15 minutes: Why you need something other than a non-stick pan

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

OK, so, continuing with the “write for 15 minutes and then post” game that began yesterday (that’s what the “15 minutes:” at the beginning of the title means. I will try to stop commenting on it in the future unless I need ways to kill time. :), today I remembered a little rant that I had the other day that I thought it would be good to blog at some point.

Initially, I wanted to title the post “How non-stick pans are ruining a generation of home chefs”, but that seemed a bit harsh, so now I will just say this: if you ever want to make sauce or gravy – and really, if you are cooking with meat or onions on a regular basis and you don’t want to make sauce or gravy… why not? – please don’t use a non-stick pan.

The science behind this plea is quite simple, and I will let Wikipedia summarize it for me:

Deglazing is a cooking technique for removing bits of food from a pan in order to make a sauce with them. When a piece of meat is roasted, pan fried or prepared in a pan with another form of dry heat, a fond, or deposit is left at the bottom of the pan with any rendered fat. Usually, the meat is removed from the cooking vessel, the majority of the oil is poured off, leaving a small amount with the dried and caramelized meat juices. The pan is returned to the heat, and a liquid is added to act as a solvent. This liquid can be plain water, vegetable or meat stock, a spirit, some wine, verjuice or any other liquid. This allows the cook to scrape the dark spots from the bottom of the pan, and dissolve them creating a rich sauce. [1]

This method is the cornerstone of many well known sauces and gravies. The resulting liquid can be seasoned and served on its own (sometimes called a jus), or with the addition of aromatic vegetables such as onions or shallots. The sauce can also be thickened with a starch such as flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot, or reduced with a steady heat forming a richer concentrated sauce.


You see, something really cool happens when you heat up sugar, and it is what we call caramelization. You know, like caramel. Caramel is sugar that has been cooked at a high enough temperature that it turns brown, which gives it that characteristic nutty sweet caramelly taste. If you just heat up sugar alone and then add butter and milk in appropriate proportions, you get caramel, or butterscotch, and you have a happy day before you.

When you heat up other foods that have sugar inside of them, however (and a lot of foods have sugar in them somewhere – yay energy!), those sugars start to caramelize after a while too, and the way the food tastes changes. Caramelized onions, as the most famous example, are just onions that have been cooked for a long time. No caramel is added. It comes out of the onion like magic and bunnies. Cooking is chemistry, people, and chemistry is fun. :)

If you use a nonstick pan, however, you miss out on a lot of this fun. The sugars brown best when they get to stick to something for a while and get crispy, but nonstick pans are built around the notion that sticking is terrible, and we want to avoid it at all costs. That makes home chefs who aren’t used to browning action freak out a bit when they start cooking something and the sugars begin to caramelize, and the innate reaction is to stir and scrape and curse at what suddenly seems like a pan that will be really hard to wash.

As wikipedia explains above, however, you should just chill. Wait a few minutes. And add water. Or brandy! The process of ‘deglazing’ is an entry level concept for sauciers everywhere, and I think it’s a shame that people might not be able to learn it just because they got tricked into thinking that non-stick coatings are the best thing to happen to home cooking since the microwave.

I’m a couple minutes over, so now I leave.
I might come back later or post again with pictures.
In the meantime, have fun! Deglaze something! Trust me! :)

yeah, but when you face the sun? please cast no shadow. light’s too bright. kthxbye.

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

i was listening to marketplace the other day and there was this piece about these new apple ads starring “mac guy” and “pc guy”. story goes that they make mac users out to be all slick and savvy while showing pc users as geeky and frustrated. i don’t have a tv, so i haven’t actually seen these ads, and i should probably go watch one on youtube or something before writing this post, but whatever, because i’m not actually responding to the ads, i’m responding to the way they were covered on the radio.

the piece talked about how apple might be biting itself in the ass with the ad campaign because “mac guy” is so self-confident as to be annoying, and current mac users might not enjoy the association. marketplace quotes marissa gluck, a marketing analyst, as saying:

