Thursday, May 31, 2007

Continued Adventures in Scanning

So I spent a good part of my Memorial Day weekend up to my neck in nostalgia. My dad finally put my childhood room out of its “hasn’t been redecorated since I was in short pants” misery. (An act of mercy I hear Nancy has also visited upon KT’s room.)


The point being that all that stuff went somewhere, and I knew I had better find where my dad stashed it all and put my hands on it before it went missing into the Depths of the Basement for all eternity. So I went home and dug in. Instead of just moving containers around, for once I actually sorted, and in doing so touched on little scraps from every corner of my life. From baby blankets to international gum wrappers to the odd scribble in an old notebook. Books I’d reminisced about recently and finally got to make that physical reconnection (Baby Island!). Books I’d totally forgotten about (a copy of How Things Work with the very subtle inscription from my grandfather: “Rebecca, I hope this will engage your interest in math and science.”) Books that didn’t quite belong to me after all (A copy of The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition bearing my own inscription: “Mom, here’s some business advice for you!” hey look – I’m still capable of surprising myself at the depths of my nerdiness.)

And then, of course, there were the pictures. I ruled out bringing back my big scrapbook o college memories. Instead I turned to the scanner and digitalized a nice chunk of those wes era photos. So here they are for your viewing pleasure. (plus a few that were already online, if you’re wondering why there are so damn many.) Uh... R and KT and I didn’t just stand in front of a green screen and take pictures for 4 years straight, despite what this slideshow may suggest, I swear. If you look real closely, you can see the cast of thousands 5 other friends with whom I whiled away the years of my higher education.

Freshman yearish
Sophomore yearish
Junior yearish
Senior yearish

And don't miss the exclusive glimpses of Young Rebecca.

Featuring none other than - The Infamous Grunge Photo. This is pretty much what I looked like for all of junior high. The scary thing is I had NO IDEA that I fit into any kind of iconic grunge fashion until I saw this picture years later. All I remember at the time was feeling total alienation from the shiny happy world of popular girls in baby tees, and that Kurt Cobain and flannel were about the only things that made me feel comfortable in my own skin.

Thinking about this makes me feel all shifty, like maybe I’m at this very moment oblivious to being a walking time capsule of my generation, and I can feel my future self peeping in across the years and tsking my lack of self-awareness. Or perhaps this act of blogging about self-awareness is in itself emblematic of the times. Hmmmmmmmmm.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

arrested development fans, rejoice

So if you've ever watched Arrested Development you know David Cross (Tobias) is hi-larious. The man has no shame. One of my classmates introduced me to his HBO sketch comedy show from the 90s, Mr. Show. We only watched a few episodes, but apparently there are 4 seasons out on DVD.

A couple of samples from the episodes i saw, thanks to youtube. (err, if you are offended by obscene humor you will probably want to skip these. And the show for that matter. Although you probably aren't reading this because you turned off Arrested Development at the first incest joke.)

I'm not a huge sketch comedy fan, but they totally had me at this skit from the first episode.
Ronnie Dobbs
Behind the Music meets Cops.

Dude, I totally need a bag hutch.

The Farmhouse Musical
with guest star Jack Black.
"What about the moo cow, and what about the haaay?" *rocks out*

Oh god, I just watched all of those about 3 times. I'm dying. And the genius of the show is actually more in the stream of consciousness way they string the skits together. Just watch it.

And someone sent me a link to Michael Cera's latest project. I haven't watched it yet, but it sounds like when George and Jerry were writing their show about nothing, except in CBS-web-mockumentary form. Check out the first episode here.
(Update - I did watch, it is funny, and is super seinfeld - they even make a ted danson reference! hee!)

OK folks, I'm off to buy local organic peaches and cherries from the farmer's market. All hail california.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Long-Awaited Saga of Hot Springs

So I lied. I'm not really gone for the day. One of the women who works across the hall from me was cleaning out their office a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted a scanner that they were planning on getting rid of. As many of you know, I can't get rid of anything, even when it's not mine and I'm not the one getting rid of it. So I said yes. Today I finally got around to downloading a driver and scanning some old(ish) photos that I had lying around. The result was an awkward sort of nostalgic melange, which I arranged in reverse chronological order for your touring pleasure. More to come, I'm sure. In the meantime, please check them out at Rebecca's most beloved photo site, Fotki (link below).

