A Conversation About Gender Equality


“You know, men do deserve to get paid more than women.”

“Oh really.”


“And why is that?”

“Guys eat more than girls, and we have to spend more for food to fuel our bodies, so we deserve to get paid more.”

“I see. Well, girls have more hair than guys, and have to spend more on hair products, so they should get paid more.”

“Ah. Touche.”

avocado smoothie

Moral of the story: the opinions of those who like avocado smoothies tend to be a little off-the-wall.

If you have 18 hours in: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

sketchy part of Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

– spend 2 hours running after your friend (literally running, dodging and weaving through crowds of late-night shopping families and groups of Malaysian adolescents, and belatedly hoping that no one thinks you’re a purse-snatcher because getting arrested in Malaysia is not on your list of things to do today) around the malls (of which there are many more than one would have thought necessary for any one country, let alone one city) looking for a camera accessory that no one has and that you were pretty sure wouldn’t be available in stores yet anyway.

KL noodles

Noodles from a street vendor for dinner.

– spend 2 hours eating (dinner and breakfast).

– spend 8 hours sleeping in a cockroach hotel (there was a cockroach scurrying across the blankets on the bed when we checked in, and I’m not sure what happened/who was brutally murdered in the shower before we got there, but it was not properly cleaned afterward. Don’t be deceived by the pleasant-looking exterior- Hotel Mexico is not a good choice).

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Lanterns in the street outside our hotel.

– spend 2 hours checking email and Facebook (priorities, and confirmation that those you left behind on the other side of the world do in fact still exist).

– spend 4 hours semi-patiently waiting, in transit to and from the airport, and for a departing flight to Thailand.

Max catching flies

Despite what he might tell you, Max does in fact sleep on airplanes.

– spend at least 3.5 hours of transit and time waiting for flight to Thailand wondering: what the city of Kuala Lumpur is actually like; what it would be like to live here; why people live here; at the differences between Kathmandu, Nepal (where we had just been trekking) and KL; when I can go back to the Himalayas and see a yak; what Thailand will be like; what everyone is doing at home; how best to take a sneaky picture of Max sleeping in his seat with his mouth gaping open catching flies; wondering when you can next take a real shower and wear freshly laundered clothes.

– spend the remaining 1/2 hour waiting in line for the restroom, at least twice. 1 minute spend taking care of business, 29 minutes trying not to gag at the condition of the squatty potty.

A Night In Hue, Vietnam

We went for dinner at a fancy vegetarian restaurant by the river, set back enough that we couldn’t actually see the water. We sat outdoors, as everything in Vietnam is open air. All around was metal curlicue trellis work, plants grown over everything, with strings of lights around the edges. A romantic setting, perfect for making eyes at your lover (or, in my case, your vegan Indian friend) over a steaming plate of tofu. Just don’t order the hotpot or you may lose your eyebrows– the flame underneath is strong enough to roast an entire tofurkey. A hotpot is a pot that is hot (if you couldn’t guess) filled with broth, noodles, suspicious-looking green plant parts that taste bitter and kind of make you gag, mushrooms, okra, tomatoes, tofu, and probably a few other vegetarian things I’m forgetting. I learned that in India okra is called “lady fingers.” There must be women with pretty strange-looking fingers in India.

After our dinner splurge (143,000 dong) and the usual after-dinner life conversation, it began to rain. We wanted to wait it out, as it was pouring down, but the staff were making closing-time preparations, so we braved the drops to make our way back to our hotel. We walked, dodging bicycles and motorbikes, passing street vendors and customers sitting at tiny plastic tables on the sidewalk, stepping in puddles, trying to read the street names and not get hit by a bus, hoping the rain doesn’t come pouring down harder until we made it back to the hotel.

Walking along a wet street after it has just rained at night is a magical feeling, because everything, even the trash in the gutter, seems cleaned and glossy and there is potential just waiting in every puddle. Walking down a street in Hue after dinner, after the rain, being passed by rain-ponchoed motorbike drivers, passing food vendors selling what is definitely not tofu chicken body parts, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. This moment is brilliant– the lights from shops reflecting in the million tiny pavement puddles, the sounds of wheels splashing through, the smell of rain in the city– not dirty, not offensive, just the smell of rain on pavement and plastic.

This is Vietnam.

What I learned at Penn State

1) That I need a water lily pond like the Lotus Pool at the Penn State Arboretum.











2) That I also need a giant planter filled with succulents. (Would make an excellent birthday gift, though I do admit that it might not be the most practical, since it’s probably not very portable.)












3) That there are Japanese bananas. And that I have never thought about bananas being from Japan.

I forgot to get a picture of the banana plants, so this one is from bbc.co.uk.


