Monday, January 20, 2020

Eating While on the Road - Breakfast (Egg over easy)

Dear Readers,


Post number 4

I am bringing you another egg preparation today. I had no idea that I could prepare eggs in the microwave that taste as good as pan cooked/fired eggs in half the time. I miss a little bit of the nutty flavors of browning butter, but I don't loose the butter flavor in the preparation below. As ever, thanks for continuing to follow me on this journey of microwave meals, nutritional eating, and budgeting while on the road. I hope that these posts have some value for you, I feel that I am a little late to the microwave meal bandwagon. 
  • Egg "Over easy" (Butter, Salt, Pepper, Egg)
First the goods:

If you remember my itemized grocery list from my budgeting post you would have seen:
- A dozen organic cage free eggs (Eggland's best) at $3.99 (about $0.33 per egg).
- Salted Butter from grass-fed cow's milk (Finlandia) at $2.99 ($0.37/oz or $0.19/tablespoon).
- Salt and Pepper grinders from the dollar store cost $1 each., or you can find complimentary packets at hot food counters.

The tools:
  • Microwave
  • Microwave safe glass or ceramic plate
  • Utensils: Fork, Knife
Simple Microwave Egg "Over Easy" 
The application:
(Important tip, don't put your container in the center of the microwave, off-set it for best results)
  1. Cut a quarter tablespoon of butter into your microwave-safe dish*
  2. Melt the butter in the Microwave for 30 seconds until the solid has become a liquid
    • Times may vary, I have access to a 900W Magic Chef machine
  3. Spread the melted butter to coat the plate
  4. Crack 1 egg on to your buttered plate 
  5. **DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!**Gently poke a hole in to the top of the membrane that surrounds the yolk** DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!** If you skip this step your egg will explode in the microwave. 
    • Puncturing the membrane allows heat/gas to escape during the microwave process, I usually poke two holes.
    • The albumen (egg white) will cook more quickly than the yolk (the yellow)
  6. Add salt and pepper** to your preference.
  7. Microwave the egg for 25 seconds, I like to shift the egg around a bit for more even cooking.
    • You might hear some crackle or popping sounds, this is fine.
  8. Microwave egg for another 20 seconds, I like to add an 8th of a tablespoon of butter to the top of the yolk at this point (you could also substitute olive oil instead of butter or skip this step)
  9.  Microwave for another a final 15 seconds
 At this point any further cooking is to your preference
** - You could add these at a later point in the process, but the way typed above is fast and simple.

Reminders:
Let the plate/egg cool before you eat! Remember that the eggs (and all microwaved food) will continue to cook a bit after you've taken them out of the microwave. With that in mind, thee eggs might look a little loose immediately after the 55 seconds of cooking, but will firm-up some after sitting to cool. Additionally, my plate is never too hot to handle, but you may want a towel or t-shirt to remove the bowl to your eating surface. Lastly, if you've shifted your eggs during the cooking process they shouldn't stick to your plate at all.

Additions:
Dress/serve with your favorite additions: salsa for "south-western"egg, avocado, cucumber and tomato, crumbly blue cheese or what-ever.

I am going to include the nutritional facts, as I did in the previous post, for continuity and convenience. Microwaving your food does less damage to your food compared to stove top methods, and as a result less/fewer nutrients is/are lost in the process. Eggland's Best eggs raw are 60 calories per serving, 6 grams of protein, 1 gram of saturated fat, 3 grams of unsaturated fat (1 poly- 2 mono-), approximately 20 - 40% of your daily value of Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B12, Biotin, Pantothnic Acid (B5), Iodine, Selenium, Molybdenum, and Choline, and 57% of your daily value of cholesterol. They also contain 125 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids and 200 mcg of Lutein.

For a complete picture I am including my calculations of Finlandia's salted grass-fed cow's milk butter.  At 1 quarter tablespoon there are 25 calories, 2.75 grams of Fat (1.5 from saturated fats and no trans fats), 7.5 mg of cholesterol (only about 2 and quarter percent of your daily value), 20 mg of sodium, 0 carbohydrates, 0 sugars, 0 Protein, and no valuable vitamins/minerals [daily values based on 2000 calorie diet].

At $0.33 for two eggs, $0.05 for a quarter tablespoon of butter, negligible amount of salt/pepper, the cost of your plate, and 55 seconds of cooking time you have a cheap delicious fast breakfast!

