Pie

Jul. 11th, 2010 05:12 pm
jookitcz: (l'essential)
It's the brother-creature's birthday today, and he has a bizarre predilection for tongue peelingly sour food-stuffs. The kid puts vinegar on pasta. So instead of a cake, I made him a modified lemon meringue pie. Modified, because I was too lazy to cook it from scratch (also because we had only one lemon), and also because making something exactly the way the package of powder tells you to make it is a waste. And also because we still had one lemon. So I zested all the zest from the lemon, then reamed it and added the zest, juice and pulp to the mix in place of 1/2 cup of water. Pretty good, right? Practically homemade? But I realized that it was still a lemon meringue pie, and what good is modifying a recipe if you can't give it a new name?

Into the spice rack. I added a couple of table spoons of ground ginger of dubious age and potency, then grated four pieces of candied ginger and tossed that in (also lost some knuckle skin, but I think I kept that out of the pie). Proceeded to cook.

The pudding smelled disturbingly medicinal, possibly because I cut back from 3/4 cup of added sugar to four tablespoons of added sugar. But it tastes fine, mostly just lemony, and with just a hint of a ginger burn if you are looking for it, or get a piece of the candied ginger. Which is fine with me, because for some reason, Dad and Keegan don't like it when I tinker with foods they like.

Weird!

Nectarines

Jul. 9th, 2010 08:21 pm
jookitcz: (Default)
Perfectly ripe nectarines are the most joyous food I know. When you suspect that the next bite might be leathery, but it's smooth, or you anticipate a thrill of bitterness, but it stays drowningly sweet-tart and drenchingly juicy--

As my brain revs and dies each day, and my self-confidence continues to wither, creature pleasures just seem to get better and better. Until a year ago, I would crave entertainment for my quiet moments. Not always, but pretty often. Now, I find sitting on the floor at home and staring out the window to be a pretty satisfying pastime. Not to think. I'm so over contemplation. But to just be eyes and skin, and be empty of numbers, lists, and 10 pt Arial, is like--being a vase of water, purposeful in not-spilling, and nothing else.
jookitcz: (Default)
I received the results for my most recent (third) actuarial exam, the MFE. 3 out of 10, where passing is a six. I am unsurprised, but hugely disheartened. There is nothing like failing at something that you work very hard at, but don't actually care about.

I used to feel fine about stumbling at my job, because I felt like my job was really difficult, and stumbling was to be expected. A year later, though, when most of my stumbles are the result of missing details (oh, I needed to adjust the coding to apply the prepayment credit to each of the quarterly required contributions because it now covers all four after removing the 413 adjustment? how did I not see that?) I just feel like I am secretly a brain-dead zombie, all the time. Like my real brain is wrapped in wax and suffocating.

The problem is this: working as an actuary is the best decision I could possibly make. I am so lucky to have this job! I am in the 99th percentile of being infinitely fortunate! I work in a beautiful building with reasonable people making a pretty fantastic starting salary for someone with only a bachelor's degree with a huge potential for earning promotions and raises and all that.

I also feel like I enter a stasis pod for nine hours a day, five days a week, in which I am conscious but not really alive.

It is possible that I am a spoiled brat who misinterprets her self-imposed discontent as a desire for abstracts like "meaningful interactions" or "intellectual fulfillment." Possibly, I am just too lazy.
jookitcz: (Default)
I bought a skirt this weekend.  It was relinquished to me in care of a beautiful, sturdy paper bag.  I bought fast food three times, used four straw/lid combos, a pizza box, two cups of coffee in paper cups, three glass beer bottles, one glass wine bottle.  Some napkins.  It was vacation.

I don't know where any of these things are.  Except the skirt.

