Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wow! It's been a long time...

It has been quite some time since I have posted.  School got very hectic, I switched back to omni, then switched to vegetarian.  I have been vegetarian (pretty much) since Thankgiving, and by Thanksgiving I mean it was not-turkey day for me.  It was been quite a time since my last post.  We had a great Samhain/Halloween here.  Our Thanksgiving was animal free, at least on our plates.  I got a 3.65 GPA this semester.  I would like it to be higher, but I got a B in my first class and an A in my second so I can't really compain.  After Thanksgiving we went to Sanibel Island, Florida on a mini-moon as VB likes to call it.  You can read about our trip here.  We had a great time and the trip was short, but sweet. 
We had a great Winter Solstice and Christmas.  The kids (my cousins') had a great time at my grandmother's house.  Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  I was pleased that my folks didn't go overboard with gifts.  My in-laws always give very thoughtful gifts.  Christmas is pretty tiring since my day starts at 6am and goes until 830 or 9pm. 
I've been reading all the "top-10" lists that are on and  I can't understand why so much hubbub is going on with the whole 2010 thing.  I mean it is the beginning of a new decade, but unless you're about to turn 11 this isn't your first decade.  However, VB told me this morning that Vic Chesnutt killed himself on Christmas.  If you don't know who Vic Chesnutt is, then check him out.  He just came out with a new album a few months ago and this one seemed to have some potential for mainstream popularity.  He also had a great deal of admiration paid to him by many musicians, Michael Stipe, of REM, and Jonathan Richman, being just two.  My first encounter was his opening for Jonathan Richman at the 8by10 in Baltimore about 2 years ago I think.  It was winter time and bitter cold out.  Vic must have had a cold and both acts hit traffic problems due to bad weather out of state.  The crowd had been waiting quite some time for the players to hit the stage.  One couple we talked to had driven from Binghampton, NY to Baltimore to see JR.  In any case, Vic hit the stage and many of us did not know what to think.  VB and I were astonished at how bad this unknown (to us at least) artist was.  Vic was terrible.  We mentioned this to friends of ours when we got back and one or two knew of Vic and told us he must have had an off night.  We checked YouTube and saw previous performance of Vic's.  They were great.  This is a bit rambly, but I felt the need to get it out.  I also need to say that I'm pissed at Vic.  I know he had a lot of troubles, probably both physical and mental.  I can only imagine how his afflications affected his daily life.  Vic, you had things to live for.  You were married and had family.  You certainly had friends and fans - in fact many were both at the same time.  I was actually looking forward to the possibility of seeing you when JR and Tommy come back to Baltimore.  I'm mad at you for taking that chance away.

The moral of the story here is: readers (if you're out there?????) take stock of your life and realize the positive things.  Think about stuff hard, it is probably better than you think.  After you've done this, reconnect with someone, reaffirm a relationship, and say a prayer/meditate/do a spell to express your gratitude to God, Goddess, The Great Spirit, or even just the universe (check all that apply).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

There and back again...

No this is not what VB would call a "tale of hobbit porn."  I finished the PCRM 21-day Vegan Kickstart challenge.  As you may know from reading other posts, I have decided not to continue to be vegan.  One of the reasons is convenience.  It is not convenient or easy to be vegan.  Furthermore, my black heart does not feel the same way VB's does about animals.  I certainly do not think that evidence is made up or fantasy.  I think I'm still in the position of "my little part won't help."  I'll get over that, don't worry.  When VB and I got serious, I always assumed that I would continue to eat whatever and she would eat vegan.  VB wants to raise our possible kids vegan and since she turned me on to the PCRM website, I have absolutely no issue with that.  I'll have to help them cross the "I'm different" bridge when they come to it.

What were the benefits I experienced during/throughout the challenge?

1.  SAVING MONEY!!!!!!  I probably saved somewhere between $150 and 200 just by not buying lunch for the 15 week days I did the challenge.  That was an awesome, positive experience.

