Monday, July 23, 2012

My Take on Penn State

Not many of you will know this, but I spent a year of Grad School at Penn State. Needless to say, it was not an experience that I look back on with fondness and, many times, I wish I could rub bleach over my memories of that place. On the other hand, I learned a lot from the program I was in and I met my husband there and made many wonderful friends. The scandal, and most recently the NCAA sanctions, have struck a surprising chord with me. I have yet to register any sort of thought about the situation publicly and decided that there are things I needed to say.

Penn State is not an educational institution. It's a sport club with a very large bar attached to it. At least, that's my impression of the undergraduate program there. While I was there, I saw a bevy of disturbing things occur with no intent on discipline. For example, a group of men (frat boys) at an LGBT event that decided to heckle the speakers. Students showing up to AFTERNOON classes piss drunk. Men (Again Frat Boys) chanting "No means yes, take of your dress" at a TAKE BACK THE NIGHT RALLY. One night, while walking home, I saw a car pull over on the side of the road and drop a drunk girl out the side. While I was there two friends of mine were raped and another had a drunk intruder fall asleep in her bathtub. At last, but certainly not least, there were three riots that year totally into the hundreds of thousands in damages to the town. People will argue that this stuff happens everywhere. My undergraduate university was in a major metropolitan area and I was there for 5 years and I never heard of anything remotely this disturbing. Football was and still is sacred at Penn State. It was always an excuse for the undergrads to party. I remember getting asked if class could be let out early for a football game happening two days later.

The statue of, the once untouchable, Joe Paterno being removed from Pennsylvania State University
So what are my feelings on the football fiasco at PSU and the sanctions leveled by the NCAA. I don't think they go far enough. The NCAA was sensitive to the needs of the current players who got caught up in a corrupt program they couldn't control. The NCAA was sensitive to the students who worship at the Beaver temple and offer sacrifices of money, braincells and grades to the god Paterno. and the NCAA was sensitive to the fact that Penn State Football IS the economy of central Pennsylvania (Trust me, it isn't the food industry). The NCAA got them off easy. What was truly needed was a complete removal of the football program for a period of some years. Give PSU a reason to focus on their academics. Let them reflect on how the culture of PSU let this happen. How the power given to one man by the masses led their whole university into oblivion, forever to be the butt of child-molestation jokes (god forbid those exist).

A great deal of my friends say that these sanctions punish the wrong people. It's not the students fault blah blah blah.

It is the students fault. They allowed it to happen by raising the football program so high no one can touch it. They may not have known it was happening, but they never bothered to question anything the football program did. Even after Sandusky was arrested, they rioted. Not over the disgusting incident at the heart of the whole matter, but because their precious cult of football was to blame for it. The bigwigs have all been punished. Their careers are ruined, their pensions scrapped, some are still facing jail time. Now the culture needs to be changed at Penn State. Take the focus away from sports and put it back on education. Oh yes, you may not know this, but there is actually a pretty good academic university attached to that football program. The students shouldn't think about this as a punishment, it's a gift. It could be worse, much worse. Now, they have the opportunity to take the university back and hold it accountable for allowing a football economy to run their affairs. The students should band together, not in pride, but in shame, and allow that shame to provide them with an ounce of retrospect. Take a look at the past, take a look at the future and decide what is most important.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Losing Weight Sucks, But There's Help Out There!

So I'm eight weeks into a weight loss effort and it sucks. When I graduated high school, I was a whopping 260+ lbs. In my first year of college, I managed to lose about 20 lbs. I remember actually saying "I have to walk all the way across campus for food, f that." My first senior year I tried to do the gym thing. Having never done it before, it was quite an experience. Seriously, take a look at some of that equipment and try to see what someone who has never seen it before might think. And yea, those little diagrams with the faceless people don't help. I manages to lose about 20 lbs that semester, but not without at least a dozen people accusing me of having an eating disorder. Since then I've yo yo'd around 200 lbs. I hit 220 at the end of the last academic year. My husband, Mr. Frodo, also wanted to engage in a lifestyle change. So we decided to give it a go.

