Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A reason to look under the surface.

The reason why you cannot choose a mate based solely on their physical appearance is that such an appearance is a beautiful, fleeting thing, drifting nearby like a bird on the wind. It is temporary. It is not meant to be tied down, and it does not stay. Trying to grasp physical beauty is like trying to prevent the spores of a dandelion from blowing away in the breeze: you can blow them away yourself, making a wish as they disappear to create new life, or try to restrain them, causing frustration in the process. Let beauty bring joy while it is near, but realize that it is not a solid foundation for lasting love. Choose a mate because the warmth inside you is doubled when that person is near.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The cost of my weight.

Please note that this is the first time I have ever spoken publicly and honestly about my weight. I am not expecting sympathy or advice. I encourage discussion, as long as participants are respectful.

For the majority of my life, I have been overweight. At 5'6", I am considered "overweight" by body mass index standards at a weight of 155 pounds or higher. At 26, I believe I have been under 155 pounds for a total of approximately five months in my adult life. I was also not overweight as a junior in high school or as a seventh grader. Otherwise, since roughly the second or third grade, I have weighed more than what doctors considered healthy.

Recent events have caused me to consider very seriously the impact of being overweight. From my experience, carrying around extra poundage costs one something in several ways:
1. Financially: When you are overweight, you typically consume more calories than the average person. Generally, this means that you spend more on food for yourself than most people spend for themselves over the same span of time. More recently, as organic and gourmet foods have become more popular and accessible, the cost of eating healthy has also risen; however, when you compare costs on a meal-by-meal basis, the diet of someone who consumes more calories costs more. Overweight and obese people also experience a financial cost related to health problems that arise from the excessive weight they carry, the poor diet choices they make, or the lack of exercise in their lives.
2. Socially: Friends, with the best of intents, may exclude their heavier counterparts for a variety of reasons - they recognize that a certain physical activity may be too trying, a particular scene may require too little clothing (a beach, a club...), or a specific outing may be intended for those they are confident they can match up with someone of the opposite sex. Those who are overweight often also experience a shortage of confidence, though this does not happen in all cases. With less confidence, overweight people are less likely to be socially appealing and accepted.
3. Romantically: Everyone has heard the common phrases that deride overweight people - especially overweight women. With the standards set by society today, fat has become something that causes one to recoil. Thinness has been rated as more important than the independent beauty of facial features. Again, lessened confidence contributes to a less effective effort in this area. Some men or women may avoid dating their overweight potential matches because they are concerned with what society may think of them. Even if a person who is overweight is on the road to being physically fit and (probably) more attractive to members of the opposite sex, they will be passed over in favor of those who are already fit.
4. Professionally: It is especially true for women that a more attractive appearance means a higher paycheck. Thinner, prettier women are selected more frequently for promotions or special assignments, even in fields in which a woman's attractiveness does not contribute to the execution of the job itself. This is not to say that favors are traded by more attractive women - rather, attractive women are seen by superiors - male and female alike - as being more successful than overweight women regardless of individual achievements. Society values thin women, and so do employers.

I'm sure there are other costs. These are the ones I have personally observed.

I began overeating as a child. When I didn't feel accepted by my schoolmates, or was depressed by what was happening at home, I ate foods I enjoyed because it made me feel good - if even for a moment. As I got older, I was occasionally ridiculed by my older sister for what was then only moderately excessive weight. When this occurred, I ate more to avoid the pain that came with being seen as unacceptable by my family. The more overweight I became, the less I liked myself. I argued with my parents when purchasing clothes, convinced I could fit in a smaller size because the size label on the ones that fit me made me feel like an outcast. Further pressure from another family member, my grandmother, emphasized that my weight was something that should cause me to feel constant shame, until I rid my body of the excess. Once I felt that pressure, I began to convince myself that any other family members also saw me as shameful or ugly.

