffee quality, where the sanitary standards seem like the last thing on the employees mind, where the owners don't care about the source, quality or presentation of their products, where the music is too loud and is either horrible top 40 "alt rock" or local bands who are equally horrible but think they're going to get somewhere, where the art on the walls looks like it was done by a kindergarten (oh sorry, was that art?), there are roaches and rats crawling in the walls (happens A LOT more than you think) and lastly, somehow dare to charge absurd prices (if you weren't aware, prices don't necessarily reflect quality) and lastly, somehow stay in business.

That's all I have to say. Apparently I care a little too much. Maybe I should be more involved in the restaurant industry. And do mean that with an emphasis and elitism.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Middle school flashback

"Im super laid back person until you mess with my kids, family or friends. I can be the nicest sweetest person or a bitch out of hell your choice."

Not my quote, found it on my coworker's friend's (I think) info.

I never understood the super solidarity for your family but then pure evil, hatred and violence to everyone else. Why not just love everyone?

Friday, May 14, 2010


Deadlines are approaching, roller coaster of insanity is more chaotic than ever.
Writing out the list of things that have happened in the past weeks and the things that are about to come, both positive and negative, is too much for my soul right now.
Also, I just took the round of my nightly supplements and I feel a little out of my body. I suppose it makes me almost high... extremely zoned out and fuzzy.

I'll just focus on a few of the positive things:
Moved into a co-op/collective with 8 other people (alot I know!) but the house is MASSIVE and beautiful. We have potted plants everywhere and a plot at the ppatch and an entire wall of grains, rice, beans and spices. And lots of cast iron. And so many other more amazing goodies. I absolutely love it.Planted two different kinds of mint, chervil, flat leaf parsley (but it's actually some unknown heirloom variety) and marjoram outside my 3rd story attic window.

Worked on our ppatch and school farm. We got an acre! And lots of grant money!
This entire wheelbarrow full of salad greens was harvest from the farm and the rest was foraged on campus. So delicious.

Baked this double chocolate mocha cake for my mom:
All from scratch. Even made the chocolate shavings on top. It's also what sent me into day long stomachaches and a commitment to my diet.

Lastly, this was my all gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, baking yeast free supper:
Gluten free crepes with peanut butter and fruit spread and beer. YUM.
The milk DOES contain a little bit of soy lecithin, so I cheated slightly.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Multitude of things

How to Create Seed-Starting Pots From Newspapers -- powered by

Super awesome. I totally bought sunflower starts wrapped in newspaper like this from a couple of kids last April who were selling em at a neighborhood stand. Way more profitable than lemonade!

My steel cut oatmeal is WAY too salty. I was tempted to make it savory but I'm not feeling that adventurous.

I wrote my food journal for the day and I've realized that today was truly pathetic. I think I had ONE serving of vegetables. Possibly two. How can this be when I have red cabbage, asparagus, avacados, carrots, celery, onions, corn, zucchini and spinach all in my fridge right now?! Laziness and the fact that I burned an entire dish last night (haven't done that in a long time). I blame it on the fact that I was listening to music, reading a cookbook, chopping veggies, making THREE dishes at once AND talking on skype. Multitasking anyone?

I'm going to the doctor tomorrow! yes!

Monday, March 15, 2010


I've been keeping a semi-detailed food log but here is what the world needs to know:

Eating wheat, sugar and dairy free has been WONDERFUL to my gut and skin. Love it.

But I miss stouts and porters! and chocolate.

Monday, February 22, 2010


this is a test. My blog was not supposed to be public.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Start of candida diet

Over the last couple of days, I've been planning out and buying extra necessities for my candida diet. My plan is to be on the diet AT LEAST 4 weeks. Official start date will be February 21st, 2010 and the minimum end date will be March 21st, 2010. Right off the bat, I can tell you right now that I will be drinking next weekend because I have two dear friend's birthdays (one is a 21!) and I cannot miss out on the opportunity. Reasons why I don't feel so horrible about "breaking my diet":
98% of my diet has already excluded refined sugars and dairy
It's early in the diet!

Since Thursday, I've been experimenting and eating most of my diet by the rules. Things I ate since Thursday that were definitely not okay: two slices of bread, half a bagel, one small cookie and two cups of coffee with honey.

What's this candida diet thing about? What am I trying to achieve?

