Just found out my heritage!

As an American, when someone asks “what are you?” sometimes you can only guess.

“Uh, my mom’s Jewish and my dad is white?” was the best answer I could ever give up until now. Being a many MANYth generation American (direct descendant of one of the pilgrims on the Mayflower!) my exact ethnicity has been obscured in time.

Luckily, one of my uncles is super into DNA/family trees/heritage and the like. A couple of years ago his insights led me to find out that I am my own fifth cousin.

Now, I have the full breakdown of my DNA! Here it is!

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Basically, my mother is Jewish and my dad is white.

I support plural/poly marriage!

He-hey! Let’s follow up my last controversial post with another one!

I was pleased to see the following NYT Opinion article this morning: Is Polygamy Next?

I’m glad to see this on the internet because I’ve been thinking about it for the past few years while same-sex marriage was on the table.

I know there are many people in this world who do not like the idea of same-sex marriage because it seems weird, foreign, maybe even icky. I am so lucky that I do not feel this way about same-sex marriage.

At the same time I must admit that I DO have some of these negative concepts about plural marriage. As in: I can’t imagine sharing my partner with another person/people. It seems weird, foreign, and maybe even icky! (Any poly people that read this pleaseeee do not take offense I love you I just need to include this in order to make my point)

BUT I am a rational person and I realize that my opinion on what is weird or not literally does not matter! Other people have different opinions! There are plenty of things that are legal in our country that are outside my comfort zone/are things I would not do. That is ok. It does not change the fact that plural marriage:

  1. takes place between/amongst
  2. consenting
  3. adult
  4. human beings
  5. and doesn’t infringe on the rights of others.

Anything* that fits those criteria is A-OK with me and should be legal in the United States of America! I will support the legalization of plural marriage because everyone in our country should be able to marry whomever makes them happy be that one person or more than one person. I’m so glad same-sex marriage is legal now because it fits those criteria and so does plural marriage.

*I’m sure there are exceptions blah blah you know what I mean

TL;DR If you support same-sex marriage then logically you should also support plural marriage because otherwise that’s cherry-picking 🙂

Pregnancy is FRIGHTENING!!

Recently the internet has nearly completely scared me away from the idea of ever ever getting pregnant or giving birth.

Ever wondered how on God’s green earth a human baby can fit into a body when it’s already completely filed with organs? Have a look at this horrifying gif:

Good lord, where have the intestines gone? The stomach is turned ninety degrees! The bladder is squished paper thin! Even your heart, diaphragm, lungs and sternum get nudged. I’m sorry but this is terribly unnerving. It does not look good or natural or in any way positive.

This gif also doesn’t show some of the other common damage caused by pregnancy. Your skin around that ridiculous abdomen? Destroyed. Your back? Strained to high heaven due to your center of gravity now being shifted to the thirty pound mass sticking out of you. Your feet? Twice their size. Hormones? Entropy is thy name. Your body will never be shaped the way it was before you got pregnant.

I hear that by the end of the pregnancy, women feel like that baby can’t come soon enough. They just want the horrors of pregnancy to be over. But guess what. Birth and post partum SOUNDS EVEN WORSE.

The terrors of post-partum life were brought to my attention recently in this post on ScaryMommy.com. I’ll give you the summary. The post refers to how beautiful the Duchess of Cambridge looked upon exiting the hospital with her brand new born daughter. I mean… look at this woman:

Anyone of course should be impressed with her stunning looks so soon after giving birth, but once I read the Scary Mommy blog post I was frankly… disgusted. Here are some things Kate had just gone through and was still going through when these photos were taken:

  • First pee: the author says the first pee “burns like a thousand suns” and you are crying. Yup sounds about right
  • First poop: apparently much, much worse than the first pee. Quotes include “writhing in pain” and “cursing [her] husband”.
  • A month’s worth of constant vaginal bleeding far more severe than any period you’ve ever had in your life
    • From these three points I think we can conclude that the lower part of one’s body is essentially decimated by the birth process.
  • Other slightly less traumatizing side effects include
    • Incredibly painful breasts that become hard and “spray” (not even a more gentle verb like ‘leak’ or ‘secrete’!) lactation
    • Elephant-sized feet and hands

In conclusion, pregnancy and birth appear to be a process of voluntarily causing very very serious injury to your body both internally and externally. Mercifully, one can make a full recovery from this but I am not at all surprised that death in childbirth was hugely common in the past and is still a real concern today.

So how would I or any woman ever subject themselves to this process after reading these things? Of course the obvious answer is it’s the only way to get a biological child of you and your partner without using a surrogate which is A) too expensive for the average couple to use and B) requires you putting the life of your growing embryo literally into the body of another woman which sounds like a last resort scenario. But still, holy shit!

