Sunday, September 5, 2010

An Ode To My Germaphobia


There once was a germaphobe named Pickle,
her thoughts towards germs never fickle.
She felt they were gross,
fears needing penicillin dose,
that ick would leave her with more than a tickle.

She packed all the stuff needed to clean,
fearing other travelers have bugs that lack a vaccine.
She hoped to avoid,
all those carrying Typhoid,
But at least leaves all surfaces fresh with a sheen.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Menacing Pickle, Wandering Somewhere Aimlessly Near You?


I’m shutting down the store from September 1 to October 10. Why? I’m hitting the road! Hopefully not in a literal splattering sense. Well, the skies actually. And as it now seems the trains, cars, buses and canyons of our great country. In 2009 Jetblue offered an All You Can Jet Pass, allowing holders to fly unlimited on Jetblue for a designated month. An unconfirmed number of lucky purchasers would be jetsetting during an otherwise slow flying time. I was not one of them. And I regretted it. For a year I discussed with friends what I would have done had I purchased one, the food, the visits, the fun. Well, they offered it again. I knew it would sell out in a matter of hours and had to make a choice. I pulled out the credit card, sucked up my fears and charged. At about 2am (it’s regular Pickle operating time) I became Menacing Pickle JetBlue AYCJ flyer. Holy crap. What have I done???

I have a lot of dreams, a big one being that I would get to see every state in The United States before I turn 35. For those playing at home, I will be missing that goal. I am getting closer though! To both seeing all the states and turning 35. One I’ll deny, the other I am really excited to talk about if you ask me. I hope to lead people in such misdirection about my age that at my death you’ll have to cut me in half and count the rings to disseminate the truth.

If you follow me on twitter or have met me in real life you know I love to read, it’s one of the things that has carried me through my battle with Lupus. I’ll read anything, fiction, non-fiction, horror, history. I don’t promise to like it, but I’ll read it and have an opinion. During times I have been bedridden or just trapped indoors I could always better who I was through someone else’s story, or at least distract myself. I could occupy my thoughts away from however unfortunate I found my own circumstances to be engrossed in other journeys. I’ve followed their heartbreak, their loves, their avoidance of strange creatures on stormy nights, page by page. I imagine their sights and foods, word by word. Some of these sights I had never seen outside google, and I have regrets over that. I want to understand the texts I read on a deeper level and see many of them for myself. When a character in a book drowns her sorrows in a serving of lasagna, I know what it tastes like. I can appreciate the oozing cheese, aromatic basil and carefully baked noodles. The care one takes not to have a bubbling morsel lick your chin when you inhale it before waiting for it to cool. But I don’t know what The Arches in Utah smell like, what the food cart in Portland tastes like, or if the people of Vancouver got to smell David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson. I’m going to know!

2:15AM…complete fear sets in. I have Lupus, and I will be exhausted. I thought “I have given up so much to this disease don’t give up this chance." I also thought “Stay home! Stay home! Stay home!” So many things that have crossed my path, not worth taking a risk on. "Don’t pass up one of the few things that could be worth that risk.” There are no written rules governing how I will travel, that I can’t nap instead of sight seeing. How I’ll choose to proceed from here, however slow or fast as I navigate my way. Yet, I’m scared. I know all too well how disappointing it is to be mid conversation, really hanging on the words of my companion and then distracted by how very tired I am. How much parts of me hurt, and that I have hit my limit for now. How I seem disinterested in them when I am really very interested but conflicted. This trip is both an exploration for me in miles and physically. My logic knows that my life will be stagnant where it is if I don’t push myself outside those boundaries, my body reminds me what happens when I push myself too hard. It’s not pretty. I keep telling myself I can return home, to bed at any time. It’s only a plane ride away, or a bed a hotel room away. I’m really hoping I make it through the whole month both to prove that I can learn to pace myself and because I really, really want this.

