Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The VW Ad

I have been asked by a few friends about my thoughts on the VW ad. Have you seen it? White male from Minnesota feeling all irie because of his VW? As expected, the Jamaican accent sucks but who cares? The ad is hilarious!

Why are all these people talking about racism? Minstrel shows? Blackface? Say what now?!! Did we watch the same ad?  How on earth did this turn into a race discussion? So what if Dave is white? Can we stop trying to find racism in everything? Oh and newsflash - not all Jamaicans are black! Yeah, I know. Shocking. Yup, we have lots of white Jamaicans running around. Asians too - it's quite a melting pot.

I heard someone else say something about exploitation. You mean the ad is portraying that "don't worry; be happy" vibe? The same one that the Jamaica Tourist Board pushes? Oh the horror! Someone else said that Jamaica isn't really a happy place. Low blow, sir. Low blow. Yes, we are having lots of problems right now but that doesn't mean the people aren't smiling, making the best of the situation and getting happy (see what I did there?). The most ridiculous comment was that Dave was walking around the office doing nothing and interrupting people at work and so it was showing Jamaicans as not being productive.  Again, say what now? This person obviously spent way too much time over-analyzing the ad. We may have watched a different ad too because Dave was clearly in a board meeting at some point. Ugh. Do I even need to point that out?

Let's just all "chill like Winston". I love the ad. I love my country. Thank you VW! Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go pack a suitcase for a long overdue visit to the land of my birth.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

On (Online) Dating

I've been thinking about dating a lot lately, partly because I think I may be seeing someone (more on my unwillingness to make that a definite later) and also because dating stories have been in the news/social media a lot lately.

We all know the Manti Te'o story, right? Let me just say that I have a difficult time believing Manti's version of the story. Manti wants us to believe that for at least 9 months and possibly since Nov 2009, he spoke to this girl on the phone every night and all this time it was a prank. Which girl has that much time in her life to talk to a guy every single night as the part of some elaborate hoax that someone else is orchestrating? Even in my 100% single days (as opposed to the 60% single I am right now?), I did not have that much time to waste.

This Manti story also comes along when "catfishing" is now a part of the daily lexicon. I haven't seen MTV's Catfish or the documentary on which it is based but I know the premise. Meet someone online. Fall in love. Find out it's not real. I don't know if these persons were having daily telephone conversations also or if everything was based online. Maybe one day I will watch to see if I can learn what the motive is behind catfishing. Are there catfishing clues that these victims are oblivious to? Are they choosing to ignore warning signs?

Have you ever dated someone you met online? I technically have. We met on a forum that I frequented in undergrad. Most of us were Jamaican students living in the US. It was a great forum and I met a couple lifelong friends and acquaintances. I don't know if it ever occurred to me that what I knew about this guy from the forums could have all been faked. I don't know if I ever thought too much about the dangers of meeting up with him that first night. I didn't meet up with him alone but I think all the persons in the large group of us that met up that night were strangers to me. The others had met each other at various times before. Is it something I'd do again? Technically, I am (see 60% single). I think that being a part of the forum changed the dynamic and didn't make it a typical online dating scenario. But still, we met online. Several persons who met in that forum went on to get married too. It wasn't a dating forum but many found their soul mates there.

Yesterday I saw an article about a woman suing for failing to warn her about the dangers of online dating. She broke it off with her date after four days but some months later, he brutally stabbed her. Should be held liable? Is it's job to warn us that the people we meet online could turn out to be psychos? Frankly, the people we meet offline could also turn out to be psychos so I am not sure what's responsibility is. I do know that there are several disclaimers in their ToS though.

Even when you meet with someone offline, you can never be too sure that the story they are telling is true. I know that there are several things that are easier to fake online but we have to be careful both on and offline. I feel extremely bad for this woman who was attacked by her deranged former date. I don't feel bad for Manti though. Maybe he spun the tale because of media attention. Maybe he is trying to hide something.

In any case, as I talk more and more to this guy online, I can't help but wonder what our first meeting will be like. Will we ever have that first meeting? We could lose interest before then. Will it be as effortless as it is online and on the phone? Or will it be awkward? Will I be too nervous? What will we learn about each other in that offline environment? Will it be a turn off?

We'll see, I guess. We'll see.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sourdough Babka

My wild yeast is very unpredictable. Sometimes I have beautifully risen loaves and other times I wonder if I am just wasting flour and time. This month's Sourdough Surprises challenge was babka. There was no doubt that I was going to make this amazing combination of a brioche-like dough and whatever filling I desired. I made a brioche with commercial yeast recently and I loved it! However, could my wild yeast handle it?

For my babka, I modified two recipes - a sourdough brioche and Smitten Kitchen's babka. I used less eggs than called for in the sourdough brioche because I worried about having an extremely sticky dough that I would be unable to roll. Smitten Kitchen's babka looks so amazing. I didn't use as much chocolate as she did though because I was busy eating all the chocolate before baking time. I only slightly regret that. I also crushed my chocolate a bit too much. Next time I won't. Yes, there will be a next time. I also sprinkled in some rummy raisins.

Apparently, I did not need to worry about my yeast this time. It was by far the most beautifully risen sourdough loaf I have ever made. I don't know what made the difference but I hope to recreate this with my loaf for next week.

It really doesn't look like I have a lot of chocolate in here. But even though I did eat a lot of it, I swear that I did put a decent amount in! You can better see the amount of chocolate when the bread is sliced lengthwise. It was great having this loaf throughout the week and actually with the reduced chocolate, it made it perfect for an everyday bread. And I ate it everyday sometimes several times per day. I managed to save some to make french toast on Saturday morning.

I had this crazy idea to put the french toast in the waffle iron. A quick Google search said I was not alone in this line of thought. So there you have it! My sourdough babka. Thanks Sourdough Surprises for this month's challenge!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Last night I saw this article on xoJane talking about Lena Dunham. I didn't know who Lena Dunham was but the title (The Audacity of Lena Dunham, and her admirable commitment to making us look naked) caught my eye.  The author started out describing an incident in film class where her professor called Kate Winslet in Titanic "grossly fat". I paused. I have seen Titanic. It was a long time ago but I definitely do not remember Kate Winslet being "grossly fat".

I quickly looked for the drawing scene online and as I expected, she was NOT fat. What was this film professor talking about? The author even mentioned at first that Kate's figure was "historically accurate". What were these people seeing that I was not seeing? This reminded me of a day I was teaching a Social Psychology class. I don't remember the specific articles that we were discussing but it was relevant for me to post pictures of women with different weights. I posted this picture of Lindsay Lohan:


One girl spoke up and stated that she loved the way Lindsay looked and thought that it was attractive and wanted to be that skinny and if not, skinnier. I was wholly unprepared for this. It never occurred to me while I was prepping that there would be students who would not see anything wrong with this. Rookie teaching mistake. Why did I expect that the students in my class would be different? My classroom is after all a microcosm of the larger world.

All of this saddens me. I still don't have the words to fully express how this made me feel. We denigrate girls who do not look like stick figures and praise those who are unhealthily thin. Will this ever stop? Will we ever promote being healthy over being stick thin? I don't want my nieces and nephews to grow up thinking that stick thin is the ideal. I don't want my niece developing unhealthy relationships with food and exercise. I don't want my nephew dismissing a girl because she doesn't have a 20 inch waist.

I need to head to bed. I'll continue this in the morning.