kitchen_kink: (mercenary)
Reading everyone's "I just got back from Burning Man OMG" posts makes me realize that in cataloging my own Burning Man experiences - two years ago - I only got as far as Tuesday.

Yeah, that's a problem. And I haven't yet finished writing about my honeymoon, either, which is really only a question of copying what I wrote into this space!


So I'm going to try and get back to those, before I lose both experiences entirely. Hey, it's only been nearly a year since my honeymoon, right?
kitchen_kink: (mercenary)
...both for defying gender stereotypes and for being randomly handy.

Just now, the toilet wouldn't flush. The handle just flipped up and down. So, instead of just calling the landlord (after midnight) or waking up [ profile] imlad, I opened the tank. Mind you, I've never fixed a toilet in my life. But that chain with the plug on the end of it looked like it'd do something if I pulled it. Sure enough, that flushed the toilet. Handle still didn't work though. Oh hey, look at that - the handle connects to a lever, and the chain I pulled has a loop on the end. Connect loop to lever. Toilet fixed.

Even if that's just silly and obvious, still: go me.
kitchen_kink: (mercenary)
Last year, some of you may recall, I had grain moths in my house. These creatures disgusted me no end, and I was filled with the fiery hatred of a thousand light bulbs for these pestilent little buggers.

Many of you gave me excellent advice, and I have had what looks like 100% success in stopping the infestation from recurring this year, in the hot weather. I know some of you have also suffered from this problem, so I thought I'd let you know what I did - and how I did it without using any poison or toxic stuff at all.

1. Clean out the pantry. If you open a bag or box of rice, pasta, cereal, flour, or whatever and see a single moth, throw it away. If you see any little pin holes in a plastic bag that's holding bulk goods, throw it away. Basically, anything that's already infested or shows the slightest sign of it: get rid of it.

Next, empty out and scrub down the places you keep food. I used baking soda and water.

2. Change your storage habits. Get plastic or metal containers with airtight lids for keeping any dry starchy goods outside of the refrigerator: pasta, rice, flour, oatmeal, cereal, bread crumbs, grains, legumes, and so on. Some people who commented on my original post have had problems with sugar, nuts, tea, cocoa and dried fruit, and other more sweet items, but I had no such problems - these particular guys were interested in grains and grains only, especially rice and whole flours. I also have had success keeping pasta in its bag, inside another strong Ziploc freezer bag.

3. Kill any you bring home. You may not want to think about it, but when you buy in bulk from the bins in the store, there are sometimes going to be critters or eggs hiding in the food. When you bring home your grains, put them in the freezer or cold refrigerator overnight. The bugs can't survive the cold. Then put them in your containers for storage.

4. Consolidate. If you can have all of your not-in-the-fridge food stored in one area of your kitchen, do so - it will limit the blast radius of any infestation.

5. Discourage from the area. Cedar blocks thrown in dresser drawers help to keep moths away from your clothes; they do the same thing in food storage drawers, and don't affect the flavor of things at all. You can buy cedar blocks, drawer liners, or balls in many places, usually in the clothing storage area rather than food storage areas. Throw a couple in your cabinets and drawers and replenish them every 6 months or so with cedar spray.

6. Pheromone traps. When the warmer weather came around again, you can bet that whatever moths were left from last year woke up or hatched or whatever those wretched bastards do, and I would see them in the house, one and two at a time. Whole Foods and health food stores carry pheromone traps for pantry pests, and they are brilliant. Basically, they're a triangle of light cardboard with sticky stuff on the inside surfaces, and a lure. The lure attracts the males, and they stick to the sticky stuff and die die die. I have mine on top of my fridge, which is a good height for them to fly into it; it currently has about 20 dead moths in it, most of which I never saw before they bit it. You may wind up with some females left over, but they can't make more little assholes without the menfolk.

7. Integrated pest management. It's important that you do all of these things together to destroy or prevent an infestation, or it won't work.

Thanks, everyone, for your fantastic advice.
kitchen_kink: (Default)
Hand-laundry done. Plants watered. Gym clothes donned. Breakfast cooked and eaten. First few paragraphs of the first short story I've written in over a year done.

