- This morning Krinn convinced me not to write a mail client with the most effective threat I have ever had made to me. (Recently our office mail server upgraded, and while in theory getting new webmail and access to Apple Mail and Outlook 2012 should make things better, each of those three clients has some critical flaw I can't chase down that makes me have to run a minimum of two of them at all times. I now understand why people write mail clients.) She said: "If you try to write a mail client, all of your Shaymins will stop smiling." I think I actually gasped. The image is SO SAD. Good work, Krinn. <3
- I dreamt last night about being part of a band that did abstract process-as-performance shows where we dragged beanbag chairs on stage and had shitty rehearsals at various venues. It was awesome. I think the other members of the band were punk kids from our Pokemon league and from Albuquerque's. If no one has done this schtick yet, someone should. *finger on nose*
- rushthatspeaks 's blog (and in particular this book review) got me thinking about generation ships --- which, if I understand correctly, are giant spaeships meant to serve as a habitat for many generations of human as they go off to colonize some new planet. I mean, I have never actually read a book or really consumed any media that used generation ships, because I'm a very sporadic consumer of science fiction, but the idea in and of itself makes sense and has some plausibility benefits over AND THEN THEY WOKE UP FROM CRYOSTASIS ON "EARTH, BUT WITH CAT PEOPLE" or what have you. What it did get me thinking about was Lyotard's essay "Can Thought Go On Without A Body?," which I am pretty sure is in The Inhuman. He talks about the difficulty of producing machines capable of thought, with the idea of sending them outside of the sphere of influence of the sun so that thought will persist after the sun explodes/implodes/whatever. The reason he thinks it wouldn't work is that machines don't have gender --- that is, some difference between some fo them that has an almost religious inscrutability and implies the imbrication of the other with the self. Or something, I'm butchering his argument. The point is, if I take that argument at face value, I actually think generation ships could be the cure for gender, if that inscrutable difference as expressed in the people on the generation ship was the difference between the people who did and didn't stay on Earth. Maybe? I dunno. Been chewing on it, figured I'd share. (Also: Does gender need a cure? "Curing gender" is not unproblematic, but boy are there some interesting thought experiments and maybe stories in here. Haha. "Boy." GENDER WHY)
- It turns out I can make fairly spicy lentil curry by just milling good black pepper into it until my arms are tired and then asking someone else to do the same. :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D I have been trying and failing to make reasonable curry since losing nightshades from my diet, and apparently the trick was to start from an Ethiopian recipe and modify, rather than starting from an Indian one? Once I've got it at "I know what I'm doing" I will post a recipe or something.
- I hate to do anything that even comes off as complaining about weather when I know a number of my friends are still stuck under snowdrifts, but on Sunday Rik and I walked for five miles or so and it was cold enough with the wind that my legs were covered in hives. Stupid cold allergy, and arguably, stupid me for walking five miles in shorts in February. It seems mostly better although my calves are still itchy as all get out, and while this is mostly not a huge deal I scratch in my sleep. :( I think as fashion disastery as this is, the best solution I have without spending money might be shorts, leg warmers, and sandals. ... ... ... how does one go about selecting good hiking pants? I don't know how to garment.
- There's still a long-form life update email... coming... soon... ish? Hope y'all are doing well!
Okay so this recipe is based on the Seitan O' Greatness recipe and various versions that flew around the vegan internet in the mid to late oughts. If you can eat nightshades you might even prefer one of those --- they use chili powder and tomato paste and the consistency is a little different, and they work quite well. However, I can't eat those things, so this recipe doesn't include them. Also, while you probably already know this, be warned: While this can be tweaked to fit most sets of allergies or dietary restrictions, the main ingredient is gluten. If you can't eat gluten, DON'T EAT THIS. If you are a little gluten-sensitive but you can manage soy sauce on things just fine or whatever, DON'T EAT THIS. It is basically pure gluten. Uh, sorry. :)
( recipe and images under the cut )
FRIED RICE, YO.
(warning: I don't measure ingredients. If that bothers you, you may want different recipes from mine. Sorry! I'm compulsive about a lot of things, and weirdly one of them is not measuring ingredients, rather than getting precise quantities.)
Rice: I usually use jasmine rice because that's what I get 25lb bags of. It's best to have day-old rice --- I make fried rice when I've had leftover rice in the rice cooker for a day or two, but if you don't have a Neuro Fuzzy
- a splash of lime juice (lemon also works)
- a larger splash of rice wine vinegar
- some soy sauce
- one or two diced cloves of garlic
- some grated or diced ginger (powder works in a pinch but isn't as good)
- maybe a spoonful of sugar --- this is important, it helps things caramelize
- something to thicken it a bit: Bea uses store-bought "stir fry sauce;" this worked really well. Unfortunately, her random store stir fry sauce was safe for me to eat, but the ones near me aren't. I've tried corn starch, peanut butter, and nothing, and my favorite was honestly nothing, although the peanut butter seemed like it would be really cool if I had a slightly different flavor mixture, so I may try it again. I kind of want to try tahini, too.
So for me, the base of basically any food made in a skillet is going to be some combination of garlic, scallions, and onion in oil. I usually throw in spices (here: a touch of cinnamon and cumin), and the type of oil you use really does matter. Interestingly, and I picked this up from Bea, for fried rice I've been using a mixture of sesame oil and olive oil. I'm not sure why, but it works.