I want to meet so many of the people I have had only email and phone contact with regarding our battles of the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act. People I consider close friends who have launched letter campaigns and marched to save our businesses, mine and theirs. Many of us who lost our businesses and nervously began new ventures. I also have such a desire to meet people that are strangers as I write this but know they won’t be as I leave their state. All the people who are characters in their own stories, in books yet to be written.

It motivates and moves me to know the reason a bodega owner emigrated from another country to ours. Why the elderly couple next to me at a national monument made the trip. I look forward to hearing their stories, and yours if you are near somewhere I am landing. If you will be in a Jetblue city and would like to have a meal together or visit an attraction, I’d like to hear your story too.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where In The World is Pickle?

I'm going to be closing up shop for the month of September and part of October and hit the skies with JetBlue. Yup, I got an All You Can Jet Pass. I can hit as many cities Jet Blue flies to as often as I like for a month. This is going to help fulfill a dream of mine, to see every state in the country before I turn 35. I'll be closer, though no where near finished after this trip.

So far I have scheduled; Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Chicago, Wisconsin, San Jose, and of course a repeat trip to Vegas. I love food.

The toughies are going to be Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and either Austin or Houston where I have no contacts. I may have to leave Texas for another trip. I have a lot of folks in Dallas, so that would be easier.

If you live or have traveled in Phoenix or Salt Lake City, please let me know your experiences. Affordable places to stay, what to do and see. I would love to hit things the locals do and any spectacular nature sights like caves, trails, mountains. I would prefer not to rent a car, so public transportation or guided bus rides to them would be fantastic.
Stay tuned here for updates from the skies.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A fan letter to seafood



Dear shrimp,

Thank you for being born. And your buddy the oyster. And your hard to peel cousin the crawfish. I love you all. I loved you for an entire week and now I feel the symptoms of withdrawal coming on. I visited you in what may be your finest living quarters, New Orleans. I’ve inhaled you in many of your other residences through the years but New Orleans has to be your best address. Or at least where I enjoyed you most.

I want you to know you did not die without a good fight. I suffered for you, but in the end I won. You see, I am rather accident prone. I frequently exhibit cuts and scrapes on my hands from sewing. The Cajun spices you were cooked in got in there. EACH. AND. EVERY. TIME. I. ATE. YOU. Tears streaming down my face, I enjoyed you.

I first partook in the great war of my fingers vs shellfish at a café at The French Market. The waitress sat with me and gleefully showed me how a local peels crawfish and sucks the spiced boil out of you. I should mention my non seafood eating travel mate looked on in horror during the display, while I could do nothing but clap my hands like a toddler at the sight of my first birthday cake. Then I sucked down a pound of you. I was told by the saxophone player nearby that this is a brief seasonal delicacy available for only a matter of weeks a year. Imagine my timing, I was there for it! Shellfish, you probably aren’t as excited about the scheduling coincidence as I. Your loss. Pounds of you. In my belly.

Then, I discovered happy hour at John Besh’s Luke. I’m not much for the magic liquid, I prefer to eat my calories. People in New Orleans seem to take their happy hour very seriously. 7 days a week. From 3-6. I agree with them once I learned they serve $.25 oysters at Luke. Luke and I became frequent lovers. They had the largest and best tasting oysters I have ever seen. I enjoyed their blend of horseradish for the oysters, though they were so good they didn’t need any help. I can’t walk away from an opportunity to catch my sinus on fire, and took in that challenge.



I also partook in an entree of spectacular called Shrimp Farci. Crabmeat stuffed shrimp, fried with a blood orange hollandaise sauce for it to go diving in. The angioplasty I will need was worth it for the sauce. Which I dipped veggies (what was that green looking cauliflower?) and fries in. When I ran out of those I got a straw out and drank it. (not really, dining buddy would have stabbed me with fork)

While out strolling I passed by Acme Oyster House, without a line. Every other time I went by had a line. So I wandered in and threw down some chargrilled oysters. They were very, very tasty. Would I wait hours in line to get them when tons of other seafood places had smaller lines, nah. I would wait hours in line to get any of these items where I live, but not in New Orleans.