Nine a.m. I could get used to this.
kitchen_kink: (sleepy)
This is how it is. You get up, you go to work. You do what you have to do; if you're lucky, you do what you want to do. You eat. You exercise. You make love and do the dishes and drop the kids off at school.

You keep going.

I wake up early, but doze until nearly ten. It's the first day of February, which I conveniently forget; perhaps the knowledge would have gotten me out of bed sooner with the fond realization that January, the dread month, is finally over.

I drag myself around. I clean up a bit, fix breakfast, write a journal entry. I get ready to leave for Krav practice for the first time in a week and a half. Last week was eaten up by sickness, snowed under by a hail of Kleenex.

Finally I have the ambition to work out again, or at least I have the ambition to get into the car and go try to do so. I'm dreading the class the way I dreaded the classes I taught yesterday: the depression, then, nearly trapped me in the bed for the day.

But yesterday I managed for three hours to talk about literature to a bunch of kids who, with a few exceptions, couldn't care less and thank me with their blank stares, and today I manage to get out on route 93 and head for Roxbury. I'm even on time. At about ten minutes before noon I'm just outside the tunnel, waiting to get off at exit 18.

At 12:30, I'm still there.

It's enough that I'm infuriated by having to sit on the highway for this long. It's more than enough that I've dragged myself out of depression and sickness to go do some cardio and kick some ass, a proactive step to make myself feel better. But the worst of it is that the whole time I'm listening to NPR, and the reports are as follows:

A conservative talks about how a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage should be higher on Bush's agenda, and the reporter takes him seriously, in fact doesn't challenge him at all. Bush's approval rating is lower than any second-term president since Nixon, yet he still takes the November election as evidence that he's been given a mandate by this country to effect change. Meanwhile, as they're still counting the ballots from Iraq's election, an insurgent group has taken an American soldier hostage and says that they will behead him within 72 hours unless the U.S. releases its Iraqi prisoners. In slightly lighter news, the makers of the Oscar-nominated documentary Born into Brothels (subject matter self-evident in the title) are interviewed about their program to rescue children of prostitutes in India, themselves lined up at age 13 to continue the tradition, from their plight.

It's another day in goddamnfuckingparadise.

So I turn around, I go back home, I'm pissed off that I've wasted an hour and a half driving and that meanwhile the world, the country I thought was mine is, as usual, falling apart, and I'm thinking about where I would move and how I would work if we passed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, if we overturned Roe v. Wade, if in four years Dick fucking Cheney secured the presidency, if we go to war in Iran, Syria, Korea...

And I hear a report about an all-male ballet troupe who performs female roles on pointe and in tutus, with no attempt to conceal their maleness, and I laugh a little. I go to the gym and get on the elliptical machine and burn for 25 minutes, in high gear, my rage and helplessness. I read an amusing article about Johnny Depp in Rolling Stone (The New Yorker isn't available today and I didn't bring it from home).

And I go home, and shower, and go to the cafe and write, and I think, this is how it works. This is why it works. This is a few million people, feeling helpless, feeling rage, feeling the same way I'm feeling and knowing that the only thing to do is chop wood, carry water. Keep going.

This is how the status quo holds on, this is how the politicians get away with what they get away with, this is how a government strips its citizens of its freedoms, bit by bit, and legislates the hell out of our lives. And this isn't me telling you to get off your butts and do something, this isn't me getting up and being politically active, this isn't even me going to a demonstration or writing a letter to my congressperson. This is me seeing that it's pointless.

This is me, just trying to live my life.
kitchen_kink: (Default)
The buzzer rang yesterday at around 6:30 and I was surprised: our guests weren't due until 7:30 or 8, and [ profile] imlad wasn't yet home. As I trundled downstairs to answer it (our apartment has no way of buzzing people in), I heard the neighbor's buzzer sound as well, and though I could not yet see the visitor, I had some misgivings, though I hoped it would simply be the UPS man uncertain of which doorbell was which.

Instead, I was greeted by a smooth-cheeked, toothy young lady in a red shirt, bearing the DNC logo. She was brandishing a clipboard in my general direction, and was careful to get her entire enthusiastic speech out, all the time looking directly into my eyes, before I could interrupt or say a word other than "hello."

