Friday, April 27, 2007

And now it's everyone's favorite blogtime - the ecuadorian news update!

Well, Correa has been long been threatening to do this, dropping lots of quotes like "we are no one's colony." Yesterday el presidente finally said “see ya” to the World Bank representative and is "reserving the right" to cancel the debt.
El Comercio
The BBC (this is randomly a cute “learn english” article with a little glossary and everything.)

Also came across this photo.

"A police officer throws a stone at students during protests Tuesday near Ecuador's Congress in the capital, Quito."

Look how young that cop is. (I guess he hasn’t gotten his license for the tank yet. His older brother must have been around when I got teargassed.) Kids throwing rocks at each other. Ecuadorian politics redux.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mmmm... sacred harpy...

There's a whole bunch o pictures from the golden gate singing. (thanks rosie!) Apparently you have your choice of color or B&W.
Here's me with a particularly goofy expression.

The place to be

is, apparently, the Wednesday farmer's market in downtown SC. When I come home from class on weds I always debate between being lazy and walking into town to buy some veggies. I had something due at the library, so that sealed the deal today. Plus we had an incredible food day today... all kinds of cool things featuring nuts and grains, and we all stuffed ourselves. so the walk was in order. Anyway, boy was I glad I did so, because I had two very fortuitous chance meetings. Keep in mind I know about 10 people here total, and TWICE i was stopped by people calling my name. The first was... my new boss, officially hiring me and asking me to come in for training on friday!!

I now work at the Capitola Book Cafe!!
It's a sweet independent bookstore tucked into a strip mall, really near my school. One of the cool things about them is they have tons of author visits. like three EVERY WEEK. And one of the things they want me to do eventually is host some of those events... basically you read the book in advance, introduce the author, and make sure everything is taken care of for them. They have some really interesting people coming up, which I can rave about in another post, hopefully after they update the listings on their site. So, yeah, it's $8 an hour, but I GET TO WORK IN A REAL LIVE BOOKSTORE!! not my high school bookstore or borders! i'm so psyched.

The second person I ran into was a woman from class, and we made plans with some other girls to see one of the screenings at the santa cruz film festival. We had such a great night... a really deep short film about, hmm, let's say cultural memory, called dear bill gates, and an incredibly engrossing documentary about burning man. I was kind of like, yeah, they'll show all the crazy shit going down there and it will be entertaining, but it was actually really moving and mostly showcased the guy who builds a yearly temple made out of found materials, and all the people who find a spiritual outlet there. As if that weren't enough, it was actually a benefit screening for an art foundation, and then afterwards an equally engrossing west african drum/dance group performed. It made me homesick for wesleyan! Then we hit up Saturn, which is this amazing vegetarian late night diner. (organic beer and tofu chocolate pie, but also tacky 50s decoration and a juke box. who says you can't have it both ways.) Where, among other things, we gossiped about our classmates and debated religion.

On a totally unrelated note, I'm listening to the audiobook for Bridge to Terebithia. Which i thought i had read before, but apparently never did. and no one told me how terribly sad it is! i got to the sad part and i don't know if i can finish it! stupid moving young adult books that make me cry while driving.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

And KT, you thought Green Day was retro...

BSC Headquarters
Revisiting my awkward(est) years, one Baby-Sitters Club book at a time


It’s pretty awesome, lots of cover-art hate and 80s outfit description quotes. She really speaks to our generation, man.

Here’s the first post:

Tiff's Great Idea
Okay. Let me start out by saying that I am in my mid-20s, and I have been spending waaaaay too much time in the children’s room at the local public library...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The awesomeness of singing. Let me count the ways.

1) The Golden Gate all-day singing yesterday. Hello totally delightful sing in my neck o the woods! Those relaxed CA types really do get it TOGETHER when they throw a convention. The sound was amazing. Really solid arranging and breaking and everything else that makes the day go smoothly. They had everything organized for earth day – recyclable name tags with pins (the pins were collected at the end), for dinner we used real silverware, and composted everything (food, plates, cups...). Apparently San Francisco has curbside composting – whoa. Speaking of food, it was pretty knockout too. Veggie food as far as the eye could see. (And according to the committee reports, there were more food items than leaders. ha!) In conclusion, come to the 4th annual next year!! saturday before the 3rd sunday in april.

2) The NY Times!! We’re famous! Well, mostly Sheldon. And Jenna. :) Sacred harp in the travel section is a new one for me.

3) And hey – who needs the NYT - we’re on youtube! I happened to find a whole bunch of videos someone uploaded from this year’s wmshc! including – IS THAT ME??? I totally didn’t notice until about 90% of the way through, when I had the vague recollection that I led North Port. Boh... I hate videos of me leading. At least you can’t really see me, since it much more prominently features other people walking in front of the camera. (Jenna, you’re famous again!)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Don't you love the feeling when...

