Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mercury in retrograde and karma

One of my dear friends is very intense about the astrological phenomenon known as "mercury in retrograde." I don't know exactly what brings about this stage of mercury being in retrograde, i assume some stars or planets move around into a particular configuration every once in a while, though it sure seems to happen a lot. According to my friend you should not make any major purchases or travel while mercury is in retrograde, things will fall apart and she always adds that i should be nice to her when mercury's in retrograde. I have always been a little suspicious, however, and my skepticism probably shows because even while this particular friend is nearly incapacitated by fear of what might happen to her during this alleged astrological messiness, i scoff and go about my business. I am, however, starting to think there might be something to this, based on some recent experiences.

First, however, some background:

Recently my friend was expressing great concern about the upcoming movement of mercury into retrograde. I decided to find out more about it, so i asked her. She promptly emailed me this description:

Mercury will go retrograde from September 24 to October 15 - you will start to feel life slow down much sooner, however, from the full moon, September 15, onward. If you are planning to make a big life initiation - to sign a lease, buy a house, accept or start new job, or buy an expensive item, for example - you will need to act as early as possible in September to keep from becoming entangled in the coming Mercury retrograde web.

If you are not familiar with Mercury in retrograde, here's a brief explanation. Mercury is the planet of communication, commerce, transportation, negotiation, perception, and thinking. When Mercury retrogrades, the planet begins to operate in a weaker state, causing all the areas ruled by Mercury to suffer. We become forgetful, and we send out confusing messages or misunderstand others' messages sent to us. Mercury rules all objective thinking - the very thing the world relies on to spin properly - so it is one aspect that affects everyone of every sign in the same way.

It is never wise to sign a contract when Mercury is retrograde because later it would only have to be renegotiated. In a slightly different manifestation, you may alternatively find that the promise of that contract would not be fulfilled. Similarly, shopping for pricy items is never advised during these phases, but especially not for electronics or for any machines with moving parts. Wait until October 18 or beyond to plan your actions or shopping.

It was immediately clear to me that my friend had not written this and i was a little bit surprised she had sent it to me because 1) my friend is very conscious and critical of gender biases and gendered language and 2) this description of mercury in retrograde clearly asserts a preference for male-gendered characteristics such as objectivity and strength over female-gendered characteristics such as "weakness," emotion, and non-linearality (yes, i just made up that word). This was my response to her:

Wow, i can't believe that a critical person like you would so readily accept all the male gendering of what constitutes ("Mercury rules all objective thinking - the very thing the world relies on to spin properly") a properly spinning world.

Mercury in retrograde sounds like a time for the feminine (re: subjective) to come out and play.

In a follow-up conversation i told her that i didn't think she should be so afraid of mercury being in retrograde, but on the other hand, she should celebrate it and embrace it. I didn't think much else of it until the last few days.

Yes, i've felt a little out of kilter the last week or so. I can't quite seem to catch up, i was an hour late for a meeting last week because i mixed up times in my head, and today i walked into my marxist econ class ten minutes late wondering why everyone was sitting at their desks so actively writing when usually the class consists almost exclusively of lecture. My prof beckoned me to the front of the classroom where he handed me the midterm. It wasn't until that point that I remembered that yes, we did in fact, have a midterm in class today. Needless to say, since i spent the 2 hrs. before class riding my mtn. bike rather than studying, or even glancing at my syllabus (where it is plainly announced that there will be a midterm on Sept. 30), i don't think i did too well. Come to think about it, the day i was an hour late for the meeting i was also riding my bike because i had tried to squeeze in a bike ride between teaching and the meeting, but miscalculated the hours.

Anyway, this is all to say, maybe there is something to Mercury and retrograde, so dear friend (you know who you are), you better be nice to me.

And as long as i'm thinking about metaphysical stuff, let me add a word about karma, or more accurately my recent experience wherein i thought karma would bless me with a sure victory, but instead i was left sprinting my guts out just to do better than last place.

Last saturday was the Harvest Moon Crit, the last road race of the year. I debated making the hour drive up to Ogden for a 45 minute race, but in the end decided to go. I made my way up to the race, found a parking spot in the crowded parking lot (the crit is part of the larger Harvest Moon festival, so parking is sparce). As i was in the parking lot getting all my stuff together an older man came up and started to ask me a little bit about bike racing. I answered his questions and he wished me luck, but before he left, he told me i seemed like a nice guy and wondered if i had any money i could give him for the train fare. I hadn't had any cash all week, but when i was buying gatorade at the convenience store, i inadvertently hit the "cashback" button when i was running my debit card and ended up getting $5 back. i pulled out my wallet and took out the $5 and gave it to him. He thanked me, then winked at me and said, "Win!!, Win out there today!!"

