All the news unfit to print.


September 2013

Book Review: The XX Factor

Alison Wolf traces the journey women have taken from the kitchen the the classrooms, courtrooms and beyond. Though laden with statistics and history this doesn’t bring on yawns, instead it makes you consider your place in the great machine of progress and wonder at the lives of the brave ladies who came before you, and more importantly, consider the implications for the future.

From start to finish Wolf uses Jane Austen as an example of the progress women have made (admittedly she focuses on the West, but does make an effort to include other regions of the world). We’ve moved from the limits of the house to the (almost) limitless world men have been inhabiting. I think the main point of her research is to show that though the pay and number may not be equal (YET!) we are getting there when it comes to gender. Through her multitude of examples it became easy to see that there is also a major paradigm shift when it comes to how more recent generations view equality in that the younger ladies tend to have a more limitless view, rather than focusing on one campaign.

Though the book covers some heavy, often complex topics (education, discrimination, childcare, self-care, politics, economics, social constructs, etc.) I have to say the fantastic transitions and segues speak to the solid writing skills of the author. This book throws information at you, and not in a way that makes you cringe and have flashbacks of college lecture halls, but instead resembles an engaging conversation between pals that can’t wait to share all they know.

Wolf flits between statistics, explaining why Hilary lost the primary, why “domestic service” has grown, how charities have been negatively affected by working women and how “successful” child-rearing is based so much on a mother’s priorities and career path.

It’s not a light read, but I highly recommend for anyone interested in the history and growth of women getting an education and making their own way in the world, regardless of what society dictates.


Master Disaster: Home Gym

I prefer a home-gym to a gym-gym because it’s cheaper and harder to ignore. My equipment consists of a stationary bike (because I can’t really jog around my neighborhood) and the following items.

Oooo pretty.

Now I didn’t just buy willy-nilly, I tried to focus on items I needed to work out what I’m working on. For example:

  • Resistance bands – use mostly for my legs when doing ballet warmups.
  • Ball- when doing certain crunches it’s easier to hold something this size (note: this is a Quaffle, don’t judge and don’t think you have to have one, any ol’ ball will do) (ball, hehe)
  • Weights – I just got these and GEEZ they have added to my routine and made my abs start to feel nice and solid (instead of gelatinous)

The key is that I don’t look for things that are limited to one kind of exercise and that are small enough to throw in a bag in case of vacation (hint: DO NOT THROW WEIGHTS AT LIVING or FRAGILE THINGS).

I like versatility because I know that I need to change up my exercise routine every day. Apparently your muscles have memory (who knew?) which is why it’s important to never repeat workouts. But don’t sweat it (or do, because this is a fitness post) because I frequently repeat my workouts.

Basically: Enhance exercise by looking for multi-purpose items that help you where you want help.



Forgive this fitness post for not being in Friday. I was busy getting a job and frolicking around the city in celebration.

Master Disaster: Unemployment FUNK

Perhaps I don’t complain mention this enough, but I’m unemployed. Yes, shocking that a person JUST OUT of graduate school wouldn’t immediately have a job lined up in this market, but alas, thus is my life.

There are a lot of things about applying for jobs that I should write about (like how looking for a job is a full-time job in itself), but tonight I will entertain you with a sweet story instead.

You see, I get in funks. Since my birthday I’ve been in a major one. I’m pissed I don’t have a job. I’m pissed I don’t live in the city I want to. I’m pissed I have $312 in my bank account. I’m pissed that my graduate school education seems wasted. I’m pissed the government is after the little money I do have.

So with all that positivity floating around it’s no wonder I stopped doing much. I didn’t go to events I had waited months for. I didn’t check my usual job sites. I stopped reading (I KNOW) (But only for three days, so chill). I consumed vast amounts of chocolate and sat around watching entire seasons of shows I absolutely could not stand.

And I kept seeing this down-spiral and not doing anything, or maybe considering getting up to do something, but changing my mind. Things kept piling up.

Until this morning. When my last boss sends me a cheerful string of texts at 7 a.m. (which is early for an unemployed hermit such as myself). I got another message later that day, from a different boss. Both instances reminded me that I can get a job (and at AMAZING offices too) and I have friends out there that can help me. So I may take them up on their offers to recommend me for specific positions or mingle with potential employers.

