Saturday, February 14, 2015

Would You RatherDay, 2:

Would you rather have a ho-hum relationship with your significant other year-round, and that person is around every day except Valentine's Day, or have an exciting, passionate relationship with the love of your life, but you only get to see that person on February 14? 

Friday, February 13, 2015

You just never know when the person you married will turn out to have some sort of terrible hideous dark secret that irrevocably alters your view of that person, your relationship, and even the entire universe.

The other day, I was making us Grilled Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwiches for dinner.  It's like having dessert for a main course, only fried!  Anyway, as I got the bread out, Sweetie said "I want the two pieces in that bag," pointing to the dregs of the old loaf of bread which had a slice of bread and the heel.

Bread, the way God created it.

Now, I'm a regular person just like you and I know that the heel of the loaf of bread is suitable for many things: toasting, being on regular sandwiches, etc. and so on.  But I had to point out to Sweetie that she was way off base on this one:

"You can't grill the heel," I said, because to grill a sandwich you have to spread butter on it, and the heel is all crust outside, and I don't even know why I have to explain this to you it's SCIENCE, okay?

"Just turn it inside out," Sweetie said, and I explained that you could not do that because that is not how it works.

(Again, this is basic SCIENCE, people. The heel of the bread points outward from the loaf and to turn it inward is to risk blowing up the universe or something. It's like crossing the streams. I don't know what will happen.)

Sweetie insisted that I do it, and then even insisted that she'd done this for years.  On grilled sandwiches she had made for me.

Sweetie has been eating, AND feeding me -- she claims, but I think she's lying because I'm positive I'd have noticed! -- weird perversion of nature inside out heel-bread grilled sandwiches for YEARS?

I need to lie down.

I made it for her, because she's my wife and I love her etc. and so on, but I was not happy about this development.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Do You Think Sweetie Will Accept This As A Valentine's Day Present? Because I'm Not Sure I Will Remember To Get Flowers. (Throwback Thursday.)

I originally posted this back on February 12, 2009, on my old blog, The Best Of Everything.  The stuff I added today is in red.

Love in music, in books, or in Hollywood, tends to either be depicted as too good (perfect, with no problems), or too bad (doomed and/or forced to fight to get food for its sector or whatever dumb thing The Hunger Games is about; the only dumber YA book idea I have heard of recently is that one where the girl is irregular or whatever and is consigned to the future dystopia equivalent of an outlet mall) It comes in those two flavors, typically, the whole spectrum of love compressed down into the black and white of "love" as it's shown in "art."

But "love" in "life" is not so simple. When, in life, do two people from different social strata meet on a doomed ocean liner and fall in love instantly and eternally? When, in life, has an oil-rig jockey ever had a secret affair with his boss' daughter that was disapproved of right up until the time when [ASTEROID-Y SPOILER ALERT!] his boss punches him in the head or something and then steps out onto the asteroid to sacrifice himself for the previously-disapproved of love between the guy and his daughter (and also to sacrifice himself to save the human race, but that was obviously secondary?)

Well that probably happens a lot but THEY* won't declassify the reports.

*Big Asteroid.

No, "love" in "life" is not so much people staring at the green light across the bay

True story: this morning, so far, my and Sweetie's topics of conversation have included whether or not Lauren Conrad (TM) ever actually read The Great Gatsby, and also how happy it would make me if I had an app on my phone where that one Real Housewife who went to prison could give me thoughts of the day like Today is hot oatmeal day in the commissary! #MakingTheBestOfIt  

and throwing themselves onto the train tracks and tying themselves to a whale (Ahab did love the whale, right? And he tied himself to it at the end? Or was that in The Little Mermaid 2: Electric Boogaloo?) Instead, love is more... realistic. And by realistic, I mean hopeful. And saying the wrong thing but meaning the right thing. And also a little mean but with good intentions. And grateful in a way. And also uplifting. And, of course, there's always Armageddon. That's love, too.

Confused? Don't be. It can all be explained and set out by listing

The Seven Best Songs That Show What Love Is Really Like

1. Fat, by The Violent Femmes.

What ART depicts love as being: Love in art is the ability to always say exactly the right thing at the right time, and to have yourself perfectly understood -- like what Hugh Grant does in every movie he's in.

Eventually. He's sort of a stutterer.

How this song shows the reality of Love: Listen to the first line. Imagine saying that to your wife. Do you ever manage to say the right thing? Of course you don't. That's why Hallmark is in business.

