Category: anger is an energy

April 30, 2006

An Open Letter to the person or persons who sat near the table where Julie, Luisa, Cathy, Zarah and I conducted our happy enthusiastic meeting of minds and hearts, bided his/her time until we were all sufficiently distracted, reached inside Zarah's shoulder bag, severed the leather strap connecting her purse to her shoulder bag, and stole her purse, with her wallet and digital camera inside:

Dear Loathsome Excrescence,

I'll give you this much:  you were quick, and silent.  We didn't even see you.  We're also amazed that you felt bold enough to reach into Zarah's bag, considering that she was much more careful than I was.  Upon leaving, I realized that my purse was open and both my wallet and cell phone were in plain view, and yet you felt compelled to reach into a closed Louis Vuitton bag and cut another bag out of it.  You certainly do know your designer luggage, you savvy violator of other people's property, you.

Luckily, the situation is not nearly as horrible as it could have been, mostly because Zarah, Luisa, Cathy and Julie are quick thinkers.  Luisa's office was around the corner, so Zarah was able to get on the phone with her bank right away and cancel the two credit cards that were inside her wallet.  (That wallet, by the way, contained less than five bucks.  Nice haul!  Take a bow, chump!)  She also has insurance that will cover the loss of the bag, the wallet and the digital camera inside the bag, and she will be able to re-take all of the pictures that were stored on the camera.  Her passport was not in her bag, so she does not have to go to the Danish consulate to get it replaced.  She is traveling with her boyfriend, who has his own set of credit cards, so she is not stranded without funds.  The worst that happened today, other than the general sense of violation one feels when one's own property is stolen from them, is that our merry afternoon was cut short, and Zarah has to spend a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon in New York filing a police report.  So again, it could have been much worse.

Nevertheless, I am beyond pissed off, not only because you did this to such a lovely and delightful woman (although you did), nor because you did this in a friendly neighborhood bakery, but also because in doing so, you confirmed all of the worst stereotypes of New York City, that it's a place where you have to keep your distance and never let your guard down for even a second, lest someone be standing by, waiting for the moment when he can take something of yours.  While I recognize that New Yorkers are capable of truly embarrassing behavior, I am almost never embarrassed to be a New Yorker.  This afternoon, I was.

I have been reexamining all of my attitudes about karma (admittedly, I've only been doing this since Lloyd and I started watching My Name is Earl), and thus I am sure that the universe has a wonderful plan for your life.  You had better hope that it's the universe who catches up with you, because if the universe drags its feet, and I find you first, the results will not be pretty.  Have you seen Hostel yet?  You may want to.  Or possibly not.

Cordially,

Bakerina

Posted by Bakerina at 07:06 PM in anger is an energy • (0) Comments
January 16, 2006

Dear friends, I know I made no small amount of noise about not coasting on my archives, and I meant what I said.  The return of this essay, which was originally published on January 12, 2005, is not a placeholding maneuver, but a necessary gesture.  Queued up at the deli for my egg sandwich, I hear the fellow in front of me place the order that should not irk me, but does:  "Egg whites with ham on a roll."  I still want to know why.

In any case, the very idea of an egg endangering health was implausible.  Eggs were the nutritionists' darling.  The egg is packed with good things.  It has the highest quality protein of all foods and is the source of eleven essential nutrients and fifteen important vitamins and minerals.  They include B vitamin folate, which has been found to reduce birth defects, carotenoids (lutein and xanthophyll) that may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, and half the required daily dose of choline required to protect memory.  Of the 5 grams of fat in an egg, only 1.5 comprise saturated fat, the fat fingered as harmful to the heart, which makes eggs positively virtuous.  An egg, moreover, is as slimming as a bottle of vitamins:  it contains only seventy calories.  An egg does lack vitamin C, but that can be added with a glass of orange juice, a staple of the American diet...

In the early 1970s, out of the blue, the American Heart Association declared the egg a threat to the heart.  The egg contained 278 milligrams of cholesterol, and food scientists had just decreed that no one should consume more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day...When I learned this, I thought of course that the scientists, being scientists, had arrived at a safe level of dietary cholesterol through proof.  How wrong I was...[in 1968] a group of food scientists got together and hashed over the idea of setting a safe cholesterol standard.  Some thought the whole idea unnecessary, but others were adamant.  So the debate went back and forth, and finally a compromise was reached.  The average human intake of cholesterol is 580 milligrams (per liter of blood) a day, so let's just halve that.  Make it 300 milligrams...So, overnight, as it were, and on the basis of an arbitrary calculation, the egg was in trouble, deep trouble.

