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Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
10:46 pm - Undecided
I've never been the biggest fan of children. Even as a child, I never cared to play with baby dolls and pretend to change diapers. But I was oddly fascinated with the dolls that did actually poop. I never wanted to hold my baby cousins. I did do some babysitting in high school, but these were older kids, ages 8 - 10, so they could somewhat entertain themselves. I was just there to prevent fights, prepare meals, and make sure homework was done.

Oddly, I always knew I wanted to get married. For some reason it was ingrained into this Midwest girl. But I always thought that eventually kids would come along, it's just what Midwest girls do, right? I never had much in the way of fantasies about my ideal wedding day, let alone the number of kids I would have and what their names would be. If you had asked me a few years ago whether or not I wanted children, I would have told you hell no. Just certain factors weren't in play yet. It's not like I need to have certain milestones at a certain age, but I knew that if I were to ever have kids, I wanted a stable relationship, steady employment, a flexible employer, and a house. I have those now, but why am I so undecided?

For some reason I thought that when I became 30, that darn biological clock would go off and I would be baby crazy. I'm 32 now and I'm still ambivalent. My ovaries don't want to explode every time I see a baby. I'm just kind of 'meh' about the whole idea. I still have a few years left before my reproductive capabilities go away (without having major medical intervention). My desire to have children varies from day to day. Some days I'm 60% for kids, other days I'm 75% against having kids. I know everyone says that when the kid is your own, it's "different". I do believe that, but should I have a child if I'm this wishy-washy? If I'm going to make a baby (assuming I can), shouldn't I be in love with the idea first?

One of my major reservations against having kids is just the amount of work it takes, especially to do it right. Some nights after work, I barely have the energy to feed my cats. My dinner may consist of crackers, hummus, and a glass of red wine. I couldn't imagine coming home from work and have this needy thing to attend to or else I'll be put in jail. I shudder at the thought. At least with cats, they're fairly independent. And honestly, if I did have kids, my goal would be to make them independent ASAP. Not like I would kick them out at age 18, but once they become tall enough to reach the buttons on the washer / dryer, they're doing their own laundry. Same thing goes for food prep. I'm not about being a child's slave. If my kid ended up being a picky eater and wouldn't eat my healthy, home-cooked dinners (i.e. not crackers and hummus) which I do make from time to time, I'd make them at least try it. None of this make a separate meal crap for each kid. And if said kid didn't like my food they could go ahead and make themselves a bowl of cereal or PB & J sandwich and suck it. Yes, I would tell my kid to suck it. I was that picky bastard kid who hated veggies. But because my parents always made me try everything, whether I wanted to or not, I have become open to new foods. I actually eat weirder shit than my parents now - think organ meat, goat, weird veggies, and raw / pickled things.

Another reservation is I HATE modern parenting trends. My kid would be a "special snowflake" just like everyone else. But none of this "kids will be kids" horse shit. I will NOT be child's friend ever. I would be their parent and said child will have consequences and boundaries. I'd be a "mean mother" (http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2013/10/04/the_meanest_mother_in_the_world_.html) Also, screw having my kids involved in 584947582 activities at once in hopes of their dumb ass getting into Harvard. My kid would only do activities they wanted to do, and only one per month. I'm not going to be that parent that's constantly driving their kids around, living in a SUV / mini-van. If my kid truly wanted to be a school bus driver vs. a scientist, so be it. But of course I'd advise them on consequences of decisions. No helicopter parenting shit. In fact, because of this, I think I would be a great parent, the type of parent I wish there was more of. And I know, being a parent isn't easy. In fact, it's a thankless job. But I'd like to think I would be a no-nonsense type parent. My mom surely was, and I think I turned out the better for it. Even though, I didn't quite get the "nurturing" vibe from her. I hated her for it, especially during my teen years, but now I'm so thankful that I'm not such a clueless Millennial. This blog (http://kidobsessedamerica.com/) probably describes everything I find wrong with modern parenting. I get that babies and toddlers may not have the most control. But when I see 8 or 10 year olds, throwing fits at the grocery store, or can't sit still in a restaurant, that's when I start to question the skills of the parents. I try not to be judgmental about that shit, because parenting isn't easy, but I just loathe spoiled brats.

Another reservation is health consequences. If you don't know, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder called Graves' Disease when I was 14. This disease impacts your thyroid, which pretty much impacts every organ of your body. I had my thyroid destroyed with radioactive iodine when I was 15 and have been on supplement thyroid hormone ever since. According to my endocrinologist, I shouldn't have any pregnancy complications, let alone problems trying to become pregnant. But various Graves' Disease message boards tell a different story - everything from women who have suffered multiple miscarriages to almost deadly pregnancy complications - to it taking several years to become pregnant. It's scary. And honestly, I don't know if I'd be tough enough to persevere through miscarriages. It makes me worry that I may not have much time left to safely have kids.

I have read several books on this matter (Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness, Two Is Enough: A Couple's Guide to Living Childless by Choice, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids). I was hoping these books would help solidify a decision on whether or not I wanted kids. But all they really did was just put words to my reasons why I'm hesitant on having kids. The husband and I talk about this topic every few weeks. I think that we put more thought into such a decision compared to some parents. Maybe what it will take for me to have kids is to have an "accident" and find myself pregnant.

Honestly, I do think I would be OK with never having kids. There are plenty of homeless cats in this world that need love. I have quite a few older friends that are 'childless by choice' and honestly, I don't see their lives lacking in love or anything like. In fact, they seem to have rather fulfilling lives. They take amazing vacations, go to fantastic parties, restaurants, concerts, etc. They have successful careers and supplement family with friends. It doesn't seem like such a bad lifestyle. It's different and may not be the status quo, but I don't see anything wrong with never wanting to reproduce, especially since there is medical technology of all sorts to prevent pregnancy. And I don't think it's selfish either, because honestly I don't see them enjoying parenthood. Why subject a kid to someone who may loathe them?

What if I don't have that maternal instinct? I somewhat feel it for my cats, but not towards babies or kids. Because I don't long to touch or hold babies, doesn't that make me a defective female? That's how I often feel. I don't even have that pretty, bubbly girl handwriting. In fact, my handwriting (more like printing since my cursive is even worse), looks like a 5 year old boy's handwriting. I've always felt like a defective female since I've never had the longing for typically girly things. But oddly, I do enjoy being crafty and cooking, but I think that's more due to my creative side. I'd be a hard ass parent, and probably for the better. But I'm afraid, I'd totally be lacking in the nurturing area. And my worse fear, is that I would totally hate my child - none of that love at first sight shit. What if I never *loved* my child? I'd make sure their physical needs are met. But what about their emotional needs? I see myself totally sucking in that area.

But on the other hand, what if I end up regretting NOT having kids? What if when I turn 50 and decide I just totally fucked myself over by missing out on such a life changing experience? Could I live with that regret? Perhaps. I don't think it would be crippling, but I may need some therapy and lots of wine. I hate missing out on experiences. I like experiencing new things. It's why I want to travel the world, once I get my 3 weeks of vacation every year. I want to eat weird foods. Put myself in weird situations. I want to know what it's like to grow a human inside of me. What it's like to breast feed. But unlike a temporary trip to a foreign country, having a kid is lifelong commitment.

I ask myself everyday, how would today be different if I had kids? I think about it. Some days I'm more OK with it. And other days, I just want to take Plan B for the hell of it, since the idea of being a parent scared me so much. Who knows if I'll ever make up my mind, before it is too late. Or if I'll find myself pregnant or that biological clock will finally go off, and I'll be baby crazy. But I do know, that if I actively go into making a baby, I want it be something I'm completely OK with, in fact, in love with the idea, no regrets, consequences be damned. Will I ever get to that stage? I honestly don't know. And I don't think it makes me a selfish person, or whatever else people tell you when you say you don't want kids. And I don't hate kids. I'm not their biggest fan. But I do enjoying seeing my friend's Facebook posts about their kids.

current mood: contemplative

(2 drunk amandas | pbr me asap)

Sunday, February 10th, 2013
4:53 pm - Fiscal Cliff
I really wish I hadn't become a bit of a political junkie. The political climate of this country has just become too unreal over the past few years and I can't turn away. Part of it, is because I'm afraid of what rights, especially regarding my reproductive freedoms, will be taken away. I want to unsubscribe from various political feeds on Facebook and stop watching The Daily Show, and live in la-la land, but I just can't.

Anyways, regarding this whole fiscal cliff issue, I read something recently that really "hit the nail on the head" in regards to economics of the US of A. It was in the Chemical & Engineering News magazine I get for being an American Chemical Society member, of all things. Basically, as a country, despite our economic woes, we are still rather wealthy but CHEAP. Yes, we're a nation of tightwads. Which honestly, I don't think is such a bad thing. I'm all for frugality. But we're frugal in all of the wrong ways.

The way I see it, we want a lot of shit. A beefed up military. Safety nets for the poor and elderly. Healthcare. Bridges. Roads. Education. Regulatory bodies. You name it, we want it. But all of these things cost money to do. This money has to come from taxes. It's basic Economics 101. We want all of this stuff, but no one really wants to pay for it via increased taxes. So where is the money supposed to come from?

Basically, we all just need to suck it up. We need to cut some shit out as well as increase taxes. Stuff no one really wants to do. It seems like every program is critical to someone, whether that be the EPA to Sesame Street. What can we really cut? I'm sure there's some sort of excess somewhere. And part of that is our military and all of these wars we've been fighting. But we need to cut out the bullshit and the stuff we really don't need, whether we like it or not.

Secondly, taxes have to be raised and loopholes closed, for everyone, not just the rich, the middle class and the poor need to contribute a bit too. It will suck. We all like our money. But guess what, we'll learn to adapt. Humans have a really good way of doing that. As Americans, I've noticed that too many us treat money just like water, it runs right through our hands as soon as we get it. I've known too many people, who make decent salaries, who live paycheck to paycheck. Perhaps we all need to learn to live with a little bit less, and I'm sure we will do just fine.

If we want to reduce our deficit, that's what he have to do. But unfortunately the fuckwads (Republicans AND Democrats) who are making these decisions for us, don't seem willing to do anything. Can't we just fire them all and start over?

current mood: bitchy

(1 drunk amanda | pbr me asap)

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013
4:54 pm - Guns
Even though I'm somewhat pleased that Obama won the past election, I can't help but still feel a bit ranty. Things are still crazy in the USA and I've never seen this country so divided. Perhaps we'll be the next great "empire" to fall, if things don't start changing. It seems that everyone, Republican, Democrat, Other are all on edge.

So, one topic that I've been wanting to rant about is guns. And it's all more relevant now, after the tragedy in Connecticut.

To be honest, I'm not a fan of guns. I don't own one, nor do I think I would ever own one. But do I want ALL guns banned? Not really, as I do see a legitimate need for them in some circumstances, such as people who live in rough neighborhoods or the boonies, people who need to shoot coyotes and such who attack their livestock, and those that hunt game, either to keep various animal populations under control or to feed their families.

But is there really a need for your average American to own a semi-automatic weapon or ammo clips that contain 30+ rounds? I don't think so. That type of weapon is designed specifically for killing. I would love to see a ban on such things. And yes, I know that banning such things won't 100% prevent tragedies. In reality, if someone really wants to get a gun, they will find a way. Look at where our "War on Drugs" has gotten us. Drugs are forbidden and illegal, but many people use them. But if limiting access to automatic weapons and ammo, would save a few lives, then I'm all for it.

