The calm at the center of a pearl

July 26, 2007

Slurk and peer, or “take control of your identity”?

Filed under: Journaling — kyraninse @ 12:50 am

WordPress now has a neat little add-on for Facebook that allows your blog to be shown and referenced on your Facebook account.

Frankly, whilst I say, “Kudos for making such a spiffy widget!”, the other side of me is going, “meh”.

This isn’t just because I don’t usually use Facebook. I could go in about how Facebook just doesn’t manage to tickle my fancy, but that would be another whole lengthy blog post.

The main problem I have is: I’m pretty sure I don’t want this blog associated with the real-life me. Aside from the usual suspects, such as boss, co-workers, ex-classmates, and etc — there are some blog-posts that I don’t want anyone that knows me to read, period.

One main issue is regarding the workplace. More than one blogger has been fired because of what they said on their blogs, the most notorious possibly being Michael Hanscom. (my guess being that was mostly because he was fired by Microsoft) Considering that a good deal of us spend at least 40 hours at the workplace, that’s a big part of your life you’re excising if you’re completely discreet. And face it, who wants to be completely discreet? That’s like, totally boring, dude.

Another issue is, since my blog is very much a cheese sandwich blog, I do like to do the “Dear diary” schtick every once in a while. As such, there’s always the possibility that I could be ranting about anything, from how my menses haven’t visited in 3 months to how much I hate my grandfather to why-the-fuck can’t friend A keep her blooming mouth shut once in a while?! I once made the immensely naive (and stupid) mistake of talking about personal issues regarding high school and so such, and immediately got flamed out of the water by a good number of “anons” for being an ingrate and a bitch and so on and so forth. Sometimes people can’t see past the (temporary) hurt and anger in a post and the resulting knee-jerk reactions would probably be able to power a couple households if harnessed. One would hope that you could talk to the person in question eventually, but it’s often best to let it simmer a bit first.

Anil Dash says that:

“I own my name. I am the first, and definitive, source of information on me.

One of the biggest benefits of that reality is that I now have control. The information I choose to reveal on my site sets the biggest boundaries for my privacy on the web. Granted, I’ll never have total control. But look at most people, especially novice Internet users, who are concerned with privacy. They’re fighting a losing battle, trying to prevent their personal information from being available on the web at all. If you recognize that it’s going to happen, your best bet is to choose how, when, and where it shows up.

That’s the future. Own your name. Buy the domain name, get yourself linked to, and put up a page. Make it a blank page, if you want. Fill it with disinformation or gibberish. Plug in other random people’s names into Googlism and paste their realities into your own. Or, just reveal the parts of your life that you feel represent you most effectively on the web. Publish things that advance your career or your love life or that document your travels around the world. But if you care about your privacy, and you care about your identity, take the steps to control it now.

In a few years, it won’t be as critical. There will be a reasonably trustworthy system of identity and authorship verification. Finding a person’s words and thoughts across different media and time periods will be relatively easy. Getting a “true” picture of that person might be possible, even simple. But that’s years away. For now, recognize that you’re a celebrity, treat your likeness and personal information with that gravity, and choose which statements and facts are going to represent your presence in the global media universe. Any adult in an industrialized society who hasn’t taken these steps is forfeiting opportunity and security, out of either laziness or ignorance. Maintaining privacy in the face of corporations and governments that wish to violate it requires a bit of identity judo, neutralizing their desire for everything by freely giving away just a little bit.”

(I decided to copy and paste in case of distorting through paraphrasing)**

I’m not sure I entirely agree with him, however. For the average person who is posting a “dear diary” blog, it is entirely possible that with careful planning (such as using Tor and being extremely discreet), that person will never have any problems. What really comes back to haunt, I think, is when the author wants, on some sub-conscious level for that person to read what’s written about him. Granted, there might be the juicy little detail let slip that might have convinced the person in question that yes indeedy, that post IS about you — but masking your IP and not posting pictures or crucial details should be enough for the average person. Of course, if you go gold and have a couple thousand hits per day, things might become slightly more complicated.

If you have a blog that is more ‘professional’ in outlook in which you write only about politics and other such that is highly controversial — then you might need to “claim your identity” so that what you say, and only what you say, can be attributed to you. In those circumstances you might have a problem with or without being accurately identified as having said something.

The rest of us mundanes can rest easy, more or less.

