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The Present 
9th-Mar-2013 12:41 pm - Views
levi
So, I have been commenting on a thread on a friend of mine's facebook page and I wrote something that I think is rather well stated (prideful as that might be) and I wanted to save it and share it. We are talking about religion and the lack thereof and society and government and all sorts of hot-button stuff. The comment that inspired this post is this: "The irony is: as a Christian, I have never and would never post something critical of another's religion or lack thereof." This is my response:

I believe that being critical of others' beliefs (whether political,
religious, moral, or whatever) is important. People should be challenged
about their views, be made to actually think about them and not just
follow what someone in a pulpit, or a parent, or any other authority
figure has told them. That everything should be looked at with a
critical eye, examined from all sides. That trying to view the world
from other points of view is a worthy and necessary endeavour and can
only help promote tolerance and understanding. But just blithely
ignoring the hypocrisy and contradictions and close-mindedness in the
name of tolerance and sheer let's-all-get-alongedness is doing it wrong.
I believe that anyone who gets upset, feels attacked, or is made
uncomfortable by the mere questioning of their views is someone who
needs to take a long, hard look at what they actually believe and why.
10th-Jan-2013 02:21 am - Repurposing
levi
Joe and I had an interesting conversation tonight at dinner and I wanted to get y'all's thoughts on the matter.

He started by observing that, with the way the economy is and the changing shopping habits of consumers (specifically, the fact that more and more people are buying their stuff on the internet), big box stores (Best Buy, Target, etc) are going to have to eventually resize their physical store fronts. They won't need such large retail spaces and that will leave lots of large buildings vacant.

So, what do we do, as a society or as the property owners, with so many empty spaces?

We have seen some of this, with the closing of the big K-marts. I know that, locally, one of the old K-mart buildings now houses a college (of cosmetology? or something). What other uses are there?

I came up with two right off the bat that would be useful to communities in general - a betterment to society.

The first is to turn them into large greenhouse type places, whether more traditional dirt growing or hydroponics or some amalgamation of both. You could go with the single owner business model, where the food is sold to local grocery stores or directly to the public. Or you could go the community garden route, where anyone who is interested can get a space and grow their own food, for personal use or for sale. Also, the parking lots are large enough that 3/4ths of them could be ripped up and used as extra planting areas, for those vegetables that don't do well inside (tomatoes, I'm lookin' at you!). There are logistical issues... how to get the proper kind of light, who is going to pay the utilities, who is going to fight the farm lobby (because you know they're gonna have issues!) if this becomes widespread, how to get people who have never even seen a pepper plant in real life to want to put in the labor to grow their own, etc. But there are benefits: local grocery stores would have better produce at a lower cost since it doesn't have to be transported. Nearly every sizable community has a big box store and enough food could probably be grown to feed a good portion of the community. Or at the very least, supplement them. It certainly is greener - less shipping means less gasoline, less wear and tear on the roads, less pollution. Because most of it would be indoors, you would probably need to use far less pesticides or herbicides (if any). Also, you would be less beholden to Mother Nature and Her whims. Drought? No problem. Excessive rain? No problem. Too hot? No problem. Too cold? No problem. Growing season too short? No problem. Indoors, it's all climate controlled.

My second thought is to parcel the interior into 9 areas, grid-style, and use the building as family-oriented micro-communities. The buildings are tall enough that you could put 8 two-story apartments (or 16 one-story apartments on two floors) around the perimeter of the building and use the center area as a common area. A safe, indoor play area for children, a nice place to relax and lounge for the adults. Again, the parking lots are large enough that 3/4ths could be ripped out and replaced with an outdoor play space. Or trees. :) The locations of these big box stores are ideal: close to all sorts of other retail establishments and, usually, close to major roads or highways. The buildings are already wired for electricity, and have water and sewer hookups. Yes, you're going to have to gut the place and put in a lot of work, but it would be worth it, I think. The rent would be a little higher than your average apartment, but that's offset by location, safety, and the fact that the apartments would be twice the square footage of your average apartment (at least, the 2-story ones would be).

