Books, History, Food, Politics, and Life

Books, History, Food, Politics, and Life
Things through a different light...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

WWI in a Different Context

Usually when I study the Great War it involves military decisions, diplomatic relations, and battles.  While I do enjoy that, I like to delve into the cultural side of the conflict as well.  When we look at art, literature, society, and how those elements deal with war, we see truly what the war does to a civilization.  The Great War monumentally changed Europe... in a big way.  Reading personal accounts like that of Vera Britain in her Testament of Youth and even Ernst Junger's Storm of Steel (which is in essence a personal account of a soldier), you see the war in a different light and then to add to that...look at the influence the war has on culture and you begin to understand that a war does not just hit the soldiers, but the population...perhaps in a different way, but in a profound and important one.

Today I am reading:

British Culture and the First World War by George Robb.  I hope to finish it by this afternoon, it is not very long.

If you are interested in the text:  BUY IT HERE  

I am hoping the rain will stop soon, making the day rather dreary...not in a completely bad way, but in a sleep inducing way.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I am not a huge fan of dramatized children's tales of the first Thanksgiving.  Years of education and especially studying the Puritans in Massachusetts... have taught me that Thanksgiving, the cute version we learned in school...really does not exist, but that shouldn't take away from the holiday.
I like Thanksgiving, I like sitting around a table, eating, and chilling out for a day with my family and thinking about how lucky we are to live in an environment where we have enough to eat, clean water, and a roof over our heads... that is enough to me.
So even with all my historical knowledge and a bit of cynicism about the real original relationship between the first settlers and the Native Americans, I can say... in 2012, its not about that.

I have a lot to be thankful for to be fair, a healthy baby on the way, good family, progressing in school, a wonderful husband... these are amazing things that I cherish every day, so this is not one of my politically charged anger rant days...this is a happy day.

I woke up this morning at around 6:30, ate my breakfast, pulled out my school books, and made myself a latte and thought...this will be a good day, and it will be.  I have less than a month before we get to welcome Aiden into the world, and I couldn't be more excited...apprehensive, YES, but still excited.

His room is almost finished...its filled with clothes, baby accessories, toys, anything a little baby would want...and all we want is him to get here...on the prescribed date please son lol, I have 6 papers to do before then.  ;)

Today I am also thankful to be a woman in 2012 and not a woman in 1660.  I'm reading Good Wives, Nasty Wenches & Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia it is, needless to say, a very interesting book and gives you a perspective of how far women have come since the early colonial period.  Though, I will give some of these "nasty wenches" some credit, they found ways to circumvent the patriarchal nature of society and wield their own power pretty it through gossip or land ownership and even through religion.  The book can get a bit lost in the narrative at times, but still worth a read.

So, everyone have a great day.  Spend time with your family... DONT GO something good and bad for you at the same time and be thankful for something.
(see I didn't even go on my how capitalism is pushing people into a frenzy over stupid sales rant that I want to go on...)


Monday, November 19, 2012

Been a Bit Crazy...

The last few days have been an ordeal.  Saturday, Adam and I went and ran some errands and by the evening... I was in the hospital.  Thankfully, Baby Aiden and Myself are just fine...the wonderful staff at the hospital was able to curb issues and ensure the baby would not come until he was supposed to and after a very long night, tests, medication, and a few sketchy moments...everything is OK.  Needless to say, I am a bit exhausted and attempting to NOT be nervous about the last few weeks of my pregnancy.

I am attempting to hurry through two books on the Whiskey Rebellion for a paper I am slightly behind on...wish me luck.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Free Time

I enjoy writing.  Whether it be writing a paper, as I am doing currently (well procrastinating about doing as I write this blog entry) or just writing for fun which I do when I have spare time... it is the perfect way for me to get out what lingers about in my head.  I contribute this partly to the fact that I worry about everything incessantly and basically I just need a place to dump the worry every now and again so it does not boil over.
I have had quite a lot to worry about as of late...
Now I have everyone from friends to family telling me oh just do not worry about things so much....
If it were that easy... yea.
I wish I had more time to write.  No, I don't want to be a writer... I truly believe that just because someone likes to write down their thoughts or spill the contents of their imagination out onto a page every now and again does not make someone a writer.  There is an element of talent, creativity, and drive a person must possess in order to make something like that a career... a passion I just do not possess.  That being said, I used to write quite a bit, when I had time...when my brain was not filled with thousands of little annoyances that compile and turn me into a worry wart at the drop of a hat lol.