Once the garlic is starting to brown, I throw in other things that want to cook for a whilish. This most recent batch was seitan  and a chopped-up carrot; Trader Joe's has this great broccoli/carrot slaw that is cheap and convenient, or you can just use fresh broccoli, or really most vegetables work. I've also used tofu and tempeh for protein sources and those are tasty too; soft tofu is actually really nice if you miss the texture of egg in fried rice from before you were vegan even though you mostly didn't like egg and it kind of made you sick. Hypothetically. ANYWAY. You put stuff in like you are making a stirfry and, uh, I think sautee is the technical term.
Then, once it's mostly but not entirely done, you take it all out, re-oil the skillet, and throw in the rice. Stir it around in the oil and cook it for a minute, and then if there are precooked things you want to add, toss them in for a minute or two --- I put in natto  or frozen peas here. Then you add in the sauce and the other stuff! Here's the part I have trouble with: Don't stir it for a few minutes. You have to let it caramelize and crisp up a bit on the bottom. I have so much trouble with stirring it too much, because it's sizzling and that means I should stir it! But no! It means you should let it go. Go clean some dishes. Realphabetize the spice rack because your housemates screwed up cinnamon and coriander. Go look at the internet even (but set a timer for three minutes so you don't get wrapped up in an argument about Deleuze and forget you are cooking). And then, once you stir, let it sit again. For another two or three minutes. And then one more time.
Then eat it! Because oh man it's really tasty.
 For seitan I use a modified nightshade-free version of the Seitan O'Greatness recipe. You probably just want to google "seitan o'greatness" and use one of those, because I think it's better with nightshades, but one of these days I will post a Rachel-safe seitan recipe for folks who care.
 I LOVE NATTO. I am not sure whether it is a vegan dietary deficiency thing --- I've read conflicting things about that --- or if I just love natto. But man. Natto. Sometimes I feel sort of weirdly body awful, and then I eat natto, and then I feel better. I dunno if it's psychosomatic, but I totally recommend it if you have similar issues ever. Also Selene (one of my cats) likes it. So it must be good!
- While the last week of work was grueling and I am glad that I have a long weekend after it, spending a few days in the office with my coworkers actually made me feel really enthusiastic about my job. It's sufficiently positive that I am surprised about it --- I mean, I like my job or I wouldn't try to do it while also doing graduate school, but some of that is obviously about the money, maintaining a standard of living, being able to visit partners and friends and family, &c. Maybe less of it was about the money than I thought --- I'm really psyched for the next few months of work I have to do and think I can make a difference in my company's workflow and ultimately in the quality of its product and service offerings. Whoah. Is this what it feels like to sell out? It feels kinda nice.
- At the same time I have also been doing some academic reading! Not as much as I should be, perhaps, but the last couple of days I have been working through Zoontologies, a collection of animal studies essays edited by Cary Wolfe. For the most part I really like what I've read, but one of the essays made me somewhat uncomfortable. Paul Patton's "Language, Power, and the Training of Horses" attempts to unravel the ethical and power dynamics of training horses for dressage, raising interesting questions about what constitutes non-violence and whether it's possible to have a non-violent relationship between the parts of the dressage assemblage. Uncomfortably, while I read him as saying "Yes, this is possible" when he says that "we do well to attend to the requirements of the hierarchical and communicative relations in which we live, and … certain kinds of emphasis on equality in all contexts are not only misleading but dangerous," (96-7) the essay has ultimately made me less convinced rather than more than dressage can be engaged in ethically. (That said, that quote is really thought-provoking in other directions...) I'm not about to start crusading against dressage, as even if I did know enough dressage to talk about it seriously there are other things that I think deserve my attention more . But I'm not sure the takeaway I got from the article was what I was supposed to get, and I am not sure what to make of that either. Something to chew on. Anyone else read this and have thoughts?
- I'm currently in a suburb of Atlanta visiting bossgoji and it is pretty awesome! I had never had grilled scallions before, but they are pretty excellent! Also the trees here are subtly different in a way that's a teensy bit uncanny valley, but otherwise Indiana has prepared me decently well for Georgia, at least at a surface level. I'm not weirded out by the spacing of houses, or the types of cars around, or those sorts of things in a way I would have been five or ten years ago. I like getting to learn new places! Is there anything I should check out in the Atlanta area while I am here?
- Once I hit Georgia in the car, I felt obligated to put on some For Squirrels. If you don't know what I'm talking about, they were an early 90s band out of Florida that put out one self-produced album and one label-produced album and then half of them died in a car accident in Georgia on the way back from CBGB. Their label-produced album, Example, is amazing and while it's a bold statement I think popular music today would be measurably better if they had made music for another twenty years. (The survivors did put out Never Bet The Devil Your Head as Subrosa; I like it, but it's not the same.) Since I discovered them in like 1998 I've been trying to get my hands on a legit copy of Baypath Rd, the album they put out on their own; a couple of weeks ago, I finally did. I had heard some of the tracks before, but had never listened to it all the way through until I got it. Its sound is absolutely wonderful; its lyrics are way further from my politics than I remembered, including a bunch of religious imagery and an explicitly anti-polyamory message. I'm not really sure what to make of this. It is a Thing. I am still glad I have it and going to frame it and cherish it and sometimes listen to it and cry. For Squirrels, man, just, For Squirrels.
