November 28, 2014

Flashback Friday: Let Emerson eat cake

by Janie Jones

Monday I was writing about change and how it can be a double-edged sword.  I might have made Emerson roll over in his grave as I abused his thoughts, but at the same time I seem to recall his point was to be true to yourself and not blindly go with the flow.  He wanted to urge people to break with the consensus if that consensus was for something detrimental, if the popular wisdom was leading you astray.   Do the masses tend to understand what it is anymore to be true to yourself? Do we as a society ever stop and question what is really right and good and necessary anymore?

I might have implied that we are drowning in a new sea of wild and pointless change for the advancement of Progress for the pure sake of Progress.  But, change in the name of Progress isn’t a new problem and doesn’t just afflict our 21st century technology driven life.  The world of Progress has rocked and changed other generations, too.

And, while some changes have brought wonderful things that do enhance our lives, with every step forward something is left behind.  Who stops to ask if what we exchange is worth it?

I don’t talk much about my family here anymore, but, there is one memory indelibly etched in my brain with the clarity of something that happened just yesterday.  It captures a moment in time which literally shaped the way I would see the world for ever more.  I was a tween, and I was eating birthday cake at my paternal grandmother’s house.  It was the best cake I had ever eaten.  And I asked my grandmother what kind of cake it was, hoping I could persuade my mother to buy that brand.  The response I got blew my mind.

“Oh, well, I’m sorry, but I forgot to buy a box of cake mix at the store yesterday, so I had to just whip this up from scratch.  I am sorry it’s not as good as the store kind.”

Two thoughts fought for prominence in my mind:

1.  How the heck does someone just “whip up” a cake that delicious as a last minute thing and

2.  Why in the world was she apologizing?!?

But my paternal grandmother grew up in the depression, apparently poor as dirt.  When modern conveniences rolled out things like box mixes for cakes and other foods, the fact that they saved the housewife time, and were more costly, had to make them better than the old fashioned, poor people’s home cooking.  All these years later, when the masses had forgotten how delicious unprocessed food was, she was still able to cook rings around Duncan Hines and Pillsbury, but she was apologizing for it because people of wealth and consequence didn’t inflict home cooking on their families.

This was also the woman who would wash tinfoil in the dishwasher because it was too expensive to just throw away.

But quirks aside, this insight into the mind of a different generation does show how sometimes seemingly innocent changes which make life appear easier, better, and more convenient can actually diminish a valuable trait in our society.  Ever since that day, I have endeavored to make from scratch instead of buying store bought anything when ever possible.  I don’t know why, but that one simple conversation taught me the value of being able to cook and impressed upon me how it is something of a dying art.

Convenience foods certainly have their place, and can be useful.  But to claim they are better and more valuable than home cooking is a crime and a travesty.  Undoubtedly in part due to this backward change in societal values and probably because of their prevalence, as a generation we have lost a valuable skill.  How many people today can just whip up a cake, or a homemade soup, or gravy?  All are staples a pre-WWII era housewife could make in her sleep.  Heck, girls younger than I was at the time used to do these things every day as automatically as breathing.  It is a sad, sad testament to the times that I know a whole physics class of teens and twenty-somethings today who don’t even know how to boil an egg.

So, the important lesson I like to take from this memory is to never, ever devalue a good made from scratch chocolate cake.

But, seriously, in order for life to go on, I recognize change is inevitable.  However, I hope that people start to see that we can and need to choose to hold on to the simple, better things in life instead of letting the grand, sweeping scope of Progress swallow up, obliterate and bury them in the past.  There are skills we need to keep alive and part of our core of knowledge, even if they seem old fashioned, even if Technology and Progress tells us there’s a faster, more efficient, greener way.  Somethings just can’t be improved on by modern convenience, technology or innovation.  We shouldn’t let innovation make us apologize for being able to do things by hand, for upholding traditions and customs, and for valuing simplicity.

Anyone else have a taste for cake?

 

November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Quote Du Jour

by Janie Jones

My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor.

Phyllis Diller

Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving dinner is better than Phyllis’!

Happy Thanksgiving Blog Buddies!

