Saturday, August 27, 2011

"You're a vegetarian!" Shock and bad-smell grimace. "Why?"

Telling someone I'm vegetarian always remind me of that scene in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" when Toula introduces Ian to her Aunt Voula and tells her that he is a vegetarian:

Aunt Voula: "What do you mean he don't eat no meat?!" 
[Party around them stops, shocked faces all around]
Aunt Voula, smiling: "Oh that's okay. I make lamb."

Mine has a slight variation to it: 
Carnivore: "You don't eat meat? But it's delicious!" 
Me, shrugs: "I do it mostly for health reasons."
Carnivore: "But you need protein!"
Me: "You can get plenty of protein from legumes like beans and soy and stuff."
Carnivore, usually makes a face by this time because meat eaters seem to have a strong negative bias towards the word 'soy': "You don't know what your missing out on!" 
Me, more shrugging. 

Why so much shrugging? Well, because I don't believe me ranting on and on about ALL the reasons I'm vegetarian is going to go anywhere. I know this because I was that carnivore once upon a time and no amount of sound reasoning was going to make me change my ways. In my heart-of-hearts, I believed that eating meat was "natural." That by NOT eating meat I'd be going AGAINST nature. Slowly (and that's the key here) I learned this to be far from the truth.

My first lesson was in understanding that my definition of natural was flawed. By natural, I thought of cavemen.

"Cavemen ate meat!" I'd think. "Eating meat is necessary to survive!"

SUCH a flawed argument. When was the last time you or anyone else you knew HAD TO hunt for their food? Not for sport, but HAD TO, as in: I will go hungry if I don't snag that wild boar! I, for one, have never done thing. A HUGE majority of us have NEVER done this. And maybe you do know that ONE guy, who did it that ONE time, for that ONE situation. But that's it, right? 

In my new understanding of the term, eating meat is as natural as making your own candles for a light source or using a printing press to disseminate information. That was natural back in the 1800's or so, but we now have electricity and the Internet. Basically, I feel natural is more of a PERSONAL CHOICE to what your situation is HERE and NOW in the 21st Century. Natural is what YOU make of it, not some rule SOMEONE ELSE made. 

I came to terms with my version of natural whilst becoming a vegetarian. I first became a vegetarian because I was trying to distance myself from the Western diet. Too much of my family has health problems stemming from eating mostly high fat foods, refined grains and red meat. I didn't want to have to deal with high blood pressure or diabetes or having no energy or the million other ailments that come with that way of eating.

Feeling good and healthy is my natural. 

I bet you're thinking "But what about moderation?" 

And I'll say, "I totally agree! I love me some cookies and cakes every now and again!"

I became vegetarian to stay way from the diseases that come with the Western diet, yes. But I've STAYED vegetarian not ONLY for health reasons but also for ethical and environmental reasons. And ESPECIALLY because of the human element of eating meat.

PEOPLE are affected by our desire for meat. Conditions in slaughterhouses are deplorable. The people who work their are treated like machines. (And even IF some of those working there are undocumented, by the way, a person is STILL a person.)

People go hungry because of our desire for meat. Land that could be used to grow crops like vegetables and wheat and that could feed MILLIONS around the world are instead turned into cattle or pig or chicken farms that will only feed a select, moderately wealthy population. (And again, a person is STILL a person, despite whatever their situation is that has gotten them to the point of starvation. NO ONE chooses to go hungry. NO ONE.)  

I could go on and on. (And I have as you can see.) BUT, at the end of the day I don't expect you to read this and decide right here, right now that you're giving up meat. That would be naive and silly of me. And although I can TOTALLY be naive and silly, I tend to be rather practical when it comes to trying to persuade someone into seeing things my way. 

Changing the way you eat is hard. Like REALLY, REALLY hard. I know. But if I made you even SLIGHTLY curious please, please, please learn more about vegetarianism.