The character of the Mac guy is almost too perfectly cast. He is smug. He is condescending. He’s just that uber-hipster you love to hate. It just makes you want to slap him.

fair enough. condescension not always the best marketing strategy. noted.

but the piece goes on from there. after assessing “mac guy” in this manner and questioning apple’s wisdom in promoting itself through him, it cites a study by a media research group that surveyed 7,500 different computer users with regard to their lifestyle habits as well as their computer usage. the direct quote from a representative of the research group was:

This is a group that is not afraid to shout its accomplishments from the mountaintops. They’re happy and proud to talk about their successes and their accomplishments, and that can come across as possibly a bit conceited.

can and possibly being rather major keywords in that summary, imh?o…

but the Marketplace correspondent summarized this information thusly:

They found that Mac owners pretty much personify the Mac guy from the commercials. Among other things, they think they’re more extraordinary than the average Joe.

and at that point, i’m scratching me head a bit, guvna, because i thought we were talking about how this stereotype might not be the best to use for the PR division, but now we’re using our own NPR-special heads to decide that mac users have superiority complexes because —

The survey revealed that Mac users often describe themselves as perfectionists. They’re also more likely than PC users to whiten their teeth, drive hybrids, drink Starbucks coffee and eat organic food.


i think that what i actually said aloud after the “they think they’re more extraordinary than the average Joe” nod was something like “or, um… their computers actually let them do stuff and then they are happy…”

now again, for clarity, i’m not talking about “mac guy” here at all, because i still haven’t seen the commercials, and i’m definitely not saying that there aren’t some annoying, conceited mac users out there, with myself on the ballot like everyone else.

i just found it striking that being “happy and proud to talk about their successes and their accomplishments” is apparently so closely synonymous with “being an arrogant arsehole” in our cultural vernacular that the two can be used interchangeably on a major evening radio program, not just without the commentator batting an eye, but with her apologizing for her own audacity in sometimes engaging in similar behaviors herself.

um… yah.

sent from my iBook, sure, but…

[begin sarcastic grunting voice]

me think things.
me say some things out loud.
me change mind sometimes.
you do whatever.
we grow.

[raised-eyebrow smile at world and self as transition from grunting voice]

onward with the week.

holy roman empire, batman

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

i kind of have a rule for my netflix – i try to arrange things so that i always have one fun movie, one serious movie, and one tv show. this came about because i found that if i had too many “you should really see this!” movies at once, they would often just sit there for weeks because i would secretly be in the mood for buffy reruns, not hotel rwanda, but that would be hard to admit even to myself so i just thought about other things. on the other hand, if i always Have buffy reruns (or actually what i’m hooked on now is 24), i will watch them and then enjoy the more serious options while i’m waiting for replacements to come, so a constant inflow of freshness is maintained, i get my money’s worth, And i am a well-balanced media absorption machine.

psychology is fun!

anyway, sometimes i succeed at diversity within my selections and i Still don’t watch anything for a while, which is the boat i was in this week, so i just made myself sit down and start watching. as a result, i ended up watching Rome (Season 1, Disc 1) and Why We Fight in rather quick succession, and this was an interesting experience.

Rome is a rather new HBO drama about life in the roman empire, and the first two episodes are basically about the events leading up to caesar’s revolt against the republic and establishment of himself as, well, Caesar. that sounds all serious and historical and shit, and i guess it is, but the war and sex and corruption bits make for some rather gritty TV, which is more of what drew HBO to the subject matter, imho. the historical element is just strategy to make people feel classier. those marketing folks are no shirks. and did i mention psychology is fun?

in the other corner, Why We Fight is a prize-winning documentary about the american war machine, and while it doesn’t exactly qualify as piercing cultural commentary to point out the potential thematic similarities between its storyline and the history of the roman empire, the thing that really appalled me was that i didn’t even have to take the time to enter into highschool english class “study questions” mode in order to draw such connections. at several points in Why We Fight, they actually come right out and talk about the fact that we are engaging in strategies to “build the new Rome”, and having just watched the Old rome displayed as blatantly corrupt, warmongering, and the playground of elitist power plays, i could only just sit there and be all “um… you know how that whole approach turned out last time, right?”

