Greater than any number

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
By Margo Page

As soon as I heard of Lexie Mountain’s plan to break the world record for the longest game of telephone at The Walter’s Art Museum, I was psyched. It sounded silly and fun, and according to the flyer art, would give me an excuse to dress like another animal. But mostly, it was exciting to me because it’s not every day that someone is daring enough to do something so outside of the norm. Few people are brave enough to set a quantitative goal publicly because everyone will know if you don’t reach it, and failure is associated with embarrassment and pity. But in some cases, failing is not a reflection of effort or capability, but instead it’s an indicator that you put yourself out there and attempted something that was truly challenging. And in the process of trying to achieve a truly challenging goal, something entirely different and unexpected might be achieved instead. When it was 12pm and we only had about 400 of the 1331 people we would need to break the record, it was pretty clear we weren’t going to make it unless Lexie’s call out to the baseball team was answered. It was then that I wondered, well if we’re not going to break the record, why does this still feel so important?

Was it because in our individualistic, competitive society, we all have an underlying desire to work collectively with strangers to reach a common goal? Was it because we talked with people we wouldn’t have met otherwise, like Lexie’s mom, Deb, who is super kind, interesting, and has a soul as deep as the ocean? Did it feel special because in today’s fast-paced world, people were taking some time out of their day to have fun as a community? Was it because we were helping someone else reach their goal, not for credit or to feel like a hero, because we weren’t doing anything besides being just a number? A goal that might even sound arbitrary to us, but was clearly important to them. Being there not because we totally understood why, but just because they asked? I think all of these were true for many of us, but it still wasn’t the whole picture.

As one of the volunteers, I was walking around, talking to the people waiting in line, and someone made a joke to me that struck me as super strange. I realized that most of us probably had very little in common. Except that for some reason, all of us – kids and the elderly, people from disparate cultures and parts of the world, belted khaki wearers and people with homemade tee-shirts weaving together references to the telephone game and the song “hotline bling” – were standing on a red line of tape, waiting. None of us had ever participated in a longest game of telephone, social art performance before. But we were doing it, despite feeling a mixture of vague confusion and silliness. I’m sure many people felt a slight awkwardness being next to strangers doing this slightly confusing and silly thing. It was unconventional, this line of people, meandering throughout the sacred territory of an art museum, playing a children’s game. But there we were – 504 of us, standing genuinely open, hopeful, and patient like curious soldiers, without a full understanding of what the importance of this was, or whether it was even important at all. I was asked a lot of questions, like, What number have we reached? When will it start? How long will it take for the message to get to me? Will we break the record? Do you know what kind of message it is? But no one had any of those answers. So there we all waited in relative uncertainty, without answers, without knowing what the outcome would be, just entertaining ourselves. Isn’t that life?

The event was silly and absurd, like the sentence I heard, “Seeing the mount of a goat boat,” and the final sentence, “There is a nurse elite called Eringe Juice.” It was also insightful, like the starting sentence Lexie chose by Hafiz, “What we speak becomes the house we live in.” It was also heartfelt. It was also beautiful. Life doesn’t separate our emotions and hand them to us on separate, labeled platters. Life opens all of our emotions, sometimes all at once. We were inspired, surprised, and touched by the experience, even though we might not be entirely sure of why or how. It emphasized many morals in a palpable way. Let’s be patient, it will eventually be our turn. Let’s accept the unknown, it will always exist. Let’s be gentle and kind to each other, we’re all in the same boat (a goat boat?). Let’s look around, because we might be standing right next to an amazing person, or an incredible, timeless work of art. Let’s enjoy our wait, because that end goal we’re hoping for might never be met, and the only thing that we can be sure of having is this very moment.


