Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chicken Stock Day!

Today is my third favorite day of winter. Next to Christmas and Christmas Eve, Chicken Stock Day is my favorite cold weather day. I wake up and put a whole year's worth of chicken carcasses in a pot of water and spend the day stirring and cooking. This year I have a gallon bag of chicken legs we never got around to eating, Thanksgiving's turkey bones, the carcass of a rotisserie chicken we ate one day, and the skins of all the chicken breasts we have eaten all year. That, 3 carrots, 3 celery stalks, an onion, herbs and a head of garlic, and now my house smells like soup. The reason this is a cold weather activity is because A) it will heat your house (it's not the heat, it's the chicken-scented humidity!) and B) you can't put the finished stock right in the fridge or you'll heat up and spoil everything else in there so instead of buying or making tons of ice we just bring in tons of snow to pack around the stock pot in the sink. And no matter how long any recipe says this is going to take, plan on at least 12 hours. It takes time to simmer everything down enough (you'll know it's done when you can take out a leg bone and it snaps like chalk) and then cool it enough to put it in the fridge. And then the next day you skim the fat disc off the top and divide the stock between quart freezer bags and store them in the basement freezer. All year, when anyone in my house gets sick, I cut open a bag or two of stock and boil noodles in it. We all get healthy (no bubonic plague yet!) and eat yummy stock that is NOT msg and artificial flavoring. Win-win!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

still hungry so still thinking about food

One hundred years ago we weren't a fat nation. We also weren't a nation of cake mixes, refrigerated pre-made cookie dough, and marshmallows in a bag. If you wanted a marshmallow, you had to make a marshmallow. I don't even know if you could do that 100 years ago. Was there gelatin, or is that only in the newer recipes. I don't know! But you couldn't just run down to the store and get potato chips and frozen hot wings and a self-rising pizza. I want to go back to that time, but in a health food Democrat way, not a Constitutionalist Republican way (a future rant, can you tell?). I want to live in a house without candy and cookies and junk food. I would love to live in a house where everything was homemade. I would wake up and make my own bread if Tom would buy me the ingredients. (Would he really buy a bag or more of flour every week?). I would love to do all I could to eliminate preservatives and artificial flavors if I could. It's not realistic to think I could do it all, but why not do as much as possible?
No, I will not eat potato chips! Not until I get a thin slicer, at least. And sour cream. mmmmmm, sour cream.

I'm a gluttonous pig!

I want to eat healthy, I really do. I want to feel superior in the way that gluten-free vegans do. But I have a weakness, a horrible gluttonous weakness: beer and potato chips. I drink a beer*, and then I want to eat Ruffles chips dipped in straight sour cream. I crave it. I want crunchy, greasy, fatty foods. I know it's bad and horrible and I can visualize the grease and oil literally settling in my aorta, yet I crave it anyway. I want to commit suicide by potato chip. I try to pacify myself with popcorn (crunchy and salty) but it's not the same. And you know what's even better, but no amount of beer can break down my defenses enough to eat it? Hostess Suzy Q's and then Ruffles chips.
Damn I'm hungry.

*Alcohol is considered a drug compatible with breastfeeding, if used in moderation. [source]

I'm having a bad day, alright?

I am a stay at home mom, and no matter how many catchy little emails get forwarded into my inbox telling me that my job costs $100,000 a year to hire out (nannies, cab service, maid, etc) I still bring nothing in. I may very well save money, but I do not earn money. And I am accutely aware of this fact. My husband provides for the family, I just clean up after it.

Some part of me, no matter how feminist I try to get about marriage being an equal partnership and me being a stay at home mother, not a housewife, still feels like I have to be a martyr in order to earn my keep. I mean, let's face it, emotional pain and trauma aside, the family could survive a lot better without me than without Tom. I could be replaced with a case of baby formula and a day care; Tom pays the bills and he parents. So, to defend my existence and expense, I over compensate. I bake and I (at least attempt to) cook, I sew, I wear old clothes with holes and I don't ask for new. Part of this is because I actually like baking and sewing, but part of it is because if I'm not going to earn money the least I can do is try not to hemorrhage it either. To tell the truth, the bra I'm wearing right now is 13 years old and expense is a big part of the reason I decided to let my hair color go natural. But also, I hold out eternal hope that one day somebody will appreciate all that I did that went unappreciated. Sadly, the thing about being an unsung hero is that you often remain unsung. How many early Christians were crucified and they're not the ones we think of when we see a cross. Not all martyrs are remembered.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Here's a secret, everyone at soccer practice already knows you're a soccer mom

If you have 3 kids and need a bigger vehicle, a minivan makes sense. If you need to be able to buckle 2 kids into car seats, store a backpack or two plus extra diapers and snacks for on the go, and still have space for groceries, a minivan sounds just about perfect. If you're an adult who needs an adult car, doesn't drive in dangerous or off-road conditions, and wants to save money on fuel, you should look into getting a minivan.

