Alert! Alert!

posted 06.18.05

Since Thursday, June 23 - I've not had access to my e-mail. Someone else appears to be making use of it... Until they've finished doing whatever it is they felt so compelled to do with it, I won't be using that address.

If you're feeling a need to communicate with yours truly, not the person with deplorable web etiquette who goes about inconveniencing other folk (namely, me), you can do that on a new temporary page.

Car alarms...

Some people shouldn't be allowed to have car alarms. But how can we democratically decide who those people are? After all, my tolerence for car alarms might be less vigorous than, say, my neighbors', who seem to think that it's a nifty beat to dance to of an evening.

I think I may have found an impartial means by which to judge! You're thinking I'm going to stack the deck on this one - I'm not, I've got a surefire, can't miss way to ferret out those who deserve the privilege of owning a loud, noisy, theft deterrent, from those who don't - ready? It's a Mockingbird! Yes, those nifty little birds that mimic the calls of other birds in order to attract mates. They repeat the calls in threes or so - you'll hear a Cardinal's call three times in a row, a Robin's call three times in a row, a Goldfinch three times in a row, etc. They'll keep at it for hours, depending on how desperate they are.

Okay, here's how it works - if you're sitting near a window and you hear a Mockingbird and it starts doing a call that sounds familiar, but not like any other bird you've ever heard, and then you realize that the damn bird is mimicking a car alarm - it's official! You have a neighbor who should by all rights have their car alarm yanked out by the wires. Now all I have to do is convince the rest of the neighborhood of this new standard and I'm golden.

Note: Yes, a Mockingbird did make a call that I swear is based on a car alarm. What it's trying to attract by mimicking a car's alarm? I can't say.

Harmful free radicals!!!

Sounds like a headline out of the Sixties, doesn't it? In fact, it's something I read off of the packaging for my tea. What will they come up with next? Antioxidants, of course! That's the elixir you need to reverse the damage of harmful free radicals - puts 'em right in jail, they do. And, conveniently enough, my tea bag is full of them! I can't tell you how relieved I am.

I just can't resist poking fun at packaging. I mean, am I really supposed to believe that the tea company cares about the effects of harmful free radicals and is in business to fight their dastardly ways?

And is throwing language around like, "free radicals" and "antioxidants", supposed to make me feel more relaxed and cheerful about drinking these weeds soaked in water?

Which isn't to say that I'm against informative packaging - not at all. But I'm not beneath poking fun at it either.

Some informative packaging we ought to be paying close attention to - women especially, is the stickers and whatnot on deodorants that say "Paraben free".


Breast cancer, that's why. Parabens are in just about every product we slather on our body, from hand creams to shampoos to deoderants - and no one is sure if they're carcinogenic or not. Creams, deodorants, lip balms, etc. that you put on your skin, get absorbed into your bloodstream. Deodorants and anti-perspirants (the devil's own perfume) are applied to the body right near/over the sensitive mammory glands. Anything applied to that area, every frickin' day, had better be pure as pure gets - not, pure as "Well, we kind of think this won't give you cancer... but we can't really be sure... Here, why don't you rub it on your skin near sensitive tissue every day for twenty years? Then we'll have a better idea! Thanks for participating in our study, I mean, for using our product." So look for the paraben free label.

Oh, and did you know that women who use dry cleaners have a higher incidence of breast cancer? Turns out that the chemicals used in dry cleaning are bad for you too.

More info on the products we slather on our body every day and the effects they can have on our health can be found on the Mass. Breast Cancer Coalition website.

You too can take a toxic tour of your bathroom and locate alternative products that might be more healthy at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.

There is the niftiest search tool on the Environmental Working Group site where you can look up the products you use and search for safer alternatives. Me, I want to cut to the chase, so I go right to the page where you can search their suggestions for best and worst products by category.

Go here for the EWG page on parabens.