But more importantly I got off my ass and got back in the saddle. I began filling in new applications, throwing out expired listings from my queue and even looking into alumni meetings in my area (USC alumni happens to meet in the very city I’m living in so SCORE FOR ME/I don’t have to commute).

Then an author and publisher of a book I recently reviewed plugged said review on Twitter. I actually got out and socialized with PEOPLE. And I ended up getting two interviews this week, so let’s hope something turns around. (ONE IS WITH A DOCUMENTARY PRODUCTION COMPANY!)

Book Review: Star Wars: Razor’s Edge

In this adventure our heroes find themselves fresh off the success of defeating the Empire in A New Hope and in the midst of trying to build a solid Alliance (before Empire Strikes Back). On her way to securing a meeting for the Alliance Leia (and Han, by association) get caught up in an adventure with survivors of the Alderaan catastrophe.

The Star Wars Expanded Universe has come a long way since Timothy Zahn’s first foray, and this book follows in his tradition of forging new ground, yet maintaining the tone of the universe we’ve grow accustomed with. There are major improvements since the first novels, and this book shows that the characters can become dynamic and the plot can be compelling. We get the first whispers of something between Han and Leia, glimpses into Luke’s growth away from a home and a good amount of exposure to the rest of the rich universe.

I liked that the focus of the book was not solely based on epic space battles (though there are definitely space skirmishes, so don’t worry), but on issues that would sprout from massive warfare, like the refugee experience. Through Leia’s eyes we gain exposure to the pain of losing Alderaan and the attempt to find home with those that have survived. I’m assuming that the rest of this series (titled: Empire and Rebellion) will go along the same lines and build on the ships and crews we see here.

Leia and Metara are fantastic foils for each other, but also act to show that there are strong, female, leaders in the Star Wars universe. Both women want to do what is best for those under their protection, but both choose drastically different paths, which really drives the first half of the novel.

I highly recommend this for fans of: Star Wars books, Star Wars, Star Wars films.

Book Review: Mastering the Art of French Eating

If you’re going to indulge in one Parisian travel novel this year then THIS IS THE ONE. (Also, you will be hungry as you read the descriptions, so prepare thyself.)

A diplomat’s wife goes to Paris and explores the famous cuisine. No, this is not another bio on Julia Child, instead it’s an incredible wandering in the famous fare of France from Ann Mah. She isn’t approaching the topic as a life-altering journey in finding herself or as a food expert, instead she presents lovely personal stories mixed with research.

Each chapter is based on a dish and the region that it originated from. As a journalist I appreciate that she doesn’t over-dramatize her life in order to make a point. She spends equal amounts of time talking about her experience and the history surrounding the food she is discussing. Through her various conversations with locals you begin to appreciate the variety of regional cuisines in France. The experts are proud and, as Mah presents the food itself, we can see why. From peasant dishes to highly protected and regulated processes, we see the range of delicious eats that have piqued the interest of Mah and all those who have come before her.

I recommend reading this book with a well-stocked kitchen because you will be hungry as you read. Her descriptions are so vivid you can almost smell the lovely dishes cooking in your own kitchen or taste the various wines on your own lips. Luckily, she includes a recipe at the end of each chapter so that we can indulge our cravings properly.

Overall I felt that Mah’s subtle inclusion of her experiences as a diplomat’s wife in Paris matched well with her wanderings in the country. There is definitely a story within her own life worth paying attention to, but she focuses on researching the food around her in such an earnest manner that you too will feel swept up into the countryside to find the secret to the perfect summer soup, or the true recipe for beef bourguignon.

Check this out if like: food, travel, France, history, drooling in public.

Master Disaster: Embrace the Jiggle

Sure, looking for workouts seems easy, but actually doing them is completely impossible. I mean, who wants to get on the floor and awkwardly contort themselves? Especially if you live with people, have windows in your workout room or have judgmental cats.

Few people are completely comfortable with their bodies, especially when getting hot and sweaty in front of others. If you are one of the lucky few who is already pretty confident with yourself then GOOD FOR YOU, go to the gym.

If you aren’t yet ready to slap on some spandex and shake your booty in front of your exe’s friends (that’s happened to everyone, right?), then starting at home is probably the first step in getting yourself comfortable enough to emerge as an athletic goddess at the gym.

To get some calories burnt you need to ignore potential embarrassments. Draw the curtains, lock your door and kick out the cats. Sure, your neighbors/roommates may think you’re up to something strange/secretly eating a whole pound cake, but who cares? You are doing this for you!