When I reached junior high school, I was wearing a size 6. My sister - who is four years older - was wearing a size 2 or 4 at the time. I sometimes stole her jeans, wearing them to prove to myself that I was thin enough to be accepted by my suddenly very appearance-conscious peers. That year, seventh grade, I made it onto the girls' basketball team for my grade. I played almost exclusively in the zero period, not having the skills of the other girls - many of whom had played club sports as kids. I had been in gymnastics most of my childhood, which did not encourage much extra physical activity - not nearly enough running. After basketball season, I participated in cross country running, which inspired a love of running which still lives inside me today.

After seventh grade, I was unable to make it onto a sports team. This made me sad, but I took up other activities - choir, various clubs, and, as was required by my parents, band. I occasionally went running after school, which ended when one of my classmates anonymously messaged me online that he had seen my efforts and proceeded to relentlessly ridicule me for being fat. Ashamed beyond belief that I had paraded what was obviously a disgusting body around my neighborhood by going for runs, I resolved never to run in daylight (I still don't run when the sun is up). In my sophomore year, band became marching band, which meant two things: more physical activity from August through December, and the embarrassment of being fitted for a uniform. By this time, I had gained more weight and was a size 10 or 12. What size I actually was isn't completely clear - I was still shoving myself into sizes that were too small for me. By this time, I had also dabbled in eating disorders, sometimes forcing myself to throw up after meals, other times going days without eating much, if anything. I was unable to sustain either for long enough to support substantial weight loss.

At the end of my sophomore year, certain things in my life changed, and I spent that summer making a more intense effort to lose weight. I often went days without eating more than a couple of crackers. By the end of the summer, I was a size 6 or 8, and everyone from my friends to my band director commented on how amazing I looked. My band director tied this into his belief that I would march better and be a generally better high school student.

The summer after junior year, I went to a pre-college program at Duke University, in Durham, NC. It was there that I was introduced to Ben & Jerry's ice cream. I gained weight back. Without the supervision of my parents, I was suddenly able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I left one size bigger.

This movement back and forth between mock anorexia and binge eating continued through my senior year of high school and freshman and sophomore years of college. The summer after sophomore year, I visited my grandmother. She didn't have to say anything to make me hate myself the instant I saw the pictures of me from our excursions on that trip. One picture stands out in my memory: I was wearing jeans and a polo. I looked like a soft-edged rectangle - no real waist. I was standing next to my father in the picture. I remember thinking, "I will always be his 'fat daughter.'"

I returned from the trip to where I was staying for the summer - an MIT frat house - and continued to party. One night, I was so angry with my roommate that I drank extremely excessively. I ended up vomiting at least a dozen times that night, damaging the lining of my stomach in the process. I used this as an excellent excuse to be anorexic for the rest of the summer. Over a month, I dropped quite a bit of weight. I didn't have access to a scale, but I would guess I lost about 40-50 pounds, ending up about 130 pounds. For the first time in a long while, I loved my body. My friends commented constantly on how good I looked. This is the only time I was not overweight. I developed a very strong love of running on the Charles River in Boston over this summer.

I then took a job which took me all over the US. Without any sort of social support, as I never saw the same people day-to-day, I began to eat emotionally again. Needless to say, I gained the weight back, and eventually weighed in around 180 pounds when I returned to Dallas to spend the rest of my year off from school working. I was 20.

I am now 26. Except for a period when I was 24, when I ate a perfect diet and ran constantly for about four months (during which I was, at my lowest weight, 156 pounds - still overweight), I have been ashamed of my appearance and generally lack confidence in this area. Most times I go for a run, I still hope no one sees me - and if anyone does, that they are not someone I know who will belittle me.

I am now in a phase of my life where I look to my future: I want to have a career, get married, have children, be happy. I am rejected by men regularly because of my weight. Some do it in kind ways; others are not so tactful. Each time, it destroys my hope for having those ideals, and nothing hurts like the vacuum that is left by evaporated hope. I have tried countless diets and exercise regimens. I have starved myself into misery (and then eaten my way out of that misery). I am about 190 pounds, and I wear a size 12 or 14. My doctor when I was a teenager told me I somehow carried extra weight that didn't appear to be there, but that doesn't explain this discrepancy: the average American woman is 5'4", weighs 140-150 pounds, and wears a size 12 or 14. I don't know where my extra 40 pounds is going, but I guess I'm relieved to be roughly the average when it comes to clothing sizes. At least I have company. Even when I weighed around 150 pounds, I was incredibly ashamed of myself because I was not 120 pounds.