The men of Buzzfeed Blue seem to share my sentiments. In the video below, four men learn about the third trimester of pregnancy. A key scene comes at 1:26; a pregnant woman and a doctor are listing all the sickening side effects of pregnancy (hemorrhoids, inability to sleep, pain from crushed organs) to these men, to which one asks, “What are some of the positives?” to which the only answer is “the baby.”

“It’s nice to know that your body want’s to destroy you,” one of them quips. Yeah. My thoughts exactly.

And yet, despite all of this, nearly all women will willingly go through the pregnancy process and most of them almost inconceivably will do it more than once. The logical conclusion to draw from this fact is that cheating death by getting pregnant and giving birth is, indeed, worth it. I suppose you suffer for a year and then reap many more years of benefits by having the child in your life, so in the end you do get a good return on your investment.

All women do it, so I guess some day I will do it too. But……. fuck.

I would love to hear thoughts from other women especially if you have been pregnant before.

Edit: wow just found this comic about pregnancy, birth etc that really covers it all: https://thenib.com/mom-body-51fde2bc01f

A great day.

Obligatory sentence whinging about how I never use the blog and I wish I did and I wish I were a famous blogger blah blah blah.

ANYWAY.

Yesterday (May 6 2015) was a great day in my life. Really one for the books. Since I have a pretty poor memory I should write it down so that I can remember this great day in the future!

Jacob had volunteered to take my car into the shop for some maintenance while I was at work. He woke up, drove me to work and dropped me off so that he could take the car. This means I actually got to see/interact with him in the morning, which I usually don’t because he wakes up after I leave! Then I got to see him again when he came to return the car! Amazing! Furthermore, I could truly tell that the car was driving better 🙂

For lunch, I ate ridiculously delicious tacos from my very favorite restaurant which is right downstairs from our office and I am a regular there.

After work it was time for a Seraphic Fire concert which is usually a very stressful time for me because I have to corral patrons to their seats. Almost always there is someone who is unhappy or grumpy and I have to deal with their needs. Last night there were no such issues. Everyone was thrilled to be there and was happy with their seats. In addition, two ladies brought me a bouquet of flowers as a gesture of thanks for a very simple and not flower-worthy gesture I had done for them regarding upgrading their seats. It was delightful.

The music of the evening was a Vespers by Philly-based composer Kile Smith, who has come down to be in attendance at the concerts and gave a delightful speech to start the show. He is such a nice guy. The work is written for MANY obscure renaissance instruments, all of which were present on stage and were fascinating to see!!

The music was… exquisite. Everyone in that church felt the spirit. They were raving. I feel so happy for Kile in his success. Perfect, lovely, as far as I could tell there were no problems with the evening. I was surprised to see that two of my lovely friends showed up: Carmen, a sweet and loving and quite elderly Cuban lady and her son Augie. This is the first time I had seen them at a concert so I was delighted. After breakdown, I left the church with my flowers in a perfect mood.

Then I went home and spent time with my boyfriend and my cat, both of whom I love very much. And we ordered PIZZA!!! mmm.

Furthermore I had a very fun conversation with a potential new friend who lives nearby; she said she loves to sing and we talked about Disney, Harry Potter, etc.

All in all 9/10 great day

Biscuit

I know this is pretty random but I just have to post about what I think may be one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I’m a cat person. I have been since my dad got a pair of kittens for me and my sister when I was 7 years old. One of those cats is still alive, other cats have come into our lives as well.

Since I left home for college in 2010, I’ve missed having a cat. I always wanted one but couldn’t have one in the dorm, then even when I was out of the dorm I just didn’t want to incur the cost, plus my boyfriend is a dog person… for a multitude of reasons I never got a cat even though I would lament out loud almost every day “I wish I had a cat”.

For my birthday in 2013, among other items, my boyfriend got me a stuffed animal cat since we couldn’t get a real one. You know, a placeholder. I decided to call that stuffed animal “Biscuit” since that’s a pretty cute word (also my mom’s cat is named Pumpernickel which I think is awesome so I was inspired by bread products).

Then in June of this year, I noticed there was a kitten living under our porch.

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So… I started to feed her.

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And then I decided to keep her. I couldn’t bear seeing her live on our property, not when I had wanted a cat so badly for so many years. So, knowing full well that I was about to bring a wild animal into my home, I trapped her. I named her Biscuit after the stuffed animal that I’d gotten for my birthday.

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She was a terribly mangy thing. So thin, skin and bones. I have no idea how old she is. I took her to the vet immediately to get her spayed. Turns out she was in her second trimester of pregnancy and only weighed four pounds. I do not think she would have survived giving birth. Too small, too young, too malnourished.

