I support our troops by drinking beer with them

On Saturday night Ian, our friend Scott and I went up to The Flying Saucer for a surprise going-away party for four friends in the 278th armored cavalry regiment (which, according to Wikipedia, has been active since before 1780 and was involved in the Revolutionary War) who are being deployed to Iraq after the first of the year. Again.

John, Wes, G.L. and Matt. Those are their names. Their wives are our friends Christy, Amanda and Autumn. I’m putting them here as a reminder to myself, mostly, that no matter what your politics are, real people are still being sent over to really fucked up places. And whether or not I think we helped fuck up those places, or how I feel about a U.S. presence still remaining over there, the fact remains that people’s husbands, wives, sons, daughters, parents and friends are still going there. Real people, not just names in a newspaper.

The going-away party was like most parties I’ve attended with this group of friends: Inebriated, incredibly fun and a bit out-of-control. Here’s to their quick and safe return so we can have more of the same.

My first vegetarian Thanksgiving: pwned!

I did it. I actually did it. I mean, I knew I would, I guess I just thought it would have been more difficult. Besides barbecue, turkey was one of my favorite meats in the entire world. Thanksgiving turkey, specifically.

But this year, despite a table full of two different kinds of Thanksgiving turkey, I didn’t even crave it. As Ian’s family gathered around the table filling their plates, they probably noticed me sitting there in silence for a few rare minutes. I was staring down the turkey, waiting for it to transform into some kind of miracle food, looking all tasty and magnificent, and start calling my name. But it didn’t. It just sat there, looking like the corpse of a dead bird raised squashed in captivity that never had a chance.

I happily ate the side items.

At dinner with Ian’s dad and dad’s wife later that night, turkey and ham were served again. We were at Maggiano’s family-style Thanksgiving, though, where you order several different dishes in addition to the turkey and ham. I was grateful that four-cheese ravioli and several non-meat side dishes were available and everyone agreed we could select them.

I had been preparing myself for Thanksgiving almost since I initially started eating vegetarian, thinking it would take a miracle to resist turkey since I’m not exactly Mrs. Willpower. But I underestimated myself, apparently. Sitting there in front of the turkey and ham at both dinners, it seemed perfectly natural to not even consider eating them.

That makes me incredibly happy. It makes me feel like I’ve reached a milestone—that if I no longer worry about struggling with missing a certain meat dish, maybe I’ll really be able to do this. It also makes me more confident that I am doing the right thing for my body—for myself in general, I suppose.

And hopefully some turkeys appreciate it, too. :)

What’s in a (domain) name?

In the nearly four and a half years that I’ve been blogging, my blog’s URL and name have changed a few times. I know it’s annoying, and I thank you for sticking around. And I’m sorry for the following question, but I am having a bit of an identity crisis and I need help.

Regular readers of this blog know that last year I got married, and subsequently changed my name from Megan Goodchild to Megan Morris. While Megan Goodchild was a great name to use online, where consistency is key, it was a pain in the ass in real life most of the time. (“Oh and are you a good child? Heeheehee!” Yeah good one there, Dane Cook, you’re totally the first person I’ve heard that from in 30 years. )

Megan Morris, on the other hand, is an awesome real-life name (I realized shortly after changing my name that I was flinching before saying my maiden name out loud. And as a bonus, Megan Morris has a nice alliteration to it and kind of sounds like it could belong to a redheaded siren holding a pint of Guinness in one hand while punching a leprechaun with the other), but nonetheless it has posed some problems for my online identity.

When I registered this domain, I was trying to decide between megmorris.com and meganmorris.net. I decided against the .net convention, and was somewhat OK with megmorris because 1. my mom and sisters call me Meg, and 2. if you take into consideration my initials including my maiden name, megmorris accurately reflects my name (Megan Emily Goodchild Morris).

But here’s the problem: I don’t want to retain my maiden name. And nobody but my mom and sisters (and the occasional old friend) calls me Meg, so when I get emails or tweets from someone I barely know calling me Meg, it kind of freaks me out a bit.