My goal here is not to inspire sympathy. I think we need to take a realistic look at how society views weight, and what it costs each of us who is overweight. Fresh off of my latest rejection this week, I am feeling that cost in a very intense way. Even worse, the hate for my own body rarely - if ever - is quiet. Every time I look at my flabby arms, every time I try on a pair of jeans in a store, every time I put on my apron at work and wonder how much of my belly causes an awkward shadow, I feel ashamed.

I am finishing this at 2:26 AM. Surely no one is awake to see my disgustingly fat ass run down the street.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New year, refurbished you.

The frequency of posts related to resolutions on my Facebook news feed reminds me that this is the time of year when people collectively decide to change in various ways - most popularly, to become more fit. I see dozens of posts, ranging from friends irate at the abundance of new or recently-returning members at their gym to others who very well may be the cause of this irritation. Never mind that these "ghost members" keep fitness centers in business by having their dues automatically debited from their checking accounts but not ever actually visiting the gym after January 26th, thus eliminating potential machine wear and tear, water and electricity usage, and whatever other costs gyms incur. On the other side of things, a co-worker informed me yesterday that his resolution is to eat more chocolate, which he began by purchasing several king-size candy bars. Which he ate in front of another associate who had, as many do, resolved to lose more weight. Irony for breakfast, excellent!

"New year, new you."
It's an advertising slogan, an over-used saying, a trite reminder that the old you is somehow bereft of merit, attractiveness, or whatever trendy attribute currently is being pursued by those around you. It appeals to many: "Ah, yes, I love shiny, new things!" I take issue with a few points on this statement: 1) The implied assessment of the dawn of a new year being the best time for change. 2) That the "you" you are pursuing is somehow completely different from the "you" who hears this statement. In the interest of encouraging a different thought process, I have detailed my arguments here.

"New year..."
Is the beginning of a year an appropriate time for change? Absolutely. Is it the only (or the most) appropriate time for change? Absolutely not. This idea that we must resolve to make positive changes in our lives once a year is poppycock. On February 2nd, 2012, I decided to change by starting a regular practice of yoga. I did this because my doctor recommended it to ease my anxiety; never mind the fact that she more or less ordered me to do it in November 2011. The happiest people I have known make changes as they are needed, not when it is required due to social pressure. I am certainly glad to see that many are committing to positive changes, but such things should not be isolated to this time of year.

Maybe it should be "New minute..." - because you can, and should, make changes at any moment. Particularly regarding undergarments, in that specific moment before you put on your pants.

"...new you."
The preposterousness of this half of the statement makes me laugh every time (silently, within my own mind, as those who take it seriously have been working out a lot - or so I hear). This is similar to those words so often printed on the boxes of products that so badly need help making it out of the store and into your closet/garage/attic/other seldom used, usually dusty space in your home. "New & improved!" - the world's most popular paradox. If it is new, it was not here previously; thus, it could not have possibly been improved from a previous state. However, sales of items with simply "Improved!" on the side have been shown to be lackluster, as humans always want the full package: shiny new things AND things that are better than they were before being repackaged. Unless it's a hamburger from McDonald's, in which case, only "New!" will work.

Anyway, you are going to be the same "you" tomorrow who existed yesterday, with the same fingerprints (barring Fight Club-esque experiences featuring lye and fingertips), DNA (unless you are bitten by a life-changing spider and feel inspired to climb up the sides of buildings and fight crime), and basic foundation (excepting, of course, those that have accidents with adamantium). This is not to say that you cannot change; thanks to inspiration from sources such as your scale, Oprah, The Seven Habits of Highly-Effective People, and the Cosmetic Surgery Association's print magazine New You (ahahaha, silly surgeons!), you can make changes ranging from small ones in your day-to-day life to ones that necessitate hours of patience at the DMV in the pursuit of a new driver's license photo. Truthfully, you are just doing what electronics companies do on a regular basis: swapping out some parts, cleaning up the exterior a bit, and putting the finished product in new packaging. Refurbished you, now available at your local Fry's Electronics for a reduced price!