- In other musical news, maybe it will grow on me, but at the moment I'm sure glad I only paid 99 cents for that new Lady Gaga album.
- I've listed my house for sale; I'm hoping to keep my losses under 10K. Ow. I'm very lucky to begin with to (a) own a house and (b) be able to soak a loss of 10K not happily but without serious suffering. I am totally in the first world problems zone here, maybe the 0.5th world problems zone. Nonetheless... Ow. Chances I will still be living here in three months? Vanishingly slim. I'm in touch with a realtor in Tucson; obviously I'm not picking a new place until I am For Sure Absolute Reals guaranteed a position there, but things look likely and I feel confident and so that's the plan I'm working with. I may even have a full house on arrival, but I don't want to jinx that too much, so I'll talk more about it later.
- You may be unsurprised to hear that despite no longer being in classes at all, I am only a bit less busy than I was a month ago, thanks to work eating more of my time and having to deal with the house and Arizona stuff and all manner of nonsense and froofery. I'm way less stressed, though if you hadn't seen me a month ago you probably wouldn't believe that given how stressed I still am, but if you did, you know. :)
- As part of being less stressed, and also as part of having a houseguest, I've been making more interesting food recently! I've done vegan pizza a couple of times, seitan lentil curry, vegan chicken fried steak (inspired by though different from this recipe), pancakes... we're talking about doing some kind of seitan in cherry-currant sauce over couscous tonight, though we have a bunch of oil left over from last night and we might just see what's left in the house that we can fry. :) We were mumbling about onion rings...
- In the last few weeks I've learned that, upon re-reading my prose, I can usually take a few words out of every paragraph and improve the paragraph by so doing. I think this is a fine thing, as long as I remember to go and do this all the time. I suspect that some of my older writing may be hella wordy, unless using crazy long clauses is something I've picked up recently by reading crazy long-winded philosophers. Either way oh my god I keep catching myself using five words to say things like "to" or "and." ^^;; This may have something to do with why I always find myself struggling against the top edge of wordcount limits and not the bottom one... (see also last semester's 12000 word final paper, which was just ridiculous)
- Speaking of which, that paper's been in submission --- revised, down to 8000 words --- to a journal for almost two and a half months. I suspect I am at least going to get a peer review back... This is exciting and also terrifying. Oh, I have a talk proposal out to a conference, too. I need to submit more of those this summer; I have a couple of papers that are some revision away from a reasonable conference talk, I think. And one paper that... man, I like the theoretical moves I was making, but I dunno about the paper as a whole. I may take one section out of it and build it into something else and let the rest go. I'm gonna sit on it for a while and then come back to it and see what I think.
- Hello Internet! I was worried I wasn't going to get to post anything this week, but I totally obliterated my weekend tasklist yesterday, so here I am. ...yes I have weekend tasklists over summer vacation. But apparently ones that can be mostly finished with a good twelve solid hours of work!
- I am excited because I have a houseguest coming to stay with me from Tuesday to the next Tuesday, and the kind of houseguest where there will be much sitting together on couches doing our respective grad school summer readings and periodically making snarky remarks and cat noises. These are basically the things that life is about, yes? Well, and food. This houseguest has a history of making delicious vegan cookies, and clearly I should make us some more vegan pizza. (chagrined and I made some recently that was bosssssssss. Using a bit of balsamic really does help make up for the loss of tomato sauce. Incidentally, how do I keep pizza dough from turning into a giant monstrosity if I don't use it right away? Freeze it?)
- Immediately after that, I leave to go to work in Ohio for three days, and then I am driving from there to Atlanta to go visit bossgoji , which will also be awesome, and will also involve lots of couches and summer reading and cat noises, though probably with more video games. In fact, the Pokémon Video Game Championships are having a regional qualifier while I might still be there and... I'm kinda tempted. But I don't have a B&W team hardly at all, and I don't really have time... all the same I think going would be a really cool experience. So I dunno! We will see. Regardless, I expect this trip to include delicious food as well. We've already started trading cooking tips.
- Then after a couple of days of breathing room, postrodent shows up at my house!! I am the most spoiled entity ever. And after that, I'm going to Arizona, meeting up with krinndnz , coming back home, and driving us and my housemates to Anthrocon. ...and chances are after that I am moving and that will be AAAAAAAAAAAAA but at least the first half of the summer is going to be full of wonderful folks in exciting places!
- In my yard this morning, I have seen a woodchuck eating all of my dandelions (yay!), my first chipmunk sighting of the season (where have you been?), and a group of grackles I like to think of as the "Grack Pack" scaring a squirrel out of the yard entirely. Apparently the correct way to keep a squirrel from your birdfeeder is not to set up an increasingly complex obstacle course, but to have grackles. I like grackles, so this discovery pleases me greatly. Over the last few weeks, I've also had a couple of exciting bird sightings: a pileated woodpecker and a turkey vulture. The Grack Pack tends to scare off the turkey vulture when it shows up; nobody messes with the pileated woodpecker. I am excited to meet new birds assuming I do move!
