Thursday, July 31, 2008

News rodeo

A service in Virginia matches retirement-age farmers with younger folks who want to farm.

Controversy in Sweden over children's books.

Police divers find a colonial-era archaeological site in Puerto Rico.

The UK's Olympic field-hockey team has opted to wear red contact lenses to see through Beijing smog. Disturbing on several levels.

PBS is cutting back on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. That's the thing about progress ...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Girls and math

Last week I posted a link to a study showing that girls and boys have roughly equal math scores on standardized tests. Well, as with any study, it's important to be critical and know what the data actually say, so here's a post from Economic Woman doing just that.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

With a side of classism

First NYC mandated that calorie counts be placed on the menu - at chain restaurants only - and now the Los Angeles City Council wants to ban new fast food restaurants. It's painted as a way to reduce obesity among low-income residents. The council wants to "lure" grocery stores and more healthful restaurants to the area. Do you need to ban fast food in order to do that? While the one, vaguely-Hispanic-named woman polled (are we to assume she's poor?) said she'd be willing to spend more on healthier food for her children, there are plenty of families who simply can't spend more on food.

This is asinine and insulting. It assumes that low-income residents need someone to restrict their diets for them. Like it or not, fast-food restaurants provide jobs - crappy, low-paying, unskilled jobs, but jobs nontheless. Also, banning fast food doesn't address foods eaten in the home. How does the city council plan to "lure" grocery stores to the area? Lack of access to grocery stores and farmers' markets is one proximate cause of obesity, but the root cause is that people are poor. Work on that and don't waste time, energy, and funds on these silly half-steps.

LA City Council
California Restaurant Association

UPDATE: Well, damn: LA blocks new fast-food outlets from poor areas (don't you just love that headline?)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Congrats, Shelby Woo!

The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo was a favorite Nickelodeon show growing up. The title character had all kinds of crime-busting adventures, but I really loved it because it was set in Cocoa Beach, Florida, site of my family vacations. I especially loved the episode set at Gatorland, because I loved (and still do love) that place.

So what did Shelby Woo do (ha) when her show got canned?

Why, she went to Harvard, worked as a senior financial adviser for Merrill Lynch, and married a senior vice president.

Congratulations, Irene Ng!

Mission: Accomplished

Well, I didn't end up going to Baskin Robbins. I didn't go to TCBY, either. Instead, I tried gelato for the first time. Tiramisu-flavored gelato. It was the closest thing I've had to a religious experience in a long time. It's creamy, sweet, rich, and the flavor was just right ... and I'm so damn proud of myself. I'm feeling a little like I need to work out today, but I think I'm going to wait until tomorrow. I will be okay.

And yes, there are photos. I'll post them when I get them.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Reactions: mixed well

I'm not sure how I feel about company wellness plans like this one. Preventive medicine, health education, and reducing costs are good things in my book. However, there are a couple of things that rub me the wrong way:

1. The company requires that all workers receive exams measuring "weight, body fat and flexibility," and then "ranks workers on their fitness, from platinum, gold and silver down to 'non-medal.'" Being healthy isn't a competition (neither is losing weight, I've learned). I also wonder what the standards are for each fitness level - can someone's health be adequately captured in three measurements?
2. They don't "pressure" workers to participate, but platinum members qualify for a company-funded three-day mountain-climbing excursion. "There's a way to engage everyone, even those that [sic] are really resistant," said the "Wellness and Life Enhancement" director.
3. It makes a lot of assumptions about what constitutes the ideal lifestyle. There's an anecdote about one participant who stopped smoking, drinking, ate healthfully, and was able to participate in the company trip.
The program "makes it easier to be able to attain a lifestyle that most people would want anyway," said the company president. That's one definition of "ideal;" there are many others - some that include drinking and smoking.

Ideally, you could find another job if the program really offended you, but situations aren't ever that clear-cut. I'm not saying that it's necessarily a bad thing for companies to offer their employees help and information on achieving better health. I think this particular program needs some modifications.

"Wellness" a Healthy Investment for Company

So much to talk about

I'm thinking this could be a rumor or otherwise overblown ... or maybe that's just wishful thinking: Playstation and Africa.

I realize it's just one study, but it still gives me hope: University of Wisconsin study finds no gender difference in math performance.

I don't agree with everything, but this Reason blog is starting to grow on me: Controlling poppies in Afghanistan is kinda dumb.