...your car dies, you get it towed, you go home and try to pretend that you'll have enough to pay the ungodly sum its repair will come to, the garage calls and tells you the problem was just a rusty corroded bolt that was preventing your battery from getting any juice, and at the end of the day you're just $19.76 poorer than when you woke up? That might be one of my favorite feelings.

All our indoor plants are infested with fungus gnats (thanks, Google, for explaining to me exactly what I'm talking about when I search for "fruit flies houseplants Texas") which I'd like to believe is the reason why I can't keep a houseplant alive to save my life, but all the sources I've checked tell me that in fact fungus gnats are thoroughly harmless, which leads me to conclude that I have nothing to blame but my own incompentence. Sigh. At any rate, you can apparently kill off the little suckers by using something called BT, which is supposedly organic and supposedly effective. For now I put the plants outside, where they can live happily until the next time the sun comes out, when they'll promptly shrivel up and die because I'll undoubtedly forget about moving them into the shade and/or watering them. I should be arrested the next time I buy a plant.

Okay, I'm off to listen to the Sweetback Sisters on the People In Their Twenties Talent Show on "A Prairie Home Companion" (woo PVPA pride!!!). I'll leave you with the latest from the nephs.

UPDATE: D'oh! The Sweetback Sisters came in 2nd place. However, in their defense, they lost by 16 votes. Out of 11,000. Which just goes to show that it's YOUR fault for not voting!!! On a lighter note, they essentially tied for first, which proves once again that PVPA alumni are the most talented people in the United States of America. Hooray for Zara and Ross!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The recipes are here...

Instead of doing the cooking I actually need to do for school, I've whipped up a couple things for fun.

Keftes de Espinaca (Sephardic Spinach Patties)
I had leftover matzo kicking around, and apparently: "these patties are traditional on Passover and Rosh Hashanah, corresponding to the emergence of the early and late spinach crops." Who knew!

Vegan Carrot Cake
I tried out this recipe from our class' baking book, with mixed results.

By the way, thanks for the comments via email/phone... I appreciate knowing y'all are connecting with stuff I'm writing here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The promised peter post

And so. Not meant to be particularly depressing or poignant, just sort of on my mind. And lately, it seems that"on my mind" pretty quickly translates to "on this blog." :) If you’ll indulge me for a moment.

I was thinking of waiting to post this until the 3rd anniversary of Peter’s death, which is coming up. But I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of grieving on command - trying to fit it into some big meaningful date/place. In the last two years I’ve let the day go by without thinking of it, but what am I supposed to do, write a post-it? “Remember to remember Peter today.” And I think I mentioned a long time ago the disconnect I felt when I visited the memorial garden. It was just... a place. I mean, it’s beautiful, and his parents are amazing and generous in turning their grief into something positive, and I'm happy it's enriching peoples lives. But it didn’t like, make me cry, or project some touching montage in my mind. Well, that's probably normal. And it's probably normal that some little thing out of the blue will affect me, a lot. But weirdly, instead of getting used to his absence, those moments seem to come more often. Or the urge to tell him something. Which is so... disconcerting. I mean, we had barely been in touch that last year. I think a big part of it is that he would have loved to hear about all of my south american adventures – the language, all the political turmoil, the music, tbe “alien” nazca lines...

My own thoughts aside, I wanted to share a few things.

- Wesleyan is offering the Peter Morgenstern-Clarren ’03 Social Justice Award. (And apparently Wesleyan now has a Dean for Diversity and Academic Advancement??? Awesome.) Know any deserving juniors?

- Also, this article. “...a story of the devastating toll mental illness has inflicted on our adolescents and young adults as seen through the painful experience of one Shaker Heights family.” It’s kind of an intense read but really well done. (And personally, I was touched to see that it mentions the memory book that I put together, and Katie’s anecdote!)

OK. Let’s end with some humor. (See, I knew there was a reason for my being a crazy email packrat!)

Response to a party invitation in the fall of 2002:
alas, i am at an antiwar conference in boston.
when i end the war we can have a big party with
strippers and a five foot tall cake.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The news makes my head hurt

Well I’ve been meaning to post some things about Peter for a few days, and now I feel awkward about it after the big shooting news. I mean, no one has a monopoly on death and loss, but it seems weird to ignore a big terribly immediate tragedy, and go on about your own personal issues. But I guess I don’t have anything in particular to say about what happened at Virginia Tech. Which is sad in and of itself. It’s just... an escalation in a long line of school shootings. With daily headlines about the casualties in Iraq and the genocide in Darfur, it’s hard to work up any real shock anymore. Though disgust, especially at the news coverage, is pretty easy. (No, CNN, I don’t want to click to “watch gunfire captured in student video.”) If anyone knows of any actually constructive measures being taken, please let me know.
(So, tomorrow, for Peter.)

UPDATE: Ok, so apparently I do have something to say.
1) Wow, I’m always amazed at how much the world revolves around the US. With all the goings on in Ecuador, the top 4 articles in my El Comercio email were regarding the shooting. Apparently 2 “latinoamericanos” were among the victims, and they also featured stories on the shooter and a heroic professor.

