Fig Cookies

Rants, ramblings about my life, work, politics, current events and my obsessions with yarn, knitting, and good music...

Sunday, December 26, 2004

May the Ranting Resume...

Now that Christmas is over, even though it's not technically over until January 6th, I will resume my rants about religion.

My Dad was in the family room watching the news, so I thought I'd join, I like Sunday morning news shows, until I noticed he was watching FOX News. I thought, well, I should give it a chance, Brett Hume isn't that bad compared to the rest of the anchors. He was interviewing the Archbishop of Washington DC and the Archbishops was saying, in a nutshell, that a person could not be a good moral person without religion. Of course I'm sitting there trying not to freak out because my Dad hates it when we make side comments to what's on the tele. Eventually I voiced my opinion, by this time my Mom was there, and she "shh'ed" me!! Argh!!!

I quickly left because I was so furious that I had just been "shh'ed". The Archbishop wasn't even talking for cryingoutloud, Brett Hume was asking the same exact question in a different way.


And my opinion is, yes you can be a good person with good values (by good values I mean treating people well, helping the poor, equal pay for equal work, equality in marriage, good educational system, etc.) without belonging to a church. And I'm sick of being told by various media outlets that because I don't have religion, what ever the hell that means, I'm not a good person.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas!

I'm not sure if I'll have a chance to post on Christmas; my parents' house is going to be full of relatives and I'll be alternating between loving it & wishing it wouldn't end and not being able to be social for five more minutes.

Thank you all for your words of congrats, it means so much to me that you guys are excited about it just as much as I am. I'll be taking a short break from all things school related before I start looking at grad school.

So, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas. I hope that you're spending it with those you love and cherish. Eat, drink, be merry and treasure the time with your families, even if they drive you nuts, because lets face it, that's what families are supposed to do.

Much love to you all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

How I Spent My Winter Vacation

Well, spent may be the wrong word because I'm still spending it.

I'm up in Buffalo hanging out with the family.

My Mom, cousin Sarah & I went to the Woolly Lamb, and I bought some yarn for a hat I made for a coworker's daughter. (Yes, made, not making, I started it & finished it today. It came out really cute. It's a pretty shade of orange-y/yellow.)

Afterwards we made cut out cookies and then my Dad joined us and helped us to frost them.

Spent the evening knitting and hanging out with my sister. It's been very low key which is what I want because once friday comes the weekend will be quite hectic.

Tomorrow I'm off to Borders for a last minute present for one of my nephews.

Sorry no exciting news to report.

I'm off to bed. Hope you all had a wonderful day.

Monday, December 20, 2004

I Be Gradumated

I'M DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's very surreal.


*does dance of joy*

The exam went ok. I'm totally not sure of how I did. If I get a *C* in this class I'll be happy, a *B*, estatic.

I've been home for a bit. Did some last minute things to prepare the apartment, like taking out the garbage so I don't come back to a stinky apartment.

I'm off to pack. Next time I write I'll be in tropical Buffalo. Have a wonderful evening. Keep warm.

Hugs & kisses to you all.
Bless Her Heart...

The receptionist for my office thought I was 23, not fast approaching 30. She totally made my day.

Random Thought
I watched Dr. Zhivago last night on PBS, it wasn't what I had expected it to be, but it's worth seeing, I think I missed a couple things so I've to watch it again.


Omar Sharif... soooooooooo hot back in his youth. And I think Julie Christie looks more beautiful now than she did then.
Shuffle Off to Buffalo...

Twelve hours from now I will be packing to go home for a week.

Twenty four hours from now I will be at my parents' house and I'll most likely be napping.

I am so excited to be going home. I've not been since July, and while I know it's only six months ago, one has to remember I used to go up every 3 months. I used to go up for my niece and nephews' birthdays, but that hasn't happened in a couple years.

I'm so excited about going home that I have to remember to go to my Stats exam tonight.

