Good shopping?

In an earlier post, I stated that shopping at Trader Joe's does not make you a better person.

Cam read that post, and commented that
'Cause the thing is, I have recently been thinking about the same topic in precisely the opposite terms-- that is, thinking that shopping at TJ's just might possibly make me a better person!... Work with me, people. I'm not asking you to rule on the evidence with respect to the merits of Trader Joe's (although that would be an interesting discussion); instead, I just want to entertain the notion that choosing to shop at one place rather than another could be connected to personal virtue. People who don't choose Wal-Mart because of sweatshops or because they think big box stores upset local economies are making the same sort of claim. Are they all wet?
She then says that, in her reading of my post,
Unless I mis-read her, she was referring to the fact that when she shops at TJ's, she is routinely pushed about by aggressive yuppies who appear to regard their time as more important than anyone else's-- such un-virtuous behavior constituting prima facie evidence against any claim that TJ shoppers are an across-the-board superior class of human being!
Actually, Cam, you are misreading me.

I've shopped at TJs exactly twice. Both times were unpleasant experiences, filled with the type of shopper who look down on those of us that prefer Hannafords, A&P, Stop&Shop or other grocery stores. As I said in my post, I don't like being locked into one store's brand when shopping for food. Since I'm trying to reduce the gluten in my diet, I want choice. TJ's gluten-free breads are pretty bad; Kinnikinnick has a much better product. Pamela's does great brownie and bread mixes (not to mention the cookies). TJs has great soup, and there are other products I enjoy eating. But it's not the only place I'll shop, ever.

While I may not choose to shop at Wal-Mart, that doesn't make me a better person than those that do. I prefer Powell's to Amazon, and Book Court to both. Again, that doesn't make me a better person: it simply means that I have choices and that I'm exercising my right to choose. Ain't capitalism grand?

Choosing to shop at any store shouldn't make you feel like a better person. It shouldn't make you feel superior to anyone that doesn't follow your choices - something I saw at TJs and hear from those that have decided to shop there or at Whole Foods. In some ways, it reminds me of the holier-than-thou vegetarians who say that everyone should adopt their choice. One person told me that it was healthier to eat soy and other products and to avoid meat; when I responded that not everyone had that option (I know people for whom the local food bank in Vermont, stocked with "leftover" venison, fish and other hunted food, is their lifeline during the winter), I was told that everyone - and he meant everyone - could afford to eat other foods, even when they're out of work, trying to do the best they can for their families and unable to afford to go to the local IGA.

Arrogant? Yes. Narrow-minded? Yes. Living in a bubble? Yes.

That's what I get from the people who oh-so-ostentatiously shop at TJs. Cam, I'm glad that you feel that choosing to buy from them makes you, somehow, a better person than the type of person who doesn't. It may mean that you can afford those products... that you live close enough to a Trader Joe's... that you don't mind limiting your purchases to their products... I could go on. It's your choice. But I don't think you're a better person for it, just as I wouldn't think you a worse person for choosing another store. You're just Cam.

Isn't that enough?


(I've got) plenty to be thankful for

Thinking back over the past year, I am truly thankful for the changes in my life since last Thanksgiving.

This time last year, there was an incredibly toxic relationship in my life. That has gone. There was another relationship that was almost as toxic, and that has lessened considerably. Several relationships that were unhealthy (but not toxic) are significantly less so or have faded away. I'm thankful for that.

This time last year, my health was undergoing a difficult turn. This year, with the help of some good doctors, a nutritionist, and my practice of ECAM (Energy Conservation and Management), I'm feeling better than before. There's still more to be done, but I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm thankful for that.

This time last year, I was incredibly stressed - work, health and relationships were taking a toll on me. No longer. For the first time in years, I'm experiencing a very low level of stress and that's an incredibly good feeling. I'm thankful for that.

This time last year, I didn't feel as though my house was coming together. Now it's almost all where I want it to be - painted, nicely furnished, organized. And the fireplace is just so nice to curl up in front of during time off. I'm thankful for that.

