Wednesday, October 31, 2007

lies and fakes

"Costumes are lies that you wear", says Stephen Colbert.
"A warm tortilla with butter, sugar and cinnamon inside makes a pretty good fake cinnamon bun", says I.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

like I said, we have parted ways

Guess what? All those people from the local paper I was listening to last night, they kept saying how newspapers need to be on top of the news at all times in 20 minutes intervals and how they need to be online and in chips in our eyebrows (she actually said that, the executive editor).

And then, guess what? The San Jose Mercury News had nothing on their website about the earthquake. I found out what I needed to know on my own, using google. And I bet my blog was updated before the Merc was.

And I am not even doing news. I am doing random fun stuff.

and then all cell phones went out

I just experienced my first earthquake with sideways motion. None of that up and down nonsense. Sideways. Like on a ship.

I checked and according to the US Geological Survey it was a 5.6 quake, centered in Alum Rock, north east of San Jose.

50% of this goes for teachers too

The tiniest conversation:
Noel: Gay people are really good at spotting a lie.
Me: Because you've spent so much time lying yourselves?
Noel: Yep.

from our favorities at go fug yourself

I just thought this was ridiculously funny.

Monday, October 29, 2007

hot chocolate

Cocoa powder, milk, sugar, a little bit of nutmeg and a tiny bit of salt. And some dark rhum.

(Makes me think of Camden Town because when it's cold in England it's really cold. And that's where I first had the nutmeg+rhum combo.)

they are in business to make a profit, but that's their problem, not mine

I went to a talk this evening. Among the people participating was a woman called Carole Leigh Hutton. She is the executive editor at The San Jose Mercury News.

To make a long story very short, Ms. Hutton told the audience that The Mercury News is in business to make a profit, not to serve the public interest.

OK. I think this is were we will go our separate ways, then.

Because:

- I use google news to update myself when I need to know what has happened since I checked last. I watch CNN for the same reason. If a really big story is breaking google news will point me to whoever has the latest details.

- I have given The New York Times its own easy access firefox button on my computer.

- I use google news/Sweden when I want stories from my homeland. And I have several Swedish papers' websites bookmarked.

- I read blogs by food writers because I like food and cooking, and the food writers give away their stuff for free on their blogs. I read blogs by Swedish expatriate women because that gives me identification. I read one blog by a very funny woman in Oklahoma.

- And, guess what, I watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

I don't need the Mercury News. Especially not for fast updates.

But if someone would publish a good local weekly magazine, I'd read that. I'd even stalk them to give me a job.

Because, guess what, as things are, I don't really get any local news.

songs for drella

Songs for Drella is one of my favorite albums. John Cale and Lou Reed wrote it for Andy Warhol, after he had died. All their relationships had been difficult, and the album talks about love, friendship, work, and art. The two songs below on the blog, Small Town and Hello It's Me, are from that album. This website has all the lyrics. The album is still available. Get it.

this is the song that has the line about the pink-eyed painting albino in it

-What is something for which you are suited?
-Getting out of here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

for the pink-eyed painting albino, with french subtitles too

(To listen, first turn off the music player in the right hand side margin below.)

like it or leave

More than once I have had those words thrown at me in discussions by someone I considered a friend.

The point of the "like it or leave" argument is that an immigrant cannot in any way criticize their new homeland. If you don't like it here, leave. End of discussion.

It makes no sense to me. Obviously all countries, cities, towns, villages, families, and friends have their pros and cons, their ups and downs. The US is not perfect. Sweden is not perfect. I am not perfect.

People's reasons for leaving, staying, or moving are complex. I think that if we think that just by moving things will get "better" our lives will be restless and unhappy.

I take that back. Some migrants in the world have no choice. They are forced to leave their homelands for safety. But while they are safe in their new environment they may still be homesick. They may still suffer.

Middle class migrants, like me, have choices. One of my personal reasons for remaining in the US, for now, is that it is interesting to live here. My ideas are challenged. I learn from discussions and comparisons.

But as much as I love talking to people, if you tell me "like it or leave", I will turn away from you.

I won't let you kill my spirit, and I won't let you diminish my hope that people are actually willing to learn from each other. But I don't want to talk with you anymore. It's boring.

the nordic option

I found this New York Times article through Olle Wästberg's newsletter. The article compares Sweden to the US. It's interesting.

Olle Wästberg's newsletter is interesting too. I am a very happy subscriber.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

if you are swedish this is funny

dumbledore is gay

I read this article this morning about how Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling had told a room full of kids that her character Dumbledore is gay.

I liked the article. It's written by a gay man, who thinks that it's good if the world sees that respected and loved teachers can be gay because not everyone knows that.

He also says:

This is not a great moment to be a gay consumer of pop culture. In mainstream movies, gay characters are almost nonexistent — we are, once again, the 98-pound weakling who needs Adam Sandler to reassure the straights that we're just plain folks.

One argument the writer makes is that if gay people turned purple over night homophobia would disappear. Why? Because people would realize that they already know and like and trust gay people: their grocer, their teacher, or their niece or nephew. Realizing this, they would no longer be able to hate, or be fearful.

