May 29, 2008

Gangsta Rap, Biatch.

For Retrohipster:

If you aren't a fan, I implore you to watch until C-3PO. If you don't find that funny, well, there is no hope for you.

May 28, 2008

I would like 4 Spicy Chicken Sandwiches, a Southern Style Chicken Sandwich, 2 Medium Fries, 2 Medium Cokes, a Hamburger and a Cinnamon Melt

Is everyone aware that your auteur is a redhead? I am a redhead of the palest variety. I am translucent. I buy the absolute lightest makeup ever and it still gives my face a nice tan.

Growing up, me, Kaytabug, and our group of blogless friends all had season passes to our town’s swimming pool. We would go every day. For hours. We would spend all afternoon at the pool. If we weren’t in the pool, we would be riding our bikes around town in the hot sun. Although I have no memory of it, I must have worn some type of sunscreen since I don’t remember a completely blistered existence. Although there were a couple of blister incidents….

Did you just feel that cold chill courtesy of skin cancer? In the past, I have gone to the dermatologist, who spent less time than I have spent at a pap smear, examining my entire freckle ridden body and declared me clear. Suspect, if you ask me.

On Monday, while I was playing Kermit, my love, Not Craig, went to hang out with a friend at the pool. Not Craig is the pigmented one in our relationship. However, if you look at him today, you would wonder...

Rock Lobster.

This is not a post to make fun of him, or to point out the dangers of that evil orb in the sky (although it is evil. Very very evil.). This post is about something else altogether.

I think.

When I was just barely out of high school, one of my best friends burned herself severely. Life Flight severe. Because this blog is all about me and my needs and my wants and my funnies, without going into all the details of it, I would just like to say that burning is one of the scariest, most frightening experiences one could undergo in the category of Things Requiring Hospitalization. For me, as a friend, it was terrifying. I saw what she went through immediately after, the days and weeks after, the months, years, etc. And I know how it frightened me, which is about a gazillion times less than how it affected her. That is some scary shit.

When she was burned, I learned that one of the big things about burns is that the healing process requires mucho calories. She was eating all the time. It was awesome. I was so jealous. Which is what this blog post is actually about.

So, when Not Craig shows up burned as can be, just like if he had a cold, you have to feed it.

I went to McD’s last night after picking up a movie for us to watch.

We watched the movie. And then I returned to McD's.

I don’t think the caregiver is also required to ingest extra calories for the healing process.

But I am not taking any chances. Feel the love. (Handles).

May 24, 2008

Kermit Does Not Wear Pants

Long weekends are difficult for the hermit in me. I know I need to get my ass out the door and do things. Fun! Exciting! Things! Yet the Hermit says stay in, it is so hot out there. There are Fun! Exciting! Things! to do inside the doors.

A couple months ago, we had talked about going to float the river over Memorial Day weekend. I have not done this in several years. Beer, water, swimsuits. Beer helps make you forget how that swimsuit looks on you. But, as it got closer, we decided not to do that. Which may be good in light of how fat pansies are.

The in-laws were planning on coming into town today. I found out about a new display at the Natural Science Museum for the mens to hang out at. The girls, well, we could find something to do, I am sure.

Last night we indulged in beer. Copious amounts. And then some. We slept until noon. I knew that I had lots of cleaning to do in preparation for the arrival of the in-laws. I have been repeatedly told by Not Craig to chillax. His parents don’t care if the house is clean. They probably wouldn’t even notice. In my mind, that translates into, “Blah, blah, blah”. I needed to clean. So I would not panic when they knocked on the door. I had to buy groceries. I had things to do. So when I woke up at noon, feeling like warmed poo, I tried to step it up and do things. And I did. I made coffee and sat on the couch.

Then the call came.

They cancelled.

So now, my plans are shipwrecked. I do not have to clean, or shop, or entertain.

Now what?

I still feel icky. I have no clue as to what we should do this weekend now. Thoughts? Ideas? I am not opposed to being a hermit and not showering for 3 days and not leaving the house. Ever.

I am of the opinion that Not Craig will not permit this. He does not share the hermit-y factor like I do.

