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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Benny's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, June 26th, 2011
7:25 pm
Plan A v5.7?
So I'm looking at other school options, rather than just UW-Madison. Since I've been spending more time in Chicago lately the city is scaring me less (a lot less) and I'm finding that I actually can like being there. It helps to have some positive associations, which I do now (big time).

So then I realized that University of Chicago is actually an option for me. Being a private school it IS more expensive, but it's one of the best schools for astrophysics, and it would be silly for me to shoot for a pretty-good school instead of a great one. BUT my credits from MATC probably won't transfer properly there, which would be a really serious problem.

So... That would mean moving to IL sooner, and starting classes somewhere there instead.

I still need to do more research to see if UC accepts students from City Colleges of Chicago, but so far that looks like my best option.

So v5.7 is this: Finish my Accounting certificate at MATC and graduate May 2012 (or maybe Aug 2012 if I have to). Find a bookkeeping job (or some other office job) in Chicago and move there and live in the city for 6 months and establish in-district residency for whichever CCC school seems best for the Baccalaurate Transfer Associate in Science program. Then start at CCC in Jan 2013, start at UC Jan 2015 or Sept 2015 (depending on stuff), graduate, go to grad school etc (where? I dunno. As long as I'm shooting big here let's say MIT).

I know some of my friends will be sad to hear I'm thinking about moving out of Madison - but I've been stifled here for awhile. The only thing that has kept me here lately has been a combination of fear, and really not wanting to leave Peter and my friends. But Chicago is not that far away, and I would probably still visit Madison a lot, and Peter and I can find a way to make things work I hope.

Well, we'll see. I have a year to figure it out.

Edit: I'm also looking into other options for grad school, just 'cause. And this one jumped out at me: UCSC Science Communication Program.
Thursday, April 28th, 2011
10:02 pm
3 eggs
1 Tbsp chive cream cheese (full fat of course)

Monday, April 25th, 2011
11:07 am
Writer's Block: Good morning, star shine
On spaceflights, astronauts are awakened by songs of their choosing. What song would you pick?
Future Soon by Jonathan Coulton. Hopefully it would make everyone a little nervous. :)
Tuesday, April 19th, 2011
9:10 pm
Low Carb Recipe - Benny's Pesto Scramble
Came up with a recipe tonight I really enjoyed:

1 lb ground turkey (beef would work too)
4oz can mushroom pieces (fresh would work great too)
5 large eggs
1/4 cup premade pesto (I used Classico)
Salt to taste (I used none)

1) Brown and drain the ground turkey/beef.
2) Add the mushrooms.
3) Scramble the eggs in a bowl, and add to the pan.
4) Immediately add the pesto. Mix well as the eggs cook.
5) Allow to rest a few minutes before serving.

4 servings, approx 3.5 g carbs per serving.
Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
9:42 pm
Healthy living, weight loss, and rewards
So I started a low-carb eating plan a week ago. I don't need to get into the details here, but I'm feeling pretty dedicated to seeing if this kind of dietary plan will help me accomplish what other plans did not.

1) If you want to be put on my new weightloss/healthy living filter please OPT IN on this post. I will only add those who actually want to read that shit, if any of you do. If no one cares, I'll just write for myself. I totally understand how incredibly annoying other people's fitness related posts are if you don't feel like reading them.

2) I intend to set myself some milestones on this journey, and some rewards for reaching them. Ideas are helpful! I do need to say though that things I normally do for myself and things I SHOULD do for myself shouldn't be on that list. Rewards should be things that I would not otherwise let myself do - really indulgent shit.

3) Any podcasts you all might know of that can help keep me motivated will help! I'm particularly interested in those that avoid spiritual stuff, and/or emphasize muscle gain/weight lifting but anything is worth checking out!
Sunday, January 23rd, 2011
8:55 pm
Plan A.
Sunday, December 5th, 2010
10:26 pm
So that was scary as hell
I came home around 9 tonight, and went up onto my porch and immediately smelled gas. I opened the door to my apartment, and smelled A LOT of gas. I set down my backpack, turned around, and walked right back out to my car in the parking lot, got in, and looked up MG&E on my phone. Found the emergency number, called. Waited around for awhile in my car....

