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All posts for the month December, 2010

I’ll Take ‘Manners’ for $1000, Alex!

Published December 28, 2010 by Hemlock

So, I don’t have too many pet peeves. Well, maybe I do, but at least they’re realistic… at least I think so. My husband will probably tell you differently.

What brought this on, you ask? Well, my answer is this: I’m at the cafe section of a popular chain bookstore. The only hint I’ll give you is that they don’t carry Starbucks.

Now, they have plenty of tables and chairs, and some of them are even cushy. However, there is a serious lack of power outlets. Sure, there are a couple, but the problem is that there are only three or four of them and you can only plug-in two laptops per outlet. This is okay, too, except for the fact that the way they have the tables arranged, there’s really no way to have reliable access. They usually have the big tables that seat four directly in front of the wall outlets, so this means that there is usually plenty of room to spread out your various college books and get to work.

The problem arises, though, when there is a single person sitting at those tables and they don’t have any devices with them that require that power outlet they’ve commandeered. Yes, you read correctly, my Friend. One fracking person taking up an entire table that would normally sit four. Plus, this would normally power a minimum of two laptops but in a lot of cases these outlets will power even more since a growing number of people are now carrying around these mini surge protectors.

It wouldn’t be so bad if there wasn’t a sea of the small tables sitting there all empty and lonely.

It’s generally known now, that if you go to a bookstore cafe, it will be filled with people clacking away on those pesky laptops. Cafe’s aren’t what they used to be. Yes, people still grab a magazine, order a coffee and then sit down to read for a bit. However, more and more people are gravitating towards coffee shops to do their college coursework. Why? It’s quiet (unless it’s that other bookstore that sells Starbucks!). It’s really that simple.

What I really hate is having to bother people to get access to the outlet. They look at you as if you were asking them to take over for Atlas. Seriously! All I’m asking is to use the damn plug-in that you’re not using.

So, if you are one of those people who doesn’t take a laptop with them to the book store, please listen to the following: When you choose a table, take the time to check and see if there is an outlet on the wall. If there is, and there are other tables available, take the other table. If there are no other options at the time, don’t act so butt-hurt if one of us laptop geeks asks to use the outlet. We could be your child’s teacher one day, or even the President.

Mike Rowe: Here’s to you!

Published December 9, 2010 by Hemlock


I’ve always had a lot of respect for Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs. However, after the episode that premiered on December 7, 2010 titled “Custom Meat Processor” my respect for him has grown exponentially.

For those of you who don’t know what a Meat Processor is, it’s a Butcher. It’s just the more politically correct term. I was impressed by Mike because this particular Job he was on involved a Mobile Butcher. This is a person(s) who goes out to a location, usually a farm or ranch, and they perform the whole process that spans the butchering of the animal, dressing of the carcass, and then preparation of the various cuts of meat available on the individual animal.

What was amazing was the fact that Mike did the job from beginning to end. That’s right, he actually put the animal down, with a bullet to the head and then bled the animal out by cutting the jugular. They didn’t show much of that part out of respect for their more squeamish viewers, but we did hear the shot, and we saw the squirting blood. He did the most difficult part of the job, and he put his all into it.

Mike was very surprised at how much more humane this type of butchering was when compared to the gigantic processing plants we have.

Personally, I really feel that people need to see how their meat is processed from beginning to end. They have no respect for their food. So many people find it easy to just accept that their food comes pre-packaged from some farm where meat just grows pre-cut and in the package.

I’ve been fishing on and off for several years. I don’t really believe in catch and release as I feel if you’re going to cause harm to an animal, then you’d best have a reason for it. In my case, my intention is to eat what I catch. I kill my own fish, and it’s not always clean, but it is quick. My youngest sister killed her first fish when she was only 11 or 12 years old. Was it easy for her? No. Absolutely not. Matter of fact, it was a hard lesson learned.

You see, she didn’t understand why I clocked the fish on the back of it’s head, therefore severing the spinal cord. I tried explaining to her that it was the most humane way available to us in the field. When she finally felt ready to try killing her own food, she didn’t get it quite right, and she got scared. I took it from her and finished what she’d started.

On the next fish, she insisted that we simply remove it from the water like the other people she’d seen. I didn’t like doing this, but I understood that this was something that she needed to see. So, we let the fish pass away slowly outside of the water. When she saw it gasping, and suffocating to death, she almost cried. However, she looked at me and said that she understood. She killed the final fish of the day, and she took her job seriously. She now kills all of her own fish, and many of mine. She feels that it is her responsibility to ensure a quick passage from life to death for the animals she’s chosen to eat. As a side note, she also cleans all her own fish now. She’s getting very good at it and her dexterity with a knife increases every season.

I went through a similar experience the first time I acquired rabbit for myself and one of our dogs (she was fed raw). There’s a woman who raises meat rabbits about a 40 minute drive from where we live. I purchased 3 rabbits, and I chose all 3. I insisted on watching the butchering and bleeding process. When the first two were done, I also insisted on killing the last one. If I was going to eat these animals, and use their hides, by God I was going to look the animal in the eye and give it the respect of dying by my hand.

You know what? That was some of the best meat I’ve ever had. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that they were fed a good quality feed, and were treated well. However, I also think that because I’d had a hand, though a minimal one, in the preparation of my food it tasted better.

Was it harder to butcher the rabbit than the fish? Yes, it was. I’ve always thought of fish as unthinking and simply a food source. With the rabbit, though, I had one as a pet as a child; her name was Dusty. Yet, these rabbits had been raised for food.

I know a lot of vegans are going to be horrified by my post, but the fact of the matter is that plants also emit a distress call when cut, or pulled out of the ground (two studies can be found here, and here).

I don’t eat much meat, but I do eat it. I think it’s very important to know where your meat comes from, and once I’ve have the ability, I will do my darnedest to either raise my own or procure my meat from a source I desire to support.

Il dolce far niente

Published December 6, 2010 by Hemlock

I’m going to start this blog out by saying: Everyone needs a break sometimes.

Sometimes life just gets the better of you, and you need a break. When we’re kids, we’re in such a hurry to grow up and take on the responsibility of being an adult. By the time we get there, though, and the innocence has worn off, life seems to have us in a stranglehold.

It starts out easy, for many, but not all. Some of us just seem to come out of the gate running, and others need a good push. However, at some point, Life gets us all.

The littlest things become huge, and the big things become insurmountable.

I often wonder if it’s only us Americans who seem to be living the rat race. We’re always pushing to get things done, and to simply survive. I mean, think about it. We spend at least 40 hours a week away from home and family, only to come home and work some more. We have laundry to do, we need to cook for our families, clean our homes, do our schoolwork, and so many other things. On the weekends, we may catch an extra hour or two to ourselves, but in the end, we’re still just doing chores. Only very rarely do we take the time to simply enjoy living.

What matters in life is family, friends, food, video games, self, and peace. It’s a simple list, but those really are the only things that matter. To me at least. I’m sure that everyone’s list is different, and I’m sure that some people will say it’s not long enough. You know what, though? Sometimes we let our list get too big, and we simply are unable to do it justice.

We can be part of the rat race, and work those 40+ hours a week, and justify it by saying we’re fulfilling our lives by caring for our family and friends, but the reality of the matter, is how long has it been that you simply enjoyed their company? That’s why family and friends are on my list. Do I enjoy feeding people? Yes, but what matters is the love and companionship. Some of the best moments of my life are those where I simply sat on my couch with my husband as he played some scary video game, and I did nothing more than enjoy the warmth of his body as I snuggled against him and offered up the concessional screech as something jumped out at us from the shadows.

Those are the simple things in life I’m talking about.