Probably, one of my biggest peeves is gun owners. Please fucking secure your guns. This is how so many guns get into the hands of bad people. Lock your guns up or wear them on your person. I know several gun owners. To my knowledge, none of them keep their guns in a secure safe, for obvious reasons. They have their guns for protection, therefore the gun is in an easily accessible place, such as a night stand, car glove compartment, or on a wall display. I would rather more people get permits to carry vs. leave their guns unsecured.

Let me tell you a true story. ~2 years ago, there were a string of break-in's in my 'hood. They were traced back to a group of juveniles, who were truant, and would break into houses during the day, because that's when no one is home. The items they were looking for: gold, flat screen TV's, and guns. Because they can be readily sold. Anyways, these juveniles were staking out a lady's house. She left to run an errand. Unexpectedly, she came back and the look-out's ran away out of fear. Well, she had some guns just lying around the house. The juveniles took these guns and ran off. A neighbor saw this and ran off after the juveniles. The juveniles took the guns (which were loaded) and started to shoot back at the neighbor. So basically, the guns that were there for protection, were now being used against the owner. It's some pretty damn scary shit for a suburban neighborhood. Thankfully, these juveniles were later caught. Apparently, as they were shooting at the neighbor, they somehow shot one of their crew in the ass. When they went to the hospital to get the bullet wound taken care of, the doctors, as required by law, have to report such wounds. Sadly, most of these kids were under 18, so they just got put in a juvenile detention center for a few days, before they were released.

I'm pretty sure there are statistics out there showing that households with guns, there's a higher probability that one of the family members will die from a gun related death, whether the couple is in an argument, or a kid is playing with a gun and shoots himself or a friend. Please please please secure your guns. Especially if you have kids or crazy people living with you, like this unfortunate incident in CT. If you knew your kid is mentally disturbed why the fuck do you have guns laying around that are readily accessible?

I would love for guns to be more difficult to get. Perhaps we should regulate gun ownership just like we do with cars (which are also deadly weapons if you think about it). Have mandatory gun safety training and such. Again, I know that this won't 100% stop gun related deaths, but if it saves a few lives, then it's worth it.

Also, fuck the NRA. Why do they honestly think that having more "good" people with guns would have prevented such tragedies as in Sandy Hook or Aurora? Let's be honest. As long as you have decent aim and a semi-automatic weapon with a large clip of ammo, it only takes a few seconds to kill a large amount of people. That's probably not enough time for a "good guy" with a gun to do anything about the situation, if they're not already dead or scared shitless. And giving teachers guns or having armed guards at every school probably won't help. I just find it ironic, that the same group of people who are advocating for such crazy measures are the same ones that want less government interfering with people's lives. Hmm....

At my high school, back when gang violence was every parent's worry in the 90s, we had hall security guards. They weren't armed but they were there to prevent any fights. These security guards were either old people, I'm talking about people in their 70s, or people who weren't in the best health. All they really did was catch people who may be walking in the hallways when they were supposed to be in class, or to tell us to stop running. If there was a fight, these guards were pretty much physically powerless to stop it. And besides, wasn't there an armed guard at Columbine?

Another issue that needs to be discussed is mental illness. I'm pretty sure that good portion of Americans have some sort of mental issue, whether it's depression, ADHD, autism, anxiety, etc. We're all pretty fucked up. Who knows why were are all so crazy? Perhaps it's our genetics, lifestyle, or the food we eat. Who knows. But depending on the extent of the illness, it can be a lot to deal with. And in a country, where access to medication and talk therapy, may be limited, because of cost or lack of insurance, that's a big problem. I've had my own bouts with depression in the past. Thankfully I had insurance that helped pay for my anti-depressant medication and regular talk therapy. But even then it was a cost and took time to schedule the therapy. Sadly, many Americans don't have this luxury. My depression seems fairly easy to regulate compared to people with more severe mental disorders.

Honestly, I don't know how a family, with 2 working parents (or just a single parent), can operate when a child needs 24-7 care for an illness, mental, physical, or emotional. What do you do? If you're wealthy enough, the family could possibly afford a nurse to come in or pay to send their kid of to a mental hospital. Or perhaps, one parent makes enough money, that one parent can stay at home full-time to care for their sick child. But sadly, this isn't the case for many families, who are barely making ends meet. As I've mentioned previously, perhaps a move to socialized healthcare would be good. That way children can get the care they need, without bankrupting their parent(s). Bring back the state-funded mental hospitals. And have them operated properly, where the patients are taken care of and not abused. Think of all of the jobs that would create.

current mood: restless

(1 drunk amanda | pbr me asap)

Friday, November 2nd, 2012
3:16 pm - RIP My Sweet Onyx Kitty, November 2004 - November 1, 2012
So, I has a sad. I had to put my dear Onyx to sleep yesterday. She was a very sweet kitty who was greatly loved. She had a wonderful life, that was cut far too short.

I may not have mentioned my kitties too frequently on here. But I had adopted 2 kittens in November 2004. They are sisters and both are all black and both have a tiny white spot on their bellies. Their names are Lily and Onyx.

When I found them, I was still living with ex-douchebag in Florida. At that time I was contemplating adopting an orange tabby cat that was hanging around where I worked. During my night shift, I'd go out and play with the cat. Apparently it's common practice for assholes to dump off unwanted animals at industrial parks. Anyways, on my week off from work, I meandered over to the community mailboxes at the apartment complex to check the mail. I was tossing some junk mail into the garbage, when I saw a small streak of black run by and then another. It was 2 black kittens that someone had abandoned. Behind the apartment complex, was a small industrial park. I don't think that these kittens had been out on their own for too long, as they weren't too scared of me. I was able to snatch up the more outgoing of the two, who I suspect was Lily. But Onyx was a bit more shy, and had walked through the chain link fence, but still close enough to see what was happening to her sister. I pulled out a long piece of grass and was able to use that as toy to get Onyx to come out from behind the fence, so I could grab her. It was love at first sight. Here's a crappy photo of me and my 2 tiny fur babies:



Growing up, I had always been a dog person. I liked all things furry and cute, but preferred dogs over cats. But that changed when my parents adopted the cutest and most playful tuxedo cat in 2000. Ever since then, I've been a cat person.

Anyways, the ex and our roommate let me keep the kittens. Their original names were Leela (now Lily) and Leia (now Onyx). The ex had come up with them. Not that they're bad cat names, but when we broke up and I took full custody of the cats, I wanted new names. I adored my little kittens though. They made coming home after a 12 hour work shift and 1 hour commute, so wonderful with their cuddles and love. When they were smaller, they would both cuddle up on my chest and just purr.

In order to tell Lily and Onyx apart easily, I put different colored collars on them. But as they started to mature, so did their individual personalities. Lily was definitely the dominant and more outgoing one. While Onyx, was a bit more timid and just oh so sweet. She was even sweet to her sister Lily, who was a bit of a bully. They were my constant companions and helped get me through some tough times with their love and cuddles. Eventually, I no longer needed the collars to tell them apart. I could just tell. Sometimes the husband would like to screw around with me, and he'd swap out their collars.

So here's a funny Onyx story. After the ex and I broke up, I moved out and got my own apartment. Unfortunately around this time, Lily and Onyx, had somehow gotten fleas, despite being indoor cats. So in order to not infest my new apartment with fleas, Onyx and Lily promptly got a bath before they had a chance to do any exploring. My mom and I were giving Lily a bath and Onyx was in the closed door bathroom, waiting her turn. Lily was done with her torture and now it was Onyx's turn. But Onyx was nowhere to be found, despite the closed door. We looked all over the bathroom and eventually we noticed that there was a gap between the bathroom cabinet and floor that this tiny kitty crawled into. We had to lure Onyx out with treats. It was kinda cute as you'd see this tiny paw reach out for the treats. We did get her out, but we then sealed up that gap with some tape and cardboard so it wouldn't happen again.

Onyx loved her hiding spots, whether they be high or low.



Another one of Onyx's favorite hiding spots was underneath my wood sleigh bed I had. There were drawers under the bed where I stored my underwear. Onyx learned how to pull these drawers open, pull out just enough underwear so she could crawl through the drawer to the middle void under the bed. Sometimes I think Onyx liked to hide just to get away from her mean sister, Lily, who had a tendency to beat up on her a bit.

In our current house, Onyx loved hiding in the basement. When we first moved in, she hid mostly in our basement, in this closet under the stairs. It was a bit dusty under there, so when she did come out, she would become a gray cat vs. a black one. Eventually, Onyx got used to our big house. One of her favorite things to do was to sit in front of the large windows throughout the house aka "Cat TV" and watch all of the birds and squirrels.

My cats have always been indoor cats. But from time to time I'd take them outside with me. They love sniffing all of the new smells, but at heart Lily and Onyx are both scaredy cats and would freak out over each new sound.

Sometimes, I'd even knit for my cats. They only ever got into my yarn once. I had just bought some Hot Pink Lion Brand Microspun yarn, which was expensive for me at the time. The yarn was still in the plastic shopping bags on a chair. I left the room for a few moments and came back to a Hot Pink string disaster. Both kitties were to blame. I spend at least an hour trying to untangle the mess, but I did eventually have to toss some of the yarn because it was just too knotted up. Here's Dino-Onyx:



As Lily and Onyx started to reach middle age, they both mellowed out to some degree. But I am definitely their favorite person. When I come home from work, there would always be 2 black kitty faces in the french door windows, happy to see that I'm home. Or perhaps that it was also dinner time. Onyx and Lily always wanted to be in the same room I was in, even the bathroom when I'm doing you know what. After Lily had a few accidents on our bed, we stopped letting the cats sleep with us. But when I'd wake up in the morning, both cats would be sitting outside the bedroom door, waiting for me.

One of our favorite games to play with the cats is the "Treat Game". Basically we skip kitty treats across the hardwood floors and watch the kitties scurry and pounce on them. I always made sure to give Onyx extra treats since mean Lily had a tendency to hog the treats, because Onyx was just a bit slower.

I don't know if I preferred one cat over the other. Both have distinct personalities in their own cute way. Lily has a tendency to be a bit shitty and aggressive. When Lily wants love, she'll head butt you or paw at your hand. It's kinda cute but can get annoying at times. As for Onyx, she was more submissive and had to groom Lily. So I always tried to be extra sweet to Onyx since Lily was sometimes so mean to her. Onyx, even though she might have been a bit slow, compared to Lily, Onyx was far sweeter. On some nights, I would sneak Onyx into the bed with me, sans Lily, and she'd become a whole another cat. She would head butt me to get some love and do cat dances on the comforter before she snuggled up next to me. She was just oh so sweet and dear. There wasn't a single mean bone in her body.

A few days ago, I noticed that Onyx wasn't really eating. Each cat has their own food bowl, so it's hard to tell because Lily can be a bit piggy and eat sweet Onyx's food. I thought that maybe Onyx just didn't like her dry kibble anymore, as she would eat treats. So the next day I got some wet food, which is normally a treat, and Onyx really wouldn't eat any of it. She was also becoming more anti-social and just not her usual self. So the day after I took my sick Onyx to the vet. They did some x-rays and they showed a large mass in her chest and fluid on her lungs. This was causing her to have problems with breathing and her pulse was low. The vet told me it was cancer and more than likely I would have to put my sweet Onyx to sleep. I almost passed out when I heard this news. I definitely wasn't expecting this response from myself.