The MG&E truck pulled up about 20 min later, and I talked to the guy. He used his sensor thing around our gas meters where it did sense some gas but not as much as I smelled. Then I took him in the front door near apartment 1 (not my private entrance) and the sensor went CRAZY. He left the front door open to vent. We first went downstairs to the furnaces, but there was no reading of gas down there at all. We came back up stairs, and to my apartment (which is the only occupied one on the second floor). My apt is directly above where that crazy reading was by the front door, and my apartment also had the little sensor thing going crazy.

At this point it was quite clear that there was a major problem somewhere. I don't have any gas appliances though, so we then went to the apartment below mine - Apt 1. It's right by the door, has a big "No smoking - Oxygen in use" sign on the door, and contains the very old man that heats his apartment up so high that it heats mine too. We clearly have some major air-leakage between our two apartments as the heat situation has demonstrated.

Anyway, the guy was home, and upon the door being opened to his apt it was clear the source was in there. He couldn't smell it AT ALL, but the MG&E guy had him come out of the apt and he went in and found that my neighbor had turned one burner of his stove all the way on, but it hadn't lit. It was just POURING gas into the apartment and my neighbor hadn't noticed.

So the burner was turned off, many windows and doors in our building are open. Privately the MG&E guy basically told me I saved all of our lives tonight. REMINDER: This neighbor has OXYGEN TANKS IN HIS APARTMENT. I'm officially now terrified of my elderly neighbor.

I need a drink.
Friday, November 26th, 2010
4:03 pm
Today I bought 100 yards of flannel, and a serger. $300.

I win.
Thursday, November 25th, 2010
8:31 pm
A family visit
I was in a pretty terrible mood this week. Monday through Wed I was cranky, lonely, frustrated, and generally kind of depressed. But I was really looking forward to Thanksgiving when I would go to Milwaukee and see my family, and especially my brother who I only get to see on very rare occasions.

Wed night was particularly bad. As some friends went off to visit family and others I worked quite late at work, then went to my studio to sew. While I got done, once it was empty of studio-mates a deep loneliness hit which simply didn't go away until I finally fell asleep, pretty late.

Today I went to see my family. Many of you know that while I get along with my parents quite well, my sister and brother keep a lot of distance from me and this isn't something I'm happy about. Also NO ONE in my family recognizes me as male - they all use my old name and female pronouns. They simply don't SEE ME at all.

Another thing I may not have said to many people is that my parents happily welcome my sibblings into their home, they feel very at home there, and around holidays both of them stay at my parents house for a few days. My sister arrived there yesterday and will stay until Sunday. My brother has been staying there for a few days now and will for a few more (I don't know exactly). They have Mii's on the family Wii, the dogs respond to their calls, and my brother knows how to use my parents complicated TV systems, computers etc. Both of them know where everything goes in the kitchen.

I... don't. I don't belong there. I'm not allowed to sleep there, I don't feel welcome. When I was with a partner this didn't bother me quite as much, but the thing with the Wii happened the day AFTER Jinx dumped me last year, and it was the start of a very extreme sense that the four of them are a family - one that doesn't include me.

Today was worse. Everyone helped cook - except me. No one asked me to help with dishes - Becca and Jon fought over who would wash them (good naturedly) even as I offered to wash if someone would help me find where things go.

My brother, who's about to turn 27, is finished with grad school and working on some extra coursework to get into med school, acted like a 16 year old macho asshole all day. Maybe he's always been like this and I either didn't notice or wasn't around enough to see it, but he's RUDE. He was really bristly to me, and I got the sense that he straight up doesn't want me around. In fact, there was a sense of competitive machismo about it that made me wonder a little if he isn't trying to prove he's more masculine than me (he definitely is) but I can't be sure.

