How I tried to put my committee in a sugar coma so they wouldn't ask questions -or- Lemon/Lime cream cheese meltaways

Whew! Was that the longest title ever or what?

I just made myself a ridiculously strong cup of coffee this morning, so maybe that has something to do with my overzealous title.

Anyway, I am free! Well, sort of. I am done with my second committee meeting at least. I still have mountains of things to accomplish between now and when I leave for the field in three weeks, but the stressful, try not to look stupid in front of my committee members part, is over.

My school has this little tradition where we students are supposed to provide snacks and coffee for our committee meetings. I would do it anyway, but the fact that it is expected sort of annoys me. Luckily for my committee stress makes me eat, which makes me bake. I had been wanting to re-try this Cooking Light recipe with limes anyway.

For those of you who have never had meltaways before they are sort of like crumbly sugar cookies. They have the weirdest mix of ingredients ever. In fact, if there were some way for me to give you this recipe without letting you see the list of ingredients I would. So, don't be scared off when you see it.

The real star of these cookies is the glaze. It is a snap to make and comes together like magic. I am not a sugar freak the way some people are, but I couldn't stop eating the glaze. I ate so much glaze that I passed out on the kitchen floor in a sugar coma until Mr. Man found me in the morning covered in dried sugar. It was really embarrassing, to say the least.

Lemon and Lime Cream Cheese Meltaways
adapted from Cooking Light

These cookies do not taste good warm. They also taste way better with the glaze, than without. So, be strong and try to not eat any before they are completely done. But, by all means placate yourself with the glaze. Also, you can use 1/3 less fat cream cheese if you like. Next time, I am going to try upping the cream cheese in place of butter. Let me know how it turns out if you try it.

1 1/4 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1/4 c. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°.

Mix together the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix 1 cup powdered sugar, butter, cheese, and vanilla together in a large bowl with a mixer until the it becomes light and fluffy. This should take about 3-5 minutes.

Then add the flour mixture and stir, with a spoon, until just combined, no longer. The dough be very crumbly. Take about a tablespoon of dough in your hands and roll it together. It is okay if they are not perfect balls, you don't want to compress or overwork the dough.

Place the balls about 2 inches apart on baking sheets. If you don't have enough space to bake them all at once, go ahead and roll out the rest of the dough anyway, it gets more difficult to work with as it sits.

Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until the bottom is light brown. They won't look done on the tops, take them out anyway.

Let them cool for five minutes on your cookie sheet. Cooking Light tells you to then move them to a rack and let them finish cooling there. I do not have a well equipped kitchen, so I just put mine on a plate. They didn't seem to mind.

After they have finished cooling, glaze them. Just dunk the tops of the cookies into the glaze and allow them to dry for at least half an hour.

Lemon or Lime Glaze
I made both for this one batch of cookies. I just cut the two ingredients listed below in half.

1/4 c. Lemon or Lime juice
zest of one lemon or lime
1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
Mix together with a wire whisk.

The crumbly batter.

Thanks for indulging me!

Patience is a virtue. Luckily for you, I am not very virtuous.

I am feeling impatient today. I want this darn committee meeting to be over with. I want to be done fighting with statistical programs, MS Word, Excel, and Power Point. Please, make the insanity stop!

And because I am feeling impatient I am going to bombard you with Chuck Yates' numbers 5 through 1. To those of you that were hoping to savor it over the next five days, sorry. Just settle in with a cup of coffee, or whatever your caffinated beverage of choice is, and prepare yourselves for the longest. post. ever. Sorry again for that.

Number 5 through 1


Number Five: Remember that other people want you to take them just as seriously as you want them to take you. If you’re not willing to do that much for them, it’s gonna be hard for you to convince them that they should do it for you. If you don’t understand your opponent’s position well enough to make your own persuasive defense of it, at a minimum that probably means you haven’t been paying attention, but it’s also likely that you can’t defend your own position either, at least not in a way that would persuade someone who is paying attention.

It’s true: there are a lot of positions on the other side that’re really hard to take seriously. Some of ‘em are based on arguments, and actually do make sense on their own terms, but a lot of ‘em are just plain prejudice or thoughtlessness trying to look like they make sense. And when that’s the case, it’s usually not all that difficult to figure it out.

But to do that, you have to take that other position on its own terms, and understand it in the way
it makes sense to the person who believes it. Bigotry and bad faith will betray themselves through their own garbled logic, every time. All you have to do is invite them to make sense on their own terms.

The thing is, people generally mean well. People generally don’t wake up one morning and say, “I think I’ll go out and do something monstrous today.” People’s motives tend to be noble, but the actions that arise from those motives are sometimes monstrous.

When what we do is 180 out from what we think, that’s usually because we don’t understand
why we think what we think. And just as we must understand the link between the what and the why in our own behavior, so must we also look for that link in the behavior of others, especially those we disagree with.

There’s no self-evident obligation to take sophistry or hypocrisy seriously, but for the sake of our own integrity we need to make sure it is sophistry or hypocrisy before we reject it. Want your opponent to honor your sincerity? Start by honoring his.

Number Four: Take care of yourself. Hold it in your heart that taking care of yourself is not the same thing as being selfish. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll be useless to yourself, and then you’ll be useless to other people too. Put your own oxygen mask on first, as they say on the airplane. Treasure yourself, and treat yourself as if you’re irreplaceable. You are.

Back in the counter-culture, we used to go around telling each other to “keep the faith,” and “tell
it like it is.” Do that. Keep faith with yourself, keep faith with others, and be honest, not just about what you think, but also about how you feel — especially about how you feel. Emotional honesty is the most important kind of all. And it’s one of the best ways I know of to take care of yourself.