2) Is anyone else weirded out by headlines like “S.Korean student blamed for shooting rampage” – um, not that its irrelevent to mention his nationality in an article on his background, but in what way is it the most salient point??? It didn’t seem to factor into the crime, and I was more interested by the fact that he was a student, was a “loner” who had been referred for counseling, and left a note. All things featured in other headlines. So is this a way to distance us regular americans from the crime? Is this part of hyper-awareness to immigration issues? Am I just reading into it? Here’s an interesting article on the Asian community’s reaction.
(And now we go to Asian Reporter Tricia Takanawa Richard Lee...)

recipe teaser

So, in case anyone is over at the recipe blog frantically hitting refresh (riiight), i promise it won't be sitting idle for long. I'm cooking for my roommate's writing circle tomorrow night. (They're going to pay me to cover the cost of food, so i can practice! It's no fun to have all these cool recipes to try out, and just me to cook for.) And I have to do a snack demo for class on Friday. And I'm sure I'll whip something up for the Golden Gate Convention this weekend. And then my second homework assignment is due on Monday, for which i'll be cooking up what looks to be a TASTY breakfast. Oh my, I'm getting tired hungry just thinking about it.

Oh, if anyone was wondering, we got the first homework back yesterday, and i got a 97 :) I lost 3 points for not doing the cover page and headings right. Cathy (our master chef guru) wrote all kinds of nice comments, that it was a joy to read and such. The actual technical things i was worried about were no issue apparently... though some other people in the class did have trouble. (yeah, well, before i pat myself on the back TOO hard, let's just say it's a good thing there was no place to comment on my knife skills! When we practiced julienning and such, it was like origami class all over again... sensei was right there leaning over my shoulder: "you smart girl! you should be able to do this!")

Monday, April 16, 2007

"Ecuador por el cambio"

Well, the usual ecuadorian political crisis has been abroilin for the past few months... i’ve refrained from posting here because it’s really quite boring. The long and the short of it is that the newly elected left-wing president campaigned on a promise to amend the constitution to reduce the power of Congress (which he rightly pointed out is corrupt and dominated by old party interests). Of course, as part of this master plan, his party didn’t run any congressional candidates, so he just set himself up for a showdown with a hostile congress over a Constitutional Assembly. So there’s been all this political back and forth which ended up in 57/100 congressmen getting kicked out of office, effectively halting the political process. And there was a mess with some judges in there too. Add a dash of violent protests, illicit congressional meetings, populist bluster from Presidente Correa, and you have the classic Ecuadorian political scene... a whole lot of fuss and no actual progress. (The Economist said all that a lot more elequently.)

So why am I bothering to bore you with the details today? Well, my daily email from El Comercio finally had some decisive news: they held the referendum yesterday and the people overwhelmingly voted to hold the Co Assembly. So maybe, possibly, someday, some good might end up coming out of this?! (Before the inevitable coup...)

UPDATE: I just got an email from Rebecca, recently returned to Quito from Cuba. She says:
The asamblea was approved, Correa canceled all of Ecuador’s debt with the IMF, and he wants to kick out the World Bank’s rep. in Ecuador!!
Well, that is big news. Much happier than domestic headlines today.

Saturdays, March photos, computers

Okay, now that Rebecca's become a blogging superhero, I've come up with a new standard for judging when it's time for me to post: When my last post gets kicked off the bottom of the page.

It was a good weekend... my Saturday routine has begun to take on a life of its own, with such regular exciting highlights as morning yoga, the Metropolitan Opera on KMFA, lots of uninterrupted reading of whatever book I'm in the middle of, cooking our weekly batches of granola and tortillas, and sometimes a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse or another evening event after R gets off work at 8. And you wonder why I don't post more? I should start writing about the highway, like Rebecca.

Eight photos from March added to the 2007 folder. One of these days when I have three hours to spare I'll migrate my photos from Yahoo over to Fotki... in the meantime, let me know if you ever have any trouble viewing my pictures.

So I've had a one-job life for a couple of weeks now, and getting off before 4pm every day still hasn't gotten even the slightest bit old. The worst part is that I now spend 30 hours a week, instead of 20, on the computer. I keep desperately trying to invent helpful projects around the office that will take me off the machine, but I'm not very good at it so far. Stupid 21st century. My eyes hurt.



Sunday, April 15, 2007

The man in black

So I've been really obsessed with Johnny Cash's American recordings. (Those crazy kids these days know it for his cover of NIN's Hurt.) I can't rave enough about how powerful these albums are. So I won't try. Just go out and get a copy if you haven't heard them yet. I'm especially wearing out American III: Solitary Man and American IV: The Man Comes Around. Go on, I bet your library has them, or they are easily downloaded. (I don't think the Cash estate will be in the poorhouse anytime soon, so yay for piracy.)

