Dog-eared Old Friends

11 Sep

I’d say most of us here love books. Probably have one or two (or three or four) bookshelves lined with adventures and stories and knowledge cultivated through the years.

What books have stayed with you? Which ones did you love as a child? Which ones kept you smiling through high school, and which ones do you STILL get a little nostalgic when you see the title standing there in your bookshelves, waiting patiently for you to read it again?

I’d like to restrict the list to titles you found before high school, if possible.

Tami’s List

Beauty, by Robin McKinley. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, this was the book that made me fall in love with writing. [ Amazon Link ]

Lad, a Dog by Albert Payson Terhune. This is the story of Lad, a standard collie, and the trials and tribulations that took he and his family through wars, dog shows, thieves, and puppies. [ Amazon Link ]

Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders. Based on a true story of a dog cruelly mutilated as a puppy and raised by a family that loves him, this was the first book on animal cruelty that I truly understood. [ Amazon Link ]

Watership Down by Richard Adams. This one came later in my list than the others, but follows a group of rabbits as they try to rebuild their warren in the face of humanity, but also more dangerous rabbits. This is still my favorite book ever. [ Amazon Link ]

Reflection

11 Sep

I’m not sure if this is a Diva-type post.  Whether we should go on with regular content, or not post at all today.  Other people will say things more eloquently, have more worthwhile rememberances of, as Verlyn Klinkenborg called it, “that sudden Tuesday” than I could ever cobble together.  Some people are shutting off the news today, and I’ll quite possibly be one of them.

I will leave this here, for those who wish to reflect.  It’s a poem by John M. Ford called “110 Stories,” and while it’s not easy to take in, it is probably the most powerful response to September 11th I’ve ever read.

I <3 The Mighty Boosh

10 Sep

The arctic is no respecter of fashion.

The Mighty Boosh takes place in a zoo. Except for when it takes place in a flat. Or in a shop. Or in the arctic. Or on a beach with talking coconuts. It changes every season (and sometimes within a season) following the adventures of Howard Moon (with his very memorable face) and Vince Noir (who understands animals).

If you like silly and clever comedy, check this show out. I’d seen small clips of it before I decided to watch it (and blew through the all the episodes in weeks) and had felt kind of baffled. They were odd, they were ridiculous, they were just plain weird. In the context of an episode, the scenes are brilliant. Every show has a running theme where it feels like you sort of know it’s there until the end, when it hits you like a ton of hilarious bricks. The Mighty Boosh is written and acted by Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt, with most episodes featuring music written by Barratt. You might think it’s strange, you might feel confused, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll also laugh your ass off.

How Not to Be a Jerk on Public Transportation

8 Sep

or, “one of these days, falconesse is gonna smite someone.”

1.  Put the backpack on the floor.  Are you carrying one of those big-ass hiking kits that extends two feet above your head and could see you through six weeks trekking across Europe without needing to resupply?  Is it the equivalent of lugging someone piggyback along with you?  And every time you move you’re knocking your fellow travelers over like human bowling pins?

Shrug the damned thing off and put it at your feet.  Yes, even if you’re only going a couple of stops.  Take thirty seconds to readjust when you get off the train.

2.  Your purse is not a person.  If the train is full, get your Gucci bag off the seat so someone else can sit down.  I see you not making eye contact and hoping that fellow passengers will stand rather than disturb you.  You’re one person in a three-seat bench.  Share.

3.  Offer the pregnant lady/elderly person/dude on crutches your seat.  It is not ONLY the responsibility of the person in the designated handicapped seat to be polite.  Don’t wait for someone else to be nice.  Just… be nice.  Another thing to keep in mind, if you’re waiting for the person in the handicapped seat to get up — just because someone looks like they’d be okay standing for a while doesn’t mean they are.  Some disabilities aren’t ones you can see.  So if you are someone capable of standing, make the offer.  It might not always be accepted, but the gesture is usually appreciated.

4.  Move all the way into the car.  Getting two steps inside the door and stopping means everyone getting on behind you has to maneuver around you.  Maybe you’re just going one stop, but chances are any five people behind you could say the same.  Move in.  Make room.

5.  LET PEOPLE GET OFF THE TRAIN BEFORE YOU GET ON.  /wharrgarbl.  This doesn’t just apply to trains, but to busy coffee shops and elevators, too.  Trying to shove your way aboard gums everything up.  Wait ten seconds.  You’ll get fewer elbows in your ribs that way.

