View From the Duck Pond

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Synchronized Treadmill Workouts

So, the guy I work next to sent me this link.  It's crazy!  I hate treadmills but I think synchronized treadmilling could be the dance artform of the future, man.
In fact, maybe we could take it up as a house hobby.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Poisoned Apples

The guy next to me at work today was eating a nectarine and trying to eat the seed (he was REALLY hungry!).  I was intrigued.
So, apparently, apples and apricots store poison in their seeds.  In fact some apricots and bitter almonds(not the kind we commonly eat) have caused children to die from cyanide poisoning.
However, it's not just apples, apricots, and almonds.  Cherries, peaches, and more also have amygdalin in them which can be converted by bacteria in our digestive system into cyanide.
It totally gives new meaning to the story of Snow White, you know?  Poisoned apples and all.
NOTE:  I could find no proof of anyone actually being poisoned by an apple, only apricots and bitter almonds.  And, yes, I was definitely bored at work.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Flying Car (almost)

I don't think that at 1.4 million dollars a piece I'll ever have to worry about it, but I don't think I'd feel safe driving one of these puppies. . . AT ALL!

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Aarrgh!  me mateys!
Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fall Nights on the Porch

Fall is coming. It's here. Tonight was chilly and I rocked on the porch while having a conversation I only have remember because I was sleepy. I said out loud tonight for the first time that I thought we were forming an intentional community here. It seems so real. All of the sudden I'm not willing to think of myself as a loner who might not fit in. I will make this a place where I do fit in. I refuse to not feel at home in my own home anymore. It's my home. I'll make it what I want it to be and I want it to be a home, a family, a place where we each belong.

Tonight I had a breakthrough in explaining to myself and others why certain statements and terms make me uncomfortable as a woman. A male friend of mine called the neighbor a "trophy wife," not in anger, but just as a way to refer to her. He doesn't know her, though, has never met her, and knows nothing about her except that she's young and beautiful and lives in a nice house with a nice car, and appears to not work outside of the home and she's a woman. It made me feel disquieted, but it was hard to make him understand why.

Then, I finally understood why. And it finally made sense why I don't like it when the guys I live with, the guys I work with, the guys I'm friends with, and even the women in my life make such comments. It's because it's a dismissive and marginalizing label based solely on one obvious aspect of the person - her sex, and it makes me all of the sudden wonder what does that person think about me, because I'm the same as her. It's the same as if I were a racial minority listening to a white person call some passerby of the same race by some slur. I'd feel marginalized and uncomfortable. They may not mean it that way, but that's how I feel.

I pointed this out to my friend, thinking that I had finally come up with a way of explaining why those comments are upsetting, but he said it was different. And I think anyone I try to tell this to will not be willing to listen to a comparison between racism and sexism. As a society, we are willing to tolerate sexism where we find racism abhorrent.

But why? It's the same thing. It's the marginalization of a person based solely on a physical aspect that they cannot change and did not choose. It's the assumptions we box them into upon first glance, that we use to pin them into a pattern that we will not let them escape. And I'm finding it within myself as I write this. I feel challenged to deal newly with the prejudiced things I do and say, to understand them and see them for what they are, recognizing the ugly thing inside me that says them, and changing that mindset that translates into an unfair behavior that disempowers others simply because they are not identical to me.

Smelly Good Houseguests

We have another houseguest! Her name is Rachel Eckenrod and she travels around the country in her VW van performing intuitive energy work and aromatherapy. She's sleeping on the comfy couch for a few days before heading down to Schwagstock this weekend to set up shop.

Note: This woman smells really good, so that's my recommendation for her aromatherapy products right there.

In addition to having a houseguest, we spent the evening working on the immediate marketing plan for True Edge Consulting and working on the investment opportunities for Gano Place.

Furthermore, I've discovered that my roommates eat crazy stuff on their pizza. Jalapeno slices, barbecue sauce, spicy Chinese mustard, and Ranch dressing. And the cracks in our sidewalk provide amazing good fun with lighter fluid. Seriously, the patterns of fire are beautiful.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Graduation Party Post-Mortem

So, I graduated a week ago with both my Bachelor's and Master's, and last night I had my big graduation party. It was fabulous! At least 50 people were there, all having a good time, talking, eating, dancing, grilling, etc.

People I've known for six years from freshman year, former roommates, underclassmen from EnCouncil, colleagues in the CEC, my boss, people I've only met recently, and people I didn't even know.

And it was awesome. I felt so alive and surrounded by love. Afterwards, Ginny and I cleaned up and then discussed the present and the future.

At that moment, I had no idea where my life was headed but I was still really happy.

Now, I'm full of stress from one short email asking me to come in for a job interview on Tuesday. I researched a bunch of companies back in March and someone from the Career Center passed my resume on to one of the companies I was interested in. Now, almost a month later, they want me to come in for an interview. And, I'm plunged into this crazy swirling mass of acid in my stomach.

