Monday, October 27, 2008

Things to Know About the Constitutional Convention (Con Con)

On November 4th, Illinois voters will be faced with a decision to vote for or against a convention to write a new state constitution. I want to urge any reader to vote AGAINST "Con Con." Here's why:

- To hold a convention to discuss writing a new Illinois constitution will cost taxpayers between 78 and 100 million dollars. That money could better service schools in Illinois, rather than writing a new constitution that was just rewritten in the 70's.

- A couple years ago, the Illinois governor borrowed money from public teachers' pension fund and allocated that money to the Chicago bus transit system. As of right now, law requires an eventual reimbursment of the teachers' pension fund, no matter if the state has the money to pay it back or not. If a new consitution is written, the reimbursment to the teachers' pension may be dropped, saving the state a lot of money but leaving the poor educators of Illinois without their well-earned retirement money.

Con Con is an unnecessary event that Illinois does not need. A constitution written in the 1970's is considered a "fairly new" constitution that does not need revision at this time. In addition, the educators of this state deserve better than this. They work hard for little pay and little respect, and uneducated voters who randomly choose "yes" to Con Con may be condeming teachers to a scary future with little chance of any retirement whatsoever... not to mention a tax increase for all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Can I just say...

I'm sick of extremely conservative Republicans (like my mother-in-law) who vote straight Republican just because they are Republicans. BLAH.

Now, it's known that I'm one to impart my opinions (and it's my blog, so I can do so here), and it's also known that I'm quite a liberal Democrat on most issues. But, never will I go to the polling place, look at the candidates blindly and vote straight Democrat just because they share my party. I believe in educating yourself about the candidates' views and voting only after you have an idea of what the candidates are all about. This past election, I voted (in early bird voting) on three things: Illinois Constitutional Convention (more to come later about this), the President/Vice-President, and a state senator. That's it. Why? Because those are the issues/people I knew enough about to vote for/against them.

Not my mother-in-law (or father-in-law or brother-in-law, for that matter). When they see "Republican" next to the candidate's name, they know he/she is the right one to vote for... every time! It's as easy and as mindless as that!

And here's another thing that gets me... my mother-in-law recently said, "I'm not voting for Obama because he supports abortion." Really? Abortion? Is that the only issue you're looking to vote on? While the economy is in the dumps, and the middle class is becoming extinct, and unemployment is at an all-time high, and billions of dollars are being wasted overseas, and education in America is becoming a joke... the only thing you'd like to see changed is the laws on abortion? Wow. I guess in my mind, there are so many other horrible things going on in this country that need to be fixed, abortion isn't on the top of my list. Do I think it's disgusting? Yes. Would I personally ever have it done? No. But, I am completely against the government telling a woman what she should and shouldn't do with her body. THAT, I think, is crossing the line.

So, my point in this rant is to PLEASE be educated on the issues before you vote. Take the time to understand each presidential candidates' views and priorities, and see how they fit with yours. That, I believe, is really making your vote count.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


If Randy and I were never planning on having children, and if we didn't have two dogs, and if we didn't have so much stuff, this is where I'd want to live:

This is an eco-friendly house built in Wales. However, I believe my sister would endearingly call it a "hobbit house." While I'm not sure on the square footage, I found it on, so I'm inferring that the house is not grandious in size.

I got interested in tiny houses from a news report on CNN about people who are drastically down-sizing to houses around 100 sq. feet. It's definitely a different way of life, but I can understand the peaceful night's sleep one gets knowing that a mortgage payment and utility bills aren't draining the pocketbook. Alas, I'd have to ditch a lot of belongings... and possibly a husband to be able to survive in a tiny house that's really made for one-person living. Especially since my 1500 sq. foot house at times seems too small already.

For more information about this house, visit

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Things I'd Love To Say To Professors*

- Why is it so difficult for people to become teachers between the grades of K and 12, but there are no strict qualifications for people to become professors? How does field experience alone qualify you to be a "good" educator?

- I understand that we may doodle on notebooks, check our facebook pages, and daydream in the middle of class, but we are legal adults. So, please treat us accordingly.

- In a short period of time, we will become your professional peers. So, please treat us accordingly.

- "Mental health days" are real, and graduate students do take advantage of them. If you don't believe in these days, we will subsequently be ill, have a death in the family, or have devastating car troubles... whichever reason you'll deem excusable.

- While you may chuckle in delight with your cunningness and creativity, assigning literature abstract reviews has indeed been done before. In every single class. The same goes for power point presentations.

- Soap boxes never do what you intend them to do. Like a teenager rebelling from strict parents, graduate students just end up loathing the subject of the rant, rather than becoming increasingly passionate about the said subject.