Long story short: candidiasis is a condition in which the yeast in your intestinal tract grows in excess. Severe forms of candidiasis are often seen in immuno-compromised individuals and individuals with AIDS. No, I do not have HIV.
My theory on how I came to this condition may seem far fetched, but it makes perfect sense to me. For well over a year (possibly 2 years?), I was taking intense sulfa- drugs and other arthritis and pain medications on a daily basis. A year after I ended those, I was on antibiotics for a year for my acne. Both of these types of drugs, especially antibiotics, not only kill off all of the unhealthy bacteria and pests inside your body but also destroy the healthy flora of your intestinal tract. (This is where my rant begins). As with any western medicinal practice, my intestinal tract was not causing symptoms at the time so therefore did not matter. Even more so, there was no follow up or "rejuvenation" of my intestinal tract after I was done with the course. It's like stripping you of everything you need to protect yourself against the world with a simple "good luck!" and a shit of the door.
So here I am, years later with pretty severe allergy to sugar and dairy, constant breakouts, horrible stomach pains and other issues I rather not discuss publicly on this blog.

Ultimately, I'd love to achieve a state in which I don't feel bloated a majority of the day and where I can eat a slice of apple pie with a scoop of ice cream and I know it won't kill me. I realize my ideals are a little high for the reality though. Realistically, I'll be happy if the stomach pains and the bloatness goes away. And if my skin cleared up! This I believe, is possible. And that is what I will achieve in the coming months.

I'm using this space to write about my progress, the food I'm cooking and eating and probably to vent my frustrations. No (very very little) alcohol, bread, sugar, honey, COFFEE, black tea, mushrooms and lots and lots of other yummy foods for weeks to come.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mushroom tunnel

Don't have time to say much but LOOK AT THESE:

[Image: Pink oyster mushrooms cropping on racks inside the tunnel. Dr. Arrold came up with the simple but clever idea of growing mushrooms in black bin bags with holes cut in them. Previously, mushrooms were typically grown inside clear plastic bags. The equal exposure to light meant that the mushrooms fruited all over, which made it harder to harvest without missing some].

[Image: The paper cone around the top of the enoki jar helps the mushrooms grow tall and thin.

[Image: Shiitake logs on racks in the Mittagong mushroom tunnel].

{All photos and captions courtesy of: "Mushroom Tunnel of Mittagong". BLDG BLOG.}

Where all of the corn grown in the US goes...

Email sent to UWfarm by Keith Possee:
"The EPA's Ag Center says corn in the U.S. is harvested from 72.7 million acres(m/a) and that 80% goes to feed cattle, poultry and fish. The National Corn Growers Association says that over 50% of U.S. corn goes to feed cattle alone. That would be more than 36.35 m/a of U.S. farmland. The USDA says that as of 2007 there were slightly more than 922 m/a of farmland in the U.S., of which, roughly 406.5 m/a are cropland(as opposed to pasture/woodland etc.) That's about 1/11 of U.S. cropland devoted to feeding corn to cows(another 408 of the 922 m/a farmland total is pasture).
ps- the piece from mother earth news is about growing your own chicken food... and I've posted the piece from Cornell's David Pimentel again."

What I don't understand is that I thought we grew a lot of corn for fuel? Maybe that's the other 15% and then 5% to food?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Are you serious?

Yes, you can now pay someone to stand in line for you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

ugh. We have twin hair cuts.

Solidarity, Not Charity: Helping Haitians Help Themselves

Thursday 21 January 2010

by: Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

In the wake of a disaster such as Haiti is experiencing right now, there's a strong impetus to help coming from people across a wide range of persuasions and perspectives. This is a good thing, of course, and yet even empathetic intentions can go awry when they foster conditions that can leave vulnerable people in a permanent state of dependency. As is often the case in the crucial matters of justice that we face, we can look to the words of Martin Luther King Jr. for guidance:

"A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth."

This is the intrinsic conundrum with focusing primarily on charity as a vehicle for justice, namely that it can serve to sustain an inherently unjust edifice, and it is why we should strive to express our compassion in terms of solidarity instead. A recent column out of Toronto rightly reflected upon the essential challenge of this task to encourage solidarity-producing efforts:

"Haitians are engaged and are mobilizing as they always have, taking the lead even as they must be overwhelmed with sorrow and loss. We must demonstrate our solidarity, and not just in the short-term, when the emergency requirements are so crucial. We can all ask ourselves what might be the best ways that we can each offer meaningful support, now and in the longer-term…. But the language of charity is not the model, for it springs from pity and is not based on a principle of equality. It ends up enhancing the generosity of the giver and - ironically - emphasizing the distance and disconnection between the giver and the receiver…. It is support and solidarity, not help, that is needed now more than ever. Our hearts are full for Haiti. Let it really mean something this time."