the more i thought about it, though, and the more i listened to the speeches from various governmental officials throughout Why We Fight, the more i realized that yeah, we Do know how it turned out last time, but that doesn’t seem to sway us from believing that this time we’ll go all colonel sanders on the whole thing and do empire RightTM. i might just be slow on the uptake here, or maybe it’s the whole “e”s become “i”s and vice versa when you conjugate it confusion, but somehow hearing “imperialism” bandied around all the time in the media never really smacked me in the face hard enough to realize that this? this is one of those things that isn’t just hype where they borrow words from movies to make things sound flashier on the news. i mean, star wars and age of empires probably doesn’t help our brains much with the “process this literally and not just as a tagline” function, but seriously folks, it really is the same word it always was: EMPIRE. US OR THEM. THIS IS OUR FOREIGN POLICY. NOT FREEDOM. DOMINATION. SEE THE DIFFERENCE?

ok that many caps means i’ve lapsed into “too preachy” mode, but really? i’m just trying to capture that feeling where something completely and utterly obvious blows your mind a bit, and you feel kinda stupid about that but at the same time it really does feel like a little sliver of something new slipped through, and i think blogs are for trying to capture that little sliver, or my blog is for that, or my blog Should be for that, and every day is a new chance to make that more of a reality, and thereby balance that “fluff” tag over there with some other tags of a similar size.

so i guess my blogging strategy and my netflix strategy are kind of the same in the end…

now that we’ve had personal insight time, it is time for tea and princess mononoke. weekend of the netflix ninja continues. they sent me walk the line and some iranian movie to replace the conquered dvds above (I AM BUILDING A CINEMATIC EMPIRE!!! RAAARRRGGHH!!). is there a way to put my netflix queue in the sidebar? hmmm….

officially done typing now. in case you were wondering if i got that i should have stopped already. yep. making up for lost time, i suppose.

“don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget”

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

this post suffered from draft dodging, so it’s a bit old, but i wanted to finish and post it anyway:

i’ve been engaging in an interesting little political exercise over the past couple of days.

firstly, as a backdrop, i should tell you that david and i are conducting what we call “liberty class” as a part of my unofficial self-administered phD project. we have both become interested in the revival of interest in libertarian thought that seems to be occurring with increasing regularity among the generation that is now coming of professional age, perhaps most prominently in the business philosophy of john mackey, CEO of whole foods, but first really registering on my radar through the journalistic commentary of jonathan rauch.

because of jonathan rauch, actually, i first subscribed to reason magazine a few years ago (fwiw, rauch was very recently interviewed by reason on, in his own words “my philosophy of everything,” and the interview can be found here), and because i talked about articles and ideas from the magazine somewhat often, david picked up the subscription when i left the country for a while, and it became the first shared text for what would evolve into our liberty class.

somewhere in those same past few years, david took a few crosscountry drives and listened to atlas shrugged on tape in the car. i listened to book one (of three) before we took it back to the library, and agreed to read the whole thing eventually so that we could talk about it more, a committment which i finally honored just last week, and about which i intend to write a paper soon. in the meantime, david listened to another book on tape – Libertarianism: A Primer, which is a new book by one of the head honchos at the cato institute that was written to take advantage of the aforementioned revival in interest amongst the new generation. david also started doing things like reading john stuart mill for fun.

so class is in session, eh?

anyway, anyway, anyway, the political exercise in which i have been engaging over the last few days is listening to Libertarianism: A Primer for the liberty class while also watching the youtube/cnn debate that was held last monday night for the current democratic presidential candidates.

commentary on the format of the debate aside (which is a big aside… internet media coverage of this election is going to be a fascinating thing), this has been an interesting experience. i haven’t put much time into thinking about the election yet, and i think that is partly because i don’t really know how my shifting politics will impact my behavior in the upcoming months, and i have been postponing thinking about it all that much.