Do you have any other ideas? I would love to hear them.
1st-Jan-2013 08:26 pm - Poetry
levi
I wrote this near the beginning of my relationship with Joe. I remember feeling insecure and full of doubts. It was February of 2000 and I was 21. Joe was my first boyfriend, ever. My first real kiss. I wrote this while sitting outside my folks' house, in the woods. I believe we were having a birthday get-together for my sister, Katy, and our friend, William, who happen to share a birthday. From my spot on the ground, I was just close enough to see into the big window and watch them all socializing in the warmth and brightness of the living room. I pretty much wrote it by the light of that window and my lighter and the moon. There is no editing to this... this is exactly how I wrote it that night. It has no title. And it's rather emo and I can't believe I'm actually posting this. I don't do poetry very often. As a matter of fact, I believe this was the last poem I've written. Certainly the most personal.

Towards the end, William actually came outside looking for me, asking me what was wrong. We had a wonderful talk; he was incredibly comforting and gives great hugs. I can't remember if I let him read this.

Click for this (long) poem.Collapse )
3rd-Jul-2012 06:17 pm - Oi. Bigots piss me off.
levi
I hate dealing with racist people at work. There's nothing you can say without it becoming this big thing and then potentially losing your job. And since it's unlikely I'm going to change a person's mind in the course of one short customer/employee interaction, I choose the route of keeping my job. It does make me feel ashamed of myself, that I don't say something. But I need the job and the money. Here's what happened...

A nice looking lady - probably mid-60's - came up to me and asked where our Scrabble dictionaries were. I was happy to show her: I love Scrabble and I'm always up for enabling the playing of more Scrabble. I didn't bother to look it up first, because I knew where it was shelved. I took her straight to the section, but there weren't any of the cheaper formats on the shelf. I told her to stay there and I'd go look it up and see if any had come in recently. We were sold out. Darn.

When I got back to her, I gave her the bad news. She then pointed to another book on the shelf, one about Scrabble. She grabs the book down off the shelf and points at the author's name. "What's this?" "Um. I have not read anything by him." *still a little confused by the question, but dreading where this conversation is going* The book is the SCRABBLE Word Building Book by Saleem Ahmed.

She says, "I have a problem with the English language..." *at this point, I think that maybe she's about to tell me some inspiring story about how Scrabble helped her overcome some language difficulty she'd had...* *such wishful thinking on my part* "...being written about by a Saleem Ahmed." The malicious emphasis she put on the author's name left no doubt about, exactly, she was thinking. I couldn't do anything but look at her and let my jaw drop. And excuse myself as best as I could.

As many times as I've heard similar things from customers over the years, it still always takes me by surprise. Seriously! What makes people think they can say things like that to perfect strangers??? Is it because we're both white? Is it because she goes to church with one of my co-workers and she assumes we all think alike? [NOTE: I do not think my co-worker is a racist or a bigot!]

Unfortunately, I am not the fastest thinker, especially if the situation is as fraught with danger as this one. I wish I could say something as simple as, "I disagree." But that still opens a whole potential can of worms, if she decides to push it. And the next thing I'd know, I'd be in a manager's office having a conference about how I should behave around customers. I don't want that; like I said above, I need this job right now.

Thinking back over that incident during the day, there are a couple of observations I'd like to make.
1. The woman was wearing an ostentatiously huge crucifix. Not just a cross... nope, this one had Jesus hanging from the nails in all His glory (except for the bit covered by the loin cloth, because of course the Romans were totally concerned about the morals and modesty of the criminals they were crucifying...). I'd like to point out to the woman that Jesus was a Middle Easterner. His skin color was likely similar to what she assumes Saleem Ahmed's is.
2. Of course, that's an assumption. I'd also like to point out to her that Saleem could very well be a 4th generation American with a thick New York accent. I don't know. She doesn't know.
3. Also, I have a foreign last name. Does that mean that I shouldn't get to write about the English language? Or maybe it's ok, since I have a "normal" first name? So, then should my grandparents not be allowed to write about the English language? Or my dad? Oh. That's right. We're white. It's all ok if you're white. *sigh* Fuck that shit, dude. 

tl;dr Bigots suck.