So why do these people always buy SUVs instead?! Here's an interesting little known fact; a minivan will not actually castrate a man. It also won't age you, or give you back pain, or impregnate you with more children than you currently have. It's just a vehicle, and a pretty practical one at that. It's not just for den mothers or soccer moms, but even if it were that's a pretty sizable demographic anyway, and also happens to be the same target audience that resists it so much. And driving your kids to soccer practice in a Trailblazer because you're too cool or sporty or whatever to drive a minivan makes you look ridiculous. Everyone at soccer practice already knows you're a soccer mom. And what's more, they're insulted that you think it's something to be ashamed of since they are also soccer moms. Embrace it, because to do otherwise is idiotic.

Yes, that's right. The denial looks worse than the truth. You end up looking like this guy, who is similarly ashamed to admit he is bald.

Linkety links!

Down With Cup Cake Haters

How dare you not teach about cup cakes in science class?! Are you anti-cup cake? Are you threatened by the cup cakes? Do you ignore the existence of cup cakes?

How about when I go to a restaurant and there aren't any cup cakes on the menu? They are clearly violating my right to cup cakes. They are giving preferential treatment to people who hate cup cakes. I won't stand for this kind of anti-cup cake behavior!

When I go to the grocery store, I see aisles and aisles of ingredients for other foods, but only maybe one or two aisles containing cup cakes or cup cake ingredients. This is discrimination!

By refusing to coddle, suck up to, and fear the cup cake lovers of the world, you are discriminating against cup cakes and those who like cup cakes! If you are not for us, you are against us! There is no neutral area, no room for ambivalence. It is either all cup cake or no cup cake, and we cannot let it be no cup cake!

Replace cup cake with Christianity and you will see how absolutely stupid stuff like this strikes me.

Why University Scientists Refuse To Discuss Religion

The War On Christmas

Walmart Ratings For Christmas Displays

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tort reform, my ass

What do you think is in seasoned beef? When faced with that food, seasoned beef, what do you imagine it contains? Beef, seasonings, maybe a tad of the ubiquitous preservatives? One person found out, and is suing Taco Bell for false advertising because their seasoned beef is only 35% beef. I am opposed to frivolous lawsuits, but this I agree with.

I believe in truth in advertising laws. I want my juice to say 100% real juice, or artificially flavored, and I want to know what it means when it says one of those. And when I order a beef burrito, I want the brown lumpy fatty stuff to come from a cow, not a chemical plant. And if this lady wins her lawsuit, restaurants might be more truthful in their descriptions and that's a-okay with me. If not, at least other places will know that there are folks out there willing to pay a lab to test fast food.

And, although I've already mentioned it here before, I want to reiterate that the McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit lady had to have her vagina skin grafted because McDonald's company policy was to only serve coffee hot enough to give 3rd degree burns if sipped. Plumbers cannot legally set your water heater temp as high as the coffee that McDonald's handed to people every day. [source]

I find it odd that the Republican rallying cries are simultaneously tort reform and free market. To me, lawsuits are the epitome of free market. The bad guys are bad, they get sued, and a jury of their peers determine the damage. Be bad for as long as you think you can get away with it and then pay up when it catches you. The free market determines the penalty for bad behavior rather than the government. Isn't that exactly what free market is supposed to be about? Republicans should shun tort reform for what it is: government trying to regulate and stifle the peoples' wills in the free market.

teach your kids life, really

Can I just say that in my opinion, if you are 30 years old and the parent of 2 children and you blush and giggle when buying toilet paper and pads and make your husband buy all condoms and lube, you need to be put in a supervised care facility or group home. I seriously have to question your maturity and judgment if you get embarrassed buying hygiene products. I just read this on a message board for personal advice after pregnancy:

Wow! As embarrassing as all this is to me, it is SO stinking helpful!! I thought I was the only one that sex was this painful for. I hate it sometimes, more than half the time, the reason I don't want to do it, is because I don't want to deal with the pain it causes after. So lube helps huh?? WOW. Now the problem is buying it!! I still will not even buy condoms!! I can't take it, I get so embarrassed. I am just to stinking modest. I tell David if he wants to have sex, then make sure he buys condoms. We are not doing it without them, and Im not buying them!!! My favorite part of pregnancy is not having to buy pads! I ALWAYS make sure to go to a female checkout stand, even if the line is twice as long, just because it helps me a little bit!