Change is good.
So change, and make it a daily habit on so many levels. Change your clothes. Change your perspective. Change your habits. Like any good pilot, make adjustments as conditions change. Even if your changes do not work out, you will have learned something. If you resist this practice, the floodwaters of change will drown you as everything around you changes (and not just when Prince's ever-popular song is done being played for the year and party quarters are graced with a fine coat of dried champagne).

The only thing that does not change is the frequency of change itself.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The search for the best petit four in Dallas.

There's something endearing about petits four. Is it its tiny size, created just for you? Perhaps it is the tiny flower on top, or one of many various designs. It could definitely be the tradition: petits four have been served with coffee or tea as part of dessert or afternoon tea for generations.

Whatever it is, I love them. So much so that if I spend any amount of time in a particular city, I deem it necessary to determine where I might find the best petits four.

Having already done this for Austin (Rise & Shine Bakery on 2222, http://www.riseandshinebakery.com), my city of residence is covered. Now that I am on vacation in Dallas, I had the idea to spend one of my days demystifying Dallas bakeries.

An important note is this: many bakeries do not sell petits four at all. Some make them by the dozen to order only. There are a few bakeries that make them every day and have them ready for sale whenever you want one on a whim. This last category is the type of bakery for which I typically seek, for two reasons: 1) Until my wedding day, I will not need a large quantity of petits four; 2) I am a relatively spontaneous person on a diet. If I decide to have a petit four, it is not planned ahead of time.

There are a few types of petits four:
Vanilla: Typically characterized by vanilla cake and white frosting, with a pastel flower or other design on top. My favorite.
Chocolate: Chocolate cake with (usually) chocolate frosting (often fondant; more on that later), with a design of random color on top. I have seen a lot of odd colors on chocolate petits four.
Filled: Some type of other cake with a creamy or gelatinous filling. Always interesting, rarely what you expect it to be.
Occasionally, there are petits four made with a different type of cake. These are very rarely made by bakeries on a daily basis, but you can request them on special orders.

For these types of investigations, I usually choose vanilla - it's my favorite type, and it usually is a much easier petit four to judge. Chocolate petits four tend to be very similar, whereas vanilla petits four can be extremely different in size, moisture, texture, flavor, and color. I am also not the biggest fan of chocolate, despite being female (thought an intense love of chocolate came with the territory?...).

I placed many phone calls and trolled many web sites today looking for bakeries serving vanilla petits four within a reasonable driving distance of the north Dallas area. I narrowed down the list carefully (some were out of vanilla when I called; others were far outside of the acceptable driving range) and came up with the following list of five:
1. A & J Bakery, 3515 Oak Lawn Avenue, 214.526.0077, http://ajbakery.info
2. Celebrity Cafe & Bakery, several locations (I chose Highland Park, at 65 Highland Park Village), 214.528.6612, http://www.enjoycelebrity.com
3. Tart Bakery, 5219 W Lovers Lane, 469.335.8919, http://www.tartbakerydallas.com
4. Aston's Bakery, 4342 Lovers Lane, 214.368.6425, http://astonsbakery.net
5. Stein's Bakery, 12829 Preston Road, 972.385.9911, http://steinsbakery.net
Also of note: Society Bakery in the Lower Greenville area was highly recommended by some, but they were out of petits four when I called. From the sound of their reviews, their cupcakes are better anyway... and I didn't want a cupcake.

Clockwise from top: A & J, Tart, Aston's, Celebrity, Stein's.

Assisting in this investigation was my friend Kaytee. Some of the opinions to follow were contributed by her. Thank heaven she was there to share the sugar with me, because I think I would have gone into shock otherwise.

Note the relative differences in size and various decorations.