This time last year, I wasn't as close to some of my friends as I am now (in part that was due to the stress). Spending time with them at conferences, at dinners and lunches, over e-mail and Facebook are all ways to expand and explore our knowledge of each other and bring good things into each others lives. I'm thankful for that.

Not everything has been great this past year. Losing Lulu was difficult. Having people say extremely nasty, hurtful things to, and about me, still pains me. But those things are in the past and that I can move on. I'm thankful for that.

Believe me, I've got plenty to be thankful for.

Notable Quotes

All our innumerable memorable dinners reminds me yet again that our own personal complex ever contracting, ever expanding circle of friends is our most precious possession. It is a gift that energizes, it is a gift that invites constant nurturing and continuing loving care for all of us to flourish.


(I've got) plenty to be thankful for

Each year at this time, we here in America think about that for which we're thankful. Yesterday I received an e-mail from a prep school classmate, informing me that another classmate had died a year ago. "Classmate" doesn't begin to describe my relationship with the women with whom I went to school. No, we weren't all close friends - our class was noted for the number of internal arguments (we voted over and over again about our choice of dessert for a Senior Dinner, and let's not start discussing the Class Song "discussion"). But there was an incredible sense of closeness as a class, something that set us apart from the years before and after. I've heard since then that we had (have!) a reputation unlike that of other classes. And all these years later, we're still a close unit, sharing information regularly in a way that other classes do not always do. I'm saddened by our loss of one of our members. While she was the first, at our age it's not too early to realize that others will follow.

And I'm thankful for having known them all.


Notable Quotes

Every book has unpleasant sentences, ideas that attack the main structure, words that cancel out other ones, and I want to eliminate all that. The path to the perfect quote is winding and takes years to travel, but when it arrives, it justifies all the unhappiness that reading gives us.
The Paris Enigma, Pablo de Santis


Sometimes, change is a good thing

I've blogged about the changes in my old neighborhood before, particularly about the problems with the yuppies and restaurants. Yesterday, on a trip down to pick up Greta for a week's visit, I had the opportunity to see some good changes there.
  • The Commerce Bank has not closed. I've been increasingly annoyed with banking's attitude towards change. I used to collect coins in a jar and once a year take them in to add to my account. This became my Christmas Present Fund. Then banks started charging for the wrappers... limiting the number of rolls you could present at one time... arguing about whether this was legitimate. Excuse me? It's MONEY. And one would think that banks are in the business of money (bailout to the contrary). Anyway, that Coinstar machine you see all over the place takes a percentage of the money I deposit, so I don't like using them. Commerce Bank has Penny Arcade, and when they give you dollars in exchange, it's with a smile. So when Commerce merged with TD Banknorth, I got concerned. No need: the branch was open at 7:30, Penny was all ready to go, and the smiles were still there!
  • Breakfast was at the newly renovated Happy Days Diner. It's a diner, nothing more, nothing less. Thing Two likes diners, and this would be right up his alley. Me? I'm ok with diners. This one has basic diner-y food, and the new decor seems like it's brought in more people. Over the past 15 years I've eaten there a number of times. This place hasn't changed. And I mean that in a good way.
  • We debated going to Perelandra (the health food store) vs. the newly opened Trader Joe's. TJ won. Now, I'm not a huge TJ fan. I don't like being locked into one brand (although, as Neat & Simple Living says, too much choice can be a bad thing; and somewhere I read a story about an African man bemused by the concept of Baskin-Robins' 31 Flavors - who needs more than five?). Their gluten-free selection is pretty poor at this venue, and I really hate being rushed through. Why rushed? Thing One has a very low tolerance level for yuppies and being shoved around by rude ones trying to get though their shopping (note to people: shopping at TJs does not make you a better person!). I don't like moms who think that they have the right to clog up an entire aisle with their shopping cart and a child stroller, and I really hate having two people stop to kiss right in front of the soup display ("excuse me, you're blocking the butternut squash soup" just sounds both rude and lame). I was also looking for some cranberry concentrate, not available here. Still, the renovation they did on the old Independence Bank building was impressive and at 9:05 on a Saturday it wasn't a bad experience.
  • Our next stop was supposed to be at Beastly Bite, but we got sidetracked by Book Court. It's a great, small, independent book store. What's even better is that it's down the street from the Barnes & Noble, but it's still going strong. As a matter of fact, it expanded. Wow. Luckily, I had to buy the new National Book Award winners and they had everything except the fiction winner (don't get me started on why it should not have won!). I love independent bookstores not just because of the cozy, local flavor, but because of the knowledge they bring to books. B&N, Borders and other big stores rarely have staff that really know the product. Book Court? A++ on all counts.
  • Beastly Bite has a wonderful grey cat that is just so friendly, I nearly popped him into my bag and catnapped him home. The gorgeous tabby wasn't so friendly, but oh so cute. The Boys (and Greta - henceforth known as The Gang) now have Wevura and Before Grain food to enjoy.
All-in-all, the changes/renovations have been a good thing and reason to hope that my old neighborhood will continue to thrive, despite the economic climate.