Today I am writing about the First World War.  Specifically, reviewing a book that detailed the players decisions to go to war in 1914.  It is always insightful to read about something you know a bit on, from a different angle.  I have a different viewpoint on Germany for instance...who still did get the raw deal at the Treaty of Versailles, but in all fairness...had planned on a war tactic in order to dominate Europe and defeat Russia and France far before anyone got killed in Sarajevo.  I look at Austria-Hungary, who by the end of the war had really no way to pay back for any costs that should have been laid at its feet... truly also held plans to retaliate against Serbia long before it had any reason to...  Then there is the Ottoman Empire, so cloak and dagger and controlled literally by four men who honestly over the decision for war....could not get along and basically went back and forth over whose side they would enter the war on and when for almost a year.

It was an interesting is an interesting subject.  So that is how I expel my need to write at the moment, getting my thoughts out in a constructive manner.

If you like WWI, I recommend "Decisions for War, 1914" edited by Keith Wilson.  It was written in 1995 and it has some interesting perspectives on when and why some major power players entered the war.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Racism is Not Dead

I wish I could say, after the re-election of our first African American president that racism was a thing of the past.  I do believe that it is some haunting remnant of a time past that lingers in the hearts of people who will not let go of their hateful sentiments, but that does not mean that it is gone.  Like a cruel spectre of some of our country's darkest days, racism hovers above us in the form of acidic rhetoric that plagues our society.  For me, I have a hard time sympathizing with someone who looks down on another person just because they look different.  I had the opportunity to attend school with, work with, and socialize with people of all colors and creeds from the time I was a small child and thus, possess the ability to not focus on someone's skin color.  I know people who still do and while I can be pretty tolerant to various opinions about a plethora of things, I refuse to be accomodating or accepting when it comes to racism.  It is a disgusting and sickening trait and I do not understand how... in this day and age, any conscious adult would behave in such a horrific manner and even worse, attempt to pass that on to their children or grandchildren.  It terrifies me when I hear grown adults voice racist beliefs and when I do...I cringe and usually, I say something.  Let me be clear, it is the vilest and most ignorant of concepts and I have absolutely no tolerance for it.

I live in the South.  I live in a place where ignorant people run in droves to anonymous local message boards to use the N word as creatively as possible, use little sambo as their avatars and still akin a person of color to a monkey.  I live in a place where people still believe that a person of color ranks below them socially because of their color and actively believes in suppressing those people.  Now, many of my Southern friends and family will say....nooo...that was in the past, leave it there... but it is not.  All one need to do is go read my local paper at any point of the day and its blaring in the comments.  They blame the re-election of Obama on "thugs" who want everything for free...they call them criminals and talk about lynching 2012.  When people tell me things have gotten better here, I say the laws have gotten better...but there is still two generations vehemently holding on to a  dark and cynical world view that rests all the blame of the world on a race and clings to some old world concept of white power and supremacy.  There is a real reason I want to leave the South... I want to get away from this because I think it is going to take another 2o to 30 years for that sort of mess to really become fringe thought and be dismissed and I just do not feel like waiting that long.  I love my country and I love my home...but I cannot respect the willful act of ignorance and hate.  

New prejudices are brewing, I know that.  People now hate homosexuals or people of different faiths or people with different political beliefs and people from different classes...and none of this is new...but it is disappointing.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A thought

I despise anti-intellectualism.... just the notion to dismiss a fact or knowledge because it interferes with your world view is silly.  Knowledge and education will sometimes...with reason...change a person's perspective.  We are not experts on everything simply because we have an opinion on everything.  Time, study, and understanding does change things and it does make some people experts and some not.  I don't understand why there is such a struggle with that.  I've never told a computer expert he was wrong based off of my lack of experience in comparison to his wide knowledge of it...same with a doctor, scientist...and a host of other fields I know little to nothing hard is it??  I don't know but it vexes me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thank Goodness its over!

The last couple of months on a social level have been problematic.  With such a polarized mix of friends and family, I have to literally filter my facebook feed just to say anything political which I have always found annoying.  No, I am not antagonistic and mean about my opinions, I am actually pretty moderate in my temperment (while passionate about how I feel) and I do not usually deliver what anyone would dare call a negative message.  I know I am a hippie in a sense... I want freedom, I want love, I want everyone to just live together in harmony and accept each other for who they are....
I will not change that, it is not a silly idea and here is why.

Our country was unique centuries ago when men came together and attempted to create a society where people had the freedom to be who they were without another person infringing on that...and to be fair, even those guys had a VERY hard time adapting to it.  They had a specific ideal on who that population included and who it did not.  

Now it is 2012 and we as a nation still struggle with the concept of individual freedom and what that really means.  To me...this is what it means.