- Please keep in mind that we are paying our hard-earned (or hard-borrowed) money, so if we choose to skip class, it's on our dime.

- Please also keep in mind that because we are paying a pretty penny to gain your worldly knowledge, please avoid outlining the textbook for your lectures. We are capable of reading and comprehending.... amazing, I know.

- THE BIGGEST PET-PEEVE OF ALL GRADUATE STUDENTS is when you read word-for-word off of your power point slides. As stated above, we are capable of reading and comprehending. A three hour story time with the professor and the power point is nothing less than torture.

* Disclaimer: this blog entry comes only from my point-of-view and personal experiences with professors in graduate school.

Just one of the many.

I have a new pet peeve. I know I'm not perfect, and I'm sure I'm guilty of doing some things others loath. But, this is one that's just gotta be said.

There's an epidemic going on in the grammar world. I see it everyday. It's the "I" versus "Me" issue. The truth is, soooo many people have no idea when to use the subject pronoun "I" and when to use the object pronoun "me" in everyday language.

A good example would be the following. Suzy Q is on facebook. She tags a picture of herself and a friend. At the bottom, she titles the photograph "My friend and I."

AHHH. An offense has just been committed. MYTH: Saying "I" in all situations of grammar is appropriate and correct. After all, it's only polite to put yourself last and proper to use "I".
WRONG! Here's an easy way to know when you need to use "I" or "me".

Wrong sentence: "It's important to you and I" If you were to take out "to you" in that sentence, you would be left with, "It's important to I." That doesn't make any sense at all.

Right sentence: "It's important to you and me." Do the same exercise. Take out "to you" and you're left with "It's important to me." Ahhh, much better.

So, you're probably wondering why the heck I care so much? Well, I'm a bit neurotic, but I also care about grammar. And it gets me when I see sooo many people making this mistake. I know they think it makes them sound more educated, but really, to educated people, it just sounds stupid. It also gets me when I see people who are teachers making these mistakes. Call me a jerk, but I feel like if you're going to teach it, you, yourself, need to do it correctly.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A few things.

With no specific topic in mind, I decided that I just had a few things to say.

* Early voting in Alton is wonderful. Randy and I went down to city hall at noon and casted our votes. No early-morning lines on November 4th for us!

* I think I have a gift to thrift. Or at least be a penny-pincher. Perhaps it's more a question of nature vs. nurture, but nonetheless, it's a gift. While Randy and I were about to spend $500 for floor tiles for our basement, I realized that our perfectly flat, crackless basement floor would look great painted. So, we have been busy tearing out carpet, accidently getting high on adhesive remover fumes, and painting to our hearts' desire. Yep... we saved $375 in total. It feels great!

* Cable has been cancelled. And we don't miss it. Ha! Take that, Charter!

* I love sleeping under a pile of blankets while the cool, fall air creeps into our open windows.

* I only have to go to work one day this week. My life is good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Official.

Randy accepted the new position as an automotive claims adjuster for a bodyshop in Missouri. With that happy news, we promptly cancelled cable. As much as I'll appreciate my husband's sanity and happiness with a different job, we'll definitely be cutting back. Next on our list: buying a car.... or truck, rather. His father is selling us his truck for dirt cheap and no payment timeline in sight. *sigh* But I hate owing family, so we'll be making the payments sooner than later.

Other news? Randy and I have been successful vegetarians for over one week. Direct quote from Randy: "It's really not as bad as I thought it would be." So, with buffets and a weekend home to my parents' house out of the way, we're still 100% vegetarian. We did not cheat. No meat was eaten. And it feels good. Another reason it felt good to be a "no-meat eater" was Oprah's show today (I got to watch it just before the cable was cut off). Her show was all about being a consciencious eater, knowing where your food comes from, and making ethical, informed decisions. On the show, Lisa Ling (does anyone else remember her from Channel One?) went inside commerical chicken, pig, and cow farms and compared them to free range and cage free farms. At the end of the show, I felt like I was doing my part to increase the humane treatment of animals... now if only we could get more people on board. Hm.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A season of change.

It seems that as Fall has come upon us, more change has been ushered in. Within one day of each other, Randy and I both got job offerings. Both were exciting to think about... for Randy because he hates his current job, and for me because I've never had a real job. However, with the positive aspects, there are definite down sides. For Randy, he'll be taking a pay-cut and will have to work a full year before he earns any vacation. His hours are a bit longer. His benefits will decrease a bit. And (this is the worst part), he'll need to buy a vehicle. For me, the pay is almost insulting, considering I'll have a master's degree. But, that's the only bad part. Everything else (like free health care, 3 months off in the summer, and working with people I really like) is simply awesome.

