Friday, September 29, 2006

For Wendy and Sannie: Julie's Mac n' Cheese

After "An Inconvenient Truth" and "Bush v. Bush", it's time to lighten up... although, regardless of either two, doesn't change the impending fact that I'm going to IRELAND!!! (= I'll sooo be using this one as my instant-pick-me-up until we're there, I swear!)

So, okay - like, months ago? Wendy (my honey-man's lovely former spouse) asked me for my mac n' cheese recipe (I didn't forget, Wendy!). "Sure! Absolutely! Will do!" -or something like that- was my reply, buhhht the hold off has been that I've never really had the recipe written-down and ready for sharing. So, maybe three weeks ago when I knew I'd have several eager mouths to feed, I was determined to make my mac n' cheese and take real measurements and write 'em all down and make my notes into a real recipe.

So, while I threw together this and that into my deep skillet pan, my honey-man volunteered to diligently write notes and track the various additions = and the final result: Julie's real Mac n' Cheese!

THE HISTORY OF JULIE'S MAC N' CHEESE: This Mac n' Cheese recipe of sorts is a long-time family-loved creation of my mum's - - Historically, a bit of this and some of that; all the ingredients merely added "to taste." I know there was at least one hand-written recipe card in existence at some point, but not only are its whereabouts unknown, I do remember that all it had been was just a listing of the ingredients involved, sans actual measurements.

Now that I've compiled and written down my version of the recipe, I realize it isn't exactly my mum's to a 'T'. But, I did have my mum's older sister, my aunt Radeane at hand to help me be sure that I have it right. So yeah, it's not exactly from my mum at the stovetop here, and
although it's been at least 20 years since I last had her Mac n' Cheese, I'm her daughter and that's gotta be good enough; MY POINT: I've got license to dictate here.

Anyhow, more Mac n' Cheese history: My mum's 2 sisters, including my Grams, have each developed their own renditions of my mum's Mac n' Cheese, each version tweeked a bit (or drastically) from one to the next. For example, my aunt Radeane sometimes adds some sun-dried tomatoes, and if not that, she always adds cayenne pepper! SIDENOTE: My aunt Radeane adds cayenne to EVERYTHING! Meanwhile, my mom's younger sister, my aunt Brenda, uses regular French's style mustard instead of Dijon. And my Grams? With her, there could be minced or white onions thrown in the mix. Either way, no matter who's making it, it'll get eaten -ALL OF IT- in no more than 2 days' time, IF it lasts beyond the 1st night. My mother''s family loves not only ALL THINGS DAIRY, especially cheese, but also Mac n' CHEESE! [SEMI-RELATED TANGENT: We all really love mustards and vinegars too - - Definite family fixations: dairy, mustards and vinegars. END OF TANGENT] And so, I present to you (drum roll please):

JULIE'S MAC N' CHEESE ~ Makes enough for a full 9" x 13" baking dish; Serves: #? - Honestly, it depends upon the appetites of those involved!

Ingredients (with real measurements!):
1 lb package of Large elbow marcaroni

5 Tbls - salted butter (once you get the hang of it, you can substitute w/ olive oil)
5 Tbls - flour
1 Tbls + 1 t. - lemon juice
1 Tbls + 1 t. - worchestershire sauce
1 Tbls + 1 t. - dijon mustard
3 cups of milk, either whole milk or 2% - - skim just doesn't cut it = it's like, why bother?

Seven quarter-inch thick slices cut from a 1-pound block of Tillamook's Sharp or Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese
~ Honestly, we don't ever shred cheese for the sauce = we only know how much cheese to use by 'slice' measurement. ~ For the final bake though, have some cheddar shreds and any mixed cheese shreds (e.g. romano or parmesan) as topping.

