Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Alex Kochno

A lot of you may have already seen this. It has spread relatively fast on the internetz from its origins on my very favorite site, but I just wanted to further inundate the web with reports on this kids totally vile behavior. Alex Kochno, the the public relations officer of the Southern Illinois University College Republicans sent this piece of hate mail to (caution: a little hateful, inappropriate language below):

"Men are better than women look at the comparison in IQ men are scientifically proven to have a higher IQ by roughly 5 points, or 5% you cannot dispute science sorry and if you want a much better website than your shitty one you might want to go to [redacted]. I think you would gain a lot more knowledge from that website and you might learn about the truth that way you would not be so stupid and ignorant you stupid cunts"

You can read the whole post and all the comments here. I wanted to blog about it again because I just love the idea of his hateful words popping up every time an employer, friend, significant other or stranger drop his name into Google.

And as for the assertion that men are smarter than women? We all know that intelligent bigots know enough to conceal their have to be a damned idiot to email whatever rocks are rolling around in your misogynistic little head to a public website from your school email address Also, just for the record. I totally support SIU in general--this is not a reflection on the university, just a jackass who attends it. I wont post them here, but the article links both to his MySpace page and his Facebook page. Might as well give him a poke, yeah?

Also, feministing posted an update about the great response from SIU about this kids childish act.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Kitten Snack

It has been a little while since I've had a Kitten Snack. This one is true tusiness. These are not kittens I kidnapped from the internets. These live at my house! And yes, they are all three cuddling, napping and being generally adorable on LC's giant "Grandpa" chair.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pope Up The Jam

I wasn't able to see the Pope when he was in Washington throwing out the first ball in a Nationals game* and riding around the the Pope-mobile, but a friend of a friend did. Here are the shots:

* In case you don't bother to read the linked article, the Pope didn't actually throw out the first ball at a National's game, but he did give a public mass at the stadium.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

You Go Ms. Pac-Man!

A great video from Marc and Ari. Kudo's to Ms. Pac-Man for showing us what feminism is all about.

There's a little bit of foul language, but its totally worth it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My 6 Word Mantra

Someone over at Marathon Leap tagged me with the task of creating my 6 Word Mantra.

Here are the rules:

1. Write your own six word memoir

2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want

3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere

4. Tag at least five more blogs with links
5. Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

Like, Life Student, I first tried to think of a mantra that related to running, because thats what I've been doing, that has been my inspiration and motivation over the past several months, however, running just didn't fit into my 6 words. Without too much more thought, I had it:

Live and love like a cat.

That's right, your creepy cat lady chiming in. This comes from years of observation of cats. People who don't know cats well see them as being generally cold, selfish animals, but that's not true. Here are some reasons why I'd like to Live and Love Like a Cat:

1. The cat is peaceful...likes quiet...meditation...relaxation.

2. The cat is cool and aloof to strangers, but doting and warm to people it loves.

3. The cat loves the sun and falls asleep on warm laundry.

3. The cat savors every moment of its day (awake or asleep)

4. The Cat doesn't seek approval (like silly dogs).

Sure. Its all cheesy, but i love the idea of the complete trust and love from my little cats to me, and I truly appreciate the cats ability to be free from it would be nice to have so much confidence all the time, and no need for other peoples approval. Peekaboo the cat, pictured above, is from Pat Brady's comic strip Rose is Rose, and embodies the zen qualities I like so much in cats!

I guess I have to pass on the tags:

1. Lara

3. Still thinking about 3, 4 and 5....

Thursday, April 3, 2008

20 Male Poses on Facebook

I love this fabulous post at 2Birds 1Blog:

The 20 Male Poses on Facebook.

Check it out. So true. So funny.
(You don't even have to know what Facebook is to enjoy.)

*Thanks to Jennie for the link.

I'm actually still using this cell phone.