Stoopid exam. The people who came up with having an exam at 7:40pm need to be slapped. I was barely awake for class at 6pm after a day at work and they expect me to be awake for a final at 7:40pm!!!? Damn them. I hope they get coal in their stockings.

Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday to my sweet Niels. I hope you have a wonderful day. I love you.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

The Weather Channel

Hi, my name is Caren & I'm addicted to the Weather Channel.

I used to be one of those people who would make fun of people that would constantly talk about what they saw on the Weather Channel, completely befuddled how anyone could be that into weather.

Then I got cable.

I don't know how they do it. But those crazy meteorologists suck you in with their soothing voices telling you the weather outlook for the day. Those soothing voices... except when there's a storm brewing, and then they get all excited like they're about to have an orgasm because nortnern Michigan is about to get walloped with a snow storm.

Damn you Weather Channel!!

Friday, December 17, 2004


Unlike some of my friends, I like to know who reads my blog because, it's nice to know the demographics...

So when I was looking a few minutes ago at my CQ Counter, I discovered that my blog was read at a company my Dad work at over 30 years ago. I know it may not mean much of anything to you, but I find it to be really neat.
One Down One to Go

Had my lit final yesterday, it went pretty well. My prof gave us the questions in advance, there were six questions, four of which would be on the exam, of which we had to write about two. The two questions I wanted to write about were on there, so that made me happy. The exam was 2 hours long and I finished with 10 minutes to spare. I think I did ok.

After handing my exam in I got my final paper back. The criticisms my prof had of my paper were the exact same ones I had; so the notes she made were not a suprise to me. I'm hoping for an A-/B+ in the class, but we'll see!

I'm one exam left, dreaded Statistics. I shouldn't say it's dreaded, because it's not. But I do think I would have enjoyed the class a lot more if I had a different professor. At the beginning of the semester I was really excited about it but by the end, not so excited. And it was all because my professor sucked ass. He couldn't teach for shit. If it wasn't for the TA, I don't know how I would have survived that class. The scary thing is that I kind of understand it, but just didn't have the motivation to excell in it.

All Good Gifts

Stacy made me this beautiful bag for Christmas, in two shades of blue (I love blue, blue's such an awesome colour, my 2nd fav next to green!). It's perfect sized! I can fit my wallet, keys, cell phone and a tiny knitting project in it. She also got me a gorgeous handmade drop spindle so I can start spinning my own yarn!! All I have to do is learn how to use it so I can make yarn out of the roving she got me!! I love when Christmas come early.

Shout Out

I've to give a shout out to my friend Karen, she had finally joined the cult of blogging, and it's quite funny. So go read Percolating and see what's brewing!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Twenty Thousand Miles to an Oasis

It's really only 452.9 miles, but it doesn't sound as cool.

Anyways 11 days until Christmas.

Seven days until I go home! Yiiipppppppppppppieeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!! (Yes I still consider Buffalo home even though I haven't lived there in almost 7 years. )

Six days until I graduate.

One Christmas present and one Birthday present left to shop for.

Hope you all are having a wonderful day.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Why I Dislike Organized Religion (Or Why I'm glad I'm Not Mormon)...

LDS author disfellowshipped
Palmer calls the six-hour trial fair, but exhausting
By Peggy Fletcher Stack The Salt Lake Tribune

After an exhausting six-hour disciplinary hearing Sunday, Mormon leaders temporarily suspended Grant H. Palmer's membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Palmer, a longtime Mormon educator, was asked to defend himself on charges of apostasy stemming from his 2002 book, An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, which challenged traditional beliefs about the church's history.

The all-male priesthood leaders in his Willow Creek Sandy LDS stake could have excommunicated the 64-year-old author, but chose instead a lesser punishment - to "disfellowship" him - which means he may not enter the temple, serve in a church position, give a talk, partake of the weekly sacrament or offer a public prayer. This typically lasts about a year, but the length will be determined by his LDS stake president, Keith Adams, who may also spell out more conditions of the suspension in a letter sometime later this week. Palmer has the right to appeal the decision to higher church authorities.