Is Hallmark still in business? If so, why? Why do people send cards? Why do people spend $4.95 on a card to send someone? Why do people suck so bad? #MakingTheBestOfIt

Who you'd put this song on a mixtape for: Your wife, when you try to convince her to just drop the divorce suit because your heart was in the right place. I'd also write on the note: Obviously, if you understood me, I was saying that you are NOT fat right now. Plus, I need my shirts out of the closet.

2. Blue Jean, by David Bowie.

What ART depicts love as being: Two people from different backgrounds or with seemingly different values meet and fall in love. Instantly. Neat, huh? 

How this song shows the reality of Love:
 Does that ever happen? No matter how many times someone tries singing a song from the bleachers to impress Julia Stiles, or how many dances people do in the library, do the greasers ever date the preps? Or the rich date the steerage classes? No.

Who you'd put this song on a mixtape for: That rocker girl that sat in back of you in math class, the one with the spiky hair who hung around the guys that smoked cigarettes outside the back door in math class -- the girl you always thought was really sexy but worried that she'd beat you up if you told her. You'd never give her the mix tape, for that same reason. But it's a cool song.

3. What Ifs + Maybes, by Bromheads Jacket.

I bet I haven't listened to this song in SIX YEARS! I LOVE THIS SONG! WOO HOO #TheBestOfItHasBeenMade

What ART depicts love as being: In art, everyone always wants to join the cool group. Farmer Ted does everything he can to get into the party -- and it works because the prom queen gets drunk and he sleeps with her and doesn't face date rape charges, but instead is cool and presumably goes on to lead a happy life until the FBI one day raids his house and finds all those files on his computer. (This week on Law And Order: SVU...)

How this song shows the reality of Love:
 Once you're out of high school, what's so great about the cool kids? Nothing. It's not just me saying that, either -- it's a British rock star. Or group. Whatever. I don't know much about Bromheads Jacket. NOT THE POINT. Anyway, the song points out that if he was in the cool group, he might've ended up in prison or "stuck in a house somewhere with her and a baby" instead of the amazing life he's lived with his presumably less-cool girlfriend or wife.

Who you'd put this song on a mixtape for: A very understanding significant other who will not be offended that you have sort of pointed out to him/her that she/he's kind of a loser. (See song number 1, above.)

4. Untouchable Face, by Ani DiFranco:

What ART depicts love as being:
 Happy. People meet and fall in love and spend the rest of their lives together.

How this song shows the reality of Love:
 It's not a happy song. Not at all. In this song [SPOILER ALERT] people fall in love and then don't spend the rest of their lives together. Are they bitter about it? You betcha.

Who you'd put this song on a mixtape for: The guy or girl that has the restraining order against you. It's worth the weekend in jail.

The key to a longlasting relationship is not just talking about Lauren Conrad (TM).  You also have to do stuff like take the cheese off someone's egg sandwich for them, like Sweetie did for me this morning, and you also have to do stuff like not mention to that person that she probably misunderstood you the other day, and that what you object to is not cheese on breakfast sandwiches per se, but cheese on pancakes, which is a gross thing that people do including McDonald's which puts cheese on McGriddles, which without the cheese are one of the greatest things humanity has ever done and proof of God's divine intervention in the world, but with cheese are like little balls of puke, and instead you just eat the sandwich without the cheese and you also take the ham off of it because industrial ham is gross.
PS THAT SENTENCE IS 100% GRAMMATICAL and also a brilliant demonstration of love.

PPS When Sweetie read that part, she said "And this from a guy who wants to eat a chicken breast on a doughnut with sour cream sauce." 
PPPS: I do. I really do. 

5. Beautiful Girlby Flight of the Conchords.

What ART depicts love as being:
 Flattery will get you everywhere, won't it? Point out to a girl how beautiful, how special, how great she really is, and the world is your oyster. Just take those glasses off of her, have her let her ponytail out and change from those paint-spattered overalls, and soon you and her are in the spotlight dance together. 

How this song shows the reality of Love:
 Look, most of us are not supermodels. Most of us are not models. Most of us, truth be told, would be considered the least attractive person in the K-Mart Sunday ad, the person that they make stand next to the lawnmowers instead of modeling sweaters or, God forbid, underwear. Shouldn't we be honest about that? And when we meet the most beautiful girl... in the room... shouldn't we definitely go for it while also not getting her hopes up? Is there a more romantic pick-up line, in short, than telling a woman that she could be a part-time model?

There almost certainly is, and now you see how lucky I was to land Sweetie.

Who you'd put this song on a mixtape for: Ideally, a girl who doesn't listen closely to the lyrics, but who will hear the romantic music and see "Beautiful Girl" written on the little sleeve and just melt.

