50 Books Challenge (update)

I committed earlier this year to reading 50 books by authors of color, with an ongoing list. Since I’ve finished 2 books (well, really 3 — but I re-read The New Jim Crow, and that was for class, anyway), I figured I’d update the list.

  1. Captured, by Beverly Jenkins
  2. The Will to Change, by bell hooks
  3. The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
  4. Huntress, by Malinda Lo
  5. Kindred, by Octavia Butler
  6. Zahrah the Windseeker, by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
  7. The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn-Johnson

Captured was cool. Like I’ve said before, I’m not really a fan of romance novels, so I’m hardly in a position to critique it as an expert in the genre. It did follow the conventions of the romance novels I prefer — the formation of the relationship was prioritized over sex, and the guy was respectful of the woman and her boundaries. It was historically accurate, so far as I am aware, and I tend to be somewhat anal retentive in that area. I liked that Jenkins’ actually described the character’s skin tone (e.g. dark brown with golden undertones) as opposed to the flat, generically ethnic terms I’m used to seeing people of color described as (e.g. Mexican, Chinese, Black).

I wasn’t as much of a fan of Cisneros’ work, but that’s mostly a stylistic issue. I tend to enjoy escapist fantasy, not surrealistic literary fiction. The disconnected, ephemeral sense of place that permeated The House on Mango Street made it difficult for me to connect with the protagonist on any meaningful level. I thought her writing was objectively beautiful — very lyrical and vibrant. She painted these gorgeously evocative word pictures that floated through the text like disjointed vignettes of half-recalled childhood memories — but I didn’t leave the book with an overarching connection to the protagonist or any sense of plot, just a vague film of confusing nostalgia. Now, if that’s the experience you’re looking for in your reading, then I highly recommend Cisneros. If, like me, you prefer your reading to be fantastical, plot-driven literary escapism, then this isn’t the book for you.

Women’s Sizing: TeeFury Edition

So, on December 6th, I saw something on The Mary Sue that made me fangirl just a little.


That is a t-shirt, referencing an iconic scene from the Girl in the Fireplace episode of Doctor Who (S2, e4). It is also referencing Harry Potter and floo travel, by replacing Reinette with Hermione. In other words, this simple and amazing t-shirt design references not only two of my all-time favorite fandoms, but two of the most feminist, iconographic characters/ storylines within those fandoms. I don’t even wear t-shirts normally, but I knew I had to have this beautiful, glorious shirt.

I immediately went to the TeeFury site, and learned that TeeFury is some sort of limited-time-only seller, and time was quickly running out on this particular shirt. I had less than 15 minutes to make the purchase.

Truth is, I have a tendency to talk myself out of unnecessary (and, frequently, necessary) purchases. I’m very much a, “fix-it-up, wear-it-out, make do, or do without,” type of gal. I don’t really splurge on myself, ever. I suspect that’s part of the reason I love gifts so much, because I don’t tend to buy myself those sorts of inessential enjoyments.

My husband has been encouraging me pretty strongly to stop being quite as self-sacrificingly frugal as I normally am and to occasionally splurge on myself. This t-shirt is something I’d classify in the “splurge” category, which is probably why when I decided to go through with the purchase, I didn’t let myself stop to think it through. I just guiltily barrelled ahead, justifying my actions by the ticking clock in the upper corner of the screen.

I talked myself into it.

Anyway, I bought the shirt. I ordered an adult women’s XL. Normally I wear a size 12 in pants, and a size L in tops. I know women’s clothing is famously and ridiculously unreliable when it comes to sizing, so I always order up a size when I order clothing online. I figure if it’s too big, it’s easier to alter it than to go through the complaint/ return process.

So I pay the $17 for the shirt ($14 + $3 shipping/handling), and just need to wait. It arrived on December 18th, and I gleefully tore open the packaging — only to stop, stunned, in disappointed disbelief.


The shirt is tiny. Tiny. In my rush, did I order a small? I check the tag. 


This shirt is ridiculously small. For comparison, here are my other two t-shirts, which were purchased well over a year ago at a second-hand store, and have therefore been washed and shrunken accordingly. The Simpsons one is a European size M, and the Nerds one is an American size XXL.

teefurycompare1 teefurycompare2.1teefurycompare2teefurycompare2.2So those are the other two t-shirts I own.* The Euro M is (as you can see) slightly larger than the American XXL. It’s roomier in the bust, longer in the torso, and all around a more comfortable t-shirt. These are the three t-shirts layered on top of each other: The Euro M on the bottom, the American XXL in the middle, and the TeeFury XL on the top.


