Baba Ganoush

I found this recipe in Vegan: Over 90 Mouthwatering Recipes for All Occasions by Tony Weston and Yvonne Bishop.  It was pretty darn tasty except… well, not enough garlic for my taste.  Next time I make it (and there will be a next time because it’s so darn easy to make), I will probably (at least) double the amount of garlic.  Gotta keep those vampires away, you know!

2 eggplants
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
Juice of ½ lime
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon vegan yogurt or Vegenaise
2.5 teaspoons tahini
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Halve the eggplants lengthwise, brush the cut side with olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes, until soft.

Scoop out the flesh of the eggplants, transfer it to a food processor or blender (I used my immersion blender, and it worked great), then add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl, cover and chill until needed.

Just before serving, dust the purée with smoked paprika and garnish with olives and slices of lime (if you want it to look pretty; I didn’t bother).  Serve with warm pita bread or oatcakes, and a selection of crudités for dipping.

The recipe for oatcakes is also in this book, and I don’t know what the heck crudités are.  Oh wait… Google can help with that.  Be right back…  Are you kidding me?  You can’t just say “sliced veggies”?  You have to get all fancy schmancy and say “crudités”?  Good grief.  Well, the baba ganoush is worth the snobby language.

Defending Marriage

I’m married.  It really isn’t anybody’s business whether I’m same-sex married or opposite-sex married, but just for the record, I’m opposite-sex married.  It could have gone the other way… but it didn’t.

I do not need you to defend my marriage.  I do not need the government to defend my marriage.  I do not need anyone’s religion to defend my marriage.  My marriage is not in any danger of failing because my gay brothers and lesbian sisters are getting married.  Good grief.  That’s just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard (and believe me when I say I’ve heard some really dumb things).  Also, when gays and lesbians get married, it has ZERO affect on my marriage.  Why would it?  That would be like saying, “Oh my god, my nephew is getting married, and now all of a sudden I’m not going to want to be married anymore!”  See?  Stupid thoughts.

The truth of the matter is that marriage equality — the fact that my gay and lesbian friends can marry the person they love most — strengthens my marriage.  Really.  Marriage is freakin’ hard work.  Sometimes I wonder if being married is actually worth all that hard work.  Seriously.  I do.

And then I look at my gay and lesbian friends who have been together 20, 30, even 40 years — some married for a few years, many not — and I am ashamed.  I am ashamed that I think it would be easier to just give up and stop putting in the hard work necessary to be married.  There are certainly enough other people out there who are opposite-sex married who have given up on being married.  Many of these people have given up two or three or four or (Goddess help you) even more times on marriage.

I’m just wondering here… how can anyone who thinks giving up on marriage is entitled to any opinion whatsoever on someone else’s right to be married.  Yeah.  That’s what I thought.  They aren’t entitled to an opinion.  And yet… they think they are.

It’s really amazing how arrogant some people are.  Listen… tend to your own marriage, and let the rest of us tend to ours.  And by “ours,” I mean not just those of us who are opposite-sex married, but all the LGBT people who want to get married who can’t because you’re such arrogant, selfish pricks.

Cooking and Baking and Sewing, Oh My

I mentioned recently on my Facebook page that I sort of wished I liked to cook and bake and sew.  I imagine that if I liked to cook, I’d eat more than fruit smoothies, salads, spicy lentils and the occasional frozen vegan entree or pizza.  I imagine that if I liked to bake, I could make yummy vegan baked goodies for the chorus’ dessert table at our concerts, instead of buying pre-baked tartlets and snickerdoodles from the grocery store.  I imagine that if I liked to sew, I could darn socks, repair ripped seams and even sew new outfits.

But then I come to my senses.  I know my diet is kind of boring, but at least everything I eat tastes pretty good.  I sometimes go out for some Middle Eastern food or pasta, or will have Chinese food delivered.  Food doesn’t seem to be a big deal to me.  I need to eat so I don’t pass out, and I prefer my food to taste good.  Beyond that… meh.  Sometimes I like sweets, but not really all that often.  Apparently, I am not terribly normal.  For example, for the Spousal Unit, food is an integral part of any celebration.  ”Yay!  It’s Wednesday!  Let’s order Chinese for a treat!”  Really?  You’re celebrating the fact that you made it half way through the work week, and you deserve a “treat”?  Listen, if you want you give me a treat, just buy me one of the books from my Amazon wish list, ok?  ”Yay!  It’s Wednesday!  I didn’t kill a coworker!  Time for a new book!!”