Disaster watch: Crappy levees in DC.

An interesting perspective on being in the minority (some surrounding graphics marginally NSFW)

Disaster watch 2: vacation, anyone?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

News roundup

Who'd have thought a "manganese crust" could be so beautiful?

Baby Tarbosaurus discovered in the Gobi Desert.

Disaster watch: Dolly soaks Texas.

It's about damn time.

At first I thought, cute. And then ... oh, not cute: the Six-Legged Fawn.

Congrats, Thomas Beatie.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I never personified my eating disorder (ie, I didn't name it or talk to it), but tonight I am damn pissed off at it. Perhaps not the disease itself, but some of the things that stem from it.

Exhibit A: Today in the fitness center I was mistaken for a boy. Again. Granted, I was wearing baggy shorts and a sports bra and I have short hair. But this is ridiculous. I want a butt. I want boobs. Goddamnit, I want to look like a fucking woman. It's not a great feeling when someone walks by and says, "Mike? Oh ... not Mike."

Exhibit B: The two interns from India cooked an amazing dinner for us all tonight. I'm proud of the way I ate, but I am freaking out about it now. They did something incredibly kind and generous - why can't I just fucking enjoy it?

Exhibit C: Remember my goal to have Baskin Robbins/gelato with my parents? Today I thought, well, we could just go to TCBY ... because their frozen yogurt has fewer calories and would thus be less stressful. I am a coward. I hate how part of me wants to get better and look normal and be healthy so, so badly; and another part of me is constantly plotting ways to shave off calories.

Exhibit D: I'm terrified of this weekend. I know going with my parents to my aunt and uncle's in New Jersey will entail lots of restaurant meals. That's right - I'm terrified of spending time with people I love.

Fuck this shit. Seriously. I know I need to gain weight. I WANT to gain weight - then I DON'T want to gain weight. I want to have breasts. I want to have dinner with friends and not obsess about it. Goddamnit, I want to put a bite of food in my mouth and NOT THINK ABOUT IT.


Stomach - good to go.

Next up - my creepy ribcage.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Another good thing

In all my grumbling yesterday I forgot to talk about something good that happened over the weekend (besides the whole getting-to-see-The-Boy part).

The Boy has a scale, so I surreptitiously weighed myself Saturday morning. I was two pounds down from the last time I had surreptitiously weighed myself at his place.

Not long ago, that would have elicited relief - whew, I'm not gaining, I'm not a hoss, I'm not a nasty blob. But Saturday morning was different. This is a problem, I thought. And next? I can fix this.

And I did - well, I got started on the solution. I went out with The Boy and our friends and I had a tasty hard cider, an ENORMOUS order of steamed mussels in tomato broth, crackers at a friend's place, and a cosmo to finish off the night. And I ate all the bread that came with my mussels. I went to bed that night smelling faintly of tomato and cigarette smoke (you can smoke in bars in Virginia!) and feeling good about myself.

Monday, July 21, 2008

So ...

I realize I did a lot of whining today. Chalk it up to confronting a very blah Monday after a rather action-packed weekend in D.C.

However, there are good things:

1. I was mad productive today at work.
2. Remember how a few weeks ago I was all het up about my stomach being large? I was at the gym today and I realized, duh, you dipshit, those are muscles. Good things to have, you know.


I am flat-out cranky - to the point where these "Ambush Makeovers!" on the Today Show make me want to punch somebody in the face. Look what they did to Lorene - she went from someone's grandmother to a wannabe Blanche DuBois. And it only gets worse.

Oh, it's worse than I thought. I'm on 53 out of 80 pictures, and not one of them has been a man or a woman of color.

I kind of hate myself, but I went through all 40 makeover recipients. No women of color. No men. They were going for their target audience, so I can't blame them - but good lord, how boring. They took an already uniform group of women and made them look even more like each other. Snore.

Not bad, Minnie

In response to some reporter's (rude) as to her worries about pregnancy-related weight gain, Minnie Driver replied:

"It's unhealthy and horrifying to me. Plan on seeing me fat, walking around Malibu, and proud of it."

Well-played, Minnie. But people, please - pregnant DOES NOT equal fat. There is, essentially, a Mini-Me factory in there. It needs room and things like nutrients.

And yes, the headline to that page is "Minnie Not-So-Skinny." Jesus God.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Africa's "last and least"?