On a side note, this also happened today. I laughed. Girl asks for Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. Opens it up, flips through it, says, "Oh, man. It's in black and white." Fucking hell, man. Seriously??!
30th-Jan-2012 11:13 pm - MEME
levi
Stolen from all sorts of people. Read carefully; instructions may have changed. :)

Kind of want to see who is actively reading my posts, so, if you read this, leave me a one-word comment about your day that starts with the 4th letter (because I'm sure you're all tired of figuring out different words for so many journals that start with your 3rd letter!) of your LJ USERNAME. Only one word please, then repost so I can leave a word for you.
6th-Jan-2012 11:55 pm - For Goddess of Birth
levi


Will this do?

10th-Nov-2011 12:41 am - My Battle Cry
levi

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Striding through the mini-mall parking lot, cutting down all who dare stand in the way using a bladed baseball bat, cometh Ludzu_alus! And she gives a vengeful grunt:

"I'm going to torment you with such wanton cruelty, it will be a new form of crime!!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys

8th-Nov-2011 04:37 pm - Mememememe
levi
Names you've gone by

Melissa, Lissa, Mel, Melly, Melly-poo, Melbee, Princess, Missy (ONLY by Uncle Steve!!!!!!!), Sprenne, LissaMonster, ludzu_alus, Matreshkas, Malicious

Three things you're wearing right now

1) Dragon*Con 2005 tshirt
2) Blue sweatpants
3) Fuzzy blue non-skid socks with snowflakes

Things you want very badly

1) To not live in this house anymore
2) For all my friends and family to happy and healthy

Three things you did last night

1) Cooked dinner for Joe and my folks
2) Watched Castle with Joe and my folks
3) Played GemCraft Labyrinth

Three people you last talked to on the phone

1) The woman from Waste Management who hung up on me (we need a new rolling trash can)
2) Dave (from work) to tell him I'd been called to give a reference for him
3) Tad (the guy who called for a reference for Dave)

Three things you are going to do tomorrow

1) Work at B&N
2) Work my other job
3) Possibly play some D&D

Four of your favourite drinks

1) Mint tea, unsweetened
2) Water
3) Blue curacao and Sprite (the ONLY way I'll drink Sprite)
4) Strawberry and banana smoothie with Greek yogurt

Things that made you smile today

1) Making Cede laugh (after traumatizing her)
2) My kitty and the temporary cat
3) Joe
4) Thinking about all of you

People you hope will do the meme

EVERYONE
19th-Oct-2011 12:20 am - Meme meme mememememememe
levi
Bold what's true, italicize what's sorta true, leave alone what's inapplicable. (Commentary in color.)

APPEARANCE:
I am 5'4" or shorter.
I think I'm ugly.
I have many scars. (They're tiny and not noticable, but I know where I got 'em all.)
I tan easily.
I wish my hair was a different color. (I like coloring it, but I love my silver hairs and thus have not colored it in a while.)
I have friends who have never seen my natural hair color.
I have a tattoo.
I am self-conscious about my appearance.
I've had braces.
I own glasses.
I'd get plastic surgery if it were 100% safe, free, scar-free.
I've been told I'm attractive by a complete stranger.
I have more than 2 piercings.
I have piercings in places besides my ears.
I have freckles.

FAMILY/HOME LIFE:
I've sworn at my parents. (Funny story, that.)
I've been kicked out of the house.
My biological parents are together
I have a sibling less than one year old.
I want to have kids someday. (This one is the opposite of inapplicable in that it ain't gonna happen!)
I have children.
I've lost a child. (miscarriage)

EMBARRASSMENT:
I've slipped out a "lol" in a spoken conversation.
I've snorted while laughing.
I've laughed so hard I've cried.
I've glued my hand to something.
(On purpose, even!)
I've laughed till some kind of beverage came out of my nose.
I've had my pants rip in public.