as a longtime (as longtime as one can be at 28) bleeding heart liberal and proud of it, it’s hard to contemplate association with a political philosophy that many people i respect see as tantamount to treason, or at least as selling out or succumbing to a nice brainwash. it’s hard for a lot of reasons that will take a long time to fully explore, but one of the top reasons has to do with money, and it is money that inspired me to write this post.

i am coming to believe, you see, that the liberal camp does quite a bit of damage by going to such lengths to distance itself from the pursuit of wealth. i agree that there are many important things in life that money cannot buy, and fixating on money as the sole pathway to happiness is silly, but neither of those beliefs imply that money itself is evil, and the idea that caring about profit requires not caring about people is dangerous in its ability to disarm us of the very tools most crucial to our defense.

money is a tool, and like any tool it is wielded most powerfully by those who are not afraid to grasp it with purpose. we could make a statement about the potential danger of sharp blades by refusing to learn how to hold a sword properly and flailing around wildly whenever anyone hands us one as a show of studied ignorance, but we are much more likely to lose fingers that way than if we allow ourselves to grip the handle firmly and learn to gauge the weight and edge for ourselves. perhaps more tragically, however, if we don’t take the time to learn such control, we place ourselves at the mercy of other’s protection in times of danger, and we open ourselves up to being fleeced in the process.

i think this happens a lot with people, myself included, who sometimes wear poor money management as a sort of badge of pride. “oh, i just don’t want to bother worrying about such things” is the ultimate statement of privilege, and we can’t really complain about the concentration of wealth in the hands of conservatives as long as we ourselves refuse to put effort towards the accumulation of our own. if we honestly don’t want to play the money game, that’s fine. i’m going to burning man this month (which operates on a gift economy), and i am quite happy to support models of community where something other than money is the focus of interaction. at the same time, however, i think that money is not an idea that should be tossed aside simply because it is possible (or even probable) for people to use it irresponsibly, and i don’t think that it is fair for us to shame people for their pursuit of wealth and then turn around and tell them that we think they should spend it on things they don’t really value.

bottom line: if we think money can do some good, let’s shut up and work on getting our own; if we really don’t think money is the answer, let’s stop asking for people to give it to us.

anyway, this is turning into quite the rant, and i know i need to take the time to articulate myself more clearly and succinctly. i know, for instance, that there are many liberals who are quite happy to manage their money and do so with aplomb, particularly among the rising tide of my own generation (which is indeed why the increased interest in libertarianism is so intriguing). i also know that this is a rather unintuitive position for me to be honing during a time of voluntary unemployment and self-imposed poverty, and to that argument i can only offer my word that reconciling that conflict is indeed the focus of my current energies, and i’m doing it the best way i see how. so perhaps irate commenters will provide me with the motivation to clarify my positions as i go. :)

in the meantime, i exercise my license to blather about ideas in progress, and i now turn to the actual source of inspiration for this post, which was a comment joe biden makes in the following clip about taxes:

the comment, as i’m sure the title of this post has already revealed, is his father’s quote: “don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget” which is really basically just the flipside of “put your money where your mouth is.”

i started thinking about all of this because my kneejerk reaction to that quote was a kind of snorting noise, driven by an emotional upswell on the order of: “as if Money is the most meaningful reflection of my values!!”, to which the part of me that was also listening to libertarianism: a primer, promptly rebutted: “hold up, who said anything about most. what does your budget reflect if not your values? why does the idea that you should be open about money make you defensive?”

and that really got me started. why do i relinquish the decisions about where my money goes to the goverment anyway?! why don’t i see it as my responsibility to ensure that i am supporting my values in whatever ways i can?! how do i get off telling people that they don’t know how to handle their wealth when i don’t even want to look at how much i spend on candy or beer because i might not like what i see?!

and the clincher revealing the true extent of my current political shift:
what makes me think that supporting my values is anyone’s job but my own?

basically, if i choose to spend money but i’m not certain that my budget reflects my values, how can i honestly say that i know what my values are? wearing a blindfold when we open our pocketbooks because we associate money with depravity and we’d rather be above it is ridiculous and irresponsible, and i just need to grow the hell up.

