Monthly Archives: March 2005


I am sliding back into that whole purchasing things blindly and quickly off of the internets attitude, I can tell. When I first started working here I was quick to buy an urban garden date book from blissen (and I see that I got in right before it was too late! they’re just about sold out!). I bought new shoes, a pair of danskos that I love love love and had been dreaming of buying for a year. And on top of that, my new bag and wallet arrived in albany this week!

I really don’t want to get back into blind purchasing to fill a void in my life. I don’t want to be in the habit of thinking “I want! I order!” like a study in impulse-control. Really.

But that said, I REALLY LOVE my new calender. I have spent too long today filling in days and appointments and I love seeing all the stuff I’m doing this week/last week all lined up neatly. I’m faced with the big question: special pen, pencil, or whatever is at hand? and how will I write in birthdays? it’s so exciting to have a brand new spotless calender, and to have the opportunity to start to fill it up. Of course, it’s a love hate relationship, because the more full the calender, the more stressed and more frustrated one can be. Or if you never have a reason to use the calender it will languish in your bag for ages, lonesome, untouched, wasted. Hopefully the honeymoon with my new date book doesn’t end. It’s been a really fun few hours…

March 2005 Books

“post” posted post of books read in March 2005:

29. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
30. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
31. Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs [audiobook]
32. Hotel World by Ali Smith [audiobook]
33. The best of Kathleen Norris by Kathleen Norris, included the novel
34. The American Flaggs
35. Steel Magic by Andre Norton
36. Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas

I slowed down dramatically when I got a job and had to move! heh. Only 8 books, and 2 I was able to listen to in the car on my trips to/from NJ.

the perils of living with 500 boys

ok, so I’m really only living with 5 boys total.

this morning one of them popped into the bathroom with me when I was showering.
And it wasn’t the one I know best!

Greg warned me to lock the door because Shankar sometimes just walks into the bathroom but I didn’t, I had forgotten, plus it was so late I guess I figured they were all done and gone. And then Shankar walked in. It was pretty hilarous, to tell the truth. I didn’t scream or anything, I wasn’t sure WHAT to do when he opened the bathroom door and I realized he was in there with me. and when he coughed I started to laugh and said hi. Matt said that Greg told me so, and I got what I deserved. In not so many words…

I SO BADLY need my own apartment.

american flags

mom and I had ice cream cones today to celebrate easter and we were both disturbed by the american flag cone wrappers that we had to tear off and throw away. Now, I’m a pretty liberal girl (and do not mind the burning of flags, either), but I do think that respect for the flag is not only appropriate but also tasteful — partly because I think people need to realize that patriotism is HARD WORK, and not something you can just literally wear on your sleeve casually.

I made a quick list of flag uses that bug the heck out of me:

* american flag bathing suits
* american flag logos on old navy apparel
* american flag underpants
* american flag tshirts, esp. if they incorporate a crying eagle, or an eagle with big talons
* american flag car accessories, including:
* tattered flags streaming from car antennas
* american flag beach towels (you stick the flag in your groin! disrespectful! and you put it on the ground! terrible!)
* people hanging out flags and leaving them up unilluminated overnight, or worse
* people not bringing in their flags in the rain
* american flag napkins, paper towels, or worse, sugar cone paper wrappers that you have to rip to remove.

and apparently, these are all if not exactly illegal, at least procribed against by custom. If only these were enforcable:

Title 4, United States Code, Chapter 1 states:

Section 6 (time and occasions for display):

(a) It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

(c) The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed.

Section 7 (Position and manner of display):

(b) The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.

Section 8 (Respect for the Flag):

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.

(e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart

something new

I added a love song about pgh, of a sort. it’s circa 5/19.

Driving: to The Capital District, and to a place to live.

man, today I am pooped. the tolls of the eventful week and of sleeping poorly and waking early and going to bed late are really affecting me today!

tonight I’m driving up to the Capital District to see the fam. I am still in the PGH mindset of having to drive for 8 hours (a solid 8 hours, it’s never less, and sometimes more) to get to upstate new york. I keep having to mentally shake myself to remind me that from the office, it’s probably just about 2 hours to get up there. Amazing! That’s only 25% of my accustomed trip! So even though I’m awfully tired, the 2 hour drive won’t be horrible and therefore I’m not as scared of dozing off and waking up immediately before I strike the rear wheel of a big heavy full dump truck with my passenger-side front wheel and fender (again) as I might be. Ahem. Long story.

Anyway, I did mention the free coffee and tea and hot chocolate… that goes a long way towards pepping me up. And also, today I found out that fridays there are free bagels! Rock’n’Roll!