I used to think this particular woman was just a normal housewife but now I think maybe she has some high-functioning disability, like mild Downs or something. Or maybe she was home schooled.

Back when I was single, I had a test for guys. If I thought things were getting serious, not just exclusive but really "Is he the one?" serious, I would ask him to pick me up a box of tampons at the store. Usually I'd call while I was at work or whatever, but I'd find a way for it to be a reasonable favor to ask. If he bought them for me, he was mature enough to keep considering. If he freaked out and acted all 8th grade about it, he wasn't. (What is the check-out person going to think, that some guy is putting tampons up his butt, or that he's buying them for a girl?) For the record, I found out years after my ex passed the test that he'd made his best friend go in the store and buy them for me. Not surprising, knowing what I now know.

Douchenozzle, an update

Had a meeting with DN last night, during which he never could definitively outline what pants were okay and what weren't. Finally he just said "If you buy them as pajamas, they're pajama pants." That's when I countered with, "But see, I don't buy them as pajamas, I buy them as school clothes. I actually prefer that my daughter wear the most shapeless and baggy pants possible." And he said that if they're not her pajamas, she can wear them. So today, at my insistence, she is wearing the doggy pants to school.

Oh, DN also threw out an, "Unless you want to be on the Handbook Committee this spring yourself?" I told him to just email me the when and where because I would love that. I happen to have non-douche-related issues with this part of the dress code. In my opinion, the "dress for success" mentality is a little outdated. (Go ask the Detroit auto execs what they wore to work as their companies went under, and then go tour Google and see what they wear there.) But also, the definition of acceptable school attire has always been evolving. My mother couldn't wear pants to school; it had to be a skirt or a dress. And forget about jeans or athletic shoes. Way too casual for school in the 60s.

But it seems so arbitrary! That's what really bugs me. They're legislating taste, and without cause. I understand dress code rules regarding revealing clothing, and the rules against cigarettes and alcohol branding, but other than just not liking it in a vague way, what is the specific issue surrounding pajama pants. When pinned down, I want to know why they ban them. They don't show too much skin- far from it. They aren't disruptive; it's not like pajama pants of even the loudest print are going to cause a commotion for more than the first few seconds of class; the presence of a substitute teacher causes more murmurs than that. It is simply that it's not what they're used to and no one has challenged the policy. But now I am challenging it. So I hope they can defend it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

. . . . and dis one

"Mommy mommy mommy! The bug, it gwoke."
Sure enough, he's crouched down over an immobile box elder bug. "How did it break?"
He holds up one finger. "I poke."
I had told him over and over to stop "poking" (squashing) the bugs but he never stopped. I think he thought he was petting them. He just wanted to touch them, but he always ended up killing them, or at least critically injuring them. I would explain it to him and he would nod and solemnly agree not to poke them, and then two minutes later, another bug would be gwoke.

There's a TV in Tommy's room. No channels, just a tv and dvd player, so that Tom can watch televised poker games in the living room while Tommy watches Cars or How To Train Your Dragon in his room. I was against it, but I lost that one. Tommy knows which button turns the tv on, but the tv seems to be set up that if you change the channel it disconnects from the dvd player. Then you have to push the button on the dvde remote to get the movie back. No big deal, except that I'm short and the remotes have to be kept out of Tommy's reach, so it's a hassle for me to go get the remote to fix it every time Tommy hits the channel button.
So this morning he comes to me, "Mommy turn dragons on." So I did, and then went to change the baby's diaper.
"Mommy dragons bzzzzzzt," he makes a noise to let me know the tv is just static.
I finished the diaper, set the baby down, grabbed the remote off the top of my desk, and went to fix the tv. I found him in the bedroom turning the tv off and on and off and on, trying to fix it himself.
I fixed it and then pointed to the power button. "Only touch this button. Just this one. None of the other buttons."
"Okay." I turned to leave. "And dis one." And then I heard static.
"No. Don't touch that one, because it makes the movie go away. Only touch this one." I showed him the power button again, fixed the picture with the remote, and left.
"Dis button bzzzzzzt." He'd pushed it again.
I went in and fixed it. "Never touch that button. Only touch this button. Only this one. Ever. This is the only button you push!"
"Okay. . . . and dis one."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Trust me, a nozzle is worse than a bag