The most exciting part is that this means our pictures from Hot Springs, Arkansas are finally accessible for all the world to see! As one or two of you (Rebecca & my mom) may recall, I dangled a promise before you all when Richard and I moved down here last year to tell you all the story of our shenanigans in Hot Springs. But really, they were nothing without the accompanying images. So here are highlights for you to bear in mind as you peruse pictures #2-5:

Hot Springs was just supposed to be a pit stop on our last leg of the trip, between Louisville and Austin. (Sidebar: We were going to camp out at Hot Springs National Park, but it rained through THREE STATES and we happily checked ourselves into the first sleazy motel we came to when we rolled into Hot Springs late that night.) Our map had informed us that there was a wax museum in town, and one of us (name withheld to preserve some measure of dignity) was dying to visit it, since she'd never been to one before. But we had 10 more hours to drive and wanted to get a good start, so we hit downtown early and had to literally wait on the front steps of the museum until they unlocked the door. This meant the only non-wax bodies in the museum at one minute past opening time were me, Richard, and a shuffling old lady who had to go over and switch on the escalator for us.

Let me set the scene. You enter the museum, pay admission, and then take a creaky old elevator up to the second floor where you begin your tour. The escalator takes you past a series of Golden Age of Hollywood-type figures... Mae West, Fred Astaire, and - most notably - one of the only two African-Americans depicted in the entire museum: a 4-foot-tall Louis Armstrong with hands at least six shades lighter than his coal-black face. Nice going, guys. So up you ride, and finally something begins to emerge over the top of the escalator... wait for it... wait for it... could it be? YES, my friends, it is none other than a larger-than-life Christ. Crucified. Upon the cross. Did I mention he's crucified? If that's not enough to scare you into Southern Baptism, perhaps the exhibit directly behind him will do the trick: a re-creation of the Last Supper, so realistically done that they even have all the pale, blond, Aryan apostles sitting on Jesus' side of the table, just like they were in 33 AD when Leonardo da Vinci painted them.

As you enter the dimly-lit room, the recording starts up and a deep, dramatic, manly voice (the sort of voice that would narrate 1950s-era filmstrips about the nuclear bomb) begins to set the scene for you. Apparently, Christ has just told his followers that one of them will betray him, and in case the nametags at each apostle's seat still leave any doubt as to who's who, a spotlight shines on each of the figures in turn, and the helpful voice tells you about each one, interpreting the psychological significance of their body language for you in a narrative replete with meaningful pauses and accompanied by background music that can only be described as truly terrifying.

So Richard and I stand and stare for a few minutes, desperately wanting to avert our eyes and/or close our mouths but unable to do either. Finally R turns to me and says, "Hey, if I go sit in Thomas' seat" (Thomas has jumped out of his chair next to Jesus and is cowering behind James Elder) "will you take a picture of me?" Good museum nerd that I am, I give him a properly horrified look and protest, "You can't do that!!!!" "Why not?" asks Richard. I argue lamely about security cameras and exhibit barriers, and Richard kindly pats me on the arm and finally manages to remind me that we're in a Jesus exhibit. In a circa 1980 wax museum. In Hot Springs, Arkansas. We're not talking the Smithsonian, here. So he vaults over and takes Thomas' seat and I take his picture and we run off, giggling. What you do for kicks in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The rest of the museum is full of lots of famous white people, running the gamut from Neil Armstrong to Queen Elizabeth to Snow White. You might be forgiven for not noticing the only other Black person, Martin Luther King, Jr., who's standing in what appears to be a converted broom closet in a long, dark hallway wearing a blazer so big that the sleeves cover part of his hands. Okay, fine - they may have agreed to add a Black guy to their exhibits, but damned if they were going to go to the trouble of finding a jacket that actually fit him. If it was good enough for the big, strapping Bill Clinton in the next room, it's good enough for Martin Luther King.

Okay, that's our best Hot Springs story. There are a couple of others, but mostly the kind of generic adventures that two unsuspecting Yankees would have in any southern tourist town boasting sites like Bathhouse Row and Bill Clinton's childhood house. A few more pictures are included in the memory lane page, plus such assorted gems as Rebecca in Paris, Watson on Christmas morning, and 3-year-old me.


And now I'm done for real.

Marge: "They said if you don't go in tomorrow, don't bother going in Monday." Homer: "Woohoo! Four-day weekend!"

Well, I guess let's start where I left off. Remember that big pot of steaming gruel I made last weekend? I forgot to make an addendum to my last post to share another fairly-tasty thing I discovered how to make with it: mix it up with nutritional yeast and soy sauce and wrap up a scoop of it in a Bibb lettuce leaf! It was even company-friendly... Alexa came over last Sunday and I reluctantly fed her some and she at the very least pretended to enjoy it. So there you go!

The epilogue to this story is that the remaining leftovers were rendered thoroughly unfit to eat when our refrigerator up and died last Sunday night. We discovered it Monday morning, but of course hadn't woken up in time to actually do anything about it before we left for work. Our landlord kindly replaced it, but the new fridge wasn't delivered until Friday morning, which meant we got to eat soggy veggies and lukewarm yogurt out of a cooler for four days. God bless William Cullen, or Oliver Evans, or Jacob Perkins, or John Gorrie, or Carl von Linden, or Thomas Elkins, or John Standard, or whoever was actually responsible for inventing our refrigerator.