- I'm in a cafe in Seattle sitting with Rik and trying to figure out how to get a paper I've written under 8000 words so that I can submit it to a journal. It was 11000 when I started; I've got it down to around 8900 and am starting to cut things I think are really important. :/ On the one hand, this is super frustrating; on the other hand, having this much important stuff to cut makes me more and more confident that I can turn "Rachel Who Studies Furries Using Weird Philosophy" into a valid and valuable dissertation.
- Seattle has mostly been gray and rainy (surprise!) but there was some sun this afternoon and we walked around a bit and it was really nice. It is super easy to find vegan food here, which is great, although I am apparently now nightshade-sensitive enough that I cannot eat one french fry. Waugh. On the plus side, the fettucini alfredo at Pizza Pi is nothing short of a revelation; I had assumed I would never have an alfredo of quality again when I went vegan and had reluctantly accepted this. I was wrong.
- It is sad that my life is not as closely intertwined with anyone's as I am used to it being and expected it to be; on the other hand, the latticework of intersections with people dear to me, sustained across travel and texting and Skype, is really really awesome. Being with Rik, and with my other friends in Seattle, has been really awesome for me. I had my requisite "oh god I let my guard down now everything ever will explode" breakdown this morning but I think I am better for it, and making a ton of progress on getting this paper improved. My ideal version would be around 9500 words, but I think I have trimmed a lot of ... unnecessary prose.
- Sadly I haven't gotten IRB approval for my ethnography yet, so I haven't been able to do any interviews here. I am hoping I will wake up to it tomorrow morning but at this point I am not expecting to be able to do work on it until after spring break. Fiddlesticks and frippery.
- I am still only four gyms into Pokemon Black --- I have been busy seeing people I care about and working on worky things --- but I'm having a blast with it. I cannot wait to get to trade things --- I haven't had net that I could use with the DS. (Although the cafe I am in right now might --- I may check tomorrow if it's dreary out and we are spending a lot of cafe time.)
- Random life-process thing: I was freaking out about my tasklist a whole lot and then I did time estimates. I am freaking out less now. It's still not great, but it is way better than the average week. I should remember this for when I am feeling crazy stressed --- and you might consider it if you have a similar life tracking mechanism to me. It's something I used to do but got out of the habit of.
- I am in a two-story cafe where I can see down into the bottom story, and I am watching a couple play chess. I have this great birds-eye view. 1. d4 Nc6 2. Bf4 d5 3. Nc3 e6 4. Nf3 Bd6 5. b4?? Bxf4 6. e3 Bd6 I am deeply pleased that Black, and not White, is the girl with black and purple hair. <3 Oh look, now the game doesn't hold her attention enough that she has started texting. Heeeeee.
- Seriously, she's just toying with him at this point. Okay, back to work.
- Today I am in California, having woken up at something like 11 or 11:30 AM and not really emerged from grooming and food until 2. Later I get on a plane. This nightshifting has got to stop, because, uh, I have to teach 9:30 AM classes in 11 days. Luckily I cue to the sun in terms of sleep schedule, and I can just leave the blinds open in my bedroom and I should be able to get closer to correct at least. In the meantime, uh, I guess I can stay up late reading? Or talk to customers in Australia?
- California has been wonderful for me. I did not get to see everyone I would want to see --- this is always the way of visits, although I had foolishly hoped being here for three weeks would prevent that --- but I have spent time with many of my friends, and become closer to acquaintances, and actually relaxed in a way I only rarely do. I'm starting to pull myself out of the relaxing-hole, doing a little bit of work for my job, starting to think about school again, and so on. I did not do much reading for school while here, which is mostly a good thing but is a litle bit unfortunate too, because it means Future Rachel has more work to do. It is my hope that Future Rachel will prefer the reserves of sanity and calm and the joyful memories to having already read a few books, but that's on her, not me.
- Ooh, there's something I can do today! I can order all of my textbooks so that they are at my house before the semester starts. That will be useful. I already have... three of them? Four of them? And have read two and a half. Out of like fifteen. If I can get to six before the semester starts I will feel like I am in OK position. I mean I will have to reread them depending on what specifically I am looking for in them, but to have done a first pass on everything within the first few weeks of classes will put me in really good position. (And oh my god we have what, four books by Judith Butler to read? Good god. So much Judy B.) That's the answer to "Rachel, how do you manage to do grad school and also have a job?" I try to get work done as early as possible. Ideally I would hand in all of my assignments a week or two in advance. That way if I screw up, I have wiggle room. This is crucial because I sometimes screw up. ;) (Or my house catches on fire, or what have you.)
- Oh god there is so much that I want to read beyond what I have to read. This semester will likely be better for that than last semester was. Last semester was roughly four books a week --- this semester looks like it will be two or three, though maybe with a little more writing. If I am On My Game(tm) I can use this to read an extra book every week toward being prepared for my exams and dissertation. And hey, last semester I read four or five extra books, too, so I can certainly squeeze in ten or twelve this time. Right? :)
- I wrote something about 2010, but as is my wont, I sent it out via email rather than via LiveJournal --- this year's is short, only like 4000 words, but it's not a blog post. If you don't get my life updates and would like to, please let me know. (Internet friends: You are totally welcome to! But I may have either not had an email address or not thought to add it to my distribution list, which I only poke at occasionally because I only send these out every three to six months.)