1-1/2 t. crushed or minced garlic
1/4 t. ground pepper - or to taste
You're welcome to salt-to-taste, but I don't bother

Optional additions include:
2-3 Tbls - chopped sun-dried tomatoes, the kind jarred in oil;
2 Tbls - dehydrated minced onion;
1 T - dehydrated chives;
1/4 c. - chopped onion;

Cooking directions:
The Pasta: Prepare your macaroni as instructed on the package, but do it in a larger-than-necessary pot which you can use later for sauce-into-pasta mixing efforts - - and don't let it get overcooked (also see "Note re: Pasta prep," further below).

The Cheese Sauce: Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet pan on low to med-low heat, melt 3 of your Tbls of butter and let it brown slightly, but DO NOT let it burn! Once browned, patiently add a couple Tbls of your flour in and quickly mix together using a rubber spatula, being sure to spread the mix across the skillet bottom to smooth out and minimize clumping. Add the remaining 2 Tbls of butter, patiently melting and mixing 'em in, and then gradually add in the remaining 2 Tbls of flour. Again, be sure to smooth out any clumps in the butter/flour mix, and do not let it get too hot or it will turn into a thick, n' pasty, inedible glue-like substance. If you need more time smoothing out flour clumps (it doesn't have to be perfect), either turn the heat back to low or take the skillet off the heat. To keep the butter/flour mix from getting pasty (if that's where you seem to be headed), add a bit more butter, but no more than a 1Tbls.

Note re: Pasta prep:
If the macaroni is ready before your cheese sauce, drain it and rinse it only a little bit with warm/hot water -not cold- and be sure to shake out the excess water. Then leave it in your sive, but covered with an upside-down bowl or plate. I like to time mine so the macaroni is ready when my cheese sauce is ready...

Back to the sauce: Switching to a wire whisk, gradually add 1 cup of the milk to the butter/flour mix, adding no more than 1/2 a cup of milk at any one time. Once mixed well, either maintaining low heat or returning the skillet to low on the stovetop, gradually add another 1/2 cup of milk, along with the lemon juice, worchestershire and mustard. Once that's all mixed/whisked together well, it's time to start adding the cheese.

Cut or break up two of your 1/4" thick slices of cheese into thin strip-like chucks and add them to the skillet, stirring still with the whisk, gently scraping the bottom of your skillet. You may increase the heat to med-low, if you're not there already, or try just shy of 'medium' heat on your stovetop dial, but BE CAREFUL not to let the mix start bubbling.
If it begins to bubble at all, turn the heat down and stir madly! and remove it from the heat if you have to! It will turn into a rubbery mess if it gets too hot!

Once the first addition of cheese is almost melted entirely, still gently whisking and scraping the skillet bottom, add a couple more of the 1/4" thick cheese slices, broken or sliced into smaller pieces, along with another 1/2 cup of the milk. And repeat for the 3rd addition of cheese. Then add the last cheese slice along with the garlic and pepper. Once the last of the cheese is all melted and all the milk's been mixed in,
remove from heat and put aside and set your oven to 375 degrees. At this point, if timed right, your marcaroni should be done, ready and waiting to be drained.

Bakin' the dish: Transfer your cooked marcaroni pasta back to its boiling pot and pour the cheese sauce all over it. Mix it well, but gently... The goal is to get the sauce into the pasta tubes without mashing up the pasta. Then transfer to a 9" x 13" baking dish
(I use a glass one, but I guess any kind would do?), and spread it out evenly without packing it down. THEN go ahead and shred some cheddar and/or hard cheeses on the top - - I use both. Only bake it in the oven long enough for the cheese shreds to melt, and then remove it from the oven and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving. And then?

Enjoy ~ I always do!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

It's both Funny AND Absolutely Terrifying - what do you think?

(or 'What a Schmuck!')

A New Personal Rule of Conduct - #1

I will not throw away anything with water content in my office trash, not ever again.