Being  a     sorta vegan

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
By Margo Page

Being a sorta vegan is no way to make friends. You’re too vegan-y for the carnivores and too carnivore-y for the vegetarians. They might not kick you out on the curb but you’re definitely going to miss out on the vegan bonding time. But I’ve always enjoyed fence sitting… chain link might hurt your butt but it always gives you the best view. I’m pretty sure that’s a worthless metaphor, but balancing yourself on a high fence is usually hilarious. Ok well now that I’ve sold you on my wonderful judgment I’ll get to the point…

Some negative spins on the concept include being a half-assed vegan, a wannabe vegan, and a cheating vegan. But being a sorta vegan is different. You’re not half-assing something if full-assing was never your intent in the first place, you’re not a wannabe if you don’t really wanna be, and you’re not cheating if you never took the vegan oath. Being up front with your sorta vegan status is much better than claiming veganhood and then having your vegan friend spy you sneaking a milk-based cookie up your sleeve, taking a bite in the bathroom and then solemnly burying the rest in the flower bed outside of the OK Natural Food Store on Preston Street while saying five Hail-Donald Watsons. Vegans are a little more elevated than me morally, and I’m ok with that. Being a total vegan is the ideal. But I’m not and I don’t feel like beating myself up over it now. Maybe in the future I will be, but I doubt it. I highly doubt I will ever decide to pass on all dairy desserts for the rest of my life. If I’ve had a few and someone puts a cheese pizza in front of me, more likely than not, I’m going to eat a piece (about a 90:10 chance, to be clear). And this is hard to say, but, I also eat meat sometimes. This sounds perplexing, I know. Usually veganism is considered so advanced, you’re only even allowed to think about it after you have successfully mastered the entire vegetarianism level. But I probably eat 98% less meat and dairy than before becoming a sorta vegan, so that’s a vastly positive move in my opinion.

Why not vegan                                                                                          gbheart

Everyone knows the benefits of veganism. There are the environmental benefits of eating vegan (reduced water usage and greenhouse gas emissions), the humane aspect of not using animals as slaves, not using selective breeding (warning: sad but not graphic) like breeding chickens so they lay an unnatural amount of eggs, the emotional benefits of knowing that you’re not ingesting another animal or drinking it’s lactation, and the health benefits of paying more attention to what you’re eating and eating food that’s healthier than meat. There’s quite a few invalid arguments against veganism still floating around, like getting enough protein and nutrients (have you ever seen a gorilla), and putting dairy farmers out of business (sorry for your loss, but maybe you can trade in your cow stalls for soybean stalks). Craving meat is often mentioned as a “need”, but as for the psychological aspect of it, slowly weaning yourself off of it does the trick. I’m an advocate for less and less often instead of cold turkey for quitting most things, especially at first. If you have a physical craving for meat, you’re probably low in zinc, iron or both and could use a supplement or alternative food sources. Some people go pale at the mention of not eating meat every day, but gradually cutting back to every other day, and then maybe twice a week is really not that difficult for anyone. Twice a week, that’s every three days… that means you only go two days at a stretch without eating meat. Before I ever ate tofu, I would want meat when I was really hungry. But now I’ve eaten tofu enough that I automatically associate tofu with satisfaction and want it when I’m hungry. Our brains are so amazing to adjust our tastes and preferences based on what we eat.

There are only two arguments against eating vegan that have any merit whatsoever, which are that vegan food products are not as good, and it can be more expensive. However, these are both becoming less and less true as the market demand continues to increase for vegan products, driving innovation for vegan food products, and eventually lowering the cost for them. Plus the majority of a vegan diet is fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains and legumes. So if you spend a dollar more on a vegan food product here and there the difference is pretty negligible. The couple of ways we can continue to influence our society into becoming more vegan is by word of mouth, and the capitalism method of voting with your dollars. Few people listen to me all that much, and I’m not buying truck loads of vegan food items, so like most of us, I’m not having much of an influence any way you spin it. But that’s really not important, because our roles in making this huge world a better place are all about the collective of our itty-bitty influences.