I’m guessing I’m preaching to the choir for most of our readers, but if ever there’s a day you see headlines like Boston Woman Carried Off Train Shouting About Goddamned Elephant-Sized Backpacks, well, you probably know who it’s about.

Search Term Bingo.

6 Sep

So one of my favorite things to do (because I’m lame and have no life) is to look through the various search terms that bring people to my sites. Why? That’s a damned good question considering most of the things I find make me scratch my head and go BUT WHY PEOPLE, WHY. Half of the fun is trying to figure out what post generated the hit in the first place. Sometimes? It’s nigh impossible to fathom. Best I can come up with is we swear so much that the word “fucking” has become one of our biggest draws.

And with it there are problems, people.

Today, I wanted to share some of the /gems/ of recent history – if by gems I mean “DEAR GOD MAKE IT STOP.”

Search Term: lolboobs gif
Site: Divas

Well. I feel that I can help with this one. Are you ready?

There. Don’t we all feel better?

Search Term: you need to write your shoe size (just the number) followed by the word ‘inches’ and how long it takes to do your hair in minutes
Site: Divas

See, this is one of those stupid Facebook games. If you haven’t read Anna’s post about why the newest “breast cancer awareness” game on FB is shit, I recommend you check it out.

Search Term: tomb raider tits
Site: Divas

The whole GAME is tits, people. C’mon, really? Maybe you’d be better searching for “tomb raider nipples” because, well, last I checked they still hadn’t shown a single areola. Goddamned game developers better get on it! Gamers need their pron!

Search Term: erotica romance older woman her son
Site: Divas

So yeah, remember when I said I couldn’t figure out which post correlated to our search term bingo? I’m really lost on this one. Last I checked none of the divas have written incest porn. Best I can come up with is Falconesse’s little rant about Lupin and Snape porn. You know the one . . . with mention of the engorged purple love-tool.

This is why we can’t have nice things, Falconesse.

Search Term: “she-ra” tentacle wrap lips
Site: Divas

Welp! Up to this point in my life I had never pictured She-Ra giving fellatio to a tentacle. Thanks to the internet, now I have. Now you have, too. I’m sure there’s a picture of this somewhere, but damned if I’m going to Google image search this puppy. Mostly to preserve my goddamned sanity, thanks. She-Ra was a childhood hero. No tentacles should go near or around her perfect Princess of Power self.

Search Term: i’m 19 years old boy .i want have sex at suzie kennedy .
Site: Divas

At her? Like, does this mean you grab a girl, slap her down on the ground, and go at it while Suzie Kennedy stares on in A) horror B) fascination or C) unbridled lust? Or is Suzie Kennedy a place I don’t know about? “Hey baby, let’s go rollerskating at Suzie Kennedy. I heard all the cool kids are getting their hump on in the bathroom. Doesn’t that sound sexy? A little roller skating la la? Aww yeah.”

Search Term: my husband is always on the playstation and netflix
Site: Divas

Dear lady with a husband always on the PlayStation or Netflix,

There are a few options open to you at this time.

Step One: Have a conversation with him regarding his rampant use of said electronics. Tell him his use bothers you and have a dialogue about things you can do together. If this doesn’t work, proceed to Step Two.

Step Two: Unplug the machine while he’s playing it and insist that you REALLY MEANT IT when you said that he spent too much time ignoring you. If he gets angry, point out that you’ve had this conversation and he hasn’t changed his Netflix watching ways. If this doesn’t work, proceed to Step Three.

Step Three: Buy your own electronics. The vibrating kind. Have lots of sex with them instead of him. If he’s fine with being second fiddle and you’re not okay with the arrangement, proceed to Step Four.

Step Four: Light the PlayStation — and possibly the husband — on fire. Bet that’ll get his fucking attention!

Yours,

Hillary

Search Term: lady use soap for fuck
Site: Divas

I bet you didn’t think your post about the best soap ever would inspire people to want to see women actually shoving bars of soap into their wahoos, Anna. BUT LOOK. IT HAS.

Search Term: sex gay sex movies gay pron sex gay
Site: Divas

I’m actually not sure what you’re after here, searcher. You weren’t really clear with your interests. Could you maybe reword this in such a way that we can better help you? The ladies at the Divas are helpers, after all. We like to help. So clarify a little more and perhaps our friendly readers would be willing to put some link suggestions in the comments!

Search Term: why being a scientist sucks
Site: Divas

You know, I wish I had something witty to say here, but I don’t. This question fascinates me, though. Why DOES being a scientist suck? Long hours? Bad benefits? Short pay? But . . . but . . . you’re a scientist. You can build things stronger, better, faster. You can make the Incredible Hulk. HOW COULD THIS POSSIBLY SUCK?