I couldn't just "pull the plug" just yet, so I wanted a 2nd opinion. So I took Onyx to see a cat veterinarian she had seen before. The cat vet did some more x-rays and suspected that it was heart failure caused by heart disease vs. cancer. The vet wasn't 100% sure but suggested that Onyx get a chest ultrasound at the nearby emergency animal hospital. So I rushed Onyx over there. But by then, she was very frail. The ultrasound confirmed that it was heart failure. There are some medications she could have taken that may have temporarily stopped her heart from failing, and would have extended her dear life for maybe 4 - 6 months, granted she would make it through the 4 days she would need in the hospital for the treatment and recovery. Here's a picture of my sweet Onyx in the oxygen chamber that was helping her breathe. She was so happy to see her mom and dad and get some last minute love and kind words.



It was a very difficult decision to make but we decided to end her suffering. Because of the fluid on her lungs and around her heart, it made breathing so difficult for her. Onyx was such a sweet cat and very loved. She had a wonderful life, that was just too short. I knew that one day my kitties would go, but I just never though it would be this soon and so sudden.

Unfortunately, heart disease is difficult to diagnose in cats. I am a good cat mom and I take my kitties in once a year for their annual exam. The vets were always amazed by what good condition Onyx and Lily were in. At Onyx's last check up, she was in good health. Supposedly, heart disease in cats is genetic, so here's to hoping that Lily doesn't have it. I read that there are genetic tests you can have done for some breeds of cats to see if they have genes for heart disease so you can get them on preventive medication early. The only other way to screen for heart disease is to have an x-ray or ultrasound done. And these just really aren't standard tests you have done on kitties unless there's something really wrong. Maybe I'll have them done with Lily. Because cats are really good about hiding their illnesses, I didn't know anything was up until it was far too late.

There's definitely a hole in my heart and there are so many reminders in this house of my dear Onyx. Her sleeping spots. How she liked to sleep on my shoe pile. Where she would sit, waiting for me. I know I will get over this eventually. But for now, I'm just feeling rather blue.

current mood: sad

(3 drunk amandas | pbr me asap)

Friday, October 19th, 2012
5:50 pm - Foreign Policy
As it seems as of late, I have an opinion on almost everything in regards to this upcoming election. And I definitely have opinions in regards to the USA's interactions with other countries.

The War in Afghanistan:
I just want this to be over. And actually, I was never a fan of us being there to begin with. Am I glad that many of the bad folks in Al-Qaeda have been captured or killed? Sure. This world could use fewer of such hateful people. But on the other hand, it seems like the more we do in that area of the world, the more these folks hate Americans. If you kill or capture one of the leaders, there's another person to take their place. Let's just get the hell out of there, and let these people govern or kill themselves.

In fact, I think we should stay the hell out the Middle East all together. Why does the USA have to play peace keeper all of the damn time? I say let these people find their own way to freedom and democracy. Now with things like the internet, smart phones, Twitter, Facebook, these people are finding ways to organize. And let's face it, democracy as we know it in the USA, probably isn't going to work all that well initially, just due to how different the culture is in the Middle East. Look how badly fucked up some countries in Africa now are due to us trying to play their savior and instilling democracy. Now these African countries have tons of debt, crazy crooked dictators who were put in by us, extreme poverty.

I say we should stay out of ALL conflicts unless, we are attacked as a country, or called upon by the United Nations to help.

I truly feel sorry for the poor people who are stuck in such wretched places. Whether they have to deal with disease, social injustices, genocide, or whatever tragic things. But I say leave it up to all of the various charity organizations across the world to help and just donate money to them.

Because let's face it, keeping such a beefed up military is hella expensive and has contributed a good part to our ginormous debt. I say downsize the military to a more reasonable level, and put our veterans back to work, at home.

I know of some people are are hesitant for us to cut back on military spending because of threats from other countries. Perhaps Iran and North Korea are developing nuclear weapons. By why is it that the USA can only have nuclear weapons and no other country? Not that I really want the USA to experience a nuclear explosion on our soil. But can we just monitor the situation and act accordingly as needed?

And besides, don't we have far greater issues on our own soil that need rectifying vs. meddling in some foreign country's affairs?

(1 drunk amanda | pbr me asap)

Friday, October 12th, 2012
10:26 pm - Abortion
Sadly, abortion seems to be one of those topics that horribly divides us, for better or for worse. I'll admit that it has even influenced me in regards to who I'm going to vote for this election season.

Overall, I'd say I'm pro-choice. I think there are a lot of "gray" areas in regards to abortion, and it should be left up to the woman, the man who donated the sperm, and her doctor to make the decision whether to abort or not.

I was raised in the Catholic faith and thus pro-life. I used to think that pro-choice people were just a bunch of hateful baby killers. But I met some pro-choice folks in college and they changed my mind. I now believe abortion is a far more complicated issue.

I have had a few pregnancy scares over the past few years. Missed periods. Late periods. None due to pregnancy, that I'm aware of. But I also use contraception. Anyways, whenever my period was late, or the one time I did miss it and took a pregnancy test for the first time in my life (which came back negative), the thought of abortion did come across mind. When these events happened, I was in a decent place to have a baby i.e. I was married, had a stable job, financial stability, etc. But despite all of that, the idea of dealing with a baby, was still not a good thing in my eyes, especially in regards to how it would impact my marriage and career.

Overall, I'm not a fan of abortion. I think it's a nasty thing to do. I do believe that there is "life" at conception. Just like a plant cell or an amoeba is a living thing. As a scientist, I see a cell as a living thing. But when does that bundle of cells turn into a person with rights, I do not know. But if so-called pro-life people want to prevent abortions, I think there are far better things that can be done besides try to pass awful, ridiculous laws, trying to close abortion clinics or to picket abortion clinics with gruesome pictures of aborted fetuses. MOST abortions do not involve a fetus being cut up and bloody. I truly believe that if we give women more options either while pregnant or before pregnancy occurs, we'd drastically reduce abortions in this country. So lets look at various reason why a woman may choose to abort, for good, bad, or indifferent.

Life of the Mother / Pregnancy Complications:
This seems like a no-brainer. If being pregnant is endangering the life of the mother, it makes sense that an abortion may be medically necessary. This decision should be left to the mother, the sperm donor, and the doctor. If the mother dies, there's probably a good chance that the baby will die too. Check out this recent story from the Dominican Republic where ALL abortion is illegal (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/pregnant-dominican-teen-center-abortion-debate-dies-delayed/story?id=17044066#.UHi-jIZQCdk) So a very young woman is pregnant but also becomes diagnosed with leukemia. There's a high probability that the chemo will not only kill the cancer cells but also kill the baby. So doctor's spend weeks upon weeks debating this issue. In the meantime, both the mother and baby die. Just fucking awful. If a woman wants to face medical adversity in hopes of having her baby, she's a saint. But if she chooses abortion in order to survive and to maybe have another baby at another date, I don't see the problem with this

Rape / Incest:
Some politicians fear that women will fake a rape claim just to have an abortion. Sadly, there are woman who lie about rape. I don't agree with that. But I truly think that is few and far between, compared to woman who actually become pregnant due to rape or incest. If the woman wants to keep the baby despite the rape or incest, more power to her. But I don't have an issue with a woman wanting to abort under these circumstances. Rape is traumatic enough, let alone having to deal with a baby and possibly having to grant visitation rights to your rapist. As for incest, doesn't that create a higher probability of genetic disorders?

How about we try to prevent rape and / or incest? And not just leave it up to the responsibility of the woman by telling her not to wear short skirts or to watch her drink. How about we teach men not to rape? Don't fuck your relatives. Seems simple enough, right?

Fetus Medical Complications:
I have a bit more issue with this. Some people may choose to abort due to some sort of horrible medical anomaly with the fetus. I can understand the heart break of possibly having to deal with a baby who may only live a few days do to some sort of bodily defect. I don't blame some one for not wanting to deal with this. I think most parents want their kids to have 10 fingers, 10 toes, and be as normal as possible. To have the best possible life. Even if the baby won't die, but perhaps the child may just spend the rest of their life as a vegetable and need constant medical care. Is that life? What if you can't afford to pay for a live-in nurse or tons of surgeries? It truly is a tragic situation that I couldn't even imagine.

But then again, it is a living person. What constitutes a medical disorder that would determine abortion is the best solution vs. I don't want my kid to have 11 toes or the breast cancer gene or curly hair? How does this play into Eugenics? I don't really know. I believe that if someone were aborting based on these reasons, they'd do so for valid medical reasons, not because their baby may have brown eyes or the baby's gender. But here's where you enter a gray area.

Being Poor / Uninsured / Unemployed
If I was poor, didn't have insurance, or was employed, there's no way in hell I'd feel like having a baby because I wouldn't be able to provide the best possible life for the baby. I'd want the best medical care which typically requires having health insurance via an employer and some money.

Being Young:
Personally, I don't want teenagers having babies. Most of them aren't mature enough to handle the responsibility having having a baby. And their babies are more likely to be young parents. I've seen it within my own extended family. A hundred years ago, it was more common place for women to have a baby at a young age, just because woman got married a lot younger and weren't expected to become educated.

Other Medical Complications:
There are some women who are unfortunate enough to have medical issues, such as arthritis, severe allergies, etc, that make everyday living complicated, let alone having to deal with pregnancy and caring for a baby 24 / 7.

Having a Bunch of Other Children to Care For:
If a woman, already has multiple children to care for, having another child, let alone a helpless baby to attend to, is definitely difficult and costly. I have no idea how my grandmother manage to have 6 children. I wouldn't blame a woman who already has multiple children to care for, not wanting an additional child.

With the 4 instances mention above - not having adequate medical care, being young, health issues, multiple children already - one would think that under this situations a woman would know that having a baby may not be the best idea. But somehow they end up pregnant, especially considering that there are readily available ways to prevent pregnancy. Well......yes and know. Some on the Right want to make it seem that any woman can just readily get contraception, whether that be pills, condoms, IUD's, etc. But truly it isn't that easy.

I'm fortunate enough that I have health insurance and my current insurance does cover contraceptive medication such as the birth control pill. With my prior employer, their health insurance provide did NOT cover birth control. It's horse shit if you ask me. (Like having to pay for doctor's visit due to pregnancy and me taking maternity leave wouldn't have cost them more money!) It was also a complete shock to me, when I had to pay $60 out of pocket for my birth control, that had previously only cost me $10 with insurance. Thankfully, I've been blessed financially and can pay for such things. But I did later switch to generic birth control pills, that cost far less out of pocket, but I had more horrid side effects. Not fun, but at least I wasn't pregnant, right?

Despite birth control being technically readily available, there's a lot going on legislative wise trying to limit access.

First, there's all of this talk of defunding Planned Parenthood. I've never have had to use their services but I've known several woman who have, due to not having health insurance. They went to Planned Parenthood to get contraceptives NOT abortions. And it has been shown over and over again, that Planned Parenthood does a lot of good things, and abortions are a very tiny portion of what they provide. And tax payer dollars aren't used towards abortions. I don't think tax payer dollars should be used towards abortions, just because it is too controversial. Woman NEED access to healthcare and contraceptives.