Why? Well, because I'm not sure what I'm doing with my life, and this just further underscores the crazy string of characters that seems to be the next chapter of my life.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Where to Live in St Louis (around Washington University)

I get asked a lot by friends and people I meet who are coming to grad school or undergrads moving off campus. Where should I live? Well, this is my attempt at putting down my thoughts for that.

There are really four nice areas to live in around Wash U.
They are: Skinker-Debaliviere, The Loop Area, Dogtown, and the Central West End. I recommend living in one of these areas because quite a few students live in these areas (esp. Wash U students).

First, there's the Loop, it's a bohemian/college commercial area full of restaurants, bars, shops, ice cream, etc. Most Wash U undergrads, grads, and quite a few medical campus students live in this area. The area south of Delmar is nicer than north of Delmar and safer, but it's also more expensive. So I recommend looking at apartments within two blocks of Delmar and between Big Bend and Skinker Rd. There's plenty of public transportation in the area, and there are a lot of things to do within walking distance and a weekend farmer's market. Most of the apartments are in large, rather collegiate apartment buildings.

I live in Skinker-Debaliviere which is right next to the Loop. It's about half college students (both undergrads, grads, and medical). It's within walking distance to the Loop and right next to Forest Park (which is huge and awesome), It's also a little quieter with half the houses owned by families. Most of the apartments (75%)in this area are like mine. They are turn-of-the-century homes that are duplexes or have been divided up into apartments. I like that a lot. I recommend the area south of Delmar, north of Forest Park Parkway, east of Skinker and west of Des Peres.

Dogtown is south of Forest Park, and by far the cheapest of the four areas to live in. It is also the most residential, the safest, and the quietest. More of the residents are families rather than college students. But quite a few students really enjoy that. It's biggest drawback is that it's a rather large clip from either the main campus or the medical campus, and there's not a lot of access to public transport. Most of the rentals in Dogtown are single-family homes with a few small apartment buildings.

Finally, more than half of medical campus students choose to live in the area right around the medical campus which is known as the Central West End. The Central West End is one of the most trendy areas in St. Louis. It's also the most expensive place to live of the three areas. There are quite a few night spots, shops, very nice restaurants, all-night coffee shops, etc. It's also typically within walking distance of the medical campus and a slightly longer walk to Forest Park. Most of the housing that college students can afford in this area consists of apartments in large complexes. Some graduate students, however choose to buy condos on the eastern side of the CWE. I recommend staying nearer to Lindell Rd (those areas are nicer, but it's also more expensive)

It all really depends on what you're looking for in a place to live, but those are my thoughts.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Book Review: Passing For Thin

I first read Passing For Thin last fall. I saw it in the bookstore one day when I was looking around. It was during one of those times when I was starting another diet. I thought that the story of a woman who had lost 170 pounds sounded rather intriguing.

I wasn't ready for this book when I first read it, but I still couldn't put it down. Even, while I was rooting for Frances to be successful in her quest to lose weight, my heart hurt for her lack of self-esteem. It was too hard to read back in October. I bought the book because I was wrestling with my own weight problems, but I hid from the harsh spotlight it shone on deeper personal insecurities.

I've since been working through some of these issues and picked up the book to read again while sick in the bed this weekend. I was ready.

Frances' story of overcoming her addiction to food as an antidote to her personal insecurities was still hard to read, though. This true story starts with a vivid chapter that describes her early relationships to food as an escape from painful reality. It was almost too much. It hurt to read this first chapter because I both hurt for Frances and I hurt for the child in me who hid from painful reality in a similar fashion, though through means other than food.

Later, as an adult, Frances enters a twelve-step program, much like Alcoholics Anonymous, for people who struggle with food. She begins to follow a very strict diet and loses 150 pounds in 13 months while relying on the newfound family she finds in the program.

This book, though, is not really about her weight loss because it glosses over those 13 months in just a few pages. The bulk of the book is about her finding herself when the fat suit of armor is stripped away. She speaks often of "passing for thin", as if even after she's lost all the weight, she is still a fat girl pretending to be thin for the rest of the world. Her "fat self" is the self that hides from reality and tries to use food as a crutch because she feels trapped into a life she cannot control. Her "thin self" is the self-confident woman she can't quite believe she can be, but who makes her life what she wishes. The two selves are constantly at war, with neither quite claiming victory.

Frances' story is the story of each of us. We all wrestle with our own private addictions and insecurities, our "fat selves". It may not be food or alcohol or drugs, but something less tangible. The good news of the story, though, is that we can choose to change by taking one step- and then the next one- and then the next. If we accidentally step backwards, that's ok, as long as we go ahead and take that next first step, constantly striving to be the "thin self" inside.