And if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, could ya’ll post some things. I need something to read when I stubbornly glue myself to this chair for the next 72 hours.

P.S. This posting was interrupted by the urging of Not Craig to shower and go see the new Indiana Jones movie. That requires pants. That is not the weekend I have embraced in the past hour. A weekend without pants, that is.

May 20, 2008

But Pansies Are Such A Beautiful Flower

When I was in high school, I wish I would have realized how good I had it. Besides the typical, I don’t have to work, there is always food in the cupboards, I am safe because my dad will kick some major ass right before he shoots that burglar in the face, I wish I would have realized 1) how freaking skinny I was; 2) how easy it was to stay skinny; and, 3) how it was so awesome to be able to eat Taco Bell every single day and never ever, ever consider working out.

I started to realize that Taco Bell was gonna have to go when I was about 22. I started a day job. I started sitting on my ass all day and then came home, ate crap food and watched some crap TV. And then went to bed.

Weight started creeping on. I remember hitting 130. OH MY GOD!! I weigh 130 pounds. What a fat ass!! Oh no!!

Oh please. Sister, that was just the beginning. Now, I consider 130 my skinniest. Because for me to get below 130, is just about impossible. I would have to surrender way too much. Ain’t gonna happen. Momma wants a bit of junk in her trunk. And a bit of Whataburger in her hand.

I eventually gained another 20 and decided I needed to do something about it. I started hitting the double digits in clothes and started to wonder if I was gonna have to change sections in the store. (I am all ass. What a strange sentence... I gain weight first and foremost there, I am a pear.)

I hit the gym half-heartedly. Cut down a bit on fast food. I thought I was making such a sacrifice. I was changing my entire life for about 24 minutes, maybe twice a week. Of course, it didn’t work.

Gradually, I figured it out. I knew I was going to have to work harder at kicking the weight, actually sweat, eat salads, la de da …. You know the drill.

And I did it. 130 pounds again. Woot. I rock. (At 130, I was wearing 9’s just to prove yea, I am all ass.)

So to make a long story not as long, I stopped taking care of the weight, it came back. I lost it again. And now, it is back. All of it.

I have made it back up to my heaviest. Damn relationship. I am happy as can be and so we eat. And lay around and watch HGTV and snuggle. And eat Cheez-Its.

Here we go again…

Last night, after buying the most expensive wearable item I have ever purchased – new running shoes, we went running. The park we went to has a 3 mile running track. For the similarly situated in the audience, I heard you groan right along with me. 3 miles. Running.

I did not die. Amazingly.

Of course, we did not run 3 miles. We ran 2 light poles and walked 1.

Ok, that is a lie.

We walked more light poles than we ran.

But that was because of the track dust that was suffocating me, possibly causing an asthmatic coma. (Do those happen? ... It sounds good. ... Moving on.) I inhaled silicate which will scar my lungs ForEver. All for skinny thighs.

Not Craig was a wonderful coach, trying to keep me going. Or at least keep me from falling down on the track from exhaustion.

Oh...that track is long. So long...

I am such a pansy.

No. I am just not as fit as I used to be. It will take time to become She-Ra again.

No. I am a whiny pansy. A fat whiny pansy.

May 18, 2008

Ch Ch Changes

For those Bloglines fans, like myself, I have made some changes at homebase. Take a looksie and let me know what makes you want to scratch your eyes out and I will see what I can do about it. I can't change the color or location of the title. I have tried. Multiple times. I have resisted scratching my own eyes out due to that bug. Please don't comment on it. I will throw Kitten out the window if I have to think about it any longer.

UPDATE: I have changed the color and kinda the location..I am still am not thrilled with the title, but it is better.

P.S. What color is the title to you? I get it in white in Firefox, grey/black in IE. WTH.

May 17, 2008

Hi, My Name Is Luka. I Live On The Third Floor.

After the whole diamond posting thing, I was tired. That process took a lot of time and effort. Which means that I am super lazy at blogging as well. My new line at work and at home is that I am a month and a half behind in my life.