That made sense to me. I told Dan.

His comment: "Black people are black?"

I bet the guy who wrote the article is white, just like me. Only white people overlook the fact that skin color matters. And only people of color will ever point out their mistake. You are lucky if a person of color will point out your mistake.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

more on the lärabar

Just to make it clear: å, ä, and ö (Å, Ä, and Ö) are actual individual letters in the Swedish alphabet. They have distinct sounds that differ from each other, and from that of the a and the o. When they are scattered in an English context, a Swedish person pronounces them in Swedish until she is reminded to disregard the dots because it is English and no one understands what she says. When the letters are used to make something look ethnic, it's funny to me. But it's also interesting in a cultural sense. In a way, the å, ä, and ö are used in much the same manner as the pinata, or the chips and salsa, or the Chinese chicken salad. Appropriations of culture. Moving things out of old contexts and into new ones, and in the process reshaping, inventing, or attaching new values to them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

it happened exactly like this

A couple of people looked me straight in the eye a while ago talking about a health bar. They told me it is sooo good, and sooo good for you, and they were surprised I didn't know of it since it is Swedish. I didn't say much, because I thought they were wrong. I thought I would know about something that actually came from my homeland.

Then I forgot all about it until I was in Safeway some days later. I went over to the shelves of health bars to look for something Swedish.
And there it was. The Lära Bar. Nothing signals a Swedish product like that 'ä', right?

So I turned it over. The corporate offices are in Denver, Colorado. According to the company website, the founder's name is Lara, and she had the idea for the product while on a hike in the Rocky Mountains.

Nothing Swedish there, except for Lara turning herself into Lära.

When looking for information just now, I naively googled 'Lära Bar'. No hits. Then I googled 'Lara Bar', and there it was. The 'ä' is not a letter, is just there to be pretty. You get the point. The idea is that if you use those weird looking letters, your product becomes healthier. In the mind of the American consumer, it even becomes Swedish.

The company also produces something they refer to as JŎCALAT. More of the weird looking letters. I googled that too. I found a site that describes the JŎCALAT Lärabar. It also makes references to the MAYA bar, and talks about how the ancient MAYA civilization first brought the chocolate to the world.

So there you have it: Want to market overpriced chocolate bars with nuts and fruit in them to people who are exceptionally health conscious, and don't think of themselves as chocolate eaters? It's easy! Just mix and match a few cultural references, make your product look sleek and clean and springing from the ancient civilizations. Make it Mayan-Scandinavian. People will gobble it up.

so today there will be a party and I am sad I can't be there

The little girl to the left in the photo is my aunt. She is my father's much older sister. She is about 7 in this picture, which would mean the photo may have been taken in 1914. My aunt was born on October 24, 1907. Today is her 100th birthday.

The other little girl in the picture was my aunt's best friend. Her mother had made the identical dresses the girls are wearing. My grandmother had made the crocheted shawl-like little things they are wearing over their shoulders. The girls are sitting on little foot stools, and I think those were the ones my aunt and her husband kneeled on when getting married some 20 years after this picture was taken. The sofa in the background belongs to my parents now.

My aunt still lives in her own apartment, and she still owns one of the foot stools. The other one she has given to my parents.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

stay in your compartments, people

Facebook provides you with a running log on what your friends are doing on the site. Like this:

Updated: Kjell V. and Stephanie M. added the iLike application.

And it completely freaks me out. I took out the last names there, but you get the idea. It looks like Stephanie and Kjell are doing something together, right? But no. I don't think they will ever even meet, much less do anything together. One of them is an old friend whom I met studying abroad in England. The other one is a former student.

The two of them will only ever meet in the privacy of my facebook newsfeed. The fact that their names appear in the same sentence makes me feel very disjointed inside.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

sparkles

you only need a fur coat if you were born in one

The guy who sent me this link said: "The more people you expose to this video, the more likely this video will arrive in the email box of a person that can make a difference. Like me and you."

What you will see is completely disgusting, so only click on the link if you feel up to seeing how animals are treated in the fur industry.

this plant is called 'winter red'



Thursday, October 18, 2007

music

Maybe you have noticed already, or else you will really soon: I put a little music player on the blog. It starts as you open the page. Scroll down and you will find it in the right hand side margin. You can turn it off, or change songs by clicking on a new one. The bar on the right side of the player lets you scroll down and see all the songs.

I got the player from Project Playlist, which is really cool.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

you can't go wrong with melted cheese

Quesadillas may be the best food invented.

And just as I typed that I realized that many cultures have their versions of cheese sandwiches, and that all of them are pretty tasty. There is just something about that fat and that bread. Mmm.

My boyfriend the inventor just gave me a quesadilla with lemon juice on top. That was good too. I still haven't tried his kimchee quesadilla though. Something about that doesn't seem right to me.

no, I didn't photoshop those leaves

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

americans don't eat horse meat, but I do

The last slaughter house for horses in the US has been shut down. This quote is from The International Herald Tribune, September 24:

"The lone cowboy riding his horse on a Texas trail is a cinematic icon," wrote Judge Fortunato Benavides of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "Not once in memory did the cowboy eat his horse."