Peter Wells, happily (or unhappily) enough, was fairly accurate in saying that (most of) the rest of the world really doesn’t care.

** Apologies if this infringes upon copyright and I will edit and paraphrase if so required.

July 25, 2007

Grouchy@work

Filed under: Journaling — kyraninse @ 6:48 pm

Just when I hit my stride, *boom*, something happens to throw me off again.

So, we have two 15 minute breaks each day, assuming we’re working the full 8 hours a day. 15 minutes in the morning, and 15 minutes in the afternoon. (There is a reason I stated something that is so obvious.)

Now, when I was told this, I assumed that it would be alright to stack the two breaks and take off from work 30 minutes before closing time.

I was wrong.

Then, I assumed that I could tack it onto my lunch break so instead of a measly hour for lunch, I get 75 minutes.

Wrong again. (Although, I did get this information 2nd hand.)

Then, I assumed that it would be alright to leave 15 minutes early from work.

Once again, I’m wrong. (However, I’m still going to do that, since no one has caught me and told me I can’t yet. Besides, there’s really nothing left to do at the end of the day and it isn’t as if I were shirking. )

*sigh* It is horrible, it is. According to the boss, our “breaks” are “a break from work”, and not …

Not what, you ask.

Well, I have to say, I don’t know. I wasn’t there for the enlightenment, that was simply a relay done by a co-worker.

My supervisor says that she doesn’t understand it either, that if the rules were made by her, she’d say that time is time and therefore time can be stacked, stored, or whatever.

I really wish there was someone I could trust in a “higher-up” position who I could ask about this. It doesn’t make any sense for me, and as such, I’d like to know the why and wherefore. I can sort of see the “no leaving before closing time in case someone needs to find you and can’t”, but the “you’re not allowed to tack your breaks onto your lunch hour” just plain doesn’t.

Now I’m happy that I made a chocolate cake this morning. It is at times like this when I say to hell with dietary mores because dammit, I need chocolate cake for breakfast in order to drag myself to work.

July 23, 2007

Chore Wars — may the best sword prevail!

Filed under: Interesting/useful sites — kyraninse @ 5:30 pm

So, it’s come to my attention that my finances are in sad shape and so is the state of the living quarters. *dodges smack from conscience*

The problem is, with working 40 hours a week, I just can’t find it in me to do anything other than go to work. (Another reason to quit job while school is in session…) And it’s so easy to justify picking up the odd muffin or slice of cake because “I’ve worked so hard, I bloody well deserve this”.

Enter Chore Wars! *cues fanfare*

The basic idea is you set up a character, join or create a party, and then make up ‘adventures’ that are based around chores. You can assign how many “experience points” you can get for completing the adventure and also how much gold and loot you have a chance of gaining.

The funny thing was, I was just thinking the other day that I should really start a points system for myself so I can decide when I can buy a new book or somesuch.

I’ll be playing around with the site and I’ll probably post about how it’s been working for me later.

July 18, 2007

TCK — strange even amongst the strange

Filed under: Journaling — kyraninse @ 1:48 am

Just got back from visiting the Facebook group for Third Culture Kids and reading the discussion thread for how you know you’re a TCK.

On some level, there’s the “OMG! People who understand! *glomp*!” On the other hand, there’s the “Wow, even amongst them, I feel so out of place.”

For me, I know I’m a TCK because:

  • Sometimes I just have to use certain words from another language in the middle of another just because sometimes there’s no equivalent.
  • I’m not ambivalent about wanting to become an author — I’m torn about which language to write in.
  • I am always excited about seeing Chinese people in the US and seeing non-Chinese people in China.
  • I almost always mentally calculate how much something costs in three currencies: USD, RMB and NT.
  • I’m simultaneously envious and uncomprehending of people who know what it’s like to be ‘patriotic’.
  • One God? You mean Allah, the Jade emperor, Yaweh — etc etc aren’t the same thing?
  • The idea of being picky about food is completely foreign. Unless it’s bugs, that’s another can of worms entirely.
  • I’ve moved so often that I think it’s a waste of time to memorize phone numbers.
  • Permanent address? Huh? I’m not even registered on the books as a permanent resident by any of the three countries I visit most often.
  • I find it hard to believe that I can really truly be able to reach my friends at a “permanent address”.
  • My speech pattern is more like a chunky minestrone than a smooth broccoli cheddar soup.
  • I no longer bother answering the ” where are you from?” fully but just say “China” because it’s easiest with my physical characteristics.
  • When my friends talk about settling down in cities near each other, I have major problems because there’s at least three cities all in separate countries that are on the table as possibilities.

