Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I'm testing out a "feature" of the new Google Reader that lets you share items from your feed to your blog.

To be honest, it's much more frustrating to do it this way. I don't consider it a feature, but rather a step back. But as it's the only real option that's left to me in Google Reader, I'm giving it a shot.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Holier-Than-Thou Badges

Perhaps you have a few. Such badges are common where one's interest-at-hand is different from the general population. Here are some examples of Holier-Than-Thou badges, plus an entirely-too-sarcastic-and-exaggerated-and-thus-purely-hypothetical blurb from a hypothetical holder of such a badge. The bolded indicates the Holier-Than-Thou badge.

  • Point-and-shoot cameras vs. SLRs (single lens reflex)
    "Ha, good luck taking any sort of professional grade pictures with that little thing. Do you even know how to change your aperture settings? I would choke if I had to use a point-and-shoot" And further within the photography realm...

    • Manual focusing vs. auto focusing lenses
      "Have fun with your precious auto focus in low light conditions, while my $500,000 focusing screen and vintage f/0.4 lens gets it perfect every time. I could never go back to auto focus."

  • Making your own computers vs. buying pre-assembled computers from Dell, HP, etc.
    "My computer is so much more powerful per dollar because I didn't have to pay myself $90/hr for labor. I would choke if I had to buy an assembled computer."

  • Linux vs. Windows
    "Bow before me, mortals, I am so cool because I use Linux, death to everything Windows. BTW I am non-conformist for the sake of non-conformity.
  • "

  • Traditional board games vs. Euro/German style board games
    "I'd much rather push wooden cubes around in a non-confrontational manner than bleed you dry in Monopoly."

  • Store-bought vs. home-grown vegetables
    "The vegetables from our yard are so much higher in vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content than your store-bought vegetables. Have fun dying of cancer."

The next few get a bit more relateable to any readers we still have left, mostly because I have/had personal experience with computers, cameras, and gardening and can't think of any others. And BTW, there is a point to this post besides being a vent or a rant; I shall put it after the list which follows.
  • Homeschooling vs. institutional schooling
    "My homeschooler read Cicero's Greatest Hits in its original Greek, translated Swaziland's constitution into Latin for fun during his free time, and built a particle accelerator in his closet and has collected 153g of antimatter so far. What does your public schooler do with his time?"

  • Cloth diapers vs. disposable
    "Cloth diapers are better for you, better for baby, better for life, and a prerequisite to enter Heaven."

  • Avoiding trans-fats vs. Not
    "Avoiding trans-fats is better for you, better for the world, and a prerequisite to enter Heaven."

  • Having many children vs. Not
    "I guess those people just don't view children as God's blessings."

  • Grinding your own grain vs. white flour or store-bought whole wheat flour
    "You don't grind your own wheat? No wonder you're fat and diabetic."

  • Backyard eggs vs. store bought
    "I guess those people just don't view fresh eggs as God's blessings. Oh, and backyard eggs are a prerequisite for entering Heaven."

  • Natural childbirth vs. Not
    "BLARGH epidural anesthesia now, methamphetamine I.V. later."

In recent years, I have become much more sensitive to exhuding a Holier-Than-Thou attitude in my writing, speech, and actions. In discussing the topic with Harmony, both of us agree that our miscarriages and fertility woes were a big catalyst in changing the way we presented ourselves. For the duration of this blog post, I will refer to the period before miscarriages and fertility as BM&I, for "Before Miscarriages and Infertility."

BM&I, it was always my (our?) intention to have more children at this point in our marriage. After all, having lots of children is an indicator of God's blessing on a married couple living in holy matrimony, and we were pretty good people, right? Well. Then June 19, 2007 happened and our lives were never the same again. October 15, 2007 happened and set in stone that our thinking would never go back to BM&I mentality.

Miscarriages and infertility dampened our self-righteous tendencies quite a bit. Pregnancies and children were no longer Holier-Than-Thou badges to be smuggly flaunted, they were more like "oh-my-goodness-what-you-have-is-SUCH-a-blessing,if-you-had-any-idea-what-it's-like-to-not-be-able-to-have-that-you-would-spend-the-rest-of-your-life-cherishing-it/her/him." Viable pregnancies were something to be maddeningly but cautiously nervously grateful for, not casually addressed as "oh another blessing here and on the way, sweet, let's see how many tons of tomatoes we got today."