It just occurred to me that not only are mixtapes not a thing at all, anymore, here in 2015, but they really weren't a thing back in 2009, either.  I am an anachronism!

5. Diamonds on the Soles Of Her Shoesby Paul Simon.

What ART depicts love as being: In the movies and books when a rich and poor person meet, they go on a magical date that somehow transcends the fact that one is dirt-poor, with the rich person finding the poor person charming, and the two then fall in love. Example: Lady And The Tramp. Eating food thrown out the back of a restaurant never seemed more romantic, did it? 

How this song shows the reality of Love:
 When I began dating Sweetie -- who wasn't rich, but who had, you know, a job, -- I had zero dollars to my name. I was a struggling student who put together a romantic dinner of wine and spaghetti -- just like Lady And The Tramp! The spaghetti featured Ragu sauce. The wine cost about $3. The cork from the wine disintegrated and fell into the bottle and we spent the dinner, which we ate sitting on the floor of my apartment in the bad part of town, picking bits of cork out of our teeth. Also, Sweetie gets sick when she drinks wine. Love is about overcoming those flaws. First dates and poor people are not a magical combination. But sometimes, love will survive even in the face of ending up out sleeping on a doorstep.

Who you'd put this song on a mixtape for: Sweetie. Whoever yours is.

6. Road Movie To Berlin, by They Might Be Giants.

What ART depicts love as being:
 Love has been compared to many things in its time, almost all of them magical and flowery and rainbowy

it's a word

and fun. After all, "Love is a many-splendored thing," right?  Art Buchwald said that, I think.

HOLY COW who even knows who Art Buchwald is? GOD I SUCK.

The exceptions are when love is scary and dark and maybe will keep you locked up in a basement for a while, like in that Eurythmics song, Love is a Stranger.

How this song shows the reality of Love:
 What if love was none of those things, but instead was a lot more like a road movie to Berlin? This song hits the nail of real love right on its one-way head: Can't drive out the way we drove in. And it points to the reason lots of love affairs begin: getting drunk.

On wine with bits of cork floating in it.

Who you'd put this song on a mixtape for: Someone artsy, or into German philosophers. Or your husband/wife once you've settled into married life.

7. We Will Become Silhouettes, by The Postal Service.

What ART depicts love as being:
 Timeless and eternal, but in a good way. 

How this song shows the reality of Love:
 Love is timeless and eternal, sure, but it's more likely to end up with someone staring out the window at a scorched landscape while looking at a picture of the woman or man they loved. U2 once asked if love would last until the end of the world. They're nothing but pikers, doubting Thomases. The Postal Service posits a love that lasts not only beyond the end of the world, but into a time when nuclear holocaust has caused people's bodies to explode, leaving only silhouettes behind -- but silhouettes that are still in love.

Who you'd put this song on a mixtape for: Anyone: tell them that it's a timeless expression of love that demonstrates how you would go on loving them forever, no matter how bad things got, and that the fact that you will love them even when they're a silhouette, when their body finally goes, demonstrates that your love for them is deep and strong and emotional and not just based on their body. At which point, they will say Why, what's wrong with my body?At which point you would be well-advised to discreetly skip past the song "Fat" that you put on the tape next. You can't win that argument.  Trust me, I know.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You can have my cheese powder when you pry it from my cold, dead, presumably-orange-tinted, fingers.

Mr F loves macaroni and cheese, and we make it for him about every single day, which makes me a bad parent in Michelle Obama's eyes, because I understand science and she doesn't.

This is the era of people deciding 'science' is whatever backs up their personal beliefs, I guess, as measles becomes an epidemic and parents describe their children as vaccinated "for the most part" and politicians deciding that the free market will take care of bacteria so there's no need to make food workers wash their hands anymore, as U.S. "Senator" Tom Tillis from North Carolina proposed recently, but I had hoped that perhaps the one lasting achievement of Obama's presidency might be that he and his family resolutely believe in real science.

*Sigh*.  Unfortunately for me, and science, and my ability to parent my kids, Michelle Obama decided that magazine covers and sound bites = science, and so she started a fight against boxed macaroni and cheese.

Michelle Obama, in the grand tradition of mothers who have tons and tons of paid servants to raise their kids and so forget how real parenting actually works (see also: Gwyneth Paltrow, Working Mother) recently relayed to "Cooking Light" magazine the revelation that she had, as a mom, and a person, and a personal mom who doesn't believe science anymore, about boxed macaroni and cheese:

my kids loved the macaroni and cheese in a box. And he said, if it’s not real food then we’re not going to do it. If we want macaroni and cheese, we’ll cook it with real milk and real cheese. He said, there’s nothing wrong with mac and cheese, but it’s got to be real food.