The world seems full of invisible vessels.  Some material things are treasured and coveted, but most of them are garbage.  That seems so terribly wrong.  If I were to open my heart to every physical thing that I accept with my hands, would I be more discerning?  Realize sooner that there is no room in me to be responsible for the whole life cycle of the thing, and refuse it.    
jookitcz: (Default)
I was going to say, "It's not you, it's me."  But maybe it is you, Livejournal.  Here I was, wondering why I was putting up with advertisements that play in the middle of my page instead of just keeping it to a Basic account, and then I discovered, I am already as basic as it gets.  I have to say, I am not sure that I like this side of you.  And it's not that I'm into Facebook--you can understand why I spend time over there, right?  It's totally platonic.  Everyone else is doing it.  But I don't know if we can make this work.  I don't know if we can get back to the magic we once shared.

After attending the gorgeous, soul-enriching wedding of two friends and returning home to discover that my mom has decided to treat me with silent hostility (the cause of which I have not yet determined.  I'm sure there must be one, other than my returning from the wedding later in the day than she expected--that's all the reason I've gotten, but there must be more?) the world is dim and cool and my job (thank god I have a job I am grateful for my job) has taken one more day from me, one more day that I fumble through my own gauzy wrappings of incompetence on the slow crawl to master tasks that have no meaning to me besides the mathematical, legislative, logical, and organizational challenges that they present.  Another diverting, difficult, and empty day.  

And when I get home, twelve hours after I leave in the morning, I get only "Are you going to eat?" from my mom, and then, later, "Move this box into that room."  My dad and brother are no less sociable than their respective engrossing tasks allow them to be, and don't scowl.  

But just last week I was thinking how lucky am I to get along so well with my nearest kin, to make the stasis of living with them comfortably engaging! 

They are utterly within their rights.  Another couple hours of living in my head alone won't kill me.

Poem

Apr. 13th, 2010 09:55 pm
jookitcz: (Default)
A Stasis

After seven
the thirty-first floor softens 
like driftwood.

In the elevator well
I listen to the distant
exhalations

of pulleys.  Their endless debriefings
like the creak of cedars
growing past.
jookitcz: (Default)
Daylight Savings Time disturbs me. A girl gets used to riding the bus to work in the soothing, sleepy darkness, tracking the sun in time with her morning caffeine intake, and then getting to the park and ride at the end of the day before the sun quite starts to set. Then all of a sudden her morning is blinded by a fuschia sunrise and it's dark downtown as she leaves the building. Unsettling.

Strange day for working, anyway. Most of the actuarial exams are held once or twice a year, in November or May, except for the first couple. Almost everyone was gone today for studying, and--I mean, it's always quiet, but there's always clicking and some pension-related chatting--but nothing! It was kind of relaxing. Like working from home, but more fluorescent.

Ellen criticized me constructively today--I have efficiency down, but I need to trade some of it for self-checking before I hand a project off to be checked by someone else. Which I agree with, BUT she said this after handing a data project back to me (it was just collecting counts and average ages for retiree medical participants over 65) with corrections and questions all over it. And when I double-checked, almost all of the changes were a result of her misreading my work, not looking at the right part of the back-up, or forgetting that she asked me to cap the ages at 85. The only thing I needed to change was because I didn't understand that I needed for filter for marital status when looking up spouse data, because some of the birthdates were left over from previous years, and not all of them were for spouses that were still covered. But I think that's a pretty reasonable thing to not realize is an issue!

Anyway. Criticism taken, but I ALSO don't feel too bad.

Someone left a few Mounds bars in the lounge. Delicious.

And in other news, Karl Rove does not understand environmental economics!  I am astonished that nearly every fact and opinion cited in the article can manage to be so misleading.  Starting from the top!

The Price Tag Would be Huge: 

Rove argues that cap and trade would raise the price of energy for Joe Energy Consumer.  This is true.  However, any regulation of pollution will impose costs on the industry, and a portion of those costs (depending on the elasticity of demand) will be passed onto the consumer.  One benefit of cap and trade legislation is that the cost to industry is less than the cost of equivalent regulation, because it flexes so that those who can reduce pollution more easily will do so first, instead of forcing the needed severity of mandatory reductions across the board, regardless of who is better able to meet those reductions.