"Wow," i thought as he walked away. Maybe he was one of the three nephites. Maybe he was prophesying my great victory at this, the last race of the season, a season during which victory has eluded me. Maybe this was a karmic test, and i was generous, and now would be rewarded generously with strength, savy, and energy. And so i made my way to race registration, got my number, and started to warm-up with visions of grandeur and victory in my head.

Needless to say, the race sucked. I did lousy, raced stupid, wasn't feeling strong, and ended up sprinting the last lap, not for first place, but to not be last place.

oh well, so much for Karma.

Leti learns to bake (and add) and narrowly averts a disaster!

First, i have to preface the following post by saying that Dr. L. is an amazing cook. Just last weekend she had some of us over for the most amazing fajitas. On numerous other occassions i've had the opportunity to enjoy her stir fry, pasta, and other culinary delights which she seems to whip up effortlessly, but nonetheless are tasty wonderful.
Mad cooking skills notwithstanding, Dr. L. has never learned to bake. By her own account, every baking experience has mostly consisted of someone handing her a pre-measured amount of flour, sugar, vanilla, etc. and letting her put it in the bowl—you know, kind of like your mom or tia did when you were like five. Sometimes they even let her crack an egg or two into the bowl.
Dr. L decided it was time to change this, and since she had lots of zucchini from her garden and a craving for Dr. B's Superaddicting Spicy Chocolate Z-Bread (a favorite of the superamigas support crew) she requested that we get together and bake.

And bake we did (and eat, and laugh, and talk a lot, i mean a lot, about tomatoes).

Katydid extolling the slightly acidic, but deep tones of the Black Krim Tomato.

Katydid also made a tasty chickpea soup while Dr. L was working on the Z-bread.

Yes, Dr. L wasn't satisfied making just two of loafs of Z-bread. She wanted to make one for everyone she knows in SLC, so we decided to triple the recipe. For those of you who like math, this may not be much of a task, but for those of us who still have to use our fingers to count, this is no easy feat. And when you are doubling or tripling a recipe you have to, GASP, add fractions!! Ironically, however, it was not the fractions that almost caused an immense gastronomic disaster, but rather just a simple multiplication (3x2, by the way, equals 6, not 3).

Dr. L calculating fractions.
Katydid adding on her fingers.

As Dr. L finished mixing up the batter and was getting ready to pour it into the baking pans and put it in the oven I decided to take a little look. "Hmm, this seems a bit runny," i said to myself.
"How many cups of flour did you add?" i asked Dr. L.
"Three," was her earnest response.
"How many does the recipe call for?" I asked.
She checked the recipe: "two."
"And so if we're tripling the recipe, how many do we need to add?"
Dr. L started counting on her fingers, "oh, six," she proudly reported.
The satisfaction with her keen math skills quickly turned to horrow, however, as she realized her mistake.
"oops!" she laughed.

We quickly remedied the situation, put the Z-bread in the oven, and sat down to a tasty dinner while the bread cooked.

Dr. L and Katydid really liked the food! I mean, they really liked the food! Look at Katydid, she broke out into song she was so happy.

It is still a mystery to me, however, why Katydid bought canned, stewed tomatoes for her soup, when right in the backyard garden we had access to numerous varieties of fresh, organic, heirloom tomatoes.

In the end, the Z-bread was a great success. I ate the loaf that Dr. L left me in just two days. I know Katydid was using it to motivate and reward herself while she was trying to write and made herself sick by eating so much. I think she got to the point where she was rewarding herself with one bite after each complete sentence she finished. And Dr. Beto just asked me for the recipe so i think he must've liked it too.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Nine reasons why Caitydid should get a refund (and hire me next time she needs a kindred animal consultation).

1. sea otters are playful.
2. sea otters are smart.
3. sea otters are really graceful in the water.
4. sea otters are really cute.
5. sea otters are very social.
6. sea otters are good dancers (can be verified by any number of videos on youtube).
7. sea otters are romantic (again just consult youtube for plenty of hand-holding sea otters).
8. sea otters take care of each other.
9. sea otters are loved by practically everyone.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Still so frustrated with my stupidity at Lotoja that all i can say is props to my brother for a strong, smart race; props to the rest of the crew for a sub-ten hour race; cheaters suck; and superthanks to the superawesome superamigas support and pots and pan cheer team.

Pre-race preparation.

A very welcome sun warming up Cache Valley.Caitydid showing off good musette bag hand-off technique.The SUPERAMIGAS!!Doing my own little time trial up Snake River Canyon (and not very happy about it).
The artist demonstrating his on-the-bike pee technique (that i really wish i had learned). Superamiga support and pot and pan cheer crew and I at the finish.

And thanks to the Superamigas for most of the photos.