Search Term: how to lose weight with poly yeti ovarian disease
Site: hillarymonahan.com

The first problem, as I see it, is you’re a yeti. And yetis are a bit bulkier, ma’am. Furrier, wider through the hips and chest. Make sure before you embark on a yeti diet regime you have reasonable expectations of healthy yeti weight control. Maybe eat a few less bears, add more people into your diet. As for exercise, might I recommend terrorizing a small village or two? Running after the terrified villagers has to burn a few hundred calories. Oh and more whole grains, too!

Search Term: coffee, sex and throw snot trigger stroke
Site: hillarymonahan.com

You had me with the coffee and the sex. In fact, I was all on board with your plan. Then you started talking about projectile snots and I kinda fell off the bandwagon. That’s pretty nasty right there. Did you build a snot trebuchet? Or maybe you have a slingshot. And where does the stroking come in?

. . . wait, don’t answer that.

Search Term: story on suppose an spaceship has landed near your house . what was a reaction to if?
Site: hillarymonahan.com

I don’t know what story you’re looking for, internet person, but I can tell you that the reaction to a spaceship landing near you house should be something like “OH FUCK THERE’S ALIENS AND WE ALL GONNA DIIIIIE.” You should say this loudly, and maybe with tears on your cheeks. I ‘d also suggest you invest in some iron underwear so you can avoid the anal probes.

Search Term: hey fuckos
Site: hillarymonahan.com

To the person that typed in “hey fuckos” on an internet search engine, I salute you. There’s something beautiful about the simplicity of your search.

Search Term: hillarys murder
Site: hillarymonahan.com

Whoa, whoa. Put down the wood chipper. We can talk this through. No need to get . . . no, no abandon the angry wolverine. And the steak knife.

Wait. You meant the Secretary of State? Oh, well. She has secret service for a reason. Carry on, then. I suggest you keep googling “Hillary’s Murder” if you want to meet them in person. They might have some questions for you, though.

Search Term: giant flapping asshole
Site: hillarymonahan.com

Oh! Oh I can help with this one!

(A little political? Yes, but to be fair, most conservatives I know aren’t fans either.)

Search Term: i want my wenis to grow so much that it can reach my but and mouth
Site: hillarymonahan.com

Uhhh. Well. We all need goals. And in this case your goal is . . . kinda lofty, yeah, but . . . maybe . . . I got nothing. I really got nothing. God help me, I have no fucking clue what to say right now.

Search Term: m gonna be straightforward with you bitch. get the fuck over it putting me down makes you happier but laughing at you in your face pisses you off even more. you can’t fuck with me now cause im living life to the fullest until the day i die. hope you remember me for who i am.
Site: hillarymonahan.com

YOU GO, GIRL. SIR. GIRLSIR.

And, in closing (because it probably made me laugh/stare the longest)

Search Term: georgia congressman discusses beastality/watermellon
Site: hillarymonahan.com

I really don’t think I need to say /shit/ about that one. Do I?

Plus what?

6 Sep

So Google+ is this new shiny thing, that’s not really like Facebook or Twitter but has elements similar to both, and integrates into the Google Suite of products.

I got a beta invite, and after trying it out for awhile, I thought it was pretty cool. Cool enough that I wanted to use it with my blogging friends and gaming friends and other internetty types.

Problem? My usual email address contains my real name. (Which isn’t Anna, but might as well be, since there are a vastly larger number of people that know me as Anna than as my real name)

So after thinking about it for awhile, going back and forth, and weighing options, I decided to make a new email address specifically for G+, thinking that way I could be Anna on G+ and just forward everything from my regular email into the new one.

Justoneanna at gmail dot com was born, and I put all my friends through a profile switch on google chat, my primary chat program these days.

And then the ‘Nym wars started.

See, Google at the beginning wasn’t as … vocal… about their naming policy, which includes a clause that restricts use of pseudonyms. By “restricts”, it turns out they mean “will ban your account unless you change it to your real name and provide proof of ID that it’s your “real” name”.

If your real name doesn’t comply with what Google determines is an acceptable real name, sucks to be you (even if you’re a tech blogger who has given two conferences at Google’s headquarters). Of course, if you’re famous, like Lady Gaga, you get to keep your pseudonym. But little old me? My name isn’t really Anna.

Of course, my pseudonym is an acceptable, westernized name using the Latin alphabet and following a standard format. Which adds another monkey wrench into the system.