It will cost something.  But there is no free way to protect the environment.  Rove does not offer cheaper solutions.

Cap and Trade is a Regressive Tax

Fiscal conservatives.  "Regressive Taxes hurt Joe Average.  Progressive Taxes punish innovators.  Taxes are bad.  But stop feeding the deficit!  And buy more troops!"

Cap and Trade policy could be amended to be less regressive.  Caps would simply have to be a function of factors dependent on affluence.  Rove doesn't suggest this alternative, though.  He suggests throwing out the entire idea of cap and trade.  Absurd!  

Cap and Trade Would Shift Jobs Overseas

Because companies would rather NOT pay the government.  Unless we used the revenue from cap and trade to reinvest in American companies, with the caveat that they produce in America.  That's a short term idea.  In the long term, a successful cap and trade program could easily become a desirable global institution.  If nothing else, the last few years have proven that people will invest in the most abstract ideas--why not trading pollution credits?  And as the caps tighten, they will gradually change the cost-benefit equation for the green techniques and technologies that reduce the pollution for these American firms.  It creates an incentive for new ideas, and those new ideas will give foreign economies a leg up to reduce their own emissions.

The Policy is Not Properly Focused

I heard a local political ad on the radio the other day.  Two women were discussing the referendum that would expand civil union rights to make them nearer to being on par with marriages.  Their beef?  "Olympia is so out of touch.  Don't they realize that the economy is down?  Until it gets better, they're fools to be concerned with civil rights.  Show them that they're wasting their time by voting no."

Rove uses the same bizarre logic.  Africa has AIDS and malaria.  Stop trying to reduce emissions.

Also, why tax affordable forms of energy we have today to subsidize forms of energy that can't compete in the marketplace?  It's pretty simple, Mr. Rove.  Market externalities impose costs on people who have no decision-making role in a transaction.  Bicyclists breathe exhaust fumes just as much as motorists do (probably a little more).  One of the few appropriate roles of a tax is to make those transactions properly reflect their costs to society.  And one of the few appropriate roles for a subsidy is to allow an infant industry to get on its feet.  So actually, the tax and subsidy aspect of cap and trade is very constructive.

Unlike Rove's criticisms of it.  

Because he believes that a 4% worldwide emissions reduction is not worth $100 billion dollars.  The government is already using those bills to blow their collective noses (or to prosecute non-violent drug-related crime).  



jookitcz: (Default)
Sometimes I have to wonder about the idea of unconditional canine affection. I went to bed last night, and a few minutes after I turned out the lights, I hear little doggy feet coming down the stairs, and then scratching at my door. I staggered up, opened it, and there was Marley, our black yorkshire-terrier/toy poodle attitude ball. He wags his tail, licks my hand, and curls up next to me on the bed. He never sleeps downstairs with me. First I was afraid that his dog's intuition sensed some kind of unholy monster approaching, and wanted to be on the first lines. He seemed awfully alert for a dog that wanted to curl up and sleep. He would sit up now and then, and growl when he heard noises from the parents' TV upstairs.

Then when the TV noises stopped, he went upstairs. I guess he only came down to me because they were staying up later than he liked, and he wanted to spite them.

...adorable.
jookitcz: (Default)
It's done. I feel like I've lost a little bit of myself.

On the other hand, now I'll HAVE to update more often! But it'll be weird clicking "Post to jookitcz" instead of "Post to fairiebutterfly."

Maybe I won't even stop here. Maybe I'll purchase a PAID ACCOUNT. It's something to think about, now that I'm bringing home the bacon.
jookitcz: (Default)
I just discovered that at some point between when I began to use livejournal and today, livejournal has added a service to change usernames.

This changes a lot.