I tried to talk a little to Mom about my thoughts on life plans - ie stay in school, quit school, get a foster care license, settle with my current job and not try to do better, give up on having kids or a career etc. Her position wasn't very helpful - she continues to think I shouldn't have kids. While this isn't a surprise, it's painful to realize that she'll just never be supportive. To make matters worse Becca chimed in too - saying there's no way someone who's single and "so uneducated" should have a family. "You really need to get a good degree to have a family." Mom also insinuated that she regrets having adopted us - something she's said in other ways before, and I simply don't know how to take that. She feels she gave up having a life to have a family, and it's a hard thing to hear. I want to APOLOGIZE for existing, except that it's completely not my fault, and it's not like I'm even existing because of her - I would have been born anyway! She also said she doesn't feel like she did a very good job as a parent, which FLOORS me. I mean, she has 3 healthy adult children, two with good educations (and me working on mine), none of us are criminals or addicts or even unhappy! What on earth is the goal of parenting if it's not to have your kids grow up to be successful and happy? I KNOW she doesn't see having a family or even marriage as the indicator of success, so I have no idea what she's on about there.

Mom and I also had a disagreement about polyamory again. I REALLY REALLY REALLY wish I'd never come out to her about that. I don't know how it could have been avoided, but she blames everything in my life over it.

So I made her cry during this talk (that's not unusual, but still makes me hurt). And my brother just abandoned the conversation entirely to watch football.

Also, Mom told me that she has a couple of thyroid growths. She's having a biopsy this week, but the idea of her being sick again isn't fun. I'm hoping it's benign and they can take it out without much trouble, but she seems really worried.

Finally, Granny (my mother's mother) is still alive. Her illness is really wearing on Mom. And there's nothing I can do because I'm definitely not allowed to go down there and see her, or help or anything.

I visited Sheryn for a bit afterward, which did make me feel a little better. Sheryn is awesome and I didn't have to pretend to be someone I'm not and that was great.

Then I came home. I originally intended to hang out with BabyCharley this evening but I'm just not up for it so I'm doing laundry and having a drink and maybe I'll watch BSG or play WOW or something.

So yeah.... Thanksgiving. Sucked.

And I have to do it all again around Christmas. Maybe I will just refuse to talk about my life plans and romantic life with my family ever again?
9:23 am
I've had a weird year. I lost a lot.

But I still have things to be thankful for this year, and I'm going to focus on those:

I'm thankful for food on my desk. I went through some "I can't afford to eat" phases this year, which have brought my attention to how nice it is to be able to go into a grocery store and buy things I want to eat. Earlier in the year, I'm enormously thankful for Goodman's Center food pantry, who made sure I didn't starve over the summer. My goal this coming year is to donate at least twice as much food to them as I used out of the pantry, and I hope that some of you will think of the GC food pantry when planning your giving for this year.

I'm thankful for my job. I've been there nearly 7 years now, and it's a good job. It pays well, I have benefits, I'm getting overtime these days, they're paying the majority of my tuition, and I'm feeling pretty secure there.

I'm thankful for technology. I have a functional computer that brings me entertainment and information and education. I have a reliable iPod that keeps me from loosing my mind at work and brings me hours and hours of educational material each day. I have learned more from my iPod than from any other source since high school. I have a really cool new phone that amazes me with the ability to watch silly or touching videos and communicate with my friends and family anywhere and anytime I like.

I'm thankful for my cat. Tegan gives me a reason to come home, someone to chat with when I do, and warmth and cuddles when she feels like it.

Most importantly I'm thankful for the people in my life who I love and who love me. My parents are really outstanding people who keep me around and love me despite my faults. My siblings are amazing smart and deeply good people. My boyfriend is hot, and sweet, and a huge pleasure to be around. My friends... I completely depend on you guys. I cannot express my gratitude for all who helped me through this year, with fun experiences, pep talks, shoulders to cry on, opportunities to learn, and simply love. You mean the world to me. Thank you.
Friday, November 19th, 2010
11:02 pm
Learning new things is important to me, and lately it's been more of an interest in new skills (rather than just new facts).