The highlight of my food jaunt was discovering Barbecue Shrimp. The New Orleans way, jumbo head-on Shrimp sautéed in Cajun seasoned butter. I went to Deanies Seafood with the intent of having a crawfish boil and some crabs. When I saw the guy next to me get the BBQ shrimp I knew I needed it. I picked an unfortunate day to wear a bell sleeved blouse and my hair loose. This is why rubber bands and stain removal were invented. If I could eat this every day without having a heart attack, I would. The dish is served with a loaf of bread to dunk in the leftover sauce. Like Luke, I went to Deanies more than once. I had a fascinating conversation with a bartender there. He sympathized with my totally-disgusted-with-my-seafood-eating friend and stated he doesn’t eat seafood either. I wonder, that must be like a PETA member working in a slaughterhouse. He said the tips made the working environment worthwhile since most people put the Cajun fire out with beer. I put the fire out with more seafood. Not effective but so delicious.

I had many other good meals, Po Boys at a couple places and breakfast at Mother’s. The debris at Mother’s was great but the ham honestly wasn’t the best I ever had, it was an experience to be had. This trip it was the seafood and the people that blew me away. I had amazing conversations with locals about their history and the history of their proud home. I brought back a large bag of spices to attempt my own crawfish boil and bbq shrimp. If not, I’ll be planning another trip to New Orleans.

Love,

Sarah Seafood Slurper

Ps.If I ever find a way to get the gigantic masks from Le Garage on Decatur back to my home, I’ll clear the place out. If you wonder what I am talking about, just go visit. Yes, those are for sale. I stood like an idiot with 1 in my arms trying to figure out how to get it home. And a suit of armor. In case the seafood fight back. I need to have it.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Power of online social networking to keep community safe

Throwing sheep and retweeting gossip are examples of uses of social networking. Spreading awareness is another. A recent challenge by DARPA proved just that http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2009-10/darpa-celebrates-internet-anniversary-bizarre-balloon-challenge

A group of students at MIT demonstrated that utilizing social networking in even a short period of time they could win the challenge. They employed the idea of prize sharing to do it. Contributing a portion of the $40,000 to anyone with valid information. They spread word they were doing it through twitter, facebook, myspace and other social networking sites. Friends told others on their networks and within hours MIT had won.

If the DARPA balloons were instead a missing child and the prize- community safety, wouldn’t it be great? Does the prize have to be monetary to encourage action by others?
Amber alerts are already a useful example of how this method is working. Now with E-STOP (The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act ) laws passing in a number of states we can use social networking tools to prevent criminals from committing crimes. People are encouraged to report on registered sex offenders who have an online presence. (details in previous blog post)

Is there anyone on your facebook/twitter that seems too good to be true?

Maybe their posts frequently don’t seem truthful or exaggerate things that are ridiculous?

They have listed employment you can't connect them to?

Are they name dropping individuals you could verify these details with?
Ask around. Maybe there is an explanation.

Many questionable people are using the internet to build new lives more in line with their fantasies and less in line with who they really are, often fleeing probation restrictions and other legal obligations.

These impostors are doing this to invade your community. You could be part of what is enabling them to fit in, using their association with you to make others feel comfortable around them when they normally wouldn’t belong. It’s your good character, network of friends and public information that is making it possible.

Do friends who also have this person listed really know them, followed them based on “people you may know” feature or because they were contacted by this individual?

Maybe others have the same doubts you do but were apprehensive to say anything?

Does anyone really know this person dating back farther than a short period of time or on a limited basis?

Do they seem to latch onto the idea of utilizing your contacts or paying special attention to you that makes you uncomfortable?

Are they attributing a greater connection to you than is comfortable?

Even if you can’t put a specific reason to why this person’s interactions bother you, that you feel unease at all is telling. Follow your instincts.
Check up on what you know about them, google is very useful. Your own network of friends in chat rooms, blog communities and social networking is the most useful.

