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I’ve been absent again.  Sorry about that. (I feel like I’ve spent more time apologizing for not posting than posting in the last few months.) 

July was actually my lowest month of posting ever, which is pretty bad since I think three of those posts were just pictures of jewelry I had made and posted back to back.  And now, somehow, its mid-August. 

There are so many factors that can cause a lapse in posting.  Top of the list is usually work (all nighters tend to cramp my creativity, and fingers). 

But while I’ve definitely been busy at work, I don’t think its fair to say that’s the real culprit here.  Honestly, its been a tough couple of weeks personally and professionally and I just haven’t felt like sharing. 

Slowly but surely, I promise I will fill you in on what I’ve been up to: grasping at ivories; remembering a great man; savoring moments with friends; feeling like a deserter; gulping down dry English cider like its going out of style;  planning trips to New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam, Paris, Switzerland, London and Ireland; learning to cook like an Italian; and thinking about the future.

(thanks E, for reminding me people still check in on me even when I’ve been checked out.)

This NYT article is great on so many levels: pointing out an obvious reason why 1 in 3 Americans are obese and 2 in 3 Americans overweight; highlighting the basic tension / interplay of market capitalism and regulation; and doing it all with math!

Shockingly, Carson Chow, a mathematician, concludes that the rise in obesity in America over the last few decades can be attributed to… increased supply of food.  The mantra certainly holds true in my house:  if you grow it, I will eat it (though I like to think, in moderation).

And if you grow it cheaply, and on a mass scale, economics dictate that I will pay a lower price for it and be able to consume more of it in relative terms.  It’s a common refrain from visitors to Melbourne:  “food is SO expensive here.”  But it’s only because food is so cheap in the U.S., in fact, perhaps TOO cheap.

Sadly, I suspect another key part of the equation missed by Chow is a cultural one — Americans have proved in the last 50 years to be a culture of convenience consumers.  Which unfortunately means that, so long as supply is high, there will be demand. And so long as quick and cheap alternatives are available to maximize not only food consumption but minimize lost opportunity costs for other consumer activities, Americans will seize them.

It makes me nostalgic for a time when my dad would cook 7-days’ worth of meals in advance on the weekend, to freeze until each meal’s day came, so we could enjoy home cooked dinners quickly (and I suspect cheaply) when he got home from a long day at work. (And trust me, we probably BOTH thought we’d never be nostalgic for such things…)  What’s the incentive now, when a parent can just pick up a box-o-food in the same amount of time and at the same cost?

It’s a well-timed article for me, as I’ve been pondering a lot recently about the role of government in a capitalist society and whether there is any hope for effective national legislation in an increasingly gridlocked political system.  I’ve also been cooking, and therefore eating, ALOT (as you can tell from recent posts) with some downtime at work and an increasingly chilly winter descending on Melbourne that sends me straight to the oven for warmth.  (Plus, I havent shared a “random musings” post in a while…)

So what should be the political response to Chow’s mathematical answer?  It seems politically untenable and perhaps callous to suggest as a response that we should (1) remove farm subsidies (i.e., put the squeeze on struggling American farmers in the heartland of U.S.A) or (2) herald an age where food is more expensive, and therefore more financially burdensome to struggling families.  An obesity rate of 1 in 3 people suggests that Americans aren’t just “breaking even” on food, they are gluttonously profiting.  But political rhetoric is hardly that discerning.

Perhaps in the current political climate, cultural change is the best we can hope for… I’ll start one home at a time; my own.  After all, if a corporate lawyer can manage to avoid fast food and cook for her family most nights, I promise, you can too!

It was a sweltering 35°C today.  Which made for a splendid summer night. What, pray tell, was this perfect evening? Clues below…

The winning answer earns a prize of A$5,000*

“I carried a watermelon”

[insert dancing on a suspended tree trunk and monkey-like laughter]

“Nobody puts Baby in a corner”

*payable only against demand in person in Melbourne, Australia

Some days, I can’t possibly compete with others around me for content worthy of web-publishing.  Today’s guest post comes to you via Grace, who is fostering kittens this Christmas out of the goodness of her heart, and Leah, my cat-loving sister, whose reaction upon viewing pictures of said kittens is reproduced below.

<<<Why I Can Never Foster Kittens:

 The situation would go something like this: 

*adoptive kitten parents show up for kittens*

 Loving potential parents: “Hey! We’re here to see the kittens and bring them home and love them!”

Leah: “They’ve been eaten by wolves. Go away.” 

 *slams door and continues snuggling kittens in a fit of euphoric joy*

Then i would have to quit my job so i could stay home and take pictures of them all day, then i would have to resort to blogging about cats in order to raise funds so i could buy more kittens, then slowly my house would fill with small furry piles of addictive bliss until you found me one day, half nibbled by adorable tiny pink mouths with my hands wrapped in yarn.>>>

See, I told you.  Can’t possibly compete.

Leah maintains a food and beverage blog (not involving her love for cats, yet…) that is totally worth checking out.  Because not only does she love cats so much she would make yarn mittens of her hands just to bring them happiness, she also makes a mean martini. And as you can tell from the exchange above, is pretty freaking hilarious.

It happened. This week, I became a Twihard. It all started with an innocent Sunday night screening of the original Twilight. Steve was already asleep on the couch so I thought, hey, why not?

No, this is not part of some midlife crisis where I’m trying to relieve my tween years. And yes, it does help that the vampires are so darn attractive. If Steve gets to watch movies like the Hulk and Conan ad naseum, why cant I have a little mindless fun? Plus a little part of me really loves the imagery of the Pac NW (don’t get too excited Dad, the premise is that the vampire live there because of the lack of sun).

