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Nikchick [userpic]

I HATE bullies

August 31st, 2011 (01:42 am)
pissed off
Tags: ,

current location: United States, Washington, Seattle
current mood: pissed off

Kate has had to deal with all sorts of bullies in her time. At her elementary school, she was bullied for being white. I encouraged her to understand her peers and sympathize with them, that they must be so frustrated in their home lives to lash out the way they did toward her.

Then in Middle School I had to reassure Kate that "it sucks for everyone" and that she was not alone, though she was the butt of "jokes" and "pranks" at parties and the like, or teased for having male friends, for being white, for whatever. When we arranged our school cruise to include having a nice girl stay in our *upgraded* cabin only to have that girl cruelly abandon us (and Kate) at any/all school events where they might have to mingle, and to only deign to spend time with us when absolutely required, I tried my best to smooth over any hurt feelings and not assume the worst.

Recently, Kate learned that this cruise "friend" was unhappy at her chosen high school and had requested (and been accepted to) a transfer to Kate's high school, where Kate is happy. Instead of being happy, Kate and I were both wary, unsure of what this might *really* mean. Kate attended this friend's birthday party a couple of years in a row where she was ganged up on, had gum stuck on her in her sleep, had caramel poured in her hair (after she told the party she had to leave early in the morning after the sleep over for a new school orientation) and other things. When I talked to the ONE mother of other guests I knew, she was very unsympathetic and repeated what her daughter (a constant, years-long bully of my daughter) told her... which was essentially that Kate got what was coming to her. I was NOT amused, but let it go because we flat out weren't going to be seeing these girls anymore after this disappointing episode.

Now, a year later, this former friend is having another birthday sleep-over. Kate was accidentally informed of the party due to a "mail all contacts" accident but was not actually directly invited and did not attend. Never mind, at 11:30pm they decided prank calling her phone would be fun. Not just prank calling, but a call that detailed killing and eating our pet rabbits, Fatal Attraction style and then going on for some time further shaming Kate for her choice of friends and other incoherent and unintelligible "neener neener neener"-style mockery.

Kate has had no contact with these mean girls for at least a year! The fact that they sought her out for their annual birthday-party-bullying pisses me off to no end, but the additional disgusting "kill and eat your pet rabbits" fantasy voice mail pushed me past my point of tolerance. Add to this the fact that this family still has keys to our house (from when the kids were friends and babysat our rabbits!), including a key fob that allows them to bypass our alarm system with the press of a button, and I am beyond furious, beyond betrayed, and really, really, REALLY pissed.

Fuck those little bitches. Fuck those bullies. I have the power of a parent behind me and I can only wield it for a few years more but I intend to wield it tomorrow morning. This is going to STOP. In previous years of birthday-party-bullying the girls could pretend that Kate was part of the activities until she suddenly took offense when things were (*fairly*, it's always implied, FAIRLY) turned against her, but what the hell is the justification this year?! I will have none of it. There will be no more calls to my house, no more threats of violence against my girl, no tolerance of violent fantasies against my fucking PETS. I'll be waking these mean little bullies and talking to their parents. I will be reclaiming my keys. I will NOT take any excuses... this ends NOW.

I only hope that I can rein in my rage enough to sleep tonight because I am sorely tempted to march the 6 blocks over to this girl's house and start banging on doors in the middle of the night to express just how very much this is NOT OK. At Kate's request and for her alone I will not follow my impulse to make my way over there for some well deserved shock and awe.

I HATE bullies. HATE with the passion of a thousand burning suns, HATE.

Nikchick [userpic]

Goal Reached: Read More Books Project

August 24th, 2011 (09:59 am)
Tags: ,

current location: United States, Washington, Seattle
current mood: accomplished

Back in January I set a goal for myself to read twice the books I read in 2010. That goal was 56 books. By May I'd read 5 more books than I'd read in 2010 and I'm happy to report that as of my return to Seattle from the Get Pramas the Fuck Out of Texas trip, I've met my yearly goal of 56 books. From here on out, additional books are just gravy.

By tracking my books in Goodreads, I've been able to compile a bunch of stats that tickle my fancy and will share them here.