Is this the cusp of true adulthood? Turning points can take any of myriad subtle forms.
jookitcz: (Default)
I have spiders in my room. It's my fault for moving into the basement. And I wish our language had more specific words than "spider" to describe what lives with me. Spider could be anything. It could be the tiny, stocky fellows that you sometimes see clinging to your windshield, and who you pity a little while you accelerate until you've stopped looking at them and they've blown away. It could be daddy longlegs, which barely even count they're so fragile and lace-y, most of them a few gentle accidents short of the full eight-leg complement.

I have wolf spiders in my room.

That's probably not what they are. They could be any one of a hundred Pacific Northwest spider breeds, house spiders to hobo spiders. But wolf spider is what my parents called them when we were little and had just moved into the house (before we tamed it and banished the monsters to the basement), and they are large and dark and move very muscularly.

How large? Always the important question with spiders. The ones I've seen easily measure in diameter the length of the middle phalange of my thumb. I have long fingers. An inch, an inch and a half? Bigger? As big as an eye socket? An open mouth?

I woke up one morning and went into the bathroom and took off my clothes and stood on the cold ceramic while the shower flushed all the cold water out of the pipes. There was a rustling noise in the bathroom, stopping and starting. The window was shut, the air wasn't moving, and no one else was awake. I was so sure I was alone, except I wasn't making a sound.

The spider was in the wastebasket, trying at intervals to heave itself up the slick sides of the plastic grocery bag we use for liners, and failing. They are always startling, just to see how big they are, and to make me wonder, "How have I not seen you before? How many more of you haven't I seen?"

And for a minute I felt like it had trapped me, the way you might if you were standing naked in front of someone with a gun. And then it was a silly thing to feel, because it was trying so hard to climb out of the basket, and failing so sadly. Then I found a shoe, killed the spider, and showered, feeling like it was in the shower with me.

While I was reading tonight on my bed, I saw movement in my periphery, and it was a wolf spider on the floor next to me, crawling out from under my dresser. It stopped, and turned around to return to its den, easily, as though it hadn't meant to venture into the light in the first place. I'm sure it's still there. It's okay.

Although every morning, I check the insides of my slippers before slipping them on.
jookitcz: (the last unicorn)
MP3 players are neat. So are CDs. I have fond memories of audiocassettes too, the same way that I remember having fun making little elf houses out of moss and stuff in the woods. Happy, if not sophisticated.

But radio! In a world so customizable and personalizable so as to make each individual an interest group of one, radio returns us to a reality where there are gods controlling the day to day. If we listen to the radio, we are trusting in something out of our hands. We willingly imprison ourselves to faceless voices, befriending any amount of inane or entertaining chatter, because we believe that sooner or later, we will hear what we want.

And when hearing a song on the radio that you are startled to love, it's a happier moment because you didn't control its occurrence. And when the music fits your mood, you know that you are starring in your own biopic, and can indulge whatever solipsistic mental drama you want. And if the soundtrack doesn't entirely jive with your own current feelings about the universe, there is room for your mind to reconsider the potential for resonance and second meaning between the song and the scene.

And when you know that thousands of strangers are listening to the same words at the same time, as part of the same daily commuting ritual--isn't that kind of like community?
jookitcz: (Default)
Attempting a narrative:

I realized today that four weeks ago, I made a significant mistake. My active dataset had no indications to differentiate between employees and beneficiaries, and I went ahead and assumed that each individual employee ID # would be assigned to both the employee and the people attached to the employee. That was the way the inactive dataset had functioned (I think, I'll have to go back and suss it out now), but hey, why not mix it up a little? I'm sure it made sense to whoever put the data together, who clearly assumed that no one would need it to be useful

I will fix that tomorrow.

Blogging about my life could present some emotional challenges. The above account of my day's major plot point could have been five times longer and more involved, but to what point? When I'm writing, I assume I am talking to my friends, and it's hard to ignore the unlikelihood of their interest in the minutiae of data reconciliation.

