So you've heard about SOPA and PIPA. And you've heard about the internet blackout today by many of the big sites protesting the passage of these bills.
Mel, over at Stirrup Queens, had an awesome idea (because she is full of awesome ideas, and full of awesome, in general): that instead of going dark in protest, she was going to sponsor a Free Advice Day, a positive alternative to the blackout, proving what good the internet CAN do when people are given the opportunity to put their heads together (which they should really do to brainstorm a better way to prevent piracy).
I realize that I give advice all the time on this blog. I probably sound downright preachy sometimes. Cook this, do yoga, love your neighbor. Hopefully it doesn't come off sounding like I know anything about the answers to Life, the Universe, and Everything, because the best response I've got for that was 42, and I got that out of a book I read a while ago (I bet you've read it, too).
So, from someone who doesn't really have the answers to anything, here's my unique, never-printed-anywhere-else contribution to Free Advice Day:
Wave to your Garbage Men.
This is actually a corollary to a more comprehensive piece of advice, which is Appreciate the People Who are Underappreciated and Underpaid, and includes administrative assistants, clerks, the people at the DMV, the people working the counter at your local post office, your mail carrier ... you get the idea. But let me elaborate.
On garbage day, my street usually looks like this:
Note the upturned garbage cans, tossed to the side of the road. This is actually an unusually good day, too. More often they're rolling around, halfway down the street, especially on a windy day like today. In fact, about a year ago we invested in a turn-over-proof garbage can, because ours became so damaged from the weekly abuse.
Now before you start thinking I'm critiquing the garbage men (and yes, they are men, so that's what I'm going to call them) ... this is not a job I would want. Maybe it pays well, but it's smelly. It's thankless. People heap all kinds of stuff at the curb that they are barely willing to touch themselves. And in the wintertime, like this morning, it's damn cold.
But, dear readers, I submit to you, our garbage can, post-collection, without any manipulation:
Yes, it has been rolled back up our driveway.
I have no idea whether it's legal for our garbage men to do this, but they do, without fail, every week, starting about two months ago. So, what's my secret? To what do I owe this remarkable garbage can treatment?
Every Wednesday morning, on garbage day, I stand with my 11 month old daughter at the door, and I wave to them. And she waves to them. Because I taught her to wave to them. And I stick my head out the door and say thank you. And they honk the horn, and they wave back, and they smile, and they roll my garbage can, right side up, back up my driveway.
Think about it. How many people do you think stop to wave to the garbage men? How many people do you think remember that the garbage men exist? When was the last time you waved at the garbage man?
Or, to put it another way: when was the last time you appreciated the people who do the crappy jobs that make your life easier? (I'd love to show you Pete Souza's picture of President Obama fistpumping a janitor here, but I'm not sure SOPA would let me. So I will offer a link instead: http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/4190811941/ ... )
Now, it's unlikely that if everyone waves at the garbage men, they will begin to roll everyone's garbage cans up their driveway, because it takes more time to do that, and they have a route to finish. But perhaps they wouldn't toss them down the street. Besides, would it really kill us to be thankful? Even if they're "just doing their job"?
they both are and are not protected. While all of the pictures and thoughts are my own, a lot of the recipes I share here are ones I've taken from somewhere else and tweaked. Sometimes I attribute, sometimes I'm less diligent about attributing. I suspect that if SOPA passed, I could be shut down, that is, if anyone cared about my blog enough.
So while the internet is still a free place, here's one that was simmering on the stove as we watched the garbage truck drive by. Make it for people you need to appreciate, and make the world a little warmer place to live.
Winter Vegetable Soup
adapted from the New Basics Cookbook
3 T. olive oil
3 T. unsalted butter2 c. diced leeks
1 1/2 c. diced onions
1 c. diced celery
1 1/2 t. dried tarragon
1/2 t. dried thyme
smoked sea salt and pepper to taste
5 c. stock
2 1/2 c. diced potatoes
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed (or 1 lb. fresh, cut into chiffonade)
In large soup pot, heat olive oil and melt butter, then add leeks, onion and celery. Cook over low heat until the vegetables are beginning to become transparent. Add herbs and spices, and stir well.
Add stock and potatoes; simmer until tender but not mushy (about 15 minutes). Add half the spinach, simmer 1 minute.
Remove from heat. Puree half the soup (a stick blender doesn't work as well here because the spinach doesn't seem to puree, so I recommend using a blender) and return it to the pot.
Simmer the soup over low heat and add the remaining spinach and the cream, being careful not to boil. Heat through, adjust seasoning, and serve.