A & J: They had run out of vanilla petits four sometime between when I called and when I arrived. I decided that having already made the drive, I would go ahead and purchase a chocolate one. Coming in at a cost of $2.71, it was the most expensive. The picture doesn't entirely do its size justice. It was more a slice of cake than a true petit four and was easily three or four times the size of Aston's offering, which was the smallest. The bakery was sandwiched into a row of buildings on Oak Lawn and wasn't very appealing from the outside, but there was parking in back - thank God! No having to reverse onto a busy street like Oak Lawn.

The best thing about the A & J petit four was the surprise at the base: a creamy chocolate filling reminiscent of chocolate mousse. It was DELICIOUS. As previously stated, I'm not even a fan of chocolate, but that was really, truly a treat. The cake itself was relatively moist, with a nice texture. Again, more akin to a piece of cake than a petit four. The icing, however, ruined the whole cake. It was like fondant, but less matte. It had a very artificial taste to it. Had I been able to get vanilla, this problem would not likely have come up, as most places use a cream frosting on vanilla. For whatever reason, I really do not enjoy fondant... it has that icky artificial taste, an awkward texture, and doesn't contribute much to the overall visual of the cake. Had this petit four/piece of cake had cream frosting on it, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. It was still MUCH too large for a petit four and was moderately expensive (not the highest I've ever seen, but the most expensive of the day).

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Tart: The second smallest petit four, it was an appropriate size, though a little smaller than what you might typically find. Its cost was $2.25. The bakery itself was the cleanest, most visually pleasing of all of the locations. The interior had a cutesy appeal to it and was everything I might expect from a nice bakery operating in 2011. Additionally, the lady at the counter was more friendly than any other staff I encountered at any of the bakeries. She even recommended a cookie (which I, being a sucker for lemon anything in pastry form, purchased). Overall, this was a bakery I'd visit again, just based on the feel of it.

Again with the surprises... there was a layer of creamy frosting in the middle of it. Pleasant, creamy interjection. The cake itself was very moist and flavorful, substantial but not heavy. The frosting was creamy and delicious, contributing some sweetness, but not overloaded with sugar. The petit four was very well-balanced, owing to the substance of the cake and the moderate sweetness of the frosting. Not even the fondant flower (which WAS cute, therefore an acceptable application of fondant) could distract me from the perfect balance. The cake could have had a touch more flavor, but otherwise, I was perfectly satisfied with how it tasted, both by itself and paired with the coffee and tea I had before me. Well worth the moderate price of $2.25.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Aston's: Far and away the smallest petit four I have ever seen. I had my choice between a larger size and the small size, but the larger size was actually a "cake square" and far too large to ever be considered a petit four - bigger than the A & J "petit four." The shop felt stuck in 1964 and was kind of a pain to access, due to the complicated layout of Lovers Lane just east of the Tollway. At $1.75, it was on the lower end of the price range, but considering how petite it truly was, I would have expected to pay $1. The lady who served me was nice enough. Also worth noting: the minimum charge for credit cards is $5, so bring cash if you plan on a visit for personal indulgence.

Considering the actual petit four, I don't think I would have been surprised if the clerk had listed air as a main ingredient. It was extremely moist, fluffy, and light. Kaytee and I could not believe how moist it was. That said, the cake had very little flavor to it. "Bland" and "mild" were words we used to describe it. The icing came close to what I would consider ideal for a petit four - creamy, without too much sweetness, but again, it lacked flavor. It was very obviously fresh. Other than how moist it was, it was very unremarkable. Mediocre.

Rating: 2 of 5 stars

Celebrity: I have to admit, my expectations here might have been higher merely because of its location in Highland Park Village. Extremely well-heeled customers expect a lot, right? The interior and exterior of the cafe were cute, in a way: nice tables outside, compact inside with various pink accents, traditional bakery case. I placed my order, and the cashier tossed a petit four into a pastry bag. She swiped my card. She walked away. No "thank you," no receipt. I watched her wander around the small area behind the counter as my receipt printed from the machine. She realized I was still waiting and returned to hand me my receipt. At $2.44, it was one of the day's more expensive samples.