Thanks for reading,
Joe

*Try to avoid plastic as much as you can. Microwave-safe plastic doesn't mean that it's good for you, it means that it will not destroy your microwave, it might destroy you long term.

Links:
Here are some links of people who videoed themselves following a similar process
Simple Microwave Over Easy Egg
Terrible video, turn down your speaker volume
This guy is hard to watch, but the information is quite good (he uses bacon fat instead of butter)
14 Egg Hacks (I've cued the video to 38 seconds in)

Friday, January 17, 2020

Eating While on the Road - Breakfast (scrambled egg)

Dear Readers,

Thanks for continuing to follow me on this journey of microwave meals, nutritional eating, and budgeting while on the road. This 3rd brief post is intended to focus on what I've been doing for breakfast.

My hot breakfast meals this week included:
  • Scrambled eggs (Butter, Salt, Pepper, Eggs)
  • Egg "Over easy" (Butter, Salt, Pepper, Egg)
My cold breakfast foods include:
  • Cucumbers and Celery (cherry tomato)
  • Blue berries
(Coffee and tea are included in my stay)

First the goods:
If you remember my itemized grocery list from my last post you would have seen:
- A dozen organic cage free eggs (Eggland's best) at $3.99 (about $0.33 per egg).
    • Many grocery stores in Germany, and some organic groceries/farm stands here in the States offer the option to purchase as few eggs or as many as you'd like. The price per egg also matters to our budget. 
    • Brown eggs come from brown hens. The yellow part of the egg is called the yoke (we all know this) and gets its color from plant pigments in the hen's food; they are made primarily of fats, proteins, and essential nutrients. The whites are called albumen.
- Butter from grass-fed cow's milk [edit: Salted] (Finlandia) at $2.99 (about $0.37oz or $0.19/ tblspn).
- Salt and Pepper grinders from the dollar store cost $1 each., or you can find complimentary packets at hot food counters.

The tools:
  • Microwave
  • Microwave safe glass or ceramic bowl/plate (dollar store)
  • Microwave safe glass or ceramic mug (dollar store)
  • Utensils: Fork, Knife, Spoon [Spork if you can find one!
Simple Microwave Scramble 
The application:
(Important tip, don't put your container in the center of the microwave, off-set it for best results)

  1. Cut a quarter tablespoon of butter into your microwave-safe glass or ceramic container*
  2. Melt the butter in the Microwave 2 twenty second intervals until the solid has become a liquid
    • Times may vary, I have access to a 900W Magic Chef machine 
  3. Crack two eggs into your buttered bowl, add salt and pepper** to your preference and scramble/whip those eggs
  4. Microwave them for 30 seconds, remove the bowl and scrambling/whip them again
  5. Microwave them for 30 seconds, remove the bowl and scrambling/whip them again
  6. Microwave them for 15 seconds, remove the bowl and scramble/whip again
  7. Microwave them for 15 seconds, remove the bowl and scramble/whip again 
 At this point (or sooner) any further cooking is to your preference - I like mine soft, and wet.

** - You could add these at a later point in the process, but the way typed above is fast and simple.

Reminders:
Let the bowl/eggs cool before you eat! Remember that the eggs (and all microwaved food) will continue to cook a bit after you've taken them out of the microwave. With that in mind, thee eggs might look a little loose immediately after the 75 seconds of cooking, but will firm-up some after sitting to cool. Additionally, my bowl is never too hot to handle, but you may want a towel or t-shirt to remove the bowl to your eating surface. Lastly, I like to eat mine with a spork, when I can find one, because the dual function of the fork/spoon helps me get all the egg that sticks to the side of the container (mug or bowl).

Additions:
I don't put milk in my scrambled eggs, but you could. I would add this at step two with the eggs on the initial scramble.
I generally do not put cheese in/on my scramble, but you could add this to your preference on step 5 or 6 because the eggs will not be hot enough to melt your cheese after step 6.
Add your favorite toppings for your "south-western"scramble, avocado, or what-ever.

Microwaving your food does less damage to your food compared to stove top methods, and as a result less/fewer nutrients is/are lost in the process. Eggland's Best eggs raw are 60 calories per serving, 6 grams of protein, 1 gram of saturated fat, 3 grams of unsaturated fat (1 poly- 2 mono-), approximately 20 - 40% of your daily value of Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B12, Biotin, Pantothnic Acid (B5), Iodine, Selenium, Molybdenum, and Choline, and 57% of your daily value of cholesterol. They also contain 125 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids and 200 mcg of Lutein.