News on the housing front: last night after a really wonderful dinner with friends from college I rudely but charmingly asked one of them if I could move into his house with him. He sweetly and charmingly said of course, he would have invited me hizzelf but wasn’t sure how it would be taken by the mister. He also said things like “I’m never home,” “I work a lot,” and “my television set is so big that if you put a movie on of you and stood next to it it would be life size.” Hee!

Next week I’m going to revisit my original plan for living on the train line about 1/2 between the offices (existing and potential), and if that doesn’t pan out quickly I’ll crash with mike while I look. I figure that sure, it’s a terrible, unpedestrian friendly, long long walk from the train to the office — but in the summer it would be a really nice bike ride. And in bad weather, heck, maybe it WON’T be horrible to drive. I’m on day 5 of driving 45 minutes to work each way and it really isn’t as awful as I had imagined. Sure, I’d rather not do it for personal reasons, but it’s not a disaster. NPR is my best friend. Flo is running quite sweetly for an aged vehicle. It’s a reverse commute, so it’s not a disaster with the stop and go. It’s all good!

My new job and new “home,” in list format

Things I like about my new job:

* lots of free stuff. Nerdy free stuff, like shirts and caps and hard hats and engineering scales and safety glasses and ear plugs and steel toed boots and a wind shirt (and cabbages and kings).

and best free stuff of all: hot chocolate, tea, and coffee in the lunch room. and REAL MILK to put in it! it’s incredible. It makes me so happy to know that I can have a cup of tea the way I really like it, with milk and sugar. Even when I don’t drink the office tea that often, I know it’s there, and I am At Peace. That’s right, free beverages make me feel peaceful.

* they’re working me hard already. I kind of like that. Plus, they’re giving me bunches of responsibilities. I know that I really DO have 4 years of prior experience, and now a shiny masters degree, but heck. I was so startled to actually be thrown into a real management situation! I don’t know what I expected, but this is a LONG way from burning CDs, Toto!

Things I had forgotten about consulting that I remembered when I got to my new job:
* timesheets
* job numbers
* office politics (not to say that I’ve noticed office politics here, because I haven’t. but I remembered them!)

Things that surprized me about my new job:
* aforementioned lots-of-work
* This is the quietest office I’ve ever worked in. not that I’ve got a LOT of offices under my belt, but maybe it’s b/c we’re so busy? Who knows. The ventilation system is PRIMO loud and the lights are nice and hummy.
* not being able to use my webmail. I guess I have been v. lucky all this time to not have that blocked…

Things that are weird about “living” in NJ:
* driving to work
* driving to work not being horrible
* having a job
* running into people who I know from the past
* not living with michelle anymore
* living with a bunch of boys in my beau’s flop house
* not reading books constantly

one of the magical things about pittsburgh

Spring here is so gorgeous. Yesterday I went to drop off my car to have the wheels aligned and a tire replaced and walked to the bus stop to come to school and it was sunny, beautiful, mild, and the crocuses were blooming like gangbusters!

On the way I realized what it is that I love most about pittsburgh:

Pittsburgh made it easy for me to live my life the way I want to live it.

I’m still reading Affluenza slowly, and I am in the last section which talks about CURING affluenza. In the introduction to the Voluntary Simplicity Movement introduction it says

To conquer [affluenza], most of us need to know we’re not all by ourselves in the battle. We need support from others who are fighting the disease as well. Every addiction nowadays seems to have support groups for its victims, and conquering affluenza, the addictive virus, may require them even more, because there isn’t any social pressure out there to stop consuming — just the opposite.

Before I moved to Pittsburgh I was rushing around, working very hard, and usually spending nearly 10 hours a day in the office doing thankless tasks. I DID buy things to make up for that, and to make up for the things I wasn’t able to do. If you look at all of the crafty projects I bought and didn’t get a chance to do, or all the books I bought and didn’t read, you’ll see my trying to purchase my way into the lifestyle I wanted. So when I moved to Pittsburgh I was able to focus on what I wanted to do. I was able to come to terms with how I wanted live more simply, to restrict my spending, to focus on reading but to use the library, to share my meals with people in their homes. I was able to develop that here. And through some fluke of beautiful fate, I met people in Pittsburgh who were doing the same things: people who were becoming more frugal, and who were interested in sharing time with each other instead of with a job. I found out that a lot of my other internet/real life friends were also struggling with the same types of questions and issues. I was lucky to find the type of community that accepted as facts the things I did: that it was worth it to buy organic milk. That CSAs are valuable endeavors,

So really, even though Pittsburgh has a thousand reasons why it’s easy for me to live the way I want to live (the libraries, the public transportation, the scalability of the city, the way I can ride my bike places, the innovative environmental graduate degrees, the many MANY free cultural events) you all were a big part of that too. And through the miracle of the internets, I get to bring you all with me to NJ. This move will be ok. There are a million things I’ll miss about living here but at least I feel confident in my ability to keep on living well in NJ when I get there.