Man. This phone really is awesome. I first saw it under the car seat of my mothers minivan in the early 90's (i think). She was a single mother, and had to think about our safety--I can imagine that because making a call from your "car phone" probably cost, like, 30 bucks, she would have been more likely to use it as a weapon if she had been in danger than to have actually called for help. I also remember Zack Morris using this phone on Saved By The Bell. How dreamy...

I've never really gotten into all the hip fancy new cell phone trends everyone seems to be into these days--and I've only upgraded my phone twice since I got my first cell in 2000, however, I still want to celebrate how far we've come since the days of this brick.

On April 3rd, 1973, the first cell phone call was made from Martin Cooper of Motorola to his rivals at AT&T. How smug and awesome! Wired magazine celebrates this great moment in history today with an interesting article about the history of the cell phone.

I hope that all those little 12 year old punks who obsessively text message their friends from their teeny-tiny phones at all hours of the night know where it all started.

Thanks Mom, and Zack Morris, for helping me remember how crappy cell phones used to be and how cool I thought they were. If I had been a little older, I probably would have been one of those people who insisted that cell phones would never take off. Now, can some one help explain to me what these "internets" are?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ham, Bacon and Pork Barrel Spending

The Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released their annual Pig Book this week, a document containing the 11,610 earmarks (also known as "pet projects" or "pork barrel projects" Congress "stuffed into 12 appropriations bills this year." Now, many of us know that earmarks are not always bad--they can allow members of Congress to fund large projects in towns and communities that don't have enough resources, or other necessary projects, but frequently are used benefit particular constituents or campaign contributors. The article from CAGW lists some of the top "Porkers" as well as some of the most ridiculous earmarks. I'm not sure how one gets their hands on the entire list. When I tried to navigate through their site it got a little wonky and then froze my computer. Just sayin'. Here's some text from the article...

"“When Congress adopted earmark reforms last year, there was hope that the number and cost of earmarks would be cut in half. By any measure, that has not occurred,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz.

In fiscal year 2008, Congress stuffed 11,610 projects (the second highest total ever) worth $17.2 billion into the 12 appropriations bills. That is a 337 percent increase over the 2,658 projects in fiscal year 2007, and a 30 percent increase over the $13.2 billion total in fiscal year 2007. Alaska led the nation with $556 in pork per capita ($380 million total), followed by Hawaii with $221 ($283 million) and North Dakota with $208 ($133 million). CAGW has identified $271 billion in total pork since 1991.

For the first time, the names of members of Congress were added to the projects. The top three porkers were members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, beginning with Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) with $892 million; Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) with $469 million; and Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) with $465 million.

The Pig Book Summary profiles the most egregious examples, breaks down pork per capita by state, and presents the annual Oinker Awards. All 11,610 projects are listed in a searchable database on CAGW’s website Examples of pork in the 2008 Pig Book include:

$3 million for The First Tee; $1,950,000 for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service; $460,752 for hops research; $211,509 for olive fruit fly research in Paris, France; $196,000 for the renovation and transformation of the historic Post Office in Las Vegas; $188,000 for the Lobster Institute in Maine; and $148,950 for the Montana Sheep Institute.

“Americans do not send their hard-earned tax dollars to Washington so that Sen. Daniel Inouye can bring home $173 million in defense pork and receive the Pacific Fleeced Award or get sapped by $4.8 million going to wood utilization research, on which the government has spent $91 million since 1985,” concluded Schatz."

image courtesy of

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I Forgot About April Fools Day

Although I didn't actually pull any pranks today, nor was I the recipient of any pranks, I still think that some large scale pranks are pretty amusing. Rojak and Cocktail had a pretty hilarious post yesterday about the supposed origins of April Fool's Day as well as some pranks that confused or dismayed hundreds or thousands of people. I'm super gullible, so I'm glad that I haven't been the victim of said pranking, and I still think this stuff is really funny. This might be my favorite:

"An article by John Dvorak in the April 1994 issue of PC Computing magazine described a bill going through Congress that would make it illegal to use the internet while drunk, or to discuss sexual matters over a public network. The bill was supposedly numbered 040194 (i.e. 04/01/94), and the contact person was listed as Lirpa Sloof (April Fools backwards). The article said that the FBI was going to use the bill to tap the phone line of anyone who "uses or abuses alcohol" while accessing the internet. Passage of the bill was felt to be certain because "Who wants to come out and support drunkenness and computer sex?" The article offered this explanation for the origin of the bill: "The moniker 'Information Highway' itself seems to be responsible for SB 040194... I know how silly this sounds, but Congress apparently thinks being drunk on a highway is bad no matter what kind of highway it is." The article generated so many outraged phone calls to Congress that Senator Edward Kennedy's office had to release an official denial of the rumor that he was a sponsor of the bill."

Give it a read today or any time!

An image to accompany the Giffords post...

This is an awesome picture of me from my sister's camera phone back in the last days of my Gifford's employment. A picture is certainly worth a thousand scoops.

A Giffords Flashback

From August of 2006 to August of 2007 I worked part-time scooping ice-cream in addition to my full-time job and my part-time graduate studies. I wrote this little ditty for my first course at Hopkins, and although really kind of rough-drafty, it still cracks me up. I thought I'd post here for everyone who has ever worked in food service. Maybe someday I'll revise it into a real piece. For now, its just kinda funnny.

“Thanks A Latte!”: Bitter Reflections on Working in Food Service

I always drop change in the tip jar at Starbucks even when I’m just picking up the Post or a small (tall) drip brew, even if the service isn’t particularly good. I don’t do this because I’m generous or because I have vast amounts of money to spend. I tip because I have a never-ending sense of camaraderie with all people in the food service industry because I have been there. Not just for one summer when I was saving for spring break, but during high school, during college, after college and again during graduate school. Now, 7 years after I excitedly interviewed for my first job at a Caribou Coffee, I have finally found a food service job that still makes me dirty, but doesn’t make me feel quite as sub-human as the others have.

At first, I was hesitant to think about scooping ice cream as a part time job at the age of 24, but I quickly realized that working for a local, privately owned ice cream shop would be a whole different world from the nightmare that was working at Caribou and Starbucks for so many years. It’s not these companies in particular, it’s the experience of working low-wage, thankless jobs for companies that neglect to celebrate any “Employee Appreciation” days. I’m not asking for a pointy, company-branded party hat either, maybe a “Hey, Employee #4325-g, you did a terrific job cleaning the espresso machine, but let’s make sure we remember to use the toothbrush for those hard-to-clean steaming wands next time.” Anything really. Because the truth is, behind the friendly, yet forced, smiles of these perky employees lurks a deep, dark disdain for all things food-service. I’ve outlined some of the frustrations I’ve had with these corporate giants for all folks who are past, current or future part-timers.

Chapter 1: "Wearing the Hat and the Apron: What I Use My College Degree For"

Ok. So this one isn’t just Starbucks. But it still sucks. Unfortunately there are some downsides to all service jobs. Wearing an ill-fitting baseball cap and a logo imprinted apron is mandatory for food service jobs. I have a theory that this is to demean all food service employees into subordination, but admittedly, I didn't mind the hat and apron combination until after I graduated college and returned to the work force as a full time barista. I spent hours complaining about the direction my life had taken, and my total inability to feel any pride in my job because of the Hat and Apron. Wearing an Apron to your job implies you are going to get dirty, or spill all over yourself. That in general, one should completely disregard any sort of vanity---it ain’t worth it. I spoke with one of my “colleagues” at Gifford’s Ice Cream about the issue at hand. Catherine McPhaul surprised me with her reaction to my loaded question about having pride in the Gifford’s uniform.

“You know, it’s not that bad.” I was suddenly afraid that I had created this stigma. But I thought again.

“Is that because you are in college and this is just a ‘part-time’ job?”

“Ohhhhh, definitely.” She laughed.