                                             -- Gina Mallet, Last Chance to Eat

Dear friends at NY1:

It's not that I mind that you devoted editorial air time to what turned out to be, basically, an advertisement for the Pump Energy Food restaurant chain.  I've never eaten at the Pump, but based on what I saw on your report, they do at least make an effort to use whole foods, and prepare them carefully.  I think they may be a bit stricter than they need to be on the whole salting-the-food issue, but considering how much some restaurants oversalt their food, I will allow that this might be a good thing -- and if it isn't, hell, I'll bring my own salt.  Likewise, I'm not going to eat nonfat mozzarella any time soon, but I'll grant them that it wouldn't kill me to watch my butter intake.  And certainly, if I bought more lunches from the Pump and fewer from the Daisy May cart on 47th Street, I would be healthier for it, and maybe I would lose my ass just a little faster.

I understand it all, even if I don't agree with it all, and I know that you have to get their message across in a short time slot, as concisely and efficiently as possible.  I just wish, though, that you could have resisted the temptation to insert this little nugget of information into your copy:

Everything on the menu is baked, not fried; no salt or sugar is added; and egg yolks and soda are strictly off limits.  (Emphasis mine. -- Jen)

It has been almost six years since the Hu-Willett study, conducted under the auspices of the Harvard School of Public Health and the National Institutes of Health, concluded that there was no link between the dietary cholesterol found in eggs and an increased risk of heart disease, and yet we are still so frightened of egg yolks, and the fat and cholesterol contained in them, that we are willing to jettison the healthiest part of the egg.  Those nifty vitamins and minerals, those carotenoids that may protect us against cataracts and macular degeneration, that choline that may protect our memory, all of these are found in the yolk.  The white, being pure protein, has none of these.  And yet, we have restaurants that brag about not serving egg yolks.  We have health reporters on local news stations mentioning these lovely little yolks in the same breath as soda, which, last I checked, did not contain any vitamins or minerals or anything to keep you alive but sugar -- excuse me, I mean high-fructose corn syrup.  I'm trying to find words for how baffling and sad I find this, but all I can come up with is, well, nothing.

A postscript, to the guys with whom I stand in line at the deli for our breakfast sandwiches:  If you are trying to watch your fat intake, then what is the point of ordering an egg white and sausage sandwich, or an egg white and cheese sandwich?  (Or even the triple-dog-dare version, the egg white + cheese + sausage sandwich?)  Do you really think that you are doing yourself any favors by skipping the yolks and then filling the vacuum with cheese?   Do you really like the taste of egg whites?  What do you get from these sandwiches?  I'm not being food-snobby, or a crank.  I am genuinely confused.  I genuinely want to know.

Posted by Bakerina at 11:53 PM in anger is an energy • (1) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
December 17, 2005

Dear friends,

This will be a weekend of baking, more baking, even more baking, and then putting it all away to get ready for bunni's birthday extravaganza.  Eventually it will all be shared, but for now, I encourage everyone who sent me email yesterday asking what the hell happened to PTMYB to read this Forbes.com article, which features a quote from one of my favorite people in the world.

In general I try not to use this space to rank on TypePad, and I won't do it now -- not exactly.  I'll just say that if TypePad's response to yesterday's mishegoss really is "you only get angry at the ones you love," then I am not amused, not at all.

Posted by Bakerina at 11:09 AM in anger is an energy • (1) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
September 03, 2005

(Come back, Doc.  Your country needs you.)

Trying not to fiddle while Rome burns, but...While I am not a person of fixed religious abode, I recognize that good work has been done by both individuals and organizations who are of fixed religious abodes.  As often as I am disgusted by the evil that has been committed in the name of religion, so am I also awed by the good that has been done in its name as well; the dialogue is not monopolized by the likes of Fred Phelps or Meir Kahane or Osama bin Laden (who is not so much a religious figure as a hateful rich boy who has learned to talk the talk to religious fanatics), but to those who would spread love and comfort and assistance as well.  I am lucky enough to count among my friends some truly principled believers.  So why do I feel so squirrelly every time I look at my employer's approved charities list for Katrina disaster relief? 