2.  Sleeping better.  I slept very well during the challege.  I did not experience energy loss during the day and I wasn't tired.  I got sleepy as bedtime drew closer and did not toss and turn at night.  CAVEAT:  During the first week of the challenge I only had three, yes only three, caffeinated drinks. 

3.  Slower to anger/more patience.  I experienced having more patience and I was slower to anger.  I'm not sure if that has to do with no animal products or caffeine, or better sleeping.  I did feel clearer mentally.

Things I did not experience:

1.  I did not have the physical epiphany that some folks have.  I did not feel immensly better, probably because I didn't feel bad before starting the challenge.

2.  I didn't lose any weight really.  I was hoping to lost some el bees in a big way.  I only lost a few pounds and that was probably because of not drinking soda. 

For the final days of the challenge the leftover candy from our reception was calling my name.  I had some today.  It was good, not great, but good.  I had some chicken today for lunch.  It was good, not great.    As I was eating my what-used-to-be-a-poor-defenseless-chicken I thought, I really don't need this.  It was good, but not necessary.  I think I'm past the first step to vegetarianism/veganism.  I've admitted there's a problem.  I guess what I really mean to say is that I am now comfortable with not eating the standard American diet.  As VB says, one day at a time.

As a side note, I think that my dad assumes that either VB is making me do this or I'm only doing it for her.  If I was, I would have had to swear off all things animal long ago.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I forgot this...

I forgot to mention this in the previous post.  So here it is.  I found out this week that a guy I went to high school a guy who got killed in Afghanistan.  Here is a link to the news article.  I didn't know the guy very well, but it still hits close to home. 

Vegan Pizza at Papa John's costs $20....for a medium

I've been away for quite some time.  I did not get off the grid and live on a commune.  I've been relaxing and studying - I got an 88% on my second test and my grade in the class is now an 83%. 
I bet everyone is dying to know - How am I doing now that I'm nearing the end of the challege.  Well I'm still alive obviously.  I've lost a few points (not enough to know that count, definitely under 10).  I've been drinking a lot of soda this past week.  I've had class at a different building at work and I've had to get up and out earlier.  Also, with the being vegan I have to pack like I'm going to the opposite end of the civilization, perhaps where the wild things go.  Generally this isn't all that tough.  When I'm in my office at  my desk, it is easy to bring a ton of food to enjoy throughout the day.  In the class setting it is pretty tough. 

I would say the biggest challenge with THE challenge is the lack of convenience.  As noted in the title of this post, a vegan (assuming that the pizza dough is vegan) papa john's (which is chain at least on the east coast of the U.S.) pizza is priced to be inconvenient.  Today there were only two options for dinner tonight at the house - spaghetti (which I had for lunch earlier and dinner yesterday) and a jerk tempeh recipe (which I will have to have for lunch tomorrow and I had for lunch yesterday).  My complaints and comment that I could easily get a vegetarian option at a number of take out places prompted an interesting conversation between me and VB. 

I think I assumed she would just let my comment go by or say that in a few days the challenge would be over and maybe I'd feel differently.  VB sort of seemed shocked that I would even mention eating vegetarian after taking part in the challenge and being vegan for the past 17 days.  This was upsetting and frustrating to me.  It made me worry that I would/will disappoint her by not continuing to be vegan.  As VB mentioned to me, she does not see food as a source of pleasure.  If you know me, then you'll know that food was my only pleasure for nearly my entire life.  Aside from the social aspect of food and eating, food has been my source of comfort for my entire life.  I am an only child and did not live near my friends growing up so food was the thing I relied on to make me feel good.  I lived off of the chemicals.  While I am no longer a teenager dealing with teenage life and running to hostess cupcakes when I feel self-conscious, I still probably rely on food.  VB's comment was also really frustrating because all the vegans I know went from being vegetarian to be vegan.  I went from eating anything, any time, anywhere to eating only plants that I generally have to bring with me from home. 