this led me to two immediate conclusions:

1) the complexity and obscurity of the national budget is a disgrace
2) i should follow senator biden’s advice

so herein begins a monthly experiment in disclosure:

Kynthia's July Budget

i need to figure out how to wrap in credit card expenses, which are unfortunately rising this month due to aforementioned unemployment. and i’ll try to break down “other” a bit more.

but it’s a start, eh?

we can talk about whether this means i’m turning against taxes later. :)

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

i know that i can dominate discussions. be overpowering. ask for feedback without really listening. yes. listening is really the key. i know that i don’t listen deeply enough. actively enough. honestly enough. i know that i worry too much about getting my own ideas across. about being heard. about being smart. i don’t care so much about being right in the end, just about contributing. believing that i played a part in shaping the conversation and that it would have been different and somehow less rich if i wasn’t there.

i also know that i enrich situations by simply being a part of them. that’s how people work. the only way that i can endanger richness is by derailing conversations so that they’re about whether i get them or not instead of just about themselves. seeking validation of the fact that i tend to seek validation is a bitter pill. it is burying my head in the sand. succumbing to fear rather than standing up, looking around, and doing what is right.

so here i sit. and i can’t worry about what you (whoever you are) might think about posts like this. i can’t worry about whether this is a manifesto. or an apology. or a rant. or self-indulgent. or productive. or anything else. i only know that there is too much in my head, and worrying about what i send out doesn’t accomplish anything because it only means that i displace one thing with another without actually freeing up any space.

i hate writing things like this. i hate reading things like this. i hate the constant drive to rant and moan and complain and then try to make it better by going all meta and ranting about ranting and thereby proving that i get that i don’t get it (which means i get it, get it?). i hate pretending that the goal is just to find the right switch and flip it. i hate being able to say that i understand that it is all here, right now, not there, not later, not THEN, not MAYBE AFTER, not IF ONLY…

but, most days, i can’t fully let go of wanting to SAY rather than just DO, and i hate admitting that it’s hard for me to do something so easy. that

but then at the very same time…

i love

expressing yourself is not about finding a unique formula that does catchy without too catchy, deep without cliche. it’s just about saying what’s in front of you. honesty is unique by default.

playing the game

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

sometimes i feel like i spend way too much time thinking about which things in my life are the things i should blog about and not enough time just blogging things as they happen even though i might change my mind about them later.

in that spirit:

this morning i took part in a very frustrating phone meeting, and thinking about what made it frustrating got me thinking about gender and corporate culture. basically, we got stuck on a point that we thought had already been agreed upon, and the discussion went back and forth for a long time without really getting anywhere and with no one really feeling like they were heard. this happens too often in our phone meetings on this project, and i think my coworkers are somewhat happy to find that my patience is wearing thin because i was a bit too chipper and naive for their liking during the first few weeks after my arrival. i’m one of those people who can annoy the hell out of you by constantly wanting to give people the benefit of the doubt when all you want to do is bitch for a second. i’ve gotten better at just letting people vent over the years because i have learned the important distinction between unproductive fingerpointing and productive bile. today as we were talking though it became clear that the frustration really came down to the fact that all three of us (who are all female) recognize that there are a lot of deeper interpersonal issues going on in this argument that have to do with vested interest and pride, and our idea of how to move forward is to deal with Those things, whereas the coworker with whom we are arguing (who is male) is trying to play some kind of power game that we think is a big sham. but calling him on that is not how things are done. and i’m not sure i have the patience for this world.

i blame the impulse to blame

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

i’ve been reading more i blame the patriarchy lately, largely because of erik, whose own blog is becoming one of the most heartfelt explorations of the responsible pursuit of gender equity that i know.
just in case he wasn’t already securely within the ranks of the coolest people in the world.

and yes, i recognize that i just introduced a post with a feminist theme by not only praising a man, but also by engaging in a cutesy display of girlish affection therein.

get over it.