Of those56 books

  • I gave 5 stars to 12

  • I gave 4 stars to 37

  • I gave 3 stars to 7

  • 20 titles were audiobooks

  • 2 titles were ebooks (I expect that number will increase now that I have Kindle for the iPad)

I've also abandoned 3 books, for various reasons. 

  • Fireworks over Toccoa: this e-book suffered from a terrible search and replace error that made letter replacements in the middle of words and jarred me out of my reading flow so often with these errors I gave up trying to read it.

  • The Autobiography of Mark Twain, vol. 1: this was a library book and very slow going as it was way more academic and footnoted than an autobiography of the traditional kind. I got 100 pages into the 737-page monster before I had to admit defeat and return it to the library. 

  • The Godwulf Manuscript: this audiobook was so HORRIBLY narrated that I couldn't listen to more than a few minutes before giving up. The "reader" might as well have been a comupter voice for all the inflection given to what is otherwise a fun story. I gave up on this audiobook but went back and read the paperback for myself (with MUCH more satisfying results).

I'd wanted to do more commenting on the books I've read and on what I've got currently going (I've now got several categories of books going at once: audio for solo listening, audio for driving Kate, printed books I own, printed books from the library, e-books) but it's been all I can do to write up this note about meeting my goal 4+ months early. Must prepare for PAX, house guests, the start of the school year, and the Green Ronin Summit among other things, so this short victory lap will have to suffice.

Nikchick [userpic]

Pasta Bolognese

June 19th, 2011 (06:47 pm)

current mood: cold

 Or: spagettia ja jauhelihakastiketta for my Finnish friends.

Looking for something to make for dinner that a) Kate will eat and b) won't dirty the kitchen too terribly much, I remembered that I still had a batch of bolognese in the freezer. One benefit to the seemingly endless wet and dreary weather this year is that "summer" is no impediment to cooking up what some might consider to be out of season meals (like my recent cravings for chicken pot pie and baked macaroni and cheese). Standing here in my sweater, slippers (and yes, pants!) in the gray and drizzling 50°F weather, it might as well be September. And so, dinner tonight: pasta bolognese. This is the same recipe we used at the last Freezer Cooking Party last year.

4 cups is enough to sauce 1 pound of pasta.


9 tablespoons Unsalted butter
3/4 cup Onion minced
3/4 cup Carrot minced
3/4 cup Celery minced
1 pound Ground beef
1 pound Ground veal
1 pound Ground pork
4 1/2 cups Whole milk
4 1/2 cups Dry white wine
9 cans (14.5 oz) Diced tomatoes drained with 1 1/2 cups of the juice reserved

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the ground meat and cook while breaking up the chunks with a wooden spoon until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the milk, bring to a simmer, and cook until the milk is evaporated and only clear fat remains, about 25 mintues. Stir in the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook until it has evaporated, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, pulse the tomatoes in a food processor until slightly chunky. Add the tomatoes and reserved tomato juice to the pot and bring to a bare simmer. Cook gently over low heat unitl the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 3½ hours. Season with salt to taste.

TO STORE: Let the sauce cook, uncovered at room temperature for 45 minutes. Transfer to airtight containers.

Nikchick [userpic]

A Celebration of Chris Pramas

June 15th, 2011 (09:43 am)

 It's birthday number 42 today. 42, the nerdtastic answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. A beautifully semetrical, even number: divisible by two... he and I. A number that signals he's now been an "adult" for as long as it took him to reach that previously magical number of 21.

For the first time in our relationship we're spending his birthday apart having been apart for weeks, with another week and more to go before we will be in each others company, to enjoy that deep and easy knowledge of each other, those inside jokes, those significant glances. He's spending his birthday alone because he's the grown up now. When opportunity knocked, he took his considerable talents on the road and decamped to Austin, TX to offer up the experience of 20-some years of fantasy-scifi-military-storytelling-game-theory-and-practice that makes up the large portion of his brain (that not dedicated to punk rock). He did this for us. He did it for me, for Kate, so we could reap the rewards of his efforts. He misses us, we miss him. *I* miss him. Being a grownup is hard.