In spite of my natural desire to dismiss her out of hand and shut the door to return to my cooking, I simply couldn't do it. Not because the cause moves me particularly or doesn't - it does, in fact; I want Kerry elected more than I've wanted anything in politics since I wanted Bush not to declare war on Iraq two years ago. It's more because I'm particularly susceptible to young kids earnestly pushing their various fundraising campaigns door-to-door.

Sure, it's hard going up to individual people's houses and bothering them around dinnertime to beg for money, and I sympathize with that. But more to the point, I empathize with that - because I did it for a summer, and man, it's the hardest frickin' job in the world.

I'm not sure how most organizations work, but I know how PIRG and Clean Water Action - two of the most successful environment and other public interest fundraising organizations - operate in terms of their lowest level employees.

Ever see those signs that say, "Work for the Environment! Make $300-$500 a week!" Yeah, I answered that ad once. And ended up working for the New Jersey Environmental Federation, an inveterate group of young wiseguys and older, earnest types who spend their time between 4 pm and 9 pm going door-to-door in various neighborhoods, spreading the word about one disaster or another (poisonous insecticides on your kids' schoolgrounds, mercury in your fish) that we're attempting to pass a resolution or law to prevent, reverse or correct. All you have to do is give us some money.

If it matters to you, and if such people have come to your door in the past, you should know that half of that money (with taxes taken out first, of course) goes into that little college student's pocket, which, for the hot (or cold), potentially dangerous, humiliating, demoralizing nature of the work, seems to me to be far less than their fair share. The rest of it goes to fund their lobbying groups and keep operations up. The people who run these things are nonprofit warriors to a man or woman, dedicated, honest, and working in lousy office conditions. We drove to our locations in beat-up Econolines. We practiced our "raps" to each other, the enthusiastic speech I mentioned earlier, over the bumps in the road and the loud engine. We had a whole vocabulary, a parlance of door-to-door fundraising, starting with the word "canvassing." People in houses were known as "doors," as in, "I had this one door tonight that let me in the house and invited me to dinner!" Once you had your door's attention, you made sure to keep their eyes as you delivered your rap, and to clip them - get your clipboard into their hands - as early as possible, without letting them look at it until you were done talking. That attitude of sunny rapport, and the pushiness and lack of change in expression when you tell them, again and again, that you simply can't give right now, that you gave at the office, that you can't afford the $25 "membership" level donation - that's called "assuming support." "That's okay," you probably hear those kids say over and over when you insist that you can't afford it, "folks are just giving five or ten dollars." Assume support. Go to every door imagining that this person is already on your side, already reaching for their checkbook. In our case, we had weird numbers, to be fun and also to get checks instead of cash, to get addresses: $6, $12, $25, $60. A $60 giver was called a sustainer, and boy were they ever, in making up half of your quota for the night. The desperation with which the fundraiser will finally just ask if you can pitch in a couple bucks became known, thanks to a hilarious, extremely bright surfer boy called John Hogan, as the "buckertwo." Once he steamrolled over a door's noisy objections to his very presence by insistently chanting, "Buck-or-two-buck-or-two buckertwobuckertwobuckertwo buck - er - two!" He later became so disenchanted with the job that he replaced our field manager's common exhortation "Make it happen" with "Let it happen."

I had a lot of highs, a lot of failures, and a lot of stories from that job. Someday they'll become a short story, I think. In any case, now, whenever one of those people come to the door, whatever their cause, with their little clipboards and their hopeful faces and endless positivity, I smile back. I grade them on their technique. Sometimes I even give a contribution. Because that's their job, and I know what that job is like. It sucks. And if you don't make your quota, you get fired.

But yesterday, I didn't. I went back into my comfortable house, back to my cooking, after she insisted three times and I, like Peter, three times denied her. Maybe I'm getting a bit hard in my old age.
kitchen_kink: (Default)
Hammering away at the Diesel again.

This morning I wasn't quite so ambitious: I couldn't drag myself up until about 7:30. But I still got up, resisted the urge to flop back into bed, tempting as it was, ate some breakfast, went to the bank and the post office, and now I'm here.

The problems, as I see them, are twofold:

1. I'm not awake until at least 10 anyway, so the hours between 7 and 10 are spent getting myself awake and not getting much done. That'll change, but it'll take time.