Try this Vegetarian Times article

Maybe go over to Netflix and watch Food, Inc. 

Library or the bookstore your second home? Pick up In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.

And STAY AWAY from PETA. In its efforts to help animals, they objectify woman. Not cool. 

Just go at it slowly. Become informed. If you do decide to try it out, take baby steps. Try going veg once a week or once every other day. Progress at your OWN pace. You know yourself best, after all.  

AND if you totally do not agree with anything I've written in this post, that's OK, too. Thank you anyway for even reading it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What Are You Doing With Your Life?

I was thinking about this question yesterday. I was sitting at my desk, thinking about my life and what I want from it. I have no clear path and that bothers me to no end. I love, Love, LOVE goals. I love having something to be able to work towards, to strive for. I've been working my whole life, and it's disheartening to feel stuck. I know that I'm young and have my whole life to get to THAT place of meaningful purpose. But it's frustrating not knowing. It's frustrating wanting SO MUCH out of your life and working so hard in school and still feeling lost coming out. 

My job now is pretty good. I know that I'm working for a worthy cause. But I don't know if it's what I want to do dedicate myself, too. The same way I wasn't sure whether I wanted to be a reporter after working at my local newspaper for a couple of years. Because I know, deep down inside, I don't have what it takes to be a really good journalist. I don't have the grammatical skills (haha) or the drive you need to be a good newspaper reporter. You have to love your beat, whether it's politics, education, business, etc. I don't love any one thing that much to dedicate my life to it. (Well, except my family and my boyfriend, but that's besides the point.)  

I do miss writing though. God, I miss writing. That's why I started this blog. That's why I get this weird thrill when I get to write press releases at my job. (PRESS RELEASES people!) I feel RIGHT when I write. (That's right, I just rhymed and made a corny statement all in the same sentence.) That's why my dreams keep going back to writing. Could I try writing for blogs or magazines? Would you want me giving you tips on finances or health? Would you read an in depth piece on immigration by me? Could I be a copywriter and write the manuals you get with your vacuum cleaner or new espresso machine? Should I delve back into the creative stuff and try my hand at some short stories and make my way to that novel? 

Could I? I could. Should I? I really should. Will I? God, I hope so.   

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"When I Grow Up" Occupations and Their Actual Incomes

In first grade, I wanted to be an artist after having my non-impressive, watercolor painting of a farm-esque scene posted in the hallway of my school. I realized soon afterwards that this would never work seeing as I (1) don't have any talent and (2) did not enjoy art. Six-year-old me just wanted some attention. 

But what if I had stuck to it? What if I had stuck to any of the countless "When I Grow Up" dreams I had back in my elementary school days?

Well, let's see...

*All this information comes from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Online Edition.

1. Artists: It vary's greatly depending on whether you're on a salary. The 50-middle percent of salaried fine artists makes between $29K and 60K. Not bad! But then there's this tidbit about freelancers:  "Many, [freelance artists] however, find it difficult to rely solely on income earned from selling paintings or other works of art."

2. Magicians: Unavailable on OOH. (Guess it's a good thing I didn't follow that one...)

3. Lawyers: The middle 50 percent earn anywhere from 75K to 160K. (This still does not give me the desire to take the LSAT.) 

4. Doctors: This one has a quite a range, but they are all in the high five- and six- digits. Your general, first-year practitioner makes about 87K, while your veteran anesthesiologist makes about 230K. (If only I had learned to embrace anatomy at a young age, rather than go "Eww!")

5. Teachers: Average of 47K to 51K. Not bad, but a teacher's work is no joke. That seem's to be on the low side considering most teachers job descriptions go something like, "Needed: Teacher who can also be mind-molder, philosopher, cheerleader, mother, father, aunt, uncle, social worker and all around miracle worker. Other's need not apply." (I'd be "other's".) 

6. Dolphin trainers: Couldn't find this one either, although, other animal trainers make about 20K to 38K. Too bad I can't swim. AND that I am now morally opposed to making animals, who should be out in the wild, entertain people. (Double dag-nabbit!) 