I can sew… I can darn socks (though with these stupid new compact fluorescent bulbs, it’s not as easy), I can sew buttons back on, I can repairs seams and I have even been known to construct new outfits.  But do I enjoy doing these things?  Oh, hell no!

The dislike of cooking and baking all makes sense.  (Here comes the therapy session.)  From about age 9 or 10, I had to take on the task of making sure dinner didn’t get destroyed after my mother passed out from her drinking binges.  Everything had to be made the way dad liked things (i.e., bland).  If dad didn’t like a particular food, we didn’t eat it.  I was 19 years old before I ever ate broccoli.  So cooking was an onerous chore, and not the least bit interesting.

Baking was fun, because it’s something I did with my grandmother.  But she died when I was 14, and the joy just went out of the whole experience.  Sad… but true.

And sewing?  Well, I remember the first outfit I ever made for myself.  Mind you, this was the late 60s or early 70s, so don’t judge too harshly.  It was a culottes and poncho set, made with a nice cotton fabric with lots of bright colors and geometric patterns.  There was even pom pon edging on the ponchos.  I loved it so very much.  When I finished it, and came down from my bedroom to show my mother, her comment was something like, “That has got to be the ugliest outfit I’ve ever seen.”  Really, ma?  Really?  Well, that was the last outfit I ever made.  I don’t think I wore the culottes more than once or twice, but I did wear the poncho a lot in high school.  Because you know?  I LOVED that crazy, bright fabric.

What got me starting on this particular wander down memory lane?  Well, my blog acquaintance Jia has been posting recipes over on her blog, Blade and Cauldron, some of which I may actually get around to testing for myself.  And I thought… well, even if I don’t like to cook and bake, sometimes I do it anyway.  And sometimes (ok, usually, because I am good at cooking even though I don’t enjoy it) those cooking and baking experiments turn out rather well.  So, maybe I, too, will share some of my recipes (and recipe modifications, because sometimes I just have to veganize a recipe I already have tried and like, but can eat anymore).  I don’t make up recipes all on my own (except for my spicy lentils), so I’ll be sure to give credit where credit is due.  I’m not promising anything… but just maybe I’ll be posting here more often.

Ok, I Need Some Advice

I haven’t posted in forever, and I haven’t mentioned fibromyalgia in even longer… but this fibromyalgia bullshit is really starting to get me down.  I feel tired a lot, but hey… at least I’m not falling asleep at my desk anymore!  It’s the pain that I’m having a hard time with these days.  Winter sure isn’t helping.  Stress… well, no, that doesn’t help either.  So, yeah… pain.

Some days, it’s just an achy sort of all-over discomfort.  Those are actually good days.  Some days, it’s achyness plus a few places of stab-stab-let-me-make-you-cry hurting bits.

Remember back in the My Trip to the Doctor post where I talked about new pain meds and something to help me sleep?  Yeah.  Big bust there.  The pain med made me puke and the sleep med didn’t do any better than the over-the-counter stuff.  Fortunately, at my next appointment, I got a script for Darvocet, which turned out to be a life saver.  Or a sanity saver.  Well, let’s just say it kept enough of the pain at bay that I felt almost like a normal person.

But last month when I went to get my prescription filled, the pharmacist informed me that Darvocet had been taken off the market.  I cried right there in the pharmacy, and I think I may have scared the pharmacist.  I have spent the ensuing month in constant pain, and cursing the inky black souls of those god-forsaken FDA morons to the most painful level of hell.  Also, I wished for each of them to have a month of this pain all for themselves.  One of my buddies who also has fibro thought perhaps a year of suffering would be even better.  But you know what?  I think the nice Franciscans I work with have been rubbing off on me… I figure a month ought to be enough to teach them a lesson.

My doctor has nothing more he can do for me.  Oh, he gave me a prescription for Lidoderm, which isn’t terribly useful.  Sure it knocks out some of the pain where I apply the patch.  But there are a couple of problems with it… first, I can only apply three at any one time; second, I have to take it off after 12 hours and leave it off for another 12 hours.  So, here I have something that will only affect some of the pain (it kind of helps on the hip, but does squat for the neck and shoulder), some of the time.

I need to take something for this pain.  Aleve, Advil, Tylenol, Motrin don’t do much for the pain and now they seem to be messing with my liver.  Since the  fucking FDA (may the fleas of a thousand camels infest their nether regions) took Darvocet off the market, my only options are the over-the-counter drugs.  That fuck up my liver.  All the other pain relievers make me puke my guts out.