LuthorCorp announced yesterday that they would match, dollar for dollar, any charitable contributions made by their employees supporting the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.  The only conditions were that we make all contributions by October 15, and that we make our donations to one of the 13 charities on the list.  Of these 13, three are secular:  the American Red Cross Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund, AmeriCares and PACE Helping Hands; the rest are Christian charities.  Again, I'm not trying to split moral hairs when people are starving and drowning, but -- oh, why equivocate?  Yes, I am more than a little baffled that Second Harvest and Feed the Children and the UJA Federation and B'nai B'rith did not make LuthorCorp's cut of approved charities, but Operation Blessing -- run by Pat Robertson, the same Pat Robertson who said that we got what we deserved on September 11, 2001 -- did.

Trying not to fiddle while Rome burns, but...(Part Deux):  Nevertheless, I am going to follow LuthorCorp's rules and throw my support behind AmeriCares, not because they are a secular organization, but because they are doing good works, not just in New Orleans but also in Darfur and Sudan and Bridgeport, Connecticut.  (Even if you have already thrown your support behind another charity, AmeriCare's website is still worth checking out.)  I will confess, though, that my motives are less than pure.  My original plan was to eschew the matching funds, select the charity of my choice, and then just give double what I had planned to give.  Then I read the press release from LuthorCorp, in which they announced that they would be donating $100,000 to the relief effort.  While it's $100,000 better than nothing, it still seemed to me to be a tiny amount of money to a multibillion-dollar, Fortune 500 company.  Then I read the second paragraph of the press release:  $50,000 is being donated now.  The balance of the $50,000 will take the form of matching contributions to employee donations.

Let me repeat that.  My multibillion-dollar, Fortune 500 employer is donating $50,000 now and $50,000 in October -- as long as their employees pony up $50,000 out of their own pockets.  If we don't donate, they won't either.  There are salespeople in some divisions of the company whose base salaries are more than $50,000.  LuthorCorp is, for all intents and purposes, donating a salary.

I'm giving.  I'm digging deep.  You'd better believe I'm going to make sure that my -- all together now! -- multibillion-dollar, Fortune 500 employer does not welsh on that other $50,000.  Ante up, LuthorCorp!

As told by Anderson Cooper on Bill Maher:  "[Survivors in New Orleans] are hearing politicians say 'We know you're frustrated.'  A man here came up to me and said 'We're not frustrated.  We're dead.'"

What the hell is going on in Astoria?, Part One:  Dear friends at NY1, it's not that I don't appreciate your Hurricane Katrina coverage.  What happened to Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama will have ineffable consequences on all of us for years to come, and it's important that we here in New York City know this.  Nevertheless, you are, first and foremost, a local news station, and while it's possible that someone out there feels a burning need to watch vox pops of motorists complaining about how much it costs to fill their gas tanks, some of us, particularly those of us who a) don't own a car and b) live in a certain part of northwestern Astoria have other questions, to wit:  What caused the four-alarm fire around the corner of my house, the fire that took out four businesses and sent 18 firefighters and a civilian to the hospital?  Why did I have to learn about this fire from a traffic-and-transit report, in which it was mentioned as an inconvenience to motorists ("Stay away from 31st Street and Ditmars Boulevard, due to Fire Department activity!"wink?  Was this really all you were able to learn?  Why was it aired on a very short cycle in the middle of the day?  Were the businesses adequately insured, and will they reopen?  (Since one of those businesses is McDonald's, I'm sure that that one is a big fat yes, but what about the little restaurant?  What about the optician's office?  What about the doughnut shop?)  Why were so many people on the scene overcome by smoke?  How long will it be before the block loses that stubborn smell of burnt tarpaper and putrefying seafood?  Can you understand that even though, in the great scheme of things, this fire doesn't draw a bead on the suffering of our New Orleanian brothers and sisters, some of us just might be curious to know what happened?  Why are we watching people complaining about the price of gas again?