I don't doubt VB's support for me or that she is proud of me, but it seemed contradictory that she wouldn't automatically be excited that I would even consider being vegetarian.  I didn't do the vegan kickstart to change my lifestyle or eating habits forever.  I basically started it because I was dared to be able to do it and I knew that VB would be plussed that I tried it.  I also felt I should give it a real try, which I believe I posted earlier on the blog. 

Day 17 was tougher than the previous 10 or so. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

You're My GUITAR HERO....or, Stay Free

Joe Strummer Lives!  Joe Strummer lives in our head and our hearts.  Deeply infectious, he was "emo" before emo was.  [Emo is punk with only one emotion - sad.]  Riotous, he was DIY, doing more (and better!) with less.  Joe Strummer should be taught in school history classesas a champion of modern creativity.  If (since) there was a church devoted to St. Coltrane, then I'd love to say a novena to St. Joe.  He was looking out for us, all of us.  "It's the best years of your life they want to steal...."  I know that the story goes Joe's lack of guitar abilities was a derivation of crosstown traffic between left and right, but the truth is different.  He hoped that after a time we could get passed the great music and focus on the message.

by The Clash

We met when we were in school
Never took no shit from no one, we weren't fools.
The teacher says we're dumb
We're only having fun
We piss on everyone...
In the classroom

When we got thrown out I left without much fuss
An' weekends We'd go dancing
Down Streatham on the bus

You always made me laugh,
Got me in bad fights,
playing pool all night,
Smokin' Menthol

I practiced daily in my room
You were down the Crown planning your next move
Go on a nicking spree,
Hit the wrong guy,
Each of you get three...
Years in Brixton!

I did my very best to write
How was Butlins?
Were the screws too tight?
When you lot get out,
We're gonna hit the town,
We'll burn it fuckin' down...
To a cinder!

'Cos years have passed and things have changed
And i move anyway i wanna go!
I'll never forget the feeling i got
When i heard that you were home!
An' I'll never forget the smile on my face
'Cos i knew where you would be!
An' if you're in the Crown tonight,
Have a drink on me,
But go easy... Step lightly... Stay free...


2 days (almost) down and counting...

Hello readers!  I just got chills saying that.  Thanks for your comments on my "last meal" post.  The past two days haven't actually been that tough, for all my whining I've done pretty well.  I have to say that 95% of that is owed to my wife who has been a vegan for some time and 5% to planning.  I've had to ensure that I have enough food at work for breakfast, lunch, and at least three snacks.  I pre-planned and bought a big bag of a vegan, asian-themed snack so I have that already at work.  However, I still need to bring enough food for the other snacks and meals.  It's weird.  I like the constancy of knowing I have something and not needing to decide what I want for lunch today.  On the opposite side it is boring to eat what you bring all the time.  I want something exciting and interesting for lunch.  Leftovers - no matter how good they are - are not exciting.  I don't know if I can trust myself to order out yet without a chaperone. 

In addition to the vegan challenge I've been trying to give up drinking soda.  For those who don't know me, soda is my crack.  I have a lengthy love affair with soda (specifically coke).  It has seen me through good times and bad.  Brought me up when I'm feeling down and mellowed me out when I've been excited or upset.  But since my motivator for changing my eating habits and diet is the ecological vice the moral/animal rights thing, I have to give up soda.  Or, at least drink much less of it.  It take almost 940 gallons of water to produce a six-pack of soda.  I don't think I can give up red meat for ecological reasons (2,500 gallons of water for 1 lb. of beef) and not give up or at least limit my soda intake.  I know all the other health reasons for not drinking (that much) soda, but those reasons do not motivate me.

I'm not denying the animal rights argument to support a vegetarian/vegan diet.  It just doesn't jive for me and I'll tell you why.  Research wars, research slavery, research oppression of workers, and research the Holocaust.  Humans have caused so much pain and denied the rights of humans for so long.  I'm sure I'll come around to the animal rights cause/argument.  But, please think about the things you do that could help your own kind.  Other humans belong to you more than the cows and pigs and chickens do.  So please keep that in mind.  I'm not a saint, I'm just saying.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Check out this blog.

