Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chocolate :)

I love chocolate! I don’t love all chocolate. I like a lot of it, some of it is ok, and some of it I love. I wouldn’t say I’m a chocolate snob, but more of an elitist. If there is nothing else to be had, no name chocolates and very milky milk chocolates are better than no chocolate at all. Hershey’s chocolate falls in the middle of the spectrum. All of their chocolate is good. Their dark chocolate is the best thing that they have to offer. Other higher end brands of chocolate are even better. The best of all chocolates is the dark chocolate. I’m not talking about more than 75%, that is borderline no sugar baking chocolate. However, a nice 60% is just about right.
Another kind of chocolate that I love is Oaxaca chocolate. This doesn’t really compare on any level with manufactured chocolates and overall has a different texture and taste. So next time you are in Oaxaca Mexico go downtown to a small shop called Mayordomo. There you can buy prepackaged chocolate or order fresh. Maybe you like your chocolate with less sugar, how about some cinnamon or almonds in the mix. Then you can watch as they grind the whole cacao bean, add sugar, grind in cinnamon and almonds. Then transfer the gooey chocolaty goodness into a bag for you. Nothing quite compares to a spoonful of chocolate just made. When you get home you will want to spread it out for it will harden in the next day. Traditionally this chocolate is used for making hot chocolate, but I eat it plain. You may have had Abuelita chocolate, it comes in a hexagonal yellow box with a picture of a grandma drinking hot chocolate. This is similar, but ever so much better.
I was inspired to write to you about chocolate because I saw an article detailing the health benefits of eating chocolate. I am usually a discerning, individual who actively looks for holes in arguments. Chocolate is my blind spot. It doesn’t take an article to convince me that chocolate is good for you. I already know that. It merely gives me something to spout to the unbelievers. So eat some chocolate, pick your favorite kind. I have a large costco size bag of chocolate chips in my refrigerator. Its purpose is partially for baking, but mostly for eating by the handful. So I’m going to go fill a small, or maybe a medium sized cup with chocolate chips snuggle into my couch and read a good book.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Time is an interesting thing to think about. I looked up the definition for time at thinking that it would be useful to see a refined description of time. I got a list of 64 definitions and sayings to illustrate the way we use time.
There are many sayings about time and philosophical thoughts about the value of time. It seems like in respect to time there is no in between ground. Either you have too much time or you don’t have enough. Rarely do I hear people say, “I had the perfect amount of time today.” Especially in western cultures people often say “I don’t have enough time” and expressions such as “time is money” are frequently heard. Our schedules are packed so full of things to do and places to go that every minute needs to be filled with something. This creates an interesting dichotomy that when you have to wait for something or have run out of things to do you say such things as “I’m killing time.” It is as if the moments of waiting exist in a vacuum and aren’t a part of life itself. Once the waiting is over living commences because then once again you can be busy and pack time with all sorts of activities. How many hours, days and weeks have we wasted, waiting for the next thing?
 I work in airport gift shops. A common response from people is that the reason they are in the store is because time is burdensome and they want to kill or waste it. The only moment in time that we are promised is the present moment. I think when we get so wrapped up in time either consuming it voraciously or murdering it we lose track of the preciousness of each moment. For all those times we wait how can we enjoy them for they may be our last? For all those times we are so busy we have no opportunity to just stop, are we really getting the most out of them for they may be our last? Whether busy or waiting remember that time ultimately wins and our seemingly inexhaustible source is finite. In business or waiting, live your moments for they are all you have.

 Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity. - Henry Van Dyke

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day seems to be one of those days that you really look forward to or the one day of the year that you really dread. By mid January the stores turn decidedly pink and red in color. There are hearts and teddy bears everywhere. Extra candy aisles are added overflowing with chocolates and conversation hearts. If our culture was not so consumer based I would conjecture that the reason why Valentine items come out so early is a plot of the girlfriends, fiancĂ©es, and wives to give a not so subtle reminder to their significant others to not forget this important holiday of love.
So if you are fortunate and have a boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, or husband you can expect to spend the 14th of February surrounded by chocolate, flowers, plush stuffed animals, champagne, maybe a delightful bubble bath, candles with dancing flames, and hopefully love. On the other hand you may belong to a group of people that are single. I would venture that most singles are content with their life most of the time. However, when Valentine’s Day casts its pinkish shadow over the world, being single is a loathsome thing. No other holiday has such exclusivity that points a finger at singles and declares, “You have no one to buy you chocolates for Valentine’s Day. You must not be important.”
I have been single for many a Valentine’s Day. I have experienced the range of unwanted emotions that comes with singleness and have come to view Valentine’s Day quite apathetically. It is a day like all others and it ceases to have much significance for me. I don’t have the energy to loathe it, fight it, cry over it, or really anything. Really all I do now is philosophize about it.
There were several St Valentines who were martyred for their faith and originally this date honored their sacrifice. One of these Valentines was known for secretly marrying soldiers, because it was thought at the time that men fought better if they didn’t have wives. From that Valentine we get our view of Valentine’s Day. Other countries don’t view this holiday with the same mind set as we do. If you are interested look it up for yourselves. I would like to mention one. In Mexico, February the 14th is called Dia del Amor y la Amistad (The day of love and friendship). So as Valentine’s Day approaches I would encourage you singles to not throw parties that center on griping about this biased holiday, but find someone or several someones to do something nice for. Send a card, buy a box of candy or a rose and give it to someone, the child who lives next door or the curmudgeonly gentleman who complains about your loud music and parties. And to those of you who look forward to spending this day with your significant other be nice to your single friends who may be sitting at home eating conversation hearts that someone in the office passed out that say things like “b mine” and “call me”, all by themselves.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Sales Associate Gauntlet