And there’s this one other thing that’s absolutely essential if you want to do your best job of
taking care of yourself: nev-ver take yourself too seriously. Be serious about your work. By all means be serious about your play. But don’t be too serious about yourself. Don’t worry. It’s not that difficult to tell when you are. Don LaFontaine will make sure you know. (Some of you may know that we lost Don last year. Not a huge tragedy, in world-historical terms, but I’ll miss him. Moment of silence for Don LaFontaine.)

What — you think you don’t know who I’m talking about? Of course you do: “They went to college to improve their minds. They didn’t know what was waiting for them beyond commencement. Based on a true story.” Yeah, you know who I mean. Sometimes Don’s voice-overs made the trailers even better than the flick. Now they’ve got all those other guys out there trying to sound like Don, but they can’t do it the way he could, and here’s why that matters.

If you start hearing Don LaFontaine voice-overs in your own life, that’s your cue to get up, walk
out of the theater, stand in the sunlight, count to ten, and then start looking for a different movie. One thing we all know is that movies with Don LaFontaine voice-overs usually don’t have happy endings. So if you’re in one of those movies, you’re taking yourself way too seriously and you need to lighten up. Don will let you know.

And one other thing: make a point, at least once a year, to go out to the woods and spend some time living life at the speed of trees.

Number Three: Remember that most of the time, most of it isn’t going to make much sense to you. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. Most of us spend a lot of time and energy trying to make the math come out even. The trouble
is, the only place where the math comes out even is in math. That’s the only place where you can count on one and one to make two. Out here in the 3-D world, one and one sometimes make one. Sometimes they make three. Or four, or five, or you name it.

Sometimes one and one make zero. That’s what happened in Rwanda. That’s what happened in what we used to call Yugoslavia. That’s what’s happening right now in Palestine. Places like those, nobody wins, and everybody loses, and the math never comes out even, and one and one always make zero.

What works best for me is to let the math come out however it comes out, and then try to figure out what I’m gonna do about that. If I refuse to deal with math unless it comes out even, I’ve already ruled out a lot of alternative courses of action that might actually get me somewhere. My wife Deb, the best teacher on the planet, who taught me most of the good stuff I know about teaching, used to have a poster in her classroom that said simply, “You can’t control which way the wind blows, but
you can adjust your sails.”

The fact is, all we’re ever likely to get from expecting everything to make perfect sense to us is a lot of disappointment, confusion, and frustration. Better just let go of that. Let the math do what it does, and do your best to work with what you get. A poet named Max Ehrmann once put it like this: “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. You have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” (16)

In other words, be modest about the limits of your knowledge, your understanding, your agency.
Focus on the business you have in hand, start by taking it as you find it, and do your best to make sense of that. The rest will take care of itself.

Number Two: Keep your scriptures handy. We all need scriptures. We all have ‘em, even if some
of ‘em don’t look like what most people think of when they think of scriptures. What’s good about scriptures is that they put us in touch with the wisdom of others who’ve gone a lot farther down the road than we have, people who know where the pot holes are. And the short cuts. And the rest areas.

Among the scriptures I keep handy are the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, the marvelous mysteries of Daoism, the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, Robert Fulghum’s little masterpiece, “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” (17) and the lyrics to a whole boatload of songs that have helped me make sense of the senselessness over the years.

The scripture I rely on most frequently is very simple, and goes like this: “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” (18) Serenity, courage, wisdom. Things I can change, things I can’t. What does that include?

Well, I can change my clothes. I can change channels. I can change my mind. As some of you know, I can change my major... lotsa times. But the only thing I know I can change, that will make a real difference in how I interact with the world around me, is my attitude, and for that, I’ll take all the help I can get.

The point is that scriptures — or prayers, if you like — don’t act on the world around us. They’re not magic. They act on us to help us interact with the world more effectively. That’s where their power comes from. They keep us in focus. They help us remember what we believe. There’s a nice explanation of this in one of the episodes of Joss Whedon’s Firefly series: River Tam is complaining to Shepherd Book that his Bible doesn’t make any sense. Shepherd Book says, “It’s not about making sense. It’s about believing in something and letting that belief be real enough to change your life. It’s about faith. You don’t fix faith, River. It fixes you.” (19)

So keep your scriptures handy. They’ll help you stay in touch with your faith, and your faith is the bridge that reaches from inside your most private places to connect you with the wide world of possibility all around you. Not just your faith in god (though I’m sure that’s where it’s at for many of you) but your faith in the possible — your ability to believe that even the impossible can happen — and your ability to let yourself and your world be transformed by that belief.

Ask Mahatma. Ask Martin. Ask Barack. They’ll tell you how important this kind of faith is.

Three things, Paul told the Corinthians, there are three things that last forever, and this faith I’m talking about is the first one. The second one is hope, that “active pursuit of the not yet,” that “celebratory defiance of despair” that we heard about from the man who stood up here last year. (20) (Thanks, James, for covering that so nicely.)

And the third one is love. They work together — faith, hope, and love — each one woven through the other two into a fabric that never tears, never wears out, and always gives warmth and shelter. That’s guaranteed, right here in the warranty — as long as you keep all three together in a single fabric, and put it on for the first time every day.

But love, Paul said, love is the main thing, the biggest of all the big deals.

And that’s why this top ten list ends where it does.

Number One: Love. We’re here to take care of each other, and love is the energy that makes it possible for us to do that. So here I am, telling you to love. Love yourselves. Love each other. Love this magical mysterious heart-breaker of a world we live in. Love it for what it can become. But love it for what it is too.

If you choose love, you create a center of gravity for yourself that will help you stay balanced no matter what happens. You create a sacred place at the core of your being, a place where there will always be holiness. They’re always telling us god is love, right? This is part of what they mean. And this is what I mean when I say love is god.