UPDATE; An explanation for Kati: I had had a forgotten conglomeration of various very moist food items I'd thrown away in my office trash can... When I removed the trash liner from the trash can, I set it on my lap (why? WHY, oh why?) to tie the liner bag shut before setting it out in the hallway [SIDE NOTE: My office is not keyed on the master key, so custodians can't collect my trash unless I set it outside my door before leaving work.]... Anyhow, so I set the damn thing on my lap (WHAT AN IDIOT!) and the liner leaked very wet and very stinky trashy-food-juices (EWWW!) alllllll over me; yup, nasty trash juices soaked right through my pants, etc. Indeed, the worst thing I could do: place a trash bag of any kind on my lap (why? WHY!?! wwwwhyy?).

Although the floor would have been a much better choice on which to set the trash liner, either way would have resulted in a wet, sticky, oh-so-freakin'-smelly mess.

It took me days to recover from the incident.

ANOTHER NOTE: An earlier post, "Lesson Learned" has been updated... it's now "A New Personal Rule of Conduct - #2"

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I'm not sure yet, but I think I finally figured out how to embed a YouTube vlog into a blogger post... Here's one that I so wish were as popular as the Ok Go videos... I can't believe 'the U.S. masses' can't care about this more... and as for our government's role in all this,
I am scared.

Monday, September 25, 2006

"More Guiness, Please!" or "How does one say 'Killarney'?"

Last Saturday, we were all at a local Burbank fundraiser; one in the audience (that's me), 2 in the sound booth (my honey-man and the angel boy-O), plus 2 performing on stage (Wendy and her dear beau) to the benefit of all those in attendance that night... And it was a fully packed house!

APPLY IRISH ACCENT TO THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH: There was gut wrenchin' poetry to be heard n' felt, rousin' live music, absolutely gargeous voices; basically, a lot o' song n' dance, loads of emotion, and a lot o' clapping n' foot stomping. And of course, loads of beers and wine, soda breads, cheeses, fruit and oatmeal cookies galores, plus a lovely beer wench n' dirty limricks - oh my! - It was a wonderful, wonderful evening of splendid talents, heartfelt sharing and Irish honors. I loved it!

And beyond the admission price to garner additional funds for the fundraising effort, there was a raffle which offered a broad range of unique and novel prizes to be won. What? - "unique and novel" sounds kinda redundant to you? Well, how else does one describe such prizes as these, ranging from 4 1-hr workout training sessions with a personal trainer, to an hour of live harp at the event/location of one's choice? huh? Anyhow, lots of cool prizes were available for the winning and many raffle tickets were sold. I had planned to buy 2 raffle tickets - that'd be enough you'd think. Instead, I decided to buy five.

The grand prize was called as last of the raffle items - - the ticket number pulled just before the final call for the 2nd to last prize had accidentally been returned to the ticket 'pitcher', pulled for a 2nd time... WHOOPS! A bit anti-climatic, but so, a 2nd ticket had to be drawn for the final grand prize winner...

So yeah, I'd bought 5 tickets, right? Numbers 695049 thru 695053 - - (you should so know where this is going by now)...

"... number 52..."

And in my head, a split-second thought process: "Number 52? Wait, Number 52?!? NUMBER FIFTY-TWO!!!" - followed by very loud screaming... I'm tellin' ya, I screamed like an absolute ninny - and screamed some more.

After the performance portion of the event was over, the rest of the evening, people I didn't know would offer hearty words of congratulations, and to also often approach me saying something along the lines of "Oh, you're the one who're the screamer." [SEMI-RELATED TANGENT: In my winning/screaming moment, I actually had someone turn around in their seat to tell me in this loud and annoying, most goofball condescending tone -to be sure I knew, which I already did- that my grand prize didn't include airfare - ?!? - So what the hell is your point, you rain-on-my-parade total goomba!?! It's still a prize worth $1,600 that I wouldn't have otherwise, and certainly, we can manage the airfare to get us there. END OF TANGENT]

So yeah, what did I win? Ohh, well, just two "Taste of Ireland" tour tickets for a 6-day paid trip in Ireland? Yeah, that's all... Can you yell, "Whoa Maggie Maloy"?