7. Writers: Pretty much the same story as artists. Salaried writers do pretty well, with the middle 50 percent making 38K to 75K. But most freelancers "support themselves from income derived from other sources." (BTW, I stuck to this dream if you couldn't tell...)

How about you? What did you want to be when you grew up? Happy you made an alternate decision or that you stayed true to your pre-puberty self? 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Finance: Switched to Ally

So, I've been thinking about starting some sort of short-term investment for the last couple of weeks. I want to be able to start a Roth IRA (a certain type of individual retirement account) in the near future and that means saving! 

So, I did some research and found out the following options:

Certificate of Deposit: A short-term investment that is guaranteed by the FDIC that you can not touch until a specified amount of time. So, for example, you could put $1,000 into a CD for 12 months at anywhere with a .3 to 1 percent return.

Why I didn't go for it: It would've been worth my while if I could put a bigger amount like $10,000. But seeing as I'm a lowly college grad that is not an option for me. That and not being able to touch it for a year makes me nervous this early in the game. Again, maybe when I'm older and don't have to worry about the little expenses here and there, I can try for a CD. 

Money market accounts: These work a lot like a savings account and they usually have a higher interest rate then your typical bank's savings account. 

Why I didn't go for it: You can only take the money out of the account three to six times a month. It's also not insured by the FDIC, which makes me a little bit nervous. 

Savings Account: These are secured by the FDIC, you can make up to six withdrawals without fees (usually), but, alas, has a horrible interest rate. 


With a little more digging I found out about Ally savings account. There's no fee to opening a savings account, no minimum down payment and they have an APY (annual percentage yield) of 1 percent! My current bank, Bank of America, has a horrendous APY of .05 percent. POINT-ZERO- FIVE PERCENT PEOPLE! Needless to say, I will slowly be transferring my money to Ally.

The only bad thing I can say about Ally is that they are an online bank so they don't offer the "convenience" of BoA. Saying that, I do all my banking online and this IS a savings account. Spending is why they invented checking accounts.

DISCLAIMER: I am not involved with Ally in any way shape or form. I'm not being payed for this, I'm just giving my opinion.  ALSO, I am not a professional financier. Just another 20-something who enjoys personal finance. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall

Genre: Non-fiction

Style: Narrative

Summary: So this guy’s, McDougall, feet hurt when he runs and he wants to know why. He goes to a specialist who tells him runners are prone to injury and that’s just the way it is. McDougall feel's there must be more than this self-defeating explanation, so he decides to do his own research. He ends up discovering about this legendary running Indian tribe called the Tarahumara who live in the Copper Canyons in Mexico. As he learns more about the Tarahumara, he also learns about the science behind running, the myths that keep people away and the colorful characters that make up a running world few people know about.  

Cover Appeal: Great. The title and author name are in yellow and contrast nicely with the cover photo of a man atop a mountain surrounded by blue sky.

Did I have interest in the topic beforehand?
Yes, I did. I had heard about the book while watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart a year or two back. McDougall gave a great interview, and I instantly wanted to go out and buy his book.

Do I have/still have interest in the topic after reading? Why?
I do. After finishing this book, which has tons of useful tidbits, I wanted to run! I did track in high school for about a month, but that sort of running wasn’t for me. McDougall makes a very persuading case on why EVERYONE should run and why everyone CAN run.

How long will this take you to read?
The book's at about 450 pages with below-average size print. With an average reading time of about 200 to 400 words per minutes, it'll take you around five to six hours to read, non-stop. Let's say you spend half an hour a day, than that's about 12 days. 

Final Recommendation: READ! 


Monday, August 15, 2011

First Post

My first post! I guess I should write something incredibly smart, but seeing as I'm doing this on a whim, brilliance escapes me at this moment. So, I guess I'll just say that I hope I keep this up!