So the week passed uneventfully except for our lack of perishables. Friday we both had the day off from work and in the afternoon we headed out to the Kerrville Folk Fest. It rained and rained and rained all the way out there, and then we literally pulled up over the last hill before the ranch and the sun popped out. It was, as Richard proclaimed, a Kerrville miracle. We met up with some of his friends from work, pitched our tent (er, Richard pitched it... I stood nearby and tried not to compromise the integrity of his state-of-the-art technology), ate chips and tuna, and spent the evening watching mainstage acts. Highlights included Tracy (though I must confess I was rather underwhelmed by her set), the guy who wrote "The Dutchman", and... well, um, that's about it. Kerrville has seen better nights, I think. But we got in lots of quality hang-out time with Richard's very pregnant co-worker and her enjoyable husband, and I guess a night of camping is better than no camping at all. Plus we got half-price tickets so the whole shebang only cost us $15 apiece. In the morning we decided we'd had our fill of hippies and wanted to go home and have the rest of the weekend to ourselves, so we packed up and snuck out of there before any of his friends could see us go and yell at us to stay. Perhaps it was a little lame of us, but really, there's only so much of 20somethings in dreads and Chacos who came out a week early to volunteer and are staying the entire 18 days of the festival and greet everyone who arrives with "Welcome home!" that you can take, you know? I mean, I love it for what it is, but I can't say our spirits didn't lift immeasurably as we sped guiltily away like a regular Bonnie & Clyde. We stopped on the way back and bought some blackberries and peaches - Hill Country peaches come into season right about Kerrville time every year, and the road to the festival is crowded with little peach stands - from a sweet, doddering old man in an "I'm Drunk And You're Ugly, But In The Morning I'll Be Sober And You'll Still Be Ugly" baseball cap, and then went home.

Today R's back at work and I'm savoring my last day of freedom... I leave Wednesday for a conference, get back Sunday night, and leave three days after that for DC, NYC, and Israel. Ack!!

And with that, I'm off.

Oh yeah - happy graduation, Dan!!!!! Everyone, please feel free to barrage him with questions about what he's going to do with his life. That is, after he spends the summer as an assistant custodian at his old elementary school. Or perhaps I've said too much...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

to whom it may concern

Dear Southwest
Kindly unlose my bag. And while you're at it, please pay me $100 like the last time you lost it. Err... answer my phone call? Helloooo?

Dear TSA
I feel LOADS safer since you stopped letting me carry on shampoo and bottled water. (*cough* Increase in checked baggage poses new security threat) And on this memorial day weekend, I'm proud to join my fellow Americans in further straining the checked baggage system. (*cough* Mishandling Has Spiked Since Liquid Ban Reduced Carry-Ons)
I've taken the liberty of creating this lovely patriotic button, which ought to boost morale in baggage claim offices across the nation.

Let it never be said that I don't have layers

10 am today - Embarking on Macrobiotic diet class with this most excellent instructor.

10 pm - At a club in SF watching Natalia's lady in action - Cristalle aka rap superstar Psalm One. I showed up to a soldout show and was immediately backstage with a free beer. and in the company of natalia! Worth the 3 hour latenight roundtrip over the hill in foggy weather? for sure. will that stop me from complaining about it? clearly not.

And the rapidly approaching 10 am will see me off to chicago for the weekend. And without my security blanket trusty laptop (gasp!), so it may be quiet on the blogfront. A happy holiday weekend to everyone. And I almost forgot - congratulations (and many KT hugs) are in order to Mr. Dan Mahoney on the occasion of his graduation from brown!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

assorted awesomeness

Well I may not have a VA hospital in my neck of the woods, but the Food Bin sports a pretty great sign o the week. It's usually something appropriately Santa Cruz touchy feely, like "Trust Yourself" or "Sunshine is an elixir." Then the other week it was just this:

I got up bright and early on Saturday for the library's book sale. Total cost for the 20 or so books I picked up: $18.50. Sweeet. I mostly picked up 70s era natural foods cookbooks, with some kids books tossed in since they were nearly free as it was priced by weight. My favorite find was a 1943 edition of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Even though it was an old beat up library copy and I already own a nice new paperback, I HAD to buy it after seeing that the back cover features pretty excellent war bond propaganda by the author herself! Available for your viewing pleasure thanks to the good people at Google books. She lives on a police widow's pension in a little house in Brooklyn...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

How Katie saved Christmas. Er, I mean dinner.

Don't think that Rebecca's the only one around here who does any cooking! She's just the only one who does it well...