i do not believe that the way to empower women is to exclude men from the conversation, nor to refrain from praising them when they step up, nor to shun all girlish impulses, and if convincing me otherwise is your goal, best stop now, for i am a lost cause to you.
please don’t shed too many tears for my soul.

whoa, this topic makes me snippy before i even start talking about it!

anyways, the last couple of days at ibtp have been intense.

stop reading now if you don’t want to be exposed to some rather radical feminism.

seriously. i won’t be offended, and i’ll be sure to send out a memo later if i change my mind.

ok, so some dude wrote in to ask whether he was raping his girlfriend because she didn’t ever initiate sex, and the ripping of the proverbial new one ensued in the comments.
summary of consensus: yes. and the fact that you wrote in to ask about it gives us the womanly willies.

which is an interestingly gendered term…
should i say the wilhelminas?

anyway, i haven’t decided yet what my short response to that discussion is, and i haven’t felt inclined to ramble through a long one publicly.

yesterday, though, there was a post that i took as a progression of the discussion, and it put forth the thesis that all heterosexual sex should be considered a criminal act by default, and therefore any time any woman felt inclined to bring charges against any man for sexual misconduct, the default conviction would be guilty.

if you are not glazing over and switching to lolcats already, you should read the post.

now, it should definitely be understood that the suggestion is not intended to be a stab at judicial fairness; it is more like an experiment in redistributive injustice, with the idea being that right now the cards are stacked so heavily against women because of the ease with which “she consented!” can be used to dismiss sexual assault charges, that it would do the patriarchy some good to have the tables turned for a while, with full vials of their own bitter, bitter medicine beside plates of their own scraps.

as you might expect, once again the comment floodgates were opened, and while i was thinking about what i might say this time, erik beat me to the punch.

this post started out as a comment on his post, actually, but then i decided to claim it as my own.

you know, given that it IS my own.

and i have been at a loss for substantive matter lately.

and it seems a bit funny to use my digital space as a platform for chip commentary while voicing my thoughts on feminism within the reactionary regions of a male slice of the blogosphere, albeit a male slice i deeply respect…

but i begin to digress too verily.

if you’re interested, read the original post, AND erik’s reaction, AND my reaction (it’s coming, i promise!), and contribute to the multitudinous pathways of discussion as ye will.

then we can be as an octopus that just keeps sprouting legs until it can’t move anymore and starves to death while tripping over itself and looking silly.
yay blogging.

ok, so here’s what trips me up about twisty’s suggestion:

heterosexual intercourse?
not a crime.

if you’re going to disagree with me, i realize that it’s going to be there, right from square one.
i realize that the whole point is to consider the implications of the idea that this assumption is fundamentally flawed, and you don’t have to believe me when i say that i gave it some thought, but i did, and i will likely continue to do so, but right now i am documenting my intuitive reaction.
and i’m not buying it.
i’m not buying it enough that i think it’s worth sticking a stake in the ground and saying “nuh-uh. don’t Even go there. not even for fun.”

you see, i wholeheartedly believe that it is possible for an intelligent, aware woman to view the act of heterosexual intercourse as something other than the violation of the female body by the male body, and given that this is the case, criminalizing the act would not only perpetuate injustice against men, but against many, many women who choose to view sex as a joyous expression of intimate union.

and it is from that perspective that i am motivated to enter the conversation.
to figure out what respecting the feminist argument means to me.
so here we go.

but for right now, even if we can’t agree on the basic premise of criminality, let’s just take the fact that we all seem to agree that some level of injustice would remain a consequence of the new law.

countering injustice with more injustice?
bad form.

coopting the criminal justice system in order to make bold political statements intended to prompt reflection on the patriarchy?
there be dragons.

yes, the patriarchy results in many, many situations in which justice is doled out unequally based on what’s between our legs, and yes, it does us good to admit that, and i embrace creative means of jolting us out of our bubbles of privilege, be they gendered or otherwise.

and yes, it could be said that i am resorting to a cloud in the sky from where real action is impossible, and i should be challenged to provide alternative ways of bettering the situation.