I always wonder what I will do when I have kids. My time seems so stretched now. I know what will happen...the innernets will miss me, my laundry will pile up high, my cats will move out and get their own place, my job will no longer own me, and my legs will remain unshaven for longer periods of time than they do now. If that is possible.

Over the past week, I kept thinking when life was happening, "Ooooh, I gotta blog about this." On a couple occasions, I even emailed myself the ideas. Now, it is Saturday morning, I am drinking coffee and being chillax, just when I should write a post. But instead, let's just explore my brain.

These are the items I was thinking of blogging about:

Special shoes - do your feet get fatter when you get fatter? Have I really lived to be 31 and not know what my shoe size is? (Our goal this weekend is to spend a bazillion dollars on running shoes for my fat feet. Because the more we spend on fitness...the fatter we get. Good plan.)

Sleeping upside down - no matter how we sleep, right side up, upside down, sideways, in a car, outside, in a rent house, in a shack, in our own home, I will sleep well knowing he is by my side. (We slept the wrong way on the bed one night. And we weren't drunk. I think.)

Gardening attempts - pics required. (I am a bad ass catnip and basil grower. Rosemary, eh...not so much.)

Ice skating - the bruise and subsequent chiro visits, 12 year olds bounce. (Dude. Ice skating is fun, ice skating is also painful. 12 year olds don't care about the pain. And they laugh at the old people who don't like the pain.)

New car - heated seats, sunroof, leather. I love a warm bum. (Um, okay.)

Those are the ideas I have had over the past week. Pretty lame, huh? Here's hoping next week is less lame. 92% less lame.

May 7, 2008

After This, I Will Step Away From the Soapbox.

I have spent the last week writing about a girl’s best friend – diamonds. You can find the posts here:Preview, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

Maybe I just don’t read the right things or watch the right news shows. It just doesn’t seem that this issue is really discussed in mainstream news. It seems to me that mass genocide to provide a market for sparkly finger decorations might be a bit larger on people’s minds. But perhaps not. I do what I can to be a responsible Earth dweller. I recycle, I conserve, I turn off my lights when I leave a room, turn off the water when I brush my teeth. Is this not another responsible Earth dweller concept?

My poor man. One weekend morning, I was up, ready to leave the house and run some errands. He was sleeping in. I mentioned that I was reading this book. He asked how it was going. I went on a diatribe. I don’t want diamonds, but what other stones are acceptable for an engagement ring. And why do I have to have an engagement ring anyway, although I would like one. Sapphire? Ruby? Onyx? Or if instead, a cubic zirconium, isn’t that just further perpetuating the view that women need diamonds. I wear cubic zirconium in my ears and they are pretty. I want them. But that isn’t good. How do I find the proper balance? How do I find an acceptable alternative? What is an acceptable alternative? What stone is completely conflict free? Why do I need a stone? Could I have just a silver band? Where does silver come from? Is silver ok?

Whew…poor man… point is…where does it stop? What becomes acceptable? When do you just give up being absolutely positively correct, and just live in your not so perfect world. I wear clothing made in Bangladesh, Tibet, and Mexico. These can’t be constructed in positive working environments. But I can’t go naked. Cows, pigs and chickens are on my dinner table at night. If I go vegetarian, I am killing plants. Where do you stop worrying about the negative impact you are having on the world and just do your best day to day.

For me, I will do what I feel is right. I may kill animals, force Bolivian children to make my t-shirts and exploit grape vines for my nightly glass of wine, but I will not buy a diamond, or have one bought for me, or otherwise encourage the furtherance of a horrific legacy created by our (Americans) lust for shiny accoutrements. It is a start. Maybe tomorrow, I will compost. Or get my t-shirts strictly from China.

Finally, in a time where the economy is falling down around us, a particular quote on p. 247 of this awesome book struck me. Financial analysts believe a certain internet based diamond store will enjoy strong growth for at least the next 5 years despite how the economy may proceed as a whole. The spokesman for the internet based diamond store explained the reason, “If you think about it, it’s the only luxury product that everybody has to buy.”