Several months ago I set up a new Google ID and Gmail account for this new name, which was tricky in itself. Google doesn’t allow you to use IDs that are anywhere close to what someone else has, so even though someone had already taken meganmorris, I couldn’t be megan.morris. I think even megmorris was taken, so I eventually decided to incorporate my middle name and selected meganemilymorris. I have never used my middle name for anything, personal or professional, but it seems to work and I like it just fine for a secondary email address and a Google ID.

Which brings me to my current quandary: Do I keep this blog here and build out my main website on megmorris.com as well, even though I’m not super happy with the domain? Or do I move everything over to meganemilymorris.com, which I already own, to kind of make things more consistent (and reflect my name more accurately)? Or is there something else I should do entirely? I’m looking for a solution that keeps search-engine optimization in mind but also reflects me.

(And waiting for meganmorris.com to open up doesn’t seem to be an option. There’s a chick blogging there who doesn’t seem like she’s going to quit any time soon. And I think emailing her to ask if she’s married or planning on getting that way seems a bit, um, creepy.)

So what say you, Internet marketing specialists? Or anyone? Thoughts?

While they weren’t trying to catch the perfect wave

I was telling my coworker Ben about my love for Keanu Reeves (shut up), and the discussion spiraled (elevated?) into how Point Break was the best movie ever because it combined Swayze, Keanu and Gary MFing Busey.

Later, Ben sent me this picture for consideration as our official wolfpack logo. Obviously it was approved.

I love that my desk is starting to resemble a demented college kid’s dorm room and nobody seems to care. My coworkers rule.

The vegetarian thing

Several people have asked me how “the vegetarian thing” has been going, so I thought it might be nice to post an update here. As a recap, I’ve not eaten meat since Aug. 10, 2009, and I made the conscious decision to not eat it anymore on Aug. 13, 2009. (For three days I had just accidentally not eaten it. I wasn’t actually trying to avoid it.)

For the first month or so, my biggest problem was the gassiness that comes with eating vegetarian. Beans are a great source of protein and I was eating a lot, and I guess my body just wasn’t used to it. So I hit the simethicone hard, and things have pretty much worked themselves out now. I do still take simethicone after I eat a meal that mainly consists of beans, just to do everyone around me a favor.

After about six weeks, I realized I had gained about five or six pounds. Whether it’s my scale or my body, my weight always fluctuated by a pound or two, usually coming in at 124 or 125 pounds. Now I’m a constant 130. Which I suppose isn’t really that bad, seeing as how I’m 5’8″. But there are a few shirts I can’t wear anymore, and I’ve had to relegate a few pairs of pants to the “weekend” pile, if you know what I mean.

At first I was pretty upset about the weight gain, but in all honestly I feel really good. I don’t feel fat, and if I have to go out and buy a few new pairs of pants, oh well. There are bigger things in my life I could spend my time worrying about, and five pounds really just don’t seem worth it. Even at 125 I felt like I needed to tone a bit, and I still do, so I’ll probably end up using the gym membership I have until February. Maybe. I’ve had it for a few weeks and haven’t gone, though, so we’ll see.

As far as the difficulty in not eating meat, there really isn’t any unless I’m super starving. And even then it’s not that I miss meat, it’s just that I feel like I’m on the verge of a low-blood sugar crash and it would be so much easier to stop at McDonald’s and grab a cheeseburger instead of going home and fixing spinach or a veggie burger.

Some people have suggested that instead of keeping with the vegetarianism, I instead seek out locally grown beef, chicken and pork so that I don’t have to worry about the way they’re treated or the hormones that are pumped into them. And while I think that is a great way for meat eaters to get their food, I just don’t think it would work for me. I know myself, and that would be a slippery slope. It would not be a stretch for me to be out at a restaurant and order a meat dish just because I was a meat eater again. Years ago I stopped eating beef after I read My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki (a great book, by the way—one of my favorites), but it didn’t take more than a few months before I fell off the wagon after numerous dinners with friends and family members where beef was served.

Ian and I just watched Food Inc. tonight, and I will say that if I wasn’t a vegetarian already I would have made the commitment tonight after seeing that film. I know there are a lot of problems with genetically engineered vegetables, and I understand, as Ian put it, that I’m not doing the world any favors by eating them.