Things I WANT to learn to do:
Make fried rice
Grow more food (I started last summer, can do better)
Leather working
Ride a motorcycle
Build a website
Film and edit video
Baking pie

Skills I want to improve (practice makes perfect):
Giving blowjobs
Baking bread
Dog training
Making podcasts

Skills I want to relearn (Things I used to know and have lost):
Speaking French
Riding Horses
Playing Piano

I'm sure there's TONS more, but these are a start.
Thursday, November 18th, 2010
6:10 pm
It appears that a refurbished Macbook is $849. That's about $100 more than the Dell computer I wanted, and I'm willing to pay it. I just need to wait another month (maybe a little more) to have all of the money I need for it (and still have anything left in my account) and then I think I'll do that.

Probably. There's always the chance something terrible could happen in the next month, but IF I manage to pull a B in my accounting class this semester (unlikely but possible) I'll be getting $700 from WPS next month, which would make the decision easy.

It's not an ideal situation - I really wanted to use this as an opportunity to rebuild credit. But I'll get a very nice computer that I really want and that's the most important part for me right now.
Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
9:29 pm
As you probably know, my house foreclosed in August. I've been spending the several months before that paying off debts (repurchasing my car, paying off a huge MG&E bill, money I owed to various other people and companies) and I'm caught up. I've been caught up for a little while now, with the exception of an on-going situation with my medical provider and I'll be paying that off at about the same rate as I rack up new charges for... well, forever.

But foreclosure does really serious damage to one's credit so I want to rebuild my credit, in the hope that SOMEDAY I might be able to buy a car or a condo or something. Plus having a decent credit score is important for getting that foster care license I want at some point. But upon the foreclosure I only had 2 credit lines open to me - My JCPenny card which I hadn't used in a few years, and my Dell account.

I've used the JCP card twice now, and am paying it off a little more slowly than I need to because your credit doesn't recover if you don't pay any interest. So I'm paying more than required, but less than I can, and I'm paying on time. So far so good.

Upon my last paycheck I finally got enough money together that I can buy a laptop now. But instead of paying for it straight away, I decided to get a nicer one through Dell using my preferred account so I could use that as a second credit-rebuilding opportunity. I picked out a nice computer, went through all the options, thought long and hard about it and got really excited.

And THEN found out they'd suspended my account due to bad credit.

I was unaware that they'd do that. I guess it makes sense, but since I have always paid off my Dell account quickly in the past (I've bought my nice desktop and Jinx's netbook on it before, and NEVER been late) I figured that would count for something.

So now what? Well I still want a laptop, so I'm going to look at used ones or maybe save for another 2-3 months and get an Apple. I've kind of always wanted a Macbook, and I'm halfway to the $1K it costs already. But a used or low-end new computer would be a much more responsible decision....

Or getting no laptop, which would be even more responsible. But also seriously disappointing.

Well, I'm not going to decide tonight. But if you (or anyone you know) wants to sell me a functional laptop, I'll strongly consider it.

What's most frustrating about this? Other than the foreclosure I've been very responsible about money. And I wasn't the one who's job fell apart (but I don't blame her either).
Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
2:46 pm
Thursday, August 19th, 2010
10:07 am
An open letter
(for those who are confused, read this first.)

Dear Dr. Laura,

In the aftermath of your ignorant bigoted rant on your show you have said that you feel your constitutional right to free speech has been threatened. I would like to clarify for you what a right to free speech means.

First of all, the constitution bars the government from making any law or taking any action to prevent you from your hate-filled diatribes. As far as I can see the government has not stepped in on this situation at all, so your right to free speech has not been infringed upon.

What the constitution does not do is prevent citizens, companies, and other media outlets from our right to free speech as well - including our right to point out that you have made a grave mistake in your repeated use of the n-word and your assertion that there is something wrong with interracial marriage. I have the right to call you a bigot. The companies that supported your radio show have a right (and responsibility) to pull their sponsorships. The media has the right (and again responsibility) to discuss this issue and point out your misbehavior.