We didn't get home from the fundraiser until after midnight, but we still managed to investigate Dublin airfares online before hitting the sack - - hee hee. Since that winning moment, in the sound booth, in the car, in the kitchen, about to go to sleep, waking up, standing over the bathroom sink, sitting on the couch, unlocking the front door; at any moment, either my honey-man or I will turn to the other and say with a spur-of-the-moment questioning voice, "Hey, you want to go to Ireland?"

Thursday, September 21, 2006

At 8pm, the Top 5 Most Requested Songs of Today

So earlier tonight, around 7:50-ish, I was on my way to the grocery store to buy some missing essential oatmeal cookie ingredients (like, say oatmeal!?!). I was listening to radio station 94.1 FM, and they announced that it was the last chance to call in one's favorite request before today's Top 5 most requested songs would be played in five minutes, starting at 8pm.

NOTE: I haven't called a radio station to request a song since I was 21 - ? - It's been at least a decade.

Next thing I knew, I whipped out my cell phone, dialing the request line as the DJ listed off the phone number... Ring, ring, ring, ring... and they answer:

"Hello, 94.1 FM..."

"Hi, I'd like to request Ok Go's "Here it Goes Again, please!"

"Ohhkaay. Will do, sweetheart. Thanks for calling 94.1..."

And I hung up, giddy like a school girl... And then I managed to make it out of the grocery store in time to hear the end of song #3 of the Top 5... and I drove home listening to song #2 and sat in the driveway as it ended, waiting to hear song #1...

"And today's most requested song, 'Here it Goes Again,' by Ok Go!"

Very Nyce.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I'm in Love with Ok Go

Thanks to Dooce, I discovered what is now my new found source of toe-tapping, head bobbing, instant laughter.

Ok Go (also here with loaded music play)

I love them. I wish them oodles of mind boggling (yet healthy, if that's possible) success! They're great! Great fun. I haven't yet figured out how to post Ok Go's vlogs (oh yes I have, now! ~ as you can see below my original links), but here's a couple links, if you haven't already heard about Ok Go:

Their 1st video, for which now exists a gazillion published video parodies:

And Ok Go's most fab follow-up video, which I think I've now watched at least a dozen times:

Friday, September 15, 2006

You're On Notice!

Found this, thanks to Erin!
~ Go here to make your own, like I did ~

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bernina Bliss

Last Saturday, I was finally able to attend my Bernina Basics Orientation class in Pasadena, where my honey-man had bought my lovely Bernina sewing 'computer' - - they don't call it a "sewing machine," but a "sewing computer" - ha! Yeah, I've had my new Bernina since my MPA graduation in May (!?!?), BUT the thing was just far too intimidating to try out on my own - - I'm not kidding. Not only did I not have the time to sit down and devote the hours needed to make sure I could operate it properly, I was simply afraid I'd break it or mess it up with all those buttons and settings.

The Bernina dealer didn't offer a weekend orientation class until last weekend = yes, not one weekend course until September!?! All of the previously scheduled orientation classes were for weekdays from 10am until 4pm... for people who don't work during the weekdays, obviously.

So anyhow, I registered for the very 1st weekend class offered and it didn't happen until last weekend, but it did finally happen AND it happened on my mother's birthday - - quite appropos and more than I'd thought it would, it made for a very emotional day.

To give the short of it (too late), my machine is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and all throughout the training, I was oohhing and ahhing, wowing and 'holy cow'-ing, in a constant state of awe, swearing under my breath and tearing up about every 5 minutes. I was a happy girl, a very happy girl.

Thank you, my sweet honey-man ~ what a show of support for my personal interests!

P.S. - It was a darn good thing I'd waited to try out my machine like I had! One very capable woman who was also in my training class showed up with one thing she'd broken and another thing she'd damaged in her efforts to try learning the machine on her own!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mine are All ObSOLete or Already Taken!

Top 100 Baby Names for Girls in United States (2004) ~ Info. from Social Security Administration ~ Note: +X indicates the name has become more popular since the previous year by X positions, while -X indicates the name has become less popular since the previous year by X positions, and ++ indicates the name has become more popular and was not listed in the previous year's records.