So, low on groceries and at a loss as to what to make for dinner last night, I cooked up a big pot of kasha (the traditional way, mixing it with eggs and cooking it dry before adding the water, just like my New Laurel's Kitchen tells me to). All we had in terms of produce was a sprouting sweet potato, a slightly shrivelled zuchinni, and a fair-to-middling yellow zuchinni squash with the stem end inexplicably cut off (Richard?). I didn't feel like making another boring stirfry so I grated up these three dubious specimens and mixed them in with the kasha. After letting them wilt and steam a little, I opened the lid to survey and taste my creation. The whole mess tasted like something you might cook up to feed your dog if he had a stomache ache.

So now it's about 9pm, I'm hungry, Richard's hungrier, and I have this giant pot of pet food that I don't want to eat. So I resorted to the age-old cop-out: make it delicious by frying it. I mixed in some salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, and turmeric, made it into patties, dipped them in egg & milk, coated them with crushed matzoh and more chickpea flour, and fried them up in olive oil. Voila! Not quite worthy of inclusion in Lidia's Big Fat Family Table, but good enough to call it dinner. Let us rejoice.

Just another quiet Sunday around here... R's being crafty on the sewing machine we inherited from his co-worker, and I'm puttering around in my pj's. Bill gave us four of his runtiest pepper plants which we planted in our yard today... I can't imagine we'll get anywhere near the bounty that he does, but we're hoping for at least a few. Our new neighbor is now living full-time in the side of the duplex closest to us, so we keep having to remind ourselves that there's another human twenty feet away at all times. A particularly perilous situation these days, when it's still so cool that everyone has all their windows open all the time.

Hope everyone's having a good May! I'm enjoying our new shrine, and encourage everyone to take some time out of their busy schedules to bow down before it whenever the urge strikes. (Um, does encouraging people to worship false idols get me disqualified from my birthright Israel trip?)



Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ah yes, that's more like a proper shrine to us.

Hey... what's that shiny thing sitting up top of the blog? Could it be... a fancy new banner?? It's about time... with all the blogtinkering of late, I neglected the most important part! But I was finally inspired by Rosie's lovely new banner, and all the crazy amazing artists constantly churning out banners on livejournal. So I spent my friday night brushing off my EXTREMELY rusty nonexistent photoshop skills. Seriously, the last time I professed to have any expertise in graphic design software was probably about 1993, and canvas 2.0 or whatever was the latest and greatest. So jumping into Photoshop CS was, err, a bit bewildering. But I soldiered on and so here you are. A new banner for this blog, AND one for my recipes!

I'm not totally happy with them, but hey, gotta start somewhere and all that. The recipe one is fairly straightforward, I just stole some art from random places online, and only had to do a bit of retouching and added text on the index card. I got a little more ambitious on this one, and I think it's a little busy but I like all the elements. At least one contributor would like to be credited, and since I apparently respect their wishes a bit more than copyright law, here goes:

The frame is cropped from this photo of a real frame - I found it here at deviantART, which seems like a cool community of shared art. (Thanks, Suzanne Phillips.)

This background texture is also from deviantart, and I couldn't NOT use it after reading the description: Grungy paper found at abandoned meat factory.

The background is layered with this texture, which is a picture of real stained glass.

And the text is this blue texture showing through, and I can't find where I got it from, but it was a photo of some actual painted surface.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm so intrigued by the idea of digital art made from 100% real live stuff. (It's like the outsider art of tomorrow, todaay!)

As soon as I get that copy of Photoshop for Dummies I requested from the library, I'll be making brushes and downloading fonts like the pros slightly more talented amateurs.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Farewell Mocon??

Pictures here. I'm trying to dredge up fond memories... wait for it... wait for it......

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The food is back

(Ready for jar food? Check. And I haven't even acquired any half-gallon mason jars yet.)

Well the past few days have been just jam packed with cooking and singing - just the way I like it! (We had another homework assignment due on Monday, and I managed to get to both the south bay sing on Sunday AND the berkeley sing on Monday!) Now that I've had a chance to recover, I can get back to my regularly scheduled blogging.

While I have been neglecting my spin-off blog the recipes have been piling up. I've updated it with 4 new ones, and should have the latest batch up in a few days. The homework write-ups involve researching nutritional profiles of key ingredients and doing cost analysis for one recipe, so I'm including those if they're interesting. Over on the sidebar I listed the bibliography, like the responsible academic I sometimes pretend to be.

I give you:
Spicy Herb and Tomato Cheez Spread
I may have mentioned a few weeks back that I had to do an in-class demo, and I ended up doing this recipe. I felt kind of unprepared because it came in the middle of a crazy week, but it went really smoothly and everyone gave me lots of positive feedback, and a good evaluation from Kathy. It's nice to realize that's it totally second nature to me at this point to present a "lesson", in terms of managing the time/materials, getting students asking questions etc. I imagine that I'll be doing these kinds of demos a lot in my career, so that made me feel better.