For a complete picture I am including my calculations of Finlandia's salted grass-fed cow's milk butter.  At 1 quarter tablespoon there are 25 calories, 2.75 grams of Fat (1.5 from saturated fats and no trans fats), 7.5 mg of cholesterol (only about 2 and quarter percent of your daily value), 20 mg of sodium, 0 carbohydrates, 0 sugars, 0 Protein, and no valuable vitamins/minerals [daily values based on 2000 calorie diet].

For a complete picture I am including my calculations of Finlandia's salted grass-fed cow's milk butter.  At 1 quarter tablespoon there are 25 calories, 2.75 grams of Fat (1.5 from saturated fats and no trans fats), 7.5 mg of cholesterol (only about 2 and quarter percent of your daily value), 20 mg of sodium, 0 carbohydrates, 0 sugars, 0 Protein, and no valuable vitamins/minerals [daily values based on 2000 calorie diet].

At $0.66 for two eggs, $0.05 for a quarter tablespoon of butter, negligible amount of salt/pepper, the cost of your bowl, and 75 seconds of cooking time you have a cheap delicious breakfast!

Thanks for reading,
Joe

*Try to avoid plastic as much as you can. Microwave-safe plastic doesn't mean that it's good for you, it means that it will not destroy your microwave, it might destroy you long term.

Links:
Here are some links of people who videoed themselves following a similar process
Simple Mug scramble
Simple glass bowl scramble (I cued the clip to 28 seconds in)
This guy is hard to watch, but the information is quite good
Just like Mom does (well, not my Mother)
14 Egg Hacks (@3:32 is the microwave scrambled egg. Disclaimer: I don't approve of his cracking technique, use a flat surface, not an edge!)
Bon Appetit and nearly every method for egg prep (@11:18 is the microwave scrambled egg)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Eating While on the Road - Week One (Budgeting)

Dear Readers,

Thanks for follow me on this journey of microwave meals, nutritional eating, and budgeting while on the road. This brief post is intended as an overview of my spending, in which I include an itemized shopping list, my thoughts and outline of the meals that I made.

Find below meal suggestions - for cold and hot meals - based on those that I made while staying at a hotel with only small refrigerator and a microwave. I do not follow a specific diet, and my meals may contain meat, fish, dairy, and gluten.

Here was my shopping list for week one:

These groceries cost $86.55, plus one dollar for the microwave safe bowl I bought. Additionally, I ordered Chinese-American take-out food the night that I flew in which gave me 2 plastic bowls, chop sticks, and plastic utensils that I continue to use and wash. Luckily, the kitchen was able to give me a napkin with utensils as well.

This might seem like a lot to spend all at once, but when I divide the total price (dividend) by the number of days that I ate these food items instead of eating out (divisor) my quotient is my price per day. Then, of course, there is the somewhat volatile "meals & entertainment expenses" per diem that one can claim on his/her/their taxes, which - while it plays a role in your taxable income - is another post entirely. 
($86.55 / 7days = $12.36 per day)
($12.36 / 3 meals per day = $4.12 per meal)

$12.36 per day for three meals, or three meals a day at $4.12 per meal, not including snacking, is certainly cheaper than any single meal I could buy at a restaurant or food cart. I did go out one day the first week to have a few beers and some chicken wigs (add $18.00 plus tip to that weekly total expenditure).

My hot meals this week included:

  • Scrambled eggs (Butter, Salt, Pepper, Eggs)
  • Egg "Over easy" (Butter, Salt, Pepper, Egg)
  • Bone Broth (Soup)
  • Piadina (Quesadilla)
  • Nachos
  • Sweet potato 
  • Sweet potato & Tuna Tacos

My cold meals included:
  • Salad with canned fish 
  • Cucumbers and Celery
  • Celery with peanut butter 
Snacks:
  • Blue berries
  • Cheese
  • Tortilla chips and salsa
  • Nachos
  • Peanuts
(Coffee and tea are included in my stay)

In my next post I will focus on the break down of these meals, but I wanted to offer some more details and specifics about this journey, following my previous post.

Thanks for reading,
Joe

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Eating While on the Road (a singer's guide) - Part 1: Microwave

Dear Readers,

This entry will focus on my experience, thoughts, and suggestions on a singer's traveling victuals. A simple google search hasn't lead to a great single resource, so I thought that I'd contribute some of my findings.