1. Emily
2. Emma
3. Madison
4. Olivia +1
5. Hannah -1
6. Abigail
7. Isabella +4
8. Ashley
9. Samantha +1
10. Elizabeth -1
11. Alexis -4
12. Sarah
13. Grace
14. Alyssa
15. Sophia +5
16. Lauren -1
17. Brianna
18. Kayla -2
19. Natalie +4
20. Anna +1
21. Jessica -3
22. Taylor -3
23. Chloe +1
24. Hailey +2
25. Ava +16
26. Jasmine +1
27. Sydney -2
28. Victoria -6
29. Ella +15
30. Mia +5
31. Morgan -2
32. Julia +1
33. Kaitlyn -1
34. Rachel -6
35. Katherine +1
36. Megan -6
37. Alexandra +1
38. Jennifer -7
39. Destiny -2
40. Allison +5
41. Savannah +1
42. Haley -8
43. Mackenzie +3
44. Brooke -1
45. Maria -5
46. Nicole -7
47. Makayla +4
48. Trinity +9
49. Kylie +1
50. Kaylee +4
50. Paige -3
52. Lily +17
53. Faith -1
54. Zoe +4
55. Stephanie -7
56. Jenna -1
57. Andrea -1
58. Riley +14
59. Katelyn
60. Angelina +11
61. Kimberly +2
62. Madeline -2
63. Mary -2
64. Leah +19
65. Lillian +12
66. Michelle -4
67. Amanda -14
68. Sara -3
69. Sofia +24
70. Jordan -21
71. Alexa -5
72. Rebecca -8
73. Gabrielle -5
74. Caroline -7
75. Vanessa -5
76. Gabriella -1
77. Avery +13
78. Marissa +20
79. Ariana
80. Audrey -2
81. Jada -1
82. Autumn -6
83. Evelyn +6
84. Jocelyn +4
85. Maya
86. Arianna
87. Isabel -5
88. Amber -14
89. Melanie +5
90. Diana +18
91. Danielle -7
92. Sierra -19
93. Leslie -1
94. Aaliyah -3
95. Erin -14
96. Amelia +17
97. Molly +5
98. Claire -3
99. Bailey
100. Melissa -3

So, why share this list here? What else does this list of 100 baby girl names further indicate, beyond name rank? (NO, I'm NOT pregnant - but my cousin Shanna is! WOO-HOO!!!) Ummm, ah... don't know? It indicates that I'm totally screwed, when it comes to potential baby daughter names!?! My all time Top 5 favorite baby girl names are all located within at least the Top 20 shown here, with my 2 very favorites listed in the very top 5 most popular baby girl names!?! akkk!

I have been loving these names since I first began playing with dolls. My most favorite one happens to be #2 - - how much does that suck? I will not give any child of mine a name that's within the top 50... that leaves me only 4 names leftover, which really leaves me none... #69 and #84 won't work at all with my name as the middle name, unless you're fine with the first name and middle name rhyming with one another... Neither #80 or #96 will work as each begin with an 'A,' unless you're fine with first name and middle name alliteration... Yeah, I'm not too keen on the whole rhyming of the first and middle names thing, nor am I game for some given name alliteration. Sure, I could use something else for the middle name, but being one the of the first grand-daughters to be called by my middle name, also nicknamed 'Angie' after my great-great grandma Angie, I gotta carry on the tradition; if I have a daughter, she'll be an Angeline = the 8th generation of Angeline's in my father's mother's family.