Life isn't a simple story, sometimes not even a fun one. 42 may not be the answer to Everything in this case but it is the start of another year of loving and learning, of making our way apart, together, apart, and together again. It'll be another nine days until we're able to celebrate this milestone properly, together as we should be. I can't hug and kiss him, cook for him, take him out into some new part of the world until then. For the time being, I guess this love letter will have to do.

I love you, punk. Happy birthday. 

Nikchick [userpic]

Nikchick Past and Present

March 6th, 2011 (08:34 pm)

current mood: calm

A few nights ago I went looking for something in my blue file box. The Blue File Box began in the early 90s cataloging items from my history, such as it was, and I was looking for one item in particular. I didn't find it but the result of my searching meant that there were things spread all over the place as if the Blue File Box had vomited up letters and photos and newspaper clippings and adolescent poetry and who knows what else during my search.

One of the items in the Blue File Box is an unlabeled file folder that contains newspaper clippings that I thought would be interesting or even vital to save at some point in my past. In some cases it's clear to me why I save the clipping (a recipe or a newspaper story about someone or somewhere that held meaning for me at the time) and in other cases I have no idea why I saved the clipping (such as the wedding announcement of two people I can't recall ever meeting, nor do any of their extended family mean anything to me).

Even so, I was surprised to see how many articles remain solidly in the Nikchick wheelhouse. Because I'm too lazy to begin a new photo scanning campaign under our current network setup, I thought maybe I'd just list out the titles from the file folder of things that meant something to past (and possibly present) Nikchick, for your enjoyment.