As an itinerant singer/musician, I have found myself somewhere between homeless and lavishly established throughout my burgeoning career: I've lived out of my car, slept in bus stations, and I've stayed in gorgeous hotels, and generous home-stays. Given the plethora of circumstances that you might experience, I will break down my thoughts - in no particular order of importance or ranking - into a few posts: one about the few staples of a traveler's diet, another when having access to a kitchen, and this current post about access to a microwave.

Allow me to set the scene and provide some perspective: I am a singer who lives on a small and very tight budget. I have to try to keep healthy, and spend as economically/conservatively as possible. This is not a glamorous life, and these posts are not about glamorous culinary sophistication.

I am currently singing Nicias in Massenet's Thais with Maryland Lyric Opera. During this particular production, lasting just shy of 4 weeks, I am staying in a hotel with a refrigerator (no freezer) and a microwave. The hotel additionally provides a single cup coffee machine, an ice machine (in the corridor) and running water (non-potable), no breakfast.

The following are some general considerations that I have when planning a diet: Cost; Ethics; Pleasure; Nutrition. I want to buy the highest quality at the lowest price to make or prepare meals from food stuff that is grown, manufactured and packaged with high standards - following some common wisdom of ethics - that taste good and contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

An additional factor that has a significant impact on meal preparation, and meal execution is Travel - How am I getting to my gig? If I am driving from home, I can take some house hold items, but that is another post. Since I flew from Berlin to Dulles, and will be on the road for the next 6 months,and I didn't have the luxury (space in my luggage) of bringing any kitchen tools. I do have a car rental during my stay here, which is a huge luxury, and plays a major role in access to food stuffs.

Now that the scene is set, on to the itinerant "epicurean" adventures. 

To focus on cost, ethics, and nutrition skip the restaurant! Go strait to the deli section of the mega-mart(s) or grocer(s) of your choice. You'll have to do your own cost basis analysis on how to balance healthy, organic, within your budget to determine where you go to buy what. I left out pleasure from the list above. It is nearly always more fun to go out to eat than to prepare your own meals in your hotel room. Please don't misunderstand. I derive a lot of pleasure from cooking, but I don't love preparing food and eating said food 3 feet from where I sleep on carpeted floors.

As a meat eater, I sometimes pick up a rotisserie chicken. A whole chicken is an obvious and easy solution for a hot/cooked meal, and unlike the other prepared hot foods at the super market, a chicken is usually inexpensive and provides for several meals. There are obvious cold meal solutions, deli meats and cheese for sandwichesraw veggies (crudite), salad fixings (more on this below), caponatacanned fish (cans that have a pull off top, alternatively some of these fish come in foil packaging as well: tuna, sardines, salmon, anchovies, mackerel, herring, crab, clam - but do your research about brands, farm raised or wild caught and mercury levels etc), spreads like obazda, pate, hummusbaba ganoush, harissa, romanesco, tapenadecream cheese, pimiento, nut butter (as in peanut butter - the natural kind, only peanuts and salt please), nuts, some cheeses, breadscrackers, fruits, olives, and pickles (any pickled veggies will do).

No stove, no problem! Having some knowledge of the microwave is an essential alternative in my current scenarios. Microwaves cause water molecules in food to vibrate, producing heat that cooks the food - simple. 

"Essentially, microwaves cook by producing electromagnetic waves that force polarized water molecules within the food to oscillate. We experience this atomic-scale movement as increasing temperature. Imagine water molecules as antennae, interacting with the waves in the oven much like a radio antenna does with radio waves. The more water in the food, the more effective it is as an antenna. Plant foods have a high water content relative to most foods—making them very effective antennae indeed."

Knowing this principle allows us to understand the most appropriate and advantageous food items and methods:

Methods include boiling, steaming, "baking", re-heating, and confit (cooking in fat, not frying). Based on my research, if something in your microwave is browning that means it is moments away from catching on fire. If there is no moisture, or if/when the water molecules evaporate then the object in the microwave is starting to decompose and burn. You run a severe and probable risk of starting a dangerous fire and/or damaging the microwave if you run it empty (or run a it with a metal object inside). That being said, if you use small intervals while monitoring the food you can crisp up some tortillas or even toast bread, but that is varsity level microwave technique dear reader.

Ideal meals to make: Soups, Pasta, Noodles, Rice, Oats, QuinoaEggs, and Veggies.