Maybe it won't be an issue at all - we'll end up with boys, and I'll have to pass down my sterling spoons to a cousin (middle name Angeline), who has a girl... Why am I thinking about any of this at all right now? (NO! I'm not pregnant, Poppy!) Ya think I've got babies on the brain? (someone puhleeze help me!) I'm surrounded by expectant women! and friends who have babies!!!

oh, wait - Do you hear that? You hear that sound? - - - it's my ovaries, screaming!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Why I Wuv my Wing

So, ya'll know that I'm all fiance'd n' all now (imagine a sappy sing-song voice) ~ and my Vegas friends had a bridal shower for me in July already, even though we have zero dates of any kind in mind as to when there will be a wedding -not even a timeframe in mind- which is juhhst fine with me, but not my Grandma Rae = you're just going to have to wait, Grams! [NOTE: WE STILL RESERVE THE RIGHT TO ELOPE!]. [And a SEMI-RELATED TANGENT: Speaking of future wedding dates, MUCHOS CONGRATULATIONS TO WENDY AND HER LOVIN' BEAU and their wedding plans! WOO-HOO! END OF TANGENT.]

The most frequently asked question I get since our engagement (other than When will you be leaving Vegas? or So, have you found a job in L.A. yet?) is When's the wedding? But the 2nd most frequently asked question (again, excluding When will you be leaving Vegas? and the found a job or no job) has been somewhat of a surprise, but not really... I had been expecting it some... how much though, I had no idea how much...

"Why not a big fat sparkly diamond? Why sapphire?"

Well, as I had mentioned before, I'd told my honey-man that if he bought me a diamond, I'd kill him - - and I didn't have to explain - he knew what I meant and exactly why I would not accept a diamond.

So - why no diamonds? Well, lemme' tell ya ~ And this is all a very serious issue and a very personal decision for me, but before I continue, let me also make it clear that I hold no harsh judgements against anyone who doesn't share my opinion, as most others are entirely uninformed, at no fault of their own...

But first of all [I've been noticing I sure say that a lot...], let me say this: An engagement ring, with or without a wedding ring or wedding band to follow (one ring or two -whatever), is given as a symbol of love and commitment. That's all it is - IT IS JUST A SYMBOL and it's an absolutely meaningless one without the active application of true honor and respect for the committment and love that it's meant to represent. [TANGENT: Before I get too serious, a wedding ring does have one other helpful purpose = to help singles determine who he/she can or shouldn't go after... When I was at BYU, anytime I ever spied a cute guy in sight, I quickly learned by 2 weeks into my 1st semester there, that a quick first glance must first zero in on the ring finger of the left hand; this practice became a strict prerequisite before looking any further, before performing a full "check him out" scan, as there were way, way too many campus-cutie-co-eds already married at that damn school. END OF TANGENT.]

As I was sayin' - - The ring is given as a symbol and then, after the wedding, it's worn to remind a couple of the love and committment they share for one another. It's a powerful symbol, but a symbol only - What is much, much more meaningful, and should be much more important, is the efforts of an ongoing mutual committment. No ring can guarantee that, nor can any ring fulfill a promise for you or your man, that the two of you will always love and cherish one another.

I mention the whole 'ring as a symbol' thing only to point out the fact that although a ring may cost in the upwards of $50,000 or more, sometimes purchased at high costs to prove/further 'symbolize' one's love and strength of committment (or just because you just so happened to want that ring that just so happened to cost so much); however, $500 bucks, $1,300 or $4,000 = any price paid is no reflection of future outcomes; a ring is meaningless without honest intent to honor what it's meant to symbolize. That being said (again)...

You may or may not know this, but the diamond industry is an absolutely HORRIFIC enterprise. Yeah, that generally sums it up, but I can't leave it at that. No really, it's a disgusting industry, and I'm so NOT kidding, nor am I exaggerating - not one itty bitty bit. It's deplorable, what all happens to control the demand and pricing for diamonds and gemstones. Yes, it's not just diamonds... Most gemstone industries including those of the "non-conflict" and/or the "non-cartel" variety (except those of the synthetic variety) are not entirely devoid of unbecoming business practices...