Why this article really burns my grits:

1. It oversimplifies the issue. According to Herve Kone, who directs an unnamed non-profit in Burkina Faso (and is really hard to track down online), "it's a cultural thing." Women may have less relative status compared to men in Burkina Faso, but we don't know the details. What's the impact of colonization and independence? How did those change local concepts of men's and women's roles? In certain regions, the introduction of European ideals radically changed gender statuses, which prior to colonization had been much more egalitarian.

2. Who is this Herve Kone, anyway? And why didn't they give the name of his organization? Seriously, it's hard to find this guy.

3. Blaming the situation on "culture" rules out the mix of social, economic, and historic factors that helped to create the current situation. Would you say that crime and poverty in American cities is a "cultural thing?"

4. It's anecdotal. We're given the story of one woman and supposed to extrapolate this across all "poor nations in Africa" (read: Africa). What about the other families in the neighborhood? In the country? In surrounding countries?

5. There are numerous mentions of "African culture," as if all of Africa has exactly the same set of beliefs, values, and customs. Wrong. Statements like "polygamy is common in much of Africa" and "African culture clearly defines roles for men" are misleading. Africa is a CONTINENT. There's a lot of diversity going on there.

5. The pictures that ran with the article play to stereotypes about Africa. Barefoot little girl chasing food? Check. Crying elderly woman? Check. So does the final vignette, about (barefoot) children playing house amid street garbage.

This story didn't achieve anything beyond reinforcing stereotypes about Africa. Enough with these superficial human-interest stories.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A good person

Lois Lee is the founder of Children of the Night, a shelter for juvenile girls who have been arrested for prostitution. Instead of going to detention centers or group homes, these girls get medical treatment, counseling, and go to school*. In 28 years, 4,000 girls have stayed there. My list of heroes is pretty short, but I think Lee deserves a spot on it.

Article by Laurie Wilson at Good Magazine
Children of the Night

*It is 100% privately funded.


I've posted before about my lack of a secure body image. Recently I've been consciously trying to develop a semblance of one - I'll describe myself as "small," or I'll talk about my bony ass (metal folding chairs are especially torturous). Even when I say that, though, a part of me doesn't believe it.

Then there are times when I'm forced to confront it. Like at the barbecue, when a respected (yet grandmotherly) private-sector consultant urged me to get desert because I'm "so nice and slim." Or when I actually look in the mirrors that line the walls of the workout room*. Or when I'm alarmed by my cheekbones one morning. To truly realize that I'm thin, in contrast to the constant feeling that I'm not, is bewildering.

I'm too thin. I can say that now and almost - god, I'm so close - I almost really believe it.

So I'll do this - when my parents come down next weekend, I'll take them to Baskin Robbins or one of the gelato places out here. I will enjoy it; they will enjoy it (my mother especially). And then I'll make another goal. And I'll keep going until I don't get weirded out by my own wristbones.

*Why the hell do fitness centers do that, anyway?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Is it any wonder?

My psychiatrist and my nutritionist have both told me I think about food in "black-and-white": foods are either okay to eat or completely off-limits, awful, and will immediately encase my abdomen in a wall of jiggly fat.

But I'm not the only one - here are actual headlines of "health and nutrition" articles:

Six Worst Things to Eat at the Movies
The Six Worst Swimsuit Foods
Is this the Worst Drink on the Planet?
The 20 Worst Foods in America (the above were all written by the same fellow)
100 Smartest Diet Tips Ever
Skinny Trimmings
Best and Worst Halloween Eats
How to Avoid the Evils of Trans Fats
A Matter of Fat
Pot Bellies May Lead to Dementia

Sexy Summer Snacking

This could go on for some time, but I have to go to work.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Prairie doggin it

Two events yesterday worth noting:

First, I met the Most Well-Known Disaster Anthropologist yesterday! And ... it was rather anticlimax (that's been happening a lot this summer). I didn't get to talk to him much, and his presentation was cut short. Since he's pretty much a rock star, he's difficult to get close to. I'm such a science groupie.

Second, we were treated to a barbecue at this amazing weather/climate research lab. I swear, I have never seen a view like that - it was absolutely incredible. And even though I was a little keyed up over the food, I still managed to relax a little bit. I talked to some interesting people (not the Most Well-Known Disaster Anthropologist), including someone from the University of Akron and someone who's been in Ohio government for years.