Noticing how the Euro M is the longest one? Yeah, I noticed that, too. I wondered if maybe I had ordered a “youth” size by accident. I compared it to one of my 11 year old son’s shirts, out of curiosity. It took some doing to find a Youth L, which is the closest I could get to an XL comparison — my son normally wears Youth M, so this Youth L is actually one of his “growing into” shirts, the kind meant to last a school year and a half.

teefuryyouth1 teefuryyouth3

Don’t mind the water spots in the second picture, I had to iron his tag flat for the close-up. You can see, however, that my adult XL shirt is barely an inch longer than my 11-year old son’s youth L. I put my shirt underneath his, because it is equivalent in chest breadth, so if my shirt was on top, you would only be able to see the edges of his sleeves. This way, you get a better idea of the size comparison. 


This is his t-shirt sizing tag. I should note that because this shirt was purchased in September of 2013, it has been through the wash and therefore shrunk.

In fact, as a general note: The TeeFury 100 percent cotton shirt has not yet been washed/ subject to shrinkage, all shirts being compared to it have been.

What with the size similarities, I wondered if maybe I had accidentally ordered a Youth XL. I mean, it is just barely longer than the Youth L, and I was in a hurry. I went to my email to check the receipt.


Nope. I ordered a womens XL. Apparently adult women are supposed to have the bodies of prepubescent boys. Frustrated, I checked out the size chart at TeeFury — something I probably should have down before eagerly throwing $17 at them, but really, who would think they would size adult women closer to youth sizes than actual adult sizes? Because that is exactly what they did:

teefury size chart

I know that womens sizing is a joke in the U.S. Being a woman who shops for clothing in the U.S., I can’t help but be aware of the havoc so-called “vanity sizing” has played in our clothing industry. It’s ridiculous and frustrating, and even though I’m upset, I’m also giving TeeFury the benefit of the doubt.

It is entirely possible they just never really stopped and looked at their women’s sizing — it seems unlikely, but they do seem to be a small company/ art-focused start-up type deal, and stranger things have happened. I mean, if they’re just getting the art screen-printed onto some default t-shirt supplier they work with online, then maybe they never stopped to actually look at the sizes. I dropped them a real quick note to give them a heads up.

I don’t know if you realize this, but your adult women’s shirts are barely bigger than youth shirts. As in, I purchased an XL adult women’s shirt, and it fits my 69-lb 11 year old son (who normally wears a boys/ youth M or L) better than it fits me (a 180 lb 33 year old adult woman who normally wears a size 12 or adult L). There’s absolutely no room for shrinkage at all. I don’t even have a particularly large chest; I wear a 32B.

I was shocked at how tiny the shirt was; I actually thought I had mistakenly ordered a youth size. It wasn’t until I went and looked at your measuring chart that I realized you guys are selling “womens sizes” that are only an inch or so off youth sizes.

I’m not sure if you’re aware of that, or if no one ever actually stopped to look at the actual measurements, but I’d highly recommend you reconfigure your women’s sizing to make the t-shirts more accessible to a higher proportion of the population.

Aside from the size and the thread coming loose on the left sleeve, the shirt seems to be of good quality, and they have lots of cool designs — I’d love to purchase from them again, if they just start offering sizes for adult women. 


ThinkGeek Adult Mens Size M vs. TeeFury Adult Womens Size XL

teefurymedium1 teefurymedium3

*I generally wear dress shirts, tank tops, camisoles, or nice sweaters.

it’s a rant, I’ll be honest. didn’t start out that way, but that’s where it ended.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been spending all our spare time on Diablo III. It’s pretty rare that we get to play video games as a family, so we’re loving it. I can’t really handle the visuals of 1st person shooters, I don’t know why. They make me feel all nauseated and headachey. Something about the style; I just can’t orient myself.

Wait, how do I go forward?

On top of that, because I’m disoriented and can’t tell what’s going on, I get killed pretty easily — so me playing 1st person shooters ends up an unending and irritating cycle of me being disoriented and confused, finally starting to get a handle on where I am and how to move, getting killed and respawning in a foreign section of the map, and being disoriented and confused. Rinse and repeat about 10 times, or until I give up and quit.