Some basic albeit important info: The problem is the industry goes far, far beyond merely 'unbecoming.' Most diamond mines are located in Africa, India and Brazil, and they're owned and managed by either rich, foreign conglomerates or rich, foreign corporate executives and gobs of middle men, whose primary interests are making gross sums money, who (if any at all) maybe visit an actual diamond mine but once every 3 years or less... The majority of these mines are often entirely 'staffed' by children (under 18 yrs of age) and the workers are so GROSSLY underpaid (if paid at all) for a commodity so highly overvalued throughout the rest of the industrialized world. And what makes it all so horrific is not simply a matter of overpricing and managing society's perceived diamond values... many diamond miners lose not only the $$$ value of their hard work, but their limbs and some lose their lives for diamonds.

There are entire book length examinations written about this stuff - no joke. For now, try this on: And if you don't believe me, for drier, more detailed exposure to the issue, plus some additional history, try this link:

And something of further note: This whole thing is serious enough that DeBeers executives - you know, the "diamonds are forever" people? They can't even step foot in the United States; that's how serious this is. TRANSLATION (in case you missed that last part): DeBeers execs are not even welcome here, yet we'll sell their diamonds in our jewelry stores, all across America, home of the free. *UPDATE* I've been told DeBeers settled the whole anti-trust thing with the U.S., but as written in my comments - - "they still are, however, blood sucking worms."

And here's another good synopsis re: the diamond industry... Although often known for offering up some truly 'rotten' stuff (so not a favorite website of mine),, who has a general penchant for exposing nasty truth, published the following take:

The term "Blood Diamonds" is a politically-charged tool meant to cause revulsion and thoughtfulness in anyone who happens to own them. This would be a tactic similar to calling Fur Coats "Slaughter Jackets". However, the term sounds really cool so let's go with it.

Diamonds are very valuable. Artificially so, as anyone who has studied the history of the DeBeers company can tell you, but still incredibly valuable. If you have them, you can make a lot of money selling them, and that's money that can go to plenty of good uses, like luxury homes, kick-ass meals by the finest chefs, and paying for your army to recklessly slaughter thousands of your people.

It's the last use that's a bit of a sticky wicket, as you might imagine. And in countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, where fighting is basically all they do and they've gotten really good at it to the detriment of stability, peace and good will, the ability to bring in money from any source (since their economies are a shambles) is seized upon at any cost. And so there you have it; armies forcing people at below slave wages to extract diamonds from the earth, and these diamonds then being sold through a bunch of different shady middlemen to end up on Madame Gordogato's beautiful bracelet. Like pretty much everything else that depends on some pain down the line (like, say, Chicken Nuggets or Petroleum), the end customer is unaware what happened three months and five countries ago.

Obviously, it is in the best interest of DeBeers and other diamond merchants to keep this unpleasant aspect of things away from the dinner table, and so begins an endless soap opera of accusations, defenses, stonewalling, exposes and all the other fun that happens in a situation like this. Meanwhile, those diamonds are getting sold, people are getting fucked over, and people continue to think putting a nice big rock on a ring means you'll love them forever.

Recently, groups that suck at marketing changed the term to "Conflict Diamonds", which is probably more accurate but about a fifth as evocative. Some people don't know to leave well enough alone.

With so many things wrong in the world, more than we ever realize, making a decision regarding this matter can be simple: Either support the diamond industry or don't...

p.s. I removed an earlier ending statement after a dear friend advised me to do so, as it reeked of judgemental overtones.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

#29: "Muskrat Love"

I found something that I must share! Earlier today, I was trying to unhook for a moment (via blogging and the internet - - NOTE TO SELF: A break from work should, at best, involve LEAVING WORK!), so I decided to check out AOL Music's latest streaming music compilations and their "Top 11 Videoes" for some new tunage to listen to while working. Instead, I discovered a most amusing list: "The 111 Wussiest Songs of All Time"

And soooo, it's official: I'm a big fat wuss (not that we didn't already know this, but there's now even more proof to attest to my sappiness)! The very fact that, ooohh, I've happily and repeatedly listened to at least a couple dozen or more songs from the 111 listed most wussiest songs in just the last week? In fact, just this last Saturday, after playing in Santa Monica at the beach, I'd deliberately chosen America's Greatest Hits album for our drive home. And further, on that drive home from the beach, for my honey-man and the angel boy-O, I sang -word for word- #29 from AOL's 111 most wussinest songs list...