If I thought about it, which I did, at length, and wrote a bazillion words about it, it is the one luxury product that I never want. And I hope someone out there who reads this agrees. If I haven’t changed your mind yet, try reading this. And this. And this. And this.

Or watching this:

May 6, 2008

Kimberley is Better Than Making My 6 Year Old Paint the House: Continuing Series

This is Part 5 of an ongoing series. Other posts in this series - Preview, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

I haven’t touched on the blood diamond issue much. So far, I have let a video speak on that issue. It is important though to know a bit about a system that the diamond industry has put into place in order to address the matter.

In 2001, through international pressure, the Kimberley Process was created. Kimberley harkening back to the company that DeBeers ran out of business in 1880, which took its name from kimberlite, the material which points to the existence of a diamond deposit. The Kimberley Process is a feel good program, even better for the soul than recycling to save a couple baby seals from being exploited in a Girls Gone Wild video.

Any nation that exports diamonds is required to seal the stones inside a tamperproof container along with a document certifying that they were not mined in the midst of a war. A method to end the sale of blood diamonds, a campaign to make buyers feel all warm inside and able to sleep at night.

“Today’s diamonds from Angola are even more suspect, in some ways, because they carry a veneer of purity while they continue to be mined in a virtual war zone.” (p. 170).

In a conversation with Mark H.G. Van Bockstael, the director if international affairs and trade for the High Diamond Council, the typical face for the Kimberley Process, Mr. Van Bockstael admitted, “In terms of the social atmosphere where diamonds are produced – the Kimberley Process is not at all concerned with that. It is only concerned with a formal definition of war”. (p. 190)

Despite the fact that the diamonds may have been mined at gunpoint, resulting in the deaths of some suspected “smugglers” or “thief’s”, the only way a diamond would be excluded as a blood diamond would be if it came from an actual war zone, a fact that creates much criticism for the Kimberley Process.

Please check out this link for further details on the failures surrounding the Kimberley Process.

How about child labor? Poor Kathie Lee Gifford was strung up for her clothing line. Practically overnight, she became the face of child labor.

Have you ever heard how your diamond goes from being a boring pebble to a gorgeous diamond?

Once a diamond is removed from the ground, it is most likely sent to a Surat, India for polishing and cutting. Surat, near Bombay (Mumbai) is one of the central cities for diamond polishing, holding 92% of the market. As Surat grew more popular among the diamond industry, its population swelled. In 1994, Surat was hit with the bubonic plague.

Child labor was frequent in these mills, but in recent years, this has receded in larger operations. Although it is estimated that 20% of the workforce in Surat is underage, that number amounts to 100,000 children polishing our little trinkets. Further, the dust created from the polishing process has been shown to be related to asthma and lung fibrosis, sometimes fatal.

Don’t worry, I have another link to prove I am not making this stuff up.

Tomorrow, I will be wrapping all this up. Maybe. If you ask nicely.

May 5, 2008

DeBeers? Cuddly as a Teddy Bear? Or Not.

This is Part 4 of an ongoing series. Other posts in this series - Preview, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Ten times each year, approximately 80 men in the world meet in London. Each one is led to a room. An attendant gives them a box containing diamonds of varying types and sizes. They are expected to pay the price offered. There are no negotiations. The diamonds released at these sessions, represent just under half of the total carats released every month. Only 80 men are invited to these sessions, the companies they represent have been deemed worthy by DeBeers to distribute the stones. “To be a “sightholder” also means you have convinced De Beers you will not make waves by selling too much of the box at wholesale, or by protesting the quality of your allotment. In exchange for docility, you are virtually guaranteed to make a healthy profit from your box.” A former high-ranking De Beers official told Tom Zoellner, the author of an incredible book I am highlighting, that every box was calculated to release exactly the right amount of stones into the market. Enough to meet consumer demand, but not enough to cause the price to fall. (p. 118). Three floors below this exchange, is the world’s largest stockpile of unpolished diamonds, which are doled out at a controlled rate, but to De Beers, they remain much more valuable right where they are. “The continued stability of the diamond industry depends on an artificial scarcity created by De Beers. . . . De Beers has managed the remarkable feat of operating a 17th century economic model in a 21st century world, thus ensuring that a mineral not so rare in nature fetches a price far beyond what its value would be in a truly free market.” (p. 119).