I really really try to get along with those people in life that I am forced to associate with. I make more concessions than I might like, and I bite my tongue a lot, stuff like that. But my daughter's principal is one that I am actually willing to have a confrontation with. To protect his identity, I will henceforth refer to him as Principal Douchenozzle, Douchenozzle, or just DN. Let me start by just painting a picture here, so you know who I'm talking about. Remember Lumbergh from Office Space? This guy doesn't look like him, but he talks just like him. "Yeah, well, um, I think we just need to work together on this and then, you know, we can decide what would be best for Ryan, okay?" And he does that thing where he says "we" when he means "I", as though whatever he is saying is so obviously right that of course you would agree with it. "Well, I mean, we want for Ryan to of course excel at the curriculum and do what it takes to make that happen." What if I don't? What if I am actually calling to tell you that I think "what it takes" is extreme and I would rather she not do it? If I agreed with everything you do, I would not have called you in the first place, would I?

It started last year when Ryan didn't do an English assignment. It was a presentation thing and she put it off until she ran out of time and didn't get it done. I had seen it coming but you know what, the kid does this shit all the time and I decided it was about time I let her fall on her face and get the zero rather than nag her for the whole last weekend to do it all. Then I got a call from her, with her teacher standing close enough that I could hear her feeding the kid lines, telling me that she hadn't done it (which I knew) and that for every day she continued to not turn it in, she would receive a detention. I called the principal to argue this because hey, the assignment wasn't done on the day it was due so give the kid the grade she earned (a zero) and maybe she'll learn that actions, or the lack of them, earn consequences. What I got was a big spiel about how second chances are important (so is learning consequences, Douchenozzle) and how about I just have her do the thing late for some credit (because she had her chance and blew it) and do I actually want my daughter to get a zero (what I want is for her to get the grades she earns, which in this case is a zero). I ended up having her whip something up quick the next day but it soured me on the principal (and that English teacher), that they would rather give a kid a detention every single day than give her the grade she earned, even when the parent called to request the grade. (Remind me someday to do a post on why I get to sick of second chances.)

So then fast forward to a couple weeks ago. It was cold. Really cold, and it wasn't getting any warmer. The projected high for the day was five, with a low of -10. The bottom of the local TV channels was a ticker tape of school closings and delays, but not our town, never our town. I kept checking the school website, too, right up until I went to bed, and no closing or delay. While browsing around on the site, I found the district policy on adverse weather conditions and it said that even if school is open, if a parent feels the weather is too bad they can choose to keep their child home and the absence will be excused and homework will be accepted late. I told Tom that if I didn't get a text alert on my phone of a delay I was going to call her off. The next morning, I called her off. I left a voice mail at 6:00 a.m. saying it was too cold and I was keeping Ryan home. I got a call at 9:00 from good old Principal DN telling me that Ryan's absence was going to be unexcused since she wasn't sick. I told him the district website said it was okay to keep a kid home for weather and he asked where. Of course, I couldn't remember where I'd found it, and it wasn't in the 'absences' part of the handbook so he didn't believe me. Furthermore, he said that if that was the policy, he was going to have to see about changing it. When I got off the phone, nothing was resolved and I still couldn't find the paragraph I knew I'd read just the night before. So I called the district superintendent, explained my problem to her, and she found the passage for me and promised to call DN and tell him about it. I thanked her and emailed him the link myself, just for good measure. But a few hours later, after cooling down a little, I realized that was had really bothered me was that he didn't even know the policy, and he was the one charged with enforcing it. I had to go over his head to his boss to mount my own defense and find evidence. And on top of that, the asshole had just assumed he had the authority to make up rules as he went along. He didn't think a parent should be able to supersede the district's decision to stay open, so he was deeming it an unexcused absence. I really hadn't occurred to him that there could possibly be any rule out there stopping him form doing that. His power was, in his mind, absolute. So I fired off an email to the superintendent, and I CCed DN, thanking her for her help and reiterating who awful it was to have to go to such lengths to prove my case just to give my kid a chance to get credit for her homework, both what was due and what was assigned that day. And I also slipped in there how disappointed I was that even after being proved wrong, he still hadn't called to apologize, and I suggested he might benefit from some more training in school policies and in dealing with parents. When he called to apologize, I let it go to voicemail, so as not to dig myself a hole.