But I do know that I am not encouraging the inhumane treatment of chickens, pigs and cows. I am not responsible for the way they are crushed to death, made to walk on broken legs or thrown into grinders while still alive and crying, scared and helpless.

And like I’ve told a few people who have told me that my not eating meat doesn’t matter: Just because I can’t fix the entire problem with our food industry doesn’t mean I shouldn’t stop eating meat. Not being able to do everything perfectly doesn’t mean I should ignore what feels right to me.

Look at this fucking corporate shill

So you know all those annoying hipster kids that run around drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon “ironically”? You know, the beer that the rest of us drank when we were broke-ass college students barely making rent and it was either that or Natty Light? The beer that fills the styrofoam coolers of our redneck brethren at family barbecues or tailgates? But these kids drink it because it means “anti-mainstream” and “I do my own thing, I don’t follow society’s rules”?

Back in 2004, Pabst executed a highly effective word-of-mouth campaign that made the long-declining brand an “ironic downscale chic” choice for bike messengers and other younger drinkers who viewed the beer as a statement of non-mainstream taste. adage.com, as reported on freewilliamsburg.com

HAHAHA.

So all you kids drinking PBR because you think it makes you look cool and ironic and like you’re bucking mainstream? Yeah, you’re really just part of a corporate marketing campaign and you’re doing exactly what The Man intended for you to do.

Enjoy your shitty beer.

Apparently Murfreesboro Electric Department thinks it’s Ticketmaster now

To whom it may concern,

I visited your website to pay my electric bill today and noticed that you have instituted a “convenience fee” for online payments. I have been paying my bill online for a long time now and today is the first time I have seen this fee. I am curious as to why your business model now includes charging customers for something that is easier for both them and you, but also cuts down on waste? Have you had to hire additional employees to handle the online bill processing? Have you had to hire additional IT professionals or pay more in database or web hosting? I’m just wondering what the extra $5 is being used for.

The customer service rep I spoke to on the phone when I called to ask about this new fee made it painfully clear that Murfreesboro Electric Department has no intention of embracing any kind of technology (she was not aware of how email addresses worked, telling me I should send my email to “murfreesboroelectric.com, there was no ‘anyone @’ in this email address”), despite almost every other business in the country encouraging its customers to move to paperless billing and online bill payment not only to help cut down on paper waste but to make things simpler for everyone involved as well.

I realize that Murfreesboro Electric Department is a monopoly and I am going to have to either pay your convenience fee or suck it up and buy more checks and stamps, but I wanted to voice my displeasure as a customer in case you put any stock in your customers’ opinions. It’s sad that when Murfreesboro is making such great strides in moving toward being a more progressive town, its largest utility company is working to hinder its progress.

I look forward to your response, as I’ll be sharing it on my blog, Twitter and Facebook with other Murfreesboro residents.

Best,
Megan Morris

The Murfreesboro Electric Department thinks it's Ticketmaster now

——

UPDATE: See below for the email I received back. You’ll notice it doesn’t answer my question as to what the $5 is going toward. Also, apparently I can use a check, but not a credit card, and that doesn’t require a convenience fee. (Who the F uses checks still??) I guess my answer is that the $5 charge is to cover the cost of processing credit card payments to their processor. Which is still bullshit. EVERY merchant that accepts credit or debit cards pays a processing fee. Would you pay an additional fee at the grocery store or a clothing store to be able to use your credit or debit card? Why is it OK for the electric department to charge one, then?

The response

Toad and The Dude

Our Halloween party was a resounding success, if I may say so myself. And despite discovering that ~25 people is way too many to get an actual game of trivia going, there were several people rocking out to Guitar Hero: Van Halen and a ton of laughing, conversing, eating and drinking.

Oh, the drinking.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that any party where 100+ beers aren’t enough, a smoking-ass elephant is only second in interest next to Ian’s chest hair, a taco hands out Halloween candy to your neighbors and one of the cats eats a glowstick (and makes the stairs glow purple with his barf) counts as legendary.

I can’t wait until next year.

(Check out the pictures here.)