Both Palmer and his ecclesiastical leaders left without speaking to reporters waiting outside the LDS stake center after the closed-door hearing, which began at 7 a.m. and ended about 1 p.m. LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills also declined to comment on the hearing or the punishment.

Reached at his home later, Palmer did not want to discuss the hearing, but said only he was pleased with the outcome.

"As church trials go, this was pretty fair," he said. "But I'm very tired."

The discipline is reminiscent of the 1993 sanctions imposed on six high-profile Mormon intellectuals - three men and three women - for their views on feminism, church policies and history.

At that time, five were excommunicated and one disfellowshipped; several other scholars since then have been excommunicated or chastised.

Palmer's disciplinary council came two years after his book, which has sold more than 3,000 copies, was published by Signature Books. The book was the culmination of Palmer's years of study, including a master's degree in American history from Brigham Young University, and working for 34 years in the LDS Institutes of Religion in California and Utah and as an LDS seminary teacher in Utah.

In the book, Palmer argues that the faith's scripture, The Book of Mormon, reflects LDS founder Joseph Smith's own 19th-century environment, not ancient America as Mormons believe. He further suggests that Smith embellished his divine revelations to respond to critics and to stabilize the church.

In the charges, Adams said that Insider's View had damaged others' faith.

But earlier this week, Palmer insisted that was not his intention. He has never counseled anyone to leave the LDS Church, he said. The fourth-generation Mormon said the Book of Mormon may not be a historical record, but it is "an inspired document. It brings many people to Jesus Christ."

Though there was no early morning vigil or television cameras at the Sandy LDS chapel, news of Palmer's disfellowshipping spread quickly among supporters and friends. Some thought any punishment too harsh for simply recounting discrepancies in Mormon history, while others saw a reason for optimism in it.

"I'm pleased that he was not excommunicated," said John Hatch, a friend and fellow Mormon intellectual who has read Palmer's book. "I hope he can continue to work with his stake president and return soon to full fellowship in the church."

Although I'm no longer Catholic or Christian, that was one thing I have to say about Catholicism, you could challenge it with out fear of being punished. (I'm excluding the Inquistion here and talking about post Vatican II Catholicism.) Why one would want to belong to a religion that punishes you for questioning and challenging it is beyond me.

Sunday, December 12, 2004


Many of you who have stumbled across my blog have done so because you were in search for a fig cookie recipe; not because you heard amazing reviews about my inarticulate rants and raves about knitting, R.E.M, and school, or how I think this country's going to hell in a handbasket because of George Bush and his adminstration.

I'm guessing that you've been disapointed to find that there was no recipe, just some crazy girl writing about her life.

Well, be sad no more! I got the recipie for the cookies from my Mom, which came from my Italian Grandma, which came from... well I don't know where Grandma C got it from...

They're my favorite Christmas cookie, I just wish they didn't take a better part of a day to make.

Italian Fig Cookies

Mix: 6 eggs
6 Tablespoons. sugar
6 Tablespoons. oil, not olive

Start with 4 cups of flour to which 3 Tablepsoons. baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt have been added.

Add flour gradually to egg mixture.

Gradually work dough on a floured board adding more flour until the dough is elastic.

Roll out dough thin, cut into long strips wide enough to hold filling. Fold dough over filling making sure that the ends of the dough overlap to ensure the filling won't ooze out. With the filling in the dough it should look like a long tube. Cut into desired sized pieces (roughly 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long), bake 350 for 15-20min.

Filling: 2 lbs figs, 1 lb. dates, 1 lb. raisins, 1 orange, 1/4lb walnuts, finely ground, 1/4 c. water.

Note: soften raisins and figs in water which has been brought to a boil and removed from the heat. Drain, mash and add the rest of the ingredients.

Recipe Edited on 12/14/04

Friday, December 10, 2004

O Canada!

Canada is so ahead of the game; it has universal health care, a good school system, great radio.