Now that I'm finally starting to have fun ... we have to leave.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Y'all are probably sick of this

I just got an email from my boss who reminded me that, you know, it's okay to HAVE FUN at these conference things. And I have to say that today has been much less stressful, probably from the combination of de-puffed face, early-morning workout, and no actual responsibilities for the day.

I still haven't found the Even More Well-Known Disaster Anthropologist. I really hope he didn't leave.

Also, this hotel epic fails when it comes to food. Today there were cold cuts at lunch, so I talked myself into a slice of bread. I'd eaten about half of it when I realized there was MOLD on the bottom. I rule. Now I'm kicking myself for the chocolate I had for dessert. I'm not completely de-stressed, I suppose.

I should also mention that my family and The Boy deserve medals for dealing with my freakout phone calls.

Finally, I came across this entry over at ED Bites that is well-written and thoughtful.

Contacts insertion = success

Today is already better - I can see, my eyes aren't burning, and I don't have to record.

Last night I ran into some serious academic snobbery. I introduced myself to a pretty well-known anthropologist and we commiserated about being fish out of water - there are about three of us, plus an archaeologist; I've yet to hear anyone say "holistic." Then I asked if she had any advice for getting a job before I get my MPH*.

"Oh, don't bother with your masters," she said. "Go straight for your Ph.D. You don't want to lose your momentum."
I frowned. "But I want to get my MPH," I reminded her. "I want to do more applied work."
"Is that what you really want to do?" she asked, doubtful.
"Hmm ... well, I would ask (an even more prominent anthropologist in attendance). He'd know what to say ..."

Thanks. That was helpful.

*Masters in Public Health. Most of y'all probably know that, but just in case.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Walk it off

Stay hydrated, they told us. It's really dry out here; drink more than you think you should.

This does not apply to people with tiny bladders. Especially when they are responsible for recording sessions. And have to leave in the middle of it because they are about to explode.

Right. Epic fail. But I'm trying not to let it get to me.

I'm also trying not to be outraged that my teeny tiny bottle of much-needed Visine cost me $10. Suck it, luxury hotel.


So my eyelids are puffy and swollen - the right one to the point where it won't open all the way. My eyes themselves are red and my nose is running. I think I'm allergic to either my pillow or the detergent they use to wash the sheets.

Networking will be fun. I should replace the name on my tag with "McSquinty."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

De-gilding the lily

So maybe this isn't the best hotel ever. I just had the most god-awful meal - service was inattentive and slow and my small plate of wilted romaine hearts was $6. I'm guessing they weren't prepared for the number of people coming to this conference.

In other news, I'm overwhelmed. I'm back to feeling like I need to have my life mapped out NOW; I need to have my resume written, my job prospects in the bag, I need to Know Where I'm Headed. And I don't.

Additionally, food has been incredibly wacky today. I've probably eaten waaaaaaay more than I've needed, because it's all been munching-type food. Plus two glasses of wine. Plus peanuts from the plane. And two glasses of wine. And I need to stop, or I'm going to start writing down everything I eat, and that's a highway straight (back) to Crazytown.


This is by far the nicest hotel I've ever stayed at (please excuse the hideous grammar of that sentence). The "resort" is in the name should have been a giveaway. The beds in our rooms look like the kind you see at upscale home good stores, there's a flat-screen, even bathrobes. No coffeemaker in the rooms, though. I really should have brought more energy bars; I don't know what we're going to do for dinner most nights. We'll see.

I just hit a sleepy pocket. I wonder if I have time to visit the fitness club and get a shower before our meeting at 3:15. Or maybe take a nap. Ooh, nap. And shower. Then I will feel like a new(er) person.

Oh, I saw prairie dogs on the way from the airport to the hotel! From far away, you can pretend they're meerkats. Though prairie dogs are pretty darn cool.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Go west!

Tomorrow we're heading to Boulder, CO for an annual conference on hazards and disasters. I'm really excited, because:
  • It's the furthest west I've ever been
  • It's my first time in Colorado
  • It's my second time on a plane
  • It's my first time staying in a hotel with a spa and golf course
  • There are going to be a bunch of interesting people there
  • Apparently DRC interns are a well-received bunch
I'm less excited to be leaving here at 5 A.M. And being on a plane for 5 hours. And unknown food.
But on the whole I'm pretty stoked.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Today ... has not been good. The past few days, actually. We've got big presentations to do tomorrow - the big cheeses at the DRC are all going to be there. And after being in denial about The Future for so long, I am suddenly gripped by the need to have everything planned out RIGHT NOW. Cue hours of feverishly searching for graduate programs, jobs, internships; cursing myself for choosing as impractical a major as anthropology. No matter how much I love it, it doesn't exactly scream "employable."