- It looks like I am getting another cat! My uncle has seven cats, and one of them got sick and went to the vet, and came back and for some weird smell reason or something the other six cats in the house turned on him, and he was segregated for a while in the hope that they would get over it, but they didn't. :( Selene is not the happiest cat about new cats, but the limited data I have suggests that boy cats are somewhat better, and it is a big house, and hopefully we can make it work. If it is really a disaster, my brother has apparently also offered to take care of the cat? He is a gorgeous Siamese and deserves a good home and hopefully Selene and I can provide him with one.
- Cha-Ya: Vegan Japanese. Already knew I liked it. Didn't know their broth contained a tiny amount of tomato. ;_; My fault for not asking.
- Gracias Madre: Vegan Mexican. Hadn't been there before; asked them specifically about allergies and they guaranteed they could handle it. And failed miserably. Delicious, delicious food that was almost worth getting sick. But not quite; I won't be back.
- Minako: Organic Japanese with a large vegan section. The waitress, Judy, is very engaged with you and if you are not psyched for that it can be awkward; if I hadn't been there with regulars I would have felt weird. But she is fun and the place is awesome and they handle allergies well and they make their own natto and <3. Would definitely go again.
- Cafe Gratitude: Vegan, mostly raw. Had been once before, enjoyed this trip as well. Kinda pricy for what it is, but definitely worth hitting once a year or so if only to be like "Yay! Raw food can be awesome and can have many of the things I really like about cooked food like variation in texture and temperature!" (Not that I am likely to go raw; I have no moral objections to the use of fire.) Good about allergies, although sometimes their menu doesn't list all of the things actually in the food, so you should definitely ask.
- Wicked Grounds: I guess technically they are a cafe and not a restaurant, but this is arguably where I spent most of my time and it is wonderful. They have vegan waffles and vegan sandwiches and vegan shakes, and are the best place at feeding me in Soma as far as I can tell. Plus they have a bunch of board games and the regulars are friendly and basically if there were one in Bloomington I would be there most of the time.
- CATGIRL GOTH RAVE IS ON. We are booked for December 18th in San Francisco. This will be our sixth year; if people fly in from other places (I'm looking at you, Boston, Seattle, and Texas) I expect between us we'll set up some additional social events in the days before and after as well. Selene is looking approvingly at me as I write this post; you know you want to be there. More details and a formal invitation that can be passed around will go out in a couple of weeks.
- I lost two productive evenings this week to eating things I shouldn't have, both by accident. The first, my housemate was not only kind enough to make me a separate bowl of guac without tomato in it, but he even went and got new tortilla chips when the ones he had bought had jalapeno on them. (nightshade!) He came back with Tostitos with lime. This was totally not his fault, but still. :( The second was entirely my fault; I forgot paprika was a nightshade and was so excited that I had found a tofu curry thing that didn't use any nightshades. Yeah, no. Goodbye, productive Thursday night.
- In other "I am increasingly ready for a robot body" news, I twisted my ankle something fierce when my brand-new heels snapped --- the heel half-detaching from the shoe --- as I was walking down the stairs in my house. (Carefully!) They're handmade by an awesome company who I hope will either repair or replace them, but it's still kind of errrrrgh, since it hurts enough that I wasn't able to go hiking this morning and can't walk or bike long distances right now. It already feels better than it did this morning; I'm hoping I will be OK to take the bus to school on Monday and walk the ten-fifteen minutes from the city bus stop rather than having to navigate the campus buses as well. I do still have a cane, if it comes to that!
- While we're itemizing negative things --- commit your atrocities early, kids! --- yesterday evening I was getting a ride from a friend and while she was turning left a car came at us at like 50mph. Directly at me. Part of my brain enacted what I would do to get out of the situation were I driving, part of my brain attempted to communicate this to the driver (but I think came out "Guh!!"), and part of my brain prepared itself for death. I am darkly amused that that process returned the value "I was hoping for something more glamorous." By my recollection the car did not hit us; the driver checked the car and there was a nasty gash down the side where I had been sitting. I probably dissociated. No one was hurt, the other person hit and ran. "At least I wasn't on a bike?" 
- In other news, I don't have to spend my free days going to Ohio for work for a while! How cool is that? (Answer: VERY COOL.) I will miss the jacuzzi in the hotel where they know my name when I check in though. "Oh, it's the pink-haired lady who checks in dressed like a college student and leaves in the morning in formal businesswear! She gets room 409."
- Still don't want to jinx it, but the likelihood of picking up a Housemate #2 next weekend is like 80 or 90%; my "turn down OK to good people in favor of waiting for good to awesome people" strategy appears to be working like whoah.
- Anyone have recommendations for bike lights that, rather than optimizing for "being seen" like the ones I have, provide the functionality "allow me to see?" I have a halogen that theoretically does this but it's not really cutting it for me. While biking around here during the day is way tamer than Boscamberville, it's kind of a death trap at night; the students are insane and the roads are dark enough that I can't see. Since I don't yet have all the roads memorized, and where the potholes are and that sort of thing, this is a pretty major problem, and it's starting to be dark when I get out of class. I can't fix the student insanity (there is no way I would bike through campus at 10pm on a weekend night, I like not dying) but I should be able to fix the darkness, and it's getting dark earlier every day.