We discovered that, hey, you know, it doesn't quite feel great to hear people on blogs or blog comments boasting of God's blessings and their family size and implying that smaller families were that way because they actively rejected the blessings, in light of what had just happened. And I'm sure these people (I honestly do not remember any specific instances anymore) did not intend to come off that way, but that's the way I read things during that time. Losing hope for our "Has Many Children" badge humbled us in that area, as well as all the others. If it was that unpleasant to hear self-righteousness in one area, then it must be unpleasant in others as well. After all, who wants to feel like they are being condescended and condemned because of their choice of gardening philosophy or where they get their eggs?

This image meant to convey family size; my proofreader did not understand though, thus the explanationI wish we had not had to endure the post-BM&I period, but good came of it. This is how life is, though - God gives us trials to help refine our character. I cringe to think what my thoughts might be if we'd had a honeymoon baby and easy children born at 1 year intervals after that. "Well anyone who rejects God's blessings shouldn't cry about it when they have difficult children. Well those people [who might have untold fertility issues or whatever, none of your business] obviously are rejecting God's blessings...I mean their first daughter is 2 and the mom isn't pregnant yet..??" You get the idea. Post BM&I, there's a greatly reduced (but still non-zero, as we are sinners) probability that such presumptuous thoughts will cross our minds.

In the end, all of these Holier-Than-Thou badges might come to us. I would, of course, welcome having many children, which is the Holier-Than-Thou badge which has proven most elusive to us. But perhaps God thought that it would be better for us to take the long route there, so that we could be fully grateful for what God has given us, with much less self-righteousness than if He'd given the blessings to us right away. But even if He chooses not to give us any more children, at least we'll be much less likely to be self-righteous, Holier-Than-Thou bags of hot air.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Recent Facebook statuses

For my few remaining readers who do not also check my facebook status (I think that amounts to just my dad). So for the benefit of my dad, who misses all of these cute moments....

All day today, whenever I give something to Pearl she says "코마와!" (A slightly convoluted version of the Korean for "thank you") I wonder what made her suddenly start saying that instead of "thank you"?

What initially looked like random scribbles in my crossword book turn out to be remarkably consistent: small scribbles in individual squares, scribbles over the clue numbers "marking them off", and sprawling scribbles in the margins making "notes". I didn't realize she paid so much attention to what I was doing...

Pearl: Voldemort good, Harry Potter likes him!

Umm... She seems to have missed a key point.... ;-)

She must sleep better with a clean conscience. Pearl's last words before falling asleep tonight: "Pearl say 미안해. I throw dirt on Luna. 미안해, Luna."

(미안해 means 'I'm sorry'. And the most recent dirt incident occurred several days ago.)

Watching little girls attempt to dance like ballerinas must be one of the funniest spectacles in the world.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 2011 grocery budget week 2

The main shopping trip was at Target, where I spent $44. We also made a couple of "emergency" runs to the store, which totaled about $10. That brings our monthly grocery expenditures up to $145, and leaves us $155 left in our budget for the rest of the month. That leaves us approximately $52/week from here on out.

From our Target trip, we bought:
reeses cups - $1
tortilla chips - $2
pringles - $1.44
kashi granola bars - $2.99
juice - $4.73
onions - $2.24
spaghetti sauce - $2.84
zucchini - $0.35
garlic - $0.25
cucumbers - $1.48
oatmeal - $2
oranges - $2.04
bread - $2.69
pork roast - $6.49
ground chicken - $2.29
eggs - $2.39
almond milk - $4.50
allergy medicine - $3.84

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thoughts about Proverbs 30:7-9

I quoted the passage in a previous post concerning being content with little, and here are a few more thoughts I thought warranted their own post.