See, Google swears up and down that using “real names” is to prevent spam and trolling. To my eyes, that’s kind of not that useful. I can create an account under the name Christopher Harmon (a name I just made up out of my head), and spam away, never flagged by the Google Pseudonym Police, because my name appears to comply with the system.

Not to mention that the two creepy internet stalkers that have made my life miserable in the past did so under their real, legal names.

On the other hand, outing real names is notably unsafe for a lot of people. I don’t use my real name publicly on the internet because of said creepy stalkers. I also have the freedom of talking about my mental health issues without, say, a future boss coming across it.  And I’m not the only person who noticed that using my real name seemed to be a lot better for Google and their datamining than it did for me. There’s nothing that comes from people online knowing my real name that they can’t do with me as Anna.

A “real name” policy doesn’t just harm people who want to protect their real lives from inappropriate online intrusions. In fact, it harms a lot of people.

How To Caramelize Onions

4 Sep

Okay, this seems really obvious, but it took me forever to learn how to do it properly.

Caramelized Onions

Ingredients

  • Sweet onions (any kind, really, but if they’re labeled “sweet” they’re probably a cut above the rest)
  • 1 T olive oil (or please-don’t-burn-stir-fry grease of choice)
  • Salt

Directions

Cut the onions* however you like. I love onions, so I do a lot of onion here. I like big red onions. Not only are larger onions a little sweeter than their smaller brethren, red onions are just plain prettier. YMMV.

Get out a large pan with tall sides. You want as much surface area as you can wrangle, so the onions cook more evenly. Heat pan over medium/low heat. (I’m talking 3, assuming 5 is your medium). The key is LOW heat, here. We are not frying these onions.

Add oil to warm pan. Allow oil to warm if you’re patient, or squish the first three steps into one if you’re me.

Add onions to pan.

Lid the pan, stirring frequently until onions not only turn into something that looks like it could be used as a prop on a slimy alien horror movie, but it’s also starting to turn a little golden/brown in color.

This should take anywhere from half an hour to 45 minutes. If you hear SIZZLE, it’s too hot. Steam without sizzle is the key.

What can you DO with caramelized onions?

My favorite is to mix it in with some rough-mashed potatoes (a mixture of the little golden taters and the waxier little red taters). Salt, pepper, and onions is all you need and it’s GORGEOUS.

Carmelized onions are ALSO awesome on sandwiches. I see it paired with beef pretty often, and if you’ve got a little RockNRolla Gorgonzola cheese to add, so much the better.

They’re good in omelets or salads.

They are ALSO amazing right out of the pan, but not everyone loves onion as much as I do.

*Bonus How To Cut An Onion

I didn’t know how to do this for AGES, so apologies to everyone looking at this and privately judging me for thinking this was blog-worthy. SOME of us were raised on frozen pizza and macaroni and cheese, and had to pick up vegetable-related skills as an adult.

Right, onion cutting.

  • First thing I do is cut the onion in half, from stem to stern (in other words, not around the belly).
  • Next, lay each half flat-side down on the cutting board and dock the “tail” back to the bell of the onion. Discard cut off bits.
  • Peel the outermost layers off the onion. If it’s rubbery or papery, it’s no good. Sometimes I get lazy and peel off one layer of GOOD onion and discard that along with the rest. (I use BIG onions, so it’s no like I’m losing much here, Judgey McJudgersons!)
  • Next is the fun part. If you are cutting STRIPS of onion, just turn the onion so that the flat area where the tail used to be is parallel with your knife, and cut thin slabs out of the face of the onion until you reach the stubby core on the other side. Separate the strips by hand.
  • If you are dicing or chopping the onion, turn the onion the other way (with the stubby core on top) and cut guidelines from core to flat area, making sure to leave the core portion of the cut still attached (kind of like your fingers are attached to your hand).  After that, turn the onion sideways and cut in the strips method above. The result will be that each “strip” is pre-cut along the diagonal already, netting you neat little cubes of onion based on the distance between your cuts.

This method is SUPER FAST and gives really great results.

It would also look better if I took pictures and posted them, but this is why my career as a food blogger never quite got off the ground.

I love to cook, but I don’t love to stop and arrange well-lit pictures OR upload said pictures for use later.

Also, don’t cut your fingers when dicing your onion. And you might want to wear protective headgear because onions are the most tragic of all the vegetables.

If you plan ahead, you can put the onion in the freezer for like ten minutes before you plan on chopping it, thus negating most of the tear-gas effect of fresh-cut onions. If you are me, you never really plan ahead, you just make with the chopping and the sobbing.