The "he" in that sentence is "Sam Kass," who helps run the "Let's Move" program started by Michelle Obama (Mom/Non-scientist/Cheese shamer) and who also is the WHITE HOUSE CHEF.

To demonstrate how much the White House Chef knows about science/real food/kids/parenting, Michelle Obama, Mom Extraordinaire (do you serve your kids only food prepared by a chef? You lout, you don't do you?) shared this anecdote:
So my oldest daughter [Malia], who was probably 8 at the time, he took a block of cheese and he said, if you can cut this cheese up into the powder that is the cheese of the boxed macaroni and cheese, then we’ll use it. She sat there for 30 minutes trying to pulverize a block of cheese into dust. I mean, she was really focused on it, and it just didn’t work, so she had to give up. And from then on, we stopped eating macaroni and cheese out of a box, because cheese dust is not food, as was the moral of that story.

THIRTY MINUTES? Michelle Obama, the NATION'S MOM, watched her kid trying to pulverize cheese for thirty minutes?

But the moral of that story, because all scientific experiments have morals, is that cheese dust is not food, because you can't make cheese dust in your kitchen, not even if you are [Malia] Obama, not even if you work on it for (seriously?) thirty minutes.

FOOD is STUFF YOU CAN MAKE IN YOUR KITCHEN IN THIRTY MINUTES, is the moral of that story.  Or is it? I'm confused with all these morals, Michelle Aesop.

Here are other things that I cannot powder in my kitchen: powdered milk.  Garlic powder.  Baking soda.  Meringue powder.

ALL BANISHED.  As is freeze dried food.  From here on out, to be a Michellian Eater, you must prepare all of your food from its most basic constituents.  If you want ground beef (can we eat ground beef), you must buy a side of beef wholesale and grind it yourself.

Ideally, you will grow the cow from scratch in your pasture.

I know, I know: people will say but that cheese powder stuff that really is chemicals, right? And they will back Michelle Obama, WonderMom, and her personal chef, who will personally grow the cheese on a shelf or whatever to make sure that [Malia] and [the other one] have nothing but 'real' food, 'real' food meaning 'food that is processed the way we like it, not the way you like it.'

Because cheese is processed, you know.  Cheese doesn't grow on rocks like manna from God.  You can make cheese at home, you know.  It can be done in 11 simple steps. But before we get to that, let me ask this: can I use canned parmesan cheese, Mrs. Obama? I don't know if you have had [Malia] try to pound parmesan to a pulp, but the stuff I get in the store comes powdered and I like to sprinkle it on top of my spaghetti and meatballs, which I make using spaghetti from a box and OH GOD I CAN'T MAKE MY NOODLES PERFECTLY STRAIGHT AND DRY IN MY OWN KITCHEN, NOT EVEN UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF A MASTER CHEF.

Well, no more spaghetti for US.  It's just "... and meatballs" for dinner now, using our homegrown cow.

Anyway: cheese.  You can make cheese at home using ingredients you probably have laying around, if one of the things you have laying around is a cheesecloth.  This website has the directions and I was looking at it and OH MY GOD HERE IS STEP SEVEN:

That looks a LOT like powdered cheese made at home.  Or an abomination unto God.  Whichever. Don't tell Michelle Obama, Cheese Crusader.

One thing people should understand is that pretty much every single thing you eat is the result of a chemical reaction.  Cakes are fluffy and delicious because of the chemical reactions between the ingredients.  (Ingredients which include iodized salt, salt to which has been added iodine, which is a chemical produced from the brine on oil fields and which is used as a disinfectant.  Iodine is forcibly added to your salt to prevent hypothyroidism.  Hypothyroidism can cause "extreme fatigue, goiter, mental slowing, depression, weight gain, and low basal body temperatures." A lack of iodine causes intellectual disability in babies.  So while AntiVaxxer Moms are getting their kids the measles, they are downing tablespoon after tablespoon of government-mandated oil brine disinfectant designed specifically to alter the genetic makeup of their babies' brains.)

To make cheese outside of your house, according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (or "Big Milk"), you have to add bacteria (gasp!) and "rennet."  "Rennet" is "cow stomach juice." (Seriously.)  In the olden days, to get the rennet, or Paloecestors would use this process:

Dried and cleaned stomachs of young calves are sliced into small pieces and then put into saltwater or whey, together with some vinegar or wine to lower the pH of the solution. After some time (overnight or several days), the solution is filtered. 
I'm sure the dried and cleaned stomachs of those young calves were harvested humanely, animal rights activist!  (This, by the way, is why vegetarianism is not so clear as people would think it. The few vegetarians I know eat cheese.  Vegans don't, but vegetarians do, because apparently it's okay to eat food which requires the use of sliced-up cow stomachs to prepare, as long as you don't actually eat the cow stomach itself.)