[[added on 5/27 — and Pennsylvania is great too: when you’re using an online form and have to fill in your state, if you hit P pennsylvania is usually the only one. For NJ there’s several keystrokes to get to the state abbreviation!]]

packing up — books

I started packing my books today, I took about an hour and packed 9 boxes. I estimate there’s about 3 more to go, maybe more, and there are a few boxes in the basement that I never unpacked (should bring them up, probably). I have a box in my room that is labeled “THIS IS BOX 15” so I shouldn’t really expect to get away with any less than that!


little-to-no mercury contamination!

I got my results back from the greenpeace mercury-in-hair testing program and I am OK! I scored 0.31 ug/g, which is below the 1 ug/g “watch out” value, the 11 ug/g “uh-oh” value, and the greater than 11 ug/g “yikes!” value.

If your laboratory results are less than 1 ug/g, your mercury hair level is below the recommended upper limit. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommend that levels of mercury found in hair be kept below 1 ug/g. In order to maintain this low level, we recommend you do not increase consumption of fish that have high levels of mercury.

The flyer I received with my results also states that “Babies born to mothers with elevated levels of mercury may have problems with neurological development. To estimate risk, the EPA has used multiple epidemiological studies indicating that hair levels as low as 4 to 5 ug/g can lead to adverse effects to the newborn baby.”

Of course, I have to confess that since my results came back I’ve been eating fish NON STOP in the form of sardines. It started a few weeks ago when we were at the coop shopping, and I bought a cute perfect tin of fish. I LOVE the concept of tinned fish. Michelle asked if I had ever had sardines before, and I know I have, but not for quite some time. I have been eating them on crackers with olives. they are So Good. Mostly I think I just love things that one eats on crackers. You really can’t go wrong with that. Yesterday at the coop I bought Kippered fish (in a tin!) and think it will go quite nicely with crackers and maybe some steamed asparagus. And also crackers. Maybe with garlicky cheese on them. Mmm. Crackers.

Last night I had Chilean Sea Bass and while it was INCREDIBLE (in a lemon butter sauce with capers) I feel doubly guilty for it today, they’re very overfished and also on the “Avoid” list.

Greenpeace provided a list of fish dos and don’ts:

Fish that are low in mercury and can be eaten in moderation:
Abalone (farmed), Anchovies, Butterfish, Calamari (squid), Catfish, Caviar (farmed), Clams, Crab (king), Crawfish/crayfish, Flounder, Haddock, Hake, Herring, Lobster (spiny/rock), Mackerel (Atlantic), Mussels (farmed), Oysters, Perch (ocean), Pollock, Salmon (wild), Sardines, Scallops, Shad, Shrimp, Sole, Sturgeon (farmed),Tilapia, Trout, Whitefish
Eat sparingly (less than six 6 oz servings a month):
Carp, Cod, Crab (dungeness), Crab (blue), Crab (snow), Mahi Mahi, Monkfish, Perch (freshwater), Skate, Snapper, Tuna (canned, chunk light)
Avoid (less than three 6 oz servings a month):
Bluefish, Croaker, Halibut, Lobster (American/Maine), Rockfish, Sea Bass, Sea Trout (Weakfish), Tuna (canned, white albacore), Tuna (fresh)
Do not eat:
Grouper, Mackerel (king), Marlin, Orange Roughy, Shark, Swordfish, Tilefish

Another fish sandwich

Last weekend I went to Dingbats and had their crispy fish sandwich for $6.79. There’s also a jumbo crispy fish sandwich on the menu (for $1 more), but I was told it was twice as much fish so I chose the more modist option. I also had the option of beer batter or something else that didn’t sound as good, so of course, I chose the beer batter.

