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So,

My journal has always been public because I never figured that anyone who didn't know me would be halfway interested in reading about my life. I was apparently mistaken. It's like being famous, but with none of the benefits! And I didn't feel like censoring myself for anyone, so this journal is now mostly friends only. If I ever have something fairly impersonal, it'll probably be public. If you want to see the rest of the boringness and have an LJ account, just comment here requesting an add, chances are excellent that I will add you. To those back home without accounts who used to read this, sorry.
It's easier to suffer comments about California not having seasons gladly when it's not my fourth day in a row putting long johns on under my jeans to scrape ice of my windshield and drive to work in thirty-something degree temperatures at 10 am, past snow-covered low hills, hoping to hit a peak in the mid-forties at the heat of the day.

Bitches, that is a season, and it's called winter, and if we're getting it at nearly sea level in a coastal climate in late autumn, and if, while not our average long-term experience, it's not uncommon either, that means we have seasons here. Winnipeg we ain't, and you'll get no argument from me about that, but we aren't fucking Cancun.
I'm sadder than I ever thought I would be about Michael Jackson.

In the last, oh, 10 years when his whole life became a twisted circus in which he was making an obvious physical, emotional, artistic, and psychological decline, the whole Michael Jackson phenomenon became a train-wreck that was just to painful to be looked at. And I think, during that time, I forgot what I huge fan I used to be.

When I found myself bawling in front of my computer while watching the youtube video of The Jackson 5's "Never Can Say Goodbye" (seriously, watch it, and I defy you not to tear up when that beautiful, now departed little boy sings "Even though the pain and heartache seem to follow me wherever I go...Never can say goodbye"), I remembered my treasured little vinyl records and cassettes, and the VHS of the "Thriller" video and making-of documentary my mom bootlegged for me, and the excitement of staying up late to watch the premiere of the "Black or White" video on Fox, and the list goes on and on.

When I really think about it, though, my feelings of sadness are for the loss that the world really experienced in 2005 when he went into seclusion, and the late nineties when he became grotesquely unrecognizable, and the early nineties when his suspended and apparently permanent state of childhood was exposed to the world, and even all the way back to his childhood when the seeds of all of this were planted. The tragedy of losing Michael Jackson has been a decades-long, gradual tragedy, and what I think I really feel about his recent actual death is relief. Relief that his sadly broken life is over and he can have some peace.

He may have been crazy. He may have molested children. He may have been body dysmorphic, drug addled, or delusional. We'll never know, and any claims that we ever can know one way or the other are patently false and misleading. What we can know is that he was a deeply sensitive and phenomenally talented person who was destroyed by his family, his management, and his fame, and whatever else he may or may not have done, that's something to be mourned; the Michael Jackson that could have been versus the Michael Jackson that was.

The consolation is that what I really believe will be remembered 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 years from now (and no, I don't think that's an exaggeration) is his body of work. I really do believe that, in the end, posterity will be kinder to him than we were.

Halp me, interwebz!

If one has a pair of gold-colored (not actual gold) earrings that are kind of a dark/warm/goldenrod color gold, what might one do to fade them to a paler gold? Would soaking them in baking soda and water do anything? I don't want to do anything that would ruin them, but I really want to get them lighter. Thoughts?

I may be Canadian.

According to a Canadian law that went into affect yesterday, I may now be a Canadian citizen (or have eligibility to become one).

The law is a little fuzzy as to how it applies to second generation people born abroad (one bullet point says you are eligible if born after 1977, another says you're not), but long story short, from 1948-1977, natural born Canadian citizens who took on citizenship of other countries had to relinquish their Canadian citizenship. Both of my grandfathers (one still living, one deceased) were born in Canada and became U.S. citizens in the 50's. This means that both of my parents became Canadian yesterday (first generation children born abroad are automatically eligible).

When it gets to me, it gets a bit fuzzy. One bit said that I am eligible since I was born after 1977 but am not yet 28, but I must apply for a certificate and my parents may need to officially register first. Another bit said I'm not eligible because I was born after 1977. Go figure. Some special exceptions may also apply to me because my paternal grandfather was a Mennonite, and there were some specifically funky things that happened to Canadian Mennonites who emmigrated.

I'll have to send in a form, though, because I would love to be a Canadian citizen. The funny thing is that the Canadian national anthem has always been one of my favorites, and I know all the words and sing it at all of the hockey games to counteract all of the douches who boo it (seriously, if one of your star players grew up in a town called Moose Factory, you should probably not boo "Oh, Canada"). It could be my anthem soon!

Vacuous post is vacuous

Despite having been a big fan for pretty much as long as I can remember, if Madonna absconds with/buys another African baby with living family, I may just have to boycott her enjoyable and highly danceable musical stylings.

Well what do you know?

Ganked from circumlocutory

"Even if YOU don't know what faith you are, Belief-O-MaticTM knows. Answer 20 questions about your concept of God, the afterlife, human nature, and more, and Belief-O-Matic™ will tell you what religion (if any) you practice...or ought to consider practicing."

You can take it here: http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/Quizzes/BeliefOMatic.aspx

My matches:

1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (94%)
3. New Age (91%)
4. Neo-Pagan (85%)
5. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (83%)
6. Secular Humanism (78%)
7. New Thought (75%)
8. Scientology (74%)
9. Mahayana Buddhism (72%)
10. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (71%)
11. Taoism (69%)
12. Reform Judaism (69%)
13. Baha'i Faith (66%)
14. Theravada Buddhism (56%)
15. Orthodox Quaker (54%)
16. Sikhism (53%)
17. Hinduism (51%)
18. Nontheist (44%)
19. Jainism (43%)
20. Orthodox Judaism (37%)
21. Islam (31%)
22. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (31%)
23. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (30%)
24. Seventh Day Adventist (25%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (22%)
26. Roman Catholic (22%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (14%)

wut

I try not to be terribly partisan. I think there are some interesting Republican politicians with good ideas, and I think there are a whole bunch of Democrat hacks who are completely entrenched in th broken process and out of touch with the American people. It's why I don't have party affiliation.

