The Science Fiction Fantasy Adventure Teacher

The journey of a future science teacher and her struggles with geekdom and nerd culture.

Thunder And Lightning Aren't So Frightening August 3, 2010

“A Thunderstorm arrives, power outage! How do you occupy your time?”

….

…What about time? Sorry, I ran outside at the mention of “thunderstorm”…

For some (crazy) people I know, their reaction to a thunderstorm is “Aw man, the power’s out… Hey, let’s watch a movie!… Wait… Okay well, why don’t you Google when the storm’s supposed to pass? …Oh yeah… Okay well… Umm…Where’s that flashlight?”

It’s sad to watch my peers fumble around blindly in the dark, bantering about what they could possibly occupy their time with while they’re deprived of technology for a short while.

But for me, it’s a different story. As soon as the first clap of thunder is heard and the rain begins to pitter-patter on my roof, I am the one to grab my little Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd and dart outside. Depending on the intensity of the storm I may bring my obnoxiously pink Victoria’s Secret umbrella out with me to protect my camera, but if the winds are too high I abandon all precautions and jump right into the madness.

I am the girl who Briar Cliff University witnesses dancing in the rain out in the parking lot. I am the girl hiding under a dry ledge for hours to capture the perfect shot of lightning. I am the girl who would rather sit out and watch the beauty and power of a brutal storm than stay inside pondering what to do.

So… What were you saying about a power outage? Did you find that flashlight?

Kaitlin TowPowered by Plinky
Thunderstorm Enthusiast

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Adventures in Cheap Snacking July 28, 2010

Plinky, every time you prompt me about food, I always have to try not to dwell on the thought of it, especially in light of my dairy allergy.

I was once a typical adolescent girl; ice creams and chocolate were my comfort foods. Been there, done that. Now I can’t have milk products AND I’m a broke college student. What’s a girl to do?

Well since I’m rather smart and cunning, I’ve devised a few clever recipes for comfort foods for the non-dairy and cost-conscience.

First on my list of cheap treats is the latest favorite among my colleagues: Graham crackers and frosting.

Graham crackers run about $3 a box (because you can’t buy the generic brands – they don’t taste as good and get stale more quickly) and you can get almost any kind of cake frosting for about $1.50 (I usually go for the Pillsbury kind with the sprinkles to satisfy my inner child). And this is a treat that will last you a while too (depending on how much of it you eat!)

Another twist on this treat is to try graham crackers with peanut butter, which is another of my favorites.

Second on my comfort food list is all about the fruit, which tends to be a lot more expensive when it’s not in season (like it is here now). My friends and I take a couple nights a week to create a fruit bowl smorgasbord , complete with chocolate syrup, powdered sugar and peanut butter for toppings.

The fruits I’d recommend are strawberries, apples, and bananas, but you can choose whatever your favorites are to add into the mix.

The last food on my list of comfort might surprise you, until you take notice that I work in a bakery-cafe (Panera Bread Co)… Baguettes and butter! For me, there’s nothing like the taste of fresh bread. Plain or with butter, dipped in soups, with coffee on the side, or even a little peanut butter on top if I’m feeling crazy.

I’m still young and in the midst of my journey to find delicious non-dairy snacks, but hopefully this will get you off to a good start.

Stay yummy!

Kaitlin TowPowered by Plinky
Recovering Milk Addict

 

Eureka! The Answer Was “Trees” All Along! July 9, 2010

As those who have glimpsed my Plinky account know already; I was so overwhelmed by my “Freshly Pressed” feature, that I didn’t know what to try next. I love using Plinky for inspiration, but I don’t want my blog to rely on prompts.

I want my blog to be as passionate as I am, and let’s face it; I can’t be passionate about everything Plinky prompts me to write on.

But no fear! For today I came up with a wonderful solution to my blogger-block… StumbleUpon!

As a tool that conforms to my preferences and interests, it’s great for finding internet content that I am passionate about, no hassle! Plus it’s just fun. We all know the StumbleUpon jokes… “Just ONE more click before I go to sleep…”



But despite its sleep-depriving difficulties, StumbleUpon is one of my favorite ways to get inspired — both in ways of artistic creation and in writing.

My scheme was this:  I was going to StumbleUpon a suitable page and allow it to inspire me. Unfortunately it took several clicks to find something blog-able but this list snagged my attention:

10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World

I just finished taking a Botany class, but my fascination with trees goes back much further. I have my own little list of favorite trees, be sure to check out the interesting facts I’ve collected about them too.

Tree-lovers, unite!

SUPERKAIT’S FAVORITE TREES:


Maple Tree

I grew up with two Sugar Maples growing in my front lawn. Despite its seemingly commonplace abundancy in the Midwest and New England states, the maple tree is one of my favorites for a couple of reasons.

First of all if you have never tried real maple syrup, then you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s nothing like store-bought syrup and is absolutely to die for when served on pancakes.

Another reason I like the Maple so much is because of how beautiful they are in autumn. Fall is my all-time favorite season, and there’s nothing like a pile of red-orange Maple leaves for playing in and stuffing into big plastic pumpkin bags for Halloween.