Also, what's up with locking up the condoms at stores? Are there really that many people shoplifting condoms? Why are we so prude-ish when it comes to sex? Watch most TV shows, music videos, etc, there are all sorts of references to sex. We're human. It's in our nature to want to fuck. Sex is EVERYWHERE in the USA. We're almost obsessed with it. But we don't talk much publicly of it. Like we're ashamed. The more taboo you make things, the more we want to do it. Sex had been around for a long ass time. We have been fucking each other forever. Why keep something so secretive? I'm not saying we should be out fucking in public, but let's at least have adult conversations about it.

Secondly, I don't get this whole thing with employers not wanting to provide contraception access in the health insurance they provide to their employees because it violates their religious freedom. Perhaps this is some gray area in regards to how birth control pills work such as it making the uterine lining an inhospitable place for a fertilized egg to implant itself. But I really don't see how this is a religious freedom issues. I identify as a Christian. If I personally saw birth control pills as equaling abortion, I wouldn't take them. But it's not my right to enforce my religious beliefs on others. And whose to say this doesn't happen naturally? Not all fertilized eggs become babies. Does this mean we should investigate every woman's period or a tragic miscarriage as an abortion? Hell no! And if you has a Muslim business owner forcing ladies to wear burkas due to their religious beliefs, I'm sure the Right would have quite a bit to say about that and it violates their religious freedom. It'll be interesting to see how the response would be if there was male birth control....

We need better sex education. Screw this abstinence only crap. I do believe that abstinence is the only way to 100% protect yourself from unwanted pregnancy or STD's. But let's face it, as humans we're going to fuck each other. And we need to know how to protect ourselves. I do support that if a full sex education is against your moral beliefs, you can prevent your kids from being subjected to it. But for those that don't care as much. young kids need to know. I don't believe adequate sex education is going to corrupt them. Just turn on prime time TV and you'll see enough sex and boobs. I even remember being as young as 9-10 years old and hearing things about penises and sex and blowjobs on the playground, and I was a fairly protected child. Kids are going to find out about this stuff from friends, the internet, TV, whether parents like it or not. And kids need to know what they can do to protect themselves.

We also need to instill in kids, what the hazards of teen pregnancy, STD's, etc, are. It's not as glamorous as what MTV shows. We need to instill values in kids that they are more than just their genitals. That getting married and having kids isn't the best thing you can ever do with your life. There's more to life than just how well their genitals function or how many people you can fuck.

And for woman, who don't want kids, why do we stigmatize this? This is how I see things as a woman:
If you're not into sex or don't want to have sex, you're a prude.
If you like sex, you're a slut.
If you have a baby out of wedlock, you're a whore and selfish.
If you have an abortion (despite the wedlock), you're evil and a baby killer.
You leave work to care for your kids, you're selfish and not a good employee.
If you're a working mother, you are neglecting your kids.
If you don't want kids period, you're just selfish.

It seems like no matter what a woman does, there's someone who is Mr. McJudgey-Pants, who criticizes what we do. There's no way to win.

We need to make adoption easier to do. Or set up it up so you can drop off your baby with no judgments at fire stations or whatever.

Basically, we need to stop this love obsession with the fetus and give women viable options in regards to controlling their fertility and the ultimate outcome. I truly believe if we did this, the amount of abortions would drastically decrease.

current mood: pissed off

(pbr me asap)

Monday, October 8th, 2012
10:58 pm - Campaign Contributions
Let's face it. The current political system in this country is broken. It no longer seems to be for the people but for large corporations.

I'll be honest. I donated $75 to President Obama's campaign this year. That was the first time I have ever donated to a political campaign. One donation was after the whole Senator Akin / legitimate rape comment, because I was so pissed of with how Mr. R. Money handled it. And another donation was just to get a bumper sticker for my car.

I do believe that people and corporations should be allowed to donate money to political campaigns. But there needs to be limits on how much can be donated. And don't even get me started on that Super PAC crap. It makes me feel like our political leaders can be bought and sold by the wealthy and the wealthy owners of corporations. But since pretty much ALL of our elected officials are on the payroll of wealthy donors, I doubt current regulations regarding campaign donations will ever change. I read somewhere that which ever political candidate can raise the most money, typically wins the election.

And why would someone donate huge amounts of money to a someone running for a political office? Because you're hoping that they'll vote similarly to your ideals. And if you're a very large donor, that's definitely going to attract some personal attention. Or at least an invitation to an exclusive, fancy dinner, where you might get a few minutes to spew your ideals to the political candidate.

These large donations aren't usually "no strings attached". If I received a million dollar donation from someone, I'd feel obligated to do some of their bidding in one form or another. Even with my own wedding, my parents foot the bill. Even though the day was supposed to be about celebrating my marriage, I didn't 100% celebrate how I wanted to. I had a fabulous wedding. No complaints. But because I wasn't paying for anything, I kind of had to go along with some things that my parents wanted. The same thing goes on in politics. "If I scratch your back, you scratch my back."

Don't get me wrong, I do believe that corporations do need a say in government regulations. Their voices need to be heard. But the current system is set up for that! Government areas such as the EPA and FDA, allow industry to comment on new rules and regulations. The EPA, FDA, etc are required to calculate any financial impact the rules would have on businesses, and take that into account. The government isn't as "rigged" against economic growth as some on the Right would make it seem.

Besides the fact that you have to be a bit crazy to want to run for public office in this day and age, I don't see how your average person could even afford to, with all of the money it takes to finance a campaign. Either, you have to come from money. Or you probably grew up semi-wealthy, were able to get a good education and go to an elite college, where all of the other politicians go, make some contacts, get a high paying job straight out of college, and get money that way.

current mood: frustrated

(2 drunk amandas | pbr me asap)

Thursday, September 20th, 2012
12:09 am - Taxes
I guess I would be considered one of the 53% who pays income taxes. I'm not financially dependent on the government, thankfully, but I do feel entitled to housing, food, and healthcare. Because, guess what, I need those things to survive in this world. They are basic human needs. I'm not saying the government should just give these things to me for free, and I'm sure most folks would agree with this. But these needs should be accessible to ALL. And some folks, do need a little help, whether it be do to circumstance, age, disability, etc. So guess what Mr. R. Money, as I like to call him, there is no way in hell you're getting my vote, even though I don't meet your criteria for the 47% of American who are going to vote for Obama.

I do have mixed feelings about this Romney quote though, "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." Honestly, I'm all for personal responsibility, one thing Republicans love to promote. It's one of the few things I agree with Republicans of this age, on. But I'm pretty sure Democrats are for it too. Having to care for millions of dependent Americans takes a lot of work and money, that could be spent on other things. But my opinions about that are for another post.

Going back to taxes, I'm pretty damn sure no American has ever enjoyed paying taxes. I don't even bother looking at my pay stubs to see how much of my hard earned pay goes to Uncle Sam. I just look at my pay after taxes, insurance, 401K, etc are taken out and I budget my money accordingly. It's pretty damn simple. In fact, I'd just rather not know what I pay out to the government, for good, bad, or indifferent. It sucks but taxes are a part of living in a civilized country. I am also lucky that I've been very blessed financially in life, so even if I get an extra $100 taken out my paychecks due to tax increases, it won't do much damage to me financially. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for other Americans who aren't as blessed financially and / or have more bills than me.

Additionally, I kinda do benefit from paying taxes, whether that be income tax, food tax, sales tax, booze tax, gas tax. I like having maintained roads to drive on. I like knowing that there's a fire department or police officers to help me. I sure as hell benefited from my free public education. I like watching PBS. Even though I don't wholly agree with the war in Afghanistan (again, another post), I don't mind some of tax dollars being used to support an army. I even don't mind my tax dollars being used for welfare. If it means that my tax dollars help for the greater good of man kind, then I'm fucking for it. And if paying more taxes, means I have to scale back my lifestyle a bit, so be it. I probably shouldn't buy as much yarn as I do anyways.

But I will admit that the current tax system is broke. It's fucking ridiculous that a teacher pays a higher tax rate than some billionaires. But then again, what constitutes as fair? Fair could mean that everyone is taxed at the same rate. But then again, poorer people would benefit more from being taxed less compared to rich people, since they have to stretch what little money they have farther. So does that mean that the wealthy should be taxed more? I don't know really know. Either way could be considered "fair" depending on how you look at it.

Obviously, we need taxes such that we can enjoy our current civilization and rules as we know it. With out some sort of government to help regulate the craziness that is human existence, we'd live in complete anarchy, where it's ever person for themselves. Sometimes, I think this is what the folks on the Right want, total anarchy, which would allow the wealthy and such to maybe take over.

Basically, there are just too many loopholes in the current tax system. Some are there for good measure. I can fully support the poor paying lower taxes or qualifying for exemptions. A few dollars here and there, make a big difference in they're quality of life. But exemptions for the wealthy elite? Are you serious? Sometimes it seems like the tax code is written by the wealthy elite for the wealthy elite. Don't most people in Congress come from wealthy backgrounds and they depend on wealthy elite donors to fund their campaigns? It makes sense that the folks we elect would only want to protect those that can give them the most money. And wealthy people, have the money to afford a crooked accountant to find tax loopholes or find ways to hide taxable income.

Some say that we shouldn't tax these wealthy elite because they are the job creators. Sure, some may run very large companies. But despite having tax break after tax break, they still aren't hiring, and more and more US jobs are being sent overseas. So much for that "trickle down effect".

And besides tax reform, we also need complete reform of government programs. I'm neither for small nor large government. I'm for reasonably sized government. There are some government programs that do well, and I completely support. Some programs need improvement and reform. And programs that just don't work should be gotten rid of.

All in all, if we want to lower this country's debt, we need higher taxes and less government spending. And unfortunately, the assholes who occupy the seats in the House & Senate, can't put aside personal differences, to come together and find some sort of happy medium, that is good for the majority of Americans. With the right reform, I believe that we could keep the tax rate the same, whilst also having a more efficient government. But then again, that takes compromise, work, and government over sight to do.

current mood: political

(pbr me asap)

Friday, September 7th, 2012
1:59 pm - Poverty
If you haven't figured out by now, I'm definitely liberal and a Democrat. I would like to consider myself more of a moderate Democrat. I think we need things such as taxes, regulations, social programs, government, etc - but within reason of course. And I think businesses and government should be able to come to a compromise in regards to these things. But it seems like none of the politicians are even willing to compromise. It's their way only. Yet another reason why there should be term limits for all, not just the President.

One area the Right always harps on, are social programs such as Welfare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Unemployment, Disability. And sadly there is usually a racist slant too. Anyways, I think there can be improvements on these programs. Yes, there are some bad people who exploit loopholes in these programs. Which is unfortunate because there are some people who legitimately need these programs and can't get them. But for every shitty person who abuses the system, there's probably several families who are getting what they need due to these social programs.

How do you prevent such exploitations? The only way I see is to have more government workers to investigate each application to these social programs. And that costs money and means larger government. Or reform these programs in some way. But will reforms prevent people from getting the care they need?

But sometimes I wonder when I hear nasty things from the Right about how welfare just encourages welfare queens and for people to be lazy, and heaven forbid their hard earned money goes to help someone in need. You know, the sorta Christian thing to do. I have to wonder if they even know any poor people. I work with poor people. I have dated poor people. Not to say I'm an expert in their lifestyle, having never lived it myself, but I've seen the bullshit these people face on a regular basis and it changes the way people think. I see poverty more as a disease than anything else.