It's a fun list to check out though! The published Editor's note alone, as follows, is amusing enough, I think:

"Editor's Note: This list was compiled by real-live wusses (and some who have actually dated wusses) from Los Angeles (Bread country) to Dublin (land of Gilbert O'Sullivan). Our panel of wussperts limited the selections to songs from -- and relevant to -- the rock 'n' roll era: no '40s crooners, no show tunes, no Anne Murray. When compiling, we picked one selection to represent each artist: If you want 15 Barry Manilow numbers, please buy his greatest hits. Most importantly, the songs were selected for their inherent wussness, regardless of quality. Some are loathed, some are cherished (doh, we forgot 'Cherish'!) . . . all are wussy."

What's a "Stylus"? Do I want one?

*sigh* I'm doing another thing that I've said I'd never ever do (No, this post is not about my moving to L.A.)... I've decided that it's time to shop for a PDA - -

Here's how this decision was triggered: My 24 yr. old sister, who now lives in Vegas, met me at my office last Thursday before we were to leave for dinner together. For about 5-7 minutes, she patiently sat and/or stood to the side in my office, waiting for me to get ready (or rather, witnessing my pained efforts to get my act together) so we could leave. After locking my office, we walked down the hall together as I muttered a couple mental notes to myself. [BACKGROUND INFO: My sister and I, we don't really know each other that well, having only lived together in my parents' home for 5 years, but now that she's in Vegas, we're spending more time together than ever before (and sans parents), and subsequently, we're learning more about each other than we ever could before... The point is this: She's seen more of me in my own element in the last few weeks, than she has in the entire last decade.] And so, as I was saying, we went down the hall, me muttering as we went, and before hitting the stairwell, my sister told me that she's beginning to think I'm schizophrenic... This is not good.

And so, the very next day, sitting at my assistant's computer to quickly do something, I glanced over to where her PDA sat in its cradle, dutifully flashing daily reminders like a scrolling marquee, and I had a thought... I need help.

I've got to admit (sadly) that it's never been uncommon for me to often speak my inner thoughts aloud, most of which are typically fractured, and more often than not, entirely unrelated to the events at hand and/or entirely nonsensical in nature. And there are times when I must ask friends, "Did I just say 'blah blah blah' aloud or not?" But now? I just can't keep track of it all anymore. What I have to say/share, coupled with my To-Do lists? I'm goin' nuts!

I've got a to-do list for work...
And a list for things to be done that would make life much easier for my replacement at work, for when the time finally comes that I'll need to be replaced at work because I found a new job in L.A...
And of course, I've got a L.A. job search to-do list, including a research list, a follow-up list and a call back list...
I've also got a "When I'm in L.A." things to-do list for when I'm staying in L.A. for a weekend...
and I've got a "When I see my Honey-man" to-do list...
And there's a couple lists for my own personal non-work-related, totally non-job search related stuff...

Keep in mind that with each of these lists, more often than not, I no longer have any idea as to where to find any of my things that could otherwise help me get all this stuff on my lists done... Imagine going through this thought process: "Is 'IT' in storage? Has 'IT' been crammed into the bedroom I'm sleeping in? Is 'IT' in L.A.? Do I still have 'IT' at all?"

Oh, and another thing: I used to behave like a living, breathing birthday calendar, and hardly ever, could I forget a birthday, even if I tried... I've missed about 6 in the last month alone...

So yeah, since my sister's lastest reveal, as to what she thinks about me, I've been thinking it might be helpful if I had my very own scrolling marquee, even if the thought of using a stylus 'pen' seems ridiculous AND daunting... For the next week, I'll be researching PDAs before I make a purchase. Wish me luck, as I reluctantly enter the world of PDA use.