I can’t do this. I just can’t do this.

I fare much, much better with RPGs, but most RPGs on the market have a fatal flaw: They do not support local co-op. I often joke that RPG game designers have a horrible opinion of RPG gamers. They clearly believe that RPG gamers are losers with no friends or family to game with, hence the lack of local co-op on most games.

Pictured: Not your average RPG player.

Thing is, I don’t want a single-player dungeon crawler. I want to play video games with my husband and my son, and my whole family loves RPGs. So Diablo III is pretty kick-ass for us, on several levels.

I am assuming that an updated/ upgraded version will be coming out for the new consoles, and I will tell you now that when we switch to the PS4, we will be buying a new copy of Diablo III for it. I heard the new Dragon Age will have a local co-op option, so fingers crossed for that! We played the Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes and the Baldur’s Gate titles until forced out of them by console upgrades/ updates. I foresee many hours spent as a family on Diablo III.

It’s our family game night.

Anyway, so that’s what we’ve been doing on our weekends, when everyone is home. With the cold snap, John and I stopped walking to the store every night for a bit, and with finals week I’ve been focusing on my papers and studies while John’s at work.

Well, that and this weird new app my family of origin signed up for. It’s called Life360, and it’s . . . I don’t know. We mostly use it for the messaging portion (it’s like a private twitter feed), but you could do the same thing on Google Hangouts, except with less bugginess and the option of sending pictures/video. Life360 has a tendency to not send messages and to lose connectivity. Also, you can’t send pictures or even really links through it. Finally, I don’t really like that if you type a message through the computer, it doesn’t show up in the message history on the app. That’s annoying.

On a different level, I feel like even though my family is having fun messing around with it at the moment, it will ultimately stir up disagreements relating to the latent tensions in our family’s communication styles to the surface.

Like all families, we have disagreements and issues.

For instance, 3 out of 5 siblings are inactive in the LDS church. But one of the siblings who is active is dominating the app with church-related talk and news. To me, a former member who grew up in the LDS church and is very familiar with the ideology, mindset, and exhortations to reactivate non-members, this choice of conversational topic is coming across as manipulative, passive-aggressive, dominating/ one-sided, and really just incredibly fake.

It’s manipulative because they insist that they totally respect our decision(s) to leave the church, and won’t pressure us to come back — but they will log into the app every Sunday to gush about church and share the lesson/ activities. Seems innocent, and if I didn’t have an LDS upbringing it would certainly feel less loaded.

But because I am familiar with the structure of the church and the many, many lessons on how to reactive lapsed members, I just keep hearing the tactics advised and taught to members in order to reactivate inactive members. I don’t know whether they’re doing it intentionally or not, but they’re doing it. If you try and call them on it, though, they totally deny that it’s happening, or even that it could unconsciously be happening.

It’s passive-aggressive because both LDS siblings will do things like “jokingly” suggest their other siblings should return to church if anything remotely neutral or negative is said about their use of weekend time. For instance, if non-LDS sibling says that Sunday was a “lazy day” or jokes, “What else are you gonna do on the weekend?”, the LDS siblings will say, “You could go to church!”

It doesn’t even sound like a joke. It sounds like a desperate appeal for religious validation thinly masked as a bad joke.

They mask it as a “joke,” but having been raised LDS, I know all too well that they are very serious in their desire for us to return to the LDS church, and are choosing to mask their lack of acceptance of our choices behind faux jokes.

And the thing is, when I have asked in past conversations if they would try something similar, like maybe asking them to try not going to church for a month (or, hell, not talking about church for a month), they get offended and upset. They say they don’t know what my problem/ anger with church is, and why can’t I respect their beliefs? They tell me if makes them happy to share the joy the church brings them. They ask why I’m so angry, why I hate the church.

Well, I can tell you why I’m angry. It’s the constant dismissal of the validity of my experience and intelligence.

All this leads to a silencing of speech they dislike, which results in them dominating the conversation, and in a rather one-sided manner. They will talk about church activities and lessons and expect positive responses to the information shared, but do not show reciprocal acceptance to conversational topics that bore them.