HEALTH:
I was born with a disease/impairment. (er, disorder?)
I've had stitches.
I've broken a bone.
I've had my tonsils removed.
I've sat in a doctor’s office with a friend.
I've had my wisdom teeth removed. (Just one and only because it had a cavity.)
I had a serious surgery. (Not yet, anyway. Possible uterine ablation ftw!)
I've had chicken pox.

TRAVELING:
I've driven over 200 miles in one day
I've been on a plane.

I've been to Canada. (When I was but a babe in arms.)
I've been to Niagara Falls.
I've been to Japan.
I've celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans. (When I was a toddler. My folks have a huge chalk drawing of me that a street artist did there.)
I've been to Europe.
I've been to Africa.
I've been to France.
I've been to Central America. (Yes, I added this one in, so I could bold something else!)

EXPERIENCES:
I've been lost in my city.
I've seen a shooting star.
I've wished on a shooting star.
I've seen a meteor shower.
I've gone out in public in my pajamas.
(And attended college classes in 'em.)
I've pushed all the buttons on an elevator.
I've been to a casino.
I've been skydiving.
I've gone skinny dipping.
I've played spin the bottle.

I've crashed a car.
I've been skiing.
I've been in a play.
I've met someone in person from the Internet.
I've caught a snowflake on my tongue.

I've seen the Northern Lights.
I've sat on a rooftop at night.
I've played chicken.
I've played a prank on someone.
I've ridden in a taxi.
I've seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
I've eaten sushi
.
I've been snowboarding.

RELATIONSHIPS:
I'm single.
I'm in a relationship.
I'm available.
I'm engaged.
I'm married. (Ok, you all know I'm not married. But I am in a committed relationship with absolutely no plans to get married ever.)
I've gone on a blind date.
I've been the dumpee more than the dumper.
I miss someone right now.
I have a fear of abandonment.
I've been divorced.
I've had feelings for someone who didn't have them back
I've told someone I loved them when I didn't. .
I've told someone I didn’t love them when I did.
I've kept something from a past relationship.

SEXUALITY:
I've had a crush on someone of the same sex.
I've kissed a member of the same sex.
I've had sex with someone of the opposite sex.

I've had sex with someone of the same sex.
I've had sex with more than one person at the same time.
I am a cuddler.
I've been kissed in the rain.
I've had sex outdoors.
I've hugged a stranger.

I have kissed a stranger.
I have had sex with a stranger.

HONESTY/CRIME:
I've done something I promised someone else I wouldn't.
I've done something I promised myself I wouldn't.
I have lied to my parents about where I am.
I am keeping a secret from the world.
I've cheated while playing a game.
I've cheated on a test.
I've run a red light.

I've been suspended from school.
I've witnessed a crime.
I've been in a fist fight.
I've been arrested.
I've shoplifted.

DRUGS/ALCOHOL:
I've consumed alcohol.
I've smoked cigarettes.
I've smoked pot.

I regularly drink. ('Regularly' as in every now and then, not all the time.)
I've taken painkillers when I didn’t need them.

MENTAL HEALTH:
I have been diagnosed with depression.
I shut others out when I'm depressed.
I take anti-depressants.
I have an eating disorder.
I've slept an entire day when I didn't need it. (I like sleep; it is my superpower.)
I've hurt myself on purpose.
I'm addicted to self harm.
I've woken up crying.

DEATH:
I'm afraid of dying.
I hate funerals.
I've seen someone dying.
I have attempted suicide. (Not actually attempted, no. Contemplated, yes.)
Someone close to me has attempted suicide.