So, my most recent beef with DN is over the school dress code. I have read the thing 3 times just today and I know what it says and what the rules are, and nowhere does it mention pajama pants, lounge pants, or elastic waist cotton, flannel, or fleece pants. And yet, my daughter tells me that she can't wear several pairs of her pants to school because the principal says they violate the dress code. So I sent an email asking him to explain to me why she thinks this, since I have read the dress code and they don't violate anything. I can't wait to see what the answer is, or to hear how he justifies trying to outrank the district rules with his own personal and arbitrary preferences. And don't think I'm above using the phrase "what you personally think 12 year old girls look good in". For the record, Ryan has worn paint stained sweat pants to school and had no problem. The pants he objected to were Grandma Pants with pictures of dogs on them. Straight-leg fleece pants with an elastic waist and drawstring, just like the Hanes sweats she's been wearing since Christmas, but in a patterned double-sided fleece instead of black one-sided fleece.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It makes me sad for humanity

In the comments section of an article about scientists' plans to clone a woolly mammoth, I read this:

This animal is extinct for a reason - the earth warmed back up. This animal would be miserable today, and when the earth warms further to return itself to normal, this animal would be even more miserable.

I can barely fathom all that is wrong with this. For one thing, if the heat of the Ice Age ending was responsible for the mammoth's extinction then it goes to reason that today's temperatures would pretty much kill any newborn mammoth instantly, not make it miserable. An entire species doesn't just go extinct from being miserable. If it did, there'd be no old people in Florida; they'd all be killed by the act of wiping their brows at outdoor cafes.

But also, and this is the part that makes my jaw drop, the commenter seems to believe that global warming is just the Earth warming itself, presumably from the Ice Age, to return itself to normal. Now, I don't know what the guy thinks normal is, but maybe he means the good old days before life, when the planet had acidic oceans and sulfuric air. But also, he is crediting a planet with intent, which is odd but hey, maybe it's just how he says it and not that he really thinks Earth is doing anything for any reason or purpose. As for the whole concept of it, I guess the fact that the Earth is warming at a rate almost unheard of ever before is just like when a marathon runner slows to a walk at the end of a race and then breaks into a sprint once the finish line is in view. Earth was warming slowly, because it was tired, but now that 200` days are finally in sight, with no help from people or industry at all, it found a renewed sense of purpose and decided to really push forward. Sure.

You know what's sad? Not just that people really believe that the Earth is warming on its own for some purpose only knowable in its planet-mind, but that they vote. They sit on school boards. They actually affect the rest of us with their preposterous notions of things. And sometimes, when a concept has been so over-simplified and dumbed down that they can actually sort of understand it, they argue against people who understand the original unabridged truth, and the dumbed down folks have followers. And sometimes, they even elect themselves royalty who declare the educated to be elitist.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No you don't have a loophole. EVER.

Okay, I hate the argument people make that men need sex and that if they don't get it at home they'll get it elsewhere. That is bullshit. I also hate the (similar) argument that if sex is so unimportant that it's unnecessary to have it with your spouse then it should also be unimportant when they do it with someone else. Both of these arguments are forms of emotional blackmail, usually against women. The basic idea is that if you don't have sex, for whatever reason, then he is completely within his rights to cheat on you. Sometimes the claim is that even if you refuse sex because of illness or disability, he still gets a free pass to fuck around (read this guy's Rule for Cheating). Again, I call bullshit.

Sex is not food, or oxygen, or anything else that human's need to survive. It is not something anyone needs, only something everyone wants. There is a biological urge to have sex, but not a survival instinct. It is insulting to imply to women, or even just outright tell them, that unless they relent with the sex no matter how angry, neglected, sick, dying, hospitalized they may be, you're going to run out and give to some other woman the intimacy and companionship you swore never to give to another woman. And it's just as bad when women do it to men, or men do it to each other. It's a douchey thing no matter who does it. It's emotional blackmail, it's manipulative and controlling, and just saying it makes you an abusive partner even if you never act on it. Even if orgasms were integral to survival, you can do that without cheating. I mean, if guns can go off while being cleaned . . .