Here are just a few examples of people that would have been caught sooner had others around them asked a few more questions

http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-travel-mystery26-2009nov26,0,6335281.story

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/09/man-who-claims-to-cure-cancer-and-aids-is-charged-with-pretending-to-be-a-medical-doctor.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/20/nyregion/urged-by-distraught-victims-judge-sends-fake-heir-to-prison.html

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/506629/my_experience_with_a_pathological_liar.html?cat=41

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/29/local/me-kidnapped29

http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-miss-hi-id-theft,0,3817347.story

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11770944/ns/dateline_nbc/



How well do you really know the people you gave access to your friends, family and co-workers?
Would you feel comfortable leaving them in your home unobserved? With your children, your gun collection, your valuables?
They can see all your hobbies and private family moments, but you may only be seeing a fictitious view they want you to see. Generally, that is the view of a wealthy, successful, family oriented person.

Do you personally know anyone who has seen their home? Not an “online” friend, someone you know beyond the cover of a computer screen or phone.
If you answered “no” there may be a reason why.
If it’s “yes”, were expectations in line with what they actually saw; homes, wealth, cars, family?

People easily forget most online interactions enable you to know only what someone wants you to. That’s what is so appealing. Thanks to the internet the line between “stranger” and “friend “ is blurred.

Someone tells you about previous experiences like employment or hobbies because they want you to know it. How often do people really check these statements? Generally, not until after a problem alerts them. Sometimes, not even then because they fear being wrong. Everyone is waiting for someone else to come forward.

Some online interactions could have less than decent intentions. That these “friends” utilize you for job and personal references with the goal of burying their previous lives under their new identity.

You can protect yourself from these types of people by asking yourself how well you really know them.

Can you vouch for their history enough that you can confirm without hesitation they were never incarcerated? Would it matter to you if you were wrong? What if it were a violent crime?

Look through who they consider “good friends.” How far back do these references know them? Do you know anyone who went to school with them? Worked in a job with them? Dated someone in their family?

Most people are surrounded by an assortment of friends from all stages in their life; childhood, career, school, neighbors, family, religion, etc. If a large portion of their life isn’t represented there is a reason why. Without knowing these details you are relying on someone’s self report which might not be anywhere near who they really are.

Do you see this person only once a year at an convention or workshop? Do you know anyone who has daily, personal contact with them and can confirm they are still employed where they say?

Do they claim to be an expert in an area you suspect they aren’t?
In interactions with them do you find yourself thinking “how could they not know that?”
Could they be making assertions of being an expert to get closer to a particular person, field of work, weapons or property?

These questions are all particularly important if you are considering marrying or raising children with someone. Not just for online interactions.

If you can’t account for every milestone period in their life (birth, upbringing, extended education/military, career, residence, family, origin of finances) then you really can’t say you know them. This is more than fearing someone will uncover you were a dork in a high school, slept with the football team in college and got fired for oversleeping in your 20’s. People don’t abandon entire periods of their life for average, embarrassing indiscretions.

If a portion of their history is absent it’s because they don’t want you to know. Why?
Are they fleeing from something?
Lacking in certifications or education for a job?
Avoiding court ordered payments like child support?

It’s important to look at how people have treated those around them, dealt with various situations through their entire lives to get a picture of who they really are. Otherwise it is a censored version that makes them desirable.

Many pathological liars and con artists build a life of fantasy using their real names or variations of their real names. Part of the excitement may be that they could get identified by someone from their past at any time or they feel they are so powerful it can't happen.

If your boyfriend/girlfriend conveys that everyone before you was psycho, run like hell. There is either a serious flaw in how they perceive others, who they attract or both. Most people have had A bad breakup, ALL bad breakups is telling. Healthy people are capable of having long standing, healthy relationships in work, friends, family and love interests. Not all interactions will be this way, but the majority should.

Reasonable people understand that everyone has made mistakes; infidelity, financial problems, drug problems, and brushes with criminal misconduct. Responsible, safe individuals learn from these experiences. Manipulative people learn how to keep doing them undiscovered rather than accepting situations where they have to reveal them and accept responsibility.

