Thursday, June 30, 2011

Heaven is a Fairy Story

In what’s becoming a mildly disconcerting attempt to be more social at work I’ve been going to 10 o’clock coffee with some co-workers out in the shop. I imagine eventually I’ll feel less out of place. It would probably help if I wore jeans. I need to buy these. Anyways.
Someone brought up this news report concerning Stephen Hawkings assertion that heaven is a fairy story. Anyone who knows me knows that I agree. My analogies are different but I don’t believe in an afterlife of any sort. It’s all beetles, rot, and voids for me. You can believe what you want, but this is what I see. Or don’t see, as the case may be.
As is prevalent the guys I work with are majority Christian. Some are VERY Christian. I am VERY not Christian. I kept my mouth shut. I say kudos to me for this one. As if I don’t have a hard enough time not alienating myself from people as it is, I don’t need to stir up the colleagues. A lot of them were clearly angry about this article and the implications of it, especially the implication that people of faith are cowards… One guy was particularly offended that Heroes of war who are also men of faith would be considered cowards. I understand the viewpoint of cowardice. For all the courage and it takes to put yourself into that amount of danger, believing that this is not your end, provides something of a safety net. I did not say this.  Surprisingly another guy did.  More surprisingly, no one got offended. However, the conversation didn’t last much longer than this. People were not very receptive and generally dismissive of the entire notion.
One guy did mention repeatedly that it didn’t matter, Hawking was going to hell. Hah. This I found delightfully hypocritical; to condemn a man for ‘imposing’ his views, only to impose your own in their stead.

It was interesting to see people toe the issue though, from a perspective of those that clearly don’t question their ideas and are 1.) not entirely comfortable defending their ideas,  2.) afraid of what others will say about their ideas, and 3.) afraid to offend others with their own views. Of the entire group only that one guy presented a non-conformist view, even remarking that there may be something after death but it’s not what people think. He wasn’t met with encouragement but he wasn’t met with disdain either, though clearly many others hold a different point of view. That, I thought took courage. Then again, he may have had these kinds of conversations with these people many times as they’ve worked together for years.
Me? I’m attempting to be social. I don’t want to be too social. Explaining my beliefs takes forever. I’m more interested in the social dynamic around me. I almost never feel like I’m a part of the dynamic anyways, so observation is where I fall too naturally.  
It’s also amusing to me that I am so used to people that are not Christian and/or have alternative beliefs that Christian feels like the exception to me and not the norm. It is something I appreciate.

A statement made a in a different forum: After life you go back to the place you were before birth. What’s to fear in that?

This is an interesting notion to contemplate.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Test Kitchen: Greek Edition

Experiments in the Test Kitchen! It is absolutely my favorite laboratory environment =)  This weekend I hung out with Friend and his wife and made a 4 course Greek dinner. We’re doing a huge dinner party in October – Mediterranean cuisine. There will be four chefs; Friend, the wife, the wife’s brother-in-law, and myself. Each of us will prepare 4 dishes from countries of the Mediterranean. I’ve been systematically going through the countries that I’m interested in cooking from and testing out recipes on them. This week was Greece!
I made:
-- Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie)
-- Greek meatballs in red sauce
--Chickpea balls
--Date and Walnut Phyllo Rolls in Greek yogurt and Honey

I had a minor timing issue with the Spanakopita but overall everything came out deliciously. I’m taking their word about the meatballs since I’m strict vegetarian. I stuck close to the recipes for everything except the Spanakopita. That recipe is entirely my own.

I also picked up some random cheeses as well:
-- French yogurt cheese with sundried tomato (France) – interesting, a touch bitter but nicely balanced and very smooth.
--Roomkas Gouda (Netherlands)– nice and creamy with an almost cheddar taste
--Caciocavallo (Puglia/Italy) – hard cheese, akin to parmesan but not quite as intense
--Arina (Aged Goat Gouda of Holland) – I used this in the Spanakopita along with Feta and Ricotta. Then we just ate the rest of it. Soo, soo delicious. I really flavorful take on gouda.  

I love being in the kitchen. Cue barefoot jokes.  For the record, I wear heels.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Happy Pride Everyone!

Most anyone that knows me considers me bisexual. Personally I hate the term. It’s so stigmatized in both the homo and hetero culture I’m a little irritated by the label. If decided where I fall on the Kinsey Scale of sexual preference that I fall a little to the right of sexual neutrality; which basically means I don’t discriminate. I’d rank about a 4.5 on the Kinsey scale. My preference is women but I do find myself entangled with men more often than I’d like.

0- Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual
1- Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2- Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3- Equally heterosexual and homosexual
4- Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5- Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6- Exclusively homosexual

So why am I not satisfied with a designation of bisexual? One: Bi implies two choices of sexuality identification and that’s just not right. It doesn’t compensate to include the range of transgendered, transsexual and genderqueered.  All of which I have been attracted to at some point. Really I should just consider myself all around queer. 

The stigma surround the term bisexual is so obnoxious.

From the hetero community you get:

Guys assuming you’re ok and interested in a threesome with another woman. That automatic assumption that individual experience is open to include others.

Generally more promiscuous (ok, well, I might very well be, but it’s not because of my sexuality).
Where’d this come from? Party favors. What’s a party favor? Some dumb drunk broad at a frat party making out with girls to turn on their boyfriends and calling herself bi because of it. Not that there’s anything wrong with drunkenly making out with chicks if that’s what you’re into, but in my opinion, this does not make you bi. It makes you drunk. And lacking self-esteem.

From the homo community:

The assumption we’re just experimenting. Hate this. I know very well that I like women. I don’t know very well that I like men (not as people, clearly some guys are rockin, but to be in relationships with). However it’s almost always assumed that being bi is a phase until you’ve made a choice one way or the other.

Another gripe. If I’m in a hetero relationship with a guy, people consider me bi.  Still. If I’m in a homosexual relationship people begin to refer to me as a lesbian. Honestly if I have my idea I will be with a woman for life but I won’t consider myself a lesbian because I am not solely attracted to women.
I am attracted to people. I’m attracted to traits, interests, characteristics, a persons MIND… all of which have little to do with anatomy. What grabs my attention is someone’s attitude and demeanor. What holds me is their substance.

Everything else is just anatomy and I don’t find that to be particularly important. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011


So. Excited. Not that I believe I will ever get married but if I did find someone crazy enough to stay with me for that long at least I can know I’ll be allowed to choose openly and freely.  Some days I really do love living in New York.

Stained Glass

I can not express how therapeutic art is. It's seriously one of the things that makes me feel sane. And the thing about it; it doesn't even have to be good. It's the freedom of the process. Being able to let my hand go, not know exactly where the end result will come from or take me, and just watching the idea blossom from a brush and a couple tubes of paint.

Here's my latest creation. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Muffins and Cupcakes and... That's all I got. Oh my!

As mentioned yesterday I made Strawberry-Banana muffins for the Solstice. Last night I decided to make Pumpkin Pie cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Friday’s are traditionally movie nights for me and some friends and I often make snacks of some kind. I also have a tendency to obsess over finding new and delectable recipes. I saw these cupcakes, and realizing that they are WAY out of season, I just had to make them.  So I did. Let me tell you. They are amazing, and I’m not really a pumpkin pie fan.  Here’s some recipes in case anyone feels like trying the things I try  =)

Strawberry Banana Muffins Recipe:
1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 cup (240 ml) fresh strawberries (cut into bite sized pieces)
2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (160 grams) light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon (4 grams) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) salt


On to the Pumpkin Pie cupcakes!

**This recipe was originally for 8 mini cupcakes. Who the hell only makes 8 mini cupcakes? I quadrupled the recipe which is generally a big NO! in baking. In baking you can double, or halve, a recipe but because baking really is a chemical reaction it’s important to not screw with your chemistry too much. However, to me it looked like someone had quartered the recipe to begin with so I figured it would probably be safe. Also, I changed the frosting to a better version. Here’s my updated Recipe for:

2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½  teaspoon ground ginger
½  teaspoon nutmeg
½  teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons butter, softened
2 egg white + 1 whole egg
1- 15oz. can pumpkin puree
8 tablespoons skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
muffin liners

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 oz. teaspoon trans-fat-free margarine
3 c. confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla


Heat oven to 350°F. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt until combined. Set aside. Mash granulated sugar and butter in another bowl until combined. Stir in egg white, then pumpkin, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Add dry ingredients; stir until just combined. Pour batter into lined mini muffin cups to three quarters full. Bake until cupcakes spring back to the touch, 10 to 15 minutes. Beat cream cheese, margarine and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl with a hand mixer until smooth. Add yogurt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; beat until combined. When cupcakes cool, frost.

Eat. Savor. Enjoy.