There is no loophole. EVER. You don't get to cheat because you got cheated on, or because you're in Vegas, or because your spouse is sick, or hurt, or just too tired. If you absolutely have to go fuck somebody else, finish what you started first and divorce. You don't get to have your cake and eat it too just because you're so self-important that you demand the taste of cake.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stop dressing trashy!

Where is the line between being happy with your body no matter the size, and realistically seeing that some clothes are only for the 1% of the population tiny enough to wear them appropriately? Here are some pics I've snatched from google image which illustrate my point.

I also found a photo of a girl with her ass crack hanging out but I can't seem to post it here so here's a link: link. I know a few girls who dress like this, and they're not even hugely fat girls. Maybe a size 14, which is big but not bed-ridden or anything. It's just that they either A) do not see in the mirror the same thing other people see, B) actually think that tight clothes clinging to fat rolls is a genuinely attractive look, or C) feel that being able to physically wedge themselves into size 8 jeans makes them a size 8 person. I really truly do not know if what I feel is disgust or envy. I would never have the nerve to wear clothes that accentuate my fat. I might actually err on the side of too baggy, but not on the side of too tight. It seems, though, that this look is an actual trend, that it is now fashionable to wear tight clothes over chubby figures. You are supposed to be a size 14 in a skin tight t shirt. I feel like, by thinking it's obviously a mistake or oversight, I am the modern day equivalent of the old women who used to gasp at visible bra straps. I just think that clothes should, no matter the figure of the wearer, skim the body, not cling to it. If your bra digs in, your shirt shouldn't be tight enough to show it. And if you have fat rolls, your top does not need to delve in between them. Am I sizist just for thinking that this: looks better than this:

And by the way, I totally prefer big women and have a huge crush on Brooke Elliott, the woman in the suit up there.

They're Not Important People!

A McDonald's worker was fired recently for letting a man in to use the bathroom after hours. Later she was given her job back after the press reported that it was NFL superstar Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings (the McDonald's was in Minnesota so the team matters, I guess). The rule was not to let people in the store after hours, she broke the rule, she got fired. That much I agree with. It's the part where she got her job back because he was a football player that bothers me.

If it was the president, or the first lady, I'd agree she should get her job back. If it was her congressman, I'd agree. If he was a uniformed police officer who rolled up in a squad car, I'd be fine with it. These are people who might outrank company policy, the people you defer to. But he was a football player! Football players are not important people! They play a game and they play it well. A game! Like Monopoly or tag. They get paid disproportionate amounts of money to play what is basically organized nationwide tag! They should not get to violate company polities at will just because they are good at a game. He's not even an Olympic star or anything. He hasn't beaten the rest of the world, just the rest of the people who wanted to play one specific position in one specific team. There are what, maybe fifty, other people out there with the same job and prestige as him. Basically, he's the vice president of a company that has fifty vice presidents. And for that he gets some woman her job back after she was fired for breaking a rule she never claimed not to break?! Because he plays self-important tag really well (but not well enough to go to the Super Bowl or anything- there are other better tag-players out there) the rules literally don't apply to him.

If you believe in quantum theory, then there are an infinite number of Earths out there which differ from ours in ways both large and small, and in some of them, a woman just got her McDonald's job back after letting a Dungeons and Dragons champion pee, as well as a dodgeball whiz, a badminton celebrity, and a star Civil War reenactor, and none of these situations is any more preposterous than the one that happened here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How to feed babies from outside of the bra