Let's face it, it's expensive as hell to live in this country. Obviously, living in BFE in the Midwest or the South is usually cheaper than living in California or the Northeast. And even then, the cost of living in the USA is far less than in Europe or Japan. But stuff is expensive, and minimum wage just doesn't cut it. Even when I made $12/ hour, things were tight. And that was just supporting myself, no car payments, no student loans or other debt. And that was with me being fairly frugal too! I didn't have cable TV. I didn't go out to eat much - maybe 2 - 3x a month. I have a fuel efficient car (that I still drive!). I don't wear designer clothing nor did I buy a lot of clothes, make up, or electronics. I couldn't imagine supporting a family on that type of income, which equates to ~$25,000 / year. In theory, that puts you in the lower middle class. But in all honesty, you're still poor. You may not be at the federal poverty level, but with that type of income, you're basically the working poor. Who are basically the ones getting severely fucked over. There's a safety net for horribly poor. And rich people, will continue to be rich. It's the middle class who is getting the short end of the stick via Wall Street and our Government.

As Americans, we like to think that we can do anything with just a little bit of hard work...well yes and no. Sure, there are poor people who have overcome adversity and become really great things. But I think this is few and far between. Being poor is tough, and working hard doesn't necessarily get you ahead in life. I'll be honest. I come from a privileged, upper middle class family. I had 2 parents who were educated. I never went without medical care, food, shelter, or clothes. My parents didn't necessarily spoil me, but they made sure I was taken care of, and because they didn't have to worry as much about finances, or work odd scheduled jobs, they were available to push me to do well in school. They paid for my education and helped me pay for my car. Basically, I owe much of my success to them. They helped give me a "leg up" on this bitch known as life, who can be a rather cruel mistress. I got my Chemistry degree by working hard in college, but they paid for that college. And that degree has opened doors for me, career wise. Poor folks don't often get such privileges.

Amongst poor people I know or have known, many have certain characteristics: broken homes, lack of education, a history of emotional / physical / sexual abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, having kids at a very young age, no stability. These people have no hope for a good future. To them life is shitty and will probably always be shitty. These people work hard at their jobs. But these jobs don't pay the bills. They don't pay enough to afford a higher education. So much for working hard and pulling yourself up by your boot straps. These people live in the present because they don't feel like they have a future. No politician ever seems to mention this. Because it's sad but true. When you only live in the present, you only care about your basic needs, such as trying to get food or keep a shelter over your head. And because your life is shitty, you probably are more likely to self medicate with drugs, alcohol, and sex. Stuff that makes you forget your shithole of a life for a bit.

The thing is, we need to give these people a future. It starts with education. We should be investing in the education of Americans. Not wars that kill them. Nor the large corporations that send their jobs overseas. It's interesting that China's middle class is growing while the middle class in America is shrinking and becoming more divided. Education, whether it being able to do basic math so you can more readily understand how to budget your money, or fixing cars, or just some sort of skill, helps. A college education is good for some, but unnecessary for others. Why can't we have more trade schools or bring back Home Ec, Auto Shop, Wood Shop, etc in schools. These are skills people can use to better themselves. Being an auto mechanic may not be as glamorous as a Wall Street investor, but it may pay the bills for some. And it's better than being stuck in minimum wage jobs.

We also need more manufacturing jobs in this country. These jobs pay more, usually offer benefits, and regular hours. It sure as hell beats working part time at Wal-Mart for minimum wage, with no benefits. Many manufacturing jobs don't require higher education, but you do get to learn some sort of skill on the job. If you only have a GED or high school diploma, there are few jobs out there for you. Even jobs, such as secretarial positions, that maybe used to only require a basis certification that you can type X words per minute, now require college degrees. We need better jobs for people who don't have higher education.

(pbr me asap)

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012
7:00 pm - Distractions
As much as topics on abortion, gay marriage, health care, contraception, etc, illicit an emotional response from me, these topics are basically a major distraction from the true issues at hand with this country. These social issues are important and all but they're being used to distract voters because these fuck hole politicians know that they're going to cause people to vote one way or another. And what are these topics distracting us on....the economy. Supposedly the numbers say we're out of a recession and corporate profits are up, it sure as hell doesn't feel that way.

Honestly, I don't think either side - Democrat or Republican - has a sure fire way to fix things. But let's face it too, both parties are on the payroll of large corporations and / or millionaires. They don't give a damn about the rest of us. But more on that for a later post.

I'm not 100% happy with how Obama over the past 4 years. It also doesn't help that Congress is nothing but a bunch of douchebags who don't give a shit about people, just people who make large campaign donations or their own parties. Fuckin' money grubbing whores. That's what they all are.

Apparently corporate profits are up - but why is the unemployment rate still high? Why are people still under employed? Why can't recent college grads get a job? Where are the jobs? Well...I do have some in site on this based on when I was looking for a new job ~2.5 years ago, before my current gig.

It's still risky for companies to invest money. Things are still unstable, whether it's stuff in Europe or tsunamis / earthquakes in Japan. If I owned a company, I'd be hesitant to invest money in new employees or capital, unless I had the money (not loan) to do so, there was a legitimate need, and I was sure my investment would pan out. It's still scary as shit out there.

If companies are looking for new employees, they're being awfully damn picky. They don't want to train someone new because that takes time and money, even if it's a niche skill that 0.000000001% of people have. It probably doesn't help that many companies have reduced staff and the remaining staff are scared shitless and willing to do the work of multiple people. Why invest in more employees if you can over work your current ones? I recall seeing a job opening awhile back for a Lab Manager. I applied for it, as I've worked in labs and have experience supervising people. But the requirement for the Lab Manager position was to have a PhD in Chemistry. Seriously? I could understand maybe requiring a Masters degree...but a PhD? Most PhD's I've met just want to do research, they don't want to be managing a lab. This position was open for at least a year if not more. I stopped looking since I love my current job. Anyways, I never even got called about this Lab Manager job. And my thought is if you have large enough lab without a manager for over a year, how is your lab functioning or are you just over working people until you can find that perfect fit?

As for new college grads, I feel sorry for them. But so many of them were sold the lie that getting a college degree = good paying, desk job. Universities are very guilty about this. They always have brochures or presentations showing such and such grad working for this awesome company doing bad ass shit. I'm sure this happens. But it's few and far between. And of course they only want to mention the super-super successes in hopes it will sway you to go to their school for lots of money. I was told that a BS in Chemistry would get me a salaried position from $40 - 60k / year. I make about that now, but it took some hard ass work to get there. My first lab job out of school in 2004, paid just $12 / hour. That's ~$25,000 / year. I did get a bit of overtime pay and some bonuses, but still I was under the impression when I graduated, I'd immediately be making XYZ dollars. I think my degree has paid off in the end. But some college grads have worthless degrees. I hate downplaying the Humanities. I think they're important. But sadly, they don't pay much. And seriously, what the fuck does one do with a History degree? But sadly, even basic jobs, such as answering phones and other secretarial stuff require a college degree. Does one even need a college degree to do such things? But such positions require one, are only part time, and don't have benefits. It's fucking bullshit. I'm guessing college loan debt is going to be the next crisis when new grads start defaulting on their loans.

And what you if don't have a college degree? Are you just royally fucked then? Does that mean you'll be stuck in service industry work for the rest of your life?

In my opinion, exporting manufacturing jobs overseas or to Mexico, has been the worst thing we could have done. I work in a factory. It's hard work, but the pay is halfway decent for someone who may only have a GED or high school diploma. You get 40 hours per week, benefits, paid vacation. You might even be able to pick up some skills in regards to repairing equipment. It's not as glamorous as sitting on your fat ass in a cubicle in front of a computer all damn day, but it pays the bills, better than many other low-skill jobs out there. Sure, robots and engineering improvements have taken away some jobs, but so many things still have to be done by hand. Robots can't sew jeans together yet. And look how prosperous China is doing. Sure, they are exploiting their people, sadly. But people are killing to work in the factories vs. work the farmlands in small villages.

And giving tax breaks to millionaires isn't going to do a damn thing. We already saw that this doesn't necessarily work during the W Bush years. The trickle down effect doesn't work! It's the middle class that drives the economy as we're the ones buying shit. Millionaires just want to get richer and maybe have a few nice cars or extra McMansions. But the amount of money they spend on shit isn't quite as proportional as what the Middle Class would spend, given the same amount of money.

In a nutshell, both parties are awful and don't give a damn about the people. And there's no good solution to fix our economic woes.

(pbr me asap)

Saturday, August 25th, 2012
12:43 am - Political
I'm not sure how many people read this blog anymore. I know it's been a bit quiet as of late. I guess I use Facebook more now to post what's currently happening in my life.

Anyways, I've been following all of this political crap for the past year or so. More than I've ever done in my life. But with all of the crazy I hear from the Republican side, I just can't pull myself away. This moderate, feministic, chemist must stay informed. As much as I try to pull away and not get upset by what's going on, I just can't. The moment I stop, some asshole elected official is saying or doing something horrendous.

I identify as a moderate Democrat. I'm left leaning but within moderation. I want regulations - but just enough to hopefully prevent bad things (there's always going to be that asshole who finds the loophole to get around stuff). Not to regulate the shit out of stuff and have government control everything. There needs to be some sort of order. But I can't keep quiet about this stuff anymore. And I need somewhere to vent, so sorry if my posts become a bit ranty.

Let's start with the recent political debacle of Senator Todd Akin. What he said was pretty shitty. As someone who has been personally sexually assaulted in the past, I take great issue with what was said.

Rape is rape. Period. It shouldn't really be defined.

BUT I do think there are some gray areas in regards to Rape. For example, statutory rape. Consensual sex between a 15 year old and someone who is 18 doesn't bother me. This situation probably happens at most high schools. But between a 15 year old and someone who is in their 40s and 50s. Yeah, that's creepier and it could be definitely seen as the older party taking advantage of the naivety of the younger. I guess statutory rape is something that would have to be considered on a case by case basis.

Then there's rape when some sort of drug or alcohol is involved and one person is for the better part not cognizant when the rape happens. I know there are a few times I have imbibed a bit too much and the details of some nights are fuzzy. And I could see cases such as this, without outside witnesses, being difficult to prove.

And then there's false rape aka when a woman claims that man raped her, just to cause harm to the man. Republicans always love to bring up this scenario. Sadly these situations happen. And it's a damn shame too. It just makes cases of I guess "legitimate" rape even harder to battle and makes women less likely to report rapes. Any woman (or man because men can be raped too!) who make such false claims is utterly despicable in my book. But honestly, false rape accusations are few and far between compared to actual rapes.

Or maybe, rape is just too difficult to define in such a cut and dry fashion. There are many ways it can happen - brute force, coercion, manipulation, drugs. Maybe rape just needs to be considered on a case by case basis?

Which brings me to another rant about rape. Women are still the primary targets for rape. I've always been constantly instructed on ways not to get raped. Don't wear revealing clothing. Don't walk by yourself at night. Watch for strange men in bushes or behind cars. If your car breaks down, don't let a stranger help you. Don't be by yourself in a room with a strange man. But this really only pertains to strangers raping which is just <10% of all reported rapes. You're more likely to be raped by someone you know like a friend, family member, neighbor, coworker, and even spouse. Many people forget this. But what I don't get is why aren't we teaching people not to rape in the first place? I adore this infographic.

don't rape!

