Posted by: Amelia | March 27, 2008

What a Feminist Looks Like is doing another “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” campaign, and this one is starring some of my favorite people from the teevee.  CJ Cregg!  Addison!  Three people from Ugly Betty!

Feminism and primetime television: the latter may be a guilty pleasure, but they both make me happy!

Posted by: Amelia | March 23, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday: Sprouts

I ordered some Tom Thumb peas through the mail a few weeks ago and planted them in Jiffy peat pellets.  I planted 20 seeds, but only three have sprouted.  Two of those three are quite healthy looking, though:

pea shoots

I’ll have to plant them soon, because they have roots spurting out every which way.  Still, I’m disappointed that more peas didn’t sprout.  I’ll give them more time, but at some point it’s going to be a lost cause.

I have good news, though. Last year I had a lovely cayenne pepper plant that produced many peppers.  Since some of those pods were still around, and though I hadn’t saved them for seeding purposes I thought, what the heck, let’s see if the seeds grow.  I had three variations:

  1. Seeds from a pod that had spent all winter outside, clinging to the dead branches of the original plant.
  2. Seeds from a pod that I had picked when ripe and dried using a food dehyrator
  3. Seeds from a pod that I had dried in a cool dark place (though I used the dehyrator on it a bit afterwards to remove further moisture).

I planted these seeds into six starter pots.  I marked the pots 1, 2, and 3 according to the system above, but the ink washed away, so now I can’t tell which contained variation #1 and which contained variation #3.  Variation #2 has produced no sprouts, so I guess the full dehydrator treatment must kill the seeds.   But both #1 and #3 (whichever is which) have sprouted:

pepper sprouts

I’ll only need one cayenne plant at the most (I don’t even know if it will be feasible to bring plants with me wherever I end up in June).  But it sure is exciting to see life renew itself!  I’ll have to give away the extras.  Hey, it worked for Kathy at Skippy’s Vegetable Garden last year.

Posted by: Amelia | March 16, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday: ‘Hello, Goodbye’ Edition

The orchid I bought last fall did well for a while, but over the winter its leaves started to droop.  And by droop, I mean almost totally deflate.  Clearly, my knack for cultivating vegetables does not translate to good caregiving for orchidaceae.  Maybe it’s just that I don’t care as much about plants I can’t eat.  Anyway, last night I decided this poor plant needed to go to a better place.  Naturally, I turned to Craigslist:

Free Orchid to Good Home

Reply to:
Date: 2008-03-16, 1:27AM EDT

Last fall I bought a lovely orchid at IKEA (yeah, I know) and it did well for a few months. It even recently produced a second flower stem. But its leaves are very droopy, and some (but not all) of the flower buds shrivelled before they opened. In short, I have not been the greatest parent to this plant.

I’m too softhearted to toss the plant in the trash. Would anyone like to take in a poor neglected plant and nurse it back to health? I’ll deliver anywhere in the Harvard/Central area.

And wouldn’t you know, I got about 15 replies by morning.  I chose the “winner” based on whether he or she sounded like a responsible caretaker.  A nice woman from Porter Square came by and picked up the orchid; she seemed to know what was wrong with it, and was optimistic that it could be rehabilitated.  Sure, it was a $13 orchid from IKEA, but it deserves a good life too.

This exchange was not the end of plant life in my apartment, however.  Far from it.  Indeed, my little studio is now home to a shocking number of life forms.


I got some supplies for indoor seed starting from Mahoney’s in Brighton because I had ordered some Tom Thumb pea seeds through the mail (more on those next week).  Inspired by a local garden blogger, I bought kale, escarole (aka chicory), spinach, and mesclun seed packets:

seed packets

I graduate this year, and I have no idea where I’ll be going in May/June.  But before I leave I should have some nice greens to eat.  I just hope the weather warms up a little so I can transplant my seedlings into the planters on my fire escape.  It’s getting crowded in here.

Posted by: Amelia | March 11, 2008

The European Excuse – Yea or Nay?

Now, it’s not like people are really defending Eliot Spitzer all that much. He’ll resign tomorrow, as he should. But when sex scandals errupt, it’s not uncommon to hear people invoke our friends across the pond, either by saying that Europeans are laughing at us or by pointing out how common extramarital sex is among Europe’s leaders. Take, for instance, one of Spitzer’s few defenders today, Alan Dershowitz:

“You know, big deal, married man goes to prostitute! […] In Europe, this wouldn’t even make the back pages of the newspaper. It’s a uniquely American story. We’re a uniquely, you know, pandering society and hypocritical society, when it comes to sex.”

Whether or not Europeans have a healthier attitude about sex is a debate for another time. But, in the context of excusing political sex scandals, I wonder if the continental tres blasé attitude is really such a good thing. Someone in one of my classes today pointed out that Mitterand and Chirac had mistresses and nobody cared, and that in some South American countries it would barely make page 26 if a leader was caught with a prostitute. I have to ask: is that really a good thing?

I may not be a fan of the who-would-I-have-a-beer-with? school of choosing elected officials, but I do think character matters. A married governor sneaking out of state and secretly ordering a prostitute after having denounced and prosecuted sex rings previously? Yeah, I think that should make it into the newspaper. It’s not just the illegality – it’s the fecklessness, the disrespect, the inability to control his appetites. Call me a puritan, but I’d rather my elected officials NOT have mistresses or solicit prostitutes. Have a little dignity, s’il vous plait.

Posted by: Amelia | March 9, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday: Spring Thaw


See that green there, in among what looks like brown, dead grass? It’s new chives emerging. I thought everything had died – including this blog.