Then came the domesticating.

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It was scary to have a wild animal in the house! Was I ready for this? Did I have what it takes to domesticate a feral cat? I was very stressed about it. Biscuit stayed in the kennel for about two days before she would yowl nonstop all night and I had no choice but to let her out so that I could get some sleep. Then she took to hiding under the couch. Biscuit did not come out from under the couch for about three weeks except for when I would force her out to socialize with me about once a day. Some people said she needed to socialize and others advised me to leave her alone. I was constantly afraid I was making the wrong choices.

Eventually, Biscuit started coming out little by little. At first it was just for a couple of minutes. Then, only when we were sitting completely still and she would run whenever we moved. Then, she started playing with toys. Then, sleeping with me at night. Now, less than two months after I took the following photo of a mangy kitten…

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…here she is today.


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I saved this little cat’s life, and I think she is very grateful 🙂

The future of radio, and why it will never die.

memory cards
Smaller size, greater capacity

With the shocking speed at which technology is advancing these days, many products have come and gone in the blink of an eye. Remember flash drives? Of course you do, you may even still own one. 10 years ago, early flash drives came in what would now be considered appallingly small sizes for absurdly high prices. I remember gritting my teeth upon shelling out the $40 it cost to buy just a few hundred megabytes of storage. Today, I sneeze at a flash drive that has any capacity smaller than 4 GB, and I wouldn’t pay more than $10 for it. In fact, I probably wouldn’t pay anything for it at all, because in the last few years flash drives have been made all but obsolete by the rise of cloud storage. I have 15 GB FREE storage on Google Drive and I don’t need to worry about carrying it around in my pocket and potentially misplacing it. Flash drives were just a flash in the pan.

original ipod
The original iPod

This is just one example of a technology that has been introduced just to quickly be replaced by something new. In the music industry, even the successor of CD’s, the mp3 player, is on its last legs. The first iPod came out in 2001, and I couldn’t get enough. Now, I haven’t owned an iPod in 3 years thanks to how incredibly easy it is to stream music from services like YouTube, Pandora, and Spotify. If there are some mp3s I can’t live without and I need to have the actual files with me, I download them onto my smart phone.

But in the media industry, here is one form that stands the test of time: radio. Think about it, when you’re in the car, you still listen to the radio whether it be AM, FM, or “XM”. And I’m here to make the case that radio will never die.

vintage radio

First, let us define “radio”. If you define radio as content that is broadcast wirelessly via towers and radio waves, then stop reading right now, because you are right. The technology of broadcasting via radio waves is 100 years old and is being replaced by more modern methods, such as broadcast via satellite or the internet. I do not define radio based on its using radio waves, but radio as an industry. Here is my list of criteria for what I categorize under the word “radio”:

  1. The streaming of the content is controlled by someone other than the listener. A listener may tune in to hear what is currently playing, but cannot skip around to different songs/programs.
  2. The content is created or chosen by a person or persons, not a computer.
  3. The content is played on a “station” that takes programs from different sources
  4. A station has programming that all follows some sort of theme (ex “classic rock” “Christian” “talk” “news” “top 40”)
Spotify Radio
NOT “radio”

That’s about it. What fits this description? Well not “internet radio”, such as Spotify Radio or the new iTunes Radio, where the user chooses from a list of characteristics and a computer algorithm then pulls music from some giant distant cloud library. Marketers of these streaming services chose the word “radio” because it is a word that is familiar to the consumer, and because the service fits my criteria #4, all the music played follows a theme. This theme is chosen by the listener when they click on which genres they’d like the computer algorithm to play for them.

What does fit my description of radio is anything you tune to in your car, whether it be coming to you via radio waves or not. Radio is where you discover new things: new songs you may not have heard, news stories that are just breaking, interesting conversations and wonderful stories told by journalists. All of this unique entertainment is available to you without the use of your eyes, a special quality which makes radio quite different from any other form of media you might encounter.

Yes, there are also audiobooks and podcasts that can be enjoyed with ears only. But there are also loads of internet videos to enjoy, so why do we still have TV? TV and radio still exist (and will continue to exist) for the same reason: there is something enjoyable about giving up control about what you are about to hear or see, an excitement about not knowing what will come up next on your television or radio, and the knowledge that it will probably be something brand new that you’ve never heard before. You constantly have the opportunity to experience something new. When a person plays their own pre-loaded audiobooks or music, that chance is greatly reduced.

Radio as an industry will continue to thrive. As both a producer and listener of radio, I know that the human desire to both be entertained (sometimes without having to commit your eyes as well as your ears!) and informed will keep radio alive. That is, maybe, until they perfect those self-driving cars….