DeBeers started out as a crooked company. In 1880, Cecil Rhodes created the DeBeers Mining Company. Barney Barnato was the chairman of the Kimberley Central. These 2 companies fought each other in their attempts to buy up more claims to the South African diamond mines that had been found to date. Rhodes, cunningly, offered Barnato a deal where Rhodes would buy the company owned by Barnato, in order to avoid a bidding war, selling it back to Barnato for 300,000 pounds. Rhodes asked only for a fifth of the outstanding stock in Kimberley Central. Barnato, unable to see any detriment, agreed. Rhodes then instructed his brokers to buy up all outstanding shares in Kimberley Central at any cost. As a result, Barnato conceded defeat. DeBeers became the sole cartel. In 1888, Rhodes told his shareholders, that DeBeers aimed for nothing less than to become, “The richest, the greatest, and the most powerful company the world has ever seen.” (p. 127). De Beers then created 2 defining policies, 1- mining production was cut by half, creating an artificial scarcity, and 2 - a single channel for distribution of the stones was created, the forerunner of the sightholder system outlined above that continues today in London.

DeBeers claims it is not a monopoly, of course. “If this is a monopoly, it is a monopoly based on the popular support of its consumers” said an internal memo. “De Beers has no actual power to coerce these producers to sell their diamonds through De Beers.” In 1981, this “freedom” was extremely evident in Zaire. Zaire, one of the most poverty stricken countries in the world, it became unhappy with its relationship with De Beers. It sought an agreement with independent European countries to distance itself from De Beers. De Beers, kindly struck back, releasing a flood of diamonds, driving down prices and forcing Zaire’s industry into near collapse. When in business with the cartel, Zaire received about $3 per carat. PER CARAT! When it struck away from De Beers, it received less than half that. Two years after its attempt at striking away from the cartel, Zaire went back under its wing. One executive was reported to say, “Anyone want to follow Zaire?” (p. 155) Sure doesn’t sound like a monopoly to me. But then again, maybe I am deaf, dumb and incredibly stupid.

One of my great skills, despite my deafness, dumbness and stupidity, is Google-ing. This site shows that in order to get a 1 carat diamond, I would have to pay $7,500-$10,000. The same 1 carat that the finder was paid $3.00 for.

Let’s go back to World War II. Diamond tipped tools became crucial for cutting parts for tank engines and airplanes. As the war progressed, the German invasion of North Africa caused fears that the U.S. was in danger of losing its source of industrial diamonds in the Congo. De Beers, of course, had control over these diamonds. Through the Depression, DeBeers hoarded surplus diamonds in order to keep prices high. It entered the war era with direct control of 95% of the world’s diamond supply. Those gems were now critical to the Allied forces in fighting the Nazis, but the cartel refused to sell them to American arms factories. Its “logic”? If the U.S. was allowed to build up a reserve of these industrial diamonds and the war suddenly ended, all the diamonds could be sold off and would crash the market. Let that settle in a bit. I can wait. This is the company that right now, is holding the diamond you want on your finger.

The ads DeBeers used at this time? “To the chagrin of our enemy, our side controls almost the entire supply of another kind of diamond to do the countless jobs of speed and skill in pouring out armaments… Your lovely gemstone has helped put them to work!” Let me put this together for you. DeBeers refused to release diamonds for the U.S. to use in creation of weapons to fight the Nazis, yet they advertised that by putting a diamond on your pretty little finger, you are helping to bring down Hitler himself. (p. 137-140)

I personally call that talking out of both sides of your mouth. Or being a dickwad. Whatever.

May 2, 2008

Video Friday - Blood Diamonds Edition

This video can also be found here.

Other posts in this series - Preview, Part 1, and Part 2.

May 1, 2008

Do You Feel Duped? The Heartless Stone, Fianna's Report - Part 2

This is Part 2 of an ongoing series.

The preview can be found here.

Part 1 is here.