Danny ate avocado today. I just scooped it out of the peel and mashed it through a strainer and he ate it, and he LOVED it. No yucky face or spitting it out or anything. I skipped cereal altogether because it's just empty starch and carbs and why bother developing a taste for that? But now I'm looking down a long road of baby foods and the diapers will turn bad (I do not mind poopy diapers at all as long as it's just breast milk. Anything else and it's awful!) and I realized that I do not look forward to hearing about well-meaning friends' irrational fears of chunky foods. Sometimes it gets so hard to bite my tongue when I hear people say things that I know just aren't true. Here are a few of my pet peeves:
  1. Gagging is not choking. All babies will gag at some point. Whether it's a puree, lumpy food, or an actual bite of something, the gag reflex will be triggered. When something gets too far back on the tongue, the throat gags. And it's a good thing! It means that they have the reflex they need in order to bring food back to the front of the mouth rather than just let things slide down into their windpipe. Gagging means their reflexes are preventing them from choking.
  2. Choking happens when something blocks the windpipe. Hot dogs, grapes, round throat-sized foods are good at this. Small foods aren't that good at it. I almost laugh when I hear about someone who once tried to make their own baby food but couldn't get it smooth enough and didn't want their baby to choke on pea skin. How on earth is the skin from a pea going to block the windpipe? Is it going to stretch across like a dental dam? Smooth food is easier for babies to get used to after an all-liquid diet, but lumps are not safety hazards. Baby food does not have to be ketchup in order to be safe.
  3. Babies don't often like new foods. It can take 15 tries before a baby likes a food, and after that it cam become their favorite food. Even if they eat and hate it every day for 2 weeks, try it again later. "My baby doesn't like green beans; I tried them last month" is a sure fire way to end up with a kid who won't eat vegetables. Because every time he makes a face at a flavor he's not sure of, it disappears forever. So try it again and act like he's never expressed an opinion before. It can't hurt.
  4. It's not hard to make your own baby food. Do you cook for yourself? Do you own or can you get a food processor or blender? If yes, then you can make baby food. Steam vegetables and then pulverize them. Bake a sweet potato and then mash it up. Hell, all you have to do with avocados and bananas is let them get overripe and then mash them with a fork. I only put the avocado through a strainer today because it was Danny's first try at food ever. The only baby food I've ever bought is the meat, and I'm considering not even doing that this time. Oh, and that baby cereal I discounted earlier? It works great to thicken things that puree too thin. Canned peaches and pears make great baby food if you add the cereal to it, although I'd personally try to get fruit canned in plain juice, or at least rinse off the sugar.
A couple tips I've learned and like to pass on. Use ice cube trays to freeze the food and then just thaw one or two at a time in the microwave. And to fill the trays, put the food in a plastic baggie and cut a corner off. You can pipe it out like frosting.

Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope

I've said this here before but I have (apparently) some new readers so I'll explain again. When Ryan gets in trouble, real trouble rather than just little trouble (lying vs getting home late for instance), she gets assigned papers. This happens roughly once a year but I anticipate it happening more often as the rebellious teen years show up. I try to make the paper topic match the crime, but sometimes it's hard. Lying to a teacher in 3rd grade got her a paper on Watergate, for instance. But for not getting her homework done, I drew a blank. So here is, in its entirety, her paper on a giant telescope. For what it's worth, I don't understand a word of it.

Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope

By Ryan Tillman

The Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope is a space observatory being used to perform gamma ray astronomy observations from low Earth orbit. This report will cover the objectives, stages, discoveries, equipment, and general information of this research mission.

The main objective of this mission is to study the black hole jets aimed directly at Earth to find out whether they are composed of a combination of electrons and positrons or only protons. More objectives are: study gamma ray bursts with an energy range several times stronger than ever before so scientists can understand them better; study younger, more energetic pulsars, or highly magnetized, rotating neutron stars that emit beams of electromagnetic radiation, in the Milky Way than ever before so as to broaden our understanding of stars; study the pulsed emissions of magnetospheres, or the magnetic fields around celestial bodies, so as to possibly solve how they are produced; study how pulsars generate winds of interstellar particles; provide new data to help improve upon existing theoretical models of our own galaxy; study whether ordinary galaxies are responsible for gamma ray background radiation. The potential for a huge discovery awaits if ordinary sources are determined to be irresponsible, in which case the cause may be anything from self-annihilating dark matter to entirely new chain reactions among interstellar particles that have yet to be conceived.

On March 4, 2008, the spacecraft arrived at the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida. On June 4, 2008, after many previous delays, it was determined that Fermi would launch around June 11, as the last delays resulted from the need to replace the Flight Termination System batteries. Fermi launched successfully on June 11, 2008, departing from pad B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 17, and the spacecraft separated from its carrier rocket about 75 minutes afterward. Fermi currently resides in a low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 340 miles at an inclination of about 29 degrees.

The first major discovery came when the telescope discovered a pulsar in the CTA 1 supernova remnant that appeared to emit radiation in the gamma ray bands only, an unusual trait for its kind. This new pulsar sweeps the earth every 317 milliseconds at a distance of around 4,600 light years. Another important discovery came in September 2008, when the gamma ray burst GRB 080916C in the constellation Carina was recorded by the Fermi telescope. This burst is noted as having “The largest apparent energy release yet measured.” The explosion had the power of about 9,000 ordinary supernovae, and the relativistic jet of material ejected in the blast must have moved at a minimum of 99.9999% the speed of light. Overall, GRB 080916C had “the greatest total energy, the fastest motions, and the highest-energy initial emissions” ever seen.

