The Day my Door Froze Shut

That day is today.

Growing up in California, the concept of “cold” has evolved for me over the last couple years. At 60 degrees in Southern California, I would frequently claim that I was “freezing.” These days, at 40 degrees, I’m like “It’s shorts weather! Hallelujah!”

Sure, I was living in D.C. during Snowmaggedon, but that was back when snow was novel and beautiful. That was back when I worked three blocks away from my apartment, a distance a careful walker could expertly traverse in 3 inch heels.

I’ve lived through a few winters now, though. Snow isn’t nearly as pretty – instead, it’s that stuff making my mile walk to the metro a danger; the stuff I’m scraping off my car; the stuff freezing the front door to my apartment building shut.

Last weekend, Mother Nature – ever the tease – blessed us with two uncommonly beautiful late-February days. It wasn’t until the sunshine sprinkled down from the heavens onto my pale, sun-depraved skin that I realized what I was missing. It might have been the most truly joyful moment I’d had in months.

What does a California girl do to fight off Jack Frost and the cold, wintery blues?

  • Use music to transport away – far, far away. Suggested artists: Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffet, Brother Iz
  • Cook goodies, then eat said goodies. You’re going to be stuck indoors wearing sweatpants for a few months, anyways. People on the East Coast find this “Winter weight” to be acceptable. Enjoy.
  • Exercise. Just because you can wear sweatpants doesn’t mean you want to test the limits of the elastic. Besides, you have to be ready for when the summer springs back up!
  • Make new friends. How do you make new friends without venturing out into the icy wild? Watch great movies, immerse yourself into a long-running TV series, and fall into other literary worlds.
  • Plan your escape. When you’re wallowing in the deep, dark, seemingly endless winter, you need a light at the end of the tunnel. A vacation to fantasize about can help keep your spirits up when all else feels hopeless.
  • Dress for success. When you have to venture out, learn to layer. And forget those “fashion” scarves that people in L.A. wear. You’ll want that hearty, thick, knit, grandma scarf when the subzero wind is burning your face. Trust me.tumblr_mtucbfRwGE1sjp8pio1_500
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Christmas Cards, So Passé?

Last week, I shared some of my favorite family Christmas cards from through the years. Each card represents a moment in our lives, and in society. Trends change in hair, clothes, and even the cards themselves. It seems that the ever-growing grasp of technology on culture has even overcome this time honored tradition. Much to USPS’ chagrin, snail mail continues to make its way towards becoming utterly obsolete. Christmas cards have devolved from handwritten notes to loved ones, to mass-typed family newsletters, to electronically ordered pictures mailed to relatives, to ecards, to a Facebook post simply stating “Happy Holidays.”

Where’s the love?

That might be a bit of an over-exaggeration. Even among my tech savvy generation, there are the few who find ways to bring a personal touch to their holiday greetings. In fact, this year I’ve creating my own original holiday greeting and annual update. Check it out:

Holiday Infographic 2013

Holiday Cheer Through the Years

Last year, I took you on a culinary tour of my family’s holiday traditions – from Mexican tamales to German cookies. Food isn’t the only thing I look forward to every year. Check out some of my favorites and stay tuned for more holiday pics from the archives over the next few weeks!

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Which picture is your favorite? Share some of your favorite and cringe-worthy holiday pics by leaving a comment below or tweeting them to @liane_w!

25 Fun Facts For My 25th Birthday

Today marks a quarter century since my narcissistic ego took this world by storm. That’s right, October 28th is my 25th birthday! (Take that, Mom!) You know what else that means? It’s time to start the 10-year countdown until I’m eligible to run for President of the United States. While you pull out your doomsday clock, I thought I’d take this opportunity to get a little personal. Every successful politician knows how to balance strength and vulnerability. After all, no one likes a robot, just ask Mitt.

On this momentous occasion, join me in celebrating my glorious life with these 25 fun facts for my 25 years of life:

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Did you learn anything new about me? Let me know!

Update: New Study on IQ & Baby-lessness

Today, Thought Catalog published a post in a similar vein to my most recent blog. I thought I’d share. Also, this gives you some insight into my reading material.

The Barren Wombs of Smart Women
August 16, 2013 – Jim Goad

Smart-women-pregnancy-300x300statistical analysis from England suggests that a woman’s IQ is inversely proportional to her desire to breed. This, in turn, suggests that the world will grow dumber with every new day.