A post from Benjamin Dangl on Toward Freedom is illustrative of how expressions of solidarity are relegated and marginalized in the post-disaster consciousness:

"In the aftermath of the earthquake, with much of the infrastructure and government services destroyed, Haitians have relied on each other for the relief efforts, working together to pull their neighbors, friends and loved ones from the rubble…. It is not this type of solidarity that has emerged in the wake of the crisis - and the delayed and muddled response from the international community - that most corporate media in the US have focused on. Instead, echoing the coverage and calls for militarization of New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, major media outlets talk about the looting, and need for security to protect private property."

Indeed, drawing upon parallels from recent crises such as Hurricane Katrina, we begin to appreciate the ways in which disasters can continue to evolve and enlarge the scope of oppression over the long term, years after the large portion of aid operations have been concluded and the world's attention has moved on to new concerns. In New Orleans, grassroots activists at Common Ground Relief and elsewhere explicitly took up the mantra of "solidarity, not charity" to express the view that any relief efforts must be about helping people to help themselves, or they would merely be another form of disempowerment, even if well-intentioned.

On one side of the "disaster relief" coin, we're likely to find mercenaries and militarists who sense an opening to profit from the crisis by privatizing and/or pacifying the populace. In some instances, these companion trends will exist in the same entity, such as with the company formerly known as Blackwater (and other well-known contracting firms that need no introduction), which do double duty as part of the military-industrial complex. As many have exhaustively argued, disasters can be highly profitable both monetarily and militarily - so much so that certain forces will foment, exacerbate and perpetuate them to suit their machinations.

On the other side are the purportedly well-meaning organizations that comprise part of what has been called the "disaster-industrial complex." Among these are entities like the Red Cross that see their coffers drastically inflate during times of acute crisis, but don't always see fit to disburse the bulk of the resources received to the people who need it most. Such mainstream charities often partner with multinational corporations to create disturbing synergies like giving out Wal-Mart gift cards or feeding contractors rather than hungry locals. Even in cases where these entities perform charitable works in good conscience, they often find themselves in the position of perpetuating a marginal existence for the "victims" rather than addressing the root causes of impoverishment and imposed vulnerability that made the disaster possible in the first instance.

Again, the parallels with post-Katrina New Orleans are instructive. Blogger Jordan Flaherty has an important post circulating right now that lays out some of the critical implications:

"Author Naomi Klein reported that within 24 hours of the earthquake, the influential right-wing think tank the Heritage Foundation was already seeking to use the disaster as an attempt at further privatization of the country's economy. The Heritage Foundation released similar recommendations in the days after Katrina, calling for 'solutions' such as school vouchers. Our Katrina experience has taught us to be suspicious of the Red Cross and other large and bureaucratic aid agencies that function without and means of community accountability. In New Orleans, we've seen literally tens of billions of dollars in aid pledged in the years since Katrina, but only a small fraction of that has made it to those most in need.

"A recent statement signed by six human rights organizations brings these concerns to the discussion of Haiti relief. 'There is no doubt that Haiti's hungry, thirsty, injured, and sick urgently need all the assistance the international community can provide, but it is critical that the underlying goal of improving human rights drives the distribution of every dollar of aid given to Haiti,' said Loune Viaud, Director of Strategic Planning and Operations at Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante, one of the drafters of the letter. 'The only way to avoid escalation of this crisis is for international aid to take a long-term view and strive to rebuild a stronger Haiti - one that includes a government that can ensure the basic human rights of all Haitians and a nation that is empowered to demand those rights.'"

This is the key for any true relief effort: empowerment. Undoubtedly in the near term, acute crisis intervention is the crucial element. But soon after will come the long-term crisis felt by multitudes of displaced people with shattered lives. A disaster of the magnitude of Katrina or the Haiti Earthquake will affect people emotionally and physiologically for years, perhaps decades. Yet, even crippled by catastrophe, the single best entity to rebuild and reinvigorate a disaster zone is the impacted population itself. In New Orleans, this means the people fighting for the right to return to their homes, to prevent the demolition of habitable public housing, and to keep their neighborhoods from being decimated by shady developers using legal chicanery designed to wrest away homesteads. It means real people seeking to take back not only what they lost in the storm, but also what had been taken from them in myriad forms of oppression before disaster struck.

In New Orleans, thousands of grassroots activists have been to the city since Katrina. The majority have sought to practice - albeit imperfectly, at times - this spirit of solidarity. The aim is to help people develop the tools necessary to decide how to rebuild their own lives and communities. It also includes the struggle to preserve meaningful political opportunities for people to be able to influence the governance systems and decision-making structures that hold sway. And it necessitates economic self-reliance in which people can produce and share the resources necessary for their livelihoods without having to fully resort to outside profiteers.