…..

There are some other things that are just because I’m odd. But reading through the posts, something springs vividly to life. It seems I’m in the minority, if not the only one, by being the one who really doesn’t enjoy moving around and making new friends.

I cling to things: I like sleeping in my own bed with my blanket ( which is the same one I’ve had since I was knee high to a cricket ), I can’t sleep my first night anywhere other than home although I fall asleep the moment I’m on the plane, I still hate car trips, I despise flying and being in airports, and I really really want a house of my own. I still want to travel and visit different countries, but it would be nice to have a place of my own where I can return to.

I’m also a loner. I find it hard to make friends because I’m painfully shy and actively keeping up with people is a significant drain because I’m never quite sure how to act, what to say, and there are abysmally few things that I have in common with the average person. I can still talk the ears off some random stranger if they were to initiate a conversation, but I just don’t see the point anymore because I say ‘farewell’ so often.

I’m also “meh” about the whole labeling things that international kids often do. I’m me and you’re you and maybe we wouldn’t be who we are if we didn’t grow up the way we did but there’s really no need to make an issue out of it.

That said, I like being a TCK, I wouldn’t change it for anything else, but —damn, it’s lonely sometimes.

July 16, 2007

Live and let live — or buy a shotgun and mace?

Filed under: Journaling — kyraninse @ 5:27 pm

I just got a nice little card in my mailbox today telling me that a sexual offender has moved into the neighborhood.

*takes a deep breath*

I don’t know what to make of it. I can’t decide if it’s a good thing that we’re getting these little cards that tell us the offender’s name, address, identifying characteristics, age…blah blah blah.

I imagine that the man is unlikely to be able to get laid anytime soon, if at all. I wonder if that might spark another offense? Also, I don’t know about how that affects his chances of making new friends and an un-connected man is a sad man is a potentially angry man is a dangerous man.

Besides, he’s black. Which means that he’s potentially been wronged because there’s evidence to support the theory that black men are more likely to be targeted as suspects in a crime and more likely to be convicted on charges that would not “stick” on a white man. Flip side is that if he’s black, then it’s also possible that he’s angry from discrimination and he did do something. *incoming headache*

On the other hand, being female, I think it’s a great idea. Nothing like being fore-warned.  He only lives a couple of blocks, if that, from my apartment, so I’m going to have to go see how far I am from him. I’m currently very happy that I don’t intend on keeping the apartment past when school starts. If there was ever any doubt — the thought has perished quite thoroughly.

So, bake up a pan of brownies and believe in the power of friendship and conscience — or should I seriously go out and buy some self-defense tools?

July 13, 2007

Veganism, vegetarianism, or hedonism?

Filed under: Food — kyraninse @ 2:16 am

I just read a dialogue between Isa Chandra author of Vegan with a vengeance, and Charles Eisentein, author of The yoga of eating.

I have to say, I rather feel sorry for the poor chap. It was a rather one-sided debate, in my opinion, since there really is no way to defend eating meat.

Perhaps, if you lived out in the country off the grid and had your own farm where you kept your own livestock and planted your own vegetables and never ate anything that you didn’t make yourself or traded for with your farmer friends down the road, whom you visited by horse — then that would probably be a greener option than living in the city, driving a car, eating vegan food that isn’t remotely near locally produced and climbing the corporate ladder for a company that has no ethics — but it wouldn’t be more ethical.

If you have the ability to sustain yourself with as little killing as possible, then there is no alternative that is more ethical. Unless, of course, you’re kept captive by a carnivorous tribe that has a religion based around plant worship and they feed you nothing but barbeque.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I realize that I’m doing something wrong when I choose to eat meat, take long hot showers, turn on the AC when I’m not in imminent danger of spontaneous combustion, don’t tithe 10% or more of my income, use incandescent instead of fluorescent, shop at Walmart instead of the local mom and pop’s, order ten zillion books from Amazon, visit China every summer and winter break …

However, I also said, half-seriously, that if I ever have a kid, then I’d go vegan. *grins* The logic being that the two off-set each other to some extent. The energy, money, free-time, food, gas, etc etc that I save by not having a child will allow me to eat meat within reason without (too much ) guilt.