In his book The Intelligence Paradox, London School of Economics researcher Satoshi Kanazawa surveyed data from the United Kingdom’s National Child Development Study. Controlling for variables such as education and income, he reached the following conclusions:

  • With each increase of 15 IQ points, a woman’s urge to reproduce is diminished by 25%.
  • The average IQ of women who want children is 5.6 points lower than those who don’t want them.
  • Among all 45-year-old women in England, 20% are childless, but this figure rises to 43% among those with college degrees.

The paradox is that women who are measurably more intelligent based on IQ tests are dumber in terms of evolutionary survival instincts. Kanazawa writes:

If any value is deeply evolutionarily familiar, it is reproductive success. If any value is truly unnatural, if there is one thing that humans (and all other species in nature) are decisively not designed for, it is voluntary childlessness. All living organisms in nature, including humans, are evolutionarily designed to reproduce. Reproductive success is the ultimate end of all biological existence.

Kanazawa’s findings correlate with a 2010 Pew survey that found women ages 40-44 with a master’s degree or higher are 60% more likely to be childless than women who never graduated high school.

Kanazawa is widely known as a “controversial” researcher, which is coded speech meaning that his results cause significant discomfort among those who swallow the reigning cultural dogma. In the past he has faced disapprobation, ridicule, and even job dismissal for publishing studies that claim black women are less attractive than women of other races due to their higher testosterone levels, sub-Saharan Africa’s poverty is caused by low IQintelligent men are less likely to cheat on their partners, and attractive people are more likely to produce female offspring. He also wrote that if Ann Coulter had been president in 2001, she would have dropped nuclear bombs on the Middle East and won the War on Terror “without a single American life lost.”
But it is specifically his research on race and intelligence that causes his critics to dismissively snort that he is a zero-credibility genocidal wackjob who peddles junk science riddled with huge methodological flaws that raise the terrifying notion of eugenics that has long been debunked and discredited because of, well, Hitler and everything.

Paul Gilroy, a colleague of Kanazawa’s at the London School of Economics, says:

Kanazawa’s persistent provocations raise the issue of whether he can do his job effectively in a multi-ethnic, diverse and international institution.

In other words:

His statistical findings do not jibe with our cultural dogma.

Despite all the jeers and catcalls, Kanazawa defends his research:

The only responsibility scientists have is to the truth. Scientists are not responsible for the potential or actual consequences of the knowledge they create.

The most egregious blasphemy one can utter in today’s insanely stifling and repressive climate of intolerant egalitotalitarianism is to gently suggest that genetics play any role in determining intelligence differences and relative prosperity between individuals and social groups.

Yet (grab a hankie) that’s what the evidence suggests.

Despite the propaganda the media uses to try and blow out your eardrums, the scientific consensus suggests that adult IQ is roughly 75-85% inherited. But due to the currently taboo nature of this fact, Western researchers are unlikely to even suggest such things publicly without sacrificing their careers. The Chinese suffer no such ultimately dysgenic superstitions and are forging ahead in their attempts to crack the code. This might be one of the main reasons why the coming century could belong to them.

Further buttressing Kanazawa’s findings, global evidence suggests that high IQ tends to be negatively correlated with total fertility rate. J. Philippe Rushton’s r/K selection theory noted that parents who actually invested time and thought in nurturing their children tended to have fewer of them…and vice-versa.

Intelligent people have the reflective capacity to consider things such as whether they’d have the economic wherewithal to raise successful offspring, whereas dumber people tend to invest as much thought into reproduction as they do to defecation.  The end result is an increasingly dysgenic world—Idiocracy made flesh.

Western sophisticates claim that the world already has enough people, and many tend to see it as a matter of conscience to not breed. The problem is that hordes of Third Worlders suffer no such ethical qualms. Paradoxically, the pampered First World utopian ideal that the world should be intelligent, sustainable, and filled only with children who are wanted could backfire and create a planet crammed almost exclusively with emotionally, financially, and intellectually deprived Third World bastards.

This wasn’t the case before feminism came along to empower women and free them from childbearing’s oppressive shackles. It wasn’t the case until Big Brother morphed into Big Daddy and financially penalized the intelligent for reproducing as it gave handouts that encouraged cretins to spawn. It wasn’t the case during the Victorian Era, when it wasn’t considered so déclassé for wealthy and intelligent women to have children and when it’s estimated that the mean Western IQ was nearly 14 points higher than it is now.

The grand irony is that by failing to breed, this new breed of woman will breed itself out of existence.