My last meal

So my last meat-and-animal-filled meal tonight (for at least 21 days) was a great dinner cooked by my mom-mom. She coooked a pork tenderloin, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and broccoli. My parents, my friend - C-MAN, and the singed one were there. It was great. I ate my fill. However, I've noticed a trend that I've experienced the past few weeks or so. I can do without meat. I'm not sure how easily I will be able to cope with maintaining a vegan lifestyle, but I could do without meat while experiencing little difficulty. It's been weird to realize I can do without these things that I thought I coveted (buffalo wings, burgers, etc.).

For me, food has been associated with other things - family, hanging out, holidays, stress. Other folks my use illegal drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes to deal with stress or when hanging out with certain friends. I have always turned to food. So the idea of the challege, giving my or at least cutting certain things from my diet is like giving up my drug. Vegetables are the methodone to my buffalo wing heroin. Perhaps preparing for the challenge has been an analog for the first step of AA or something. I'm not admitting I have a problem, but more like admitting that I don't have to have certain things to be happy or continue to live the way I always have.

Another thing that has seems daunting about the challenge is the effort that I'll need to put in it. I'll have to pay attention to when I eat and what is in what I eat. I'll have to read a label. I think that removing the ease with which someone who maintains an omnivorous diet can eat is really scary. Vegetarianism/Veganism has been something I've needed to consider since the burnout and I started dating. If we went on a trip, we'd have to do a lot of planning to accommodate her diet. I'm not complaining it's just an added element or variable that has to be considered and planned for. After 27 years of being able to eat anywhere, any time, and any thing; it's scary to not have that freedom.

In talking with burnout about the challenge and food and principles, she made an interesting point. When someone adopts a vegetarian/vegan diet the initial reason for the change may be for health reasons, but soon political ideas take over. Perhaps I will continue to learn about the environment and ecology and food. I'm hoping that my readership will grow (thus far only my wife has commented and my mother-in-law is one of four readers - THANKS BETSY!!!!!!!!) and I'll learn new things. If you read this post, please visit FAKE PLASTIC FISH.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I haven't forgotten

I've been doing school work this week. We're also tying up loose ends for the reception. I'm participating in a discussion board for the challenge. Hopefully folks there will read my posts there and read my blog here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thoughts and Such....also an alter ego

So my lovely wife posted an article about animal rights and dairy. I'm not going to post the article here because it isn't my deal. If you would like to discuss that/read about that, then go to her blog and get on it. In any case, the article had videos (which I did not watch) showing what happens in dairy processing plants. I have to say that upon seeing this article I was upset. I WAS PUT OUT! I felt that the author of the article intimated that anyone who eats dairy is on the Hitler-level of evil. Ms. Burnout later relayed later that the author pulls no punches when presenting facts and can present things in what seems to be a harsh manor.

I'm writing because of the dilemma I felt upon reading that article. Being a vegan, which I'll be for 21 straight days, is strict, nay draconian, in a very restrictive way. If I don't eat dairy and I don't eat meat, what do I eat? What can I do with my friends? No more wings and beer - and only specific types of beers at that (yes there are vegan and non-vegan beers). What can I eat at the Sunrise Inn (a pseudonym for a local place) when I go there with my friends? I was in a real pickle the other day.

In talking about my feelings with the singed one, she reminded me that things have to be taken one step at a time. She also said that she takes one day at a time with regard to food. This was sort of a revelation when she said that. Her veganism and choices seem so easy for her. She's contented by her decisions and seems to go through life effortlessly. She also reminded me that she married me as an omnivore and loves me as one now. She also reminded me that she'll love me with whatever decision I make/will make in the future and that she's here to help me on my journey.

Food update: We made some meatless tacos (dairy-free for burnout) tonight for dinner. Here's a tip, do not cut summer squash too far in advance of using it. IT WILL BE DRIER THAN THE SAHARA! Corn tortillas suck. 3-Grain Tempeh is good. Pictures of the tacos to come.