Lonely are the high crags of actuarial prepwork.

Yesterday, I returned from a weekend trip to see Spencer, Las Vegas, and Zion National Park. The last deserves some kind of description, but I can't imagine that it affected me much differently than the myriad artists, poets, priests and pilgrims with wider eyes than mine. The cliffs were tall and bright. The sky was blue. The verdure was startling, the geology was astounding. Adjectives, quiver in insufficiency.
jookitcz: (Default)
Regarding scholarships versus popularity:

"I care more about what my friends think!"

-- Zac Efron, High School Musical 2

Disney, come on. Are you selling out positive messages to be friends with a bunch of high schoolers?

Pintism

Apr. 28th, 2009 01:22 pm
jookitcz: (Default)
I just discovered Redactions.com. It's wonderful. Among their suggested exercises for poetry writing:

Cut for length and because too much happiness may cause disorientation... )

http://www.redactions.com/poetry-assignment.asp

Recipes

Apr. 18th, 2009 03:39 pm
jookitcz: (Default)
New drink recipe: 

One part vodka
One part coffee liquer
One part chocolate cream liquer
1/2 part creme de bananes
Two parts milk

Shake with ice, strain into glass.  It tastes like a milkshake, but with the fantastic side effect of tipsiness.  I still need to name it, or it's going to be called 'the milkshake drink' until our house runs through all of the ingredients.  

In equally big news, I have a job.  Watson Wyatt wll be hiring me as an Actuarial Analyst in June, and I'll be working in their Seattle office, six blocks from the waterfront in downtown Seattle, which will be amazing.  I will be living with my parents, which is less amazing, probably, but I can handle it for a year or so.  And if it becomes too stifling, well, there are other options!  I'm excited, and also a little terrified.  On one hand, I'm extremely, extremely lucky to get such a great job.  On the other, what if I'm terrible at it?  My daydreams about the job have taken on a very sinister turn.  

Well, actually, the alternative is pretty easy.  I'll attend bartending school and work in some tropical country until I meet visiting royalty and am whisked away to a glamorous life far away from any mean or rude numbers.  

jookitcz: (Default)
 It's very strange, reading old entries and old drafts of emails.  The voice on the screen is so different from the voice that's now living in my head.  The old voice was braver and stupider, and had a weaker grasp of sentence architecture.  God knows what I'll think of this entry two years from now.  

I need to journal here more.  With graduation approaching, I feel like I'll wake up soon with no proof that my life has ever happened.  And there are some things, like the sound of the piano drifting upstairs, or the way the snow freezes to ice like bread goes stale, or all the crap that falls down into the brown carpet of my bedroom to never be seen again--that stuff needs documenting.

I'm reading Wallace Steven's Harmonium.  In the midst of all the crazy vocabulary going on is this:

Twenty men crossing a bridge,
Into a village,
Are twenty men crossing twenty bridges,
Into twenty villages,
Or one man
Crossing a single bridge into a village.

Of course, a sentence in another poem goes something like, "A man so used to plumb the multifarious heavens felt no awe before these visible, voluble delugings, which yet found means to set his simmering mind spinning and hissing with oracular notations of the wild, the ruinous waste, until the steeples of his city clanked and sprang in an unburgherly apocalypse."

So his restraint in the former impresses me.
jookitcz: (Default)
The problem with taking a poetry writing class is that phrases like "sad apple" end up getting given shelf space in your head, in case they end up useful at some point. And I think sad apple sounds pretty happy. Sad apple! she said brightly. See?

I am extremely suspicious of poetry. I feel a little silly writing it. Unlike fantasy, which never makes me feel silly because if you're the type of person to write fantasy, then you are automatically less likely to be accused of being pretencious. We just want people to have a good time. And I definitely don't want to be a poetry writer. I just want to be a better writer.

Sad apple.

It's going to be a fun semester, I think.