Going back to Mr. Senator Todd Akin. So rape is difficult to define. But what upset me more was the statement about how a woman's body can shut that whole pregnancy thing down if it's a legitimate rape. Yeah, physical trauma and stress can make women miscarry or there's no implantation of the fertilized egg. Then again, this also happens to women who haven't experienced physical trauma or stress. And if a woman's body could legitimately stop pregnancy from occurring, I'm sure we'd be seeing fewer unintended pregnancies and a drop in contraception usage. In a nutshell:

Egg + Rapist Sperm = Baby

The egg doesn't really know if the sperm is from a rapist or a loving partner. This is like basic Biology 101. And to think that Todd Akin is on the House Committee for Science, Space, and Technology, and he doesn't quite know how babies are truly made. No wonder the USA sucks at science education compared to the rest of the civilized world.

(1 drunk amanda | pbr me asap)

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
11:28 am - Babies
So it seems that I have reached that age where everyone around me seems to be having babies. I currently have 7 babies from friends and family to knit for. But all of this has me looking into what my future may hold for baby making.

At age 31, I'm not wholly sure whether being a mommie is something I want. I do have a few years left before I have to make a decision though. And who knows when that biological clock is going to go off.

I feel very conflicted about having kids. On the one hand, it seems like a lot of work and sacrifice. And would I want to take time off for a few years to have a kid and potentially risk forever harming my science career? Or do I attempt to juggle a full time job and raising kids, maintaining a marriage, and somehow having time for myself? Do I want that person that shares my DNA so that I have someone to take care of me when I'm older or to have that life experience of having children? There's so many pros and cons.

Right now, I'm leaning towards never having kids. But if I ended up pregnant tomorrow on accident, it's not like I'd be running off to an abortion clinic or anything. I'd be having a baby.

If I choose to have a baby, I want to be because I want said baby and hopefully that means I'd be willing to give up quite a bit. I think that's my main struggle. The idea of painful labor, gaining weight, doesn't phase me much. But the idea of having to give up having a clean house, not having time to knit, go out to funky restaurants, doesn't bide well with me. Some may say I'm selfish.

There's also the whole career aspect. I really like my job and my employer, for the first time in my life. I'd hate to jeopardize that. And I think my employer would be accommodating if I were to have a kid. But on the other hand, I think I'd want to be that mommie who's there for the first few years of their kid's life to be nurturing.

Sometimes I think some of my lady friends, who have more traditional female jobs, have it easier. I'm one of the few women, my age, I know who works a standard 9 - 5 type job that also can't be done from home or be done part time. Also, with my career field, being out of it for a few years is career suicide. Technology and science is evolving at such a fast pace, you can miss out on a lot after just a few years. And I don't see myself as a mom being able to attend science conferences / workshops or reading science journals to stay on top of things while being out of the science loop.

But then again, who knows. Maybe that biological clock will go off someday, and I'll want to have a baby at whatever cost.

current mood: stressed

(4 drunk amandas | pbr me asap)

Sunday, March 18th, 2012
11:56 am - I Can't Take This BS Anymore
If you know me personally, or have read my blog over the course of the past few years, you'd probably know that I have Liberal-esque political views. And for the record, I am socially liberal, fiscally moderate, and generally disappointed with how things our going in this country. Instead of things being progressive, it seems like certain parties want to regress to the 1950s or further. Even though we may idealize the olden times as being good and perfect - but in reality they were only good if you were perhaps male, white, straight, and Christian. Not so good if you were a woman, gay, a different race, different religion, etc.

First off, what's the big damn deal with contraception especially when it comes to the Pill, Patch, Ring, Shot, IUD? How come no one is mentioning condoms at all? Or does the Conservative Right want to make those difficult to get too? In my opinion, the folks that are trying to pass all of these re-damn-diculous anti-contraception, anti-abortion bills are just anti-sex. Why are women only being attacked? It does take a penis which is attached to a man for a baby to happen. Here's my theory:

Obviously, these folks are anti-abortion. I have mixed feelings about abortions - but more on that later. To prevent an abortion from occurring (outside of rape, medical issues, etc), either you don't have sex or use contraception. But if contraception now becomes difficult to get, then that means no sex or use condoms (granted those don't become banned or whatever). Additionally, if you do become pregnant, and the baby is born to a single mom, a young mom, etc, you're shamed too. On top of that, these Conservatives also want to ban sex education in schools. *facepalm* So basically, what I get is that these people only want sex to occur in order to make a baby, and preferably to a couple who is married. That is fine and dandy, but not realistic.

Let's face it. We as humans have been diddling each other for centuries. In the past, women (probably of a certain social stature) were not left without an escort to prevent any illicit activities. Plus, you were more than likely married off to some old guy at a very young age. If you did end up pregnant, without a husband, you were either married off immediately to the guy or probably banished and / or shamed for the rest of your life. And the kid's paternity was also a big damn deal. In the not so distance past, many women could not inherit property from their husband. Instead, it would go to the oldest male heir - which may not even be a son. It could be some male cousin twice removed. So it was big damn deal to the man, for the child to be of his blood. But in these modern times, we have DNA testing and you can leave your fortunes to whoever you damn well please, including the family dog.

I know some of this shit has been going on in this country for awhile. I just tried my best to ignore the crazies and hoped that other intelligent people would do the same. But now that state laws are actually being passed, I don't think I can remain quiet for much longer, especially since I'm concerned that my uterus may be under attack soon. Thank God that Georgia, despite being in the South, can be moderate, thanks to Atlanta being somewhat Liberal.

Let's start at sex education. Thankfully, I was fortunate to receive information on the basics of this in school. I got to learn about how babies are made, different forms of contraception (briefly), and what STD's are and how you get them. But honestly, I think sex education should be a lot more scary. Teens are going to be having sex - especially since it's glorified in so many TV shows. And that 16 and Pregnant TV show doesn't help either. Teens should be shown how to put on a condom, be told about some of the horrible side effects of birth control (spotting, weight gain, depression). They should be shown what diseased genitals look like. Additionally, they should have to do things like change a baby's poopy diaper, hold a baby when it's projectile vomiting all over you. Just to show that babies aren't always these cute and cuddly things that you get to dress up in cute clothes. Maybe, that'll encourage kids to use protection. Secondly, why don't we teach kids about masturbation? It's not THAT bad of a thing.

As for contraception, I don't see what the big damn deal is. If because of your religious beliefs, you don't want you or your wife to be on birth control, then don't use it. This is NOT an attack on religion. You can practice any religion you want - but you can't enforce your religion's morals / beliefs on other. I consider myself to be a Christian (believe it or not), and I am all for contraception. I'm all for responsible, family planning. I actually worked for a company who did not cover contraception as part of their insurance. (But I'm pretty damn sure they covered boner pills though!) I was just shocked by that. It probably also didn't help that the majority of employees were male. But it was a shock to me to find out when I had to switch to their health insurance. My Nuvaring, which was $15 - 20 with insurance, now was going to cost me $65. That's still cheap as some drugs go, but still sucked to have to pay that. That's why I then switched to a generic birth control pill, that only cost $14 out-of-pocket.

So there are some options if a woman can't get birth control via an employer's health insurance. But as someone who has been on several different types of contraception the past few years, my body reacts differently to them. So what if I couldn't have been on a generic birth control due to nasty side effects? What then? Let alone if I had to be on a certain type of contraceptive for other medical reasons.

As for abortion, I have mixed feelings about it. I was raised Catholic and was always told that abortions are bad. But I do not oppose abortions if the are necessary for things such as rape, incest, and medical reasons. But if a woman still wants to have the baby, despite these adversities, she's a saint in my opinion. I had the chance to meet some pro-choicers when I was in college, and it opened up my eyes in regards to abortion. For the most part, people who are pro-choice don't want abortions to occur. But they realize that it is a very difficult decision for any woman to make, and that decision should be up to her, not the government. Most pro-choicers are for things like better access to birth control, better sex education so that way unwanted pregnancies can be prevented. Makes sense, right? And my mom, who is very pro-life, chooses not to donate money to pro-life groups, who only picket abortion clinics and do other hateful things, that don't really help the problem. Instead, she donates money to woman's health care centers that specialize in aiding mother's who may not have the means to adequately care for a new child, therefore hopefully given a mom an alternative to abortion Why aren't more pro-lifers doing this? Why aren't they helping mothers with a positive solution to their pregnancy? Give them aid if they can't financially support a baby. Improve the adoption process. Have better access to birth control. More thorough sex education. All of these things would decrease the number of abortions. Picketing clinics and shaming women doesn't help anything.

I watched a documentary about abortion clinics called 12th & Delaware awhile back. The premise of the documentary, is that there is an abortion clinic across the street from a crisis pregnancy center. It goes into detail about the lives of the people that work at these 2 places as well as the pregnant women who visit these places. As for the pregnant women they interview, they all had good reasons as to why they may want to terminate their pregnancy. One woman was still in high school, and having a kid would basically mess up her future. Another woman was 19 and had no job or health insurance, so wouldn't have the financial means to take care of a baby. Another woman already had 6 other kids with her current husband, and didn't want the responsibility of taking care of a 7th child. And another woman was in her early 40s, I believe, and had a medical condition that would have made pregnancy very difficult, let alone being able to take care of a child at her age and health problems. If these women had decided to keep their babies, the same people that would shame them for having an abortion, would probably also shame them for bringing a kid into such conditions. For some people, babies are a blessing and wanted thing - but sadly that is not the case for everyone. I can respect the reasons why these women wouldn't want to have a baby - but the thing I wanted to know is that it seems like all of these women are intelligent enough to know that having a baby isn't a good idea. Therefore, why aren't they using some sort of contraception to prevent pregnancy? I know that having a baby right now in my life, even though I technically have the means to care for one, would turn my life upside down. Therefore, I take certain means to prevent pregnancy. It's that simple. Secondly, why aren't we offering these women other options - such as free or inexpensive medical care during the pregnancy and for the child afterwords? What about making adoptions easier to do? Wouldn't these solutions provide a more positive means to unwanted pregnancy?

I also can't help but feel that the white men who are trying to enforce such crazy regulations can't help but feel threatened by women who use contraception. I can't find the article now, but basically this article goes into some of the most important inventions of the 20th century, and one of those inventions is birth control - something that is easily overlooked compared to things like cars, space travel, computers, the internet. Birth control (not condoms) gave women the power to determine when they want to have kids, while still being able to have sex, inside or outside of marriage. Because of this power, it allowed us to be able to enter the work force and do more things with our bodies besides just produce kids. And isn't that a good thing, right? But it could be seen as threatening to men who believe in patriarchy.

In the end, I'm hoping that these frivolous abortion / contraception laws being passed by states, won't be heavily enforced. But in the meantime, please vote in this upcoming election. I'd hate to see what would happen if Rick Santorum would become president. *shudders* Even though I haven't seen the "change" I wanted from Obama, I still have hope. But even more concerning, is the though of Republicans taking over the Senate. So please vote and if you can donate money to organizations that aren't so anti-woman such as Planned Parenthood.

current mood: discontent

(pbr me asap)

Saturday, November 5th, 2011
12:12 pm - Rosemary Spiced Nuts
You're gonna love my nuts. *snicker* No seriously, these roasted and spiced nuts are amazingly tasting. And also quasi-healthy for you too.