The ability to choose love is what sets us apart from all the other critters. Sure, it matters that we walk upright, that we have these amazing opposable thumbs, this really cool stereoscopic vision, this massive brain. And we can talk, and write, and sing, and even deliver baccalaureate messages.

But what really matters is that we have the ability to choose love. And I do — choose love. I love every last one of you. Oh, yeah, I know — you don’t see how I can mean that, because you know I’m no good with names. I warned you about that on the first day of class, remember? Before long, I’ll start forgetting your names, one by one. Give me enough time and I may forget ‘em all. But I also
told you then — and I hope you remember this part too — I will never forget you. You’ll be right here in my heart, and right here in my head, for as long as there’s life in this body.

So, Paul told the Corinthians that love is the main thing, the biggest of all the big deals. John,
Paul, George, and Ringo took it one step further. They told all of us it’s not just the main thing; it’s the only thing. It’s all we need. You know how it goes:

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. It’s easy.
There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be. It’s easy.
(OK, this is the part where you help me out...)
All you need is love. All you need is love. All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need. (21)

You knew that was coming sooner or later, right? You didn’t actually think you could ask someone from my generation to stand up here and give this message without quoting those guys at least once, did you?

So there it is — there’s your Top Ten List for today. If you were paying attention, you figured
out pretty quickly that it’s got more than ten things on it, and I just made it look like a top ten list by jamming some of ‘em together. There’ll always be more than ten good things to put on a top ten list.

You know, stuff like: pay attention; never let injustice go unchallenged, but remember it’s a
long drop from the moral high ground, and a mighty hard landing if you fall; bake cookies, and eat ‘em with milk; never stop learning; always make time to goof off; step to the beat of your own drummer,(22) but be careful not to march through someone else’s parade; start over every day. Stuff like that. And, oh, yeah, make top ten lists.

Of course, your list will be different from mine. It’ll have different stuff on it, and you’ll rank
that stuff differently. But on my list, love is always gonna be number one. Everything else unfolds from it. Everything else, sooner or later, leads back to it. Keep it in the same safe place where you keep that critical self-awareness I talked about back there, and don’t leave home without it.

Now, as you all know already, this afternoon you’re gonna line up over here and walk across this
stage one by one, and Greg is gonna holler out your names, and Doug is gonna give each one of you your official Got ‘Er Done Certificate. What you may not know yet is that the whole world is waiting for you right there. Right there.

So here’s what I want you to do, when you encounter the world out there: I want you to walk
right up to it, put your arms around it, kiss it on the mouth, and tell it Earlham sent you.

Class of 2009, it’s time to rock and roll.

16. Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, 1926, At
17. Robert Fulghum, All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, New York: Ivy Books, 1989.
18. Attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr,
19. Ben Edlund, Firefly: Jaynestown, Air date: 10/18/2002.
20. James Logan, “A (Not So) Simple Word of (Audacious) Hope,” Baccalaureate Address, Earlham College, May 3, 2008, 6, 9.
21. John Lennon, All You Need Is Love, Northern Songs, Ltd., BMI, 1967.
22. Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or Life in the Woods, New York: Signet, 1999, 258.

The address, in its entirety, can be found here.

Number 6, I hear ya

Number six really speaks to me. You see, I am one of those liberal types. In fact, I am probably more liberal than most people would think. But, here's my secret. Most super-liberal people annoy the hell out me. As much as the staunch right-wingers do. It is just tiring to speak to people who think they have a lease on the truth. They refuse to see where other sides are coming from. And because of that, we can never move forward together. We are stuck in this polarized climate. And let me tell ya, it's cold out there in the polar ice caps with the penguins, whales, and polar bears (Sorry, couldn't help the bad pun).

And so, I present the next installment of Chuck Yates' baccalaureate address. If you are left wondering what happened to numbers 10 through 8, just scroll on down or click on the label below (Chuck Yates' baccalaureate address).


Number Six: Know what you think, but more important, know why you think it. What you believe is nobody’s business but your own, but the rub — as Hamlet would say (10) — is that belief guides behavior, so knowing why you think what you think is a precondition for knowing why you do what you do. And the best way to keep track of all that is to pay attention to the language you use to talk about it.

You have to be careful with language. George Orwell knew this. That’s what 1984 (11) is all about. The way he saw it, you can use language carefully, or you can cop out by, “... throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you... think your thoughts for you... concealing your meaning even from yourself.”(12)Thucydides knew this too. He was the one who warned us about how, in times of turmoil and uncertainty, even the meanings of everyday words suddenly start changing to suit the needs of the moment. (13) Remember Freedom Fries?

In other words, if you don’t control your language, your language will control you. Pay attention to what you’re not thinking about — that stuff that “goes without saying” because “everybody knows” it. And pay attention to those “ready-made phrases.” They can highjack both your intelligence and your common sense and make it easy to act without thinking, which is a really good way to end up doing really terrible things.

OK, what “ready-made phrases”? Well, Orwell mostly means cliches and colloquialisms, but if they’d had bumper stickers when he was writing, I’ll bet he’d have included them too. You know, things like “think globally, act locally.” We all get warm fuzzies from that one, right? Be careful: it means more than it says. After all, it’s also the marketing strategy of the Coca Cola Company, and it doesn’t stop there.

If you’re the United Fruit Company, for example, “think globally, act locally” turns out to mean “get the Marines to help you overthrow a legally empowered head of state who thinks the people of his own country should get the profits from sales of fruit produced on their land with their labor.” If you’re the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company — the one we know as BP — it means pretty much the same thing, except this time it’s oil instead of fruit, and it’s a prime minister instead of a president, and of course it’s the CIA instead of the Marines. Think about this the next time you peel a banana, or stick that nozzle into your gas tank.

