Friday, May 23, 2008

Vegans in the Mainstream!

Today, authors of the Skinny B*tch cookbooks appeared on the Ellen show. Now, I am testament to the fact that being vegan doesn't mean being skinny (or a b*tch!) but I'm glad to see veganism covered on both Ellen and Oprah this week!


Lizzie sent me this cute e-card from geoGreeting:

Each letter is an arial photograph of a structure. Here's the breakdown for the message Lizzie sent me:
H = Chicago, IL (building)
I = Boise, ID (building)
, = Phoenix, AZ (building)
A = Bangkok, Thailand (building)
I = Boise, ID (building)
M = Maspalomas, Canary Islands (building)
E = Chicago, IL (building)
E = Chicago, IL (building)
: = Rotterdam, Netherlands (building)
- = Sofia, Bulgaria (building)
) = Changchucun, China (stadium)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Vegan is the New Black" Treasury

Just when I was feeling down because I wasn't getting any treasury love, I saw that Molly from Emma's K-9 Kitchen and the leader of Vegan Etsy, made a new treasury with a pair of my earrings!

This treasury will be available online for the next few days.

Shorter = Better?

As reported in today's Chronicle of Higher Education, researchers from the University of Texas, Austin found that students preferred shorter, intense classes to traditional semester-long classes. The study's authors speculate that in the shorter classes, students develop a better rapport with the teacher and are more engaged with the subject matter.

The study isn't available, so I only read the brief summary in the Chronicle. It sounds like the researchers only looked at student self-reports instead of actual learning outcomes, and it's impossible to know if they controlled for class size. (Intersession classes tend to be smaller.) However, as someone who has both taken and taught classes in both formats, I can believe that short, intense courses are more effective and engaging.

For the past two years, during the semester, I've taught a once-weekly class lasting three hours a session. Not only do the students forget the material from week to week, they also have short attention spans that make a three hour block hard to fill with meaningful material. In the summer, I taught a five week class which met daily, and in the winter, a three week once a day course. In both of those, the students were more engaged--they had to be because the homework and tests were such that they had to do work for the class every evening.

From the other side of the classroom, at the University of Chicago, we had 10-week quarters instead of semesters, and while it was difficult and you started the term feeling behind, it went more quickly and seemed more coherent than the semester-long classes I later took at the University of Oklahoma and Arizona State.

I would love to see more research done in this area!

Oprah's 21-day Cleanse

This week, Oprah embarked on a three week cleansing diet that is vegan! Hooray for the queen of daytime for introducing veganism to the masses and making it accessible to folks who may never have thought about a vegan diet before.

Oprah is blogging about her experience and sharing vegan recipes on her website.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One of My Favorite Stories

This story may be may be an urban legend. Either way, I love it, and it always makes me feel thoughtful. I heard this story when I took a "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" course while working at the University of Oklahoma.

Our facilitator explained that he had a friend who was traveling in England. She was at the airport, I believe Gatwick, and was trying to get back to the United States after her trip. She was flying alone and was facing a long day of delays. The airport was crowded, busy, and she was a bit grumpy that her flight was not taking off as planned. She sat in the waiting area, hunkered down for a long day of nothing. At least she had her book and some magazines, and, most importantly, biscuits. In England, biscuits are what we Americans know as cookies, and they are delicious, as I know from my trips to England with Anna. I think Le Petit Ecoulers, shortbread cookies with a layer of milk chocolate were our favorite (in my pre-vegan days). But I digress....

The heroine of our story was settling into the uncomfortable plastic chairs when a sophisticated, well-dressed, older British gentleman sat near her, with a small table between them. I always imagine him with a hat that he tips in greeting, though I doubt he was that dapper, though he was dressed smartly in a suit. He looked innocuous enough, anyway. The woman nodded in greeting, and then set to reading her magazines. She then took a biscuit from her tin, yum! And then, our British friend took a biscuit! From her tin! She couldn't believe his nerve. So she took another biscuit. And he took one. And so on. It became a furious race...if she could eat faster, he would be able to eat fewer of her cookies. So it went, until only one cookie was left. The gentleman picked up the tin and tipped it in her direction, offering her the last of her own cookies. She snatched the last of the biscuits and gobbled it up. She couldn't believe this was simply a matter of different cultural norms--it had to be outright rudeness, plain and simple. She was fuming--barely reading the pages--really just feeling anger at the fact a stranger had just eaten half of her delicious biscuits. And on the last day of her trip! When would she get to have such yummy English treats again?

Shortly, the man heard his boarding call. He picked up the tin to put in the trash--it was the least he could do, really--and nodded his goodbye. So she calmed down, slowly, a little anyway. She was at least feeling like she could read again, but was tired of the magazine, so she reached down to exchange it for her book. As she opened her bag looking for the paperback, she saw, with great embarrassment, her unopened tin of biscuits.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Sick Sloane Monday Update

Sloane has gotten markedly worse since Friday. She is not eating, wobbles when she walks, can barely hold her head up, and has lost so much weight it is alarming. Although she purrs when I am around, she is obviously in great pain.

When she went into the animal hospital last month, the X-rays revealed an abnormality in her skull. The hope was the mass was an inner ear infection--the alternative was a tumor. Since Sloane has been on high-powered antibiotics for over a month and has gotten worse instead of better, it is very likely that the cause of her symptoms is a tumor rather than the inner ear infection we hoped it was. George suspects that the tumor has grown because Sloane's entire jaw is sensitive and uncomfortable.

George took Sloane into the office today to see the doctors, but things look very, very bad. If they confirm that the culprit is a tumor, there is a little they can do for her, and the most humane action would be to end her suffering. It is the last thing in the world I want to do, but I cannot in good conscience let her hurt the way she is hurting. I see it in her eyes. I try to hold her, but she doesn't want to be touched. The best way to take care of her right now is to end her pain.

UPDATE: Sloane died around 6:30 Arizona time. It was very quick, very peaceful. She was such a good cat, and my heart is broken that she is no longer with me, but she was hurting so much, I am relieved she is no longer suffering.

Pictures of Sloane
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