but that’s a challenge i want to embrace.

i say we hold our standards higher.

i say we don’t fight back by oneupping the current rules of the game with smirks on our faces, but by figuring out new games entirely.

at the end of the day i want to put my energy towards the proliferation of happy, healthy human beings who are committed to a society of mutual love and respect, and i just don’t think the desire to feed people their own poison is a part of that picture.

the journey is the destination.
the means is the end.
the way is the way is the…


ok, lest i ascend too far into my pretensions, here’s a kickback to the old skool craig kilborn era moment of zen, because man, i would give jon stewart three camels a week and a giraffe on sunday, but sometimes i still misses me some o’ that slap me in the face zaniness, and that there be one of the best slaps i know.

that’s enough for today.

my trackpad’s better than your trackpad

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

i was just writing a post about blood diamond, which i saw this evening, and recommend, when a wayward slip of my finger on the trackpad led me to instruct the browser to go “back”, thereby erasing my work. the first time, i cursed a bit about trackpads that are too smart for their own good, and about how wordpress should autosave the way gmail does. i’m borrowing a computer, so i hadn’t thought about the stupid “smart corners” feature in windows because i have a mac now and when i was running windows on my previous laptop, i turned the damn things off.

then it happened again, when i was nearly done, and even though i had smartly saved the post at an earlier juncture, i still lost a lot, and i don’t have the stomach to rewrite it all right now, so i’ll have to risk it for later.

i will take the chance to vent my frustration at this feature, however, and to point out that another smart trackpad feature – the two-fingered scrolling that comes with os X laptops – is COMPLETELY different, and has now become a part of the way i expect all trackpads to work, which is one way that i measure brilliance.

the difference is that it is not at all likely that i will absentmindedly place two of my fingers on the trackpad and move them in concert while i am thinking about other things, and yet, when i want to take advantage of the feature, it takes very little brainpower to do so. once i have learned it, i can use it as easily as breathing; until i learn it, i am not likely to engage it on accident with disastrous results that seem to occur as a prank from god.

so don’t make it easy to do frustrating things by accident, folks. it’s no fun. it makes you have to read babble like this instead of hearing me talk about feeling older and coming to respect leonardo dicaprio. sucks, eh?

anyway, autosave in wordpress would be a good thing either way. i should see if it exists.

job shmob

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

so the job situation here in london has officially pissed me off.

i know i haven’t talked about much of what i’ve been up to, because it keeps changing and i keep thinking i will get to the Final VersionTM soon. but no. so here’s the quick rundown:

on arrival i applied for four christmas season jobs, one of which was at harrods, the uber huge department empire for whom christmas is a Serious Business. they called back, i jumped through several hoops (along with hundreds of other christmas hires), and two weeks after i got to town i was offered a full-time job in the meat and poultry section of the foodhall for £7/hr. not bad, really, but i had also been talking with a guy at an office temp agency that had postings for part-time presentation formatting positions that paid £25/hr, which sounded much better, albeit a bit less… festive.

at first, the office job guy had not been impressed with my CV, which made sense because it had been geared towards getting restaurant kinds of jobs and i had forgotten to change it. i changed it, he still said he was worried because i didn’t have experience using Office in a corporate environment, but i told him i could handle it and he was impressed by my enthusiasm so he agreed to meet.

that was where things stood when i went to accept the position at harrods, whereupon i learned that they weren’t going to pay me for a month, and suddenly the thought of leaving my flat at 6 every morning to pay to sit on the tube or a bus for an hour so that i could sell people lamb chops didn’t sound very appealing. i decided to risk it and declined the job so that my time would be free to pursue other things.

then the office temp agency guy didn’t reply to my emails, and it was a week until christmas, so nothing was going anywhere.

at this point, i realized that i should have signed up with hospitality temp agencies immediately because i was frittering away the two or three busiest weeks of the year waiting for a job when i could have been earning money pouring wine at paul mccartney’s christmas party.

seriously, i met someone who did that.