RANDOM:
I can sing well. (Hahahahahahahaaaa)
I've stolen a tray from a fast food restaurant.
I open up to others too easily.
I watch the news.
I don't kill bugs.
I hate hearing songs that sacrifice meaning for sake of being able to rhyme.
I curse regularly. (Like a motherfucking sailor.)
I sing in the shower. (And you do not want to hear me.)
I am a morning person.
I've paid for my cell phone ringtone.
I'm a snob about grammar.
I am a sports fanatic.
I play with my hair. (But, really, I'd prefer if someone else played with my hair.)
I have/had "x"s in my screen name.
I love being neat.
I love Spam.
I've copied more than 30 CDs in a day.
I bake well.
My favorite color is either white, yellow, pink, red or blue.
I don't know how to shoot a gun.
I am in love with love.
I am guilty of tYpInG lIkE tHiS.
I laugh at my own jokes.
I eat fast food weekly.
I believe in ghosts.
I am online 24/7, even as an away message.
I can't sleep if there is a spider in the room.
I am really ticklish.
I love white chocolate.
I bite my nails. (Used to all the time, now only when a nail breaks and I don't have a file handy.)
I play video games.
I'm good at remembering faces.
I'm good at remembering names.
I'm good at remembering dates.
I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life.
23rd-Aug-2011 10:50 pm - Cooking experiment
levi
It started like this: we had a bag of broccoli that needed using. What would go with that to make a tasty meal? Chicken! And cream of celery soup and cream of mushroom soup. And onions and mushrooms, and CHEESE, of course. Who needs a stinkin' recipe??! So, here's what we came up with (and how it can be improved).

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts, skinless
1 bag of broccoli (enough to cover the bottom of a 13x9 pan)
2 medium onions
1 small package of unknown wild mushrooms (which we bought at the Fresh Market, so we assumed they were edible - but the package seriously said "Misc Produce")
1 small can of cream of mushroom soup
1 small can of cream of celery soup
1 bag of egg noodles
1 leftover (partial) bag of shredded cheddar cheese
1 handful of bleu cheese crumbles
seasonings
1 partial bag of garlic croutons, smashed to smithereens

Prep
Preheat oven to 350F

1. Slice the onions up and saute them with the mushrooms in a little bit of olive, salt, and garlic
2. Boil the noodles half as long as the package directions (you don't want to overcook them since you'll be cooking them more in the oven!)
3. Drain the noodles
4. Dump the broccoli, bleu cheese, noodles, and onions and mushrooms in the bottom of the 13x9 pan and cover with the cream of mushroom and cream of celery soups
5. Add seasoning (for me, what I thought were healthy shakes of garlic, salt, 3 packets of True Lemon, and oregano) and mix well
6. Nestle the chicken breasts deep into the mixture, but not touching the bottom
7. Cover in the shredded cheddar cheese - not quite to the sides, because it's pretty full and you don't want to waste any cheese by having it melt over the sides
8. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes, pull out, sprinkle the smashed croutons over the top, and let it rest for about 5 minutes
9. Dig in!

Results
I would call it a success!

What went right
Everything came together well. The noodles were not overcooked and mushy. And we thought it was fairly tasty.

What could be done better
1. Cooked a little longer - the chicken was just the slightest (and I mean slightest) bit underdone. It could probably have used another 5 or 10 minutes and been fine.
2. Cover it for at least the first half to 3/4 of the baking time. The noodles that were at the top got a bit overdone and a little unpleasantly crispy. Also, the broccoli at the top didn't get quite as done as the broccoli on the interior of the dish. Covering it will alleviate both these issues.
3. Uncover it at 5 or 10 minutes to being done and add the crouton topping and continue baking til it's done.
4. MORE SEASONING!!!!!!!!! We ended up sprinkling a generous dose of lemon pepper over our plates to add flavor. This made it very om nom nommy, but it would be nicer if the seasoning was baked in and not added after. And maybe lemon zest instead of True Lemon -or- way more True Lemon.
5. A more pungent bleu cheese and more cheddar! :)

Picture link
(goes to Flickr)
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