Strawberry Banana Muffins: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or lightly butter or spray the muffin cups with a vegetable spray.

In a small saucepan melt the butter. **Or melt it in the microwave** Let cool to room temperature.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract and mashed banana. Add the melted butter and stir to combine.   

In another large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gently fold in the berries, making sure they are coated with flour. (This helps to prevent the berries from sinking during baking.) Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result. 

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake until a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Can be stored for a few days at room temperature.

Makes 12 regular sized muffins. Preparation time: 20 minutes.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Merry Solstice! Belatedly...

Missed the Solstice celebration. Sort of. I’m either the worst witch or the best witch ever, haha. Ok, so I'm not really a witch but I am, eclectic, in my beliefs. By which I mean I refuse to choose any one type of spirituality and I don’t believe in religion. I think religion in itself is an institution formed primarily to control its practitioners. No thanks. I’ll believe what I want to believe as long as it makes sense to me and fits into my life. So what does that mean to me?

I’m technically agnostic, but a practicing atheist. I believe in no deities. That’s not to say that I deny the possibility for them though. To put it simply; I don’t care. If there’s something out there, there is. If there is not; there’s not. Regardless this does not affect how I will choose to live my life.
What is, is.
Nothing I have to say about this will change a thing.
I would prefer to live my life as a good person without the underlying threat of heaven/hell/purgatory. If I’m going to be good, I’m doing it because it’s how I choose to be, not because I fear some shitty afterlife party. Then again, I don’t believe in an afterlife so it’s all moot to me. My ideal would be reincarnation. I love the idea of the ‘soul’ learning, growing, and evolving through each lifetime. I think it’s a beautiful concept.

Right, back on topic. Pagan. I read the bible when I was 8. I found it… dissatisfying. I was drawn to the old world Earth religions. I primarily drew from my cultural heritage, so Druidism (Celtic), Asatru (Nordic), and Strega (Italian), though I’m open to anything that draws me. I admit to sourcing a lot through Wicca at first because that was what was most readily available when I was younger but I have never considered myself Wiccan. It’s not balanced properly for my tastes.  I’ve always felt a strong connection and grounding through the Earth and the Universe around me. Nature. The Natural world. Natural beliefs.
My beliefs are also heavily science based. I am a scientist and engineer by trade. This is what I do. I find math and numbers beautiful. If a spiritual/philosophical belief is in contrast with scientific principle, it is discarded for me. There cannot be discrepancies in belief.  I believe. I do not have faith. There is a distinction.
Back then, I did have tentative faiths in the pagan deities. By the time I was 16/17 I had lost faith. I adopted an atheistic stance of indifference before turning to Eastern philosophy. I picked up the Tao Te Ching and books on Chinese/Zen Buddhism. I immersed myself in this and found a place within my mind that was calm and centered. Whenever I am at my most turbulent I still pick up the Tao Te Ching and read through until I am once again grounded.  
So now, my beliefs, while lacking in a higher power, are an integrated spirituality of the Old Pagan ways and of Eastern philosophy.
I love the ritual that surrounds the Earth religions. There’s something beautiful in the structure and all the accoutrement help me focus my energy in a way that not utilizing these things does not allow me. So for these reasons I usually try to do full circle rituals on the Sabbats.
I’ve missed my full ritual work for the last couple. However I still observe. For summer solstice I worked on my summer mountain painting. It’s how I was feeling to usher in the new season and I like how it feels vibrant, colorful and alive. I also bake. I do this for most of my rituals. Incorporating elements internally as well as externally. Ok, so really this is a fancy way of saying I made yummy muffins to share with the guys at work. I made strawberry-banana muffins of fresh in-season fruit (locally grown strawberries). To me it represents sharing the abundance of the season with those around me. It’s something I love to do and since all of my rituals and beliefs are absolutely personal, I think it’s fitting.
I don’t use guides, I don’t take much direction. Everything I do, I’ve devised on my own over years of exploration and self-awareness. I miss not doing my formal rituals because it is something that is so grounding for me. However, I was very much feeling the need to not pressure myself and I think the evening I spent was spent well regardless. So…

Happy Solstice!  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Little Trees

So a few weeks back I decided that I was going to teach myself how to paint. I've never touched a paintbrush before in my life. Never had any formal art before. You might think that would be a deterrent. Newp. Not for me. So I've been at it off and on for a few weeks now. These are the latest in my newest hobby series. See, I have a very neat image in my head of a winter scene framed on one side by a tree. Except I don't know how to paint trees, so these were my first attempts at figuring out how to paint trees. And blend colors better. And maybe focus a little on lighting. There's so much to keep in mind!