From my 100% homework assignment, a 100% vegan diner-style breakfast!

Pumpkin Waffles
Breakfast "Sausage"
Braised Lima Beans

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mothers Day! and mail

Happy day to all the moms out there. (Pictured is my own lovely mother of course. In the cloud forest in Ecuador.)
Also, as much as I love our dear old USPS, I found the imminent postal increase extremely motivating. So there are shiny pieces of real mail heading around the country to y'all... my extremely belated un-christmas cards. And one not quite so belated bday present... sorry to keep you waiting kt...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Catching up

Well, let's get right down to business, shall we? That's me (um, obviously) leading at McMahan two weeks ago. It was a good convention; smaller than it's been in the past, but a good sound even without all the visitors. It was held a month earlier than last year, so all the wildflowers were still out and the ride out there was delightful. More pictures here in case you're interested. No Eric or Jenna, but plenty of Owens to fill the void. Plus a few Lees.

Unrelatedly, I recently received an email from our dear friend Rebecca which contained the following, in reference to reading the blog of someone else who lives in Austin: "First the tornado warnings. Then the lightning storms. Now she mentions wanting to crank the AC. WHAT KIND OF HELL HOLE DO YOU LIVE IN???" Honestly, I couldn't have put it better myself. I've been sparing you all descriptions because, come on now, who wants to read about the weather where someone else lives? (Not that that stopped me when we lived in Juneau or - let's be honest - throughout most of 2006.) But yeah, it's been a bit of a crazy spring. It's done nothing but rain, which has made for gorgeous flowers everywhere and, all things considered, it hasn't ever gotten too hot for an extended period of time. Unless you consider Austin in general too hot. Which we do. But for the purposes of this blog, it's been a weird but acceptable spring.

I'd like to take a moment to intimidate you all by informing you that I've recently started taking KARATE so don't make me angry or I might have to do something drastic like forward-kick a giant foam cube across a big blue mat. Seriously, though, once I actually stop sucking I'll be a force to be reckoned with. It's a women-only class (and mostly-women studio) which I appreciate, and everyone there is ridiculously nice. And I love my shiny new white belt; no matter what you do, everyone just tells you how well you're doing and to keep on trying, you'll get it someday.

I figured it was also high time for a belated shot of me with some of my preschool kiddos. That's me with a popsicle and some five-year-olds on my last day as a two-job woman. (Bonus: Find the twins! Good old upper-income-bracket professional moms in need of a little IVF aid to have kids... out of two classes with thirty or so children altogether, we had not one, not two, not three, but FOUR sets of fraternal twins!) I thoughtfully cropped out the impossible boys off to the right who were horsing around and making ugly faces every time we turned the camera on them... just look at all those docile, well-behaved girls! I'm such a good teacher.

Okay, less chat, more boot-buying. I'm off to get myself some two-steppin' footwear... in the meantime, leave lots of comments so I have incentive to post more frequently than twice a month!



Thursday, May 10, 2007

30 years?!

Okay okay, I know I've been tragically, perhaps even pathologically remiss in posting over the past few weeks. Fear not, I have a great big epic catch-up post planned... that I'll get to... someday...

But I feel compelled to interject for a moment with a comment on something in Rebecca's most recent post. Consider, if you will, the unobtrusive link to an article on Mormon food storage in a comparatively throwaway line in her description of Joe Citizen vs. the Evil Corporation propaganda. Now click on that link. Now gaze in wonderment upon this line:

Hathaway is a member of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a
requirement of her faith, she's been buying
and storing food supplies and other basic
necessities for more than 30 years.

How did I not know this about Mormons before????? (Jenna, I blame you.)

Okay, that's all. Tomorrow I get off work at 1:00 so I'm going to try to squeeze in some lengthy posting before I go buy cowboy boots for the fancy two-stepping night that Bill & Quincy bought us tickets to...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Back on the Barack wagon

At the bookstore today, I read a profile of Barack Obama in the New Yorker – “The Concilliator.” It goes on and on and recaps a lot of his book “Dreams from my Father”, and reads kind of like an E True Hollywood story - you know, interviewing friends and relatives about what kind of guy he really is. But there was a fascinating bit of analysis about his rhetorical style. Looking back at my post after the Obama rally in February, I said... “it never felt like he was trying to win our hearts and minds. It just felt like a more eloquent version of the political commentary we have sitting around with friends.” No populist demagoguing for him. But I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what sets him apart, until reading this:

There are three things that Democratic political candidates tend to do when talking with constituents: they display an impressive grasp of the minutiae of their constituents’ problems, particularly money problems; they rouse indignation by explaining how those problems are caused by powerful groups getting rich on the backs of ordinary people; and they present well-worked-out policy proposals that, if passed, would solve the problems and put the powerful groups in their place. Obama seldom does any of these things. He tends to underplay his knowledge, acting less informed than he is. He rarely accuses, preferring to talk about problems in the passive voice, as things that are amiss with us rather than as wrongs that have been perpetrated by them. And the solutions he offers generally sound small and local rather than deep-reaching and systemic. Take a recent forum in Las Vegas on health care. Here are Hillary Clinton and Obama speaking about the same subject, preventive care.