Tools needed:

  • Microwave
  • Iron
  • Ironing Board
  • Microwave safe glass or ceramic bowl/plate (dollar store)
  • Microwave safe glass or ceramic mug (dollar store)
  • Chop sticks (get a pair at a Chinese take out place or dollar store)
  • Utensils: Fork, Knife, Spoon (dollar store, or see if the hotel will give you some - or pocket a place setting at the restaurant - there are always plastic ones around, but you'll want something more durable).
  • Sharp knife - bring, purchase, or borrow one
  • Tin foil
  • Paper towels


Meals that I made this first week:

  • Scrambled eggs (Butter, Salt, Pepper, Eggs)
  • Bone Broth (I buy one that is water, beef bone extract, sea salt and yeast extract - avoid ones with sugar and high in sodium. Go with bouillon, but don't skimp on this - go with the good stuff, no preservatives, no sugar, low sodium, not your cup noodles package, ok!?)
    • I crush and chop as finely as I can garlic and ginger root,  2 table spoons of grass-fed organic butter, don't skimp on these either! I add an egg 3/4 of the way through the cooking process and then finish with cilantro. maybe sprouts and Microgreens)
  • Salad with canned fish (Arugula, Bib lettuce, cilantro, a little olive oil, a touch of apple cider vinegar, salt/pepper, olives, sprouts, some cheese [feta], tuna or salmon or mackerel)
  • Cucumbers and Cherry tomatoes (and some casual celery)
  • Piadina (ham, arugula, cheese, olive oil, salt/pepper on a tortilla or wrap)
  • Nachos (salsa, torilla chips, cheese)
  • Quinoa
  • Sweet potato


Additional Meal ideas:

  • Mac and Cheese
  • Eggs scrambled, poached, soft boiled, over easy 
  • Mug Omlette
  • Quesadilla (or Italian Panini, Piadina, Tigella) 
  • Potato and  Sweet Potato
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Rice (Egg "fried" rice)
  • Nachos (with cheese and sauce)
  • Savory and Sweet Egg scrambles/bread pudding 
    • (variations with bread, cheese, milk + bacon/spinach/tomato, vanilla/cinnamon/blue berries, cocoa powders/banana/chocolate)
  • Egg and Cheese Bagel
  • Steamed broccoli + quinoa and edamame (cilantro sesame dressing)
  • Egg white omelette
  • Pita caprese pizza
  • Noodles
  • Rice bowl
  • Oatmeal
  • A warm dip like Bagna Cauda could be made in the microwave


I am really excited to try Microwave Mug Lasagna - https://youtu.be/BtDIcYc098A?t=294

Disclaimer: I don't really have a good reason, but I prefer not to cook meat in the microwave, reheating is fine, but raw to cooked - though it doesn't make sense - is a something I am resistant to. That being said, there are recipes for meats (even fish) if you are craving some flesh out there.

Check out these great and instructive links:
https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/making-the-most-of-your-microwave

Great blog by a mother who wanted to help her college aged daughter

Great Buzz-feed video offering 24 microwaveable meals
The 24 meals can be broken down into a few simple recipes with variations:


Thanks for reading,
Joe

PS: my next post with have more details about individual meals, recipes, and a shopping list.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Happy New Year!

Dear Readers and Passers-by,

Greetings from Beltsville, Maryland! I just arrived from Berlin to begin this year's concert and opera work. You will be seeing a lot of me in Maryland. Maryland lyric opera has contracted me to sing Nicias in Thais, Gonzalve in L'heure espagnole*, and Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro. I will also be singing as Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi with Michigan Opera Theatre! There are some other projects in the works but that all will take me and us to June.

I plan to make a short post, a kind of 2019 in review, as I spent most of the year trying to make a life in Germany. I'll share some insights into the processes, and some intimate feelings about my decisions and experiences.

Until the next post, from the Sherton, corner room at 190ft above sea level.

with a warm thought in mind, thanks for checking it,
Joe


* - There is a little secret about this performance that I am not yet able to share, but will do so - but as of now the cat is in the bag... and other horrible metaphors.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Surprise surprise

Dear Readers,

Surprise, surprise! Here I am writing to you from Bethesda, Maryland. Yes. I'm back. 