And so when one of my fellow interns brought his special Earthquake Cake (get it?) to the DRC today, I just couldn't manage a piece. I tried an admittedly tiny piece the first time he made it, and it really is delicious. Today, though, it was too much. With everything on my mind, I didn't need a piece of gooey chocolate-sour-cream-pecan-coconut cake on top of it all. I feel terrible - he made something nice for us, and I turned it down.

Further proof that food is so much more than "fuel."

Ooh sexy sexy!

Hot hot hot!

Guess what her DOB is?

July 7, 1991!

Happy SEVENTEENTH birthday, Toni Garrn! I'm glad the fashion world is overjoyed by these uber-provocative pictures of a sixteen-year-old. You put Miley Cyrus to shame.

It's okay, it's fashion.

Toni Garrn at New York
Picture Gallery at

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

P is for ...

Pizza brown-bag again today. Wish me luck.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Without meaning to, I've become someone who doesn't watch TV.

Not someone who Doesn't Watch TV. That kind of person dismisses pop-culture references with disdain. "Oh, well, I Don't Watch TV." To this kind of person, programming is a vast wasteland; their time is spent on higher pursuits, such as yoga or gardening or Reading Important Books. My non-watching has more to do with my lifestyle right now. Sure, there's a little borrowed set in the common area, but I'm not in there much - I'm usually in my room, working/dicking around on the laptop.

Have I missed it? Not particularly. My television viewing during the school year is pretty spotty as well, and the good shows (30 Rock and The Office) are on hiatus right now. Additionally, online TV is preferable sometimes. subjects you to a whopping minute and a half of commercials for an entire hour-long show. For an anthropologist who gets a little too involved in advertising, that's a welcome change.

But I don't think I'm going to take up gardening when this internship ends. There are always marathons of America's Next Top Model.

Monday Morning ... rain

First hurricane of the season!

They chase ruminants, don't they?

The aforementioned hurricane would be just the thing for Californians.

My inner eight-year-old is extremely distressed, and not just by the atrocious puns. Government perspective and animal-welfare perspective.

Orangutans are intelligent, gentle, and disturbingly like us. The twenty-one-year-old me is concerned about their shrinking populations.

One person's pee is another person's fertilizer.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Things I Learned this Weekend

1. When you use words like "labiaplasty" and "vagina" in your blog posts, readership increases drastically.
2. There are so many important things in DC that it's possible to miss the White House.
3. The National Geographic Society would be a sweet place to work.
4. Octopus is DELICIOUS. No, really. Sweet, grilled baby octopus at this place.
5. Wine comes in big glasses at bars. It's not great wine, but it gets the job done.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Female Genital Cutting, USA-style

We weren't content to steal "ethnic" clothes from developing countries. We had to take their genital surgeries, too.

I'm only partly joking. There's been buzz on feminist blogs about Phit, which stands for "pelvic health integrated techniques". They are ... a med-spa for your hoo-ha. Judging by the "services" page, "pelvic health" is all about keeping you, well, tight. "Baby Boot-Camp," for example, is designed to counteract the (natural) effects of blowing an 8-pound miniature person out of your vagina. But what really gets to me is their "Lip Sync" service, aka (NSFW, or lunchtime) labiaplasty. If you for some reason think your labia are too long, too fat, or just plain ugly, a little snip-snip will take care of it for you.

I realize that Kegels and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can increase sexual pleasure for all involved in intercourse. But labiaplasty seems a lot like female genital cutting (some people say mutilation). I have neither the time nor the eloquence to adequately address all of the issues involved with these practices; suffice it to say that it's a big, messy issue that tangles religion and feminism and sexuality. In certain contexts, it's done for appearances (see this book for a detailed, thoughtful analysis). While some types of FGC entail the removal of the clitoris and infibulation, others involve only the removal of external labia. Which in Western parlance is labiaplasty, and completely acceptable.