It's also the home of Spirit of the West, Bruce Cockburn, Sarah McLachlan, Tragically Hip, Barenaked Ladies, Neil Young, Lowest of the Low, Humble and Fred, Mr Goohead, the CBC, Seseme Street en francis, Degrassi Junior High, Great Big Sea, Moxy Fruvous, Toronto Maple Leafs, the Yarn Harlot. And now the Canadian Supreme Court has declared that the government can legalise gay marriage without violating the constitution.

Oh Canada how I love thee!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Yummy for My Tummy

Starbucks Peppermint Mochas taste like liquid Peppermint Patties.... sooo good.

Am I the only one not suprised by this report?

Our dying sea

Royal commission warns of a marine 'catastrophe' and calls for a ban on all fishing in one third of British waters

08 December 2004

The fish that once sustained fishing communities in such places as Grimsby and Fraserburgh has now almost disappeared from the North Sea, as it has done from many parts of the north Atlantic. It is the most extreme example of a pattern: according to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ices), the proportion of north-east Atlantic fish stocks within safe biological limits fell from 26 per cent to 16 per cent from 1996 to 2001. In the North Sea, the minimum recommended stock size to sustain cod at an acceptable level is 150,000 tons; it is now at about 46,000 tons. In the Irish Sea, the figure is as bad - 5,200 tons compared with a recommended level of 10,000. The west of Scotland and the north Atlantic are at similar levels. Ices says there should be no cod fishing in these areas next year.

The hake stock of the southern part of the North Sea is estimated to be at a low of 10,200 tons, compared with a minimum recommended level of 35,000 tons. This is largely because of overfishing by Spanish trawlers to satisfy huge domestic demand, and continues a 20-year decline of what was once a common species. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea recommends that there should be no hake fishing next year.

Like cod, plaice is a staple of the British diet that may soon become a rare and expensive luxury. The current stock in the North Sea is estimated to be around 190,000 tons, below the minimum level of 230,000. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea has advised that the level of fishing must be reduced by a total of 55 per cent to help stocks recover.

Many thousands of dolphins and porpoises are caught accidentally every year in the nets of European boats, to judge from the hundreds of animals washed up on French and British coasts, thought to be only a small fraction of the true total. The practice of pair-trawling - use of a colossal net by two boats working together - by the French winter seabass fishery is thought to take a heavy toll.

One of the most environmentally damaging and wasteful aspects of fishing is that huge numbers of fish are thrown back dead into the sea after capture, because they are the wrong size or for other reasons.
The European Commission has estimated that discards may account for nearly 70 per cent of fish mortality in some species and locations, and the problem poses a serious threat to fish conservation.

Thousands of seabirds are killed in fishing operations every year, often by "long-liner" boats, which send out lines of baited hooks which can be up to 22 miles long. This technique is having a catastrophic effect on the albatross populations of the Southern Ocean, threatening some species of albatross which mate for life with extinction. But it also causes wide mortality in Europe, with large numbers of fulmars (seabirds which occur widely in Britain) being caught annually by long-liner boats from Norway.

Underwater photographs, right, show the condition of the seabed before and after bottom-trawling. The result is clearly atrocious. Bottom-trawling can plough furrows up to 20ft wide and 6ins deep across the seabed, which destroys the rich, complex bottom-dwelling life. Some areas are trawled this way five times a year, turned over much more than arable fields, and afterwards they look as desolate as the surface of the moon. Large parts of the North Sea have suffered badly.

Commercial fishing is thought to have killed 90 per cent of larger, predator fish. Severe overfishing of the Grand Banks cod fishery off Newfoundland, which collapsed in 1992, caused a shift in the ecosystem which means numbers never recover, even when fishing is banned.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Holiday Season

Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish readers...

Christmas is fast approaching, and unfortunately it doesn't feel like it is. I miss Christmases in Buffalo, to me it's not Christmas without snow.

I just today pulled out my one and only Christmas CD, Bruce Cockburn's - christmas.