One of my friends can be a Christian, one of my friends can be a Muslim, one an Atheist, one a who keeps what he thinks to himself... and you know what...they ALL have the same freedoms.  
Women and Men choose what they do with their lives without someone who disagrees with them even on the most fundamental of levels intruding on that ability to be who they are....
Gay, Straight, Lesbian, or Bi... does not matter at all because those affiliations do not change a citizen's rights....
Regardless of where you come from.... Chelsea or Staten Island, a poor neighborhood or a gated community... you SHOULD have the SAME opportunity without guilt of being successful or having a hard time....

I may be called a dreamer... but I think people CAN work together if they remember that in the end, no matter how hard it is...we have to ALLOW for other people to have DIFFERENT principles and ideas and beliefs and we have to UNDERSTAND that the true amazing part of our nation comes from the fact that we have to have the ulitmate level of freedom, leaving people's lives to themselves on those very hard issues.... no matter how hard it sustain America.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I will not go on some rant as to why I believe anyone should vote for Obama as opposed to Mitt Romney...
If you know me or have read this blog at all you understand my political leanings and why I believe the way I do.  I am passionate about what I believe, but at this point I think 99.9% of Americans have made up their mind and will vote according to their conscious.  I do not hold a grudge against people who vote for Romney, even though I will admit I do not understand it... with things like health care and the protection of the poor... I cannot see how any humane person would vote for Romney...but I am also pretty bias at this point with a lot at stake in a situation like this because I am a student (he vows to cut grants), I have a disease (he has talked about vetoing the Health Care laws), and I am a woman (he supports men who cannot get their heads around the fact that regardless of what comes after... RAPE IS RAPE).
Ok maybe I ranted a little, I apologize.

Anyway, no matter what you do today... please go vote.  We cannot actively have a say in our democracy if we do not take an active part in its progression.  I say this especially to women and minorities... people who have had to fight and struggle for the right to have their vote counted.  I studied the women's suffrage movement and I also live in the South and studied Jim Crow and the devastation inflicted on those who during that time stood up and fought against authority to obtain equal rights for all citizens and I truly believe it is a disservice to NOT be heard after so many people struggled for it.
Even of you vote for Romney (though I pray you do not), at least go out there and vote.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Religion, Faith, Charity, and Love

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
-The US Constitution

Religion is a touchy subject.  It encompasses the innerworkings of someone's heart, their emotions and answers to many unanswerable questions.  Religion motivates, for good, for is one of the most driving forces in humanity and we cannot dismiss its power and its necessity.  
Religion is personal, but at the same time communal and people who feel strongly want to share that feeling in a positive manner (most of the time) so others can feel as full or as useful as they do....

I do not dislike religion.  I respect it...but I respect all religions not just my own personal beliefs.  When we sardonically dismiss another faith we do a disservice to ourselves and the other person.  I understand the difficulty to respect another faith, especially one that seems counter to one's own... but when we dismiss someone else's emotional and spiritual well being, we begin to corner ourselves in a superiority that is unfounded.  

In every single faith I've studied on an academic level (which kind of removes you from the faith and has you look at it without bias...0r it should), there are good things and bad things in all of them.  Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Eastern Philosophy, Paganism, Deism, and even Atheism to an extent all say amazingly beautiful things and all at the same time can be violent and harsh.  We cannot point out one religion's flaws without acknowledging another's.  

After the disruptions of the 16th and 17th centuries...after the violence and the killing in the name of God... men began to at least acknowledge that pressing faith on populations did not always work (not all men sadly, but some).  With the creation of a new nation in the United States these men (who all had different views on faith) came together to create a nation where a citizen could believe what they wanted...even if that meant believing nothing.  They wrote laws, wrote in their journals, gave speeches... that emphasized that kind of freedom that was new and innovative and true.  I admire that tenacity and courage... today more than I ever have before.  

I think we forget sometimes that freedom of speech and religion means for everyone in the United States...even if that speech is in disagreement with your own.  I believe one thing, you may believe another... but I have no right under our laws to press my belief on you.  If am against working on Sundays...then I dont work on Sundays...I don't tell you that you cannot.  If I believe in contrast...the Sabbath is on Saturday...then I celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday... I don't force that you.  And if I believe that a woman has a right to choose... thats not me telling you that you have to believe that, but you cant tell me that I don't have that right based off of what you believe.  THAT IS HARD.  IT is hard because we think we are right, and we have our faith backing us... and to have another person not believe that... means they are wrong.  So to fix that, in this country... we each have our own conscious to be our guide.  

I believe that God doesnt care if a man and another man love each other.  I think in the end LOVE is the goal.  Love is one of the most mystical and amazing things in all of creation... and love can be hard too...  How do you love someone who stands for everything you disagree with?  But thats the goal.  NO one ever said following a faith is easy... no one ever said it should just feel seemless...its a struggle. 