Granted, I’m not sure the calculation absolutely works out, and there’s certainly no one that’s going to hold me to this Faustian bargain. As it is, I think I’m just going to keep trying to find more vegetarian/vegan menu options to put into my regular food roulette.

July 9, 2007

Nonstop action? NOT exactly a ringing endorsement…

Filed under: Rampages — kyraninse @ 6:00 pm

*sigh*

Nonstop action — I suppose that it’s supposed to be a good thing, for most people.  I just want some plot advancement that doesn’t involve, oh say, dodging bullets, amazing acrobatics, life-threatening freaks of nature… yada yada yada.

Take the Weather Warden series, for example. Joanne seems to be constantly on the run, fixing something, destroying something, never a moment when she is simply living. Something always has to come up, there can’t ever be less than ten zillion balls in the air, God forbid that she ever have a moment’s peace, physically, mentally, or otherwise.

Then, the Rogue Angel series by Alex Archer. It is very well done, with very interesting premises — but I found myself tossing it down not even halfway through the first chapter. I liked the first book, it was fabulous. I hoped that things would slow down, overall plot lines would come out , she’d have some time to discover what exactly made her world tick…but no. I’ve only read the first few books, but it seems as though not only can she not stay out of danger, she can’t seem to form any sort of relationship with anyone either. True, she gains allies in almost every book, but then they all leave in the end too.

*sigh* It disturbs me when authors write like that. It’s almost as though they can’t keep the story moving without adrenaline. I want plot, excitement, drama, all that. But I don’t appreciate it when authors act like a slave-driver, keeping you moving by sheer fear alone.

I’ll keep reading these authors, but I don’t think I’ll be buying their books. There are authors I can read and re-read, but I just can’t bring myself to re-read books that are really nothing but flash and sparkle. Once the adrenaline settles, it’s often painfully obvious that the plot really hasn’t advanced much at all.

July 6, 2007

Cheese sandwich blog? Bring it on!

Filed under: Rampages — kyraninse @ 1:20 am

I just read an article by Peter Wells about food blogs.

I’ve heard arguments for and against what he said, but I’m going to try and clean up my thoughts about it. I found the article condescending and irritating, because on some level, it seems like Peter Wells just doesn’t “get” it.

True, if one posts something on the intarwebz, then that person should then be prepared for criticism, as per honkman. Also true that being a non-professional does not exclude you from criticism. We are human, we criticize, I suspect that’s how our civilization has progressed so far.

However, I have a couple of points.

  1. I do not believe that most food bloggers started out with the idea of “entertaining” their audience. From posts I’ve read and my own feelings, it is enough that there is something or someone to bear witness to what I’ve done, what I’ve cared enough to post on the Internet, even if it doesn’t “acknowledge, let alone describe, life outside the author’s dorm room”. It doesn’t seem as if food bloggers started blogging in an attempt to break into the publishing world. I could quibble further that the quote is insulting in that it assumes food bloggers to be green as grass, but that’s beside the point.
  2. In Chinese there is a saying, 青菜萝卜,各有所好。(No matter it be leafy greens or radish, there will always be someone who likes it) I happen to enjoy reading about other people’s lives, what they’re feeling/thinking when they’re thinking about food, the weather, their aches and pains — and reading about people being puzzled over why their cookies turned out cakey is almost always illuminating for me. Granted, I do read the backs of cereal boxes and I read ALL the reviews on Amazon for everything — but I’m sure I’m not the only mutant out there.
  3. I don’t agree that there should be consequences in the way that Peter Wells thinks there should be. Why should there be something at stake? Why must needs one push the envelope, always? Like “a terrier who’s late for an appointment with a ham bone” indeed. If one must needs have focused, point on writing, then you can fair well go out and subscribe to the many food magazines out there. Or, you could offer someone a book deal and I’m sure they’d be more than happy to comply with your standards 1. Also, regarding the “that’s a valuable service”; whoever said they were out to be at your service? eh? Not to seem petulant, but to whinge on about someone else’s writing when they’re writing pro bono for their amusement is just bad form in my book.
  4. Lastly, I would get terribly bored with listening to someone go on and on and on about pizza every single day. There’s a reason why I picked up Extreme Cuisine and then put it back down again, unable to finish it. Also, even if two people chose to blog about the exact same pizzaria, being two people, it’s unlikely that they will have the exact same thing to offer each time. I was somewhat offended when people started whinging about how Pim over at Chez Pim should go back to blogging about food when she was on her tirade against Voncigars,who is apparently a plagiarizing thief. It’s not all about you and your enjoyment, people! If she wants to devote 10 pages of her blog to giving him his just desserts, then it’s her choice, and since you’re not paying her to entertain you, you should farking well pipe down.

