Life of Megan

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Quick Update about Dogs

Yukon Jack is going to be someone else's happy pet.

We are now pursuing a wonderful-seeming dog named Krista through the Cayuga Dog Rescue. The organization has a rather lengthy adoption process, so we're working our way through the steps. I know a lot of people think it may be excessive, but I really appreciate that they go to such trouble to ensure they've found the right family for the dog (and the right dog for the family). I can't help but think that if all organizations were as thorough, there'd be a much smaller need for animal rescue organizations.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Trying to Adopt...a Dog

Judson and I have decided we are ready for a dog. I've always wanted a dog. We had a couple when I was a kid, but for various reasons, they never worked out. Lady was too wild to be around my brother when he was still very little. Heidi was, well, I think she suffered a variety of problems as the result of being very inbred. Max was a great dog--we had him when I was at Clemson--but not only did I rarely see him, but he suffered terrible health problems and had to be put down when he was less than a year old. My mom got her shih tzu Lily a few years ago. I love Lily, but she's not mine.

But now, finally, I am in a stable environment, with a stable job. I have a fairly large yard. I live close to a dog park. We're no longer demolishing and rebuilding our kitchen. The time is right. I don't think Judson was as excited about being a dog owner at first, but I seem to have won him over.

We are trying to adopt a husky type dog. I want a dog that will run with me as far as I want to go. Judson wants a dog that kind of resembles a wolf and that does not constantly drool on you or drop balls in your lap. We'd like our dog to be at least a year old and to be housebroken already. We don't want a dog that is aggressive or that has extensive mental or health problems. That's about it.

We've found one excellent prospect, a husky-malamute mix named Yukon Jack. We met him on Tuesday, and he was wonderful. So now, we wait, read more about huskies, research other prospects if this doesn't work out, and try to figure out how to show that we'll be good owners even though we both work all day and that we're first-time owners.

Waiting sucks.

Anyhow, as we've read more about huskies, we've learned that they are extremely friendly dogs (to the point of being terrible guard dogs). They've very smart, but they bore easily. They can also be pretty stubborn. So we'll have our work cut out for us. But all in all, huskies seem to have a lot in common with Judson and me.

Time to go back to crossing my fingers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Music Lives!

Fleet Foxes may just be the best thing that happened to American music since Bob Dylan.

My brother got me the EP "Sun Giant" for my birthday; I bought myself the eponymous LP at Volume Records over the weekend. You know it's a good sign when the people in your small town's Indie record store, well pierced, rocking out to some 80s punk, grin and tell you that you've picked up a great album.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Thanks, MLK Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King Day, and I imagine this is the first time in years that many Americans are actually paying attention. Once again this year, I give you the text to the "I have a dream" speech. It has been forty-five years since Martin Luther King Jr. first uttered these words in Washington, D.C. It continues to be one of the greatest and most inspiring speeches in American history.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Leek-Potato Soup and Roasted Beet Salad

We ate vegetarian tonight, and it was pretty darn tasty! On the menu was leek-potato soup and roasted beet salad. I had a little leftover bread pudding for dessert. Mmm... bread pudding.

At any rate, my soup was one of those simple winter dishes that you can actually make from entirely local ingredients, even in Ithaca. For my soup, I started by sweating four leeks, half a celeriac (celery root), and three cloves of garlic in a bit of olive oil and butter with a pinch of salt. (Okay, the olive oil was Italian, but I could have used all butter. I just decided to avoid a little extra saturated fat.) Then I added 3 medium potatoes, cubed around 1/2" per side. I added enough water to cover the potatoes. I seasoned the soup with a little more salt and a lot of pepper. I brought my soup to a boil, then reduced the heat and let it simmer until the potatoes were soft. Then I pureed it with my immersion blender and added some milk to thin it a bit and to add a little more creaminess.

The beet salad was by far one of the best vegetable dishes I've ever had, and I didn't even know I liked beets until this fall. I started with two golden beets and with one red beet. I rinsed them and wrapped each in aluminum foil. I roasted them (on a tray--sometimes beet juices leak through the foil) at 425 F until they were fork-tender (I determined this by sticking a fork in them). In the meantime, I was working on the soup, and I mixed up a vinaigrette with 1 large, thinly sliced shallot, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp sherry vinegar, an overflowing 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. When the beets were finally cooked, I pulled the foil off and peeled them by rubbing them in an old, clean towel. Then I cut them into pretty little batons. There was some finger burning at times, but it works out all right. Then I just tossed my beets with my vinaigrette.

And that was it! Almost everything I cooked came from the Ithaca winter market. It was cheap, simple, and healthful. And nothing needs to be measured exactly.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Is the Balance Board Balanced?

I got a Wii Fit for my birthday this year, and I generally really like it. The games are fun, and it's always good for a clutz like me to work on balance. I like the way you unlock new games as you play the various games more. There's a nice mix of fun and challenging.

I am not so happy with the Balance Board character. I wish the guy would give me a break. If I weigh myself at the reasonable and recommended (by everyone outside of Wii Fit) once per week, he cajoles me for not doing my body tests more often. "You should at least come back for your daily body test!"

So I tried weighing myself every day. The third day, I had apparently gained 2 lbs. Is this possible in one day? Well, maybe, but I'm pretty sure that I didn't eat 9,500 calories the day before. My guess would be that it's water or hormones or different clothing. I'm not really neurotic enough for my Wii Fit. At any rate, my weight comes up, 2 lbs higher, and I think "Oh well." Then the Balance Board asks me to enter in why I thought I gained the weight.

Excuse me?!

So I look over the list. You can pick things like "Eating too much" and "Not exercising enough" and even "Eating after 7:00 pm." But try as I might, I see no "Look, asshole, it's just been a day--it's not real weight gain." I don't even see a friendlier version of this. I just closed my eyes, shifted my weight, and tapped to choose something at random.

Then the Balance Board says to me: "Did you know that your weight can vary as much as 5 lb from day to day? That's why it's important to weigh yourself at the same time every day. Your last weigh-in was at 6:00 pm."


I have continued losing weight since I got my Wii Fit. I think I initially set my goal weight to a BMI of about 23.7. My BMI is just a shade under 25. I think that when I started, it was just a shade over 25. For the record, a normal BMI is 20-24.9, and I have a pretty large/muscular frame.

After I had lost 5 lb, the Balance Board congratulated me on my success, and my average hatey level toward it dropped slightly. Then it continued. "Perhaps you should update your goal. Why not aim for a BMI of 22?"

A BMI of 22 at my height would be 128 lbs. In college, I weighed 135, and my body fat was only 17%--mid-range for athletes. To put it mildly, 128 isn't going to happen.

The Balance Board continues to suggest (randomly, as far as I can tell) that I aim for a BMI of 22.

Basically, every time I get on the Fit, before I can get to the games, I have to deal with the Balance Board and its hurtful ways. I'm glad that I'm strong enough not to be seriously affected by a personified piece of plastic, accelerometers, and load cells.

It's perfectly normal to stand there, saying aloud, "I can take you Balance Board. Your brain is dangerously accessible. You just wait; maybe this time, I'll actually jump when playing the ski jump game."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I'll be posting a longer entry in the next day or two.

In the meantime, know that I started the new (February) Runner's World core workout, and I feel as though someone has punched me repeatedly in the stomach. Owies!!!