Paint is still wet on this one

What really sucks is the lighting in my apartment and camera. The colors are so much better in proper light.

However, the whole time I'm painting my trees I have Bob Ross' voice in the back of my mind. Remember him? So soothing. Him and his happy little trees.  

Light Saber Technology

So I wanted to make my first post something special but all I can think about is my light sabers. So Light Sabers it is!

I am a geek. Not just any geek. A Star Wars geek. In fact, I am a Dark Lady of the Sith. If ever you think to mistake me for Jedi I will get offended. Fair warning. A vague disclaimer is nobodies friend. 

I have a full Sith persona. I am a Sith Apprentice to be precise. Apprentice to my best Friend, whom also does all of this with me. I’m a Twi’lek species specializing in Sith Sorcery and Alchemy. I wield dual shoto blades. Red. Obviously. My fighting styles are primarily Ataru, Jar Kai, and Juyo. I should be elevated to the rank of Saber soon. What is Saber rank? It’s the equivalent of Jedi Knight. This rank will be mine as soon as I have finished creating my fully functional light sabers. Ok, ok, so light saber technology doesn’t exist. However, I am an engineer so I can pull out the switches, resistors, LEDs, wires and soldering irons and create a fully functional electronic light saber. Ta Da!

This was one of my projects this past weekend. I’m so excited! And they’re so bright! Unfortunately, there’s no off/on indicator on the light switch so when I had finished soldering the wires and inserted the batteries there was no warning to alert me to my impending blindness. I was quite literally seeing red! And it was glorious. Still is, actually.

You might ask why one is smaller than the other. The one on the left is Friend’s. He only uses one, standard style saber. It’s the kind you typically see in the movies. Two hands, one hilt, one very long saber blade. My style is different. I am using two shorter blades that accommodate a quicker fighting style and my smaller stature better. 

Next on my list is to construct the hilts. Twi’lek are a very natural species and my light saber hilts will essentially be simulating Yorik coral sabers of the One Sith. What this means for anyone looking at my hilts is; they will not be the standard looking pipe and technology looking saber hilts. They will be a more coral looking, organic form **see below**.  This is not mine, it’s just an example, but it’s along the lines of what I’m going for.

What does Yorik coral mean for my persona?  It’s essentially a material where symbiotic creatures were implanted or grown within it to perform the certain functions.  I plan to cultivate Midichlorians into the organic lattic which will function in symbiote with me. I will feed them with dark side energy and they, in turn, will enhance my dark side abilities. Having semi-sentient weaponry certainly has the potential for draw backs, though as this isn’t a parasitic relationship there is no reason for my sabers to turn on me. And it ensures that no one else will be able to use my weapons against me. Besides, I wouldn’t be Sith if I wasn’t willing to risk a little. Or a lot.

I’ll be using a copper pipe base for the electronic housing and sculpting epoxy for the outside aesthetic.  I will also be incorporating a Labradorite sphere as pommel and another crystal for enhanced saber abilities.

With any luck I’ll be able to get to this in the next couple weeks! Stoked.

Welcome to my Asylum

Hi there. I’m Haven.

I’m a whole lot of things that probably shouldn’t fit together but manage to converge inside one mind regardless. Not just the bits on this page but a whole ball of tumbled craze, rage, and ecstasy. Accept me for who I am and join the game or … click that little X up in the right hand corner of your window. Primarily, I blog over at Beyond the Borderline Personality which is an attempt to record my life living with BPD; educate and inform about what the problem actually is. However, in doing this I realize I have a lot more to say; things going on, that have absolutely nothing to do with BPD. I’m much more than my disorder. I thought I’d open up a window to let you in to all the other aspects of life that color my world.

This will be an absolutely random hodgepodge collection of the things that come up in my life. The adventures I get up to. The projects I take one. The art I create. The recipes I devise. The things I want to remember. The events I host, attend, and crash. The issues I take up with. The ranting I suppress. The love I express. A glimpse into the madness I keep caged inside. Waging a war against a world as I perceive it in hopes that victory will break the chains I’ve wrapped around myself. The only thing holding me back is me. This is where I release.
All of it.
So come seek asylum with me or sit back and monitor the madness.
I’m happy to have your acquaintance.