See, to them, talking about their experiences at church is them sharing something that is positive and uplifting in their life. How are they supposed to avoid it? The church is a major part of their lives. Do we expect them to just not talk about their church life?

And I get that. It would be pretty insane to request active LDS members to not talk about their church life with those nearest and dearest them. I know how all-encompassing it is — it’s a daily thing, threaded into every aspect of their lives. Especially for women who are doing the whole thing in the LDS-approved style and are stay-at-home moms with a passel of kids in tow. There’s really no time whatsoever for independent hobbies or non-church related interests. Everything will loop back to the church eventually. 

So in short, no. I don’t actually expect my active LDS siblings to completely stop talking about the church, because it is literally entwined with every single aspect of their lives. They can’t not talk about it. But I would kind of expect that they could extend the same courtesy of listening to how we do our lives without objection. But nope.

For instance, if I slip and swear around my LDS siblings, I get a lecture from them. Mind you, I swear all the time in my casual daily interactions, and around my non-LDS siblings. In fact, the only people I don’t swear around are people I am not close to — I don’t swear at work or in class, for instance, because those are more formal situations.

True, it’s not like I’m swearing in the Life360 app, either. I guess the whole sibling-interaction precipitated by the app is bringing up all these other communication frustrations. In live, real-time talk, they have and do expect me to change my speech patterns on the fly, and if I slip in my attempt, they have and will stop the entire conversation to read me the riot act for being disrespectful of their beliefs. In the same vein, I am discouraged or lectured if I talk about atheism, my views on religion in general, the fact that I drink alcohol, or my preference for playing video games/ going shopping/ eating out/ seeing a movie on Sunday.

And mind you, these are all things I can and do talk about with my close friends and even my other siblings, when we’re talking. So my LDS siblings are creating a situation with artificial conversational walls, and then (ironically or hilariously?) they bemoan the fact that we as a family are not as emotionally close as they would prefer. And it’s so baffling to me, because it seems like they’re striving for this mormon idea of what a family is and trying to force their non-mormon family members into these neat little pigeonholes of idealistic perfection, and ignoring the solid reality of who we actually are.

Family Home Evening With Teens, from LDS Media Talk.

This is precipitated in small part because today on the app, the religious siblings actually directed myself and my brother to take our discussion of Diablo III to a private, 2-person chat because it was boring and they did not “get it.” Absolutely no shred of self-awareness that maybe, just maybe, some of us might feel the same about the church-related chat — but this interaction was not the primary irritant, it’s more like the frustration that sparked this rant.

I should note that the Life360 app offers the option to message the entire group, or to privately message one person. I should also note that relationships are tense between some of us, and this app is the first contact we’ve had in some time. The general nature of it made me, at least, feel on emotionally safe ground. I felt as though when a message was not responded to or answered, it was less of intentional rejection of my thoughts and opinions, and more just that the chaotic and random flow of input meant my words were lost in the fray.

So to have the LDS siblings explicitly tell us to take our boring conversation elsewhere just reinforced (for me) the overall tone policing that led to the tension in the first place. In the past, when they have asked why I left or what I believe in now, I have tried to share my theological research, and the non-religious beliefs that give me emotional and mental strength, and they have shut me down. They have responded with frustration, consternation, and even anger. They accuse me of lying, or not understanding, or of hating the LDS church. They ask why I’m obsessed with religion and belief, and how do you even respond to that? Really?

What, it’s true.

I mean, I grew up in a religious tradition that literally permeated every waking hour of my day, and I broke with it, and now they apparently think I’m not supposed to spend any time trying to figure out the psychological, and social structures which shaped my formative years? I mean, if I had grown up in India and then moved to America as an adult, would I be expected to never speak of India again? If I had grown up as a boy and transitioned to a girl, am I supposed to never again speak of my experiences as a male person in our society? Like, wtf, really?

Thank you, Walt Jr. It is bullshit.

They say, “Why do you care? Why do you keep studying religion? You left, so leave it alone,” and I hear, “Look, just chop this massive piece of your life away and proceed to ignore it, because your method of examining it and coming to terms with it makes me uncomfortable and that’s upsetting to me.” 