“We have to change the way we finance health care, and that’s going to mean taking money away from people who make out really well right now, so this is going to be a big political battle,” Clinton said. “The insurance companies make money by employing a lot of people to try to avoid insuring you and then, if you’re insured, to try to avoid paying for the health care you received.” She stood at the front of the stage, declining an invitation to sit down next to the moderator. She spoke energetically but composedly, conveying the impression that she had spent a great deal of time preparing for the event because it was extremely important to her. “A lot of insurance companies will not pay for someone who’s pre-diabetic or been diagnosed with diabetes to go to a nutritionist to find out how better to feed themselves, or to go to a podiatrist to have their feet checked,” she said. “The insurance companies will tell you this: they don’t want to pay for preventive health care because that’s like lost money because they’re not sure that the patient will still be with them. But if they’re confronted with the doctor saying we’re going to have to amputate the foot they’re stuck with it. That is upside down and backwards!”

Now here is Obama. “We’ve got to put more money in prevention,” he said. “It makes no sense for children to be going to the emergency room for treatable ailments like asthma. Twenty per cent of our patients who have chronic illnesses account for eighty per cent of the costs, so it’s absolutely critical that we invest in managing those with chronic illnesses like diabetes. If we hire a case manager to work with them to insure that they’re taking the proper treatments, then potentially we’re not going to have to spend thirty thousand dollars on a leg amputation.” A young man asked about health care for minorities. “Obesity and diabetes in minority communities are more severe,” Obama said, “so I think we need targeted programs, particularly to children in those communities, to make sure that they’ve got sound nutrition, that they have access to fruits and vegetables and not just Popeyes, and that they have decent spaces to play in instead of being cooped up in the house all day.”

Ah, so it’s not just his Carpathianesque charisma that cuts through political divisiveness? Keeping his speeches big-business-as-evil tirade free, is more accessible to conservatives, but it also gets through to me. I mean, I’m all about changing the system, but when I hear the rabble rousing talk about joe citizen vs. the status quo, it doesn’t inspire me to run out and join the fight. In fact, it awakens my urge to crawl under a table and wait out the fall of the American empire. (Preferably somewhere practicing Mormon food storage.) But the way Obama puts it, I’m all, time’s awastin! We can do it! Ra ra!

And as for that last bit re: health care for minority children – um, can someone hug him please? I mean, I don’t think I’ve heard ANYONE describe my exact ambition so concisely, let alone someone applying to lead our country. Hmm, I don’t know if hugging would be the currency of appreciation most accepted by the Obama campaign. How about I finally head over to the website and make a donation. Which I have never done for any political candidate ever. (Hear that Barack?? Now you can stop sending me all those emails titled things like “the cost of cynicism.” Seriously, it's like my own private telltale heart over here. I admit the deed! Tear up the planks!! I cheated in the dioramarama! I'm actually a caring citizen invested in our political process!! God help me!)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

"Because it rolls off the tongue more easily than the '160-Kilometre Diet'."

I'm going to have to stop these public threats to go up to the berkeley sing, as i can't seem to ever make good on them. But for a good reason this time. Yesterday was like a happy shiny celebration of local food. We had our field trip to the Shumei farm, where they practice natural agriculture according to their spiritual beliefs of respect and communion with nature. Managed by a sweet Japanese family with painfully cute tiny children who ran around the farm after us. Beside the 30 acres they have beautiful redwoods and an indian burial site on the land. We were invited to step inside the fenced off strawberry patch and pluck one sun-warmed gem each. It wasn't really the most educational trip ever, but it really warms this cold cynical heart just to know that there are people out there like that. Then afterward we visited the New Leaf in Felton, which is a particularly awesome branch of that natural foods store. Kathy sang the praises of the giant canellini beans and natto miso you can find only there, and we had a lovely lunch outdoors, followed by a jaunt across the local covered bridge. (where am i, new england??)