Preferring vegan products

A simple preference for vegan products goes a long way. Even when there isn’t a viable vegan option to buy, asking the servers what the vegan options are because you prefer to eat vegan can encourage store, cafe, bar, and restaurant owners to look into more vegan options. Sometimes the vegan options are kind of irritating and make me a little normous. Like when The Charmery in Hampden offers one random vegan flavor. They’re like “Oh we see you vegans, and we would like to offer you this… strawberry ice cream [smiling sarcastically].” That’s like a schoolyard bully asking if you want a cupcake, and while you are saying yes with eyes gleaming like the light of a thousand suns, dropping that cupcake of delight on the ground and stepping on it with their Sketchers boot while maintaining emotionless, fixed eye contact, and asking you “how ’bout …now?” Strawberry ice cream sounds appealing to me about once every 10 years. And substituting sorbet for ice cream is like eating pasta when you were in the mood for pizza, just no.

Say with your pay Andy Abellow                                  purplepinkheartsBlog

There are so many amazing recipes and recommendations online on cooking and eating vegan. Vegans are usually great cooks because they know such a variety of food and realize that how the main ingredient is prepared is so much more important than what the main ingredient is. Aside from the endless foods that are naturally vegan (the vegetables, fruits, grains, rice, legumes, beans, and nuts which are majority of a vegan diet. Oh, and coffee, alcohol, and chocolate which are food groups too, right?) the market for vegan versions of traditionally non-vegan foods is booming — all due to so many people buying vegan products. And you don’t have to be vegan 24/7 365 to contribute to the movement. Just choosing vegan products sometimes helps a lot. Now we have whole vegan sections in stores with pre-packaged vegan meals. The day of the fat lazy vegans is dawning! I went to MOM’s grocery store for the first time recently, which has so many vegan items, it’s like shopping in a future paradise. Although, I have to say it… the name “MOM’s” isn’t very progressive… I mean let’s not leave out the awesome Guardians and amazing Dads. Wouldn’t “NOMs” be better? Maybe it could stand for Nascent Organic Markets?


Like all food products, some vegan food products aren’t very good, so sometimes people might try one and think all vegan ice cream isn’t that choice. So here are my favorite vegan items so far, I’m sure there are other great ones out there but these definitely don’t disappoint.

Yogurt – Daiya.
I’ve only seen this at MOM’s so far.

daiya yogurt

Pizza – Amy’s Organic Roasted Vegetable
I bought this to make lunch for a few people excited to introduce them to it, but it turned out that two of them actually had it in their freezer at home. So it’s definitely not just me, and once you try it I’m sure you’ll want to get it again.

amys pizza

Cheese – Go Veggie’s shredded mozzarella
I haven’t had a vegan cheese yet that I want to eat alone, like on a cheese board, but it could be because I haven’t tried them all yet. Some of the ones with the best reviews aren’t even sold in the US, so recommending them to a grocery store could be helpful. And as long as we’re keeping up the demand, in the near future there will definitely be more improved vegan cheese options readily available. Even though some of them aren’t in local stores they do exist and some you can order online. For just adding onto pizza and other things though, Go Veggie’s shredded mozzarella is pretty good and available in most stores.

go veggie cheese

Cream Cheese – Daiya, plain cream cheese

Daiya cream cheese

Soup – Amy’s No Chicken Noodle, Amy’s Southwest Veggie
In theory, it’s easy for soups to be made naturally vegan. But for some reason, vegan canned soups are scarce. I guess they think, oh let’s throw some chicken in the butternut squash because what the heck…? But Amy’s has a lot of great vegan soups.

amys soup cxnamys soups sw veg

Eggs – Follow Your Heart
This is the only thing on this list I haven’t tried yet. I just ordered it online from ThriveMarket.com just to try it. It was only $6 including shipping because it was my first order. If I like it enough to buy it again I’m going to recommend it to local grocery stores and see if any of them will consider carrying it.

vegan egg

Butter – Earth Balance buttery spread

earth balance butter

Seitan – Upton’s Seitan, Chorizo flavored
If you’re gluten-intolerant this obviously is not an option for you since seitan is gluten (the main protein in wheat). But if you’re okay with gluten it’s a nice option on occasion.

upton seitan chorizo

Tofu – Nasoya and Organics’s firm tofu
If you’re an OK cook, firm tofu is great.

nasoya firm tofu       organics firm tofu

If you’re a less than OK cook like me ; ) these pre-baked, seasoned and marinated tofu are excellent.

tofu baked chipotle

Jack fruit – The Jackfruit Company
This is a miracle fruit. Now it’s sold pre-packaged with various marinations (definitely at Wegman’s, I’m not sure where else). Teriyaki is my favorite so far. When I made dinner for my parents last month, I put this over rice as the main dish and told them it was pulled pork. After dinner I told them everything they’d eaten was vegan and they were super surprised! You couldn’t fool everyone with this prank, but it’s legitimately good and filling.

