Monday, February 22, 2010

Simple Recipe: Chicken and Apple Soup

I didn't used to use my slow-cooker very much, but since becoming a mom I've started to use it a lot more. It allows me to cook dinner for my family without having to feel rushed in the evening. In honor of  Smockity Frock's “What’s in your CrockPot?” Link-up, I'm sharing my husband's favorite slow-cooker meal. (And since the chicken is juicy and the apples are mushy it's a favorite of my son as well even though he's only 11 months old and still getting used to solid food.)

Chicken and Apple Soup
  1. Cut a large onion into 4-6 wedges and place in the the bottom of a slow-cooker.
  2. Core a large Granny Smith apple and cut into wedges. Place in the bottom of the slow-cooker.
  3. Cover apples and onions with chicken broth.
  4. Coat 6 chicken legs (We remove the skin first.) with Penzeys Turkish Seasoning.
  5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (or on high for 4-5 hours).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Don’t think of Buzz as just another social media app

The release of Google Buzz is making a lot of people ask, “Do I really need another social media thing?” Others ask if Buzz will kill Twitter or Facebook or even its own sibling Wave. But these are the wrong questions to ask. You shouldn’t look at social media sites as different versions of the same thing. You should think of them as unique tools that you use can for different things.

Those of you old enough to remember when email starting rolling out to the masses may recall that many people preferred to just pick up the phone. Then they realized that email was a much cheaper way to contact people long distance. Or that it was nice to have a record of certain correspondence. Or that it was useful to send a message to multiple people at the same time. Or so many other things.  Now most of us have situations in which email seems best and others when calling seems best. See also IM/Chat. See also phone text messages.

If you only use social media for a vague purpose (i.e. being “social”) using multiple sites can easily become overwhelming, but you can greatly improve your privacy and your sanity if you use multiple sites for distinct audiences and specific content.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fine. Be passive aggressive. Whatever. See if I care.

The days prior to Valentine's Day have the highest incidence of passive aggressiveness of any other time of year. Okay, I don't actually have any data to support that, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's true. People have expectations about this manufactured holiday of forced romanticism, but they are too *polite* to ask. So instead they combat undesirable suggestions with "Whatever" or "I suppose" or other incredibly unattractive attempts at getting people to read their minds.


There is a saying "Put up or shut up," but the key to overcoming passive aggressiveness is "Speak up then shut up."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Etiquette of Smack Talk

Generally it is considered rude to hurl insults at complete strangers. Sporting events, however, are a bit different. Smack talk is a tradition among fans, but that doesn't mean that you get to be a complete jerk. In anticipation of the Super Bowl, here are some smack talk guidelines that should prevent you from getting bounced, punched or arrested.

  1. Don't fire on civilians. Even if they appear to be rooting for a specific side, if someone hasn't bought or borrowed team apparel to wear they probably aren't that invested. As a result, smack talk won't get under their skin as a fan; it will just be annoying. Unless the person engages you in some smack talk first, find another adversary.
  2. Take a hint. Even if someone is bedecked in the opponent's colors from head-to-toe, he or she may just want to watch the game. If someone is trying to ignore your smack talk, leave them alone. You can certainly find someone else who will dish it as well as take it.
  3. No racial, religious or other epithets. Keep the comments to a team's or player's skills (or lack thereof). Personal insults to fans, players, coaches, or even the officiating staff are tacky and hurtful even during the "big game." Show that you've still got a touch of class by stretching your imagination to come up with more creative material.
  4. Keep it under control. No matter what someone else says or what the final score is, remember that it is only a game. Escalating to violence or destruction of property is just plain idiotic and has a good chance of getting you arrested or worse.
For potential targets of smack talk,
  • Realize that if you are wearing team apparel you are a target, particularly if you are entering into enemy territory. Be prepared with a sense of humor and a few prepared retorts.
  • When responding to smack talk, all the above rules still apply even if the other person isn't following them. 
Finally, smack talk stops being acceptable once the game is over. Show you've returned to polite society by shaking your opponent's hand, saying "good game" and going home.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Conversation without hyperlinks

The announcement of Oscar nominations this morning reminded me of a gathering of friends nearly 15 years ago. We were having dinner and started talking about Oscar winning movies. Maybe we had just seen a movie; I don't remember. The restaurant was one with white paper on the tables, so we used a crayon to write down the best picture winners from previous years based totally on memory. No one knew the list by heart. Some entries were agreed on only to later realize they must have been a few years before or after. Evidence came in the form of anecdotes: where someone lived at the time, with whom someone had seen the film, what year someone was in school when it came out. The conversation had many tangents. We talked about movies that should have won. We talked about what we liked and disliked about each movie. Occasionally we'd comment on who had won the directing and acting awards that year as well. In the end, we had a pretty good list and a pleasant conversation that lasted over an hour.

When I went home I checked a reference book to see how we had done. We got a few things wrong, but it didn't matter. It had been an enjoyable evening.

That wouldn't happen now. Once someone wondered aloud about Oscar winners at least one person would pull out a smart phone and look up the answer. Eye contact would be lost, and the conversation would degrade despite protestations of "No. Keep talking. I'm listening...Man, I have no bars in here. What about you?"