The sandwich is served on a kaiser roll and measures in at about 7 or 8 inches long and 2 or 3 inches wide. It’s served with tartar sauce and coleslaw, as well as french fries. I asked for lettuce and tomato. It’s a big sandwich, and to tell you the truth, as I ate it it got kind of grossly mushy. It was too moist and tender, I guess! (Or maybe I put too much tartar sauce on it.)

anyway. It’s a good sandwich. a little expensive, but it was tasty. I wouldn’t want to take it home and reheat it, though, because it was kind of soggy at the end of the meal.

something to do in NYC

at some point I really ought to make use of this article (written by a friend of mine) and pursue some quality foundation garments. Hee. Foundation Garments.

change of plans

ok, so, I have decided to not stress out about getting an apartment just now. I think that this is a better chain of events:
1. go to new job
2. learn about new job, including: who I will be working with and what projects/sites I’ll be working on and THEN
3. Determine which office to live near.

This is much better than:
1. find an apartment, sign a year lease.
2. start new job.
3. realize that everyone else will be working in a different place. Increase already long (but on public transportation with a hearty walk) commute by 20 min.
4. be sad because I’m spending 2+ hours commuting every day.

So the big reason why I was shooting for lyndhurst was because it’s on the train line that goes near the office. But I drove up there today, and apparently, “near the office” means “about 2 miles and frustratingly without a direct route” which might be nice in the summer, but probably won’t be nice at all the rest of the time. Including days like today, where it was gorgeous and sunny but also 16 degrees and with a fierce windchill. and forget yesterday, where it was near blizzard conditions!

and at sometime in the near future they’re opening another office in central NJ and I may want to be located there, you know? It all depends on who I’ll be working with, where they’ll be working, and also if there’s a lot of out-of-office site time, and where THAT is. so because the public transportation concept isn’t going to work out for me I think I’ll just wait until I get a feel for WHERE I’ll be working most of the time, and then figure out where I should be living. Piece of cake, no? Until I get a handle on that, I’ll crash with the mister or find a room for rent, perhaps in a FLOP HOUSE. wouldn’t that be exciting? and wouldn’t you, dear reader(s), love to hear about my exciting stay in a FLOP HOUSE?


Because I am a book nerd (who knew?) I had to check out the library system. Luckily, there are a bunch of libraries in Bergen Co. and they have all banded together like merry men. There is one in Lyndhurst and another one in Rutherford so no matter what I think I’ll be set.

I like this information: “Our collection of 63,000 consists of books, videos, periodicals, and audio books for both adults and children.” and think that this is hilariously specific: “There is a limit of fifty (50) books you can borrow, however you may only borrow three books on any one subject.”

I found out the bus btwn the towns costs 1.10. Which seems like a lot to me. Even if it is just for bad weather. and even if I do make a zillion dollars a year.

We’ll see what happens.

Scenic NJ

Here I am in lovely scenic New Jersey. You know, the GARDEN STATE. I drove in on monday night — the better to find an apartment, my dear! — and planned to go to Lyndhurst yesterday, park the car, and walk around with the intentions of really getting to know the area. And then it SNOWED. it went from high 40s to the teens in 10 hours and it snowed and iced and the roads got nasty and tractor trailors jackknifed and my BRAND NEW windshield wipers got all icy and unable to keep my window nice and spotless. It was brutal!

I did see a couple of apartments,
one was too far south, and kind of small,
the other one was on the north side and has incredibly weirdly sized rooms, no counter space, and only a few small cabinets.

I have a couple more apartments to look at today.
I am also kind of unsure about the town I’ve been focusing on:
it is a town with a walkable downtown and a train station and stuff like that, but it doesn’t have any coffee shops. Like, not even a starbucks, which strikes me as very weird.

The next town up, Rutherford, is way more towny, more shops, beautiful. It even has a used book store!
but the train there doesn’t go in the right direction for me in the AM. So my new strategy is to look in S. Rutherford for a place that is close enough to Lyndhurst that I can ride my bike (They’re only about 1 1/2 miles apart) to the train in good weather, and take the bus in bad weather. This might be overly complicated. If that’s true I’ll probably go with the Weirdly Sized Room apartment.

I do think that maybe my feelings about lyndhurst yesterday had more to do with me being incredibly grouchy after driving around NJ for like 5 years in terrible, no good, very bad weather. And I had a long time to think about it while I went back to JC to pick up the mister for dinner, because traffic was DREADFUL and the roads were TERRIBLE and it’s a good time that 1. I’m not afraid of slipping around and 2. that I know how to drive in snow and ice because there was a lot of that. We had a nice dinner w. friends and I am full and feeling a lot happier now that the sun is out. It’s back to lyndhurst for a 2Pm appt., so I’ll see if the mood sticks!

Lenten Fish Sandwich

Last night I went to St. Charles Lwanga in Homewood for their $4.50 fish sandwich. I had to buzz to get into Holy Rosary School, and then I waited for about 5 minutes while they made me my sandwich. They offered me ketsup, hot sauce, and tartar but of course, I took tartar.