These are a few verses which I find come to mind more times than statistically insignificant:

7Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:
8Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
9That I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the LORD?"
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

I don't know why, but these verses stuck with me ever since the first time I read them, which was I-don't-know-when, probably during the college years. I suppose the purpose of this brief post is to write/"talk" "out loud" to figure it out.

One of the reasons is that I perceive it as a very down-to-earth and understandable passage. No premillenial, preterist eschatology or transubstantial this-or-that. The writer is able to sympathize with the condition of someone in need, of someone who's tempted to steal in order to fulfill his (or presumably extending to his family's) needs. With a couple of very important exceptions, the Bible is filled with all sorts of imperfect people living life in imperfect ways and thinking imperfect thoughts. With good reason, as I believe is illustrated in this passage, since we imperfect humans are much better able to empathize with fellow imperfect humans.

Another reason I like it is that it seems that it's fine to not take a voluntary vow of poverty, in being a Christian. God does not call us all to be either very rich or very poor. In fact, this passage would imply that it's dangerous to be at either extreme. I do find it comforting that I am not necessarily called to take my family and live in a cardboard box ;)

On the other hand, living in (one of?) the wealthiest nation(s) in the world, it is also a stern warning not to forget God in the pursuit of or the wallowing-in of riches. I also talked about this more in the aforementioned post I linked to at the top.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

April 2011 grocery budget week 1

This week we went to the Super H mart 30 minutes from our house. We spent about $85 there. The majority of the expense was 30 lbs of brown rice (15 lbs sweet rice, 15 lbs medium grain rice). We also spent $11 on beef for bulgogi and $7 on mandoo (we had friends over for lunch on Sunday, and we have to serve American-friendly food when we're introducing Korean food to someone).

Other items we bought at H mart: Korean pear, roasted seaweed (a gift for a friend - no, really), rice flour, sweet red bean paste, 6 lbs napa cabbage (w00t, 6lbs of kimchi in the fridge!), Chinese chives, green onions, apples, garlic, ginger, tofu, eggs, and a family pack of Shin Ramyun (JunkMale insisted I treat myself, for some reason).

We also took a trip to Kroger to get more American staples for the week: peanut butter crackers, hummus, yogurt, juice, basil, granola bars, green onions, mushrooms, fruit cups, and potatoes. This cost us $36.

I don't usually count bulk-purchased staples like rice in our monthly budget - 15 lbs of medium grain rice lasts us 4-6 months and 15 lbs of sweet rice lasts even longer, so it seems unfair to include a 6-month expense in a monthly budget. Obviously you could abuse this by labeling too many foods "bulk staples", but I really only count non-perishable things like grains, sugar, etc, and only when it will last us more than 4 months without stocking up again. Thirty pounds of rice certainly counts. Quick note: if you cannot afford more than your monthly grocery budget, you shouldn't use this method. Our grocery budget was designed with this in mind. :-)

The cost of the rice (minus tax) was $29.98, so I will subtract $30 from our total. This means we have spent $91 so far this month on groceries - 30% of the total budget. We will have to be careful the rest of the month not to average no more than $52 each week. But with 6 lbs of kimchi in the fridge and 30 lbs of rice in the pantry, we shouldn't have too much trouble.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Keeping tabs on our grocery budget

This series of posts was prompted by my sister, who wondered how we were able to keep to a $300/month grocery budget.

Well, to be honest, I'm not really that sure that we do keep to that sort of budget. I've never really tracked it. But in theory, we average no more than $75/week in groceries. And now - partly because I'm curious and partly because we need more posts to keep this blog up and running - I'm going to find out. I will do my best, every Tuesday, to post an accounting of the grocery bills from the previous week.

But to start off, I thought I'd set the stage. We eat a mostly dairy-free diet (JunkMale and I do eat dairy every now and then) because of Pearl. This means that we eat a lot of foreign food (mostly Korean, but also a lot of Thai/Vietnamese and Greek foods around this time of year). It also means that we buy a lot of expensive dairy replacements - almond milk, soy and coconut yogurt, etc. This all has an effect both on our budget and how we shop. The closest Korean store is 20 minutes from our house, and it's more expensive than the large Korean market 30 minutes away. So trips to buy specifically Korean ingredients (red pepper paste, fish sauce, fermented soybean paste, sweet potato starch noodles, seaweed, 15-lb bags of brown rice, etc) are important but infrequent. That means that when I go I stock up. That changes how I have to view my weekly food budget. If I had to stick to a strict weekly budget, I would be going to the Korean store every week, and that would be a huge hassle.