But, amazingly enough, the plant survived the winter, the roots dormant but alive as the snow and ice and wind raged above. It’s not much to look at now, but the chives will be vibrant before long.

Watch for a return of this blog as well.

Posted by: Amelia | September 24, 2007

Street View in the Hub?

I just saw an Immersive Media VW Bug equipped with a 360-degree camera on JFK Street here in Cambridge.  Looks like Google Street View is coming to the Boston area:

immersive media bug

Well, it’s coming to Boston eventually, anyway.  Similar Bugs were spotted in DC at the beginning of the summer, and Street View is still not available there.

I’m just glad I wasn’t picking my nose or breaking into a building as it drove by!

Posted by: Amelia | September 21, 2007

Casual Friday: Ideological Dischord Edition

Dribs and drabs from this crazy week:

Shocked – shocked! That anti-Petraeus ad put in last Sunday’s New York Times was eyeroll-worthy, even for liberals like me. But the professed palpitations the ad has caused among conservatives – from Rush to Bush – is downright silly. “Welcome to the wonderful world of umbrage, the new language of American politics. You would not have thought that the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly would be so sensitive,” Michael Kinsley writes on In yesterday’s press conference, Bush called on Democratic leaders to repudiate the ad – and implied that staying silent about it was anti-military. I’m sorry, but how often do conservatives apologize for the vitriol spewed by Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, etc? And FYI, their listenership and book sales far exceed the New York Times’ 1.6 million Sunday circulation.

Think of the children! Once again, a state Supreme Court has trotted out kids as an excuse to deny gay marriage (the last, sadly, being my own home state of Washington). This time it’s Maryland, and Shakesville’s Mustang Bobby has the rebuttal: “not everyone — straight or gay — gets married for the express purpose of having children; no one has shown that gay marriage has an impact on straight marriage […]; no one has proven that children raised in same-sex households are any more disadvantaged than those raised in straight households.”

No vote for you! Senate Democrats could not get the votes needed to prevent a filibuster on the DC voting rights bill, meaning there’s no chance the measure will pass this term. On the plus side, from Total Information Awareness: “one of the chief opponents of the DC voting rights bill, Mitch McConnell, is widely disliked and unsupported in his home state, and may go down to defeat in the next election.” With a few more Democratic pickups in 2008, maybe DC’s turn will finally come.

Below the jump, completely non-ideological videos from my new favorite show:

Read More…

Posted by: Amelia | September 20, 2007

Jack Sparrow Would Be Proud

I missed International Talk Like A Pirate Day yesterday.  Fortunately, the hilarious taxi dispatcher at Blank Top Chronicles did not:

ME: Ahoy matey, the bosun tells me ye be havin’ a problem with one o’ me lads.
GUY: . . . Uh, yeah . . . I had a problem with one of your drivers?
ME: What did he be doin’, says I?
GUY: He . . . uh . . . He almost ran me off the road . . .
ME: ARRRRR!!! That scurvy bilge rat! Give te me his numbarrr, and I’ll be havin’ him walk the plank ‘afore the first bell o’ the evenin’ watch!
GUY: Uh . . . why are you talking like a pirate?
ME: Arrrr . . . I had a stroke.
GUY: Oh.
ME: So what be the number o’ the tar that almost made ye founder?
GUY: Uh . . . I didn’t GET the cab number, actually . . .
ME: Aye, but if ye don’t know the number of the blaggart that dropped ye in his wake , how do we be findin’ him says I?
GUY: Uhm, I just wanted to . . . you know . . . generally complain about your drivers.
ME: Shiver me timbers! There may be a scurvy swab ‘er two in me crew, but we can’t keel haul ’em all just on account that ye didn’t like the cut o’ one of ’ems jib!

I don’t know why this meme is proliferating so rapidly, but if it can cause even Red State to lighten up for a day, it’s okay by me.

Posted by: Amelia | September 16, 2007

Green Thumb Sunday: New Home Edition

When I moved back up to Cambridge from DC a week and a half ago, I brought my herbs and cayenne pepper with me.  They have made their new home on the fire escape of my little building:

herbs on fire escape

They won’t last throughout the New England winter, of course, but they’ll be nice additions to fall food.  I also picked up a new photosynthetic friend this weekend: a $13 orchid from IKEA:


I don’t know anything about orchids or tending to indoor plants, so we’ll see how long it lasts.  For $13, it’s a steal even if it ends up being only a temporary guest.  My love for IKEA grows with each visit.

Posted by: Amelia | September 13, 2007

Patently Female

Who knew patents had a gender angle? Via Jezebel, a Forbes article says that “mixed-gender teams’ technology patents received up to 42% more citations than their single-gender counterparts.” This means, more or less, that the ideas and innovations patented by mixed-gender tech teams were more useful to subsequent programmers and inventors. Money quote:

“Our data show that diversity of thought matters to innovation,” says NCWIT Chief Executive Lucinda Sanders, who holds six telecom software patents. “We can say involving women is important because women are half the population and have good ideas, but our study shows the impact for companies.”

Sadly, mixed-gender teams are rare. Women were named in only 6.1% of tech patents in 2005. In overall patents, women accounted for 10.9% in 2002. Since patents = economic potential, it’s a little troubling that one gender would control so much of the patent market. Of course, male inventors and innovators are fully entitled to reap the benefits of their research and labor. But ladies, if you’ve got good ideas, go patent them!

Because female patenting is still so rare, technology companies are missing out on countless contributions by unknown women. “We don’t know what they would invent. We don’t know what problems they would solve,” Sanders said.

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