Could have been 733 or 899

Laura's Dewey Decimal Section:

292 Greek & Roman religion

Laura = 21181 = 211+81 = 292

200 Religion

The Bible and other religious texts, books about the general philosophy and theory of religion.

What it says about you:
You don't mind thinking about the unknown or other very big ideas. You will never feel like your work is finished. The 200-series is dominated by Christian topics, so you may feel like you're constantly surrounded by Christians.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at Spacefem.com


And I thought things couldn't get worse

First this... now, well...

Links Galore



Apparently we don't just add words to our collective vocabulary, we also delete them. While I understand losing "mimeograph", I'm puzzled by "Nixonian". Doesn't anyone think that the release of Frost/Nixon might lead to a brief resurgance?

And what about we old fogies, who remember mimeo machines? Is there an Eternal Sunlight machine to wipe these words and memories from our brains?


Missing You

One of the people I dined with at the Harvest Festival was the creator of the Fractured Friendships blog. Since then, I've pondered the meaning of "fractured" with regard to friendships: to me, "fractured" implies that it can be mended. What about those friendships that are broken - beyond repair. Perhaps it happened at a time when both parties were overly involved in other things, and then when one looked around, the other had moved with no forwarding address. Perhaps death played a part. Perhaps you were BFFs at work and one left, and with that common ground gone the friendship foundered. Or perhaps it was words/actions that just could not be overcome.

No matter what the reason, the relationship is broken, never to be whole again. Sometimes we wonder if the fracture is (in reality) a break. The problem is that the other is the one person that knows you "in that way", the one person with that point-of-view, the one person that shared whatever made the relationship yours. And while you can find others to fill the friendship void, you'll never find an exact match. There's always a gap, a loss. And you wonder (question? hope against hope?) that there isn't a real break, that it is only a fracture that needs a splint and some healing time.

At the Summit this past weekend, a presenter mentioned a book that would be absolutely perfect for someone I can no longer give to; I've passed the information along to a mutual friend in hope that it will find its home. A couple of students have mentioned things that remind me of a friend that died almost 20 years ago, throwing that loss into sharp relief. And there are things going on in my life that highlight the loss of other friends, ones that I know could give sane advice or guidance (or just provide the perfect wall upon which to bounce off ideas).

Fractures heal. It's getting over the break that's difficult.

Notable Quotes

Cheese crumbs spread in front of a copulating pair of rats may distract the female, but not the male.


The problem with conferences

Today I had the fun of sitting next to Diane Chen - we heckle well together - and, lo and behold, I'm now on Twitter (@lazygal, of course). And then she introduced me to Emoticons...

I may never get another thing accomplished.


Links Galore



Those vanity license plates on cars can be funny, can't they? Today I saw a Fortwo. The plate read "Mikey Jr".

I can only imagine which car gets "Mikey Sr".


Notable Quotes

I know, from my own experience, that no one is who they dream of being. We all aspire to something else, an ideal that we don't want to sully by bringing it too close to our real lives. The orchestra conductor would have preferred to be an Olympic swimmer; the renowned painter, a skilled swordsman; the writer famous for his tragedies, an illiterate adventurer. Fate is nourished by errors; glory feeds on regret.