OK, with that in mind, I will present a summary of what we have spent so far this month on groceries. I made 6 trips to the grocery store over the first 4 weeks of March, spending a total of appx $238.51. I have all of my receipts except for one (I do remember that I spent about $48, though). Here is what we bought with the $190.51 we have recorded:

22.5% was spent on generic food items (condiments, pasta, cheese, chicken broth, etc)
19.5% was spent on meat/protein (eggs, tofu, and vegetarian corndogs were included with meat)
14.4% was spent on produce, fresh or frozen
13.6% was spent on beverages
13.1% was spent on snack items (chips, crackers, cookies, granola bars, etc)
9.2% was spent on vitamins
Approximately 6% is tax. The remaining 1.7% can probably be attributed to rounding and simple arithmetic errors that I don't feel like going back and finding. :-)

So with one week left in the month, we have $61.49 left to spend before we go over budget. Considering this week's shopping list is pretty short, I expect we'll have made our budget for the month. So that, apparently, is how we eat on $300/month - or, at least, how we ate on $300 in March 2011. I do not clip coupons except for on rare occasions. I do not look at sales fliers. We do have a garden that every now and then saves us a dollar or two, and I also keep the going prices of food items in my head and will sometimes change the menu on the fly in the store because something is very expensive. But those are my only "secrets". Other than that we just eat what we like.

For the incredibly curious, here is a breakdown of exactly what we bought, and for how much.

Nitrate-free deli meat - $5.00
Frozen chicken breasts - $7.98
Ground turkey - $2.56
Eggs - $2.78
Chicken tenders $8.88
Frozen baby lima beans - $3.00
String cheese - $2.64
Frozen baby brussels sprouts - $2.25
Cheese slices - $4.28
Potatoes - $2.47
Garlic - $0.69
Tomatoes - $3.24
Granola bars - $10.92
Cooking spray - $1.68
Ginger ale - $3.33
Spaghetti noodles (either multigrain or whole wheat) - $1.18
Crackers - $2.28
Bread - $2,72
Potato chips - $5.36
Dill pickles - $3.04
Lime juice - $1.19
Onions - $2.49
Chicken broth - $5.28
Hoisin sauce - $2.39
Fresh basil - $2.99
Fresh cilantro - $0.99
Cucumber - $0.99
Pork roast - $4.54
Mushrooms - $1.99
Juice - $12.68
Mustard - $1.58
Almond milk - $8.56
Tortilla chips - $1.88
Vegetarian corn dogs - $3.48
Unspecified produce - $1.99
Cookies - $2.37
Gummy vitamins - $17.48 (2-3 month supply)
Non-grocery items - $7.69
Korean radish - $1.14
MSG-free ramen noodles - $1.39
Korean red pepper paste (고추장) - $5.99
Buckwheat noodles (냉면) - $3.99
Organic tofu - $1.99
Seaweed (김) - $6.99
Coconut milk - $1.59
Barley tea - $1.39
Tuna in hot pepper sauce - $2.59

Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Plan for the week of 3/28/11

Last week, for many reasons, we ate just over half the meals I'd planned. So this week, we will pick up where we left off last week.

Monday - Basil fried rice and coconut soup
Tuesday - Basil fried rice and coconut soup
Wednesday - Pad See Ew (assuming I can find large flat rice noodles before then - otherwise, 빔면/bibimmyeon)
Thursday - Souvlaki-stuffed pitas
Friday - Souvlaki-stuffed pitas
Saturday - Mexican black bean burgers
Sunday - Mexican black bean burgers

Lunches - 김밥/kimbap and leftovers for JunkMale, mushroom and potato soup for us ladies (basically this recipe minus the half-and-half)

Breakfasts - long-rise whole wheat and oat bread with butter, maybe also some oatmeal