I’ll tell ya one thing that works… alcohol.  But that’s frowned upon at work… plus that’s not going to be great for my liver either.  Or anything else… I saw what it did to my mother.  Boy howdy, for a 50 year old woman, she sure looked like an 80 year old refugee from a concentration camp.  So… no.

One good thing that did come out of the last trip to the doc was a prescription for diazepam (Valium aka My Friend Pam) to help me sleep.  I think it’s actually working.  For the first time in months, I feel like I’m actually getting into the deeper sleep level.  Before, it was just really light sleep (every little thing woke me up, from butterfly wings in Japan to the Spousal Unit tossing and turning and snoring).  I was getting REM sleep and dreaming, so at least I wasn’t becoming a total mental patient.  But now I’m waking up feeling like I actually SLEPT.  Oh yay.  Of course, the downside of this appointment was that my thyroid kind of stopped working, which explains the increasing fatigue and inability to lose weight despite being on a very healthy diet.

But back to the pain.  Here’s where you come in.  I need to know if there is anything that can stop the puking if I take the hydrocodone or tramadol or whatever else my doc can think of.  Empty stomach, full stomach, with food, with plenty of liquids… none of that helps.  Maybe I’m eating the wrong foods (veggies, bread, beans… all these have been tried) or drinking the wrong beverages (usually water or tea).  Thanks for the marijuana recommendation, but that gives me migraines (not that I’ve tried it in pill form; I don’t know what that would do).  I’m just a barrel of broken here, and I’m pretty tired of it.  There has got to be SOMETHING that will stop my body from hurting, while at the same time not cause me to puke.  (I’d drive up to Montreal and buy me a case of Darvocet if I didn’t think the border patrol would keep it for themselves.  And look, I’m still cursing out the FDA.  Fuckers.)

And since the Internet is awesome, maybe the Internet can help.

Spam-A-Lot

I’m not referring to Spamalot, the stage version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I’m referring to spam, the scourge of the Internet.

I’ve been getting a lot of interesting comments on my art blog.  And by “interesting,” I mean “Holy crap, are people ever stupid!”  For example, there are a lot of comments saying something to the effect of “great post, lots of great information here.”  Yeah, except there really isn’t any information.  All I’m posting is a picture of a great work of art.  Another example is the troll who commented some general blah blah blah and then only a few second later, on a different post using a different email address but the same website link a comment that I really should be moderating the comments.  Ya think?  Also… hello?  Akismet… catching all your dumb shit.

There are the usual spam comments in foreign language… Russian is the most prevalent, but I did get one in German the other day and one in Spanish a few days before that.  There are spam comments that are nothing but word salad…  I think I’d have to be on some serious drugs to make sense of them.  A few of the comments are nothing but links.  One of the commenters offered to provide in-depth information on mountaineering… this relates to abstract art… how?  Then there are the people who are having problems seeing the website (or claiming they’re having problems)… listen, I’ve tested it on FireFox, Chrome and IE.  Everything is beautiful.  I’m not going to diagnose your browser issues.  I don’t even do that at work anymore.

My favorite one all week?  Thanks for the post, do you have any other similar related posts? Do I have any similar related posts?  Really?  Are you serious?  You’ve landed on my ART BLOG and you wonder if there are any similar posts?  Yep, you’ll stay in the bit bucket, baby.

The Microsoft Update Update

No one ever called me back from Microsoft.  On Tuesday, I called them again.  I actually stopped writing down their names because, really, what was the point?  So the person I spoke with on Tuesday wouldn’t let me talk to a senior engineer.  Apparently, that sort of thing needs to be scheduled.  Right.  And apparently someone had been trying to contact me by email and I wasn’t responding.  Could that be because you people at the Microsoft call center couldn’t write down my email address correctly?  And that whomever was supposedly contacting me by email was not actually contacting me?  Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s the reason.  So, still on Tuesday here, I requested the email address of the senior technician.  After all, if I send her/him an email, then s/he will have my email address.  That makes sense.  I repeated the email address back to the call center employee twice, so I knew I had the right email address.

Oh, except that I didn’t.  When I sent the email off, it bounced back with a message saying that the email address didn’t exist.  WTF?  So, yet again on Tuesday, I called the call center.  I don’t know why they want to go through all the gory details of the ticket each and every time I call.  This conversation went something like this:

“I just need the senior technician’s email address.”

“But, ma’am, I don’t have that information.”

“Ok, just transfer me to the technical team so they can give me that information.”

“But I need to know why you are calling tonight.”

“You have my case number, and I’m calling to get an email address.”

“But, ma’am, I need to know which team that is.”