“But that’s not what I mean,” you’ll say. And of course you’re right. It’s not what you mean, but here’s the lesson: if you get into the habit of thinking globally and acting locally, and feeling all puffed up and righteous about it, without actually thinking about why you’re acting the way you are, and how that’s actually connected to what you think you believe, people may eventually get so bent out of shape about the impact of your behavior on their lives that they’ll start doing things like flying airplanes into buildings.

And then you’ll stand there feeling all hurt and confused, trying to figure out what went wrong (14 )and why they hate you.(15) There are less complicated ways to miss the point and make a complete fool of yourself, and that’s still not all. Those nineteen guys in those four airplanes? They were also thinking globally and acting locally. Talk about bumper stickers gone bad. But this is why Orwell was so worried about those “ready made phrases” and these are the sorts of things that can happen when you stop controlling your language and it starts controlling you.

So, don’t rush out as soon as we’re done here and scrape all the bumper stickers off your car. But don’t forget that their elegant simplicity conceals risky complexity. And here’s the point: unexamined beliefs work the same way bumper stickers do — they make us feel all righteous and right, saturated with pure goodness, and full of god’s own justice and mercy, and then we start seeing simplicity when we’re looking at complexity.

Nothing is ever that simple. There’s always more than one layer. You already know this. The belief we embrace — the simplicity we see — is just the layer on top. Peel it off, find out what’s underneath it, and don’t stop peeling until you’re sure you have a good idea how many layers there are, and what they are, and what lies underneath all of ‘em.

That’s what people have in mind when they talk about critical thinking. That’s what critical self-awareness is. And the same thing is true of critical self-awareness that Karl Malden used to tell us about American Express traveler’s checks: don’t leave home without it.

10. Shakespeare, loc. cit., Act III, Scene 1, Line 64.
11. George Orwell, 1984, New York: Signet Classics, 1961.
12. George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946, in Andras Szanto, ed., What Orwell Didn’t Know, Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics, New York: Public Affairs, 2007, 216.
13. Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, trans. Rex Warner, New York and London: Penguin Books, 1972, 242- 43.
14. Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong? New York: Perennial, 2002.
15. Fareed Zakaria, “Why They Hate Us,” Newsweek, October 15, 2001.

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror" -or- Number 7

It's a sad day for this person. For this person who literally wanted to be Michael Jackson when she grew up. I don't mean I wanted to be just like him, I mean I wanted to be him. I was very young. I don't think I quite grasped the concept of boys and girls, let alone the subtle difference between being someone and wanting to be like them when you grow up. Either way, I should thank my lucky stars that my three-year old self did not get her wish. Because, well, it would be weird considering how things turned out for old MJ. But, I still worship his music. Always have, always will.

I thought the quote from Micheal's song was appropriate given Chuck Yates' number 7. Fifteen points to the first person who names the song (Come on, someone has got to want to play. No one has played in so long!)

Number 7

Number Seven: “To thine own self be true.” (8) So says Polonius to his son Laertes in Hamlet. Of course, if you know the play, you also know that poor Polonius didn’t follow his own advice. His walk didn’t match his talk, and he walked himself into a fatal compromise. You can pay a pretty high price for not being true to yourself.

The trouble is, it’s not always easy to keep faith with yourself either, because what Lincoln said is also true: “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time...” (9)
So no matter how pure your heart may be, you will be tempted to try fooling someone, sooner or later. And then you’ll find out that there’s always gonna be that one person you just flat can’t fool.

You know who I’m talking about — that person looking back at you from the mirror. No matter how good your groove may be, if it’s not straight and narrow, that person in the mirror will know. One day you’ll look in the glass and there you’ll be, looking back at yourself, shaking your head, and saying “Chuck warned you about me, remember?”

On the other hand, if you can look that person right in the eye, every time, you can be pretty confident that your walk and your talk are going in the same direction, and you’re not gonna end up like Polonius, unceremoniously run through by the Prince of Denmark while trying to eavesdrop from behind a curtain in the queen’s bedchamber.

In any case, do the best you can, because that way, no matter what happens, you’ll always know that you tried. And that person in the mirror will know too. But do it with the awareness that your best ain’t always gonna cut it. And when you do mess things up, be the first one to step up, and own up, and do what you can to fix what you broke.

And forgive — always forgive. Forgiveness is not about letting the other person off the hook; it’s not about the other person at all. It’s about you, about the kind of person you want to be, about how you define yourself as a moral agent.

You may have noticed that pretty much all of the high stakes moral choices work this way. Human rights, animal rights, non-violence, capital punishment, Pro-Choice or Pro-Life, you name it — the Truth may be Out There, but as far as I know, Mulder and Scully haven’t found it yet. Until someone does find it, and we actually do have an external moral standard that we can all accept, without getting all tangled up about whose god is God or whose law is The Law, or whose truth is The Truth, I think we’re gonna be stuck with asking ourselves “what kind of person do I want to be.”

So forgive others when they step on your feet. Remember, they probably didn’t do it on purpose. And forgive yourself when you trip over your own feet and fall flat on your face. You sure didn’t do that on purpose, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Just start paying more attention to where you put your feet.

8. William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act I, Scene 3, Line 78, in G. Blakemore Evans et al, eds. The Riverside Shakespeare, Sixth Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1974, 1147.
9. Attributed to Abraham Lincoln, At

Number 8

Geez, its barely nine a.m. out here on the west coast and mamacita is already bugging me for number 8. So, without further ado, here is Chuck Yates' number 8. Enjoy.