What the hell is going on in Astoria?, Part Two:  Graffiti is nothing new in my neighborhood.  Sure, we have pretty little houses, but we also have apartment blocks, both large and small, and those blocks have flat roofs, all of which are a boon to graffiti taggers.  I have seen so much graffiti in my life that when I look out the subway window, it's just so much background clutter to me.  At least it was until this morning, when we passed a house on 31st Street covered in giant fierce letters:  YOU LIVE HERE, YOU DIE HERE, with an arrow pointing to one of the second floor windows.  It could just be smack talk, a battle of words between taggers.  But I have seen it twice now and it still makes my blood freeze, the way my blood froze when I was in college and the house down the road from my parents was sold to people who had company coming and going all hours of the day and night, and who had a van parked in the driveway, with crosshairs and SO MANY VICTIMS, SO LITTLE TIME painted on the side.

Is there such a thing as hot-weather comfort food?  Yes, yes, you can make an argument that much of the foofaraw surrounding obesity includes comfort food and comfort eating as a Very Bad Thing.  No, you should not find solace in your deepest emotional problems with food.  Nevertheless, sometimes you do want to eat something that is friendly and soulful, cheap to buy, easy to put together and slips down your throat with the greatest of ease.  It's not my own recipe; I found it in Rozanne Gold's Recipes 1-2-3.  I found it about ten years ago, and I've been making it every summer -- for it can only be made in the summer -- ever since.  Put a saucepan of water on to boil.  Cut into dice 6 ounces of ricotta salata or manouri cheese (you can use feta, but be sure to rinse it off, and be sure also to reduce the salt you add later, as feta is much saltier than ricotta salata) and 2 medium, 1 1/2 large or 1 giant ripe tomato.  Put the cheese and tomatoes into a bowl, add salt to taste, mix with your hands and let sit for about 1/2 hour.  Meanwhile, boil 8 ounces orzo (rice-shaped pasta) in salted water.  When the pasta is almost done, with the merest core of al dente hardness, pull it off the stove, drain it (do not rinse it!), pour it into the tomatoes and cheese, and stir until all is blended, but not so vigorously that you render the cheese into paste.  This will serve about 6-8 people, unless you find yourself picking at the bowl a lot.  You can eat it hot, at room temperature or cold.  I'm a fan of room temperature, myself.  It might not sound like much, but even after ten years, I still can't believe how good this tastes.

Closing with the punchline.  Last night, Bunni (to whom I would link except that TypePad just suddenly got cranky on me), Lloyd and I went to see The Brothers Grimm.  Without giving away any spoilers, I will say that everyone in the film (except for a hapless cat) gets what they deserve, and Jonathan Pryce, who plays an insane French general, gets exactly what he deserves.  At that moment, he mumbles, "All I wanted was a little order.  A piece of quiche would be nice."  The audience, which was small but enthusiastic, laughed loudly, but I'm sure I drowned them out with my own snorty laughter.  Bunni leaned over to me and whispered, "It's like you were in the room when they wrote it."  I love it when that happens.

Posted by Bakerina at 12:04 AM in anger is an energy • (2) Comments • (1) Trackbacks
September 01, 2005

An open letter to the persons who trespassed onto the future home of my brother and sister-in-law, decided to have themselves a little party, and left behind countless smashed beer bottles, badly damaged kitchen cupboards, and dents in the walls, including a big dent in the wall just under the cathedral ceiling in the foyer:

Dear Brain Trust,

In general, I am not a big fan of mindless destruction, but this week, I'm reeeeeeally not a fan of mindless destruction.  I am also not terribly rational about Wrongs Done to Me and Mine.

Praying will not help you now.  And don't even think of looking over your shoulder.  You may, however, invest in some nice soft pillows for which to cushion your bottoms.  But don't be getting any false senses of security.  You'll still be ruing the day your father and mother ever met.

Cordially,

Bakerina

An open letter to the builders of said future home, who I recognize are hardworking guys and who I'm sure just overlooked the fact that a nearly-completed house was still missing front- and back-door locks:

Dear Hardworking Guys, Etc.,

On the other hand, your prayers will be answered.  Just as soon as you fix the walls,  replace -- yes, replace -- the kitchen cabinets, and get those damn locks on the damn doors now.  Are you installing the locks yet?

Cheerfully,

Bakerina

Posted by Bakerina at 03:16 PM in anger is an energy • (1) Comments
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