I suggest staying away from mirrors if you loathe seeing yourself look like a sweaty frog. I suggest having mirrors nearby if you want to make sure you’re doing the moves correctly. I suggest diametrically opposed things sometimes.

If you start small you can build to greater things. For example, start with some basic yoga stretches, then move on to sun salutations and finally Crouching Jedi, Hidden Droid (that doesn’t exist, but there is such a thing as Star Wars yoga).

Put on some music that makes you happy no matter what and just dance around to it. Make a playlist of podcasts you’ve been meaning to listen to and go for a walk (try jogging if you feel adventurous).

Here’s a great video I made of my foolish self pretending to workout. It’s silly, and you shouldn’t really use your equipment that way, but it shows that anyone can throw themselves around a room in tight pants.

Dear Mrs. Chandler

I’ve been meaning to write, really I have.

I’m 25 now, but this tale really starts when I was 10, browsing the shelves at yet another library book sale I had been dragged to on my precious weekends. It’s not that I didn’t love reading, but most of the books for my age range were pretty old, so I rarely found anything to my liking. (And there was no way I was going to read Bridge to Terabithia for FUN!)

My grandma suggested I look through the classics, as I could always read them later in life for required coursework.

That was when it happened, a formative meeting between owner and book that would start and stop and finally continue on for years to come, despite the moving and chasing of various dreams.

The title itself would not have appealed to me, as I had most likely passed over it hundreds of times before, but the cover was gorgeous. Something about the psychedelic color scheme and not-yet-dusty pages appealed to my aesthetic preferences.

When I got home I tried my best to read it, but having never faced 1800s British literature I was somewhat confused and returned the book to a shelf at home, to be lost until the next time I was in want of leisure reading.

I finally read the book, most likely the summer before junior high. I would have been 12. I probably said I enjoyed the book. After all, the leading ladies ended up married, what more could they want?

I would reread the book you donated many more times. I would read it on road trips, in high school classes, in college lecture halls, in libraries, in parks, on the Metro, in bed when I first woke up, in bed when I couldn’t find sleep, on stairs as my heart was breaking.

I would find solace and pleasure in the book you left, most likely in an effort to clean out your home and do something for the local library. I would find hope and wit and love and hate and, most importantly, and pride and prejudice.20130918-184432.jpg

Continue reading “Dear Mrs. Chandler”

Inadvertent awkwardness

So I got out of the house today (GO ME!) and went to the Beats Antique show at Amoeba in San Francisco.

I’ve been a grad school hermit for a year, so making new friends is overdue.

I thought I had struck gold when I found myself browsing the same section as someone else. I made the following assumptions before attempting convo. (And I guess I shouldn’t assume things about people but I was just trying to make conversation.)

  1. We are at the same show, so we most likely have similar music taste.
  2. We are in the record section, so both of us have record players (probably) and record collections.
  3. We are both Bob Dylan fans (because that’s where we were perusing).
  4. Specifically his older stuff, before he sounded like he sold his voice to Satan.

So I took the plunge, I turned to him and said a little something about the album in my hand.

He looked at me. Picked up his records. WALKED AWAY.


I think I’ve forgotten how to Friend. How does one make friends?

Have the rules on friends changed since the last time I made friends?

In summary: I can’t make friends.

This reminds me of the time I got an eyelash in my eye while waiting on a crowded Metro platform. I started blinking (because, you know, eyelash) and this guy happened to walk past as I was doing that. He gave me the up-down and winked at me as he walked away.

So essentially I never have appropriate outcomes in social situations. I don’t know how I have the friends I have. What awkward start did we have?

Summary two: I need to get out more, and when I get out more, make conversation with more people. My chances of making friends will go up more. Maybe.

Master Disaster: Anthro Conference!

It’s been a few months (many, many months) and I really should get on top of working on the paper I’m presenting to the annual American Anthropological Association meeting in Chicago this year!!

Throw paper like a boss.
More like THROW DOWN this paper!

My abstract (which I will list in FULL below the cut) is about using vlogs as a form of fieldnotes. I’ve done this myself (check them OUT!) over the year, but I would like to know if others do this, want to do this or just how they feel about it.

So if you, or someone you know, is an anthropology major, please contact me so we can have a chat about new media in anthropology.

Continue reading “Master Disaster: Anthro Conference!”

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