November 25, 2014

Tuesday Titters: All for the love of Turkey

by Janie Jones
Q: Who dosen’t eat on Thanksgiving?
A: A turkey because it is always stuffed.

source: http://www.jokes4us.com/holidayjokes/thanksgivingjokes.html

November 24, 2014

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds

by Janie Jones

I don’t know whether to go tongue in cheek here, or to be serious.  But I’m getting a little tired of having to toe the party line, whatever party I’m currently at and in the curious position of feeling like I’m crashing instead of belonging.

Seems like every where I go, everything I encounter is a push for change.  And, it applies to the grand tapestry that is the world around me as well as in the microcosm of my own personal life.  Changes abound in the world government, the federal government, in my school, in my friends, in my operating system, in WordPress.

Yes, I noticed.  WordPress changed itself again.

And in all these areas I am told by some unidentified source that I should embrace these changes.  I am told if you don’t change you are a problem, you are a broken cog who can’t see the beauty of the future and it’s Progress.

A long time ago, someone I care about said to me, “If I ask you why you don’t want to change, I don’t ever want to hear, ‘Because that’s how we’ve always done it.'”

He makes a good point, but I always felt that I had to disagree.  Sometimes how we’ve always done things is not a bad way if it works.  Sometimes those old ways, those tried and true ways are what give that fabric of our lives it’s tight weave with all it’s strength, it’s character, it’s warmth.  Sometimes it’s those old ways which give us the resources to be stable, a base from which we can grow and expand and be flexible and change; it’s that uniform, reliable unchanging platform that gives us the security to know if we fall, the net will catch us in stability and reliability.

Life isn’t about stagnation.  It does need change.  But change isn’t always for the best, it isn’t always good, and sometimes changing at the wrong time and making the wrong change is disastrous.  Often it feels like the world just is leap-frogging from one new idea to the next without thought for whether the next leap is going to land in the water or on a lily pad.  I think that change is therefore necessary, but should not be embarked upon lightly or wantonly, but soberly and with ample contemplation for the impact and the outcome of the change.  Does anyone really stop and think about what they are doing anymore?  Or is it just one big glut to be always one-upping everyone else with the next best idea?  Have we just devolved to one big world game of Keep Up With the Joneses?

I feel like there is a foolish consistency in the thought that we should never accept anything as good enough, that we always need to change just because we can.  Changing for no good reason, changing because the popular opinion is if it’s new it must be better, I believe, is just as much a sign of small minds as is never recognizing the need for change at all.

Sometimes the writing is on the wall.  Things break.  They must be fixed.  But, sometimes if it ain’t broke, there is no sense in wasting time and resources reinventing the wheel.

The change we need is not to rush out and invent something new, but to change back to something long ago discarded:  a sense of moderation.  Let’s stop and smell the roses before we genetically modify the snot out of them so they will only ever smell like Aphrodite’s sweat, shall we?

November 21, 2014

Factual, funny and freakish, all on one Friday

by Janie Jones

Now, if you are the kind of person who is a bit put out having to follow a link in a blog post to understand what the author is posting about, I will apologize now.

But, if you know nothing about Naked Mole Rats, and/or you are looking for something that will make you laugh and shudder all at once, then you will not regret following this link and spending 3 minutes watching this highly informative video:

True facts about Naked Mole Rats

My lab partner and I had a bunch of time to kill Wednesday night while we waited for our Drosophila cells to incubate and he and I swapped funny websites.  He got The Oatmeal, and I got True facts about Naked Mole Rats.  A thoroughly equitable exchange, in my opinion.

And, here’s a spoiler alert:   No, something that ugly can’t be food.

Happy Friday

November 20, 2014

Thursday Quote Du Jour # 18

by Janie Jones

“Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.”

Marie Curie

November 18, 2014

Tuesday Titters: Do you love The Oatmeal as much as I do?

by Janie Jones

Don’t you just love The Oatmeal?  I have been enjoying them on the internet, but I think I have to get one of their books, you know, so I’ll still have access after the zombie apocalypse.  In the mean time, I’ll share one of my favorites with you:

The water on our planet is very, very old.

The water we have now is the same water that existed hundred of millions of years ago.

This means that every time I drank

or bathed

or wept

it was all dinosaur pee.

This is from The Oatmeal website.  Click here to see it full The Oatmeal glory.