(This, by the way, is also why I don't pay attention when I am eating a bologna sandwich and someone says Do you know how they make bologna? Because it's entirely possible that the lunchmeat is the least objectionable thing on that sandwich.)

We're not savages anymore, though, butchering baby cows to create mozzarella for our Prairie Pizzas (TM). Here's how we get our Cow Stomach Juice nowadays:

Deep-frozen stomachs [NOTE: YUMMERS!] are milled and put into an enzyme-extracting solution. The crude rennet extract is then activated by adding acid; the enzymes in the stomach are produced in an inactive form and are activated by the stomach acid. The acid is then neutralized and the rennet extract is filtered in several stages and concentrated until reaching a typical potency of about 1:15,000; meaning 1 gram of extract can coagulate 15 kg (15 litres) of milk. In 1 kg of rennet extract, there are about 0.7 grams of active enzymes – the rest is water and salt and sometimes sodium benzoate, E211, 0.5% - 1% for preservation. Typically, 1 kg of cheese contains about 0.0003 grams of rennet enzymes.

GREAT! Now I'm craving some sodium benzoate.

Is that natural enough for you?  I presume that Michella Obama, SCIENCE LADY, has her own method of deep-freezing the stomachs to produce her cheese.

"Cheese powder," the bane of Michelle Obama's existence, is created using industrial processes, of course.  The cheese is melted into a liquid; there are additives put into it, and then it is sprayed through a nozzle to make tiny, tiny droplets, which are blasted with hot air to dry them into the powder we know and love* (*not including Michelle Obama, Goddess Of Food).

The 'additives' include whey (a natural byproduct of cheesemaking), vegetable oil, and and sodium. (Sodium is an ingredient in salt.)

People have been powdering milk since Marco Polo visited China, where he saw them doing it, according to The New Yorker, which did an investigative piece on cheese powder, a piece Michelle Obama apparently did not have a White House Reader skim for her and highlight. The first cheese spray-drying patent was issued in 1872, so our forefathers were creating cheese powder 143 years ago.  It's artisanal!  That New Yorker article also notes that while as little as 29% of the cheese powder in Kraft macaroni and cheese might be "cheese," the cheese content in the cheese powder is surprisingly high.

As pointed out from the iodized salt mention, adding things to foods and processing them can be beneficial, too.  Processed cheese doesn't spoil as fast, so less food is wasted and people don't die.  Many foods, especially processed foods, have vitamins added to them (think breakfast cereal.) This helps people not die of scurvy in the winter.

And for me personally, a benefit of processed foods is that they always taste the same.  Mr F's autism makes it very difficult for him to process different textures and new experiences.  Much as I'd like to have the freedom to hire a personal chef to cook for me 'round the clock like Michelle Obama has, I can't do that, and even if we could, Mr F doesn't like change and would reject macaroni and cheese that differs from his previous mac'n'cheese, not because he's a jerk but because it might genuinely gross him out or make him freak out because he has to learn a new kind of food.  (One theory of autism that seems to fit particularly well is that autistic people have difficulty processing new experiences, which is why they like repetition so much.  If you or I eat a bowl of mac'n'cheese, and then have another one the next day that is slightly different, we'd shrug and say "Oh well." But for Mr F, it's an entirely new sensory experience that he has difficulty working through, and it might make him never eat macaroni and cheese again.)

So where do I end up? Far from being the bad parent I thought I was when I began this investigation, I can now conclude that Michelle Obama engages in the same kind of sloppy thinking that antivaxxers, Republicans in general, and most people who avoid gluten are guilty of.  "If you can't make it in the kitchen, don't eat it" is no different, in logic (or lack thereof) than "I want my body to have natural immunity", or any quote, ever, from Dr. Oz.

Michelle Obama may be well-intentioned, but her method of thinking is haphazard at best.  Don't follow advice from people incapable of thinking their way** out of a wet piece of cheese.

**should've said 'whey.' DANG IT.


Sunday, February 08, 2015

The Greatest Thing In The World, EVER!

Yesterday, Mr Bunches asked if I would put on Funny Cats, a video he likes.

I thought at first he said Bunnytown, which was a show that used to be on when the boys were very little and which they liked, but which I loved, and above all I loved this song:

I will never get tired of Disco Pirate Bunnies. NEVER!