Number Eight: Ask for directions. You might as well get used to the idea that you’re gonna get lost now and then — maybe a lot, maybe only a little. How much doesn’t matter. It will happen. And it’s a fact — one I can verify from having done it more times than I can count — that getting lost on purpose and then finding your own way back home is one of the best character building activities there is. It builds confidence too, and a kind of self-knowledge you can’t get any other way.

So don’t be afraid of getting lost.

But it’s also a fact that getting lost and finding the way home can take a lot of time, and we don’t always have the time to spare. So ask for directions. Get one of the locals to tell you how to get where you want to go. There’s no shame in not knowing the way. We were all born not knowing the way, and we’ve all had to figure it out one trip at a time. Remember what I said a minute ago about getting good at being clueless.

No, the shame — the embarrassment — doesn’t come from being lost; it comes from not letting others help us get un-lost. John Donne was right, after all: none of us is an island.(7) We’re all adrift on the same big sea, in the same little boat, and it’s just plain stupid not to help each other paddle.

7. John Donne, Meditation 17, 1624, in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Fifth Edition, New York: W.W.
Norton, 1962, Vol. 1, 1107.

Number 9

A continuation of Chuck Yates' baccalaureate address. If your confused just scroll down and bit and read yesterday's post.


Number Nine: Get to know the locals. We do a lot of huffing and puffing around here about being at home in the world, engaging with the world, making a difference in the world. If we mean it, then it’s obvious that, wherever we may go in our search for opportunities to make a difference, our chances of getting it done are gonna be a lot better if we’re good at being at home with, and engaging with, the people we find around us.

Remember: they live here; they know how the system works here; they know who the movers and shakers are, and how to get ‘em to move and shake the way you want ‘em to. Maybe you plan to settle, or maybe you’re just passing through. Either way, the locals are your neighbors. The locals are your community. The locals are your lifeline. Be at home with ‘em, and they’ll be your shelter and support. Get crossways with ‘em and they will make your life miserable.

And they know their way around the place too, which brings us to —


I want to graduate every year!

I went to Earlham College, class of 2003. It was four of the most challenging, amazing years in my life. Earlham is truly special place. It is a place where the students and professors are on a never ending journey in search of learning, truth, and goodness. These are mighty cheesy words I am writing about this college you have never heard of, but they are true, and there is no other way to describe this place.

I could go on and on. And I will, over time, bit by bit. Today, I want to share with you one of the things I have done every year since 2003. I read the baccalaureate address. Earlham is different from most higher learning institutions. We do not invite speakers from outside to come in for our final day as undergraduates. Instead, we elect one of our faculty member to speak. It is an intimate experience, even if you have never had that particular professor before. It is a small campus, and you know who they are, and have heard stories. One day I will post a link to the baccalaureate address one of my favorite professors gave during my graduation (just have to figure out how in the hellinsky to do that). It is something I always go back to read whenever I need to be reminded of Earlham or what my mission out here in the big bad world is.

Every year, at this time, graduations are happening all over, and a nostalgic warm breeze flows over me. I relish the feeling and the memories of my own graduations that come rushing back. Kids looking at their yearbooks next to me on the bus, undergrads talking about the real world, ceremonies and parties are happening everywhere. Every year, at this time, I head back to the old Earlham website and read the baccalaureate address for this year's graduating class.

For the class of 2009 (holy bejeezus, time is flying by) Chuck Yates spoke. I never took a class from him, but he was one of those professors who had his formative years during the 60's and 70's. He co-taught a class about the Vietnam war, which he fought in. He was one of those teachers that you see in the movies. Think Robin Williams in Dead Poet's Society.

He wrote a top ten list for his speech. Some of the baccalaureate speeches resonate with me more than others. This one is going to stay on my hard drive for some time. Since I am utterly busy preparing for my committee meeting next week I thought you might enjoy reading it too. One day at a time.

Here is number 10. I edited out part of the first introductory part. After day 10 I will post the link if you want to read it all together.


Today is all about you guys, and I’m honored to be the one who gets to stand up here and fuss over you in public. One last chance to mess with your heads. Heh heh heh. So the question is, what can I say to a bunch of EC grads, to let them know what a big deal it is that they are EC grads, and to send them out the front gate with their heads up and their hearts open?

Well, I’m not sure I know the answer to that one, but what you get today is a Top Ten List. Chuck’s top ten secrets to a long, happy, useful, productive, and meaningful life.

Now don’t get excited. This is not gonna be the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. (4) If that’s what you want, you need to go find Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect and Zaphod Beeblebrox. I don’t claim to have the last word on any of this stuff.

The main thing you learn as you make your way through the process of becoming what we laughingly refer to as a grownup is that, even if there are rules about how to do this life thing, they’re not written down anywhere. There’s no owner’s manual, no operating instructions, no how-to books.

I’m as clueless after six decades as I was after six years. The real difference between grownups and kids is that the grownups have had more practice at making it
look like they know what they’re doing, and growing up is mostly just a process of getting good at being clueless and getting your thing done anyway. (This is especially true of tenured white male professors.)

So what I have for you today is just a few odds and ends — insights and observations that’ve stuck with me as I made my way down the line. They’ve been useful to me. I hope at least some of ‘em will be useful to you too. Chuck’s top ten secrets to a long, happy, useful, productive, and meaningful life.

It’s what you’ve been getting from me all along, so here’s one last dose for the road.

Number Ten: Figure out what you like to do and then find someone who’ll pay you to do it. “But won’t it stop being fun if it’s just a job?” you ask. Well, sure, if it’s
just a job. Anything you do for a living can fossilize into mindless routine, if you let it. That’s one of the main reasons why people have hobbies, and why a lot of people seem more passionate about their pastimes than about their professions. It’s those “lives of quiet desperation” Thoreau was talking about. (5)

But if you start off with something you’re
already passionate about, and keep challenging yourself — every day — to stay passionate about it, you may be one of those lucky folk whose work gives them the same gratification most folks get only from a hobby. And then — then you’re getting paid to do your hobby. It doesn’t get any better. Look at me. I’m living proof, and if I can make it work, anyone can.