Finally, the way they talk about the LDS church is just hilarious to me. They are depicting a false representation of church life. They talk about it like I’m a non-member — which I am — but like I’m a non-member with absolutely no experience being in the church. They act like it’s all sunshine and roses and totally supportive and awesome. No doubts or fears, no struggles with the workload, no weeping over the scriptures because you can’t come to terms with a piece of doctrine, no long nights staring into the abyss of eternity and wondering if you’re good enough, no heartache. Just awesome supportive perfection.

Mormon Family: LDS Images

Again, I grew up in the church, with these siblings. I went to church meetings with them. I was in the same ward, heard the same lessons, and at least one of them went through a teenage rebellion involving drug use and sexual activity that I consciously mimicked and tried to “one-up” in my own teen years. Like these active siblings, I was sealed in the temple. I wore garments. I went to church with a small infant in tow, and I paid tithing, held callings, prayed over meals, testified of my belief in F&T meeting, read my scriptures, taught lessons, and organized activities. I believed in the LDS church for a long time. I was both witness to and participant of ordinary Sundays, week after week!

It’s the worst.

Here’s the thing — when I was active, the difficulties of membership were acknowledged and discussed. We used to talk about frustrations with the culture of perfection, feelings of guilt about not “measuring up” to expectations, and feeling overwhelmed and pressured by having to teach lessons for callings/ etc. every Sunday in addition to secular life responsibilities. Those memories didn’t just disappear because I went inactive and they began pretending the church is perfect.

What is up with that? Do they think I left because the church is hard? Do they think if they pretend it’s easy I’ll just forget that it was so stressful and come back? What on earth would they do if this tactic actually worked, and I did return to church and it was still stressful? I mean, if the presumption that a member left because the church was hard was accurate, then pretending the difficulty just magically disappeared is so not the solution, because in the insane situation where this avoidance tactic actually worked, it’s just setting them up for failure when they return!

Just follow this train of thought to it’s logical conclusion, really.

And also, seriously, think about that logic of, “leaving because it’s hard,” for, like, two seconds. Marriage is hard. Being a mom is hard. Earning my Bachelor’s as a late-start student/ mom/ wife is hard. Dealing with active mormons as an atheist is hard. There are lots of things in my life that are way harder than being active in the LDS church — I’d take the workload of an LDS calling over the workload of a college student, any day — but I don’t abandon them. Why not?

Because the work involved with all these other things has value to me. The LDS church has ceased to have value for me. Neither the doctrines nor the community offer anything that is, “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.” I do not attend the LDS church because according to its own history and according to its own doctrines, the whole mess is provably false. It is a false church led by a false prophet.

Seriously, J. Smith and W. Jeffs are pretty much equivalent.

The whole thing is a lie, and it’s not even difficult to disprove. Seriously, it doesn’t even require researching outside of approved mormon literature, it just means studying and cross-referencing the approved history and doctrines of the church with the same level of academic rigor required to write, cite, present, and argue a college-level English 102 paper. 

Goddamn intellectually lazy rabble rabble rabble.

Wow, the underlying tensions that are bubbling up in each exchange relating to religion are irritating me more than I thought. That’s one of the frustrating things about relationships, I swear to the gods — nobody is honest and upfront in every interaction/ relationship. Nobody, not even me or people like me, who decry this “nice” dishonesty. Maybe we’re cowards, or maybe we’re trying to be polite and not make waves, or maybe we’re not feeling well and just don’t want to get into it that day, or maybe we can’t face up to the truth, or maybe it just feels like a pointless conversation, or whatever. I don’t know.

I can’t do this.

Like, I would like to say to my active siblings that if they’re going to talk frankly about church and religion and their belief and so on and so forth, that’s fine, but I would expect them to extend the same courtesy to their non-religious siblings. If I want to talk about going to Drinking Liberally on Monday, I should be able to without having to defend it.

I mean, seriously — every time I talk about my life with my LDS family/ friends, I find myself editing-on-the-fly, and it’s mostly because I just don’t want to get sidetracked explaining that we don’t need to drink to discuss politics, it’s just a fun excuse to meet up, and yes I know you don’t think drinking is fun, and I agree that you can have fun without alcohol, and in fact I have lots of fun quite a lot of the time without any alcohol whatsoever — but sometimes I also have fun with alcohol. I actually do like alcohol. I like to drink occasionally. That does not mean I am an alcoholic. I like to meet with a group of politically minded friends at a pub and have a pint, and I’m not sitting here telling you how stupid I think those teetotaler sing-a-longs at the church are, so stop complaining about how I spend my time.