i went to a temp agency and they said they were done with holiday recruiting, but i made them take my cv anyway, and as a result they let me fill out the forms and gave me two jobs – selling concessions at a football game and bartending on new year’s eve.

both of those were fun, and they kept my spirits up while i continued to hope that an office job would materialize in january.

meanwhile, bruce put me in touch with an IU grad who lives here in london and works for a big firm that does temping, and after talking with him a bit, he referred me to a place where i could take an online Office test. i passed, it said that someone would contact me, and my hopes were renewed. i emailed the other temp agency guy to ask again about whether anything would be available in january and to tell him that i had been talking to this other firm, in case that impressed him or allayed his doubts.

today, both of them called me back. the first one – where i passed the online test – was very friendly and wanted me to take another test on monday, but after talking with him a bit more it became clear that it would take a few weeks to finalize things and most of the jobs want someone to stay for longer, so it’s probably not worth it since i’m leaving soon. ditto for the second guy when he called, except that he was still careful to say that not having corporate experience would probably put me in for an uphill battle with his clients.

so now i am having to admit that i probably won’t get anyone to pay me £25/hour to format their powerpoint presentations, and also that i will probably have a very hard time finding any other job for only a few short weeks, and that makes me sad… :(

on the upside, i have greatly enjoyed the time to read and work on other things over the past few weeks. that was really what i wanted to do with this time, which is probably part of why i was not wholly motivated to take any job that came along.

at the same time, however, i have started putting things on my credit card, and some of the things i hoped to do and see before crossing back over the big blue may be impossible this time, and both of those things suck.

the hospitality temp jobs aren’t over, so they should lead to a few more gigs at least, but all in all the whole experience has made two things clear to me:

  • i am going to have to keep traveling because the thought that i might get it all out of my system in this go and then feel ready to settle down is kind of silly.
  • i want to be more creative about finding ways to earn money while i’m on the road.

as for the second point, i’ve already had a few ideas about cooking for people and building websites for hostels, and i’m going to think on it all some more as i make my next plans, but in the meantime, i refer you to the next post.

and thanks for listening to me vent a bit. :)

apple store wins! (starbucks loses)

Friday, December 15th, 2006

man, finding free wireless internet in london is a pain.
i mean, it’s true that i actually just thought of googling “free wireless london” and in so doing, i learned that there is a full square mile in islington with free wireless for all.

and that’s cool.

but given that i thought there was wireless included in my flat, and there KIND of is, but it’s very patchy, and the place down the street charges £1/hr., and i don’t have much cash at the moment, and i’m sometimes out and about in the city, and i was excited to learn of a library right across from the bus stop this morning but then i was annoyed to discover that, not only is there no wireless in this library, but you have to PAY to use the wired internet… in a library!!

the whole ordeal has been making me feel tired.

i want one of those little keychain clickers that tell you when you’re near a hotspot, the ones that i laughed at when i saw it in skymall a few years ago because it seemed so silly, but now they seem wise. except that to get one that actually tells you whether the network is open or not costs a lot, and then they are less pocket-friendly, and you know what? i still kind of resist on principle because i firmly believe that wifi should be free, and more than that, i have faith that it soon will be, so i would rather not put too much energy into developing workarounds for a world that is not going to last very long.

but still, it’s annoying now, and today i had a flicker of sympathy for starbucks because i thought, “well, at least they have the right idea in always HAVING wireless, and making it easy to use just one account at all their stores…” so i looked at the login screen for the 75th time, and decided that it is just way too expensive for the 75th time, and groaned and left.

why doesn’t some big chain just offer free wireless everywhere? or even free wireless with Purchase everywhere? isn’t there a market for that?!

but it’s all ok, because you know what?
there is free wireless at the apple store on regent street.


and so apple, even though just a couple days ago i was cursing at itunes with david, and even though i don’t know why “enter” should mean “edit name” instead of “open”, i just wanted to tell you that sometimes you do get things right, and i am grateful.

so after i get a paycheck, i’ll come back and buy myself a christmas present.