Diamond engagement rings are a relatively new trend. The giving of a ring to mark a union leads back to the Roman Empire. It was first documented among soldiers of the Roman Empire who marked their chosen woman with straps of leather tied around their fingers. The practice lived on symbolically through metal bands and has long been a part of Christian wedding ceremonies. However, in the 1930’s, it was not common to link a diamond with the arrangement. (p. 68) Diamonds were more likely associated with Bugsy Siegel or Al Capone than a young bride.

It was not until the 1930’s that the metal band was replaced in our minds (American minds, this is not a worldwide practice as I will mention with respect to Japan later on) with a diamond utilizing a clever marketing scheme that supplanted all previous traditions. Diamonds were “interesting to look at, but hardly practical, and certainly nothing that a young working family would want to buy.” (p.68). Beginning in the ‘30’s, a strong marketing campaign of DeBeers created a mind shift.

The phrase “A Diamond Is Forever” was created at 4 A.M. by a tired female copywriter, tasked with creating a tagline. As stated by an executive of DeBeers, “In these four words are concentrated all the emotional and physical properties of a diamond.” Oh really? Hmmm... The emotional properties of a diamond? My grandparents, married as teenagers, whose marriage lasted until my grandfather passed away, didn’t need a diamond to signify their marriage was forever. My great-grandparents, nope. Now, with a burgeoning divorce rate, we must have diamonds to symbolize that we will be together forever?

Consider this, I know I am guilty of it. When I hear a friend has become engaged, I grab their left hand. What would you think if a couple did not have an engagement ring? My first thought, even now, would be, why are they engaged if they can’t afford an engagement ring? I hope my thoughts will soon shift to the point that when a friend does not have a sparkly left hand, my first inclination will be, “Excellent, now they can afford a down payment on a house.”

Ladies, get this figure. A 1990 marketing survey suggested that a stunning 59% of men would choose to put key investments, like a mortgage, in jeopardy, to buy you a ring. The years of marketing have changed our culture so greatly, to place it in men’s mind that in order to prove himself worthy, he must provide a dowry, a sacred ring, that wasn’t so sacred just a half-century earlier.

In 1960, DeBeers attention focused on Japan, a country, at the time, with less than 100,000 carats in imports annually. Just 30 years later, following a marketing campaign that, like the one used in the U.S., changed a cultural tradition, imports had increased to 4.1 million carats. “What happened there was still held up – wisely or not – as a signature example of how a well-marketed product could ingratiate itself into the culture, even more completely than it had in America” (p.81).

So, what is the proper amount to spend on an engagement ring? Two months, right?

Ever consider where that came from? Did you know that in Great Britain, the standard amount is one month salary.

How about in Japan?

Three months salary.

When asked about the difference by Tom Zoellner, the author of the book I quote so extensively from, a DeBeers representative said, “We were, quite frankly, trying to bid them up”. (p. 81)

Does this nauseate you as much as it does me? Does this statement resonate greatly with you? A standard, what has become a cultural standard that us women, as the recipients of these items, as the ooohhhers and awwwerrrrs of such items, we are being played with by these DeBeers execs.

Aren’t we lucky to be in the middle price range of their marketing scheme? Americans, while not as fortunate as the 1 month Brits, we are better off than those poor Japanese, who were strung into the DeBeers marketing net at a later time, when DeBeers realized they could milk the poor gents for 3 months income.

Japan, at the peak of the diamond engagement ring craze, 9 out of 10 marrying couples had a diamond ring. Interestingly, in 2006, it had declined to 5 out of ten. Japan is wising up to the DeBeers marketing scheme. When will we?

The idea that if a man is willing to spend 1-3 months salary, (depending on where he is fortunate enough to live), he must be committed, he must be worthy, to marry. If he is willing to lay down months of income to buy a trinket, is that proof of love?

I would rather my spouse save that money for a house, a car, retirement accounts, hell, a honeymoon, than for a trinket that I am bound to drop into the bathroom sink, snag on my pantyhose, or otherwise quit wearing because I will lose it or cut myself with it somehow.

blog template by : header image by Vlad Studio