Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Sensible breakfasts for people with zero cooking skills (who are rushing somewhere)

June 22, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Food

I can boil water, nuke things in the microwave, and operate complicated espresso machines. That is the full range of my kitchen skills, unless you count calling food delivery services and being called “Sir” by the operators. Since I do not cook, the two basic food groups in my house are coffee and oatmeal. I consider myself an oatmeal expert because I can handle both the quick-cooking and instant (just add milk or water) varieties.

When my friend mentioned that Quaker Oats was promoting no-cook overnight oats recipes, I pointed out that this was within my kitchen skills set. Hey, my cats can do this.

1. Place oats in jar.
2. Add milk and toppings.
3. Put in fridge.
4. Several hours later, eat.

It’s breakfast, but in my case, an all-day breakfast.

For more overnight oats recipes, go to

Proof that no one can drive safely while texting

June 22, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Science, Technology

So there you are, driving to school or work or whatever when your phone buzzes. “I’ll just look at my phone for one second,” you think. “It will only be a second and I should be fine—right?” Wrong.

Let’s say you are traveling at some speed v and you take just one second to glance at your phone. That is one second that you are not looking at the road. What happens during that one second? First, let me define average velocity (in one dimension—I add that because I hate being technically wrong).

In this definition, ?x represents the change in position and ?t represents the time interval. Please stop saying velocity is distance over time—that is only sometimes true. In this case, I know the time interval is one second. If I solve this equation for the change in position, I get:

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Our next Writing Boot Camp is on July 22 and 29, 2017 so book a place now!

June 21, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Workshops


You’ve always wanted to write, but you don’t know how to get started.

You used to write, but you haven’t done it in a while and you feel rusty.

You’re sort of interested in writing, but you’re afraid to even admit it.

You’ve started many stories, but you ran out of steam.

You think you can write, but you need a second opinion.

You have a writing project that you’ve been putting off, and you just looked at the calendar and it’s almost 2018.

You want to learn the basics of storytelling.

(Or you have a friend who is any/all of the above and you want to give them a little push.)

Join our Writing Boot Camp! The objective is simple: to start and finish a piece of writing (a short story, a personal essay, or a piece of fanfiction) in two weekends.

Dates: July 22 and 29, 2017, from 1-5pm.
Venue: WSI Corporate Center, Metropolitan Avenue, Makati (near the Makati fire station at the end of Ayala Avenue)
Cost: Php6,000, but if you pay on or before June 30, 2017, you only pay Php5,000.

No pressure, no tears, no time like the present.

For inquiries and to book a place, email

Here’s a lucrative new industry: Mistress-dispelling, or as we would call it, Querida-banishing.

June 20, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Money, Re-lay-shun-ships, Sex

An escalating divorce rate shows the depth of gender inequality in Chinese society. Illustration by Malika Favre

China’s Mistress-Dispellers
How the economic boom and deep gender inequality have created a new industry by Jiayang Fan

Yu, a gentle-looking man in his early forties, with the placid demeanor of a yoga instructor, works as a mistress dispeller, a job that barely existed a decade ago but is becoming common in major Chinese cities. His clients are women who hope to preserve their marriages by fending off what is known in Chinese as a xiao san, or “Little Third”—a term that encompasses everything from a partner in a casual affair to a long-term “kept woman.” Mistress dispellers use a variety of methods. Some Little Thirds can be paid off or discouraged by hearing unwelcome details of their lovers’ lives—debts, say, or responsibility for an elderly parent—or shamed with notes sent to friends and family. If the dispeller or the client is well connected, a Little Third may suddenly find that her job requires her to move to another city. A female dispeller sometimes seeks to become a confidante, in order to advise the targeted woman that the liaison will inevitably crumble. In certain cases, a male mistress dispeller may even seduce the woman. Like all the mistress dispellers I spoke to, Yu said that he never resorts to this tactic, but he acknowledged that there are those who do.

Read it in The New Yorker.

Reminds me of that Romain Duris movie, Heartbreaker, in which he plays a professional hired by a businessman to break up his daughter’s engagement. So the heartbreaker woos the woman by, among other things, learning the big dance in Dirty Dancing. Mmmmm, Romain Duris.

Albert Einstein on our mightiest weapon

June 19, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, History, Science

In a long life I have devoted all my faculties to reach a somewhat deeper insight into the structure of physical reality. Never have I made any systematic effort to ameliorate the lot of men, to fight injustice and suppression, and to improve the traditional forms of human relations. The only thing I did was this: in long intervals I have expressed an opinion on public issues whenever they appeared to me so bad and unfortunate that silence would have made me feel guilty of complicity.

Read about Einstein and the duties of the individual in Brain Pickings.

We’re celebrating my cat Saffy’s 17th birthday! Today she is The Oracle (and temporary shrink).

June 15, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats

Saffron Sassafras Saoirse Schmitz Zafra Safin-Sprungli

Happy Birthday, Saffy! Saffy is our very clever cat who specializes in the planning and execution of revenge plots. She is cranky, possessive, and the master of the side-eye. Her favorite activities are sitting on my notebook as I’m writing, sitting on the keyboard as I’m typing, and sharpening her claws on the book I am reading. She is the reigning staring contest champion. While she is a picky (but voracious) eater, Saffy loves all fried chicken so we’re having that for her birthday lunch.

Today and tomorrow you can ask Saffy any and all questions about your personal lives and destinies and she will answer them!

Saffy Strange, Mistress of the Mystic Arts

* * * * *

Dear Saffy,

May you have many, many more happy years to come.

I am usually a jovial person, but lately I have been feeling glum and anxious, especially when I read the news or see people quarreling in my social media accounts. There have been no changes in my living situation or my work, so it must be me. Sometimes I cannot bring myself to get out of bed, other times I cannot sleep. Help?

Gray Clouds

Dear Gray Clouds,
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