Friday, July 31, 2009

Gone Veggie..Adventures of a New Vegetarian, Prologue

Yeah, so I finally decided that I could not ignore my conscience anymore, and I became a vegetarian. Unlike the last couple of times I've tried to go veggie, I haven't been craving the stuff I "can't" have. Yet...we'll see how it goes, but so far, I'm doing pretty good...I tried chocolate soy milk, which I can definitely add to my fridge, but I don't know about regular soy milk. For the things I'm not losing--eggs and dairy products--we're buying organic, which we've mostly been doing for a while. No matter what, at least I'm reducing my carbon footprint and, most importantly, animals are not dying for me to eat. I just hope I stick with it this time.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rest in Peace E. Lynn Harris

We were in Harry Potter all morning (it's a long movie!), so I just found out about E. Lynn Harris' death a couple of hours ago. For those who don't know, Harris was a fabulous openly gay African-American author known for tackling difficult topics like homophobia, religion, bisexuality, and men on the down low in the Black community. He was hugely popular, and his books were often found in the African American section as opposed to just the LGBT section, which I always thought was awesome because it probably meant more people read his books than might have otherwise. It also meant that stores like Wal-Mart (yeah, I know, evil, but...)carried them, which made them available to people in small towns that may not have had access to a bookstore or a library that stocked them (like Thomasville, AL, where I got one of his late books). His eleventh book, Basketball Jones, was published earlier this year, and he was on tour promoting it when he had a heart attack. The last time a writer's passing affected me this much was Kurt, you may be asking, why would a non-Black girl from Alabama love E. Lynn Harris so much?

I will admit that I haven't kept up with his books over the last couple of years. They make my to-read list, but lack of time has made that list very long. His first novel, Invisible Life, was the first gay book I ever read. I was fourteen years old, crazy religious, and just realizing I was gay when I stumbled on Invisible Life in my little small town library. At the time, I was still convinced that I was going to hell because I liked girls. You cannot imagine how comforting it was to live in Harris' characters' lives for a while. They were gay and bisexual and struggling with what the world and their families would think. They were so real to me. It took a few more years after reading it before I finally accepted myself, but I always carried the memory of that book with me. To this day, I can still remember what the cover looked like and exactly where it was on the shelf. Almost every stamp on the library card was mine. What's crazy is I don't think I reread it that many times. Sometimes, I would check it out just to have it. I guess it was comforting in some way to have proof that I wasn't alone in my struggle.

I wish that I had written or emailed him to let him know how much I loved his books years ago. Well, thanks E. Lynn, wherever you are...

E. Lynn

Thursday, July 16, 2009

because i obviously don't have enough distractions....

it has come to my attention that, contrary to my own beliefs, i am the biggest procrstinator in the Western Hemisphere...since my first semester back had me finishing everything early, i can only imagine that it has developed slowly over the last two years rather than simply being a dormant condition of which i was unaware. that being said, there are several websites that have been contributing much to the sad procrastination that is enveloping me...

So here they are, my favorite time-wasters:

1. Facebook...obvious time-waster...iphone app and online
2. Twitter...not alone here, I know...iphone app and online
3. 11 points...awesome site I just discovered that is exactly what it sounds 11 lists...because "top ten lists are for cowards" lol
4. Texts from Last Night...again, an obvious site...posts of texts and text conversations...and lemme tell you, when you search by area code for your own, you can get awfully frightened by what you find
5. Overheard in New York...random things, wait for it, overheard in New York City
6. I Can Has Cheezburger...this is made much worse by the iphone app...lolcats, dogs, and ppl at my fingertips 24-hours-a-day?! hell yeah
7. Epicute...cute and interesting things with food...the lolcats of the culinary world...
8. Cute Overload...way too cute animals
9. FML...code for fuck my life...massive amounts of posting of people probably having a worse day than you...