Anyway, I happened to see that the latest single, God's Gonna Cut You Down, is nominated for best video at the CMT Music Awards. So, apparently, there is a video! Which surprised me, because it was released posthumously (unlike the Hurt video.) You can see it here at youtube. It's... weird, and ridiculously star studded. (Everyone from Chris Rock to Bono.) It's beautifully shot and i get that people wanted to pay tribute to him, but the celeb appearances are totally contrary to the spirit of the lyrics, and the statement at the beginning. But, hey, it's a killer song, and if it gets those Kenny Chesney worshipping fans listening to some real music, I'm not complaining.

Pictures (!!??)

Well, you can tell I must have important things to do if I'm posting pictures instead. Actually, I was really good and updated my resume while they were loading. Yeah, multitasking.

So check out the few non-roller-derby photos from my time in middletown/chicago. They're mostly of Foster, that sweet cat.
And from my first roadtrip stop - Louisville! I figured I better post those before L and R move away.

Enjoy! I'll try to get Austin/Aspen photos up next. And someday ecuador/bolivia/peru...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

“God bless you, Dwight D. Eisenhower / As I stand next to the truck stop shower”

More library inspired rambling.

Turns out 2006 marked the 50th anniversary of the US Insterstate Highway System. While doing recovery at Borders, I noticed a couple of books on the subject. Being the American History nerd that I am, and having spent many hours in recent years driving from coast to coast on these weirdly anonymous roads, I was intrigued. And, personal interest aside, the interstate IS a big deal. I mean, anyone who has read “On the Road” can tell you it’s less a lesson in beat philosophy than in how drastically the experience of long-distance travel has changed in those last 50 years. For better or worse. (Even Bill Bryson’s “The Lost Continent” (1989) seemed awfully dated to me – for all his lamentation about the decline of “small town America” and the Route 66 era of travel, it still feels like an innocent time compared with today's homogeneity. I spent a good chunk of my recent travels on the backroads, and even off the interstate the only real variety was provided by landscape and the shifts in reigning supermarket chain.)

So, long story short, I was curious about the actual history of the interstate. I put the books on my “to read eventually for free from a public library” list. I’d sort of forgotten that until today, when I was looking for non-food related reading material, and did manage to find both books at the trusty local library. The occasion of which I am celebrating in this post. If you’re not bored yet, descriptions are below.

The Roads that Built America: The Incredible Story of the U.S. Interstate System

Created by Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose WW II experiences taught him the necessity of a superhighway for military transport and evacuation in wartime, today's Interstate System is what connects our coasts and our borders, our cities and small towns. It's made possible our suburban lifestyle and caused the vast proliferation of businesses from HoJos to Holiday Inns. And if you order something online, most likely it's a truck barreling along an interstate that gets the product to your door. Written by bestselling author Dan McNichol, The Roads that Built America is the fascinating story of the largest engineering project the world has ever known.

Divided Highways: Building the Interstate Highways, Transforming American Life
Picture a field of dirt, piled knee high, that covers an area the size of Connecticut, or imagine a concrete sidewalk extending a million miles into space. You will have envisioned, Tom Lewis tells us, the amount of earth moved and the amount of concrete poured to make America's interstate highway system, a network of roads planned far back in the 19th century but completed only a few years ago. The public's view of the interstate system, Lewis writes, has been colored in recent decades by the grim realities of gridlock, smog, and road rage. In their early years, however, these highways seemed to promise the freedom of the open road, a gateway to faraway coasts.
Lewis... usefully notes that the system did not result merely from a conspiracy of unions, auto associations, and builders, but also expressed Americans' deepest yearnings for “speed, and space, and privacy."

Photo: a 1959 shot of 290, or the Eisenhower Expressway, which runs 2 blocks from the house I grew up in, and takes you straight to downtown Chicago, neatly avoiding the mean streets of the west side. Courtesy of this site, celebrating 50 years of interstate in IL - If you think I'm talking it up, check out what they have to say. Seriously, go look. How can you resist a site that starts out: "Dear Interstate Anniversary Website Visitor"??

Thursday, April 12, 2007

latest reason to love santa cruz

On my first real borrowing excursion to the local library, I perused the musical selections. I expected to make but a brief stop in the "Pop" section and move on to more fruitful categories. Little did I know that in this magical land of SC, you'd be hard pressed to find a top 40 hit categorized thusly. "Pop" was instead crowded with such selections as:
eddie from ohio
ella fitzgerald
flaco jimenez
steve goodman
kiri te kanawa sings gershwin


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Attack of the Recipes!

Don't you wish you spent YOUR Easter Sunday whipping up traditional Passover delicacies, while listening to "washed in the blood of the lamb" style bluegrass on the radio?

Press Release: Since this blog already overfloweth with my rambling, I took yet another page from Jennifer McCann and started a blog just for recipes!

So head on over and check out the recipes and pictures from my first homework assignment - Charoset and Tzimmes. Next time I do a holiday theme I'll try to do it BEFORE said holiday, so as to possibly be of some inspiration.