I would like to point out that D&C section 89 actually forbids strong drink, and specifically says that, “barley [is] for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.” Also, beer is not considered “hard alcohol” (strong drink). So, technically, WoW says yes to beer.

I get tired of obfuscating any connection with alcohol, drugs, liberal politics, or theology when I reference the books I read, movies I watch, and activities I attend. I am so tired of being expected to sanitize my life to their arbitrary specifications of what is moral according to a religious code I rejected, and then getting flack when I fail in my efforts — an effort I only put forth out of esteem and respect for the individual who gets upset with me!

Yet, because I love and esteem and respect these individuals, and because I don’t want to argue with them, I continue to edit myself in conversation and interaction with them. I continue to bite my tongue and look away and pretend it doesn’t bother me when I’m shut down, but they continue to pontificate on topics they know bother me.

And this is seriously just a rant. That’s all. Because telling them will achieve nothing. I’ve expressed similar frustrations in the past, to no avail. The behaviors (on both sides) will continue. If I express frustration, it’s because I’m an angry atheist who hates the church, ipso facto I hate my family. Therefore, any expression of rejection of religion/ god becomes a rejection of my family, and I do not hate my family! I love them enough to bite down on a fairly fucking regular basis on my actual opinions.

Okay, byeee.

Also we happened to run into John’s family today at the supermarket, so that’s just another level of failed communication that’s been percolating in my brain all day. I just do not get how their brains work. I don’t get their personalities. I just don’t get any of it. It’s not like it’s a mystery why we haven’t spoken in almost two years; John has been very clear in elucidating exactly what the problem is, as have I. So their continued refusal to in any way acknowledge the issues, let alone validate or apologize for said issues, is at this point one of the issues we have with them!

Oooh, are you upset? Whatever for?

It’s ridiculous to me. I just do not get why they are so resistant to acknowledging that their actions have been harmful, and then apologizing for their behavior and words. Instead, there’s the constant and bland assumption that for some unknowable reason contact just happened to die off, and isn’t it lucky we ran into each other and can talk? As though we don’t live in the 21st century, where more effort is put into avoiding people than is needed to find people. Jesus fucking christ on a cracker.

Be honest, what do your privacy settings look like?

It’s all very psychologically exhausting and upsetting, and I just wish that people would say what they mean and mean what they say — but I’m as guilty as anyone of pasting on a smile to avoid an argument, so it’s not like I have a foot to stand on.

Quick! Nobody disagree!

Testing Recipes: Bacon Cinnamon Rolls

You may have seen this image floating around on Pinterest and Facebook. Probably Tumblr and G+, as well.


I adore both cinnamon rolls and bacon, so I saw this and I was just like:

Omg, omg, omg!

Of course I had to go out and get the stuff to try this immediately. I bought everything earlier this week, but I had a bunch of papers due on Friday, two reading selections to complete, my Spanish homework, and John started his new shift this week. So you know what today was, right?

It’s time for bacon!!!!

Recipe-testing day! (kind of. This doesn’t really count as a recipe, because it’s really just the last step of slightly altering the pre-assembled ingredients before the requisite baking).

Allright. So, full disclosure, I did not decide to write a post until after I made the things. I promised to update a friend on how it turned out, and decided to do this instead of a FB status. After all was said and done, this is my assessment:

It was all right.

It’s okay. It’s nothing to write home about, and certainly nothing to get super excited about. But it wasn’t awful. There are some improvements that can be made, I think:

  • I lightly cooked the bacon prior to rolling it into the cinnamon roll. My husband suggested this step, and I think it was a good idea. It ensured the bacon was not only fully cooked, but retained some it’s bacon-y texture instead of becoming a limp bacon strip essentially boiled inside the expanding dough.
  • Remember to roll the cinnamon rolls back up tightly, because after unrolling them they kind of want to stay open.
  • Make extra cinnamon-butter. I didn’t do this because I didn’t think of it, but I wish I had. A decent amount of the cinnamon filling comes off when you unroll the things.
  • Following the above point, make sure you’re using a clean surface like a cutting board, and have a knife or spatula handy to scrape up the cinnamon filling/ butter that peels off.
  • Cut  the bacon. I didn’t do this, but I recommend it.