I'm glad to hear you will be ending your radio show. Your racist and homophobic views have been on the air far too long.

Sunday, July 11th, 2010
10:19 am
I've seen a few movies in the theater since Jinx and I broke up 6 months ago (it's been 6 months? Wow). I did a few of these alone, and learned that I can see a movie alone and not feel like crap about it, which is good. The really good ones I think I'd rather see with someone, but I'm not letting loneliness keep me from doing something fun and that's a good thing.

The most recent movie I saw was Toy Story 3. I just wanted to take a minute to recommend that you all go see it. I'm not doing this because I make a general recommendation on all Pixar films (I do), but because this one was shockingly good. I was pretty upset when I found out they are doing more sequels (this one, followed by Cars 2), but of the three Toy Story movies I actually think this one is the best, especially for adults. The characters are TOTALLY consistent with their old selves, and the story has real tension and suspense!

I don't think it matters much if you see the 2D or 3D though. I found the 3D work to be sort of unremarkable, and I doubt anything would be lost in the 2D version. The POINT is the excellent story and the outstanding world building Pixar does.

I intend to go see Despicable Me sometime soon. It's no Pixar, but I have been hearing good reviews. My expectations are pretty low because I totally hated the trailers for it, but we'll see. I'll see it 2D as a matinee to avoid paying too much, but I'll try to remember to post about it if it's good.
Thursday, April 8th, 2010
1:18 am
I have 1 lb shelled and chopped walnuts that need using. Any recipe suggestions?

Additional ingredients cannot be expensive. I have (or can get) all the basics.
Monday, March 29th, 2010
6:55 pm
I planted my container garden today, or at least most of it. I still have a bit more I'd like to do, but I got a lot done today.

I have 2 1 gallon buckets with beans (these will need to be re-potted eventually if they grow), a 3 gallon bucket with zucchini and 5 gallon buckets with white onions, yellow squash, and sugar snap peas. Also there is a small ceramic pot I found in my stuff from when I had my gallbladder out, and I put some wildflower seeds in that one.

I have no idea what will or will not grow, but I used good drainage and soil (damn that's expensive!) and they have full sun and I'll water a lot - so we shall see.

I still want to get one or two more buckets and a tomato plant and a dwarf eggplant. I can't do those from seed because it's too late, but I can get a small plant from a garden center and try that out.
Thursday, March 4th, 2010
7:13 pm
I need 3 or so sets of arms for 15 minutes tomorrow evening at 5 pm to move a large heavy object. Please?
Thursday, February 11th, 2010
6:38 pm
Since I intend on staying in my current apartment for a few years, and I have a really big porch, I would like to get a nice charcoal grill. It doesn't need to be highly portable (I have a tailgating weber for that) but it does need to be able to go up the stairs to my deck, which is on the second floor. It also can't be SO heavy that it's a threat to building integrity (the deck is actually a roof), but I doubt that would be a threat with anything I could afford anyway.

I am willing to spend up to $400 (perhaps more with REALLY good reviews and capablities). I would intend to make this purchase in May, so I have a few months to save for it. My car will be paid off a week from now, so I'll be able to have money again!

I feel strongly about using charcoal instead of gas. I want something that will serve several people, be easy to clean out (ash buildup was a huge hassle with my old one), and will last a long time.

Why do I want this, you ask? Because I love entertaining, but I no longer have a house to do it with. I no longer have a firepit, a yard, or even a TV. But I DO have a nice big porch and a telescope, so I figured I can throw a few good barbecues this summer, and show some folks a planet or two. It'll be nice to have people over again.

So if you have some suggestions for a certain grill to get, or even a good review website to suggest let me know. I'll spend this evening googling and looking, but I'm really interested in hearing if any of you have bought a grill in WI and have a good suggestion.

Edit: After doing some research I'm strongly considering the Weber 847001. Comments?
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