Tags: primitive lifestyle

shiny jen

decidedly off-topic

By the way - whatever happened to corsets? I've been wondering this for a while.

Like, a hundred years ago, people wore corsets like we wear bras. In the 1920s, stick-thin was fashionable and people used an awful lot of underwear to accomplish that, corsets and girdles and whatever. Stuff that you use to hold your tummy in. Same in the late 40s and 50s.

Then foundation wear got less popular towards the end of the 60s and was basically Right Out by the end of the 70s. But the expected body shape stayed. As in, you're definitely expected to be thin, or at least to have a flat tummy, but now you're expected to do it with diet and exercise, and no assertive underwear in sight.

I know that Slimming has been on the stage since - well, since the 20s anyway. But even so, no-one was expecting you to have a perfectly flat tummy without some assistance, were they? From what I understand, tummy-shaping garments were about as standard then as bras now. And then at some point we lost the assistance and expected everyone to have flat tummies with diet, bizarre exercises, and willpower.

So now everyone's supposed to beat up on themselves for not being able to accomplish unassisted what it used to take whalebone, steel, and industrial-strength elastic to attain. Sounds like bullshit to me, but I'd still be sort of interested to know more about how that happened - not so much why people wanted to wear less restrictive underwear (something of a no-brainer), but how we transitioned into thinking that you should have a flat tummy without it.
shiny jen

(no subject)

It's frustrating...when you spend $100 on a lamp, and it expires after eighteen months. The bulb is supposed to last 10,000 hours, which is a fat lot of use when the lamp dies first. There's nothing obviously wrong; I took apart the bits which can be taken apart and can't find any fuses or anything that looks bust. Just...it doesn't work, and the company's advice is: it's out of warranty, you should go buy a new one.

I don't want to throw out a lamp. It took masses of resources to make, and it shouldn't be that difficult to fix. A lamp ought to last for years. But I don't know how to fix it, and I don't know enough to find out how, and most of the components are fused into plastic cases that you can't open, anyway. That too is frustrating. I frequently wish we lived in a Fix culture rather than a Replace culture. Now is one of those times.

(no subject)

And a note on global warming: this is New York City in the middle of October. A meal in a succah should feature warm clothes, scarves, and grumbling about how this is a festival designed to be celebrated in Israel. But these past two evenings - evenings! Long after dark! In October! - I've been comfortable in the succah in a t-shirt and shorts, and I only wore trousers and socks the second night because I didn't want more mosquito bites.

I find this extremely scary, honestly.
shiny jen

(no subject)

I think I posted about arriving at London Gatwick September 2nd to find no plane to New York because the airline had gone bust...well, yeah, that sucked, but,

the credit card refunded it!

I got the money back for the flight that never was! I don't know how that works, beyond "credit card magic," but I was jolly jolly happy about it.
shiny jen

(no subject)

This is just wrong. Bottled water for dogs.

I'm not a fan of bottled water in general, as it seems to me a dreadfully wasteful use of resources; shipping water from France to New York is just ridiculous, and squillions of plastic bottles aren't my favourite idea ever either. But for dogs? Puh-leez. It's a dog. It chows down on bones that have been buried in a flowerbed for a month. Tap water isn't going to hurt it.

Hat tip to Chum With Private Journal.
shiny jen

on getting post returned

If any readers have mailed me anything in the past couple of weeks:

you will probably have had it returned.

This is the post office messing up. I am still in the same place.

Please hang onto it for a week or so and then post it back to me.

The post office says "sorry."
shiny jen

(no subject)

Ugh, flying.

Bottles of ink, once breached, have a tiresome habit of opening themselves in transit and distributing themselves liberally, indelibly, and irretrievably, all over their surroundings. Accordingly, when I travel with breached bottles of ink, as I do frequently, I carry them in my backpack, so that I can make sure they stay upright.

I fell victim to an arbitrary search at the flight gate. The lady looked at my ink, neatly packed in the mandatory ziplock baggie. She looked at the bottle, and looked again, not finding any English words anywhere on the Hebrew label.

She didn't like this.

Even less did she like the two inkpots; they don't carry any label at all.

"You can't have these," she said, "they're not labelled."

"Where does it say liquids have to be labelled?" I asked her. "And in any case, isn't the entire point of the liquids rule the assumption that you can't believe any claims I make about the nature of these liquids?"

"This is an internal secondary-level search" she replied, as if that answered anything. "So we can take these away from you if we want to."

She called over a colleague.

"You can have one of these," he said. "You can choose which one you take on board."


"One. You can take one."

"Can I combine the contents of these three bottles and you can have this empty one?"

He pondered this for a few moments. "No. How badly do you need these?"

"I don't need them on the flight at all. I carry them in my backpack so that I can make sure they don't spill. That isn't against the rules."

"How badly do you need them? You can keep one."

I explained that ink is exceedingly expensive and I am not, in fact, willing to discard any of it unless given a significantly more compelling reason than those hitherto offered.

"It's not about how expensive it is," he interrupted.