- This is technically school-related, but I got permission from my advisor to work on human/animal boundary things, and animality in general, in my research both for her class and in general. This is so cool, y'all. So cool. I have so much more to read now! I even got permission to do "some crazy first-person vegan furry thing" informed by theory --- this is the class where we're encouraged to write experimentally, which I mentioned before. We will see how this goes. I have already started outlining. I want to make this good.
- You know how lots of minivans and SUVs have those stick figure decals that show you who's in the family? I saw one the other day that was clearly legible as soldier-man gardener-wife basketball-girl football-boy baseball-boy and four dogs. I thought "Man, I wanna see one where both parents are women. Or where there are three adults. Or where their careers are things like computer-woman, management-androgyne, bookworm-child." I got to thinking --- how far into weird could you go before people would just start not seeing the weird and parsing it as something else? I think that a family that otherwise looked normal but had two gardener-wives and no man would read as lesbian parents, especially if combined with left-leaning bumper stickers or something. If you had two men and a woman, on the other hand, I think most people would assume one of them was either a grandparent or an adult child before thinking menage a trois. I think it would be interesting to see how far you could go before people snapped back to normativizing interpretations, and would be particularly interesting to compare this across populations and times. I was thinking "Somebody should do this research!" and then I thought "I'm a paid staff member in gender studies at a research university..." I'm probably not going to do this project, but I could, and that's badass. (Feel free to grab it if you want.)
 This particular situation could not possibly have happened to me on a bike, but the general case of "grazed by fast-moving car" would probably have been worse.
When I first started doing the vegetarian thing, in 2004, it was so that I could get fresh produce instead of cafeteria food while I was working at a summer camp, and because I couldn't afford much of anything else. It turned out that I enjoyed it, although when I got more money and a different job I went back to eating meat, then gave up meat and kept eating fish, and by the end of November had just said "screw it I'm a vegetarian now." But I pretty much rejected any political premise for this --- sure some of it was in the back of my mind, but at the time I was going all California health-conscious and working out like crazy (for me, anyway, which is not as much as maybe it should be) and I associate the decision with that more than anything.
I did veganism for Lent a couple of years --- maybe three? And the last time, 2008, it stuck. Partially I stuck with it because I had become lactose-intolerant from going vegan earlier and it was easier just to cut dairy out of my diet entirely. At the time, I wrote "I am not vegan because I believe it is wrong to eat animals or animal products." This has changed; I don't go so far as most abolitionist vegans  and think that animal lives are worth as much as human lives. I think it's important to prioritize human life and experience and to consider the people preparing and shipping and growing our food when we talk about "cruelty-free" products and diet. And I think there are some situations in which eating animal products isn't wrong, or at least, its wrongness doesn't matter very much, since it's stacked up against the wrongness of starving oneself (or malnourishing oneself, or what have you). But for people who have the time and Internet access to read my rambly thoughts about veganism, and who have the financial resources to make most to all of their own food choices, I think it's wrong to eat meat.
The thing is... I don't really care if you do it. We all do things that are wrong in this sense all the time. I think it's wrong to perpetuate economic inequities, but I'm not sending most of my income to charity organizations or to the government.  I think it's wrong to go to war most to all of the time, but I'm not out there protesting right now. I think it's wrong to make individual transportation dependent on fossil fuels whose extraction and marketing is hardly "cruelty-free" but I own a car.  It is my assumption that people who eat meat probably work to improve the world around them in different tiny ways from the ones I do, and it's not my place to tell them they should be improving the world in the tiny ways I find the most important. (I'm also not going to try to convince anyone that being vegan is one of the ways they should choose to do this; other people have done it much better.)
In terms of relationships, close friendships, and housemates? It is convenient and comfortable to spend time with people doing the same tiny things as me, and I like having housemates who are also vegan biker queer &c. &c. I'm basically unbothered by vegetarian food in my environment but sometimes the smell of cooking meat kinda weirds me out. Luckily our new house has a vent fan over the stove, so as long as potential new housemates do a good job with the dishes, I don't really mind. Kissing meat-eaters can be weird if it's right after a meal, but luckily my current onmivore paramour (which is super fun to say out loud) has quietly made this not an issue at all without my ever having to say anything.  I like to be able to cook for people, and I'm happy to meet their restrictions when doing so if they have allergies or preferences, although at this point if their preferences include "every meal must have animal products" we're probably not going to eat together very often because that's not a preference I can meet in my kitchen.
The environmental veg*n idea (mentioned in this comment) also holds some sway for me --- that producing meat requires more environmental resources (food, water, space, and so on) and it's good to take up fewer resources. I've heard anything from "meat takes twice as many resources" to "meat takes ten times as many resources" and I don't know what to believe, but not even Serious Meat Apologists claim it doesn't take more so I figure the claim, if not the scale, is true. It's hard to sit there and pat myself on the back for taking up fewer resources with my food choices when I live on arable land and grow grass, have central air, and own a car. But at least I don't eat animals too, I guess. ;)
A lot of vegans are down on them, and often for good reason, but vegan fake meat products really help me with all of this. Sure, they're more resource-intensive than raw produce, and they're mass-produced, and they're not as good for you, and so on, but they allow me access to the kinds of meals I find nostalgic (vegan calzones!!!!! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3) and the kinds of meals I can serve much more easily to omnivorous friends. Plus, they taste really good. ^^;; Over time I'm working on making my own (spiced seitan!) and abstracting the things I cook away from "fake meat" --- like marinated tempeh instead of "fake beef in a box" --- but I don't think the concept is inherently wrong given the cultural and nostalgic value that meat-seeming food has for a lot of people.