Holy freezing-cold Easter weekend, Batman!

If the phrase "Bizarrely, apocalyptically chilly weather" doesn't mean much to you, perhaps the fact that last Saturday's highs were 30 DEGREES COLDER THAN SEATTLE'S HIGHS will sound more impressive. We had a brief freeze (well, not quite freeze, but I think any afternoon temperature lower than 38, in Austin, in April, can be legitimately called as such) last weekend, resulting in much sleet and snow out in the country, but no such luck here, alas.

I really have nothing else to share with y'all... just felt like I should pop up and say hi before Rebecca gets a chance to post again! Life with just one job has been treating me beautifully so far, though I've mostly been too busy to revel properly in it. Tomorrow I'm finally going to my first martial arts (!!!) class, where I get to use the two-month pass that I won last April at a silent auction but have been two busy since then to actually cash in on till now. In other gift certificate news (and there's actually a lot), I'm planning on swinging by Book People this afternoon (and by "swinging by" I mean "disappearing into and emerging several hours later") to use my $100 gift card, a farewell present from some of my preschool parents. After leaving Book People, I'll stop at Richard's store to by a pair of on-sale shoes using the $10 coupon I got for free when we went to see the Banff Film Festival. Then I'll go to yoga, where I'll have my choice of using one of 8 classes I won at a different silent auction last year, or one of 4 classes another one of my preschool parents bought me. Then maybe I'll go to the grocery store and use a coupon or something, just to round out my evening. (And that's not even mentioning our free passes last night to see a special screening of First Snow, starring Brad Pitt and Hilary Swank -- er, I mean Guy Pearce and Piper Perabo. {Aside to B: Oh my god! I just realized she's the crazy fencing hottie from "Lost & Delirious"!} It was a fairly unoriginal psychological drama, but we both enjoyed it.)

Okay, no more gift certificates or interesting happenings to report. Back to Rebecca...


Monday, April 09, 2007


Wow, today is a special happy exciting day. I mean, how often can you say that on a monday??

1) I finished my first homework assignment (my next post will be the recipe/pictures!) and was happy with how it turned out. I brought in the leftover charoset today for snack (because a girl can only eat so much) and everyone was really interested and enjoyed it. The class had really good energy after finishing the homework (even though I was NOT excited with the subject matter today. Traditional meat based stocks. We did do a cool alternative stock, but it was Japanese and fish based, so I still couldn't eat any of the main dishes we made. Oh well, at least I'm not the only one. And I get that it's important to understand traditional methods, blah blah. Anyway it was a fun class despite itself.)
3) It's gorgeous out after a few chilly overcast days. And no rain and I'm not feeling too tired, which means I'll definitely be heading up to Berkeley to sing! Yay!
4) When I got home and checked the mail, I got my new debit card from the Bank of the West (it has grizzly bears on it!) AND my amazon order! woohoo! For about $1 over my @25 gift certificate, I got:
- Dale Ann Bradley's "Catch Tomorrow", which I've been wanting to get since the second I heard her voice on my dad's XM radio back in December. (And definitely deserves its status as the first cd I've legally purchased in quite some time.)
- Jesus Christ Superstar Special Edition DVD (with commentary by Ted Neeley aka Jesus!!) yay!
5) As much as I enjoy school, I LOVE that it's only every other day. It's a great feeling to know that I can drive up to sing tonight and not pay for it tomorrow.

hey, look, i posted about my real life! Everyone be proud.

UPDATE: Boh, let this be a lesson to myself in counting one's chickens. I took a nap, overslept, and now it's too late to sing! Well there's always next week. Or I can just wait until the golden gate singing on the 21st. Oh well, it looks like it's just me and JCS tonight :)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Feliz cumple a mi papi!

He turns the big 65 today, and since he ran off to Barcelona I'm sure he's having a pretty spectacular day, with or without my birthday wishes. But I offer them anyway, along with previously unreleased photos from peru/bolivia!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

UPDATE: Yes, there is a quiz.

OK, there wasn't. Until I made one. I guess the verdict's in on whether I procrastinate even when my homework is to cook tasty food. Is anyone really surprised?

Please take my stupid quiz :)
apparently, 28 random people already have, before i even posted it here(??!!)

For the library nerd in all of us

(Well, maybe not in all of us. In me anyway. I’m sure there’s a quiz out there that can tell you what percentage library nerd you are. The anecdote below should bump up my score considerably.)

I was going to post about stuff actually related to my life, but I want to include a picture and my camera battery is charging. So you'll have to wait a few hours on that one. But, hey, now's as good a time as any for a little virtual spring cleaning, eh?