The Paris Enigma, Pablo de Santis


Something in the air

Yesterday I e-mailed a colleague. She teaches history at MPOW and the class is doing some biographic studies. One of the people they're learning about is Pico della Mirandola. I'd never heard of him before Thursday. Then, yesterday, I was read a book that mentioned him - so I told her there's Something In the Air.

Today, it's a new book. One of the characters is from Guyana, and I just read a passage about going "up country", to the jungle and mass suicide. Then I checked my Bloglines and read this. I remember the news that day - first hearing about the deaths on the air strip, and then the mass deaths.

Something's in the air, indeed.

Do-it-yourself Lazygal Weekend Kit

Want to live the LazyLife? Just do as I did yesterday.
  • Woke up, fed the cats. Checked e-mail and my Bloglines account. Tidied my bedroom and dining room, put away yesterday's dried dishes. Lit a fire in the fireplace. Waited for the Comcast guy to come with my new cable box (don't ask - it's a long, irritating story about how Comcast Must Die).
  • Continued to tidy.
  • Curled up in front of the fire with The Boys, reading and occasionally checking e-mail, eating and tending to the fire. Some napping occurred.
Went upstairs, went to sleep.

See, isn't that easy?



As I was leaving school yesterday, I spoke with a colleague. My assistant is out for a while, and she wanted to know what was wrong so she could include it in her prayers for my assistant.

Later, I was in the local IGA when a man sneezed. In that auto-reflexive way we do, I said "Bless you!" He looked up, with an extremely sad face and said, "Thank you. I really could use a blessing today." Then he, and his two young sons, turned down the next aisle.

We don't often think about how something as common as a "bless you" will be received. Often we'll say it, not particularly considering the meaning of the phrase or whether the person is religious. Clearly, this man was in a bad place - perhaps because of the economy, perhaps because he'd received bad news, perhaps, well, who knows. And my simple words meant a lot to him. It gladdened my heart to think that he hadn't simply shrugged it off.

Quakers don't pray in quite the same way as others. I do often hold people in the Light, and now I'm adding this man, just as my colleague has added my assistant.

Prayers and blessing. They're a responsibility we don't often take on, but perhaps one we should spend more time thinking about... and doing.


Election Day, November, 1884

by Walt Whitman

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and
'Twould not be you, Niagara--nor you, ye limitless prairies--nor
your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite--nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic
geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon's white cones--nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes--nor
Mississippi's stream:
--This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name--the still
small voice vibrating--America's choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen--the act itself the main, the
quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous'd--sea-board and inland--
Texas to Maine--the Prairie States--Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West--the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling--(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern Napoleon's:) the
peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity--welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
--Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify--while the heart
pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.


Notable Quotes

...one of the things I'm struck by is that religion, and religious people and leaders, no matter how stern they may look and how darkly they may dress, are deeply frivolous. There's something absolutely frivolous about religion, no matter how ghastly it may appear, no matter how strict and stern its countenance. I call something frivolous if it distracts from the nuts and bolts of real life, of how we try to live our lives as model creatures. I find something quite unforgivable about the way religion clouds what should be fairly clear water and does everything it can to make that as difficult to navigate and negotiate as possible.


New Blog Alert

This time, it's my new blog, Lazy Reads. Why? Because I wanted to share my reviews of the books I've read and to give my faithful, incredibly large following a place where they could comment on them. I'm still playing with the layout and format, but it's open for visitors.

If you look to your left, on the sidebar, you'll see links to the most recent reviews. I'll also be posting a blogroll of where I go for book ideas, reviews, etc..


Moving to the center

What happened to the Gang of 14? The centrists? The people that actually got things done in our government? They're a dying breed. Even on Facebook, where a friend has created a group hoping to unite Obama and McCain supporters, I've gotten "Republicans are facists" comments.

History has proven than when you have a Congress and a President from the same party, the move is to the party's center - in other words, more radical than the nation's center. Remember the Contract with America? Expect another one if Obama wins and the Democrats retain control of both houses. Is that what we really want?

Think - really think - before you head to the polls.

(þ: RIA)