3 oh 3 is a magic number...and i'll leav it at that

Ghost Adventures Season 2, Episode 7 Preview

I've started getting my email updates for each show, so here's the preview video for this week's lockdown: Moon River Brewing Company, Savannah, Georgia

Moon River Preview

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Too Lazy to Be Green

So, most of you know that I try to be as green as I possibly can. I am certainly no Ed Begley, Jr., and there are a lot of things that I could probably do better. But I'm getting better as time goes on. Most of you also know that Anna and I live with my family while I am going to school. A few weeks ago, the landlord came out here and did some yard work and happened to move a recycling bin next to the back steps. I had no idea, but the bill for trash pickup includes recycling pickup as well! We can recycle cardboard, plastic, glass, aluminum and tin cans, magazines...basically pretty much anything. We've been living here for almost 2 years, and not once has my mother mentioned the recycling--except for coke cans, which they get money for. When I asked her about it, she said they were just too lazy to deal with it. OMFG Okay, the back steps are right outside the kitchen door--literally a door and about 5 steps from the kitchen trash can. It is absolutely ridiculous that people are too lazy to do these things. They are not difficult or expensive at all. Not everyone has the money to go out and buy a Prius or build an eco-friendly house (we certainly don't), but there is no effin reason you can't take a plastic bottle or tin can a couple more feet to a recyclin bin. NONE. It's already being paid for, so in fact, you are wasting money by not using the service...

just needed to let that out...

Ghost Adventures Season 2, Episode 6: Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Wow, look at me, a post on time lol...This was the best episode yet! Eastern State is a great location; I think you could get awesome evidence in broad daylight there. Considered one of the most haunted locations in the world, it started in 1829 as a hardcore solitary confinement prison, with each cell being completely blocked from the others, and prisoners were shrouded when being moved to keep them isolated even when out of their cells. (One interesting fact they noted here was that the Quakers apparently came up with the idea that extreme solitary confinement would help the inmates find forgiveness, repentance, and God.) Throughout its history, the guards used torture to keep the inmates in line, using such things as the tongue clamp (which they "clamped" on poor Aaron) and the "mad chair". Many, many men died at Eastern State, and in looking at the old death records, Zak noted multiple suicides and one listed as death by "masturbation". (what the...?)

The Smorgasbord of Evil

Anyway, while the location was awesome to see, what stood out was the evidence. In one of the cells in cellblock 12, you can VERY CLEARLY hear "...I knew God-God..." and "hungry" in what sounded to me like two separate voices. In the hallway near this area, you also hear "hi". Now, sometimes evp's are garbled and grainy and they could be saying any number of things. Not these. The words were clear and easily understood. Later, the guys split up and went to three separate areas: Zak to Al Capone's cell, Aaron to the infirmary, and Nick to a cell where an inmate had brutally murdered a guard. Aaron heard some footsteps, and there was a small bit of noise in Capone's cell. But Nick had an intelligent presence; twice, his name was spoken. Once was in answer to his asking "Who's locked up in this cell?" That was not a good thing, I don't think. Active negative spirits can take parts of you, whether you know it or not. I would personally do a cleansing after every lockdown, but that's just me....

Next week: Moon River Brewery, Savannah, Georgia

Ghost Adventures Season 2, Episode 5: The Birdcage Theater, Tombstone, Arizona

This is almost a week behind, but…Oh, and I can’t find the notes I scribbled during the show for this, so it may be a bit spotty and short. I apologize…

Despite my general lack of enthusiasm for all things western in genre, I have always loved the movie Tombstone, so I was kind of stoked to see what they would find here. The building they were investigating has a serious history of supernatural experiences, some captured by other ghost hunters and employees there. It served as a bar and brothel when it was open and now serves as a museum, complete with the Black Mariah (the old west hearse) on display. They caught several disembodied voices, and I think they were fairly disappointed not to have seen the naked woman ghost reported to them in the pre-lockdown walkthrough. :-) As usual, poor Aaron was sent off on a mission by himself. This time, they sent him up to the Black Mariah to investigate. I feel bad for him sometimes…but the faces he makes are simply priceless! (We love you Aaron!)

As I said, I can’t find the notes I scribbled, and I am writing this a full week after watching the episode. If I get a chance to watch it again, I’ll edit.