“Well, you have my case number.  I’ll wait a moment while you read the file.”

I don’t think he actually read the file, but he did transfer me to the technical team.  I finally got a technician who read my file and gave me the correct email address for the senior technician.  (And this is why I should be talking to customer support people who speak the same dialect as I do: when you say VEE and I hear THREE, then I repeat back THREE to you twice and you hear VEE, this does not make for a very happy customer service experience.)  I resent the email (which never bounced back), requesting that the senior engineer call me at 6pm the following evening.

Now, despite the fact that I was feeling extremely unwell on Wednesday, I sat by my phone and computer from 6pm until 7pm without a call from anyone.  Since I was pretty sure any further sitting up would cause me to vomit, I headed back to sleep for another 12 hours.  On Thursday, I sent another email to the senior engineer requesting a call for Friday at 6pm.

Now, on Friday, I received an email asking me to rate the service I had received from Microsoft… seeing as they had closed my ticket.  Again… WTF??  So, yes, I filled out that survey.  I gave Microsoft the lowest possible rating in every category.  Ah, if only I could have used negative numbers!  They wanted to know how they could make Microsoft support better.  Well, gee.  How about if you hire people who can actually help?  That would be swell.

Instead of any kind of fun on Friday night, I gave Microsoft yet another call.  I bullied my way past the gatekeeper.  I refused to speak to the technical support person.  I only wanted to speak to a manager.  From this point, in all fairness, my association with Microsoft improved ever so slightly.  Rochelle was very accommodating.  Since I’d been waiting for a call back from a senior engineer since Sunday, I told her I really didn’t want to have to wait another two or three days for a senior engineer to get around to contacting me.  In fact, I’d really prefer if she would get one on the line right away.  It wasn’t right away, but she did call me back in about 15 minutes.

I then proceeded to spend the next three hours on the phone with Anthony.  After about two hours, the phone lost its charge and cut us off, but he called me right back.  He tried all manner of things — again, in a spirit of full disclosure, some things I would not have thought to try.  Finally, he decided to conference in a technician from Dell Support.  After about 15 minutes, Mark at Dell found one of their knowledge base articles that stated that there’s some peculiarity with the Vista installation on my specific model of laptop and that the only way to install Windows 7 is to perform a custom (i.e., clean) install.

As disappointing as this was, Anthony was good enough to provide me with the phone number for Microsoft’s “Money Back Guarantee Team” who, according to him, would be happy to assist me in getting a full refund for the software.  Of course, I have to wait until Monday for that.

Microsoft, I Really Hate You

As you know, Microsoft, I’ve never really been a fan of your Vista operating system.  So I decided up upgrade to Windows 7.  But you don’t want me to do that, do you?  I spent two hours on Saturday trying to get Vista to upgrade to Windows 7.  My computer passed with flying colors when I ran the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, but the upgrade wouldn’t get past the download of files phase.  It didn’t matter, Microsoft, whether I was online or offline, whether I had peripherals plugged into the laptop or every darn thing unplugged.  So I made the further mistake of trying to contact your “Customer Support” center.

Microsoft, I don’t like telephones.  I have a hard time understanding people when I’m on the phone.  I especially have a hard time understanding your outsourced customer service people.  Still, I gave Komal a chance to try to fix the problem.  Sadly, after two hours on the phone with him, the only thing that was accomplished was a complete deterioration of my patience and a growing desire to reach through the phone and strangle him.  Oh, and then he hung up on me.  (What is it with customer service people hanging up on me?)

Not long after Komal hung up on me, I started getting calls from Cincinnati,  OH.  Since I don’t know anyone in Cincinnati, I ignored them.  (Did I mention I don’t like phones, Microsoft?)  But whoever that was in Cincinnati was pretty damn persistent.  Finally, the Offspring answered the phone, but thought it was a sales call and hung up.  Ah.  Turns out it was somebody at Microsoft calling back.  So the next time the call came in from Cincinnati (and I don’t believe for a second that the call actually originated in Cincinnati), I picked up.  It was Ahmed, a manager at Microsoft.  Or a manager at the call center.  Ahmed assured me that his only wish was to make me happy, and that he would have another engineer give me a call back on Sunday.  He seemed so sincere, but it turns out he was not.  We agreed that the engineer would call me back at 2:00pm on Sunday.

Apparently, they don’t have Daylight Saving Time wherever Ahmed and his merry band of engineers are, because Kapil did not call until nearly 3:00pm.  Kapil did all the same things Komal had done on Saturday.  Except this time, when we got to the part where the error popped up, Kapil had disappeared.  He hadn’t hung up on me… I was still connected.  But all the yelling into the phone did not bring him back.  So I had to hang up on him, and disconnect the remote session so I could reinstall my anti-virus software.