So when I was maybe 9, my best friend Jenny and I pooled our books to create a lending library – which mostly consisted of Baby Sitter's Club and the like. We made a catalog and little index cards for all the books and whatnot (back in the dark ages before card catalogs starting getting used as scrap paper for computer searches). Of course we didn’t entirely understand the concept that libraries aren’t generally a moneymaking business, and get their funding from taxes and donations and so on. Facing a significant lack of those sources, we turned to gouging our friends in overdue fees. Needless to say, this was not a long and successful endeavor. (Though some of my books still have silly index cards taped to the inside cover. I hope Baby Island still has the special starred review I wrote for it. It was my favorite book, and I had probably already read it 872346 times. Think LOST, but with less monsters and more babies.)

Since some things just don’t change, the 21st century version of me squealed in delight at librarything. I may not have a physical bookcase yet, but that hasn’t stopped me from cataloging my entire collection of books. Which is actually quite puny, since I left most of them back in Oak Park. I really like this site – it’s kind of cute and bootleg, but also fancy enough to search libraries and book sources around the world. And it’s super simple and user friendly. To sign up, all you do is type your name and choice of password in the login box. Then you can enter in titles/ISBNs of your books, and you’ll have a digital catalog of your library. You can play around and organize it any way you want, and get recommendations, write reviews, etc. Just like all those other great archiving/networking site, it’s tag based.

One of my favorite features is that if the cover art isn’t in the system, you can upload a copy or link to an image elsewhere online. (Because, you know, books are pretty.)

Plus, widgets!! Check out mine over there in the sidebar. Right now I have it displaying random books from my library, but if I get any new and exciting books I’ll switch it over to display recent additions. If you click on the book cover, it will take you to amazon. If you click on the title, it will take you to librarything.

Also, check in on the zeitgeist!

And this guy, who made photomosaics of himself using the bookcovers in his librarything catalog. No joke.

Or this project, for you KT.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

in which i, again, am that person

You know, the one who indulges in pointless behind the scenes technobabble. Except I don't even have actual techie chops, so it's that much more mundane. Sorry. I've summarized the important part in bold. (I'm really spoiled now by LJ cuts, in which you can hide the boringness from the main page, and your readers can't complain if they are so bored they bother to click on it. Stupid mainstream plug and play blogger. Oops, I think I started the technobabble early.)

Anyway, the other day I gave into the "new blogger" pressure and tried upgrading the blog template... for all of about 2 seconds. The promised drag and drop layout editing was embarrassingly rudimentary and didn't work properly. And I was looking forward to easily be able to add google "elements" (like links, google news, images etc). But again, they were super crude and not really customizable. So back to the old school template it was, post haste. But I was still jealous of people with typepad and other blogs that easily show links, news, "what i'm reading" etc. So now I'm inspired to experiment with some widgets for the sidebar - I'll try to keep them pretty minimalistic. I may not quite have katie's luddite leanings, but i'm an old school kind of girl. I cringe every time I have to click on a myspace link, it's like opening a spare closet and bracing yourself for the inevitable piece of junk to fall on your the head, the way every inch is crammed with streaming music and video and images and assorted widgets. yeesh.

So, on that note, you may have noticed the links over on the right there. I know I'm like the last person in the world to notice, but it's such a great service. I vastly prefer 99.9% of firefox's features over safari, but the way they organize links is SO difficult to navigate. Enter, which is TAG based, so you can easily cross reference and organize your links. On my own computer, it's just one click to add or access links, but it's webbased so you can access it from anywhere! (if only i'd realized this last year, when I was constantly bouncing around different computers. grr.) And I really like the widget - very simple, and will automatically populate when I update my links. All this boils down to for you, dear reader, is that I won't have to type up these pesky posts just to share my favorite sites. The most recent links will be hanging out over in the sidebar, and if you click on the header it will show you all the links I've been moved to share, with descriptions.

I found a cool book sharing service/widget as well, so that's coming soon. I'm still looking for a good music sharing one. Just something that I can update with music I've been listening to... nothing fancy and streaming, or corporate/Amazon based. Anything else you want to see that would further your procrastination enhance your blogreading experience? I'm kind of tempted by this one. It's like that scene from Big, but in blog form (and with solfege!!).

Well, it’s 13 years without Kurt Cobain today

I tried to shed a tear, but I’m just so damn happy the band and courtney finally stopped fighting long enough to put nirvana on video game commercials!! Oy. It hurts my poor grunge soul. And I NEVER thought I’d say this, but it kind of makes me wish I were back in junior high, with natalia and our candles and incense and nirvana tshirts and our weareyoungandnooneunderstandsuslikekurt anniversary vigil. Ah for simpler times.

Also, let's appreciate the irony of grunge action figures... I'm trying to be appalled on principle, but am verry distracted by how well they actually captured the Kurt Stare of Angst™.