But don’t go where the
money is good; go where the work is good, where the good comes from the difference the work makes in your life and the lives of others. And keep your focus where it needs to be. Remember what I learned from my dad years ago: the fishing is always good, but only if you’re out there for the fishing. Sometimes the catching is good, sometimes it’s bad, and sometimes it’s really bad, so if catching is what you’re there for, you’re gonna be unhappy a lot of the time. But forget about the catching, and keep your focus on the fishing, and the fishing will always be good.

And pay attention to that “every day” thing too. That’s the thread that holds all these beads together. Every day.
You Have To Start Over Every Day. You only get to live one day at a time anyway. Live each one as if it’s the only one you’ve got — it is. That’s not hooey. Deal with it.

Today is not the first day of the rest of your life. It is your life. As a little known songwriter said once, back in the ‘70s, “the movin’ and the livin’ are the same.”(6) Today is all you’ve got, and you only get one chance at it.
Be Here Now, and make it as good as you can.


4. Douglas Adams,
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide, New York: Wings Books, 1996, 119-20.
5. Henry David Thoreau,
Walden, or Life in the Woods, New York: Signet, 1999,
6. Charles L. Yates,
The Movin’ and the Livin’, Golden Hollow Publishing, BMI, 1978.

Another pointless post, brought to you by Procrastination LLC

Some Mondays are worse than others.

This Monday, I decided to work from home. Even though I still haven't bought a new desk for myself, unpacked any desk necessities, or bought new ink for my printer. But, I wanted to work on my proposal and I actually work well from home. Plus, I rationalize that all the time I save on commuting is extra time to read blogs and make lunch.

So, I set up my computer on the dining room table and even found my printer. Then I headed to Target for ink. I thought to write down the kinds of ink that are compatible with my printer and went on my way. They had the right color ink, but not the black one. I asked the Target man for help and he said that this lower number would be fine. That it is still okay for my printer, just not high quality for photos and stuff. I bought both of them, along with a couple of other items I needed, and paid the requisite one hundred bucks.

Has anyone else ever noticed that no matter what you go to target for, you spend a hundred bucks? Toiletries? One hundred bucks. Household cleaners, socks, belated mothers day card? One hundred smakaroos. Printer cartridges, post-its, eyebrow clippers (don't ask), and ear buds? One hundred big ones. I am not quite sure how they do it, but it is impossible to leave without spending one hundred dollars (I couldn't think of another euphemism for dollars that time). If anyone gets their hands on how to make people fork over that kind of cash, let me know and we can go into business together.

Anyway, I got home and set up the printer and wouldn't you know it, the color cartridge works just fine, but not the black. The black of course is really all that I needed in the first place. So, I have now spent the last hour figuring out how to print out my proposal and the arsenal of comments and changes that my adviser gave me in color only. Totally annoying. And I know, I could have spent the last hour returning the cartridge to target and going to another home office store for the right one. But, what can I say? I'm stubborn like that. Maybe reading my proposal in blue will be fun!?! Was it any more fun to read this in blue?
Yah, I didn't think so either.

Please tell me you are sprouting! -or- Eggs 'n sprouts

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I never liked sprouts. Never. They were always so dry and flavorless. To be frank, I always thought they were one of those things that only people who eat for nourishment, not for enjoying the food itself. Because honestly, it tastes like cardboard. I kept trying them. Kept thinking that I must be missing something. I really wanted to like them.

But, those were the days of store bought sprouts. Then, one magical day Mamacita started to sprout. Let me clarify. She, herself did not begin to sprout. She, herself began to grow sprouts. Glad we cleared that up. Anyway, just when I thought I had lost all hope. Just when I was downright refusing to even try them, she made me some fried eggs 'n sprouts. Sounds weird and oh so simple. They just go together. Trust me.
Now, I myself am sprouting. And it tastes good. And it is fun. I mean, when else do you get the satisfaction of watching seeds turn into this in less than a week?:

Eggs 'n Sprouts
serves one

I go through phases. Sometimes I like just the whites, sometimes the whole eggs. The choice is yours. Also, I know that many chefs are probably going to turn their noses up when they see that I suggest using garlic powder here. Try it before you knock it.

1 Tbs butter
2 eggs

one handful sprouts such as clover or alfalfa

pinch of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan. Add the sprouts when the butter has melted and allow them to cook for a few minutes. Once they have begun to wilt a bit add in your eggs, whole or whites only or whatever floats your boat. Sprinkle the garlic powder, salt, and pepper over them and then continue to cook them how you normally cook your fried eggs.

Serve over toast for the maximum flavor party in your mouth.

In search of perfection -or- Asparagus and blue cheese soup with Parmesan crackers

Ahhh, the end of spring. The subtle change of Seattle temperatures, the fading of the rain, daffodils turn to tulips turn to lilies, and I eat massive amounts of rhubarb and asparagus before they disappear.

There are certain recipes for which I am always on the prowl. One of these is asparagus soup. It is one of my favorite vegetables. It always feels very elegant to me, not to mention that it tastes so darn good.

Last summer I had one of the best asparagus soups ever. I was in Hawaii with Mr. Man having an amazing time. Our last night on the island of Oahu we went to the Orchid Restaurant at the Halekulani Hotel which, coincidentally serves the best tropical drinks I have ever had (it probably doesn't hurt that the bar is on the beach with Diamond Head off in the distance with traditional hula dancers and musicians performing just a few feet in front of you...and my handsome Mr. Man contributed to the good time too).