When I first bought it, many many moons ago, I was like "Bruce I love you, but this is shit." Now almost 10 years later it's really grown on me, it has a combination of song that I grew up listening to (O Little Town of Bethlehem, Joy To The World) and songs that I would not have ever been exposed to (Riu Riu Chiu, Mary Had a Baby) had I not bought the album.

I know, I need to get more Christmas albums. But my many many years of working in retail has tainted my enjoyment of it. I can only take it in small doses. Which I get when I go home. My Mom & Dad have a pretty good collection of old school albums, and I mean albums, that I listen to when I visit. Johnny Mathis, Mitch Miller, Bing Crosby, and John Denver and the Muppets.

It also doesn't feel like the holiday season because I don't decorate. It's not that I don't want to, because I do. I don't decorate because of my insane cats. I had a tree once in the 6 1/2 years I've lived down here, and it would get knocked over every day. Since then I've given up decorating & just soak it all in when I visit my parents.

I Can See The Finish Line

Two more classes
A paper edit
A 2 page paper on my favorite text of the semester
English Final
Stats Final

Then I'm done!!


Monday, December 06, 2004

Progress & Promises

I'm suprised the US did so well... That's if you can call getting a "C" doing well...

Progress and Promises: Trends in International Assistance for Reproductive Health and Population

Thursday, December 02, 2004

To Do

I never used to make "to do" lists. Never. Then I gained some wisdom a couple semesters ago and came to learn and love how great they are. Especially at the end of the semester.

So here's my list of crap I need to do:

1. Finish Imaginary Maps so I can write paper.
2. Write Paper (due 12/9)
3. Stats homework
4. SPSS Project (due 12/8)
5. Read Selected Short Stories (for 12/7)
6. Write 2 page paper (due 12/9)

I know, compared to many people's end of semester list of things to do, it's not a lot. But #2 has me freaked. Writing is very much a struggle for me. I'm taking tomorrow off so I can spend the day staring at a computer screen & freaking out over my writer's block.

Some Abstinence Programs Mislead Teens, Report Says
By Ceci ConnollyWashington Post Staff WriterThursday, December 2, 2004; Page A01

Many American youngsters participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals "can result in pregnancy," a congressional staff analysis has found.

Those and other assertions are examples of the "false, misleading, or distorted information" in the programs' teaching materials, said the analysis, released yesterday, which reviewed the curricula of more than a dozen projects aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

In providing nearly $170 million next year to fund groups that teach abstinence only, the Bush administration, with backing from the Republican Congress, is investing heavily in a just-say-no strategy for teenagers and sex. But youngsters taking the courses frequently receive medically inaccurate or misleading information, often in direct contradiction to the findings of government scientists, said the report, by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), a critic of the administration who has long argued for comprehensive sex education.

Several million children ages 9 to 18 have participated in the more than 100 federal abstinence programs since the efforts began in 1999. Waxman's staff reviewed the 13 most commonly used curricula -- those used by at least five programs apiece.

The report concluded that two of the curricula were accurate but the 11 others, used by 69 organizations in 25 states, contain unproved claims, subjective conclusions or outright falsehoods regarding reproductive health, gender traits and when life begins. In some cases, Waxman said in an interview, the factual issues were limited to occasional misinterpretations of publicly available data; in others, the materials pervasively presented subjective opinions as scientific fact.

Among the misconceptions cited by Waxman's investigators:
• A 43-day-old fetus is a "thinking person."
• HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears.
• Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.

One curriculum, called "Me, My World, My Future," teaches that women who have an abortion "are more prone to suicide" and that as many as 10 percent of them become sterile. This contradicts the 2001 edition of a standard obstetrics textbook that says fertility is not affected by elective abortion, the Waxman report said.

"I have no objection talking about abstinence as a surefire way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases," Waxman said. "I don't think we ought to lie to our children about science. Something is seriously wrong when federal tax dollars are being used to mislead kids about basic health facts."

When used properly and consistently, condoms fail to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) less than 3 percent of the time, federal researchers say, and it is not known how many gay teenagers are HIV-positive. The assertion regarding gay teenagers may be a misinterpretation of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found that 59 percent of HIV-infected males ages 13 to 19 contracted the virus through homosexual relations.