Your Baby Freaks Me Out

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but unfortunately, I’m unavailable to babysit your newborn. Here’s why:

baby

The utter vulnerability of a baby completely terrifies me.
It* needs you, completely. They seem so fragile. Not just their physical soft spots and all that jazz, but they are at such a critical phase in their mental development. They are sponges. They have big eyes, and they watch everything. They are thinking, but they can’t speak. What if I say or do something and cause this pure little creature, immense, irreparable mental damage!? What if I crush it in its sleep like one of those prostitutes in the Old Testament? How could I live with myself?

What do babies eat?
Young children have all these crazy dietary restrictions…like they can’t eat honey. What if I forget? I don’t know what would prompt me to want to feed them honey, but it could happen.  Baby diets are stranger than Sylvester Graham’s eat-your-way-to-heaven plan. At what age can kids even eat solid food? What if they have an allergy you couldn’t know about until the baby has a reaction?

I don’t want to jinx myself.
I want to hold your baby. I know I have that look in my eye, I’m confused, scared, curious. I look at it curiously and it looks back at me, also with eyes filled with wonder and bewilderment. I want to hold it. It’s cute (maybe, maybe not), but as a child I remember one of my cousins saying that she didn’t want to hold the baby because she was “afraid she might have one.” Now I know pregnancy isn’t contagious, and I know where babies come from, but something about that image really stuck with me. Every time I hold a baby I have to hold back the urge to throw it to someone else and knock on some wood.

I’m convinced that my fear of babies has actually manifested itself physically. Brace yourself for an over-share! I’m certain, beyond any rational argument, that I have a retroverted uterus because my lady parts are so terrified of babies, they tilted themselves away from the outside world. Again, it’s not that I don’t want kids. They look like fun. They say the darndest things. Their little shoes are so cool. Not to mention, they provide a great excuse to buy dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. Until that time comes, excuse me as I entertain myself with adult things like watching Real Housewives of Everywhere and going to Jimmy Buffett concerts.

*I know I called your child an “it.” I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t think it is a person, it’s just some kind of habit. I don’t know where the habit came from, but it’s there. Maybe I’m just “beyond gender”? Maybe I’m just more accepting of the fact that gender may not be based on your physical attributes, and that in some ways gender is really just a social construct. I’m respecting the fact that one day, your child may come to you and tell you that they are really a man trapped in a woman’s body. Or vice versa. Or maybe I’m just concerned that what I think is your son is really just your ugly daughter. They’re all bald and kinda smushy-faced anyways. Unless your baby is wearing a onesie that says “Male Genitalia Below,” I’m not sure it’s always safe to assume.

Not Yo Abuelita’s Mole

Every once in a while I get an insatiable craving for Mexican food. Unfortunately, Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas aren’t known for their ability to really satisfy a California girl’s needs when it comes to South-of-the-border classics. When times get tough, sometimes a girl has to take her destiny into her own hands. But being the adventurous eater I am, I couldn’t help but put a twist on one of my childhood favorites, chicken mole.

Chicken mole is a classic Mexican dish–some even call it the national dish of Mexico–known for its symbolic representation of the mixing of European and Indigenous cultures.  In fact, mole may be one of the first international dishes of the Americas, mixing ingredients from the local land, Europe, and Africa. The base of the dish, however, is deeply rooted in the history of Mexico. According to legend, during the early colonial period, the archbishop was scheduled to visit the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla. Upon hearing of his arrival, the nuns of the convent went into a panic knowing that in their destitute state they had nothing to serve him. And so, as nuns often do, they prayed. They brought together what they did have: chili peppers, spices, old bread, nuts, and a bit of chocolate. They mixed it together and poured the sauce over an old turkey they killed for the occasion. It was well-worth the sacrifice, because the archbishop was smitten with the dish. Why wouldn’t he be? The deep, complex, spicy, sweet, nutty, smooth flavor of mole could win just about anyone’s heart.

So what’s the twist? In order to make my chicken mole suitable for the star-spangled table, I decided to combine it with a classic American dish–chicken and waffles! That’s right, I made Fried Chicken Mole & Waffles.

The crispy fried chicken, buttermilk-cinnamon waffles, and the rich mole paired perfectly with Mexican corn cake, plantain chips, and guacamole made in the mortar and pestle Anthony bought for our 1-year anniversary.

Fried Chicken Mole and Waffles

To top it all off, Anthony and I decided to have a plate-off to see who could make the food look completely and utterly irresistible. I think the results really speak to our personalities. Whose is whose? Let’s see if you can figure it out.

Plate #1

fried chicken

Plate #2

photo

Did you know: Mole is so synonymous with celebration that in Mexico, to say “to go to a mole” (ir a un mole) means to go to a wedding.