4) That the Creamery makes excellent ice cream and has proportions about as large as your head.
It is also advisable to have yours in a bowl rather than a cone, unless you are able to eat large quantities of ice cream quickly and you are also sitting inside in the A/C so your ice cream meltage is kept to a minimum. Not being savvy in the ways of Creamery portion sizes, I had mine in a cone. Still not entirely sure how I managed to eat the entire thing and not explode nor get melted ice cream all over my person. I feel that my twenty-odd years of eating ice cream were just to prepare me for that moment, and that I preformed quite admirably.

I was too busy eating my enormous ice cream cone to remember to take a picture, so this one is from the PSU website http://creamery.psu.edu/ 


5) And that Meghan is an excellent friend for introducing me to all these new things.

She is a Penn State graduate and lives in State College, which explains why she knows all these things.
Meghan is a superb American Coot rescuer as well.

An Evening At the National Hamburger Festival

Our evening in photographs:

Don’t worry, Eric brought appropriate reading materials for this festival.These are the last two burger halves from Menches Bros, which Eric (after some prompting)  promptly ate.  Eric is our resident plain burger connoisseur. I believe he said these landed somewhere near the top of his list of favorites. Also note the Football Hall Of Fame t-shirt, which has nothing to do with burgers but is always an appropriate shirt to be wearing.


Beautiful Lock 3 Park, in the wonderful city of Akron, Ohio!
We did not try any of the Max & Erma’s burgers, since we’ve eaten there before and already know how good they are (which is quite good). And those are lights, not barbed wire. I checked.
STD burgers. They do in fact brand each bun with the STD logo. 
“Dad, you ruined the brand!”
This STD had onions and a spicy chipotle sauce on it, absolutely delicious.
Marching off to the next burger stand.
Megan spins the wheel in hopes to win a fabulous prize!
Instead, she wins a bottle opener and a coozie.
New word of the day: Grillebration.
Also: Whitney, you might be receiving a coozie care package in Kentucky sometime soon… we might have gotten a few more of these than we really know what to do with (which would be 3).
Green means go! We’ve got more burgers to consume!
Ah, the Civic Theater, the site of many years of dance recital memories. Almost makes me want to dig out my old dance shoes and bust out some lyrical moves, of which I remember about five. Lyrical is a mix of ballet and modern dance, for those of you who didn’t know. Which is usually about everyone.
All in all, and excellent way to spend a beautiful Sunday evening in Ohio. Sorry Dad, but your burgers at home just can’t compete.
If you’re interested in actual information about the National Hamburger Festival 2012 and all of the deliciousness you missed, here’s the website:
If you’re interested in reading the book Hamburger America, or watching the documentary (of course there’s a documentary, and yes Eric does own it), here’s the link. The author also has a burger blog.

Festival Fun in South Carolina

Last weekend was exciting. Instead of spending all my time in the bunkhouse baking bread (what I did the weekend before), Whitney (fellow intern), Jake (her boyfriend), and I hit up two local festivals: the Pine Straw Festival  in Patrick and the Strawberry Festival at McLeods Farm just outside of McBee.
First up was the Pine Straw Festival. We drove all the way to Patrick, 20 minutes away, for this.
The Pine Straw Festival did have a bouncy slide, which I suppose was pretty exciting.  I don’t know they would have let us on, though. Maybe if we had a small child they would have, but there weren’t any around we could borrow.
Small line-up of old cars and some people I don’t know.
Don’t have booths like this at home in Ohio…
We spent about four minutes walking around because I wanted to take pictures of pine straw (of which there was none). Pine straw is fallen pine needles that are gathered up and used as mulch. You would think that if the festival was named after pine straw there would be some there, an informational booth or something at least. But no. I was disappointed.
I soon got over my disappointment when we headed back to McBee and McLeod’s Strawberry Festival. A much better festival, primarily because we ate peach enchiladas and ice cream (makes my mouth water now just thinking about it) and they also had a booth for Carolina Sandhills Refuge, wagon rides, cornhole, and kids crafts. And strawberries, peaches, and other fresh produce.
I bought a basket of these delicious strawberries, some of the best I’ve ever had. And now I have a sweet white plastic basket that says Mac’s Pride.
Yummy-looking peaches. Haven’t had any yet, but the peach ice cream was good.
They also have a small museum with all sorts of neat random old stuff, including cars, artwork, cash registers, cases of old knives, a row of rocking chairs, and these decoys.
Wall of tools and things.
One of the collection of old fans sitting next to the collection of cash registers.
Whitney and I went to the small McLeod’s produce stand just down the road from the refuge one day after work for peach ice cream. Not a good idea. Now that I know there is homemade peach ice cream so close,   I’m going to be there everyday after work. My entire weekly stipend is going to be spent on peach ice cream.
If you’re interested, here’s the McLeod’s website: http://www.macspride.com
It says they deliver peaches, but I’m not sure how far (as probably most of the people reading this are not in South Carolina). I plan on personally sampling a large variety of their produce, baked goods and deserts in the next few months, so I’ll let you know how everything is.