The cake itself is vanilla, with white frosting and green decorative frosting. I know from seeing the petits four in the case that the green frosting was in some sort of decorative shape. I have no idea what that was, as the frosting was smashed in the bagging of the pastry - you can see that it looks like a solid green layer of frosting on top. Had I received this petit four recently after it was baked, I would guess that it would have been rather good. The cake suggested a creamy, thick texture, almost heavy. It had more of a french vanilla flavor to it, which was interesting. The frosting was about right on sweetness. All of these points of interest were severely discounted by the fact that the petit four was slightly stale. As such, the frosting was dry and cracking in an ugly way; the cake's hint of moisture was just that - a hint; the flavor hid behind the slight envelope-glue flavor of staleness. This one could have been great, seriously. But with the presentation, which was marred as soon as it hit the bag, and the slightly-past-its-prime condition, its potential was not realized. Match that with the lady at the counter, and I'm not inclined to return to examine the further potential of this offering. But again, what could have been...

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Stein's: I won't lie... I really wanted this petit four to be the best. It was a perfect size - not too large, not too small, but slightly larger than medium. Plus, at $1.40, it was easily the best value. Again with the flashbacks - I felt like I'd stepped back to 1992 (where's my Minnie Mouse shirt and hot pink bike shorts?). Parking was plentiful, the location was easy, the staff was friendly, and the shop had the largest variety of baked options of anything I'd seen all day. Additionally, the petit four was the prettiest one I'd seen (just half a hair ahead of Tart's in visual appeal).

But it wasn't the best. What a beautiful letdown. Close, but no cigar. Aw, shucks. Even more shameful? The cake itself was the best flavor of any petit four I've had. It was interesting, and savory, and not excessively sweet. It was creamy (as Celebrity's, but less heavy), moist, and fluffy. Fresh. Delicious. The icing on the cake? So sweet, it burned going down. Seriously. I would eat that cake all day, every day, but the frosting? I'd scrape it off to give to the dog. And frosting is usually my favorite part of a cake. If you like your frosting sweet, go to Stein's; otherwise, you might want to seek out a different place. Unless your dog likes frosting.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

At the end of the experiment, here's how they stacked up:
1st: Tart Bakery
2nd: Stein's Bakery
3rd: A & J Bakery
4th: Celebrity Cafe & Bakery
5th: Aston's Bakery

If you're in the mood for a quick, sweet treat, head to Tart. Elevated atmosphere, well-balanced flavors for a balanced palate, friendly staff, and reasonable pricing.

Tart Bakery. Best petit four in Dallas, period.

Blog coming back to life?...

It is time to resuscitate the blog, now that I:

a) have enough time to write (sometimes),
b) have material about which to write, and
c) am starting to recognize that my ability to write is being wasted.

Those things being said, I have some things to post tonight, and I will try to continue posting with some regularity. Cheers!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I'm looking for housing in Austin... I found a bunch of crazy people instead.

My impending move to Austin has me a little nervous about my ability to find an apartment. I have, thus, turned to the internet to look at places ahead of time. Rent.com sends me spam. Apartments.com has archaic quotes for rent (one place had rents listed $200 below their current rates). Property management companies' web sites would have me believe I will be living on an oasis near every interesting hangout and happening in the Austin area with washer/dryer included for a mere $475/month.

Craigslist.org has dozens of insane people looking to do one of two things: a) sell me their product/web site/house or b) make me their roommate. The responses inspired enough roaring laughter and incredulity among my friends and family that I thought them worthy to share with you. Names/e-mail addresses have been removed in order to protect the mentally impaired.

to northaustinapts@gmail.com

date Fri, Jul 3, 2009 at 12:14 PM


We will have an opening in our house soon. There are a good mix of people living here. We are all into bicycles, I ride a 12 mile commute daily. We are 420 friendly, but it is not a main part of out day.
The house is just a mile or so from campus and has a couple of guys and a couple of girls. actually 4 guys and 2 girls. 3 people live in the house and the rest stay in tents in our nice little back yard that has a fire pit, rope ladder, and ping pong table. People have joked before that our backyard looks like a photo from an REI catalog.
The opening is in the second biggest room in the house and rent is around $300- $400 depending on how many tenters are here. Bills usually run $30-40. There is a house computer with internet, and high speed connection for the room.