I get really angry when people hate...its a major struggle for me.  One, I get mad when I see intolerance of any kind... women being oppressed for their gender, people denied rights because of their sexual orientation, color, creed... even faith.  There are different faiths suppressed all over the world...people still being killed for who they believe in...Jews, Muslims, Christians...and others.  I don't want to go backwards.  I would rather see more respect and tolerance, acceptance that there are other ways out there and to understand that just because I think my way is right...doesn't mean there isn't room for another.  


And today in history

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Freedom of religion means for everyone and should be equally given to EVERY INDIVIDUAL in this country...regardless of if you agree with that religion or not.  It also means freedom from religion, one person's faith should not be imposed on another person for any reason what so ever.

Grad School?!??!

I think this happens to every Grad Student at one time or another...that moment where you realize you have no life, going out to even get dinner or have a moment to yourself makes you feel guilty, or getting up at all hours of the morning becomes old hat (just to finish the project due in a day)... you stop and go... why the hell am I doing this???
I do it, constantly...  Why?  Because this is not easy.  I lament the fact that when I get invites to go hang out with my friends ( I do not get many but there are these rare moments where people like my company), 99.9% of the time I have to pass...  I hate that my weekends are bombarded with hurried efforts of finishing a book by Saturday because I have a paper due Sunday (Just think how excellent my papers would be if I had days to do them), and its upsetting that my husband and I get rushed moments to spend together.  Granted, I am taking an overly full load and will change that next semester... but the weight is still there and after talking to other grad students that are friends, I know they feel the same... its hard.

Now... that being said.  It is worth it and I chose this path.  For some insane reason, I want to be an academic.  I want to teach college, I want to research, I want to write really boring scholarly history books that only other historians who have chosen the path to insanity will read and its not just a slight want... it is a passion.  I have never been so driven to do anything in my entire life as I am to become a professor (let me rephrase, beyond having a little family that my husband and I are forming right now).  At first when I went back to school it was to get a degree to get out of Retail (an environment I have worked in for seventeen years now...a rough environment)  due to the stresses of the job and the fact that Rheumatiod Arthritis and retail do not exactly mix well.   Quickly though (and I blame a few professors who pushed me to be a perfectionist and love the field), my goals changed and set themselves.  Since then, since 2007, I have worked diligently towards my goal and now...half way though Grad School, I remind myself constantly why it is I do what I do.  

Grad School, higher education beyond a four year degree is not for everyone, and its not meant to be.  To be honest, I think the standards we set on education and the way in which we conduct education on the college level does not really mesh well with the professional world.  There are a lot of jobs now that require degrees (does not matter what the degree is in) just to get someone in the door and I do not believe that is always necessary.  I also do not think that it is a mark of lesser intelligence for someone to have not gone to college...just like grad school, its not for everyone and its not important for everyone.  There are tons of erroneous and what I like to call BS degrees out there that take up time, money, and available funds just to get someone through the system...have them owe tens of thousands of dollars, just so they can get a job equal to what I get paid now in my retail job.  I do not think that is worth it or fair to the person.  In addition, there are some fields that need specific levels of training and should...just train in that field... I think we as a country have begun to look down at these technical yet vital jobs... you may dog a plumber for what he does...but I tell you this, that plumber does an important job and makes a ton more money than I ever will!  I also know people who are BRILLIANT, but just do not mesh with is tedious, its time consuming, its not always what you need and it can really bring you down when you are working your ass off to do something that in the end will not benefit you at all.  I think people should get the school they need to do what they want that makes them happy... if that means high school, technical schools, a certificate, an undergraduate degree, a masters or PhD...then so be it!  Right now school seems to be TOO for profit and not enough about educating a person to enable them to do what they want.  /end rant.

So today... I am finishing up "American Lion" so I can write a paper on it tomorrow and start another book so I can write a paper on it by Wednesday... its stressy and hard, but its worth it for me.  BUT... if you know a Grad Student, hell if you know any student at all...give them some slack, do not ever dismiss the amount of work they have to do because it is not easy.

Friday, November 2, 2012


I am tired of people telling me not to stress like its that easy.  It is a lot harder than just saying OK.  I am a bit stressed today because I went to a nutrition class and was told I wasn't eating enough, so I come what I thought was healthy and had the right number of carbs and my sugars were the highest ive recorded.

I want ONE day without something going wrong.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dia De Los Muertos

                                             Happy Dia De Los Muertos

The Symbolic Sugar Skull
This is one of my favorite holidays!  I love the different cultural celebrations around the world and Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is gaining popularity in the United States as the latin and hispanic populations grow.  

The celebrations are loving and beautiful tributes to the dead

I have  a few Dia De Los Muertos statues in my house and I used to have a sugar skull (a cat cracked it last year).  I am sporting my Day of the Dead tshirt today!

I would love to see a celebration one day.