We've got some decisions to make in a short amount of time. And it's an understatement to say that making such a change is stressful, especially with an economy that is less than stable. We'll be penny-pinching a while before I can take my job in late April or early May. I guess these are the days that we'll look back on and laugh because we were young and poor. At least, I hope I'll be laughing....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Vegan Brownie Recipe

Ultra-Fudge Brownies (12-16 brownies)
1 ¼ whole wheat flour
1 c. sugar
½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 tbl. Canola oil
1 tbl. Vanilla extract
¾ c. firm silken tofu, crumbled
½ c. water
½ c. pure maple syrup
½ to 1 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Mist an 8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and stir together until well-blended. Combine tofu, water, maple syrup, cocoa powder, oil and vanilla in blender and process until completely smooth. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Fold in walnuts. Pour batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake on center rack for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes clean. Cool brownies in pan. Cut and serve.

Per brownie: Calories 183, Protein 4g, Carbs 28g, Fat 7g, Fiber 3g.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Yep, still vegetarian.

This is day three. And I'm still going strong. My diet really hasn't changed that much. But, I'm much more aware of what I'm putting into my mouth. Here's the run-down of a typical day.

* slice of homemade zuccini bread with a cup of blueberries

*soup or left-overs (today was spaghetti with marinara), applesauce, and carrots

* tonight we did stir fry with rice, whole wheat chips and bean dip
* homemade whole wheat brownie for dessert

Yep. That's a glimpse at "going vegetarian." See, there are still things you can eat. And I'm not starving. And we're already having some success. Randy just weighed himself tonight, and he's down 5 lbs. That's 5 lbs. in two and a half days. Hooray.

Now, the total test: visiting the folks this weekend who have the idea that a meal isn't a meal unless meat is on the plate. Hm. A test for sure.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"Then what are you going to eat?"

I'd say the title of this post could sum up 100% of the reactions of the people I told about my new vegetarian lifestyle. And the whole time, my wonderful, meat-loving husband (who is always up for trying my new whims and will also be trying the vegetarian lifestyle) sat and took it like a man. Well, at least he defended our choice. That's one of the many benefits of having a great husband....someone who will be there in the trenches with you when no one else is.

So, how is our first full day going? Surprisingly well. I knew that being a vegetarian wouldn't be as hard on me as it would be on Randy, but still, he seems to be doing just fine. Our menu for the day includes a breakfast of whole wheat french toast with sauteed apples, a lunch of Boca Chik'n Patties and whole grain chips with bean dip, and dinner will most likely be pasta with marinara and loads of veggies. In all my cooking fury (as I'm getting ready for a week of vegetarian-prepared meals), I did get some baking in. I made fudgey brownies with whole wheat flour. Haven't tried them yet, but they smell and look like the real deal, so we're keeping our fingers crossed. If they're good, perhaps I'll share the recipe with my non-vegetarian/vegan friends. If you're nice. :)

Friday, October 3, 2008

So, I've been thinking...

of becoming a vegetarian.

Unlike my usual pattern of decision making, this one has actually taken me a while. I began considering a vegetarian lifestyle in the early summer when I was reading about the reality of the meat industry and the near-extinction of farms as we imagine them (instead of Old McDonald, think massive structures of over-crowded animals that never know what sun or grass is and are not fed nutritious food but whatever will beef up the muscles to sell better at market). If you're interested in becoming more educated about the true meat industry, I suggest Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds about Animals and Food.

While the political reason for becoming a vegetarian has always been in the back of my mind, I decided to do more research when I heard of Dr. Neal Barnard, who writes about the near-perfect diet. I picked up his book called Breaking the Food Seduction. After reading his book, I was astonished to realize how bad meat and dairy products are for you. I think it's the Western culture that tricks us to think that we need to eat plenty of meat, cheese, and milk to gain protein and important vitamins and minerals. But, in reality, so many horrible diseases and health problems that are plaguing our society can be tied to these products.

Now, I can admit, I've never been a meat lover. I could easily do without red meat. Although chicken and turkey will be mourned for a short period of time, I honestly I think I can do it. I'm willing to give it a try.

So, what will I be eating? Well, according to the new food groups guidelines, I'll be indulging in a lot of fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains. Doesn't sound too bad. And, there are a plethora of great vegetarian options in the supermarkets these days. So, it'll be interesting... especially when I visit family and friends (I can just imagine my parents saying, "You can't eat meat? Then, what can you eat?). The book recommends that you try the "near perfect diet" (aka, the four new food groups) for three weeks, as this is the time it takes your taste buds to learn new, healthy tastes and forget the bad, unhealthy ones. So, don't be surprised if a vegetarian theme begins to occur in my blog within the next few weeks. I'll be letting you know how it goes.