(Goes back to listening to Tourette's on repeat. Because if there's anything better than the Kurt Stare of Angst™, it's the Kurt Scream of Angst™.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Happy Passover / Feliz Semana Santa / Bon voyage

I had such a lovely wholesome afternoon today. All morning I had to make a point to space out my errands and drive to all of them, because I don't have a permit to park on my street for more than 2 hours at a time in the daytime (this is a whole other rant about california and its endless red tape. grr), but I walked to the library for the first time. It's downtown, which I was please to discover is a beautiful <20 min walk, easily avoiding the busy streets. They're mailing me my library card (since i didn't have proof of address) so I couldn't check anything out, but I felt like I had to justify my trip over there, so I browsed the magazine section. I ended up reading some great articles and felt satisfyingly intellectually stimulated :)

The Economist, featuring local news I already knew (take that economist! who's cutting edge now! huh!)
Gridlock on the lake: By neglecting its transport system, Chicago is gambling with its future
Plastics of evil: San Francisco swaps polyethylene for potato starch

Some great articles in the special issue of NACLA: Report on the Americas : How Pink Is the 'Pink Tide'? Feminist and LGBT Activists Challenge the Left. (Re: my ramblings in KT's post, there was an interesting article about bolivia - the empowering of grassroots / indigenous feminist movements over the traditional middle class ones, in the new leftist Evo era.)

The alternative local free newspaper, which is actually called Good Times (!) had a cover story on the new Whole Foods moving in. I'm not sure why I bothered to link it, because it was really quite boring and uninformative. But I love that the small guys aren't really worried about getting run out / bought out by WF, in fact one seems more concerned for them!
I think there is a real place for Whole Foods. They serve a real need in some place. I’m not down on them. But I’m not sure if they’ve ever had a store fail or ever put one in such a competitive marketplace. We’ll have to see how it all shakes out.
(I'll have to write a whole other post about the ridiculously fabulous array of natural groceries already here.)

Well, I meant to say this yesterday - happy passover! I was feeling a bit left out, since this year's holy week holds no exciting seder plans, bowls of fanesca, or trips to the beach (i do pass the beach every day. shh. thats not the point). Meanwhile the Rebecca's are heading to Cuba, my dad is off to Barcelona, my roommate is in China, and MP is hitting the beach in mexico! While I'll be in class. Safety/sanitation and knife skills to be exact. But I came up with a three pronged plan of attack for this holiday season. Damn, i just had another idea, so i think that makes it 4 pronged.

#1 - My most brilliant idea was that for my first homework assignment I'll cook haroset and tzimmes! I don't have the energy to put together a real seder, and don't really have any jewish buddies or gentile guinea pigs yet. But this is perfect! Our big homework assignment is due at the end of each section (each two weeks) - we have to cook a meal and write about the nutritional elements, and some other stuff. I'll be sure to take pictures and post the recipes. Ooh, I can do that for every homework assignment - like vegan lunchbox! Except not as cool, cuz really, what is? Actually I'm thinking of trying a recipe from her cookbook for one of the future assignments :)

#2 - I plan to drive up to the east bay again next monday, barring issues of weather/stress. I inadvertantly left some stuff at sue's, and i can pick that up AND go sing in berkeley! You know me, if i don't sing something every so often, i get a little CRANky. So, at the very least I can lead Saints Bound For Heaven.

#3 - If it kills me, I'm going to scout out some fanesca round these parts and eat it! Ha!

#4 - An ecuadorian friend happened to mention she saw a free public show in the mariscal as part of the semana santa celebrations - it was a staging of Jesus Christ Superstar, in spanish!!!! I am dying of jealousy at missing that, but at least I can have my own private showing. Hey, if it's good enough for the capital of a catholic country, it's good enough for my own non-pious purposes.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Ooh, I forgot to brag about...

My tax returns! Says my personal tax preparer my dad - "You will eventually be the proud recipient of $101.75 federal dollars, and $26 big ones from the state of illinois. All this on a gross reported earnings for 2006 of $960!"

Too bad I spent more than that just today. Heh. Stupid school/moving expenses. (And stupid california. I spent $45 on a tank of gas alone the other day.) Though I'm happy to report that I've spent a total of $15 on furniture for my room, and I only lack a bookcase.

When I grow up

I got back in town this evening after the Reproductive Rights Conference at Hampshire College which was AMAZING. Overstimulatingly amazing, to paraphrase Rebecca. The most exciting part is that I think I'm beginning to maybe figure out what I want to do with myself, someday, possibly. I want to work in reproductive justice... as defined by Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (a fantastic California-based organization), the "Reproductive Justice Agenda (RJA) places reproductive justice at the center of the most critical social and economic justice issues facing our communities, such as ending violence against women, workers rights, environmental justice, queer and transgender rights, immigrant rights, and educational justice." Basically you look at how women's reproductive sexuality fits within the context of all of society's ills. The RJ movement is fairly new, led predominantly by women of color, and is centered around the marginalized communities and issues that there's no room for in the traditional reproductive rights/pro-choice agenda, which is historically a movement whose issues have been framed and most often fought for by affluent white women. I didn't know anything about the RJ movement before this weekend, and I got so excited about it that, like a math nerd after a particularly exciting calculus class, I took forever falling asleep each night because my mind was turning over and over and over.