Teriyaki jackfruit

Cheesecake – Daiya’s keylime cheesecake
The blueberries were key, and adding raspberry sauce and some other fruit would make it even better. It’s not the best cheesecake you’ve ever have (at least I hope not, for your sake), but how often do you eat your favorite cheesecake anyways? There’s lots of vegan keylime recipes online if you’re so inclined.


Ice cream – SO’s Chocolate Truffle
chocolate truffle

Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter and Cookies. Fingers crossed that B&J comes out with some more vegan ice cream flavors!
ben jerrys

Chocolate sauce (make sure to keep it in the pouch when you warm it up), and Marshmallow fluff.

hot fudge  suzannes marshmallow

And the number one food group… Marshmallows.


Most of these are sold at Wegman’s, Safeway, Giant, Whole Foods, and MOM’s with some exceptions. If you can’t find it, and have time to suggest it to a manager, maybe they’ll start to carry it. The marshmallow fluff is sold online along with a bunch of other vegan products like rice nectar (the vegan version of honey), at Suzanne’s Specialties. There are also a lot of vegan products online at The Vegan Store. More vegan products like vegan mayo, at Follow Your Heart. There’s a ton more great vegan food items out there but if you’re wondering where to start or want to try a few out maybe this could help. Ok well I better go, before this turns into a food blog.

Let’s start living our lives
Living for the future paradise
Praise to our lives
Living for the future paradise
~Stevie Wonder

BCCC: A cesspool of corruption and disorder that needs to be shut down

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
By Margo Page

“You get what you pay for” is not always true, but in the case of Baltimore City Community College (BCCC), it is. The current state of the school is complete disorder. This is not helped by the uninvolvement of the new President of the college, Dr. Gordon F. May. Although Winter Session 2015 is currently in session, Dr. Gordon F. May has been working from home the entire past week, confirmed by his direct assistant, Valerie McQueen-Bey.

Although I have degrees from other institutions, I decided to take a course I need for a certification from BCCC. Although I knew that it didn’t have a great reputation, I prefer to not judge without first-hand experience. I was completely ignorant as to the extent of it’s poor reputation, and that it is currently losing state funding as well as at risk of losing it’s accreditation (4). Therefore, my personal experience was unbiased.

Although I was told by staff in the admissions and registration office that I would be assigned an advisor and enrolled in the class, I was not. Apparently they are not able to keep track of new students and therefore many fall through the cracks. I thought this would be solved by a quick follow-up to the admissions office. As it was too late to enroll at another college, I was determined to straighten out my enrollment at BCCC. Every day for 6 days, I spoke on the phone at length with multiple people (list below article). Each person I spoke with had a very pleasant manner, and promised me they would straighten out this administrative error. However, each time, I was ultimately referred to someone else. I then had to wait to get in touch with this next person as they were often out to lunch, in a meeting, and on one particular day, at a staff funeral. Through this multiple transferring and waiting process, the drop/add period passed. After this drop/add period passed, everyone I spoke with then citied that as a reason that I could no longer enroll in the course. I insisted that I was already told I was enrolled before the course even started, and that since this was an administrative error, an exception should be made so that I could join the course. However, no amount of explaining this simple situation seemed to enlighten anyone I spoke with. Each person promised me they would fix the error, and reassured me that I simply needed to wait for them to get it approved by someone els. Hours or a day later when I called or emailed them again, they robotically insisted that because the drop/add period had passed, I could not enroll in the course.