Joe. S. McIlhaney Jr., who runs the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, which developed much of the material that was surveyed, said he is "saddened" that Waxman chose to "blast" well-intentioned abstinence educators when there is much the two sides could agree on.
McIlhaney acknowledged that his group, which publishes "Sexual Health Today" instruction manuals, made a mistake in describing the relationship between a rare type of infection caused by chlamydia bacteria and heart failure. Chlamydia also causes a common type of sexually transmitted infection, but that is not linked to heart disease. But McIlhaney said Waxman misinterpreted a slide that warns young people about the possibility of pregnancy without intercourse. McIlhaney said the slide accurately describes a real, though small, risk of pregnancy in mutual masturbation.

Congress first allocated money for abstinence-only programs in 1999, setting aside $80 million in grants, which go to a variety of religious, civic and medical organizations. To be eligible, groups must limit discussion of contraception to failure rates.

President Bush has enthusiastically backed the movement, proposing to spend $270 million on abstinence projects in 2005. Congress reduced that to about $168 million, bringing total abstinence funding to nearly $900 million over five years. It does not appear that the abstinence-only curricula are being taught in the Washington area.

Waxman and other liberal sex-education proponents argue that adolescents who take abstinence-only programs are ill-equipped to protect themselves if they become sexually active. According to the latest CDC data, 61 percent of graduating high school seniors have had sex.
Supporters of the abstinence approach, also called abstinence until marriage, counter that teaching young people about "safer sex" is an invitation to have sex.

Alma Golden, deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement that Waxman's report is a political document that does a "disservice to our children." Speaking as a pediatrician, Golden said, she knows "abstaining from sex is the most effective means of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, STDs and preventing pregnancy."

Nonpartisan researchers have been unable to document measurable benefits of the abstinence-only model. Columbia University researchers found that although teenagers who take "virginity pledges" may wait longer to initiate sexual activity, 88 percent eventually have premarital sex.
Bill Smith, vice president of public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, a comprehensive sex education group that also receives federal funding, said the Waxman report underscored the need for closer monitoring of what he called the "shame-based, fear-based, medically inaccurate messages" being disseminated with tax money. He said the danger of abstinence education lies in the omission of useful medical information.

Some course materials cited in Waxman's report present as scientific fact notions about a man's need for "admiration" and "sexual fulfillment" compared with a woman's need for "financial support." One book in the "Choosing Best" series tells the story of a knight who married a village maiden instead of the princess because the princess offered so many tips on slaying the local dragon. "Moral of the story," notes the popular text: "Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess."

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

I'm going to go & bang my head against my desk now...

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Ever have one of those days where you just want to bang your head on your desk??

Yeah me too. And today is it.

No matter how many pieces of paper I get off my desk it just doesn't seem to be enough.

And the stress of all that I need to get done between now and next thursday just hit me today, when I got on the metro & went in my backpack to get the book I need to finish for tomorrow's lit class and realized I left it on the kitchen counter... I knew right then & there it was going to be one of those days.

World AIDS Day

I remember when this day of awareness started I had hope that it would be a day that wouldn't be around for as long as it has. Have I been disappointed...

The statistics are staggering:

According to UNAIDS estimates, there were 37.2 million adults and 2.2 million children living with HIV at the end of 2004, and during the year 4.9 million new people became infected with the virus. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35. 95% of the total number of people with HIV/AIDS live in the developing world. But HIV still remains a threat to people of all ages and nationalities. (

I'm not going to get on my soapbox (much) this morning. We all know what needs to be done. Education, advocacy, and funding.

The Bush Administration needs to do a better job of funding AIDS prevention agencies. As someone who works for an organization that deals with access to health care services I can tell you that our funding for researching HIV/AIDS services has all but vanished since Bush came to office in 2000.

This horrible disease is preventable. If we want to cure it, we need to put our money where our mouth is and do something about it.