Fine. "You asked how badly I needed it, and need is a subjective concept. My need for this ink is based on its cost. I am answering the question you asked."

"So you don't need them."

"I'm not going to use them on the flight, no. I carry them in my backpack so that I can make sure they don't spill." He unscrewed one of the lids. "Don't get that on your clothes, it won't come off." He wiped his fingers nervously. Inwardly, I smirked.

He indicated the inkwells. "These aren't labelled."

"That's correct. They're inkwells."

"We can't tell what's in them, without labels."

For goodness' sake. "You wouldn't be able to tell what was in them even if they did have labels, would you?"

It irritates me immensely that if one does not comply blindly with illogical, unwritten, and wholly arbitrarily applied regulations, one can be designated a terminal security risk and refused permission to fly. Nonetheless, at this point I was ready to take non-compliance to the next level and request to see a supervisor, but to my surprise the male one turned away shaking his head, and the female one pushed the bottles towards me, saying "OK."

I'd have stalked off disdainfully, but a dignified exit is hard to do when you've still got to put your shoes back on. I had to settle for sitting on the floor wrestling with my bootlaces disdainfully, and to tell you the truth I think some of the effect may have been lost.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got an airline meal to eat. It looks rather distressingly soggy and greasy and like mutant green goo, but the label says "spinach pasta," and apparently labels are reliable indicators of content, so obviously it must indeed be spinach pasta. I might have to spice it up with some of that ink, though. Lucky they let me bring it on board.
shiny jen

(no subject)

Oil's going up and the dollar's going down, and airlines are jacking up prices like there's no tomorrow (which, given the rate at which aviation consumes finite resources, there basically isn't). This means that going to England is suddenly EXPENSIVE, my goodness. Almost a thousand dollars for the cheapest flights - more than twice what I paid a month ago. I'll go for the summer, but unless prices drop significantly after the summer, there's no way I'll be able to go back for Limmud in December. I'm quite sad about this; I suppose it's the price I pay for what I have. I wouldn't be the Soferet if I hadn't come to live in America.
shiny jen

(no subject)

Oh, my. I bought a mini-kettle, so as to be able to boil water for tea whilst at Drisha. Hitherto I've been boiling water in the microwave; they have a hot-water machine, but it's not hot. And the microwave somehow imparts a funny tinny taste to the tea.

And the kettle? Makes tea. And the tea?


shiny jen

(no subject)

Talking to the Meorot Fellows the other week about why I work as a Torah scribe given that it challenges gender roles, one of them asked me whether I thought everyone should be egalitarian, and what my vision was for Jews, and people in general.

So I said, as I generally do, that egal works for some people and not others, as is true of most lifestyle choices, and my vision generally is for people to live happy lives in well-functioning, sustainable communities. Ones where the formal structure contributes to people according each other and their surroundings the kind of treatment which contributes to their lives and environment being more or less comfortable and contented. (The point there was that in communities where imposing an egal structure would make people very uncomfortable, I wouldn't say being egal was necessarily the best thing. We're not talking about that now.)

I see the Judaism I choose to live as helping me live towards that vision. Judaism is one of my formal structures, and it prompts me - or forces me, if I'm feeling lazy - to have a sense of respect for the world I live in. To care about the members of my community. To value other human beings. Not to live selfishly. To be a basically decent person living in a basically decent community.

A couple of weeks previously, I had to change health insurance plans. As a Torah scribe, I'm self-employed, and accordingly I'm extremely lucky that I'm able to get health insurance at all. I get it through the Freelancers Union, whom I cannot praise highly enough. I have insurance; I'm one of the lucky ones, but still, I have medication that I have to take, and on my new plan, my medication costs quite a lot more. Adjusting my budget to encompass that wasn't fun, but it's not like I have a choice right now.

Also in conversation of late, I've noticed US Americans being awfully surprised that the US is not in fact the world leader in caring for the environment. Being surprised that the US lags an awful long way behind Canada and Europe in this.

And the combination of these three has made me realise this: Respect for human life and its surroundings are at the core of who I am, who I want to be, who I want my fellows to be. My day-to-day existence is structured around the Jewish customs which are the outcroppings of these principles, which lie deep and under it all. This is who I am. This is who I want to be. But I am choosing to live in a country which doesn't value human life and doesn't value its surroundings. Which doesn't have free universal healthcare and doesn't care about the environment when so doing entails any inconvenience. Whose primary formal structure has a fundamental and systemic lack of respect for human life and the world it lives in.

This is a problem.

It's mitigated by my knowing a great many extremely fine people who are very much not like this; who would rather the US worked differently, and who do in fact value both human life and the environment. On the whole, the specific community I spend my time with appears to have pretty similar values to my own, to the extent that most of the time I am able to avoid confronting this problem. I appreciate you, I really do. But unlike most of you, I have a choice: I can live elsewhere. I can leave the US and live in Britain, whose approach to human life and the environment seems more compatible with who I want to be as a Jew and who I want to be as a human.

I'm left wondering whether I should exercise that choice.