But sometimes there are these moments of sheer idiocy where it's like...man. Only a Republican.

This is not to say that Republicans are idiots. It's to say that there are certain brands of idiocy that are distinctive to some members of certain ideological groups.

Take statements made this week by Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the House Minority leader. When discussing the economic stimulus plan proposed by President Obama, Mr. Boehner remarked, "$200 million for contraceptives — how is this going to fix an ailing economy?"

I am not making this shit up.

Now, even if you want to assume that Mr. Boehner isn't familiar with the Congressional Budget Committee's 2007 findings that funding for more comprehensive contraception options would offer a net savings at the federal level of $500 million, you still have to ask yourself...

What fucking planet does this man live on?

Apparently not this one, where having and raising a baby is a rather expensive proposition, prohibitively so for people who already can't afford reliable contraception, or people who have lost their jobs and/or home and/or savings.

But really, we know what planet Mr. Boehner lives on. He lives on Planet Stereotypical Conservative Republican Guy. It's a very special planet where anything that happens to a precious unborn child after it emerges from the womb is of no interest or importance to anyone.

Recipes

I know a lot of people are trying to lose weight right now, and I know a lot of people aren't interested in hearing about weight loss right now, so this post is not about weight loss, but it does contain a few recipes that I've been using/developing lately that are really good and relatively easy and happen to be pretty healthy.

I don't use a lot exact measurement when I cook, but in these recipes, that doesn't matter too much.

1. Zucchoodles
(Keith named these.)

I was peeling zucchini once (I don't remember why, I pretty much always cook it skin on), and I realized that the vegetable peeler made these perfect, firm ribbons. So I tried ribboning off the whole zucchini, and it worked, making about 6" long "noodles" of zucchini (often,the middle of the zucchini gets weakened till it breaks, but you can make short ribbons from the remaining halves).

I didn't want to boil them like regular pasta because of how mushy zucchini can get if overcooked or cooked wet, so I just sauteed them lightly in olive oil and some salt, pepper, and seasonings (you can select the seasonings based on your meal, but I really like tarragon and a little garlic), and they were perfect. As long as you don't overcook, they stay nice and firm and you can use them as a stand alone side, or under sauce, or any way you'd use pasta noodles.


2. Romescu Sauce

I heard this sauce described on a travel show and pretty much made it up as I went along. It turned out really well, and is fantastic on seafood and pizza (I like to make a quick whole wheat dough, shape it into shells, and freeze them between sheets of wax paper for the sake of convenience). If you're going straight-up, hard-core low fat, the hazelnuts and olive oil in this maybe a no-go, but they're both good monounsaturated fats and full of great vitamins and nutrients that are good for you and good for weight loss. You can also use all almonds instead of hazelnuts. In fact, you can make a lot of substitutions in this to suit your personal taste, as that's what I gather people in Spain do.

Essentially, I chopped up an onion, some cloves of garlic (I use a lot of garlic, but that's me), and a couple of good-sized red bell peppers and sauteed them well in olive oil, salt, and pepper (you can roast the peppers and garlic instead, but I'm lazy). Then I added a bunch of roasted hazelnuts (maybe a cup?), a good handful of roasted almonds, and about a dozen chopped up little tomatoes (again, you can roast the tomato instead) and sauteed a little longer, just till the tomato was cooked but not mush. Then I dumped all of it into my blender, added a good drizzle of olive oil, and pureed till it was smooth. If yours gets chunky and clumpy, add more olive oil will you get a good puree and nice smooth consistency.


Spinach Casserole

This is based on a recipe in an old, hippie-dippie astrological cook book of my mom's (apparently, you may especially enjoy this recipe if you're a Libra). It's high in protein, fiber, and iron, low in fat, and very low in carbs.

Take one bag of frozen spinach, dump it into a strainer, and run some warm water over it till it's mostly thawed (this doesn't take long). Then press out as much of the liquid as you can (this is important, and again, I am lazy, so I wouldn't tell you to do it unless it was). You can cook the spinach from fresh for this, but the difference in the end is pretty negligible, and you can't beat frozen for convenience.

In a biggish bowl, mix together a couple of eggs (you can use three if you want it a bit quiche-ier), a container of cottage cheese (I think they're 16 oz? I use non-fat, it works fine), and a handful of shredded low fat cheese (I use part skim mozzarella). Then mix in the drained spinach, salt, pepper, other seasonings to taste, and grate a whole bunch of fresh parmesan over the top and mix that in as well.

*Note: If you only have the green-canned parmesan, it will work, but I can't stress enough the enormous jump in quality and flavor that you will get just by keeping a big chunk of cheap parmesan or parmigiano-reggiano in a tupperware container in your fridge and grating off only what you need for a given recipe.

If it seems a little dry at this point, drizzle in some olive oil. Then throw it all in a baking dish, grate some more parm on top, and bake for about an hour at 350 (you'll see and smell when it's done). I like this as a side at dinner, or at breakfast time with a couple of chicken sausages.

Next time: soups.

Need advice

Does anyone know of a free online photo service that does a slide show where the photos will continue to loop indefinitely? Or at least one where when the slide show stop, it stops on one of photos, not on a grayed out screen that asks if you want to replay/share/etc.? I'm trying to put a slide show on our company website, and they all show the three photos and then go to an ugly screen. Any advice?