Alter-ego: I think everyone should have at least one alter ego. I've finally decided on mine. His name is Henry Thomas Stockton. Imagine a mix of Tom Waits, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, and Bukowski. Check these folks out and if you're into Science Fiction (hereafter SF) then look to Philip K. Dick, Alfred Bester, and William Gibson.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

For Real?

So I'm driving home today on my long commute and radio channel surfing. I am flipping through and hear an ad for the radio station's happy hour. The DJ for the party - DJ KUNG FU PANDA. This is a serious ad for a serious party with a real DJ. KUNG FU PANDA. It was a great movie, but I don't think anyone should use that as a DJ name. Kung Fu Panda t-shirts, toys, and paraphenalia for kids is great. Movie posters and games - AWESOME! DJ KUNG FU PANDA is the WORST NAME EVER!!!!!! EVER!!!!!! EVVERRRRERJ!!!!!!!!!!!
So kids, I've decided that if working for the man don't work out I'm going to be a DJ. I had a really awesome Chicken Parm sub today for lunch. I think I'll be DJ Chicken Parm. My friend Dave used to drive a Dodge Omni, maybe he would be DJ Dodge Omni, or DJ Mopar. Now that Sandra Day O'Connor is retired from supreme judging maybe she'll be DJ Black's Law Dictionary. Sorry about this rant, but I was thrown off by the stupidity.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It looks normal...

It looks normal doesn't it? Vegetable, Starch, main portion. This meal is vegan. It was eaten pre-challenge. I've found in my year-plus living with my wife that the main challenge or issue I have with vegetarian/vegan cooking is the foreign-ness of the elements of the meals and how they're put together. The picture above looks more like regular meals. Somehow that, the normal American meal set-up, makes eating vegetarian/vegan easier for me.

I hope that the challenge isn't too taxing. It's almost scary to think about changing my diet. Food is such a big part of socializing and culture and it's daunting to think about changing that. Growing up I think I had no willpower whatsoever. I'm not sure how much willpower I have now. Will I be able to give up all meat? How will that affect things like Thanksgiving and Christmas? Will I be able to go without? Will I be able to cope with being even more blacksheep among my family? I think I'll hold on to something the Vegan Burnout said to me. "Of course it's easy to go get a cheeseburger from McDonald's I want to do that from time to time. My principles keep me going." for you, one for me

While driving home on my long commute (all of 3 miles) I saw an interesting thing. Two cars were stopped, one in the opposing lane and the other in the shoulder on my side. I also saw a groundhog, hedgehog, whatever we have in Maryland in the middle of the road - ALIVE! A car a few ahead of me decided to stop in our lane. I initially had the urge to start into a flip out. If you know me, then you know this is something to behold. If you don't know me/haven't experienced a flip out, I'll try and indulge you. I digress. So the cars are stacking up on both sides of the road now. I'm expecting honks - I hear none. Then I spy a guy with a metal rake. He used the rake to shuttle the mammal out of the road and into the wooded area directly next to the road. It dawned on me that I have learned a bit of compassion. I didn't flip out. I felt better than I did a few minutes early after witnessing this small mercy from God. Looks like my wife is influencing me.

P.S. A big shout out to my man Devin. Devin and I got to know each other when he lived with my friend Jeff in college. Thanks for following Devin. Someone other than my wife (who must feel bad for me because blogs sound like a 10 year old wrote them) may read my blog.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Food Bucket List

If you've read my previous post, then you know about the 21-day challenge. If you don't know about it, go read my other post. It's only right down there. I digress. In efforts to prepare for the challenge, I'm trying to make a food bucket list. I'm also trying to load up on as much of the foods I won't be able to have during the challenge. To that end I had a bacon cheeseburger with mayo today. It was delicious and gross at the same time. Thus far I've only been able to think of a few things to put on the food bucket list. I have to have wings at least once. I want to have some breakfast foods. I also want my grandma to make me an egg in a cup. It's this thing I used to have at her house all the time as a kid. The big question is what am I missing from my list.