I now realize that the pleasantry of everyone I spoke with was not a result of general kindness and concern, but instead the definition of passive-aggressive behavior, “the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination… or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible (3).” I was floored at the off-handed treatment I was receiving from the people I spoke with (see list below article). But I thought that if I could get in touch with the President of the college, at least he would surely be able to comprehend this situation and have the authority to correct it. However, he was “working from home” the past week, and did not answer my email personally, but instead had his assistant Valerie send me a rote email response.

Perhaps BCCC’s profound disorganization and lack of regard for students are some of the reasons BCCC has the lowest graduation rate of any higher level institution in the state of Maryland (1). Another student describes BCCC as “Chaos. It is so disorganized, I’m surprised it’s still operating… The school was recently sued for $10 million by a student who claimed that she was discriminated against. The student won, because BCCC never bothered to answer the complaint (2).” In June 2014, BCCC was officially accused of not having “a well-developed strategic plan, which could then help the university better allocate spending (4).”

If BCCC can fork over 10 million to a student complaint without even attempting to defend itself (2), it seems fair to assume that BCCC is corrupt. Interestingly enough, the professor of the course I was suppose to be enrolled in (Professor Virgie Mason) never responded to my email the first day of class, and other staff I spoke with told me that she did not respond to their emails either. Perhaps she is not even teaching a course right now, but is instead pocketing money for a class that exists only on the books. In 2002, BCCC experienced a steep increase in part-time faculty, which, as stated in the audit, “raises questions of adequate supervision and academic quality controls (1).”

BCCC is currently under an accreditation warning. State funding is currently being cut. BCCC is the only community college funded by the state (4). However, an accreditation warning and cuts in funding are not enough. State funding should be cut-off completely and immediately. BCCC needs to be shut down because it is a cesspool of people leeching off of tax payers money. Even worse, this college demotivates students, primarily from Baltimore City, who are trying to further their education by giving these students endless run-arounds and completely disregarding their concerns. Even for students who are able to (by complete chance and staff whim) enroll in courses, the classes themselves have an abhorrent reputation for disorganization and completely inept teachers (2). The state of Maryland needs to investigate and prosecute white collar fraud crimes at BCCC. Working for an organization that you know is corrupt is amoral. Every person working at BCCC is partly responsibility for it’s unethical practices. Corruption in Baltimore City needs to be eliminated. BCCC is an easy place to start.

List of people at BCCC with whom I spoke with directly (excluding people who do not have official titles):
Katie Baker, assistant in the President’s office
Melvin Brooks, Dean
Nicole Cameron-Becketts, Dean, Student Development
Virginia (Susie) Forbes, Administrative Coordinator, Academic Affairs
Clara Joyner, Administrative Assistant III, Student Affairs
Nena Kutniewski, Transcript Processor
Nikita Lemon, Assistant to President for Board Relations
Valerie McQueen-Bey, President’s direct assistant
Tonja Ringgold, Vice President for Academic Affairs
Sylvia Rochester, Associate Director of Records and Registration/Interim Registrar
Carol Taylor, Administrative Assistant III, Student Affairs
Sheila Scott, Administrative Assistant, Student Affairs
Tina Scott, Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs

People I emailed or called at BCCC who did not respond:
Gordon F May, President and CEO
Virgie Mason, Associate Professor of English
Dennis Weeks, Dean of School of Arts and Social Sciences
Ron H. Smith, Vice President of Student Affairs


1. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2004-12-04/news/0412040089_1_community-college-board-of-trustees-audit

2. https://www.cappex.com/colleges/Baltimore-City-Community-College/discussions

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive-aggressive_behavior

4. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2014-07-03/news/bs-md-bccc-accreditation-20140703_1_middle-states-commission-warn-status-accreditation

Further reading about BCCC:









Further reading about the 2014 President Gordon F May:

To Bechdel and Beyond —


Tuesday, November 25, 2014
By Margo Page

The Bechdel Test was never meant to be a test of whether a movie was feminist.  It was meant to point out how many movies fail an extremely basic indicator of feminism.  The Bechdel Test tests just one aspect of feminism in movies and it does so with the lowest bar possible.  The Mako Mori Test was created as another low-bar/minimalist test of feminism.