The people in the heart of these stories had to build complex lies to cover untruthful statements, eventually being deceitful about even insignificant details to cover their story. The best place to hide is in plain view. By forming a whole network of people they can blend in with, these con artists are using you to hide behind. Prevent it.

If you have encountered someone you are concerned about I recommend;
Contact police
Check sex offender registries http://www.familywatchdog.us/
Google their name
Look specifically for criminal cases or appeals by googling the following formats;
(with the quotes) “state v name” example “NY v Smith”
“state v. name”
“state vs name”
“state vs. name”
try both the state abbreviated and spelled out
try "name, APPELLANT" would look like " Smith, appellant"
http://www.findacase.com can often pick up appeals if not the actual case

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Online networking sites start purging sex offenders

I recently posted this link to my twitter http://www.democratandchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200991201013 and it garnered a lot of questions.
First, I would like to mention NY is not the first state to pass an "E-stop" law. The first I recall was Illinois, there will be others if there has not been already. http://www.switched.com/2009/08/14/social-networking-sites-off-limits-to-illinois-sex-offenders/

What is an E-stop law?

“We created e-STOP to help put an end to sexual predators using the Internet as a tool to prey on the innocent,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Facebook and MySpace are successfully using e-STOP to help make the Internet safer, and it’s time for all social networking sites to do their part to keep others from being senselessly victimized.”

E-STOP requires convicted sex offenders to register all their e-mail addresses, screen names and other Internet identifiers with the state."

This is a confusing law. Do I think it will keep sex offenders off the internet? Nope, not really. They broke they law when they chose to act in a predatory way and didn't care. Do I think it is a really useful tool? Yes.

Here's why.

My understanding from speaking casually with both attorneys and law enforcement is that this is a tool to prosecute more than prevent. Most importantly it will require these offenders to officially register their whereabouts online (email, websites, instant messengers, etc.) The registered email addresses could be monitored in some way. When they (offenders) create anonymous, unregistered accounts and get caught using those- it can lead to an E felony for the first violation.

How will they be caught? Worse case scenario in the event a new victim goes to law enforcement. More likely, people like you will turn them in.

In recent news there have been stories about felons casually using networking sites that lead to their capture http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=1f2_1255522762
Similarly, I expect others to be caught.

With tools like google few are completely safe from their past. Before these tools if someone didn't bump into those familiar with their conviction, they were comfortable to live anonymously and re-offend. Jobs and universities have been using social networking for years to "screen" the lives of their applicants. All those drunk, risque pics are coming back to haunt a lot of co-eds entering the business world.

The moment these offenders begin participating in social networking they are making themselves available for public scrutiny. They can choose not to do so. Involvement in networking sites is a privilege not a right. A truly rehabilitated individual should have no problem with registering their email address. People choose to give up their rights when they break the law. Want to retain the right to vote, own a gun, and freely use social networking without an appeals process...behave.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29289048/

How do I report someone in violation?
Call 9-1-1
your local/state police
or
http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=798#/help/contact.php?show_form=sex_offender
http://www.parentsformeganslaw.org/sortReport/sortReport.jsp
http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PageServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=169

addendum:
these are some states that are prosecuting
http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20100121/NEWS01/301210023 North Carolina
http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/news/local/Sex_offender_sends_Twitter_invite_to_probation_officer_jailed.html Texas

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A quick update about Wired Magazine's December issue

Hello to all who saw me in Wired Magazine’s December cover story. Don’t know what I am talking about? Check it out here http://www.wired.com/vanish/category/wired-issue-1712/

I wanted to acknowledge that I am the same menacingpickle from the story. Don't let the change in professions confuse you. It's me. I was always a costume designer/clothing maker but my secret double life has now been outed, more like a bunch of jaunts into a bizarre profession. It wasn't really a secret...I just didn't advertise it because it was too hard to explain through the years. Stay tuned for more...