Reader Comments

Ah, Brulee...your site encompasses the whole of modern existence. Just when I get depressed thinking about the carcinogens in my deodorant, I can find comfort in the gentle wit found in the odyssey of one Marjorie Humboldt. Keep up the good work!
darkbloom of the north
USA - 06/28/2005

How do you like the weather now? Pretty hot up there these days...
USA - 06/26/2005

In the news...

You have a waterfront property in a town and you're not stinking rich? Get ready to lose it. After this Supreme Court descision, developers up and down the east coast are popping champagne corks.

"The 5-4 ruling -- assailed by dissenting Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled in America -- was a defeat for residents of New London's Fort Trumbull neighborhood whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex."

Court: Cities may seize homes for economic development by Hope Yen (AP, 06.23.05)

Two articles that illustrate why it is that I have to take aspirin before reading the news in this Republican-run country:

Bush set to shun G8 allies on global warming (Reuters, 06.23.05)

House approves flag-protection amendment (Reuters, 06.22.05)

Meanwhile, back in the Sixties...:
Ex-Klansman gets 60 years for civil rights killings (Reuters, 06.23.05)

Good heavens!

posted 06.11.05

A moth just flew up my shorts! This isn't a clever euphemism or anything, it's a fact. A moth just flew right up into my shorts. What suicidal urge could have inspired that move? Sigh, must be that drawn to the flame instinct they've got (I'm hot, I know that much - don't need no moth to tell me that).

I'd complain about the weather what's makin' me so hot, the heat and humidity that's oppressing me, but this moth thing has such potential... And anyway, I was recently complaining about the cold and rain, so I'm not feeling overly strong about it. I mean, at least it's sunny... hot and sticky (85F with 71% humidity) yes, but let's not forget, sunny too.

I'm not cookin' anything tonight. No way. I think I should put this out on the table, get it into the open, so we're all operating on the same wavelength. It's over 85 degrees, over 50% humidity, so there'll be no lighting of pilots in this apartment. Nary a burner will glow, and the oven will remain decidedly off. A pox on you and your gas cooking, I say!

"But Brulee," you say with concern (you're so sweet!). "What will you eat? Nuts and berries gathered from the roadside?"

Hell no, the roadside here is dirty and whatnot. I get them at the grocery store - or, I gather them from several stores. Tonight, we'll be eating salad with a bread chaser and wine for dessert. It's a great salad - let me tell you about it... Oh hell, I'll just give you the recipe.

What you'll need:

Field greens
(one and a half cups per person)
Balsamic vinagrette
(one teaspoon per person, max)
Goat cheese
(one square inch or more per person)
A Bosc pear
(half a pear per person)
(10 per person)
(dried work, and if you have fresh, I hate you - two per person)
A copy of Ruby Braff's, "Stardust"


First, turn on Ruby Braff's "Stardust" - now, you're ready to begin.

So take a pile of mixed field greens (sometimes called Mesclun - usually by obnoxious people with too much time on their hands), a cup and a half will do per person. You sprinkle them with a little vinagrette - balsamic, for preference (take it easy with the vinagrette, really - the flavor comes from a lot of other places in this salad - and you'll kill it off if you overdo the dressing - trust me - start with a teaspoon per person, or even half that, let folks add it later if they decide they're so crass as to need more). If you hate making dressing, Newman's Balsalmic Vinagrette works fine and dandy (though you'll have to pour off half of the oil from the bottle to make a dressing that's got anything to do with flavor).

I'm a big fan of pecans, so this salad appealed to me right off (don't know where this recipe comes from, by the way, someone made it for me and I forgot to ask, duh!). Use about ten pecans per person, fewer would work too, but I like pecans. If you prefer walnuts, I guess you could use them, but they'd really change the character... maybe try the pecans first and see what you think - then try whatever, experimentation is good! I like the pecans lightly toasted (again, lightly means, not much) - I drizzle a little honey on them and let them sit in a 350 degree oven for three, maybe four minutes, tops (today, they go in the mini toaster oven what's eletric!). Ume, who's sweet tooth is less rapacious than mine own, prefers hers plain - no honey. And yes, you can totally skip the toasting, but it does add a little something...