I love this recipe. It's very simple and quick. I like making these nuts when I need to bring an appetizer or munchie of some sort to a party, but don't feel like doing anything too elaborate. Heck, these nuts would even make good Christmas gifts. Especially if you packaged them in tiny mason jars with cute labels and ribbons. This recipe can also be easily doubled if necessary.


The spice blend could also be modified too. I personally love the combination of the fresh Rosemary, mixed with a bit of sweet and salty, and the heat from the Cayenne Pepper. But I could see myself also trying basic Cinnamon & Sugar, or perhaps even an exotic Curry spice.





Rosemary Spiced Nuts

Ingredients:

1 pound Unsalted Nuts (I used Pecans, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Almonds, Cashews, and Brazil Nuts - but feel free to use whatever blend of nuts you like)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Rosemary (fresh Rosemary is key here!)
3/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Butter, melted
Honey, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Spread nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast for 8-10 minutes, until nuts are starting to brown.
3. While the nuts are roasting, chop the Rosemary and blend with the remaining ingredients, except for the Honey. This should make a thick paste of happiness.
4. Dump the roasted nuts into a large bowl and add the your spice paste. I like to add a little bit of the paste at a time, then stir, to make sure the nuts get evenly coated.
5. Taste your nuts. If you desire them to be a bit sweeter and sticky (like I do), drizzle the nuts with a bit of Honey and stir to combine. Continue to add Honey until the desired level of sweetness is achieved.

current mood: sick

(5 drunk amandas | pbr me asap)

Saturday, October 29th, 2011
3:58 pm - Would I Be Considered the 1% or 99%?
I have mixed feelings about this whole Occupy Wall Street, 1% vs. 99% stuff. I definitely think that there is some stuff that is quite fucked up with this country at times. Who knows what the solution is. It also probably doesn't help that it seems like ALL of our politicians are on the payroll of large corporations.

I came across this website with all of the rants of the so called 99%. It's some super sad stuff. But some of it does come off kind of whiny. So where did it all go wrong? A lot of these rants have to do with debt.

Maybe the American Dream, whatever that is, isn't quite as formulaic as it's thought to be. Growing up with a middle class lifestyle, it seemed like the way to achieve this dream was to go to college after you graduated from high school, so you could get that degree that will guarantee you a good job. Hopefully, you would meet that special someone during college or shortly thereafter. You would then get married. Buy that house in the suburbs. Then have those 2.5 kids or whatever the average is now. Sounds simple, right?

But to do ALL of that stuff, it takes money. And if you have money, life, who is a cruel mistress, happens, and might take everything away from you.

So college. Having a college degree was supposed to guarantee a good job. Not so much anymore. I guess I'm lucky that I chose a field (chemistry) that has proved to be rather lucrative and I live in area where there is somewhat of a demand for these skills. Sadly, I can't say the same thing for other areas of study. But it is so stressed at the high school level (even back when I was in high school) that the key to success is to go to college. I have problems with that. First, not everyone really has the fortitude to handle college. But parents and high school advisers insist it's the only way to achieve success. What about trade schools? And seriously, what the hell can you really do with a BS in History or Philosophy once you graduate from college? Perhaps, we should be getting young people to think more about what they want to do career wise, and do what it takes for them to get that career vs. stressing education.

Education is a good thing, but it's hella expensive. College institutions know this and they are definitely benefiting from more and more people pursuing higher education, especially with their false promises of good jobs afterwords. You would think that with there being more and more colleges, that tuition would go down. But tuition has actually increased greatly over the past decade. Even state schools or some community colleges are no longer affordable options. Heaven forbid you actually go to a private school where a year's tuition is more than many people's yearly salary. Call me lucky or just plain spoiled, but I graduated from college with Zero debt, thanks to my parents. But even if I did have student loans to pay back, I might have been OK, as I have managed to be fairly successful career wise and haven't had to deal with any major healthy catastrophes that could change everything.

As for my career choice, I didn't initially start off super successful when I first graduated. I had a night Lab Technician position that paid $12/hour. Thankfully, the job also came with health benefits. But by no means could I live large on that salary, let alone support anyone else besides myself and my cats. I was very frugal and tried to make good decisions with how I spent my money. I was fortunate to also have a car that runs well and was paid off. Heck, I'm still driving my 11 year old Honda Civic, with 150,000 miles on it, to this day. Thankfully, with each new job I took, I was able to move up the corporate ladder and increase my salary. But even now, I wouldn't say my current salary is anything to sneeze at, but I'm definitely comfortable. I still live a frugal lifestyle though. I'm not into designer clothes and if I had more time to hunt for bargains, I'd shop more at thrift stores and places like TJ Maxx. Most of the furniture in my house is from IKEA, Craigslist, or vintage finds at local antique shops. My biggest expenditures are yarn and going out to eat. But even then, my yarn expenditures aren't too much, and I get as much joy eating a bag of $1 tacos from the local taqueria as I do from eating a fine $50 steak.

Now marriage. Getting married is expensive. Especially now it's considered normal to have this big gala with outlandish decorations, flowers, music, food, choreographed dances that sometimes get more attention than the actual couple who is getting married. What happened to small, intimate weddings or just renting out the high school gymnasium? This may sound hypocritical from someone who did have a large-ish wedding and a Vera Wang dress. But that was more of my parent's choosing than me. I wanted the fabulous dress. It didn't have to be a Vera Wang gown, but nothing else that cost less had the look I was going for, simple and modern. Besides, could you see me in one of those big poufy princess dress with all that lace, embroidery, and rhinestones? I tried them out and it just wasn't me. But as for the wedding itself, I wanted a mariachi band and tons of delicious (and cheap!) Mexican food or maybe get married in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. Sounds like a good time to me? But my parents wanted to throw a big party for their only daughter. Again, call me lucky or just plain spoiled.

As for housing, some people just aren't meant to be homeowners. It's a huge responsibility, especially financially. When I made the decision to get a house, it was because I knew I would qualify for a decent interest rate and I would have the 20% down payment needed. For the people that didn't do this (and make less than me yet live in a bigger house than me), I have little pity for their crappy decisions.

As for kids, I know that they are expensive and that's one reason why I haven't had one yet. Not to mention the time and other sacrifices it takes to raise them. I'm not ready for that just yet.

All and all, call me lucky, fortunate, or whatever. But I know that my so called good fortune could be taken away in a heartbeat. What happens if something drastic happens to my house and insurance won't cover it but yet I'm stuck with the mortgage? What happens if I or the husband lost our jobs? What if something happened to me health wise and I couldn't work or I had an insane amount of hospital bills? I have some 'oh shit' money set aside for emergencies, but I know that it's nowhere near enough to cover any type of crazy, outlandish emergency. And I doubt that most Americans even would? $5 - 20k set aside can cover some things, but what about catastrophic accidents? You'd have to have at least $100k set aside if not more. And who really has that besides the 1%?

Despite the fact that the American Dream, may no longer be attainable, I still think there's stuff wrong with this county, especially for it to be controlled so much by large corporations. I was really sad to see Obama deny the EPA the ability to set forth more stringent standards for clean air as it could hurt business growth. While there may be some truth in that, what about having better air for the people of this country to breath? Are we more concerned with helping these corporations vs. the people that live in this country? It's obvious that these corporations don't always care about the 'little people'. Look at all of the unchecked pollution some corporations have spewed out in countries such as China or India. They'd do the same in the USA if we'd let them. They're all about profit and not necessarily taking care of the little people that work for them. I do think that large corporations should have some say in government, but because they fund the campaigns of so many politicians, they get too large of a say, in my opinion.

current mood: contemplative

(1 drunk amanda | pbr me asap)

Saturday, October 1st, 2011
11:21 am - Get Your Booze On: Bacon Bourbon Manhattan
Despite living in the South aka Baptist country, we do like to get our drink on. There's even talk of having liquor sales on Sunday's of all things!. Anyways, I do rather enjoy my libations, in moderation of course. Typically, I'm too lazy to mix up a drink at home, so I typically just stick with beer or wine. As for beers, there's always my tried and true Pabst Blue Ribbon. But as of late, I've been trying a lot of craft beers and micro-brews. Two of my recent favorites have been Dale's Pale Ale and Southern Tier Brewing's Creme Brulee Stout. As for wines, I'm a fan of red wines, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon or Grenache. But I only try to drink the cheap shit, stuff that's under $10 a bottle.


As for mixed drinks, I've found that I'm no longer a fan of the uber-sweet, popsicle flavored crap I used to drink in my college days. Actually, I'm not a fan of sweet drinks anymore really. I will consume a finally crafted fruity tiki drink or a mojito from time to time, but overall no sweet stuff for me. As of late, I've noticed that Bourbon and Whiskey has become all of the rage in hipstery restaurants. I used to think that stuff was gross, but now I'm starting to become fond of it's subtle flavors. Sometimes I'll just drink Bourbon or Whiskey, straight up on the rocks or mixed with a bit of Soda Water, which makes for a great sippin' drink in the evening.


Awhile back I saw this tutorial on how to make Bacon Bourbon. Needless to say, I was intrigued and gave it a try. It's rather simple to make and a great way to use up leftover bacon fat. Not that I cook a whole lot of bacon, but I do save the drippings. It's cooking gold! Basically, you just pour the liquid fat into your bourbon in a container than can be sealed. You then place the bourbon and bacon fat concoction in the fridge for a few days to let the booze absorb all of the lovely bacon flavors without the fat! After a few days, you filter out the fat. I used one of those tea bags for loose leaf tea, but a coffee filter would work too. I used Knob Creek bourbon which is one of the higher end bourbons. It tastes good with the infused bacon but I think next time, I might go with a lower end bourbon just because the bacon flavor does over-power some other flavors of the bourbon. I would imagine you could do the same think with Vodka and make Bacon Vodka, which would probably make for some kick ass Bloody Mary's.


Now what to do with your Bacon Bourbon? Make a Manhattan of course! It's a classic drink and it really shows off the flavor of Bourbon nicely. I prefer my Manhattans on the rocks.

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Bacon Bourbon Manhattan

1/2 ounce Sweet Vermouth
2 ounces Bacon Bourbon
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir the Sweet Vermouth, Bacon Bourbon, and Bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass with ice. Garnish with a cherry.


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(1 drunk amanda | pbr me asap)

Saturday, September 10th, 2011
7:37 pm - Asian Chex Mix (aka the most addictive thing you'll ever eat)
I'll be honest. I'm a HUGE fan of Asian cuisine. Thai, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, I love it all. Luckily, I live right down the street from some of the best Asian restaurants Atlanta has to offer. I adore the sweet / salty / sour / savory tastes of Asian food and I can never seem to get enough.

Awhile back, I was introduced to Rice Seasoning at my beloved Buford Highway Farmers Market. They give out free samples of various stuff on the weekends. Sometimes if I'm feeling at tad bit hungry, I'll stop by the market just to have a worldly snack. One day, they were having a special on Rice Seasoning and giving out samples of it sprinkled on clumpy, white rice. It was heavenly. I bought a jar of the stuff right then and there.