After this interaction, I was left feeling bad for myself, again. If I had more time I could explicate on these feelings on other aptly named chapters such as: "Mopping the Floor: Good Thing I Wasted 100,000 Dollars To Go To A Private College" and "Cleaning the Bathrooms: I Should Have Gone To A State School."

Chapter 2: "The Complexity of the Caramel Macchiato"

Let’s be honest. It’s hard to screw up a cup of ice cream, even if it does require hot fudge or sprinkles. Customer’s eyes light up with child-like joy when the scoop is bigger than expected or they see you carry their favorite flavor, but this is not so for coffee drinkers. I have experienced every complaint in the book: "It's too hot. It's not hot enough. I wanted skim milk. I can't taste the vanilla. This cappuccino isn't sweet. It tasted different last time." Oh, the complaints go on and on. I blame Starbucks for this trend to complicate simple things like coffee. The complex recipes are basically setting one up for failure. Whatever happened to a good ole cuppa joe? This need to complicate extends from drinks themselves to other areas, such as job titles, which I’ve detailed in the following chapter.

Chapter 3: “You’ve Been Promoted to Espresso Temperature Monitor!: Job Titles That Mean Nothing and Not Surprisingly, Fool No One.”

At my first job working for the Man, at a Caribou Coffee, there were three roles for the staff to fill during an average shift. The Barista, Register and Superglue. That’s right. The person who wasn’t making drinks or ringing drinks up was in charge of “holding the store together”. The “Superglue”?? Who came up with this term? The creation of the “Superglue” staff member is just one of the many ways giant corporate companies exaggerate the importance of the work of its employees without actually providing any benefits. Can one interview to be the Superglue? Can I put that on my résumé? Does the Superglue make more money than the other team members? It seems that the responsibility of “holding the whole store together” is greater than that of the Barista, or the person ringing up sales. When I was “promoted” to this position I expected a ceremony. I was once told, when I was in one of these fake positions, that if I “put in a little more effort” I would be ready for my ten-cent raise. (Corporate jobs do this to you). No----you keep your ten cents and I’ll keep my dignity, thanks. Caribou has this pseudo position, and Starbuck has “Partners” instead of “Low Level Employees.” At Gifford’s Ice Cream the title of the lowest level employees is “Scooper”. No frills there.

Chapter 4: "Junkies Don't Make Pleasant Customers: The Caffeine Addiction"

The cold hard truth of working in a coffee shop is that a good portion of your clientele is addicted to the product you are providing. These customers are just "not themselves" before they've ingested their daily morning caffeine and tend to be snappy and curt with their friendly coffee-shop-employees. The service provided is a "need" for some people, and they are entirely displeased with having to pay $2-$5 for their fix, especially when they are in a hurry to catch a train or get to work. When the typical commuter wearing a skirt and tennis shoes knocked down the door and rushed up to the counter, clutching desperately her Am-Ex, blowing her bangs out of her eyes, I fought back the automatic eye-roll as she barked her order at me. It made me wonder how she became this way—frustrated and irritable before she inhales caffeine in her blood. Does my green hat and stained apron automatically make caffeine-deprived people angry? Shouldn’t we caffeine dealers be treated as nobles? As the only people who are able to deliver to her the yummy tall-skim-vanilla-latte goodness? I’m just sayin’.

Part time work in the food service industry can be quite headache-inducing—but there are jobs out there that aren’t that bad. Here are a few helpful tips for surviving the inevitable food-service job.

Tip 1: Avoid working for the Man. Period.

Tip 2: Try to serve a food product that isn’t somehow connected to someone’s addictive personality, liquor and chili-cheese fries included.

Tip 3: Even if you are over the age of 16, the hat and apron can work for you—you just need to own it.

Just remember, you can always repay those ungrateful customers. (They’ll never know what’s in that half-caf-single-shot-not-so-hot-mocha-latte, as long as you hand it over with a smile.)