For the final point, I’d say, like 1″ strips for the bacon. When you just do the one long massive strip in the roll, it ends up pulling the whole strip of bacon out with the first bite. Don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious — but it means that it’s not bite after bite of cinnamon-roll bacony goodness, and that is the main reason for my “meh” reaction. I could have just cooked up some bacon while baking the cinnamon rolls and had the same situation.

Seems . . . pointless.

So instead, I’d suggest cutting the cooked bacon strip into 1/2″ or 1″ strips and laying down the full strip of pieced bacon in the roll. This will allow for a better bacon-to-bite ratio.

I think the next time I try it, I will also sprinkle some of those real bacon crumbles on the top of the cinnamon rolls. (I’m actually thinking I should go ahead and try to make actual homemade cinnamon rolls, which I’ve never done, and incorporate pecans, bacon crumbles, and a maple glaze.)

Bacon! Maple! Pecans! Cinnamon Rolls!

in e-reader news

I’m not a fan of Amazon, and this is not something I’m real subtle about. This post pretty well covers my distaste of the company, and it comes down to this:
Amazon is:
  1. A monopsony
  2. A monopoly
  3. An unethical company who discourages competition
I get pretty upset about people wasting their money on the Kindle, mainly because I can’t see why you would buy a format you’re trapped in. The average Joe doesn’t know how to convert files, so when the average Joe buys a Kindle, they’re locked into that format. If they want to switch to a Nook, Sony ReaderKobo Reader, or really any non-Kindle reader, they’re up a creek without a paddle. If, for whatever reason, I ever decide I’m tired of my Nook, I can switch to any other e-reader on the market (with the exception of Kindle) and take my library with me.
Own a Kindle, build your library on a Kindle, and you’re stuck with Kindle. There’s no switching, unless you’re lucky enough to know someone who can break your DRM and convert files for you. I don’t like that. I do not like it when a company sells you a crippled product that prevents the consumer from being able to easily use it. I tend to think (radical, I know) that if I pay for an expensive technology (like an e-reader, music player, or tablet device that plays movies), I should be able to buy and download content from any store I choose.
So, yeah, I dislike the Kindle. However, although the Nook is growing in popularity (and is, in fact, the second most popular e-reader available), and although the Nook was designed by some of the best minds from Silicon valley, and although all the “improvements” Amazon/Kindle has rolled out since the Nook’s initial release in 2009 are just sad mimicries of Barnes & Noble/ Nook innovations, there was still a problem with Nook.
Kindle had gotten in first. They’d come out of the gate strong, priced e-books shockingly low, and took serious financial losses in order to build a customer base of Kindle users. Recall, you can’t easily take your library to another reader. If a consumer bought a Kindle in 2005 and began building their library immediately, they now have a vast library of books incompatible with any other e-reader on the market. If they leave the Kindle, they think they’ll have to leave their books (actually, I think you can root a Nook and put a Kindle app on there to access your Kindle library). Because Amazon/Kindle cornered the e-reader market early, they still dominate (hence both the monopoly and the monopsony). There have been serious concerns that even as awesome and innovative as the Barnes & Noble Nook division has proven themselves, they couldn’t compete against the sheer numbers and heavyweight of Amazon, not to mention Amazon’s willingness to take losses and engage in unethical practices just to get customers to invest in a platform they would then be trapped on.
Well, that problem is no more. Microsoft has thrown their weight in with Barnes & Noble, with a $605-million dollar investment. The chief exec at Barnes & Noble says this partnership will enable them to expand their digital business and reach hundreds of millions of new users through the Windows platform. This is also great timing because the much-anticipated Windows 8 will be coming out soon. Plus, as Microsoft works to become a bigger player in the tablet market, they’ll have access to Barnes & Noble’s massive digital content collection. This whole situation makes me happy.

Book review: Longitude


Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time by Dava Sobel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a great book. It’s one of the excellent historical non-fiction books that is really well written and interesting, even if you’re not normally interested in the subject. I can honestly say I have never once wondered about how longitude is determined, or why it matters. Until I read this book, it never occurred to me that longitude was not a historical constant like latitude. I had no idea there was this depth of history and tragedy in the story of determining longitude, and it was damned fascinating. This was well-written, engaging, and enlightening. In other words, awesome!