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I don't cook too much rice. But I do find that the Rice Seasoning is very tasty when sprinkled on plain old microwave popcorn. If you don't have an Asian market nearby, you can order this stuff on-line. My favorite is the Nori Komi Furikake 'flavor'. It's basically bits of Nori seaweed, sesame seeds, and a little bit of salt and sugar. Some of the other 'flavors' contained dried fish flakes. They are tasty - but the dried fish smell may be off putting to some.

Anyways, I've seen several recipes on the internets for Asian Chex Mix made with the Nori Komi Furikake Rice Seasoning. I've made it a few times for parties and it's been a huge hit. I refer to this mix as 'Godzilla Mix' but it is extremely addictive. It has this wonderful sweet and salty flavor mixed with crunchy with a bit of umami. This mix would also be great if you're hosting a party and need something a bit more exciting that chips and dip for guests to munch on.


Ingredients:

3 cups Crispix Cereal
3 cups Rice Chex Cereal
1 bag Bugles (they are my favorite part!)
1 bag Goldfish pretzels
1 - 6 oz. container of Roasted Almonds
(Or depending on your taste you could sub out some of these ingredients with regular pretzels, popcorn, peanuts, wasabi peas, or any other crunchy snack food or cereal)
3/4 cup Butter
3/4 cup Light Corn Syrup
3/4 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Vegetable Oil
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons Hot Sauce
1 bottle Nori Komi Furikake

1. Preheat the oven to 250 F.
2. If desired line a roasting pan with tin foil or parchment paper to make clean up easier. (I can never seem to line pans right so I opt out and just spend the extra time cleaning.)
3. Mix the Cereals, Bugles, Pretzels, and Almonds in the roasting pan.
4. In a sauce pan, melt the Butter over medium heat.
5. Add the Corn Syrup, Sugar, and Vegetable Oil. Stir until the sugars are dissolved.
6. Add the Soy Sauce, Worcestershire, and Hot Sauce. Stir until combined.
7. Pour the sauce over the dry ingredients. Stir to combine. (I like to add the sauce gradually to ensure that everything is evenly coated)
8. Place the roasting pan, uncovered in the oven for 15 minutes.
9. Take the roasting pan out of the oven and sprinkle on the Nori Komi Furikake. (I like to add the Nori Komi Furikake gradually to make sure I don't end up with a big glob of it)
10. Continue baking the mix and stirring every 15 minutes or so until it reaches a golden brown color and it's no longer goopey looking. This took about 1.75 hours for me.
11. Let the mix cool before serving. It will keep for several days in a sealed container.


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Chopsticks aren't necessary when eating this. But it's so damn addictive, the chopsticks prevent me for shoveling this stuff into my mouth by the handful.

(1 drunk amanda | pbr me asap)

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
9:15 pm - When It's Just Too Damn Hot to Turn on the Oven or I'm Just Too Lazy to Bake
As I've mentioned before, I have joined the neighborhood Bunco group. If you don't know what Bunco is, it's a stupid, little dice game. It really takes no skill or strategy to play, which allows for easy conversation and plenty of drinking. It's been a great way to meet all of the wonderful ladies, young and old, in my 'hood. And did I mention we play for money? My winnings typically = yarn money.


The Bunco group meets up once a month. The hostess just provides the booze and other beverages, where as everyone else usually brings some sort of appetizer to share. I know I could just bring Salsa & Chips or grocery store bakery cookies, and no one would judge me any less. But for some reason I always feel compelled to make something homemade to bring. Depending on my mood or energy, I'll bake some sort of yumminess. But other times, especially if it's been a busy week at work, I don't feel like putting too much effort into what I make.


Last month, I tried some sort Cookies n' Creme bars (think Rice Crispy Treats but made with ground up Oreo cookies!), thinking it would be an easy, simple, yet tasty dish to bring. It was easy, simple, and tasty, but my bars ended up coming out looking like these dark brown logs. They tasted great but literally looked like crap. I think I may have ground up the Oreos too much. Because of their appearance, I didn't dare bring them to Bunco so I whipped together a Pesto Pasta Salad last minute.


This month was a busy month and I didn't feel like doing anything too elaborate. Thankfully my bestie, Kari, had recently posted a recipe for Sugar Shock Bars on her craft blog, The Craftinomicon. I highly suggest checking out her blog for all sorts of amazing craftiness and tasty recipes. Anyways, the Sugar Shock Bars were super simple and quick to put together, plus they were a huge hit at Bunco. Peanut Butter and Chocolate is just an amazing combination.


I'm surprised I was able to get the melted chocolate to be smooth. It probably helps that I did buy a Cake Icing Spatula awhile back for such things. And check out my newly finished knitted dishcloth.





Bars ready to be devoured by the Bunco Babes:


(2 drunk amandas | pbr me asap)

Sunday, August 21st, 2011
2:42 pm - Baby Knits
No, I'm not trying to announce anything on here. I am NOT with child. But I will say I am slowly defrosting to the idea of having kids. I don't see myself having any in the immediate future. But that could change if that biological clock ever goes off.

Anyways, whenever I find out that a friend or relative is having a baby, I can't help but feel compelled to make something for the baby. For closer friends and family, I usually invest the time in making a baby blanket. Despite their smaller size, baby blankets can still be quite a lot of work! For smaller objects, I usually stick with things like hats and booties. But one of my favorite things to make are burp cloths and bibs. As you know, babies can be rather messy.

When choosing the yarns for baby items, I try to stick with something that will be low maintenance, such as acrylic or cotton, or a blend of the two. I figure most parents won't have time to hand wash a 100% wool baby blanket, not to mention some babies could be allergic to the wool. But in the knitting world, there are concerns with using acrylic yarns. Since it is plastic, it can melt onto the child. But I figure by the time the baby is in a situation where whatever acrylic item is melting, there are probably bigger things going on that would be detrimental to the baby's life.

As for color of said baby items, I try not to usually stick with the traditional pink or blue, or icky pastel colors, that most baby yarns seem to come in. I try to shake things up by using bright colors or something with a modern color palette. Depending on the recipient, I may try to make the colors gender neutral but sometimes I do opt for the traditional pink or blue.

I recently finished up this rainbow colored baby blanket for a cousin who just had a baby girl. I love how it came out, but I don't think I'll be making any baby blankets out of fingering weight yarn for quite some time. This blanket took quite some time to do and by the time I got to the last row, I think it contained at least 600 stitches.

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Keeping with the rainbow theme, I made some cheery bibs for a sweet neighbor who just had the cutest girl ever. I really liked how these bibs came out. You can't tell in this photo, but I found some equally bright colored buttons, to fasten the bibs shut.

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The bib pattern is from the Mason-Dixon Knitting book, which I have unexpectedly learned to adore. Maybe I am becoming a Southerner? But what I love about the bib pattern, and the burp cloth pattern, featured in the book, is that they can be customized in lots of fun and simple ways, such as adding an interesting button or patch.

The following bibs and burp cloths were made for a friend in FL who just had a baby girl awhile back. I opted to go girly here, but the addition of the cupcake patch definitely takes the cuteness up a notch.

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I had a lot of fun customizing the following set up bibs and burp cloths with a punk rock theme. I used skull buttons for the bibs and a skull patch on the burp cloth. I didn't feature this in these photos, but I was able to locate some diaper pins and used those to attach the patch vs. regular safety pins. You would never believe how difficult it is to find diaper pins. I searched every craft and baby store, but somehow managed to find them at this variety store in town.

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(pbr me asap)

Sunday, August 7th, 2011
6:49 pm - Brunswick Stew + Cornbread
If you had asked me 10 years ago when I was 20, where I thought I'd be living once I graduated from college, I probably would have told you Chicago or Indianapolis or some other big city in the Midwest. I would have never thought that I'd be living in the South. It's crazy where life takes you. Anyways, Atlanta is officially home for me now and I don't plan on moving anywhere else anytime soon.


Living in the South for 3+ years has definitely rubbed off on me. I have yet to speak with a drawl, but I have developed a taste for Southern comfort foods. Some of my favorite Southern delicacies include Fried Green Tomatoes, Pimento Cheese, Grits (mixed with lots of cheese & butter), Banana Pudding, Squash Casserole, and Mac N' Cheese (which is actually considered a vegetable in some restaurants).


You also can't live in the South without having a whole bunch of BBQ restaurants nearby. I had BBQ growing up in the Midwest, but nothing like the stuff you find down South. I've even ventured out to a few BBQ competitions such as the Big Pig Jig and Memphis in May. Needless to say, I'm a BBQ lover. Out of the numerous BBQ joints I've eaten at in Metro Atlanta, Williamson Bros BBQ and Swallow at the Hollow have to be my 2 favorite BBQ joints. One side dish you'll find at a lot of BBQ places is Brunswick Stew and it varies widely from restaurant to restaurant. Sometimes it's filled with veggies and big chunks of BBQ. Or sometimes it's finely shredded BBQ in a tomato broth. I think the stew is a way for restaurants to use up leftover BBQ and veggies. Anytime I venture out to a new BBQ joint, I always have to try their Brunswick Stew.


After trying many different versions of Brunswick Stew, I decided to try it making it myself. I've made a few batches over the past year or so, but I think I've finally come up with a decent blend of veggies and spices. But much like when I make chili, it comes out different each time, for better or for worse. Anyways, here's my take on Brunswick Stew. I do cheat a bit and get pulled pork from a local BBQ restaurant. But I've seen versions with just shredded chicken or beef (or if you really want to be adventurous use venison, squirrel, rabbit, as that's supposedly what Brunswick Stew was traditionally made with). This recipe would also be super easy to modify too, depending on your veggie preferences. I could see okra, lima beans, carrots, and other veggies added to the mix.





Brunswick Stew

Ingredients:
1 - large Vidalia Onion, diced
2 - Poblano Peppers, diced
1 pound Red Potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
1 small package Frozen Corn
1.5 pounds smoked Pulled Pork
1 - 28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
1 - small jar Roasted Red Peppers, diced
1 - 14.5 oz. can Diced Tomatoes
2 - Garlic cloves, finely minced
48 oz. Chicken Broth
2 - Bay Leaves
Olive Oil
Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
Your Favorite BBQ Sauce, to taste

1. Saute the Onion, Green Peppers, and Garlic in a little bit of Olive Oil in your stew pot on Medium Heat, until the onions start to become slightly caramelized.
2. Add the Chicken Broth, Crushed Tomatoes, Diced Tomatoes (plus juice), Pulled Pork, Bay Leaves, Frozen Corn, Roasted Red Peppers, and Red Potatoes to the stew pot. Stir to combine.
3. Add BBQ Sauce, Black Pepper, and Salt to taste.
4. Allow the stew to cook on low heat, covered, for at least 1 - 2 hours or until the potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the stew from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
5. Remove the Bay Leaves.
6. Serve with a slice of Cornbread.





As for the Cornbread, I followed this Skillet Cornbread recipe. This was actually the first time I used my cast iron skillet for baking. It allowed for the edges of the cornbread to come out nice and crunchy, while leaving the inside moist and chewy. Normally, I prefer my cornbread a bit on the sweeter side. This version was a bit salty and savory, due to the bacon fat called for in the recipe. But it paired perfectly with the Brunswick Stew. Bacon fat is cooking gold. Seriously. Save that shit.




current mood: tired

(1 drunk amanda | pbr me asap)


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