Next Week: Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ghost Adventures Season 2, Episode 4: Magnolia Plantation, Natchitoches, Louisiana

Okay, I’m a couple of weeks behind, so bear with me while I catch up…

This episode was awesome, guys! It was fun seeing them in a Southern country setting. I love Zak, Nick, and Aaron, but they are definitely city boys lol. Case in point: Zak got buzzed by a carpenter bee and was heard to say “What is that? A helicopter?” Then when told what it was he asked if it would kill you. Priceless. :-D

Anyway, on the initial daytime walkthrough, the park rangers kept referring to the black x’s painted everywhere as “historical graffiti”. Well, anyone who knows anything about Voodoo knows that’s bullshit. Zak thought the same and looked it up to find their Voodoo significance. As with Castillo de San Marcos, I understand that the rangers are federal employees and are probably told to keep any Voodoo and/or ghost talk to a minimum, but I mean, come on. At least don’t treat people like they’re morons. A couple of anthropologists working on the site were interviewed, and one came up with quite a few items of interest. I particularly loved the Miraculous Medal that had been altered to represent Urzuli.

Prior to the lockdown, the guys participated in a Voodoo ritual to open the door to any spirits that may be trying to come through. Bloody Mary was cool, and the face that was photographed in the smoke was awesome! The ritual apparently worked because the spirits were definitely around. In the main house, which is still privately owned, there was the requisite knocking and voices, and an attic closet full of drying gourds freaked Zak right on out. But in his defense, he was in a very dark room with nothing but some night vision to see by. A room of gourds would be a bit strange in those conditions.

The second half of the lockdown took place on the park half of the grounds. Nick was sent off to the old slave hospital, while Zak and Aaron were locked in the cabin that used to belong to a slave healer woman named Aunt Agnes. While Zak and Aaron were waiting for the ranger to lock them in, lights in the next cabin began flashing on and off, seemingly in response to questions Zak was asking. I honestly think they should have gotten the ranger to lock them in that cabin instead, but being that it was government property, they may have only had permission to be in Aunt Agnes’ cabin. I don’t know. What I do know is that the evidence the two of them got in the cabin was pretty clear. After Zak mentioned that there is no slavery now (at least not official slavery on the scale of what the spirits would have experienced), they heard and recorded what sounded like a ritual or celebration. And a disembodied voice very clearly said Aaron’s name. One of the highlights: Zak saying to the spirits, “Do some Voodoo magic on us!”, Aaron: “Don’t taunt them.” Zak: “Am I taunting?” Aaron: “Dude! You’re taunting the hell out of it!” OR the “crawfish supernatural” (that tickled the hell outta me)

Next episode: The Birdcage Theater in Tombstone, Arizona

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Solving Rural Obesity, a Primer

I just read an article at the Huffington Post about obesity in the U.S. Apparently, Mississippi is still the "fattest", but Alabama is closing in quickly. The researchers in the article were like, "we should improve school lunches and sidewalks so the people can walk their neighborhoods instead of driving." What? Okay, the school lunch thing is spot on, because there are areas where that may be all or nearly all that a kid gets to eat that day. But sidewalks? That will work in large cities--Birmingham, etc., but most of Alabama and Mississippi are rural. Sidewalks are not going to help at all. Even if you have sidewalks running all over the place, things are too far apart to bother.

I'll tell you how to solve the obesity problem in the rural South: GIVE PEOPLE OPTIONS. I have always maintained that if you give someone on food stamps or even just a very low income healthy choices for prices they can afford, they will pick them over the unhealthy ones. For example, say you have exactly $20 for groceries, money or food stamps, to last you a week or two. Are you going to buy $1 pizzas and 8 for $1 ramen noodles that will last or a small amount of fresh produce that won't? No matter how much better for you the veggies are, the math simply doesn't work. If farmer's markets and healthy food were made available, accessible, and most of all affordable for the rural poor, they would take it. No one wants their kids to be obese and increase their risks for health problems, but in a choice between healthy and hungry or full but heavier, what do you think will be the choice?

Of course, economic development, sex education, higher literacy rates, and being paid a living wage would help more...but that's a whole 'nother blog.