Then in the evening I was back at my bookstore for a wonderful event - the authors of Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally. They're this ridiculously cute young Canadian couple who pronounce produce "prahduce". Their story is this:
When the average North American sits down to eat, each ingredient has typically travelled at least 1,500 miles—call it "the SUV diet." On the first day of spring, 2005, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon chose to confront this unsettling statistic with a simple experiment. For one year, they would buy or gather their food and drink from within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia.

An example of bloggers sparking a real movement - "back to the land" for modern, urban, internet savvy types. Or whoever. People from all over the world have been really inspired by them - thousands have pledged to do 100-mile diets of their own! It's such an interesting and simple concept, and taps into so many pressing issues - bucking the industrial food system, supporting small farmers, sure. But it also became about connecting with local history/ecology, reexamining priorities of cost, convenience, leisure, health, etc etc!

Some of the things that really resonated with me:

Alisa discussed the original idea, when they were just regular people trying to live relatively green, and realized their food was far from it. She said "we know the oil is going to run out sometime. I'd rather have the last hurrah to fly myself around the world, instead of my brussel sprouts!"

James talked about a "double disappearance" of crops. Not only were certain foods they'd taken for granted impossible to find (wheat, cooking oil) because they'd been banished by the globally subdivided agricultural/food chain, but even the memory of those crops being native to their area had been mostly wiped out.

Of course eating locally is environmentally responsible in that you reduce fossil fuel use etc. It makes us all feel good to choose the organic local produce from the farmers market and all. But when you actually DEPEND on your local ecology, you suddenly become invested in conservation in a much more intense way. They recounted the story of a toxic spill in the river. It made the news for a few days, and then people shrugged and still found plenty of fish in the supermarket. But J and A were devastated - despite living in the pacific northwest, they had just lost any hope of salmon for the whole year!

In conclusion, run out and buy/borrow the book. Also at their website you can do all kinds of things - see people sharing their stories from all over, find local resources like CSA programs, find your own 100 miles, read a short faq/interview which reiterates a lot of the questions i heard yesterday - like "was it expensive? repetetive? why 100 miles? can i do this here? etc"

My current culinary endeavors sort of preclude any serious 100-miling by yours truly (um, salt and pepper anyone?), but living in the middle of this bountiful land it's crazy NOT to eat heavily local. Sadly, even here most people don't - for all the amazing farmer's markets and natural food stores that label local products, there are still plenty of Safeways selling that bounty back to us, 2x1 in a shiny box, enriched with the sweet sweet taste of those 1500 miles of petroleum.

Which reminds me something else i heard this week. From an ecuadorian friend who just moved to Montreal (and here eating locally connects with globalization, immigration, free trade...):
It is hard to find anything fresh here, almost everything is precooked in some sort of strange frozen meals. I haven't bought any so far but just saying that getting fresh vegables to prepare my own food is a hard task. I have to go to different stores and be shocked dumb by prices and bad quality. A fig costs one dollar. In Ecuador I bought 40 figs in 1.5 dollars!...
It makes realize that no matter how terrible is the economic crisis in the future, Ecuador will never have people dying of hunger or eating rats or something like that. We have a very high productivity all throughout the year and are self sufficient in food.

But she can't say enough good things about free books and internet! Oooh yeah, public libraries make everything better.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Well, my plans for productivity today were totally shot. I've been feeling particularly lazy and low on energy the past few days. But since it was GORGEOUS here today (it got up to 87!) I figured a little fresh air and exercise would be just the ticket. Yeah, not so much. About 2 minutes into my walk downtown my allergies EXPLODED. (Like, oregon june 05 intensity. I know KT remembers that most miserable of allergy seasons.) Oooh... so THAT'S why I've been feeling under the weather. I powered through, but by the time I got home I felt like I had sneezed out the parts of my brain related to higher cognitive functions. The good news is that our homework is actually due next week rather than tomorrow. The bad news is that we have a big field trip to the great outdoors tomorrow. (To this farm practicing Shumei Natural Agriculture!) I'm determined to enjoy it, even if I do have to overdose on Claritin.

I saw both Austin and Chicago have even higher allergy alerts than this area. Anyone else dying?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Yes, this is how I spend my Friday nights.

This is a thing I stole from a livejournal friend. I always love a good excuse to pointlessly reminisce, or at least look through old computer files/pictures/emails/blog entries.

20 years ago I...
1. Was 4.
2. Had a best friend named Monica something. Then she moved.
3. Uh... not the most memorable year of my life. Oh, I spent a lot of time at Mommy Gail’s. I think that might have been in the era of the biting girl.

10 years ago I...

1. Was playing my one season of sports ever. Yeah Freshmen B team soccer!!
2. Spending an excessive amount of time playing mario kart and listening to Jesus Christ Superstar at Natalia’s house.
3. Cheating my way through biology exams with MP.