It's not that I won't be able to eat what I want after the 21 days are up or that I'll be forced into something. I guess I think that perhaps I'd like to stop eating meat, at least try. I tried to do that for awhile, but I didn't give it the old college try. I should have tried harder to follow through on it.

Now is my chance to give it a real, honest try. For an introduction into one reason behind giving up at least red meat go here. I'll say now that I think there are too many assumptions as part of that article to really "debunk" anything. From a pro-environmental perspective eating local is a great idea, especially when you want to continue eating meat. Go here for a local, small-business grocery store selling local meat. Support local business and local farmers.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Challenge and update...

So, I have been challenged by a coworker. My wife (her blog is here ) sent out an email to me and a number of our friends and family informing us about this challenge sponsored by the PCRM. I mentioned it to folks at work, which is how I got challenged. So I will be setting out to complete this challenge with flying colors. I can't not beat it.

Update: Check out Shannon's blog linked above. I think we'll like to each other's blog entries. Hopefully it won't cause any strife in our house. The first two months of married life has been very smooth.

Update 2: If you know me, you know that I watch a ton of TV. Right now I'm watching some damn commercial about this super-duper, compact, crazy cell wallet thingy for people who are tired of carrying around a big purse. Don't buy this thing - just take some crap out of your huge hand bag. WTF!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I am so embarrassed. (PLASTIC FAIL)

Well, as you see from Jim's post below, we collected all our plastic "trash" for one week. And OH MY GOD I must use more plastic than anyone on the planet, I swear. Here I am patting myself on the (tattooed) back for bein' all green and sassy, and we must have accumulated 60 pounds of plastic. Okay, not that much, but a lot. We were going to catalogue it, but yeah, that was overwhelming. Here's what I can decipher from the photo:

2 (maybe more) plastic trays from Trader Joe's vegetables
plastic wrap from same
empty mustard bottle
half-dozen or so NyQuil blister packs
2 or 3 Band-Aids (I did not add those to the pile because it's gross to save Band-Aids)
10 ramen noodle packages (in my defense, I was sick last weekend and that's all I wanted)
huge Costco toilet paper wrapper (I think I could wrap my car with it)
bubble-wrap envelope (I couldn't very well tell my Etsy seller not to ship my stuff in plastic)
empty bottle of dog treats
2 clamshell containers (one from Jim's lunch and one that held cherry tomatoes)

And a bunch of other crap that I am embarrassed to have bought. Jim's right that most of it is recyclable, but the plastic recycling process ain't exactly all that energy-efficient. At any rate, my ramen noodle craving disappeared with my cold. I think our biggest culprit is food, and it would be easy to reduce our plastic there. Frequently we go to Trader Joe's first because we know what they have, and then we go to My Organic Market (the amazing MOM's) for everything else. I think we'll start relying on the MOM's more—sometimes their produce is a little pricier, but it's all organic, mostly local, and it sure as hell isn't pre-packaged.

let's help the polar bears...

The tone of this blog is going to change. If you know me then you know I've been interested in ecology and the environment for a long time (I should scan my Earth Day poster I made in 5th or 6th grade art class). If you know Shannon then you know she is also inspired to help better the environment. We are frequent readers of a number of green or eco-blogs and we need to start putting out money (or actions/activities) where are minds are. Today marks the beginning of that spirit. We are participating in an experiment/challenge posed by Beth from Fake Plastic Fish . She challenged readers to collect their plastic trash for one week to see what it amounted to. We'll be taking part in her process, but I wanted to show readers of my blog (if there are any) what our one week of plastic trash looked like.

Here it is:

Now, according to our county's department of waste management, most of this stuff is recyclable. However, all this plastic stuff in one week is eye opening to say the least. Clearly, we have a lot to do in order to reduce our consumption. Shannon and I have made a number of changes in our spending/purchasing due to things we've read and learned. It's a work in progress.