Sodexo attempts to crush local beloved coffee cart at Loyola Marymount

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Jimmy and Sung have been running their coffee cart at Loyola Marymount University for years, and they are beloved by the student population. Unfortunately, college food conglomerate Sodexo is trying to force them out. LMU student Marc Papakyriakou has taken to reddit to spread the word and garner support against Sodexo in hopes of saving the coffee cart. Here is the story in his own words, taken from the reddit post:

They’ve run the coffee cart on campus for five years now and are beloved by almost all of the students on campus. They often worked from early morning to late at night, providing everyone from coffee, tee, and muffins to clementines, boba, and cider. The coffee cart is their livelihood. They are not only hard working, but also kind to all of the students who go to them and are seen as members of the community. Ask any recent alum about the coffee cart and you would be sure to get a smile and a small story.

Yesterday the student body received news that the catering company LMU has contracted, Sodexo, has decided not to renew the coffee cart’s contract despite their popularity with the student body. Their contract originally came up for renewal in december of 2012, but Sodexo convinced them to agree to month-to-month extensions until July of 2013, assuring that it was completely normal procedure. They had in fact been specifically directed for a Sodexo official to visit in August 2013 to sign renewal. Instead, before August even came, the couple was given a termination agreement that Sodexo stated was fully within the range of their contract. At no point before or during the seven month period was there any mention to them that Sodexo was planning to change their dining options. Sodexo reneged on the contract agreement an in a breach of business ethics clearly kept information from the couple which would have allowed them to plan for their future. Sodexo plans to replace the unique and individually run coffee cart with a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. It is another example of a big corporation (Sodexo earned 1.2 billions dollars of profits in the past year) trudging on the livelihoods of kind and hardworking people.

The official statement released by the school states that it is a decision to “best serve the community”, and that it is an opportunity to bring kosher foods onto campus. It even states “Many schools operate Coffee Bean Tea and Leaf franchises on their campuses.” But at no point were the wants of the students ever considered. We don’t want to be like every other campus. We want to keep our coffee cart that is a unique part of the culture and spirit of our campus. We want our school, a jesuit institution, to live up to the standards it has set for itself: Be socially just, open to small groups, caring, and loving. This is barely represented in the “compensation” the couple is being offered: an opportunity to work for the Coffee Bean cart as hourly wage employees. This is barely due compensation and amounts to forcing them out of business and hiring back in a demoted position (no longer owners, but workers under the jurisdiction of a large brand name). If they are going to be hired back anyways, why not just allow them make the sought after changes and stay in charge? The most probable reason is financial kickbacks from Coffee Bean, but the school would never come out and say that.

I believe that Sodexo specifically chose this time, the middle of the summer when school is not in session, to conduct a “middle of the night” termination to minimize the student outcry. If there was some forward announcement that the contract was not to be renewed, students would have had time to organize and state their opposition and possibly prevent it from happening. If this was their plan, it has failed, as a Facebook group called “Save the Coffee Cart!” was created and has seen an immediate response, growing to 2100 members overnight (over a quarter of the student population).

All I ask of you Reddit is to spread this story and hold Sodexo and LMU accountable for their actions by bringing attention to them. Sodexo, a company whose ethical principles are “Loyalty; Respect for people; Transparency; Business integrity” has exhibited none of those by their recent actions. LMU, an institution founded upon Jesuit principles is violating its own principle of “the promotion of justice”. An institution is defined by its actions, and not principles.

Please, help us bring true justice.

If you feel so moved, you may want to contact Sodexo or LMU about this story.

Dryden

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My aunt’s house in Dryden, NY is like something out of a storybook. It is perched on a hill in the rural up-state area. Homes and farms dot the rolling landscape. The house itself is tiny, white, old. I think it is still heated by a central furnace.

Step into the backyard, a small vegetable garden boasts cucumber and squash during the summer. There is a solitary large tree from which a swing made of twine and and a plank of wood hangs down. The whole backyard is framed by tall ryegrass and milkweeds. At dusk we like to whack the milkweeds until their seeds float off into the sunset.

The house overlooks a valley framed by rounded old mountains. There is a glistening pond down on the neighbor’s property. Birds are chirping, and you can hear the occasional cow moo as it approaches the pond. The air is clear, the sun is mild, and the temperature not too hot even though it is summer. Everything is perfect.

At night, you can see the stars. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life. You look up, the sky goes on forever and you can see it all because you’re in the mountains and there are no buildings or trees to block your view. It’s overwhelming, you may even be moved to tears.

I wouldn’t mind living in Dryden some day.