5 years ago I...
(Ooh, here’s where I can start to dig into my computer archives and tell you EXACTLY what I was up to on this date in history.)
1. Was writing about populist farmers in North Dakota for “20th Century US History”, “African-American millenialism” for “End of the World”, “Nuclear Education” for “Culture of Peace”, and Homeroom for “Intro to Soc.”
2. Was counting the days until the end of classes (4!) and my flight to Italy (17!!)
3. Registered for WesMatch (whooooa blast from the past!!!)

3 years ago I...
1. Was understaffed at Homeroom on a Tuesday afternoon.
2. Was done with college!
3. Went to KT’s very last Ono concert!

1 year ago I...
1. Took the long and bumpy bus ride to the Black Sheep Inn in Chugchilan!
2. Was anticipating upcoming vacationing to Tena, Mindo, and Canoa.
3. Likewise anticipating my month at Jezreel.

So far this year I...

1. Stepped back in time. Lived the good Middletown life for a month.
2. Have sung at 3 conventions in 3 states.
3. Moved to California, started culinary school, and got a bookstore job. (Yeah yeah, so that was three in one. It’s been a busy year!)

Yesterday I...
1. Caught up with B, aka my favorite international public health graduate student to be!
2. Read part of Anastasia vive aqui
3. Made granola and something vaguely italiany with fresh fava beans from the farmer's market.

Today I...

1. Had “fish day” at school, which was not my favorite day, but still better than Wednesday, which was “chicken day”.
2. Ate way too much of the world’s best cake ever. (Lemon Spelt Bundt Cake)
3. Listened to the Martha Scanlan album I downloaded. And watched the VM episode I downloaded. Mmmm torrents.

Tomorrow I will...

1. Plan recipes for next homework assignment.
2. Clean the bathroom.
3. As previously mentioned, reward myself with this concert.

In the next year I will...
1. Officially be able to call myself a natural chef.
2. Find a choir to join, and somewhere to volunteer (teaching ESL and/or working with kids).
3. Save money so I can move to BOLIVIA!

Mmm... attractively named adhesive product....

I just have to share that someone found this blog by searching for "booger tape". Awesome. I googled for myself and, sure enough, it's the 7th result!! I bet if I say booger tape a few more times in this post, it will bump it up into the top 5. Booger tape booger tape booger tape! Um. I'm done now.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Latest ode to Southwest, and misc

1) Yay Southwest for finally extending its booking dates to the fall. KT and R and I have all kinds of shiny new e-tickets, featuring extended visits and lots of singing!!!!! Also, i get to go to the grand canyon, and they get to see the nephs.

2) In re: to recent discussion...
Virginia Tech massacre has Koreans rethinking balance between education and social needs

3) If I am a good girl and get some of my homework done beforehand, I'm going to treat myself to this concert. (Dale Ann Bradley? In a church? With "pie and coffee" and "fine folks"??? I'm so there.) And if I'm an an even better girl and don't pull an all nighter finishing my homework on sunday night this time, I'm going to go sing in Berkeley on Monday.

4) Speaking of the last homework, lack of sleep was rewarded with a perfect 100 :) (Yeah, expect lots of self-congratulatory posting about my high marks, which mostly result from my ability to follow directions and do some simple math, and are unrelated to any culinary prowess. Ah grades, how rarely you correlate to actual learning...) I'll post the recipes as soon as I'm feeling less lazy.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"From the coal mines of Kentucky to the California sun"

Would you look at that, I’m still capable of going a few days in between posts. I thought KT might step up with tales of McMahon, but she’s probably still gawking at her overflowing inbox. (*looks around innocently...*) Meanwhile I've had an excellent weekend. On Friday, for the first time in quite a while, I officially made more money than I spent! Woohoo! Saturday my mom came down from her visit with Sue, and got a peek into my culinary life here. We visited two awesome vegetarian restaurants, a couple of my favorite natural foods stores, my school, my bookstore, and took a walk around the lagoon/wildlife preserve/sewage treatment plant that's just a couple blocks from my house. Yesterday I blissfully accomplished very little.

Tonight will be hard to top. If y'all thought I was obsessing about Dale Ann Bradley before, watch out. I've been super excited that she was playing a concert just up the road in Felton, and finally the day was at hand! Of course my two classmates who wanted to come along were the 20 year olds, and it’s a 21+ show. grr. Fortunately my roommate April is always up for a last minute outing. I knew it would be a small show, but I was NOT prepared to walk in and be greeted by Dale Ann herself, and then be treated to such an intimate performance - there were about 20 people, and the 5 piece band played their absolute hearts out. Moonshinin songs, gorgeous harmony on some old time spirituals, and the most kickass bluegrass version of Me and Bobby McGee (??!!). Whew. Not bad for a lady who had to visit the ER earlier in the day for her carpel tunnel, eh?