In conclusion, I’d like to say: “Bloody fine job y’all have been doing so far, congrats on it and you don’t have to listen to that Peter Wells fellow!”

1. I had a post about Chocolate and Zucchini’s new cookbook.

July 5, 2007

Gah to being tech-savvy

Filed under: Journaling — kyraninse @ 1:41 pm

Ah, well, *droops*.

Gah to being tech-savvy enough that you can sometimes make things spiffier and more often than not mess up your blog. I found the “widgets” page yesterday and had fun putting up my Bookins widget, which resulted in my losing my very nice “login” section, and now I have no idea where it is in the forest of widget options. One could, I suppose, add each one, one at a time, and see what happens, but I don’t feel up to it.

So, GAH, I say.

Currently feeling sleepy and ache-y and out of sorts. If I had a choice, I’d go home and make myself some nice chicken and mushroom soup, but as it is, it’s only 9:33 am and there’s still another 7.5 hours until work lets out.

I should really get back to writing, but I just can’t seem to summon up the drive for it. It used to be much easier to get into a writing groove when I had to do it everyday and there were people actively waiting to see what would happen in the next installment. However, that was 3 years ago at this point and sadly enough, my fiction writing is no longer in such demand. The writing site that I used to post to now has a system in place where the more you post in quick succession, the higher your ranking goes, which just rankles.

Eh.

Not to mention that site was in Chinese, heh.
At any rate, the yellow split pea soup simmered at the lowest heat setting on the stove overnight and I’ll be having it for lunch today. I thought it tasted a tad bland, which might or might not have been a case of early morning fuzzy-mouth, and rashly tossed in a tin of chicken stock and tomato paste. We’ll see how that goes.

Side-note, I’ll have to keep in mind that un-sweetened dried cherries soaked in plum wine are perfectly divine in chocolate cake. Yum.

P.S: Huzzah! Found it under “Meta”. Yay!

P.P.S: Much better, I think with 12oz of tomato paste and one tin of chicken stock. Will therefore try celery and etc. next time.

Yellow split-pea soup

Filed under: Food — kyraninse @ 3:58 am

What I adore most about restaurants, asides from the lovely fact that I can gorge and not have to do dishes afterwards, is that I can try foods that I usually wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, especially if people are willing to share.

Which brings me to the notion that one should never eat out with people who don’t like to share, but that’s another post.

At any rate, I first tried yellow split pea soup when I was vacationing in Montreal with my friends. Mark had found a most charming restaurant, La Raclette, and they had a table d’hôte which was spectacular. The thing was, they had an option for either tomato juice or the soup du jour; as I do not like tomato juice in the slightest, I figured that even if they had split-pea soup, the worst case scenario would involve pinching my nose and gulping it down whereas with tomato juice I would definitely have to gulp it down. I was very pleasantly surprised when I not only liked it, but enjoyed it so much that I took Karl’s bowl and savoured every last drop of that as well. So, once I got home, nothing would do but I had to try to make some of my own. This doesn’t really come that close, but it’s not too far either. The original had a slight smoky graininess to it that I have yet to be able to duplicate, but hopefully, that will come in time.

Yellow split pea soup that will do, for now

4 Tbsp bacon grease (or butter)
1 onion
1 head garlic ( less if you prefer, but I do suscribe to the idea that you can really never have too much cooked garlic, raw is another matter entirely)
4 cups yellow split-peas
10 cups water, more or less
Tomato paste, to taste

Dice the onion and sauté it with the garlic, which can either be coarsely chopped or simply smushed with the side of the knife. After the onion has browned slightly, toss in the peas and the 6 cups water. Leave alone for about an hour or so on a low heat setting. An hour should be about enough if you want to put it through the blender, but it needs about 3 to 4 hours at least if you want it to be fall-apart mushy. I can’t decide yet if it needs the tomato paste or not, I think it’s almost equally good either way, but La Raclette did have a hint of it, so. *shrug*

Variations include making this with stock, preferably beef stock, I’d imagine, adding celery, and tossing in chunks of ham. I’ll try those some other time and see what happens.

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