So that's that. I start my new NARAL-only hours when I head back to work tomorrow... haven't yet decided how I'm going to spend my decadent amounts of free time, but I'm sure I'll figure something out. What else is new here? March has come and gone, bringing loads of rain, which is A Good Thing. March might be my favorite month in Austin... it's all green and bloomy, warm but not too warm yet. The rain made everything look ridiculously green from the airplane as I flew in today, especially coming from the still brown and bare-branchy northeast. So backwards.

And hey, who wants to come with me to the US Social Forum at the end of June???????

And finally, how cute are the nephs?!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

"Old man, look at my life, 24 and there's so much more..."

(With apologies to my dad, I'm listening to the new neil young live album. He introduces that song by saying "This is a new song that I wrote about my ranch.")

Well, I still have 873645 things to say about my new culinary endeavor, and still can't seem to process those into concise blogging. So, I will just muddle through:

#1 most important lesson so far: Bauman is pronounced "bow-man", not "bough-man".

My reading list:
The Garden of Eating
Working Healthy: Certified Food Handler's Guide
Prescriptions for Dietary Wellness
Recipes & Remedies for Rejuvination
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods
Lorna Sass' Complete Vegetarian Kitchen
The New Laurel's Kitchen
The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook
Uprisings: The Whole Grain Baker's Book
(It's a pretty intimidatingly tall stack, but don't you wish YOUR homework was reading vegetarian cookbooks???)

First impressions:
After so much planning (I've been wanting to do this program since 2003!), it was so strange to just... show up at 3912 Portola Dr, Suite 10, and be in class. But it couldn't have been a better first day. I was getting all emotional listening to the instructor talk about the course, it's everything i ever wanted and more :) All the ingredients we use are organic, and it's not just some gourmet standard. It's really geared toward living the ideals in a sustainable way - composting, conserving food (we have leftovers for snack the next day, talk about making broths from juicing pulp, etc), buying afforably/in bulk/in season/local. Just offhand the instructor was talking about the school's network (I believe she used the phrase "inside the cutting edge") with all kinds of people involved with the issues of environment/food industry and agricultural reform etc. (Since I'm halfway through The Omnivore's Dilemma (yes, i'm fiiinally reading it - i found a great used copy on my first day in santa cruz :) and since our midwestern family farm is funding my tuition, the program that resonated the most was one that teaches kids from the farming belt organic farming, to keep them on the farm and out of dairy queen, and guarantees them a market.) Also, I don't have to feel bad about the half of my carload that was made up of cooking equipment - just on the first day they used 3 of my fun things that have been sitting in the closet for the last 2 years - microplane zester, bamboo steamer, and immersion blender. Oh and the best part is I don't have to feel guilty about spending loads of time/money in natural food stores - in fact, it's a necessary part of my education!!!
Other fears assauged - I was a bit skeptical of the whole Bauman factor - they recently changed the name to Bauman College after the founder, Ed Bauman, and we learn his whole Eating 4 Life philosophy. But I was happy to find it's not a guru worshipping kind of deal (one of the other students was funny and asked something like "Does Ed like yogurt?"). He's just the guy who had the vision and did lots of research. It's really as common sensical as could possibly be in this day and age - not converting you to One True Diet, but getting you to educate yourself and others about food and nutrition, and learning how to prepare/eat what's right for you. It's kind of a back to the basics approach - eat whole foods, live sustainably, except that we can't really go back anymore - we're at such a disconnect from our food sources. So you have to really work to stay ahead of the game and understand how the food has been manipulated before getting to your table (from the genetically modified seeds, to the depleted soil, to the chemical contaminants, to the processing, and on and on.) Seriously, come up with as many conspiracy theories as you want about 9/11, the war, alternative energy, and it won't compare with the evil doings of the corporate interests in the agricultural/food industry. I've always assumed it was bad, and sort of averted my eyes, and tried to make reasonably responsibly choices. But now I'm sort of professionally required to open my eyes, and eek! Prepare for lots of posts urging you to toss the microwave, the plastic, the sugar substitutes, etc etc

But it's not all about scare tactics, i swear. Just going to class everyday feels like such a positive change in our own lives, and we're all so happy to be around like-minded people, and the focus is on how we we'll be helping clients/ our families / students. Plus we eat some DAMN GOOD FOOD. We have a great snack every morning, which is some combo of hard boiled eggs / veggies / nuts / leftovers. There's an endless supply of fresh brewed herbal tea (the blends are put together in the nutrition classes next door). And everyday we prepare and eat a big lunch together that highlights the days lessons. (Right now the instructor and assistant are doing all the cooking, but starting friday we'll be in the kitchen too!) The first days's meal was:

"Cream" of asparagus soup
Wild Rice, Shitake, & Hazelnut Pilaf
garden salad w/dressing

Geez, I told you I couldn't channel my thoughts into a coherent blog form. Now that I've got that out of my system I will try to bring you more focused topics like:
-food eeeeevils - just the facts, ma'am.
-"foods that really are all they're hyped up to be"
-book/website recs