Alex in Transit(ion)

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Civility and Understanding in the 21st Century

I will admit that I am writing out of emotion (I would love to research this topic more but I’ve got to do my grad school research before I start freelancing) but I feel that with the increased use of the Internet and social media that, although it has revolutionized communication and has made it so much easier for people to connect, it has also made us more divisive. It’s a true shame because the Internet gives its users access to millions of sources and opinions but I see so many people use it to support their own opinions and beliefs, without researching the other side.

If you know me, you know that my political beliefs are as blue as the sky but I’ve always stayed true to the old saying: you are going to attract more flies with honey, rather than vinegar. I love learning about people and what makes them tick because if I’m just enclosed within my beliefs, I won’t learn anything or progress. Everyone has a voice and we owe it to each other to give each other constructive criticism or politely question each other instead of being “OMG YOU DON’T BELIEVE WHAT I BELIEVE, HERE’S WHY I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG. YOU’VE NEVER READ THE CONSTITUTION RAH RAH RAH.”

I deal with it all of the time, especially at my father’s business. The people in our town have seen me grow up and the question always comes up about what I’ve been up to. I understand that my employment background may make others become very defensive towards me and they no longer see me as “Alexandra” but “Alexandra the Democrat.” I can’t even count the many times I had to deflect talking about politics because when I am home, which isn’t very often these days, I want to enjoy my time with my family and not discuss my political beliefs. I truly believe that regardless if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you deserve to have a fine Italian meal that only my family can provide.

The truth is, we are all in this together and I think with wall to wall news and the constant stream of opinionated social media that we forget that we live in the UNITED States of America. One party doesn’t have all of the solutions and as I’ve seen with my experience, there’s a lot that we all can learn from each other. Although I’m for gun control, I joined a Well Regulated American Militia group because I believe I cannot form a qualified opinion without learning how the other side ticks and I can only hope that others who are on the opposite side have taken the time to research both sides as I have.

Also, I’m so sick of hearing that it’s only rich people who get involved in politics. If you feel so inclined, you can get involved as well and maybe achieve a high office! All you need to do is get involved in your community and you can do so by attending town meetings, neighborhood, and community associations. Then, talk to your loved ones, friends, and acquaintances about your vision because if they also agree with you, they will be the ones who help you organize your campaign by making the phone calls to solicit donations from supporters and knocking on doors to reach out to your constituency. It is possible to finance your campaign through solicitations without putting a lot of your own money in it. I’ve seen it happen! You don’t need to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth but what you do need is a strong organization to back you up who will be willing to put in the long hours because what you all believe in is too important to stay quiet. It kills me every time I hear people say government is full of the same old people because honestly, it doesn’t need to be that way. You just need to step up.

Finally, ask until you hear a “no.” You’d be surprised how many doors can open by having the confidence to ask.

In closing, I leave you all with this:

Ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country.

– President John F. Kennedy

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sodium and sustainability.

Oh hey! I know I took an unexpected hiatus but to all of my comrades in grad school, you know how it goes. There’s so much reading and projects that you wonder:

  1. Can you keep up with the reading?
  2. Alright, you’ve done the reading, but does that mean you can understand the material?
  3. Oh yeah! While you’re answering those two questions, you also have papers to write and tests to take. 

 

I’m very happy with my performance and I’m pulling straight A’s but I have a midterm coming  up in less than two weeks. I haven’t taken a test since the GRE in December 2011 so I am crossing my fingers that I will keep up the good work. It’s great getting to know everybody more. One of my colleagues who plans to complete our program in 4 consecutive semesters, while working full time, told me that during the weekends he wakes up at 8AM and does homework until 8PM. He says it’s hell but it will be worth it for him. He’s also made me realize that this is going to be my easiest semester because next semester, I will be taking a lot of quantitative research classes. Next semester I plan to take:

  • Political Economy and Public Administration (required)
  • Analytical Methods (required)
  • Public Budgeting Systems (required)
  • Administrative Transparency (concentration)

I haven’t stopped cooking though and ahh I’m so pumped because today was the first time I made my own homemade broth! Last January, I made soup for the first time and I was SO proud of myself for making such a healthy and delicious meal…until I realized it wasn’t so healthy. I realized that there was so much sodium in it that every time I ate the soup I cringed. It was such a shame that I couldn’t enjoy my soup that I worked so hard to make without fearing that I was one step closer to hypertension with each spoonful. I decided to make my own broth by saving up a gallon of vegetable scraps. Then the job assignment came up and I knew that I’d have to hold these plans until grad school started. 

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Beginning to simmer for a hour…

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And now, we strain. This is probably the most arduous part of the process. I used cheesecloth for the first five minutes, then I realized that my sieve did an excellent job. Don’t worry, I did let it cool a bit before I started straining. One of these days, I hope to get some glass storage containers so I don’t have to wait to strain. Maybe I’ll get a nice Pyrex set for my birthday! Isn’t the color incredible? You would think it’s a beef stock, but it’s really the color of the vegetables! 

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Finally. A gallon of homemade broth. It does have a very strong vegetable taste, so I think that when I use it, I will put one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of salt to make it more flavorful. It’s just so great knowing that I had complete control over this process, it’s sustainable, and I don’t have to worry about risking a heart attack because there’s barely any sodium in it. 

I do want to try to make a clear vegetable broth. It looks like I may have to separate my scraps and keep the light colored veggies away from the dark colored ones. I will be making a Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup this week and I’m a litttttlllleee afraid about what the color is going to be like. 

As for this week’s grocery list, there won’t be one because I have a lot of the ingredients on hand. I think the world of Kate from CookieandKate.com and truly believe she has changed my diet for the better. The greatest thing about her recipes is that they yield so much. Since I was sick for most of this week, I stuck to sleep and take out because I was too lazy to cook, but I just made the Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup this afternoon and it is ready for dinner tomorrow night. Then I will make the Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup and I am really excited for the end of the week because I’ll find out what this Black Beans and Quinoa with Chipotle Raspberry Sauce dish tastes like. I would never think that black beans and raspberries would ever go together, but it looks like I’ll find out!