Another round of discoveries came in 2010. In February 2010, it was announced that Fermi had determined that supernova remnants act as enormous accelerators for cosmic particles. This determination fulfills one of the stated objectives for this project. In March 2010, it was announced that active galactic nuclei are not responsible for most gamma ray background radiation. Though active galactic nuclei do produce some of the gamma ray radiation detected here on Earth, less than 30% originates from these sources. The search now is to locate the sources of the remaining 70% or so of all gamma rays detected. Possibilities include star forming galaxies, galactic mergers, and yet-to-be explained dark matter interactions. In November 2010, it was announced that two gamma ray and x-ray bubbles were detected around the Milky Way galaxy. The bubbles extend about 25,000 light years above and below the center of the galaxy. The galaxy's diffuse gamma ray fog hampered prior observations, but the discovery team worked around this problem.

Two important pieces of equipment are the Gamma ray Burst Monitor and the scintillators. The Gamma ray Burst Monitor detects sudden flares of gamma rays produced by gamma ray bursts and solar flares. The Gamma ray Burst Monitor results show that gamma rays and antimatter particles, or positrons, can be generated in powerful thunderstorms. The spacecraft's scintillators, or photon energy detectors, are on the sides of the spacecraft to view all of the sky which is not blocked by the earth. The design is optimal for good resolution in time and photon energy.

Another important piece of equipment is the Large Area Telescope, or LAT, which detects individual gamma rays using technology similar to that used in terrestrial particle accelerators. In the LAT, photons hit thin metal sheets, convert to electron-positron pairs, and pass through interleaved layers of silicon microstrip detectors, causing ionization, which produces tiny pulses of electric charge. Researchers can combine information from several layers of this tracker to determine the path of the particles. After passing through the tracker, particles enter the calorimeter, which consists of a stack of caesium iodide scintillator crystals, to measure the total energy of the particles. The LAT's field of view is large, consisting of about 20% of the sky. The resolution of its images is modest by astronomical standards, a few arc minutes for the highest-energy photons and about 3 degrees at 100 MeV. The LAT is a bigger, better successor to the EGRET instrument on NASA's Compton Gamma Ray Observatory satellite in the 1990s. Several countries produced the components of the LAT, sending the parts for assembly at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The participating institutions were:

U.S. Team institutions

  1. Stanford University, Physics Department, Fermi group & Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory
  2. SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Particle Astrophysics group
  3. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Astrophysics Science Division
  4. U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, High Energy Space Environment (HESE) branch
  5. Ohio State University, Physics Department
  6. University of California, Santa Cruz, Physics Department and Institute for Particle Physics
  7. Sonoma State University, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  8. University of Washington
  9. Texas A&M University-Kingsville

German team institution (in German, of course)

  1. Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Theoretische Physik IV: Theoretische Weltraum- und Astrophysik

Japanese team institutions

  1. Japan Fermi Collaboration
  2. University of Tokyo
  3. Tokyo Institute of Technology
  4. Institute for Cosmic Ray Research
  5. Institute for Space and Astronautical Science
  6. Hiroshima University

Italian team institutions

  1. Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN)
  2. Italian Space Agency
  3. Istituto di Fisica Cosmica, Milano, CNR
  4. INFN and the Universities of: Bari, Padova, Perugia, Pisa, Rome Tor Vergata, Trieste, and Udine

French team institutions

  1. Service d'Astrophysique, CEA DAPNIA, CEA Saclay
  2. Centre National d'Études Spatiales
  3. Institut National de Physique Nucléaire et de Physique des Particules, IN2P3
  4. Laboratoire Leprince-Ringuet de l'École Polytechnique
  5. Centre d'Études nucléaires de Bordeaux Gradignan
  6. Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Astroparticules, Montpellier

Swedish team institutions

  1. Royal Institute of Technology
  2. Stockholm University

Everything here, and a little bit more that won't fit on 3 pages, went into the building, maintaining, and fame of this marvelous spacecraft. I had to type a whole lot of French that I don't understand for that last part. Well, since I guess I'm doing the conclusion, I should do conclusiony stuff. This report listed the objectives, stages, discoveries, and equipment of this research mission. Bye!!!!!!!