2. Salicom is evil.

Well, let me rephrase that. They're not evil; in fact, the guy I've talked to a bunch of times to help me with it is really sweet - and it's always the same guy! Small, these Salicom people are. (Yoda I speak like.) What they are is idiots. Every morning I've had to call them and fix one thing or another before I could have the privilege of logging on to the 'net at my favorite coffeeshop. And of course, T-mobile (provider of internet access for the Starbucks across the street and my cell phone carrier) are equal idiots, and for whatever reason don't give me reception inside the Diesel - in spite of the fact that I can usually pick up T-mobile internet access from inside the Diesel! Not sure if they're connected at all, but if they are, that shit just pisses me off.

Regardless. Enough bitching. Mostly I'm doing okay. It's good to get up early. I wonder if the regular use of the drops is helping with the allergy issue, and my grogginess and zombieness will pass by the end of the month...? It would be rather amazing.

This week has been a whirlwind thus far. Monday night, went out for drinks though [ profile] imlad had taken a day to work at home, since he was feeling sick. Working at home drives him nuts, so we needed to get out of the house. The next day, he stayed home sick for real, and again, by the end of the night he was feeling mostly better, and we stepped out to check the action at the Diesel (none, by 9pm) and then to get desserts at Gargoyle's. Last night we saw the director's cut of Donnie Darko, and I have to tell you - if you've seen this movie, loved it, but still have questions, see the director's cut. If you haven't seen the movie, see the director's cut. If you don't know what I'm talking about, see the fragging director's cut. It's beautiful, and it explains so much.

Off to find out if The Philosophy of Time Travel is a real book.
kitchen_kink: (Default)
I haven't had any adverse symptoms in the past few days, and perhaps as a result I haven't been as meticulously recording what I eat. Also, it's been similar to the stuff I've been eating, with perhaps a greater emphasis on Thai food. (Are rice noodles and white rice okay, I wonder? I did have brown rice tonight...) What this has also been an opportunity for is lots of amazing sushi. Sooooosheeeee...

I cheated a trifle today and had my rooibos herbal chai with soy milk and...a little raw sugar. The Diesel was out of honey!

I went to a prose reading at chez [ profile] fanw last night and read an exceedingly wrong passage from a Chuck Palahnuik book I favor. (Just keep thinking: What would Jesus not do?) I also met some cool new people, an adorable new cat, and many new chocolate chip cookies and cheeses I couldn't have. Wah. But a good time was had by all, and then I got to go home and do terrible terrible things. :)

Wow. Looks like I'm sort of writing a real entry. This could get dangerous.

Perhaps I'll return this week with some words...


Sep. 19th, 2003 10:53 pm
kitchen_kink: (Default)

Today: Got two emails back from profs who are willing to have coffee with me and talk about "the writing life." Had dinner with an awesome woman with lots of good ideas of how I could make money, starting by paying me to edit her writing. :)

Edited said woman's writing.

Wrote 574 words of the novel. Suck. Still, better than zero.

Looked at more Craigslist stuff.

Oh, and talked to a guy who's doing this performance art thing at MIT. Really, really cool guy. Very arty-deep. I'm looking forward to meeting him.

Also, an idea to pitch to [ profile] ladytabitha. Heh.
kitchen_kink: (Default)
Friday's Word count: about 1410. Not too shabby, not so good, either. Still, some new material.
Monday's Word count: about 130. Pathetic. But I then went and rearranged some stuff, and shifted a section of the book I wrote years ago into present tense so it would fit into the new narrative. Edited it some, too. Damn, I was even more wordy back then.
Today's Word Count: 2610. Rock. Ten pages of a chapter I've been meaning to write for a while, plus it makes clearer a character I've been having trouble with. She's a psychiatrist with agoraphobia. Fun, eh? I just figured out the agoraphobia thing the other day, and now I've written some of it. No idea if it works. Don't care. Onward.

Writers' Market tells me that manuscripts should have a 1.5 inch margin on all sides. First I've heard of such a thing, seems excessive, but according to that margin, I now have a 114 page novel.


Off to check out Travel + Leisure's website, then a date with a pretty girl. Woo!


kitchen_kink: (Default)

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