You are at the mall and a store looks interesting so you duck into it, just to look around. You are greeted almost as soon as you walk into the store. While all you want to do is mind your own business and window shop you are constantly asked questions. How is your day? Can I help you find something? Would you like to look at that? Being the polite person you are you respond graciously to all the inquiries. Good, how is yours. I’m just looking, thanks. Most often you don’t find anything you want to buy so you exit the store. The sales associates wish you a good day and hope you will come back. If you decide to buy something they will almost always try and sell you something extra; a pack of gum, bottled water, or a magazine. You decline, pay for your purchase and leave.
I have worked retail for a couple of places, so let me give you the inside scoop. As you might guess the phrasing of the questions and trying to sell you more than you want to buy is required of a sales associate. The bosses lay down the law and you can get into trouble if you are caught not asking a customer if they want to buy a scarf with those mittens. Also being attentive gives those customers with sticky fingers the knowledge that they are being watched.
These are the superficial reasons. The real reason that it feels like that you are being pounced on is because they are bored. If it is a slow day and there are few customers and no one really buys anything the climax of a sales associates days may be refolding a pile of shirts that was rifled through. As a sales associate there is no place to hide. They must be stand visibly in the store, and sometimes they do just that, stand. They might stand in one spot for several minutes then see that a key chain is turned around on its hook. So they stroll over there and turn it around taking as much time as possible sorting through the key chains and arranging them in some way. They stand a little bit more and then see that someone bought gum. They hope someone else doesn’t spot the absence of gum and replace it before they get there.
So when you go into a store and every sales associate greats you and you are asked every two minutes if you need help. It’s likely because you are the most exciting thing happening in the store at that time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rabbit Rabbit

When I was in middle school my family and I picked up the rabbit rabbit tradition. Everyone was doing it. On the first of the month you greeted everybody by saying rabbit rabbit. If you said it first you win. It was always something to gloat about if you rabbit rabbited everyone before they got you. I was thinking about this strange tradition today, mostly because my sister posted to facebook a general rabbit rabbit. I decided to look it up and see where this strange idea got started. I went to the ever trustworthy source of Wikipedia. I discovered that this tradition may have begun as early as the 1800s in England. A phrase was more commonly said “Rabbit, rabbit, white rabbit” or simply rabbit three times. If you said this phrase on the first day of the month you were supposed to have good luck and if it was your birthday month you received an extra portion of luck. In some cases it was considered bad luck not to say it. In order to counter the bad luck you might say “tibbar, tibbar” as you go to bed or maybe “moose, moose” on the second.
If this phrase was said on the January first then you were the lucky recipient of year long luck. I think I must be a very lucky person under this supposition. I stopped saying rabbit rabbit to people exactly eleven years and one month ago. You see on that particular first of the month I beat everyone: my parents, my sisters, my aunt and uncle. They were the only ones in the house. We were playing an exciting game of phase 10, if my memory serves, and eating jalapeno poppers. You see I won because I’m very competitive. So when everyone else is yelling out “Happy New Year” and giving hugs. I proclaimed “Rabbit rabbit, everyone.” This of course set off a chain reaction of rabbit rabbits amongst my immediate family. My aunt and uncle simply looked confused. That is the last time I played. That particular first was extraordinary. It was the first of the month. It was January making it the first of the year. It was the first day of a new decade and it was the first day of a new score. It was the first day of a new century, which some people never get to experience and it culminated as the first day of a new millennium which is a very rare thing to experience. Yes, I won the rabbit rabbit game for all time when I beat everyone on January 1st of 2000. So spread cheer and fun by telling your friends rabbit rabbit, but as for me I think I have enough luck for a lifetime.