I should come back to this at the end of 2012 and see what I think then. In the meantime, it's time to have some granola with soy yogurt, and maybe some juice, and then get to work. :P
 Some would, either grinning enthusiastically or rolling their eyes, say "yet." I don't expect this to happen, but I also didn't expect to get where I am now, so who knows.
 Well, that might be even worse, really.
 I care a lot about this one too, thus all the walking and biking and such, but if I really cared, I could certainly live without a car. I just don't, because having one is nice, and I'm unwilling to give up the usefulness for the principle. Whether this is pragmatism or moral incontinence depends on your perspective, I guess.
 He did once taste of cheap candy, but what can you do. ;)
PEOPLE: Until Diane arrived on Friday night, I was essentially there alone. Last year, when I knew ~no one except for Cassandra, this would basically have been a disaster; I don't particularly hang out with furries on the Internet who I don't already know from somewhere else, so I wouldn't have been able to get in touch with that social group since it didn't exist.  Although I did get to see Ian-Keith, a partner in roguelike crime from way back. ;) This year I already knew a bunch of people from last year --- not well, mind you, but well enough to sit down and strike up a conversation for a few minutes and feel like there was a reason for me to be there. Those people also helped me meet new people to the point where after another year or two I can imagine just showing up and being "Oh, it's the social group I know from Anthrocon!," especially in the gaming room. Unfortunately people aren't very good about giving out contact information --- and I'm not as good as I should be at asking for it.
I've tried to mitigate this problem by having cards I hand out with my name, telephone number, email address, website, and basic information about myself on them, and they work both as harder to discard than a scrap of paper (they're on pink cardstock, of course, because I am me) and a conversation starter. There's something on the card that will make pretty much everyone go either "oooh!" or "what on earth is that?" But since I'm the one handing out the contact information, I pretty much have to rely on the people making first contact with me, which has a pretty low percentage rate. There were a few people in particular this year who I was really glad to meet though, and who I expect I'll stay at least in casual contact with during the year.
FOOD: Mostly I brought a ton of trail mix, a giant bag of dried pineapple, and these weird raw crackers, and lived off of those the whole time. I did have three meals out: one at Sree's, an almost-entirely vegan Indian place (they have tandoori chicken over in an awkward little corner), one at a Thai place that was OK but not worth blogging about, and one at Quiet Storm, a vegetarian/vegan cafe that's like five miles from the convention center but a cheap cab ride and trivially accessible by bus. Cabs were so backed up that we had to take the bus on our way back and it turned out to be painless and cheaper and an opportunity to see more of Pittsburgh. Oh and the food was so amazing and so inexpensive that I am totally going back next year and dragging other people: "Get on a bus, it won't kill you. Come on." The people were kinda like "The furries come this far out? Whoah," but it was totally cool. Also seriously it was good enough that I begged them for a cookbook but they didn't have one.
Eating mostly trail mix isn't nearly as boring as I thought (and for aforementioned nightshade reasons was actually rather nice), but it was nice to get out a bit and have something very different on the last night. (Barbecue seitan sandwich... mmmmmh. Amazing black beans, too.)
EVENTS: Aside from basic stuff like "Watch the fursuit parade!" I really only went to two events that weren't gaming-related this year: The Women in Fandom meet and greet and an IndyFurCon meetup. The Women in Fandom event was amazing, I met a bunch of fun people and talked about organization and social groups and anthropology and trying to bring gender studies into science curricula. Eventually three of us ended up in a corner talking about our PhD programs and seriously geeking out, it rocked. <3 (One of those people is among the "must keep in touch with...") It was really cool to hear people talk about how in the 90s there were like four women at cons, and now it's not 50% but there are a whole lot of us --- I had been on the Internet doing furry things then, but went to my first con last year, and so I was just like "Oh wow this isn't nearly as bad as I thought!" :)
The IndyFurCon meetup I hoped to use as a chance to meet people from Indiana despite the fact that I can't go this year. (I have a wedding I'm already going to.) I only met one person who was actually from Indiana there, which was sort of odd, although chatting with him for a bit was nice, and I'll probably see him at the furry barbecue I think we're going to today? Then there was this young woman from Canada who I'm not entirely sure what happened but pretty soon we were arm in arm skipping around the Westin and then there were some stairs and then I was in a room party being served good beer? The point of this party seemed to be to recruit people for another con, Condition in London, Ontario, which apparently has a plot that will be enacted year to year, so it's sort of a dinner murder mystery con? Con with LARP elements? I dunno. The people were really cool, I chatted with one of their guests of honor for a while about fursuits as part of a cluster of people, I would definitely consider going if it weren't for its conflicting with the other wedding I'm going to this summer. But I'll leave it on the possibilities for next year if the reports go well. I would very much like to see an event where the theme is more than just pasted on work. "berrrrrrrrrr" is Oolong's contribution to the discourse in this regard apparently. 