This makes my head hurt. It's okay for a supposedly empowered, independent, Western woman to trim off her lady parts, but it's not okay for women to continue an ancient (we're talking pre-Islam) practice chock-full of cultural significance? And WHY are people worried about what their LABIA look like? Call me insensitive, but I think some people need more to do with their time.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Big Read's Top 100

  1. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  7. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
  8. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  11. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  12. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  13. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
  14. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  15. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  16. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  17. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  18. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
  20. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  21. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  22. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling
  23. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
  24. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
  25. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
  26. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  27. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  28. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  29. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  30. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  31. The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
  32. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  33. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  34. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  36. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  37. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
  38. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  39. Dune by Frank Herbert
  40. Emma by Jane Austen
  41. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  42. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  43. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  44. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  45. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  46. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  47. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  48. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  49. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
  50. The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
  51. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  52. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  53. The Stand by Stephen King
  54. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  55. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
  56. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  57. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  58. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  59. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
  60. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  61. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
  62. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  63. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  64. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  65. Mort by Terry Pratchett
  66. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
  67. The Magus by John Fowles
  68. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  69. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
  70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  71. Perfume by Patrick Süskind
  72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
  73. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
  74. Matilda by Roald Dahl
  75. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
  76. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  77. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  78. Ulysses by James Joyce
  79. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  80. Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson
  81. The Twits by Roald Dahl
  82. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  83. Holes by Louis Sachar
  84. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
  85. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  86. Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson
  87. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  88. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  89. Magician by Raymond E. Feist
  90. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  91. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  92. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
  93. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
  94. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  95. Katherine by Anya Seton
  96. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer
  97. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
  98. Girls in Love by Jacqueline Wilson
  99. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
  100. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

I saw this over on blogxygen and thought it was neat. The Big Read determined that these are Britain's top 100 books. The bolded ones are those I have read.

Most of these are certainly amazing. Goodnight Mr. Tom makes me weep; The God of Small Things ate my life for while; our copy of Watership Down is falling apart. I've got to say, though - The Princess Diaries? Really?

Brought to you by the letter P

Pizza joints are to Newark what bars are to Athens - prolific. Mom-and-Pops, big chains, specialties: they're all here.

I should mention that I'm afraid of pizza. I know
it's stupid. I've come so far, and yet it still freaks me out.

So far I've avoided the issue - when the other interns go out for a slice, I just say I'm not really a "pizza person." It's easier than explaining that my recovery isn't all-or-nothing; that parts of this are still a daily struggle. I don't really want my program coordinators to know about this part of me, either.

But sometimes I have to confront my fears. Today we had a "brown bag" session about survey methods that actually involved brown pizza boxes. There was salad as well. I knew this was on the schedule and I had tried to mentally prepare. I took a slice of cheese, of which I'm proud. Then I took off the cheese, of which I'm less proud. I can make excuses all I want - I ate a lot over the weekend, I'm going to be eating a lot this weekend, I've been eating more in general - but the fact remains that this 21-year-old woman is cowed by dough, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese. It makes no difference that the other interns can chow down without turning into Jabba the Hutt. The same does not hold for me - that gooey cheese will cause me to expand a la Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I write about it like it's funny, but the reality kind of sucks.

Fearing commonplace foods like pizza is not normal. I'm not talking about dislike, I'm talking about genuine fear at the thought of consuming a slice. I know better than to tell anyone what to eat/not to eat, but if you're feeling this way about pizza or chocolate or bread*, you might want to talk to somebody.

*I used to be afraid of these, too. So I guess I've made some progress.

How Capitol!

Did not die on the Amtrak train. In fact, I was very pleasantly surprised - I had more room than I did on the plane to Newark, and let's just say Greyhound doesn't hold a candle to trains.

D.C. itself was wonderful. Jim's condo is just as nice as he'd hoped, and Jim is, well ... Anyway, we trekked around the city on Saturday. I recommend Kramer's Books and Rocket Bar. We stopped by the National Gallery for an hour, but we could have spent days there. The Smithsonian Folklife festival was disappointing, and not just because it was hot as a baker's balls. What exactly does NASA have to do with folklife? But I was happy just to sit in the shade and watch people walk by. Creeper? Perhaps. Anthropologist? Definitely.

In other news, my university just gave its president an $85,000 raise. They also decided not to build that new medical center they've been planning because it's just too darn pricey. And so Hudson Health Center will remain in a creaky old converted dorm. Though these are the people who give out animal crackers to people with (misdiagnosed) anxiety attacks - putting them in a shiny new building would be like putting a Louis Vuitton collar on a billy goat.