The prodigal tenor hath returned! Have you missed your operatic greatest hits albums? We're bringing you a concert of romantic opera highlights. I'll be singing Faust with a tremendously talented group of singers including Alexandra Razskazoff (Marguerite), Olga Syniakova (Martha), and Michael Pitocchi (Mefistofele).

It's starting to feel as though the fabulous team at Maryland Lyric Opera has started a "fest" position. This will be my third appearance with this year and I will return in the January for Thais, March for L'Heure Espagnole, and then Mary in Le Nozze di Figaro. I arrived from Berlin two days ago, following a weekend of travelling around Eastern and Central Germany, where I worked a bit with Anne Larlee in Frankfurt, Damon Nestor Ploumis in Weimar and even ran into the indomitable Stephan Lano! Not to mention a weekend with my best buddy Richard Block and his beautiful family. 

I am so grateful to the strong and supportive leaders of this opera company: Mr. Matthew Woorman, Maestro Louis Salemno, and Brad Clark. If you're a long time reader you'll know that my career has been more sinuous than meteoric, following an irregular and graduated path rather than an arch.

It difficult to summarize my feelings seeing my graying hair, and hoping that sometime soon the luck, timing, and opportunity that one cannot create but by chance is prepared to pursue should they align. 

Keeping my fingers-crossed. 

Filled with gratitude,
Joe


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

From Maryland 2019: Il Tabarro

Dear Readers,

I am excited to write to you from my hotel room in Bethesda, Maryland. We had our first rehearsal today for the double-bill Il Tabarro and  Cavalleria Rusitcana. I am singing the role of Tinca, as I explained in the previous post. As I am in Maryland, I am on a hiatus from Berlin till the 17th. Readers, it is going to be a great show. There is so much rich talent in these casts you need to be there: 14th and 15th of September.

It has been several months since I've been in a rehearsal, and a full year since a professional operatic production. That is hard to admit. It's hard to write. Feeling the throes of this business, while often weighing depressingly on unlucky artists, also reminds the fortunate few working to feel and express gratitude for the jobs that they (and on occasion we) have. Speaking from personal experience, it is such a relief to be in a room with great singers, a strong leader, and an encouraging management. Those elements, I am not shy to state the accusation, are often in short supply. A platitude: Yes, this is not an easy life or business, being a musician/artist never has been - and I certainly don't face the severe hardship that many others do, nevertheless the abject plight of the many debt ridden, degree carrying, talented artists is often afflicted by sexism, racism, gender-bias, and the pageantry emblematic of a severe sickness in the opera world.

I struggle with the continued decision to be in this business. It's a challenging topic to write about. The rather obvious struggle is the financial. Between platitudes and criticism there is the challenge of dealing with dry spells... dry months... dry years in a business, whose functional landscape has and continues to shift dramatically. Opera companies, the opera business, the opera economy, and the audience do not share much in common with the bulk of the previous century's (or centuries') model. I can't bring myself to say it's dying or shrinking, but it's changing - as are (have) all of the arts.

I was reinvigorated today by Maestro Salemno and my colleagues.

The other struggle is the ethical. I can't argue with the person who challenges me on the ethics of being a classical musician, and the replete sexism, racism, gender-bias, and the very tangible problems we as humans face in the increasingly globalized industrial society. Deficits, fallout, inequality, war, paucity, hunger, climate change, inflation...

I can't continue this post, because I am boiling. As so many people have said, like Barbara Ehrenreich, "It is expensive to be poor." I just received an e-mail telling me that I was charged $30 dollars for transferring $25 from my checking account, to my pay my minimum balance (I would of course prefer to pay in total - I would prefer not to have a credit card at all - but the dry spell of no work has both necessitated using a credit system as well as minimizing my ability to cover the full cost - and unlike when I lived in the United States, I am not legally allowed to work in Germany because they continue to refuse my application for a freelance visa) on my credit card from the same company, but did not have $25 to cover the transfer. Now I owe them an arbitrary $30, and I am charged the monthly fee for not having a direct deposit, and I am charged a percentage for the credit balance. This is obviously their policy, yet... here I am, at the mercy of an electronic system. I made an electronic transfer on Friday to cover the cost of future payments such as the one I am now being fined for, that was delayed by the observance of Labor day (because apparently even computers get labor day off) and because the funds have been delayed the amount I transferred is now $30 less than it would have been going strait to the bank. If a singer/artist could obligate the companies that we work for to pay a fine in the case of delayed payment this would be a wildly different world.

From the debtor's hole,
Joe