DRIVING THERE: This sort of deserves its own section. Flying looked ridiculously expensive, and it's only a seven or eight hour drive to Pittsburgh, and I thought "Hey, maybe I can carpool with some people, since I have a van, and save money on gas!" After a truly ridiculous amount of catherding --- we had three people supposed to be in the car who punted at various times, and one person flew from San Diego in order to ride there and back with someone from Champaign who we had to pick up at a rest stop outside Indy, and... there were three furries I didn't know before the trip riding with me to and from Pittsburgh. We had a blast. (One of them didn't pay me and hasn't responded to my messages about this, but whatever. Two out of three ain't bad.) One of them, Flare Starfire,  is an impressive improvisational pianist who really doesn't sound like he has no background in music theory --- he's got that savant thing going. You can hear a few tracks for free on his website, I'm pretty sure; when he played some for me in the car, I was all "Is this Beethoven? No this chord progression is too modern. Um. Wait, is this Phillip Glass? No, he wouldn't have gone there... What is this? Wait this is you?" If you sit down with your Serious Music Brain you'll find things to criticize but it's really enjoyable and impressive music and at Anthrocon I confirmed that he's fun to watch play, too. If "modern classical improvisational piano (in a fursuit)" sounds interesting to you, check it out!
NEXT YEAR?: Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm going. I really want to run a vegan (or maybe, to get the numbers up, vegetarian and vegan) meetup thing at some point, and maybe get help from Pittsburgh locals to put together a good list combined with directions and bus instructions and schedules for those specific places. (There's a Pittsburgh veg society website or something, but it mostly assumes you are from Pittsburgh, and there's an Anthrocon dining guide, but it mostly assumes you have no interest in walking more than a thousand feet.) I'm psyched that I didn't eat out that much this year (last year it was every meal, breakfast lunch and dinner, ulgh), but it is a good social opportunity, and when you're at a con and you probably should have eaten two hours ago and you're overheating because half your body is covered in fake fur, having a little booklet that says "Stand at X intersection for five minutes and get on a bus until it hits Y, get out, get a vegan smoothie" would be awesome. Anyone know anything about organizing that kind of event?
Diane and I had also talked about running some sort of surreal side-quest puzzle hunt, and if we're still interested, we might do it... this would probably take the form of randomly handing puzzle packets to people and periodically answering questions and maybe giving out small prizes to people who solve the puzzles correctly. We'll see if we get to it. :)
 A lot of furries spend a lot of time on Internet social groups and use conventions as a way to get together and spend time in person. I don't do this so much (though not none); for me it's more "this kind of event gets together friends who are geographically disparate" because people in my social groups tend to do things like move for grad school or flee screaming to California.
 If you weren't aware, Oolong is one of my cats.
 Boston people can catch him playing at FurFright --- apparently he's a guest of honor? Whoah.
- It wasn't gluten.
- It wasn't soy.
So, uh, please don't slip tomatoes into my food, and this shouldn't be a problem. :) If I develop something else on top of this, then we could be in danger territory. But for now, hooray! Still tons of things I can eat.
- I'd always known about the Garden Grille (warning, website contains Flash) on Hope St. in Pawtucket --- well not always of course, but for a while. They're an all-vegetarian but not all-vegan place that my mother discovered. I'd particularly recommend their amazing drinks and their seitan products; they manage to get the seitan both crispy and moist, which is actually pretty hard. (eredien is good at it; I've been able to duplicate it, mostly, with a two-stage cooking process, but it's quite time-consuming.) One of these days I will make it to their brunch.
- Right next to the Garden Grille  is Rasoi, an Indian place with the same awesome hanging lamps as Namaskar (flash again) in Davis Square. I had passed it by in favor of the Garden Grille on a number of occasions, until a friend told me that they had a vegan and gluten-free brunch on Saturdays. The brunch was amazing, and recently I went back on a different day with eredien , postrodent , ab3nd , and my mother. Their menu has a lot of vegan and gluten-free options marked on it, and they even have a veganable thali. (Well, there's a little bowl of raita, but you can just give it to postrodent , it's cool. Or to whoever. It didn't touch the food.)
- Over on da Hill, there's Julian's Restaurant, which seems biker-hangoutish and has a great beer selection. There are always new things on tap, and I've been able to come in and say "Three weeks ago I was here and had something... smoky?" "Oh I bet it was *something unintelligible*, I bet you'd also like *something else unintelligible*." "Sure, I'll try that OH MY GOD IT TASTES LIKE LAPSANG I WANT
IT IN MY FACE." They have great seitan, there's usually a vegan special, they make their own ketchup and it is actually good... oh and the bathroom is basically Steer Roast.  Last time I was there there was a Neubauten video playing in it on loop.
- And of course there's Thayer Street, which has a few places I knew I liked (Blue State Cafe, East Side Pockets, and what the hell happened to the original Spike's? Yes, their veggie dogs are vegan) but I only just discovered the delicious vegan pizza offerings of Nice Slice. They even have bike delivery if you're within a mile (and they don't cross the river). Not a sit-down place really, but a great place to go if you're short on time.
 Being vegan usually means ending up lactose-intolerant. I thought I wouldn't have to care; I do. :/ Oh well.
 Linked to this and not a normal page because I was totally there when whoever wrote this article was, and I find that entertaining --- and yes, the Minibosses concert did rock that hard.