Drive through Minnesota in fall and you’ll see why people love them: They really add to the atmosphere with their vibrant fall colors.





Birch Tree

Back home in the great state of Minnesota, a birch tree grew outside my bedroom window. It used to blow against the house and knock on my window at night, sometimes scaring the shit out of me, but it was generally a great tree to have around.

I love birches for more nostalgic reasons than practical or aesthetic reasons, but I used to like peeling the paper-thin bark off of birch trees and writing messages to my friends on it.











Giant Sequoia


So majestic, as noted in the aforementioned “10 Maginifecent Trees” post.  However, as one of the worlds largest trees, the Giant Sequoias made my list for one cool reason: they’re so big they can be made into car tunnels!

That itself just blows my mind. I can’t wait for a chance to drive out west and find a place that I can drive under one of the worlds most majestic trees.

Weeping Willow

Another tree that I grew up around in my Minnesota home and grew to love dearly was the willow. While it was not necessarily in my backyard, our neighbor had one and it was one of my favorite places to play growing up. In Botany class I learned how the bark of the willow trees (Salix) gave rise to modern aspirin. A very important tree, no doubt!

They are a graceful, fast growing tree that is very good for landscaping. The only downside to having a willow tree on the lake in Minnesota is that it attracts all sorts of bugs when it’s muggy out.

But that’s small price to pay for beautiful tree as this. Also: did you know that Shakespeare made regular allusions to willow trees in his plays and poems?





Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree

As the most beautiful tree I have ever heard of, but have yet to see in person, the Rainbow Eucalyptus is one of my favorite trees to look at pictures of.

Isn’t it beautiful?

The tree’s bark sheds at different times of year, revealing the bright-green inner bark. as layers get old, this then darkens and matures to give blue, purple, orange and then maroon hues on the trunk.

Pretty nifty, eh?

Apparently the Rainbow Eucalyptus tree is a major pulp wood tree for making paper in the Philippines.  Man, what I wouldn’t give to see a whole grove of these in season!

…So there you have it, folks! I love trees. Also, I highly recommend looking up more pictures of the Rainbow Gum/Eucalyptus tree to get the full experience. (:

Happy surfing!

Kaitlin Tow
Amatuer Botanist & Tree Hugger

 

Ex-Milk Drinker Awaiting the Chance to Relapse July 6, 2010

Plinky‘s gone and come up with a new prompt that snagged my attention… “What I Lost and Want Back”.

E.J. tells me that prompts are for suckers, but I beg to differ. My views on prompts is formed thus: Every once in a while, you get prompted with something that really makes you think.

I saw lots of people respond to this prompt on Plinky with “my mind” or “my sanity” but since I never had anything like that (sanity – now that’s what’s really for suckers) I was a little stuck. What is missing in my life that I’ve had and want again?

Ex-boyfriend? Nah.
Innocence? Pshh, I didn’t lose that! (Didn’t you read my first blog?)
My old car? I upgraded.

So in my simplistic and well-rounded life of little-lost, I’ve decided that the one thing that I’ve lost and would like a chance to reclaim is… MILK!

I hope that won some quizzical expressions from some readers, because very few of you know about my ailment: I’m allergic to cow’s milk!

I found out last summer via blood tests (almost a full year to date, actually) that I had a moderate allergy to cow’s milk and certain cheeses, particularly American cheese & cheddar.

A little strange, a little out of the ordinary, but bothersome nonetheless. For those who’ve experienced the food culture of the Midwest, you are already mourning for me. For those that haven’t, let me clue you in…

This is what  homemade Lasagna Looks Like... MMMM!

…Almost every typical homemade dish of the Midwest includes dairy products in the form of either milk or cheese and therefore I have sat sulking in the corner at all of our recent family dinners in Minnesota. If you’re interested in learning a little extra about the food of the Midwest, I’d recommend this article I stumbled upon earlier today:

Food in United State Midwest Region

I have many colleagues in the chemistry & medical departments of various colleges that have already resolved to “Fix” me before I die — but you’re welcome to join in the search of a cure to food allergies.

While that’s happening, I’ll just be sitting here by the river, waiting for the day that I’ll get to drink one more cold glass of milk, eat another ice cream cone, or taste the richness of homemade lasagna again.

Happy Belated 4th of July, everyone!
– Kaitlin Tow

 

The Last Time I Thanked Someone July 2, 2010

Last night, my roommate turned in the driver’s seat of her car and said to me:

“Kaitlin, I apologize in advance but… We’re getting pizza tonight.”

The “P” word. I resented the prospect of being subject to watching my friends eat pizza because I am allergic to milk and I had to give up on pizza forever as of last summer.

Naturally I was a little put out.

“No big deal Katelyn, you guys can get pizza.”

“It’s okay girl, we’ll buy you bread sticks with no cheese!”

“For real? Thank you so much Katelyn!”

And I was set. I was truly pleased that my friends thought enough of me to provide something for the non-dairy girl to munch on while they enjoy their pizza. A good night for team K-squared (That is, Katelyn & I)!

Kaitlin Tow
For People Against Dairy!