Next, the pear. It's not essential that it be a Bosc pear, it's only crucial! No, just kidding, other pears work, only not quite as well, I've found. I peel the Bosc pear, because the skin is so darn metalic or whatever, and then slice it into thinish slices - use a half pear per person. You can sautee it in some butter (no need to peel it if you do, but make the slices nice and thin), lightly browning it - looks beautiful when you lay it on top of the salad...

The figs can be soaked if they're hard and dried. Or you can cut 'em up and throw 'em in. I use two or so figs per person, cutting them into quarters or eights, depending on their size.

The cheese - goat cheese of your choice (something on the mellowish side will do nicely), should be crumbled over the greens - this is your protein, so don't skimp! I use about a square inch per person... maybe more... it good. If you scrape a fork over the hunk o' cheese, which you hold over the greens, that will crumble it pretty well. Or you might want to try a good stinky stilton with it - that's tasty too.

Toss the cheese in the greens a bit, then throw the rest of the ingredients in and toss those, plate it, then lay the pear on top - and you're good to go!

We eat this with a tasty bread that we get fresh - we're too lucky by half to get to eat this! It's true. I think this would make a nice meal for a date - it's filling, it's light... and if you stick with the goat cheese, your breath won't stink too much.

Bon Appetit! As Julia would say.

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This week we bid adieu to a wonderful and talented actress, Ann Bancroft. I've had a crush on Ann Bancroft for as long as I could remember. She was best known for her roles as Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker and Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate. One of my favorite films she was in was 84 Charing Cross Road. It's a quiet and lovely story, and the film was faithful to the character of the book (also a favorite).

So here's to Ann Bancroft. A great talent.


In the news

Hundreds Protest As Texas Gov Signs Anti-Gay Measure (, 06.09.05)

Excerpt: Dwight McKissick, the pastor of a black church in Arlington told the audience that African Americans are insulted by comparisons of the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement. Gays shouldn't "compare your sin with our skin," he said.

Well, Dwight, happily, not all African-American's share your bigotted point of view:

"I know the pain of being less than equal, I cannot and will not impose that status on anyone else... Questions of civil rights and who gains them have always engendered strong emotions and opposition. I am prepared to face whatever challenges may come based upon my position. Whatever the future may hold, on this day, I am clear with what I must do."

-- Dianne Wilkerson, Massachusetts State Senator, Constitutional Convention 2004

Bush liked him so much, he renominated him:
'Most Homophobic Judge' in America Wins Lifetime Appointment by Paul Johnson (, 06.09.05)

Excerpt: Pryor argued that states have an interest in singling out same-sex relations for punishment, even though his own state's statute made no distinction between same-and opposite-sex relations. His brief also compared same-sex relationships to pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia.

Meanwhile, in the Northeast...
Maine Anti-Gay Amendment Dies (, 06.08.05)

The "Downing Street" what?:
Network Viewers Still in the Dark on "Smoking Gun Memo": Print media continue to downplay story (Fairness and Accuracy in reporting, 05.20.05)

The "Downing Street" who, what and where:
The Downing Street Memo

This didn't go over well, obviously, but it reinvigorated the conversation about closing Guantanamo:
Amnesty Calls Gitmo a "Gulag" (Here and Now, 06.03.05)

Really interesting:
What Motivates the Suicide Bomber? (Here and Now, 06.08.05)

Insult to injury:
Shut bases could get nuclear waste (Boston Globe, 05.28.05)

Noooo! This sucks (and it's not a political article, even):
Red Tide Rising (Here and Now, 06.08.05)

Eek - drosophila are back!
Fruit Fly May Hold Secret To Gay Sexuality (, 06.06.05)

Some background on the little scamps:
Is Homosexuality Inherited by Richard Horton (Frontline, 1995)

“Smart skin” holds promise for morphing wings and wearable computers by Laura Allen (Popular Science, 08.04)

Oooh, interesting! But I can't tell if it's still active:
Seed Magazine

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