Now, all I want to do is see if she becomes a vampire! Once I found out Kelly had been similarly “bitten”, and had poured through all the books and the movies on her iPad in mere weeks, the jig was up. I spent late nights this week catching up on New Moon and Eclipse. Nope, still human! We’re going to see part 1 of the finale in theaters this afternoon. Maybe, finally, I’ll get my answer…

Man, I’ve got a travel itch.  It doesn’t take long (its only been a month since our trip to the U.S.), and then it starts.  Gnawing, nagging… Digging in a little deeper until its red and raw and I’ve just gotta put on my walking shoes and go.  Unfortunately I have zero time to escape at the moment, given we’re a man down at work and a new deal seems to pop up every other day.

So for now, daydreams of the summer months to come will have to sustain me.  Like Christmas with K&D and NYE in Sydney. Australia Day camping on the GOR, and a Valentines Day weekend getaway in Tassie.  Then back to back visits from dad and donna (New Zealand here I come!) and Lisa and Matt (a hem… that’s a reminder web-cough in your direction Lisa!) in March and April.  Work? what work??

Sigh.  Can it be December NOW!!?!!  

Until then, more daydreams and a throw back…

This is me on my first international adventure (if you dont count intra-womb travels with the host mother), taking the ferry from Victoria to Vancouver, BC. 

Woo hoo! Is that the face of a girl with a passion for travel, or what?

One of the things I loved about D.C. was that there was always someone protesting something.  Especially in Lafayette Park, at the back of the White House, which I passed through every day to walk to the office.  Through rain and snow, you could always count on the anti-nuclear war guys; been there every day since 1981 and still going strong.

Some pictures from a blog called “Ordinary Places, Ordinary People” of NYC street protests.  

You don’t have to agree with the message.  You don’t have to stand out there with them.  But to me, there is no more cherished right of free expression than the ability to stand in the street with a sign and speak your mind.  And I have such admiration for those willing to stand proud and express themselves, even (or perhaps especially) when I don’t agree with the message. 

Seeing these pictures of people lining the streets of lower Manhattan to speak their minds made me proud to be an American today, and a bit nostalgic for home.

Readers beware, how can you be sure this is the real Claire White blogging?

A Claire White imposter has apparently been sighted in the state of New York, doing things like withdrawing thousands of dollars from the real Claire White’s bank account.  (Luckily, the real Claire White has an “air” tight alibi from the U.S. and Australian governments, as she was on a plane back to Australia at the time of the withdrawal.  So after about 35 hours on the phone with Citibank at international billing rates should be able to recover her money… possibly…maybe even this year).

Sure, there are ways to protect myself going forward.  I hear things like “fraud reports” exist, and Citibank may permanently freeze all my bank accounts such that no one – not even me! – can ever withdraw money again.

And the more and more I think about it, this is really my husband’s fault.  After having a perfectly unpronounceable name for the first 24 years of my life I was saddled with “Claire White”, possibly the most generic last name ever.  You might as well call me “female John Smith”.   Perhaps the best course of action is to change my name — using at least 1 capital letter, 1 symbol and 1 number (for security purposes of course).

Maybe I could seek to recoup my losses from him…

The real question is, with cash in hand, what will the imposter’s next target be?  Perhaps, knowing my love for mexican food, she will get a frequent purchaser card at Taco Bell, maliciously earning the benefit of free bean burritos in my name.  Or pull off a political-heist, registering an “R” vote on my ballot for the 2012 presidential elections thereby simultaneously creating newsworthy headlines (“Vote for a Republican candidate is received in the District of Columbia for first time ever!) and permanently tarnishing my carefully crafted political image.  With these pursuits behind her, what’s to stop her from invading my virtual identity??

So the real question is… are YOU safe?

Melbourne men,

If you carry a leather shoulder bag or briefcase, ok. You’re saying “I’m a professional” or maybe “I’m into male fashion”. All good, especially if you’re wearing a suit. Tres chic.

If you carry a backpack or sleek messenger bag, goodonya. You’re showing it’s comfort that matters to you, as you’re probably carrying a heavier load. Maybe you want to say “I’m sporty” or maybe you’re carrying your gym clothes and know that sweaty socks and leather don’t really mix at the end of the day.

But, if you carry a black linen shoulder bag with a large cat and a few French words emblazoned on it, you my friend, are carrying a man purse. I’m not judging, and dare not guess what was running through your head when you walked out of the house this morning. In any case, your murse has definitely caught my attention.

I’ve finally found something I miss about having a car – karaoke time.

I, like the rest of the world (or maybe just Australia?), am completely obsessed with Adele at the moment.  Turns out, however, that one attracts odd looks unconsciously singing along in a packed 8:45am tram.  But I couldn’t help it!  I had to consciously tap my toes, and hum a little, just to keep the tunes in my head buckled under.

One of the books I’m currently reading, Traffic by Tom Vanderbuilt, is all about the human behavior as it relates to, you guessed it, traffic.  A bit of an odd read for my current car-free lifestyle, but it certainly hits the nail on the head in the chapter dealing with the odd things people do in the inviolable solitude of their vehicles (even when other drivers may be no more than a few feet away).

Like solo karaoke time.  For me, driving time was always my jam time.  Crank up the volume, head tilted, full on jamming.

Oh well, guess the shower will have to suffice.