 

Some White Girl on Racism in Hollywood July 1, 2010

Wordpress - Halo StyleHello world, indeed.

WordPress’s idea of a “default” blog is cute, but unnecessary. But nonetheless, I appreciate how easy-to-use their Themes are and how user-friendly the site is overall. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship, WordPress.


I am finally settling into the feel of the blogosphere…

WHEN SUDDENLY,

I get hit in the face with this: Floating World: facepainting

This post from the “Floating World” blog by Q. Le did a number on me. My head spun with the thought: How do I react?

Mr. Q. Le brings up a touchy subject that I truly never noticed before:  Racism in Hollywood film casting. His article on The Last Airbender movie is worth the read, but for the sake of comprehension, Q. Le writes that Paramount Studios has intentionally chosen to cast predominantly white actors for the roles of characters for the movie The Last Airbender: a film based on a cartoon with strong attachment to Eastern culture and roots.

Essentially, these actors are going to perform in a movie that is based on Eastern culture and imagery—even though Paramount Studios blatantly advertised to choose white actors over ethnically diverse actors that are a part of the eastern culture and heritage the movie relies on.

Avatar: Characters and Cast
The Last Airbender: Characters and Cast

After first understanding the issue, I was ashamed to have never noticed this favoritism casting in some other major Hollywood films. But then I realized that I really wouldn’t know anyway, on account of I am not a movie-goer and very rarely make time for films.

Nonetheless, this is a pressing issue! Everyone needs to be aware of the ongoing influence of racism and xenophobia in the United States – and to put an end to it.

I think I’ve already realized why the minorities in our county lash out with complaints of racism frequently – because it is so integrated into the American history of entertainment that it’s going to take all the oil in the gulf to get the rusty cogs of peace and equality running smoothly [see Q.’s article in which he also discussed the History of FacePainting in America].

I personally feel that everyone is a little bit racist/xenophobic – we all notice differences in each other. But it is about whether we choose to embrace the differences or reject and disrespect them that define racism in the general sense.

Since America has pretty much always been about ripping on other races and portraying whites as “superior” we [xenophobic white people] have lost the sense of innocence that would give us joy and intrigue in meeting someone from a different background.

As a young white girl from a small, ethnically stagnant town, I never had any experience with people from other ethnic groups and all I knew about black people were the racist jokes I heard at my high school and the racist remarks my grandparents would make about people on the television. Thus, in coming to Sioux City and attending college with a class that was 51% African American, I was (and still am!) in culture shock.

One night during my first weeks on campus, a friend and I walked by two of my black colleagues in the parking lot. They were shadowboxing and play–fighting each other. I was delighted (I tend to get excited about silly things like that) and started to cheer. Without thinking, I whooped “Give ‘im a black eye!” and “Give ‘im a fat lip!”. It wasn’t until I felt a yank on my shirt collar as my friend started to pull me away, and saw that everyone was giving me a strange, side-long glance, that I finally realized my social faux pas; the implications of what I’d blurted. I was so embarrassed!

But [in this case] the nature of my problem does not lie with racism; it lies with my filter problem. My filter problem is simply that I don’t have one. And by that I mean I don’t filter what I say at all. In the wise words of Brother Ali, “Whatever comes up, comes out.” And furthermore, had it not been for the too-prevalent racist stereotypes in our society, there would have been nothing at fault for what I’d said.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean it’s my colleagues’ fault for assuming I was being a jerk. If these themes/stereotypes were not so over-used and abused, they wouldn’t have thought twice about what I’d said either. The problem comes from the media, from our history, from our families. We don’t have introduce race to our children as a barrier, or it will forever be viewed and distinguished as one.

Back to Mr. Q.’s article: differences need to be embraced. Instead of shutting out all other races of actors and taking over the theme of eastern culture with white people and essentially Americanizing it, we could be reinforcing the mysticism of eastern culture authentically with actors that have lived it and are actively representing it. Plus, as Q. Le also mentions, ethnically diverse actors do wonders in the way of role models for children of the same ethnic group; it’s important to have people who relate to your culture to look up to.

The problem with America is that we try too hard to be the epitome of EVERYTHING, we want to dominate all cultures, mysticism, ways of life and say we’ve been there, we can do it just like they can but better because it’s the American way. We aren’t a jack-of-all-cultures and we aren’t giving culture room to grow on the American people; we’re force-feeding it to the public with our own brand stamped on it.

Google Image: Two businessmenAll it takes is a step back to honestly try to understand and appreciate other cultures, instead of poking fun at them for their differences. It’s hard not to gawk sometimes, and even harder to keep assumptions from jumping to mind, but all it takes is a little naivety and innocence to be completely entrapped by the interesting roots of other people different than yourself.

Next time you find yourself next to a stranger in the elevator, think before you react to them. Who are they, what are they like? They’ve had so many experiences that you wouldn’t dream of, and while it might not be appropriate to ask a complete stranger for their life story, just remember that anyone can be a teacher and you might need to be taught a thing or two. ♥


As my very first blog post I’d like some feedback on this: Are my views on racism and equality justifiable? Thanks for reading,

Kaitlin Tow ♥