The bar area is called House Without a Key. Don't you just love that name? Makes me want to sit back with a refreshing drink and daydream. Which is exactly what you do there.

Anyway, back to the soup.
At the Orchid that evening, we had an asparagus and blue cheese soup that was incredible. I have been dreaming of it ever since. The soup I made tonight, was pretty darn good. It is really close. I will keep trying, but in the mean time consider this to be my final draft.

Asparagus and Blue Cheese Soup with Parmesan Crackers
serves 4-6

This version involves making a roux which adds a deep flavor and thickens the soup. It may seem annoying to do, but I think it really adds another layer to the soup. Making a roux is one of those things that people are always a little afraid of, but really aren't all that difficult. It just involves a little patience and a watchful eye.

2 lbs. asparagus, hard ends snapped, the chop the top parts

1 C. onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
4 C. vegetable stock
4 tbs. butter
4 tbs. flour
2 C. milk
1 C. yogurt, plus extra for serving
2 tbs. lemon juice
1/4 lbs. good quality blue cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
one handful fresh herbs such as oregano, chives, or basil, coarsely chopped (optional)

1 C. shredded Parmesan for the crackers

Place the asparagus, onion, garlic and 2 cups of the stock in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat when the asparagus is still bright green, but a bit tender, about 3-5 minutes. Then puree it all in a blender or food processor until very smooth.

In another large saucepan heat the butter over low heat. Once it has completely melted add the flour one tablespoon at a time. Stir after each addition until it is completely mixed in. After you have added all the flour continue to stir and cook over a med-low heat until it becomes golden in color. Then add the remaining two cups of stock by slowly pouring it in while you stir constantly. Don't give up on the stirring! Otherwise your roux will become lumpy. Not a reason to throw the soup out, but not the reason you went through all the trouble to make this soup!

Once you have added all the stock pour the puree in and mix thoroughly. Then add the milk and stir again. Place the yogurt and lemon juice into a separate container and add some of the soup to it and mix that up too. This will prevent it from being lumpy. Once you have mixed it all up pour it back in the soup and, yup, you guessed it, mix it up again. Then add the blue cheese and continue to stir until it melts. While you do this go ahead and taste it and add whatever extra salt and pepper you think it needs.

Parmesan Crackers
Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Place small pinches of the Parmesan into the pan and cook them until they turn a golden brown all over. Allow them to cool on a paper towel while you cook the other batches.

Serve the soup with a dollop of yogurt, Parmesan cracker, and fresh herbs.

Fine lotions on sale at Rash

Have you ever heard of the Athlete's Foot store? It just dawned on me today how completely wrong that name is. It would be like naming a soap and lotion store "Rash."

I mean, who let that one slip by? Am I behind on the times? Have the rest of you already realized how ridiculous that name is for an athletic shoe store?

As fate would have it -or- Grilled tofu over Israeli couscous salad

My lovely friend Dinah went to Turkey last month with her Aunt and Grandmother for a three generation return to her grandmothers first home. Her pictures were incredible, the stories of the food left my mouth watering, and I was an all-around green ball of jealousy in the best way possible, of course. Luckily, Dinah brought me a small piece of Turkey, a spice from the famous Bazaar in Istanbul. It came in a vacuum sealed bag and was the color of bright maroon mixed with iron rust if that makes any sense at all (I guess my career naming paint colors won't be taking off very soon).

As fate would have it that spice has a small snippet in the issue of Saveur I just got in the mail. It is called aleppo pepper, and I have already fallen in love with it. All it took was throwing it in some oil and then sauteing it in some chard to win me over. I immediately began thinking of other ways to use it.
Saveur describes aleppo chiles, or Capsicum annuum for all you science nerds out there, as "russet-colored shards" that "convey hints of tobacco and a lemony piquancy." Is you mouth watering yet?

At the same time, I have been wanting to make an Israeli couscous salad. The catering company I work for serves it often. Sometimes, it is the only thing I can eat during those long shifts when we get a dinner break. But, I don't mind because it is damn good. People are always asking our chef for the recipe. He always laughs and says "There is no recipe!" And it's true. The salad he and our other wonderful chefs make is always different. There are a million recipes out there on the web for all seasons. Everyone has one. It is just one of those things that you can easily throw together with whatever ingredients you have laying around. I think it is high time I add another couscous salad to the mix. This one features a new product from Trader Joe's that I found recently, dried lychees, but you can substitute any dried fruit really. I imagine dried pineapple, apricot, prunes, and cranberries, to name a few, would be simply delicious.

Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Tofu

Serves 2-3

Israeli couscous can be a little bit on the spendy side. If you are trying to save money, or are having trouble finding it try making this with regular couscous or quinoa.

-For the salad-

1 1/2 c. Israeli couscous
2 1/4 c. water
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/3 c. roasted pistachios, chopped
1/3 c. dried lychees, chopped

2 Tbs. chopped, crystallized ginger or pickled ginger or 1 Tsp. dried, ground ginger
4 green, red or other spring onion, sliced

1 handful fresh mint, thickly sliced

1 Tbs magic Turkish spice (or crushed aleppo pepper)
salt, to taste

Place couscous and water in a pot over high heat with a lid. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until all the water has been absorbed. Once the couscous is cooked spread it out on a cookie sheet, mix it with the olive oil and allow it to cool.

Once it is cool mix in the rest of the ingredients.

-For the grilled tofu-

1 package extra-firm tofu, sliced in half inch thick pieces

~1/3 c. lemon juice
1 Tbs. crushed aleppo pepper

1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger thinly sliced
big pinch salt

pinch sugar

3 Tbs. canola or other oil that can withstand high heat

Place all ingredients, with the exception of the oil, in an airtight container and place in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour. You can do it the night before or the morning of the day you plan to make it, if you want to save some time.

