rax: (mudkip lieks you too <3)
Here's some stuff I am enjoying right now.
  • Salads. Man, until recently, I was not such a big fan of salad. And if I haven't had a large meal in a day yet, I will still sort of look at the salad and say "That's nice, where is my tofu or seitan." But getting fresh vegetables, finding accessories you actually like, picking a good dressing? These things make salad better. Also I think Krinn just has a magic touch or something, because it doesn't turn out that good when I make it. (Except that one I made in a wrap a couple of weeks ago. That was pretty astounding. I think I just got lucky, though.)
  • Camper Van Beethoven's New Roman Times. This comes to me by way of [livejournal.com profile] circuit_four via Rik, I'm pretty sure, and while Pitchfork thought it was kind of heavy-handed I don't agree with them for the most part. (Ok maybe the Might Makes Right track is a bit too heavy-handed.) It's really musically interesting in places (I would like to find more of what they call "math rock") and there's more subtlety to it than is apparent at first listen, both lyrically and musically. The main beef I have with is is that it's really best appreciated having Rik or someone else who really knows the album in the car with you on like hour 20 of a road trip explaining all of the references and the coherent story behind everything, and you're listening to everything he says and really taking it in because what else are you going to do as you drive through a town named Yellow in freaking Texas? And by the end you are like "Oh man all of this is so clever" but if someone had just handed you the album you would be like "What in the hells are they talking about why is the Unabomber working for Texas what what what." So this is a cautious recommendation, unless you like concept albums or can make Rik explain it to you, in which case oh my god go check this out right now. (They're playing in Arizona on the 13th. I am somewhat tempted.)
  • Jennifer Chung's debut novel Terroryaki!. Full disclosure: The author is a good friend of mine. This novel was the winner of last year's Three-Day Novel Contest, which by the way starts tomorrow if any of you have more free time than me. There are moments where you can tell that the first draft was written in three days, but despite this and even in part because of this it is a hilarious read, and an absolutely wonderful airplane antidote to spending hours and hours reading Marx and Marxists. It's fluffy, sure, but if it's a fluff sandwich, it's made with real bread, not the bleached-out stuff that rips all over when you try to sink your teeth in it. The main characters feel like real people, and make real decisions, and I found myself rooting for them and hoping for good things to happen to them, rather than for everyone's life to descend back into the misery that is the stuff of post/modern existence. And then, because it was fluff and not, like, Dubliners, everyone wasn't miserable at the end! And I smiled a lot and was energized to go read more Marxists! (Wendy Brown's States of Injury, while I don't agree with everything she says? Actually really good.) So if you're into that sort of thing, check it out. (Especially if you know Jen --- the characters very much aren't her but sometimes you can hear her voice coming through and it's awesome.)
  • [livejournal.com profile] pkmncollectors . I know, I know, this is a terrible habit --- and it is. But not only is pkmncollectors a great place to get playable cards at lower than market price, but it's a really friendly community and I've enjoyed all of my interactions with folks there. I... may start collecting Shaymins, and not (just) the cards. They're so cute! And someone was selling a mini-collection I could start from at absolutely super cheap! And... oh dear. Yeah. The community's really great, though, and I enjoy helping people there with card pricing the same way I enjoy helping people make fair trades at league.
  • Biking! Sure, it's 110F out or something, but you know what? I don't care. Tucson is an awesome town to bike in, and biking is awesome. I'm usually out three or four times a week --- as it cools down a little more and I get back in shape I will do some longer rides, too. Have I mentioned here yet that like half the roads in Tucson have bike lanes and don't have parking to the right of the bike lane? I am going to be so horribly spoiled when I move somewhere else. I mean sure I've seen a couple of nutty drivers but even biking on the roads people said were "super crowded and dangerous" feels lackadaisical compared to Boston or Bloomington. (Which everyone said was such a great bike town, and I guess it sort of was, but it wasn't really a bike commuting town so much as a bike racing town, which is less my thing. I don't want to go 100 miles or go ultra-stupid-fast around a track. I want to get to work without having to burn fossil fuels or sit on a bus full of strangers. Bonus points if I get exercise.)
  • Seattle. It's kind of too cold there (I only say this because I am acclimating to a desert) but beyond that it has good transit, it's a vegan paradise, it has Rik, it has a number of other friends, many of whom I think would be closer friends if I lived there... It's a place I feel like I could live. And might, when I'm done with graduate school. I would complain about the hills all the time because some of them are unpleasant just to walk up and I can't imagine they would be comfortable on a bike, and things are kind of spread out and I would have to do a lot of bike-bus chaining rather than being a five mile ride from everything like in Boston or at least a ten mile mostly flat ride from everything like here... but man the stuff would be worth going to, and I would already have something like one and a half or two social groups to spend time with on day one, and at least there's not much snow. Although if I lived in Seattle, where would I fly to when I wanted to go have fun for a weekend?
Hopefully y'all also have good things going on! I'd love to hear about them!
rax: (catgirl makeup)
Your weekly "not school, not pokemon" post:
  • 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?" [0]
  • 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.)

[0] 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.
rax: (Horo apple)
A couple people have asked me why I'm vegan recently, and it got me thinking about how some of the reasons are the same as when I started and some of them are rather different. One of the questions was in terms of what living with me would look like, and that was interesting for a whole host of reasons, not least of which the fact that I'm going to be looking for housemates very soon. So I thought I'd free-write about it and share and see what other people thought about it, too.

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 [0] 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. [1] 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. [2] 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. [3] 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

[0] 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.

[1] Well, that might be even worse, really.

[2] 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.

[3] He did once taste of cheap candy, but what can you do. ;)

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