We were wondering when you were wanting to move in somewhere, and if this living situation would be good for you. Everyone at the house is laid back and although we party sometimes, the house is generally quiet. We are into making kombucha, yogurt, people sew here, most everyone plays piano, and we have one (1) small cat named Bones. I personally am allergic to most cats but this one doesn't seem to bother me. I really prefer dogs, but am at a point in my life where I will most likely be moving and traveling quite a bit in the next few years so... no dog.

If this sounds interesting to you we can set up a meeting.

p.s. The house is having some changes as a couple of people are moving (hence the room).]

Maybe they keep the cost of bills down by having community showers with the garden hose in the backyard?
definition of kombucha from dictionary.com: (kŏm'bōō'chä')
n. A lightly sparkling beverage made by fermenting black or green tea and sugar a culture of various bacteria and yeasts.

from <**************@gmail.com>
to northaustinapts@gmail.com
date Fri, Jul 3, 2009 at 11:26 AM
subject Re: Apartment Needed for End of August
mailed-by gmail.com

let he have you number I have something I think you would be intrested in.

This was all the e-mail said. He/she didn't tell me anything about who they are, what/where this place is, or their contact information, yet I'm supposed to deliver my phone number?

to northaustinapts@gmail.com
date Fri, Jul 3, 2009 at 7:54 AM
subject regarding your ad on craigslist
mailed-by gmail.com
signed-by gmail.com

I happened to realize that your looking for a tennancy via craigs list. I realised I may as well shoot you an email when I had the idea, since I have been up to a great amount of of toing and froing over the past few months, [about 5] pack ups, and have attempted going for a place on craigs list with not even any result. I recommend you have a look at this site http://***********.**********.com

Another guy actually recommended the site, when I had no success on craigs list and 3 other sites, so now im doing the kind deed : D The company have absolutely helped me the last 3 occassions when I have been finding a new place, and have an excellent amount to choose from, if you simply copy the site's steps.

Really hope it helps at least,

This was clearly a scam, or at least someone trying to sell a web site. What struck me about it was its grammatically awkward writing.

There were a few others from people wanting me to work for their oil companies for free housing or wanting me to pay to live in their homes while they were apparently in Nigeria. The catch? They also wanted me to fill out every single detail about myself and my life over the past few years in good faith.

Here's one guy who wants me to be his "payment representative" and stay at his place while he is in London. I get the distinct impression there would be drugs involved:

********* *******
to northaustinapts@gmail.com
date Fri, Jul 10, 2009 at 3:35 PM
mailed-by gmail.com

I reside and owned a two bedroom apartment in Austin but i am presently in London with my family on an official trip. Am using this opportunity to inform you that i have a vacant furnished two bedroom apartment with all amenities including internet facility.Am looking for someone that can take care of the apartment on my behalf without paying any rental fee but who will in turn serve as my payment representative in Austin because i majorly deals in art work which i am presently in London on an official trip to exhibit some of my art works for my clients in London.You can contact me if you are interested in this offer in other for me to send you the apartment information as well as the job description.

Sweet! Just what I always wanted - to a) be a drug dealer, b) give all of my personal and financial information to someone I don't know who resides in Nigeria but has internet access, c) be a hippie living in a commune, or d) give out my phone number to creepy dudes on the internet.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The devil's own coffee.

Starbucks SKU # 666 corresponds to one pound of Italian Roast.

I found this particularly interesting for a few reasons:

-Italian Roast is one of our more darkly roasted coffees. In other words, the beans spend more time in the fire. Fitting for one whose time is spent in the vast pits of flames believed to fill Hell.
-Dante Alighieri, whose personal interpretation of the devil, as shared in his Inferno, is a commonly accepted portrait of the one called Satan, was Italian. Florentine, to be exact.
-Rome, the seat of the Pope and the heart of Catholicism as well as Christianity, is in Italy. I need not elaborate on this irony.

These are all of the connections I can make at this time. Italian Roast being a coffee of high intensity, intricate boldness, and decadent sweetness (compared to the smokiness of French Roast), it seems an appropriate choice for Lucifer.