There are many aspects of a movie which determine how feminist it is.  What if we had ten pass/fail tests, and we could see how many and which tests a movie passed?  What if people creating the movie went through this checklist while writing the movie to see how the movie measured up?  Of course a movie could be very feminist and not pass all of the tests, because there are always exceptions.  However, ten objective criteria would be a good basic check point.  There are foreseeable practical problems with these in particular, since it was just what I came up with right now, but if people really cared, they could be worked out into useable objective pass/fail criteria.  Then perhaps we could recognize what constitutes gender equality in a movie and work towards it.  Suggestions/ideas/comments are welcome.

1.  Bechdel Test:
At least two named women who talk to each other about something other than a man.

2.  Mako Mori Test:
a) at least one female character; b) who gets her own narrative arc; c) that is not about supporting a man’s story.

3.  Stereotypes Tests
Stereotypes are not used (i.e. a woman making a horrible mistake in math or navigation).

4. Derogatory Terms Test
Male gender based derogatory terms are used equally as female gender based derogatory terms, and are made in reference to male and female characters equally (i.e. “bitch” is used once, and “dick” is used once; “whore” is used once in reference to a man, and once in reference to a female).

5. Age Test
Average age of the male actors is within 5 years of the average age of the female actors.

6. Casting Based On Looks Test
Average number of male actors’ previous major roles is within 5 of the average number of female actors’ previous major roles.

7. Sexualization Test
An equal amount of on-screen time is given to men as it is to women.  Male and females actors are dressed, shot and presented sexually in equal frequency (i.e. impractical hairstyles and clothing items such as keyhole and revealing outfits, heels, primped hair, seductive posturing, and filming that if the sound were cut out is suggestive of porn, or is shot solely to display the actor/actress).

8. Romantic Involvement Test
There are an equal number of female and male actors whose actual or potential sexual, romantic involvements/interests are not shown, mentioned or alluded to.

9. Decision-Making Test
The decisions made by the female and male actors are equal in frequency and gravity (minor and major decisions).

10. Lines Test
Equal number of speaking lines are given to male and female characters.

Subordination is the Backbone of the US Economy

Friday, April 11, 2014
By Margo Page

The backbone of the US economy

I have a business strategy for employers in the US. Any employee who is not completely passive and subordinate will be immediately eliminated. Have a zero tolerance policy for any employee who shares an opinion or even a minor constructive criticism of any company practice or policy. Any employee who stands out in the slightest way, including doing a better job than someone else will be fired. An obvious example of immediate cause for termination is politely explaining yourself to your supervisor after apologizing and before apologizing again during a private meeting. Another obvious example is questioning derogatory statements made by someone running a small, five person information session about harassment in the workplace.

Under this radical new idea, all employees who stay with the company will be repressed, maladjusted people who have suppressed their opinions all of their life. When they are promoted based on duration of employment and ability to be a blinking robotic minion, they will suddenly have unquestioned authority can have they can have epic power trips, and continue this perfect cycle.


February 22, 2014 by Margo Page

There are a lot of positive things that happen in the world, and wonderful people who make them happen.  There is so much beauty in the world, and there is something beautiful in everyone.  But we can always strive for better and recognizing the negatives can be a really positive action, and sometimes it’s necessary for change.  If we don’t look at what we’re doing wrong, we won’t improve upon it.  Habits, routines, policies and procedures are things that we will keep following indefinitely if we don’t actively change course.  Like an ever-present pressure in my head, I feel obligated to share my thoughts on a public forum rather than keeping them locked away in a private document.  We are not only responsible for what we say, but also what we don’t say (and do).  Locked lips also sink ships.

A very smart friend of mine once told me that whenever anyone talks, “I think” is always implied.  I used to insert it into everything I said — to be accurate, and to make it clear that I recognized my thoughts as my opinion rather than an ultimate truth.  So I stopped saying “I think” so often, but I’m not audacious enough to think that my thoughts have validity in and of themselves.