  • LONG TIME GONE (Alzheimer's may claim a patient's mind, but Three Links Care Center retains their spirit) March 19, 1993
  • Obituary, Betsy Aronson April 23, 1993
  • PROPERTY OF WOMEN (RU486) editorial by Anna Quindlen, NYT
  • An undated editorial by W.D. Erhart ("A Philadelphia teacher") on the subject of honesty and euphemisms with the closing line of "And I can't help wondering if the only thing of value my students learned that day was not to get caught unless you are rich or powerful or famous."
  • An undated editorial about Mister Rogers by Kristine M. Holmgren in the Northfield News that ends with the statement, "As we congratulate him on his anniversary, we join him in the stewardship of our most precious resource." See also my Nikchick.com post "Mr. Rogers, Again" (http://www.nikchick.com/labels/Mr.%20Rogers.html)
  • Passage of gay rights amendment leaves some political wounds (Northfield News, March 26, 1993)
  • An undated editorial from a British Columbia publication by Pamela Durkin. "I am in a state of acute anxiety. My brother Barry, a victim of AIDS, lies dying in a Vancouver hospital."
  • A DOONESBURY comic from March 28, 1993
  • An undated Cathy comic about anxiety over cleaning house.
  • "The toll of sex and violence in the media" by Clyde Sandys, New Brighton, MN.
  • Gulf War POWs: A retrospective, April 10, 1993, by Paul McEnroe, Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • Head-on crash kills Northfield Man, 24 (Dan Halling, victim)
  • Northfielders continue to open homes and hearts to Vietnamese refugees (clipped after I started working with a Vietnamese woman, Ngoc Nguyen)
  • TO FIGHT SEXUAL ABUSE, THE PLAY'S THE THING (Indian teens' version fits their culture) Undated
  • HARD TIMES, HAPPY ENDINGS ('Boot camp' inmates give their best for early release) April 26, 1993
  • Retired gay officers call fear of actions unfounded -- undated "I was a soldier first. I didn't join the Army to have a date," said retired Col. Karl Cropsey. He is a decorated officer who served two combat tours in Vietnam and kept his homosexuality a secret during 23 years of service. (article about Clinton "lifting the ban on homosexuals in the military")
  • An invitation to interview Minnesota Justice (and Pro Football Hall of Famer) Alan Page
  • GIVING OUR DAUGHTERS A BETTER LOOK AT PARENTS (an editorial about "Take our Daughters to Work Day") undated
  • WHO WILL CARE FOR THE CHILDREN? (an editorial where a mother and grad student wonders about the quality of care for small children left in "hostile care")
  • KID'S MURDER NEEDS MORE THAN SAD STORY (story about murdered children in Chicago)
  • OH-SO-REASONABLE-DOUBT (editorial about the acquittal of an accused kidnapper/rapist/child murderer in Minnesota)
  • Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with these tasty flautas
  • Three Links Care Center (my former employer) held their annual Valentine's party on Friday Feb 12.
  • TO DIE WITH DIGNITY (Story about Sue Rodriguez and her "right to die' fight with the Canadian government) Feb 20, 1993 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sue_Rodriguez)
  • WORD OF ADVICE FOR NOT-YET-BRAIN-DEAD: TURN OFF THE TV ("That's essentially the conclusion Memphis psychologists came to after they wired up 31 kids, stuck them in front of a television set, turned on 'The Wonder Years' and watched their vital signs plunge.") March 1, 1993
  • Editorial by William Raspberry, "What would Frederick Douglass say?"
  • "Northfield offers a new life" editorial about moving from Minneapolis to a small town newspaper.
  • A NATIONAL DEBATE ON HOMOSEXUALITY (Values, prejudices will be confronted)
  • SCIENTISTS LOOK FOR GENETIC BASIS FOR HOMOSEXUALITY: "Brain differences said to be noticeable"
  • THE PC POLICE ARE ON PATROL IN THE LANGUAGE BUSINESS (PC warps meaning of words) by Michiko Kakutani, NYT
  • A QUESTION OF FATHERHOOD (Grandfather fights murderer's claim to 2 1/2-year-old girl...prisoner's case prepared at public expense) Feb 11, 1993
  • IN HER FAMILY, SHE IS THE PERSON OF COLOR (by Cheri Register, single Caucasian mother of two Korean-born daughters)
  • RED PET RECORDS TO BRING NEW CULTURAL ELEMENT TO TOWN (Northfield News, re: Carleton College Philosophy major Scot Covey's new record store in town)
  • BRITISH AIDS CASE OPENS UP DISCUSSION (A rock star's death heightens awareness and sensitivity) Christian Science Monitor, Dec 27, 1991
  • Time Magazine from June 3, 1991 (Cover Story: DATE RAPE)
  • Terrine de Coquilles St. Jacques, recipe from the Northfield News, March 10, 1993
  • Focaccia recipe from the Northfield News, March 24, 1993
  • Oven Beef Stew recipe from the Northfield News, April 21, 1993
  • A full page of recipes from the Minneapolis Star Tribune May 5, 1993 (Spiced Cream Coffee, Mexican Hot Chocolate, Strawberry-Grapefruit Drink, Swedish Pancakes, Sautéed Apples and Raisins, Quick and Sticky Buns, Apricot Cream Cheese Spread)
  • A recipe for Cranberry-Cheese Kuchen
  • A recipe column with two recipes: Roast Fillet of Beef with Wild Mushroom Sauce, Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Onions.
  • A Cathy cartoon where the husbands are freaking out because they can't be stay at home dads. A "nanny" is called to look after their careers while they stay home with the kids.
  • A recipe for pork chops with wild rice.
  • A recipe for stir-fried beef with cauliflower
  • A recipe for "Galatoire's Stuffed Eggplant"
  • Recipes for "Rhubarb Cherry Chutney" and "Rhubarb Sauce" from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 5, 1993
  • A recipe for "bunny bread" in honor of Easter, from the Northfield News, April 7, 1993
  • A recipe for "Celery Victor, '93" from the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Nikchick [userpic]

What comes from reading

February 23rd, 2011 (02:35 pm)

current mood: aggravated

I've been thinking about a longer blog post about how my recent reading binge has been influencing my thinking on current events. I haven't quite gotten around to composing my thoughts so in the meantime I'll just share this quote from Dashiell Hammett's 1929 novel, Red Harvest:

For forty years old Elihu Willsson ... had owned Personville, heart, soul, skin and guts. He was president and majority stockholder of the Personville Mining Corporation, ditto of the First National Bank, owner of the Morning Herald, andEvening Herald, the city's only newspapers, and at least part owner of nearly every other enterprise of any importance. Along with those pieces of property he owned a United States senator, a couple of representatives, the governor, the mayor, and most of the state legislature. Elihu Willsson was Personville, and he was almost the whole state.


In 1921 it came. Business was rotten. Old Elihu didn't care whether he shut down for a while or not. He tore up the agreements he had made with his men and began kicking them back to their pre-war circumstances.