Place a grilling pan over high heat on the stove and add the oil. Once the oil is hot place the tofu on the pan and pour the rest of the marinade over it. Grill on that side until the black marks from the grill form, about 5-8 minutes. Then turn over, the other side will take less time since most of the marinade will have cooked off by then, so check relatively frequently. Remove from the pan immediately once they have finished cooking on both sides.

Serve tofu over the salad immediately. This is, unfortunately, one of those recipes that does not keep quite as well as I would hope. Luckily, that gives you incentive to have seconds, or thirds.

Bittersweet (unfortunately, I am not talking about the food)

Well, I realized today that I am not much of a food blogger the way I wanted to be. Moving really sucks the cooking right out of me. And the heat. Between, not wanting to buy groceries that I will just have to move, packing up my cookbooks, and the Seattle heat preventing me from wanting to be in the kitchen at all I haven't been cooking much lately. However, the produce rolling in, my new subscriptions to food magazines, and my new found passion for writing are inspiring me. So, stay tuned fair readers. I vow some really awesome stuff coming your way. Or at least I will try.

I also realized that I have not yet written about moving although I seem to be mentioning it often here lately, mostly as an excuse. I have closed another chapter in my life. I have left the life of a young, single woman living with her friends in the city. Like most changes that are good for us, the right ones, the ones we need to make in order to move forward in life, it is bittersweet. It is another step towards becoming a grownup (even though I am 28, I still do not think of myself as an actual adult). I am excited for the new chapters ahead to be written with Mr. Man, but there will be a few things that I will miss.

I will miss Bethany and Dinah most of all. Luckily, these two women are still in Seattle. So, our friendship will change and grow at the same time. I just want them to know that life in Seattle would not have been the same without them. It has been a treat to come home to these ladies. To come home to laughter, commiserating about dietary and intestinal issues (you know you're comfortable with a friend when you can openly discuss intestinal indiscretions!), cooking for you, coming home to meals you prepared for me, knowing when I needed you to leave me alone, and knowing when I needed you to talk to me. Thanks.

I will miss my neighborhood. I will miss sitting next to my beautiful kitchen window looking out at the pea patch next door, the explosion of color in our yard every year, poking around the neighborhood to gain inspiration from my neighbors beautifully gardened yards, and trips to 7-11 for big gulps (although, I think my body would disagree on that one).
Most of all though...this one might be the hardest to admit...I will miss the days that I got to come home from a long day at school or work, too tired to cook, and stand in front of the refrigerator with a fork and eat random bites of fruits, vegetables, or all the leftovers from my extreme cooking events. And no one said a word. Not one. I think that eating like this for dinner or sitting down with a bag of chips and a beer or something similar is the bachelorette's version of the bachelor's eating out, empty fridge habits. I am sure that it is not healthy to eat like this so it's probably a good thing to give it up. But still, it is a bittersweet goodbye.

photos courtesy of Miss Bethany and Miss Dinah

Bits and pieces

Today, I am taking the lazy way out. Just some random thoughts for you.

I have a deep dark secret. There are some reality shows out there that are like crack to me. They are the ones that I hole up in my room to watch online.

Two of these shows have just started their new season.

One is Jon and Kate plus 8. I finally saw the season opener the other day. There has been much speculation to what Jon and Kate were trying to say during this episode. Let me break it down for you: Jon and Kate are getting a divorce. They didn't come right and and say it, but basically they sat the nation down and told us the way you would tell your children. Of course, when you are telling your children you would say all the things that Jon and Kate did for that hour, and then end it by saying "And so, Mommy and Daddy are getting a divorce." There now, you can all stop speculating!

Also, it makes me sick to hear the things that people are saying about Kate. It reinforces for me that a lot of women's lib is just lip. In other words we only pay lip service to women's liberation, but should a woman choose to work, to not step down from a job because her husband is threatened by it, to leave her family for a weekend or a 21 day book tour she is a monster, she deserves to be cheated on, or she is a control freak. Ugh. Last time I checked many actors, actresses, writers, world travelers, etc. left their family. No one seems to care about them. I am getting irate just writing this. And I am starting to not make sense I think. So rather than rant any more you should head over here to read what Lisa Daily wrote. Couldn't have said it better myself. Literally.


Another favorite is The Bachelor/
Bachelorette. With these addictions I never know which shows I should be most embarrassed about. This one is definitely a contender.

I have been watching the new season with Jillian, of course. Has anyone else noticed that whenever Juan comes on screen the music changes to something Latin? Does this strike you as something that not PC enough that ABC would avoid that? I mean, the guy came here when he was very young. He doesn't even have an accent! Just

Also, I don't understand why the guys hate him so much. I mean, maybe he really is a DB in real life, but the other men on the show seem to hate him for being "too feminine" or "breaking guy code." You know, stupid reasons. Juan is, as my friends and I used to say in college "He's not gay, he's just foreign!" Which, is to say that American men are their own breed in general where dancing, romance, and not getting plastered are things guys only do if they are gay. I know this is a huge generalization, but this show really gets me riled up (sarcasm)!


All of our kids, I mean vegetables and herbs, are looking great. I was worried about them the first couple of weeks, but in the last few days they have all started to show signs of being the happy children I hope to raise. Except our
brandywine tomato. It just looks a little worse everyday. Bah!


So, I guess this wasn't really a post with bits and pieces, really just a couple of rants about reality TV that I probably shouldn't watch and a
lamewad mini-post about the garden. Meh. What can I say? I have been sitting behind a dissecting scope all day and while I can't concentrate on actual important things while I sort invertebrates, I can marinate on my favorite reality shows.
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