In this age of technology, we turned to our smartphones for help. We downloaded a special little App, LoseIt. The joy of this App is that it makes counting calories easier. It takes the guesswork out. You start by entering in your vital information, your goal weight and how quickly you wish to lose weight (It won't let you do more than 2 lbs a week). It has dishes from every major restaurant, but if you're like me and eat most of your meals at home it's really easy to enter the ingredients. It can use the phones camera feature to scan the barcode and the entire nutritional information is automatically entered. It will also record information on time spent exercising.

What is truly wonderful about LoseIt is that it doesn't demonize food. You don't feel like a bad person for eating french fries or chocolate cake. You only have to make sure that it fits within your alotted calories or that you exercise to compensate. It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change and an opportunity to learn more about how much your eating. It was mind blowing for me to realize that I was eating almost 3000 calories a day. It was even more surprising to realize that things that are considered healthy like dried fruit, are truly high in calories. That's the big eye opener of this App.

Another great feature is the ability to make friends. A support network of people all going through the same fight and it's a lot of fun connecting with stranger's from all over the country who have the same problems as you. All you have to do is enter their email address and you are instantly linked. The support forums online are constant sources of inspiration, collaboration, recipes and advice. The App itself awards badges to people who are dedicated and make significant strides towards improving their health.

And it's been working for me. I'm more active and I'm eating better. So far I've lost 22.2 lbs. My goal is another 17.8 lbs and, by LoseIt's estimate, I should be there on September 20th. Mr Frodo has also lost a significant 23 lbs and I couldn't be prouder of him. I highly recommend this App if you're in the same boat. If you are on it or you download anytime soon, please link to me. I'd love to share this experience with you!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself...

It's amazing how much can happen in a year.

Blogger went and got itself all technologically advanced and overcomplicated. It seems a lot of things went and got over complicated this past year. All of that is really quite irrelevant now though. So where am I now?

I had my first successful year of graduate school. After a rocky start and an inability to keep myself focused at first, it finished strongly. That being said, my adviser and I don't get along too well. He's no longer a professor, but rather an associate dean making him near untouchable, unreachable and on such a high horse, its almost impossible to speak to him. On the plus side, his unavailability has put me in a mentoring position to some of the undergrads, which is what I want. I want to teach, but I want to do it as a career and not as a volunteer, which is all the CSU seems to be hiring these days.

Career wise, I recently lost a job. I wasn't ready for it. I should have turned it down when I got it, but it was nearby and the money was good. I couldn't keep it up and I hated it every day so in a way I'm kind of relieved. Now I'm looking for other jobs to keep me sane until school starts back. Interestingly they seem to popping up out of nowhere. Quite serendipitous. But now I know one thing and it is diffinitive. I do NOT want to sew for the rest of my life. It's time that if I am serious about designing, then I need to design. PERIOD.

Life has been good. Frodo and I have our moments, but we're happy for the most part. He's been really supportive through the last few weeks dealing with the job issue. I love living in Wine Country so much I can hardly deal with it. Which is why I've kind of taken a step away from the San Francisco theme and moved on to the Wine theme.

So where does all this leave the blog. For the last year, it's been sitting in the back of my head. It's like my mom's house back in North Carolina, I think about it all year long. I remember happy times gone by and my life back there. And when I get there, it's like nothing has changed. It's like the last three years in California never happened and I'm still plucking along with a fist full of fried chicken and a hint of a southern drawl. So I'm going to give it another go. If I run out of things to say, I run out of things to say. If I just need to get on here and bitch to let some frustration out, so be it. So here we go.