Around 5:15pm, I tried calling Microsoft again.  This time, I spoke to Sari, who said a senior engineer would call me back within an hour.  Guess what, Microsoft?  Right.  No one called me back.  And when I tried calling the support line again, it seems that everyone had gone home for the day.

Now I just want Ahmed to call me back so I can get a refund for this software.  I’ve invested entirely too much of my life, Microsoft, in trying to get your stupid software installed.  I’ll suffer with Vista.  Rest assured, Microsoft, I will take every opportunity to tell people how much your customer support sucks.  It’s really awful.  Quite possibly the worst customer service except for Sears.

Yep, Microsoft… I really understand why so many people like Linux.

Why I Would Join a Unitarian Church If I Was a Joiner

I found a fantastic article by Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle.  It made me smile and it almost made me want to run down to the local Unitarian Universalist church to join up.  Since I went to UU churches in Chicago (a shout out to Second Unitarian in New Town!) and Denver (went to all of the UU churches in Denver, Jefferson and Boulder counties, and never could decide which was my favorite), the article brought back some great memories.  I’d reprint the whole thing here, except, you know, that’s wrong.  So quick, go read the article, and come back.

Was that great, or what?  I really think I’m going to go join the Unitarian Jihad.  In fact, my new Jihadist name is Sister Flaming Shuriken of Acceptance. If you’d like to join us, you can get your own Unitarian Jihadist name from the Naming Committee.  I have to go make some flower arrangements now.  And then I will probably bake some cookies.

Just Another Reason To Hate Spammers

Every now and again, I check the spam comments that spammy spammers leave on this here site.  Gotta say I really hate these “people.”  A couple of them recently left comments similar to “Loved your post, I’m going to copy it to my blog.”

What the fuck?  You think it’s ok to copy stuff that *I* write to your crap shithole of a blog?  I call down the curse of ages on you!  May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your genital region and crawl up your ass.  May you always have watery diarrhea.  May all your hair fall out, except for that in your nose and ears.  May your eyes cross, and stay that way until you’re dead.  No, they should stay that way even after you’re dead.  May you have hangnails on every finger… every day.  May you have paper cuts galore, and always manage to spill lemon juice on them.  May your toenails continue to grow, and resist all efforts at trimming.  And may a tattoo saying “Loser” suddenly appear on your forehead.

Ah.  I feel better now.

Dear Sears

What the frack, guys?  The last time I had a problem with an appliance, I gave you a call.  The customer service people on the phone were polite and helpful.  The service person arrived in a timely fashion, and fixed the problem.

This time, however, you completely fucked up.  When I called, the “customer service” representative was robotic rather than polite, and couldn’t be bothered to find a technician who could fix my washing machine in a timely manner.  I should have picked up on this clue.  I should have started calling all the other appliance repair people in the area right then and there.  But no.  I made an appointment for a service call a week and a half in the future.

When the day of the service appointment arrived, I drove home at lunch time to meet the technician (who was supposed to arrive between 1pm and 5pm).  Because I’m apparently a little bit psychic, I decided to check the voice mail messages (I generally only do that a couple of times a week).  Oh gosh!  The “customer service” people had called at 11:30am to tell me the technician wasn’t going to make it that day.  WTF?

So I called them back to find out when I could get my washing machine fixed.  This “customer service” representative was even more robotic than the initial one, and couldn’t have possibly been less interested in helping me.  He wanted to reschedule the appointment for yet another week in the future.  Uh… no.  I requested an appointment for the following day.  Robot Man simply kept repeating, “I can reschedule this appointment for next week.”  I reiterated that I had already been without a washing machine for 10 days, could not wait another week to get it repaired, and really needed to get it fixed immediately.  Instead of transferring me to his supervisor (which I understand is what you are supposed to do with irate customers — and believe me, I was IRATE), Robot Man HUNG UP ON ME.  Hung up on me.  Yes.  He did.

Once the thoughts of stuffing Robot Man into the washing machine passed, I started calling repair people.  On the fourth call, I found someone who will actually come out early on Saturday morning.  If he actually does get my washing machine working on Saturday, he will totally be my go-to guy for appliance repair!  And if he doesn’t, I’ll have to go shopping for a washer.  Bah.

But rest assured, I will never call Sears again for any reason.  I probably won’t even shop there anymore, either… because, hey, it’s not like it’s convenient or anything to get there.

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