They struck.

The strike lasted eight months. Both sides bled plenty. The wobblies had to do their own bleeding. Old Elihu hired gunmen, strike-breakers, national guardsmen and even parts of the regular army, to do his. When the last skull had been cracked, the last rib kicked in, organized labor in Personville was a used firecracker.

But... old Elihu didn't know his Italian history. He won the strike, but he lost his hold on the city and the state. To beat the miners he had to let his hired thugs run wild. When the fight was over he couldn't get rid of them. He had given his city to them and he wasn't strong enough to take it away from them. Personville looked good to them and they took it over. They had won his strike for him and they took the city for their spoils. He couldn't openly break with them. They had too much on him. He was responsible for all they had done during the strike.

Nikchick [userpic]

In solidarity

February 22nd, 2011 (05:29 pm)

current mood: discontent

In solidarity with all the American workers fighting to preserve their unions:

Nikchick [userpic]


January 6th, 2011 (10:17 pm)
Tags: ,

current mood: accomplished

 Years ago I set a generic goal for myself to "Read More Books" and though I marked that goal achieved quite a while ago, I have continued to try to improve. I did not count any books I started but abandoned (surprisingly many) in these totals, though I suppose when added together they amount to many additional pages read to no real result. Ah well...

Judging only my entries on Goodreads.com, I read 12 books back in 2007 when I was traveling more for my job and reading/listening to more books than I had in a long time.

In 2008 I stopped traveling as much and my rate of reading books fell. Only 8 books in 2008.

In 2009 I brought that total up to 10 books, definitely an improvement.

In 2010 I made a conscious effort to shut down the computer and get away from screens for at least 30 minutes before bed. Using this technique I bumped my total books read to 17 for the year, the highest number in 5 years.

In 2011 I plan to DOUBLE that number. So far, so good.

Nikchick [userpic]

Bachelor Kitchen

January 1st, 2011 (04:41 pm)

current mood: amused

Chris is a thrifty bachelor. He can feed himself and has a few tried and true recipes under his belt. His kitchen is outfitted with a single cookbook, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, which is a perfectly reasonable resource. Still, it's quite a bit more sparse than my usual digs.

When I first arrived in Austin I took Chris shopping and even cooked a few meals, but we also wanted to take full advantage of any and all good food Texas had to offer so we found ourselves looking at a pretty sparse fridge. I'd had the idea that we'd do an emergency run to H-E-B if necessary but we ended up running around town to donut places, candy stores, fireworks, and surprise marriage proposals. Fun!

Then it came time for dinner on New Year's Day. Oops. The cupboards were pretty bare. Two onions, some carrots, garlic, and some chicken broth (most of this extra from my Christmas feast), a can of chickpeas, a little paprika, pretty soon we've got soup on the stove. Chris's response: "We had chickpeas?" Ha!

Gotta take the man to the store for one last grocery run before Kate and I head home on Monday.

Nikchick [userpic]

Snow Days

November 23rd, 2010 (07:42 pm)

Tonight should be game night but I preemptively called things off  yesterday after seeing the state of the roads. I'd been planning to go to an event on Capitol Hill to benefit LGBT youth with some friends but the roads were in no shape for travel so we bailed and experience has taught me that with cold weather predicted to continue we'd still be in for another tough day or two even if we didn't see any more snow.

School let out early under the threat of snow Monday and was cancelled completely today. Kate and I walked down the hill to the light rail this afternoon, had lunch in Columbia City and then took the light rail further into town to catch a movie (Morning Glory) which we found surprisingly funny. The audience was 95% female and they were laughing out loud quite a bit. Definitely a chick flick, perfect for a mother-daughter date without Pramas. Getting back up the hill after dark was a cold and icy prospect and while we were out the schools sent out a message that tomorrow is another snow day, so Kate gets a nice, long Thanksgiving break.

Of course, Kate's supposed to be spending American Thanksgiving with her dad in Canada so tomorrow's trick will be getting up to our exchange point on the busiest travel day of the year on icy roads to boot. At least there's no school so we can leave good and early and take it slow. Hoping for better weather on Saturday when I go to bring her home!