So I'm going to run along for now. I've got some Lemon Pudding Cakes to make. If you're lucky I'l share the recipe.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

West Side Story-Something's Coming


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stuff I've Read Sunday: Blasphemy, Lusty Queens and Sexy Plants

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore© © ©

In the present day, angels are sent to earth to resurrect Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. He is tasked to write a new gospel so that mankind can renew it's faith in Christianity. Unfortunately, Biff is a jerk. He's a blasphemous, licentious, lewd, jerk. But he witnessed everything that happened in the bible. He followed Christ for 32 years and knows everything that happened in those decades that the bible conveniently omits. Of course if you've read the bible, you know how it ends.
I enjoyed this book. It was amusing and well written. Some parts had me guffawing out loud and reading
passages to whoever was nearby. The characters were relateable. I could even relate to the character of Jesus, or Joshua as he is called in the book. Moore did an excellent job of exibiting how Jesus was inspired by the many religions of the time. Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, Mysticism, Yogism even science was included. It was very eye opening. That being said, I felt Moore would rush through sections. He would be in the middle of something and then, suddenly, the characters would change directions or be forced into a new direction. It created an uneven flow that left me unnerved. All in all, it's an excellent book and I recommend it to anyone willing to give it a chance.

The Virgin’s Lover by Philippa Gregory© ©

The first of the Tudor series books to focus exclusively on Elizabeth. It follows her budding relationship with her favorite courteor, Lord Robert Dudley. Elizabeth isn't exactly the virgin queen she bills herself as. As she ascends to the throne, she is in danger. She has to marry or face the grim prospect of an uncertain reign.
This was a fairly typical Philippa Gregory novel: Stock characters with little development beyond what you would expect, a plot straight from a history book with plenty of license taken and a lot of what entices Gregory's fanbase (housemoms). In the end, it was an ok book. Don't expect to come away from it knowing anything or learning a valuable lesson. I recommend it for history nerds turned soccer moms.

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan© ©

Michael Pollan's third book. It focuses on how certain plants have evolved to appease some of the core desires humanity has. As a result, humans have adopted them and given them an assured place in the world. he refers to it as the human bumblebee affect. Those four plants? The apply (sweetness), the tulip (beauty), marijuana (intoxication) and the potato (sustenance). Often times, we think of the human species as all to apart from the natural world we were born from. Although much of the book is not rooted in hard science, Pollan’s prose can not help but make you think about plants in a different way and the role we play in nature.
My only complaint is that, of Pollan's books, I felt this one was the dryest. I enjoyed reading it, but it wasn't the most enjoyable. I recommend this book for foodies and science nerds.

Have you read any of these? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Have you read any great books lately? I'd love to hear about them.
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

**Insert Snappy Gay Title Here**

DC Gay Marriage Opponents get Shafted
Today the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from a Maryland Bishop attempting to get a measure on the ballot which would allow citizens of the District of Columbia to decided whether or not marriage should be listed as between a man and a woman. The DC Board of Electors refused earlier last year to allow the measure on the ballot on the grounds that it would violate the city's Human Rights Act. The court of appeals agreed with them. The Supreme Court didn't comment on it's decision not to hear the case. This is the end of the road for their ballot measure.

Translation: The Supreme Court doesn't want to hear a bunch of people, who don't even live in DC, bitching about the gays and how they're going to defile DC. Have you ever been to DC people? The entire city is one giant deathtrap. If you don't die from the terrible traffic, one wrong turn and your in the middle of a turf war in the ghetto. One of the "safest" parts of the city, is the cities gay district named "Dupont Circle." I, myself, spent a wonderful evening in Dupont Circle at a lesbian bar with a Korean woman, a Pakistani woman and handsome man named D'Shan. It was a magical night. We danced, we drank, we kissed. We tried to stay connected when I went back to NC, and he returned to wherever he was from. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. But if the gays can make that small circle seem like heaven, I say let them take over the whole city. We'll be doing them a favor.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chris Colfer wins Golden Globe Award


I usually just skip the golden globes and watch the fashion recaps the next day. I am so ecstatic that I watched this year so I could see this moment. I have a love/hate relationship with Glee. More on that later. Chris Colfer is amazing and his speech was perfect.