What might solidarity-focused actions of this sort look like in Haiti? Once the rescue operations have ceased, there will be a deeper reality that sets in as what are essentially occupying forces remain behind, and as already disempowered Haitians are confronted with being further relegated as ostensible outsiders in their own land. Whatever plans are made to rebuild and restructure the edifice of Haiti, it must from the outset be led by Haitians themselves. There have been few Haitian voices present in that discussion thus far, and this is the first thing that needs to change. As solidarity activists, we should support the emergence of those voices as much as possible, as Bill Quigley suggested, by first allowing Haitians to help one another:

"Allow all Haitians in the US to work. The number one source of money for poor people in Haiti is the money sent from family and workers in the US back home. Haitians will continue to help themselves if given a chance. Haitians in the US will continue to help when the world community moves on to other problems."

Contrast this sense of Haitian self-help with the remarks of former President George W. Bush, who reinforced the "imposed dependency" approach by focusing on remote aid and a top-down infrastructure of relief led by external actors:

"The challenges down there are immense, but there's a lot of devoted people leading the relief effort, from government personnel who deployed into the disaster zone to the faith-based groups that have made Haiti a calling. The most effective way for Americans to help the people of Haiti is to contribute money. That money will go to organizations on the ground and will be - who will be able to effectively spend it. I know a lot of people want to send blankets or water - just send your cash. One of the things that the President and I will do is to make sure your money is spent wisely."

This is (at best) charity, not solidarity, at it won't get to the root of the problem. A better initial approach is suggested by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which focuses on "economic human rights" through canceling the nation's oppressive debt, promoting women's rights and supporting Haitian-based projects focused on long-term relief. In this spirit, the Pittsburgh chapter of the Thomas Merton Society has set up a Haiti Solidarity Committee that "educates and agitates for justice in Haiti, supports local Haitians, and ships medical supplies and other necessities to Haiti. We aim to create a broader awareness of Haiti and the Haitian people." For those focused on viable short-term relief options that also have long-term community-building aims, Artists for Peace and Justice are sending 100 percent of donations received directly to Father Rick Frechette, who "runs two pediatric hospitals, street schools in the slums, [and] an abandoned children's home" outside of Port-au-Prince, and is utilizing the resources "to help dig people out of the collapsed hospital and schools, to buy emergency medicine, to supply badly needed water and food, to help fly in doctors for the wounded children, and so much more."

The Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, which was formed in 2004 as an acknowledgment of the ongoing "emergency" there, works specifically to support "Haiti's grassroots movement - including labor unions, women's groups, educators and human rights activists, support committees for prisoners and agricultural cooperatives" - by funneling any aid received directly to these entities. The Batey Relief Alliance likewise partners with grassroots organizations in Haiti, stating that their "short-term objective is to relieve immediate suffering in the surrounding Port-au-Prince areas. Their long-term plan, however, is to repair basic services, deliver sustainable healthcare, and provide training and economic opportunities to women…" Another group with both short- and long-term relief efforts on tap is the nonprofit environmental organization SOIL, which has been working in Haiti to foster a "liberation ecology" that is "dedicated to protecting soil resources, empowering communities and transforming wastes into resources in Haiti. We believe that the path to sustainability is through transformation, of both disempowered people and discarded materials, turning apathy and pollution into valuable resources. SOIL promotes integrated approaches to the problems of poverty, poor public health, agricultural productivity, and environmental destruction. We attempt to nurture collective creativity through developing collaborative relationships between community organizations in Haiti and academics and activists internationally. Empowering communities, building the soil, nourishing the grassroots."

All of these are small but crucial steps for a country that has experienced unfathomable devastation. It is indeed a challenge for the well meaning among us to know how to help in an effective and worthwhile manner. By focusing on people and entities working at the grassroots level with long-term perspectives, we can assist Haitians in creating structures through which they may strive to help themselves and chart their own course of action going forward. Indeed, this is the best form of support we can offer during times of both obvious and subtle crisis alike. It is, in short, an expression of solidarity that reflects the best sense of our common humanity.

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This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thanks for the "Punk" suggestions Genius

Incubus AND Kane Hodder? What a day.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I've realized that I really do need this medium to reflect my ideas, thoughts, interactions and goals.

This is where it starts.

"Christine Dougherty claims that she lost 54 pounds on Taco Bell's new "Drive Thru Diet". A closer look reveals this "diet" is an environmental and health abomination."

"According to Farm Sanctuary, each factory facility can hold tens of thousands of animals in windowless warehouses. These facilities are located throughout the country and are responsible for more than 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide."


:::: This is what it has come to! A Drive Thru Diet, really? Really?