Driving away I noticed that this fish sandwich smelled a lot differently than others had! it had a very spicy smell to it. I unwrapped the corner at a stop light to take a nibble … and I saw a piece of fish fin. ! I was v. surprised, but had a nibble next to the fin, and the breading was fantastic, spicy, and cornmealy.

When I got home I unwrapped the whole thing. The top of the large, square fillet (it was probably about 5 inches square) looked like a normal fish sandwich. When I flipped it over, though, I saw bones. It was the boniest fish fillet I’ve ever seen! I was able to salvage it by deboning with my finger along the spine. I did lose some of that great breading, but I was nervous about eating fish bones.

The sandwich was good. A little more work than most, and for the first time I questioned my tartar sauce addiction — it would have been great with hot sauce. I enjoyed it, and I hope that my bony fish patty was just a fluke. It was totally worth it.

book: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I have a bunch of books that I *haven’t* written anything about, but last night I finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. It was wild. It’s written from the point of view of an autistic boy and once I started reading it I didn’t want to stop. Mostly because I wanted to know what he would do next — I don’t really have any experience with autistim and it was amazing to read and see how an autistic child may react to very emotional experiences around him and involving him. I also really enjoyed the asides the narrator gives about how people’s minds work, and how emotions work.

Lenten Fish Sandwiches

In case there are any PGH readers who are dying to get on the Catholic Church Fish Sandwich Bonanza that is LENT, I found these fantastic resources:

Pittsburgh Catholic Articles, Parts 1 and 2.

And here is the article that reminded me of this wonderful tradition in the first place.


I’m going to try to hit the St. Charles Lwanga dinner in Homewood today. YUM.


It’s official — other than actually signing papers, I am 100% taking the job, moving, and starting on March 21.

Man. That means I have to:
1. Get an apartment
2. Pack my stuff up. Including 20 boxes of books, plus or minus.
3. Move. Yuck.
4. Have a going away party.
5. Enjoy Pittsburgh before I go, which may include one or more of the following: The Orchard Show and Medicinal Plants Exhibit at Phipps Conservatory; the Carnegie International Exhibit; and riding the incline with Michelle, perhaps holding hands b/c we’re so sad about breaking up;
6. Appreciating some of the many Lenten Church Fish Sandwich dinners in the area
7. Determine if I have enough suitable clothes for an office job and if not
8. Sew more skirts because I refuse to buy more clothes until I get a real paycheck. and also
9. Have sewing school with Joy and Michelle because that’s the kind of thing that’s important.
10. Make my “Christmas” cards and mail them to many many people I know. Yee-ikes.

(of course, this may or may not occur in this order.)

So, SURE, I have nearly 3 weeks. But heck! I feel like I have a whole passel of things to do.

I’ll start off my rush by going home and not doing ANYTHING. If you haven’t noticed, I’ll let you in on a little secret: while I might make a lot of secret plans, I am undeniably a PROCRASTINATOR.

eminent domain

last night I read about a case before the supreme court involving eminent domain.

Normally eminent domain is what gives governments the ability to take private property and use it for the public gooduse, like building a road or a reservoir or even to expand a road a few feet on either side. [CORRECTION — It’s for public USE, as per the constitution. Thanks to SayUncle for pointing that out! When people usually think of eminent domain they expect it to be for something good, or at least, communal. Like a firehouse.] Sometimes the property owner gets paid, I’m not sure if that’s national or a state law.

Lately, however, governments have been trying to take private land and give it to big shady developers in order to achieve higher tax revenues! They arguing it’s for the best public ECONOMIC good.

Now, let’s not think too hard about
1. the fact that this is a neighborhood destroying strategy or
2. that developers are rarely the best thing for a neighborhood or even
3. that developers and big box chains don’t honestly put THAT much money into an area.

No. Because all of these flaws are not as terrible to me as the fact that municipalities are bending over backwards to attract developers and their perceived future tax revenues and this is a very shady and illegal seizure of land that allows them to offer developers the best deal in order to edge neighboring communities out of the competition! it’s shameful and short-sighted, and I’m so worried that the supreme court won’t throw this out.

This is happening all over the country — the case before the Supreme Court is a CT case, but it’s going on in Utah (Walmart), for example. People argue that they have to prevent neighborhoods from becoming blighted, but I do think there are better ways than knocking them down!

there’s a good round-up of other cases and opinions at SayUncle.

and you can keep track of the case here also.