I just wonder about that. I understand the romantic image, but I wonder about the truth of the statement. If you have nothing else to eat, wouldn't you eat your horse? Isn't the image actually more cinematic, than real?

I'll be honest, I like horse meat. As much as I loved horses as a teenager, I still eat it. It doesn't bother me one bit. It's tasty. Where I am from you get it at the meat counter. It's darker than beef, and a little sweeter. Cheaper too. Åsa and I will buy steaks at her local market and have them with veggies and wine. Super yummy.

Actually, reindeer is tasty too. Americans usually don't like the idea of eating Rudolph. I don't understand that either.

yep

I am not going to lie, I like facebook. I like myspace too, but it hasn't been as easy to get it started. I don't have a lot of myspace friends. And the whole idea is that you have people there to send your homemade crappy computer drawings. (That's mostly what I do.) So for now my homemade drawings go out on facebook.

Apart from that, one thing that has happened and that I like a lot is that I get to reconnect with old students. When I see their pretty faces on those profile photos I realize I have had a whole bunch of really good students the past few years. They are good funny people who think for themselves, and I miss them.

Monday, October 15, 2007

all good looking people too

I have a new myspace friend. Not that I am actively building a network or anything, but so far there are three favorite people over there. A favorite Mexican, a favorite Nicaraguan, and a favorite writer. Beat that if you can.

Update: Now there are four! Malenda! My favorite SJSUer!

yesterday summer, today fall

photoshop=paintshop

Friday, October 12, 2007

give-get-nation

This website looks like a really good idea: www.givegetnation.net. It's a site that describes itself as a "gift and wishes pool". Anyone can create a profile and either offer to volunteer a service, action, or knowledge, or ask for assistance. Like this:
Make a wish when you're in need, give a gift when you've got something extra, share a thing that's not being used to the max.
We organize goods, services, people power, brainpower, and the indomitable human spirit and make them available to everyone for free.

the search is on

I was asked to forward this email, and I was thinking what better place than here? You'll have to cut and paste the email addresses at the bottom though, as all of my attempts at creating links failed.

HELP! Do you know America's Most Extraordinary Person?

Filip Hammar and Fredrik Wikingsson are two of Sweden's
most beloved TV hosts. From December 2007 to February
2008 they will travel the USA for a documentary show
on Swedish Channel 5.

Their assignment: Find America's most extraordinary
person (and the 99 that were pretty damn close).

These extraordinary persons might not be exactly
the first ones who come to mind. They don't have
to sing like Pavarotti (but we don't mind if they do),
they don't have to hold a dozen state records in
skateboarding, or have made a fortune selling
herbal products.

An extraordinary person might instead be the local
eccentric that knows exactly what everything costs
at the supermarket like a human pricerunner.com.
Or the guy who just for fun has built small replicas
of famous buildings in his backyard. Or the lady who
in her late years has found enormous pleasure dressing
like a 19th century cowboy.

Or, put in a few less words: Likeable people with
odd interests.

Do you know any people in your neighborhood that you
think fit our description of an Extraordinary Person?
Please, don't hesitate to drop us a few lines at
extraordinary@sto-cph.com We really appreciate your
help on this matter.

Thank you so much!

Magnus Samuelsson
magnus.samuelsson@sto-cph.com



yeah, I am happy for al gore too

All these people want Al Gore to run for president. I really don't think he wants to. I think when he lost the presidency to George W. Bush it was the universe telling him politics was not where he was supposed to be. This Time Magazine article is interesting.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

more doris

I am on a couple of Doris Lessing mailing lists, and today there has been a flurry of emails. Usually I get an email about every other month. But now everyone is really happy. Happy intellectuals write cute emails.

There is a quote by Lessing that I sometimes put on a syllabus and use in class. It's from the foreword to the Harper Perennial 1993 edition of The Golden Notebook (a book that was originally published in 1962):

"I am writing volume one of my autobiography, and thinking about some of the people and events that went into The Golden Notebook, I have to conclude that fiction is better at the truth than a factual record. Why this should be so is a very large subject and one I don't begin to understand."

I just really like the idea that fiction will tell the truth, and facts won't.

(The photo shows her in 1962.)

my favorite mexican

I just think the movement in this photo is the coolest.

finally!

Doris Lessing wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. I never thought I'd be excited for a Nobel Prize, but this is so cool. I think if you haven't read anything by her you should start with with Martha Quest.

I had always heard that she was 'difficult', but when I discovered her novels I realized that 'difficult' means crystal clear. She talks about people, situations, society, and politics and she blends psychology seamlessly with social commentary. She has the sharpest eye for human communication. Just great. I am so happy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Monday, October 08, 2007

flutter

I made butternut squash soup

half of a butternut squash
one potato
half an onion
5 or 6 garlic cloves
1 chicken bouillon cube
water to cover

Chop everything. Let the garlic and onion sweat on medium heat. Add the veggies and let them sweat too. Stir. Add water to cover, and the bouillon cube.

Grind up some salt with a pinch of cinnamon, and pinch of cloves, cumin, and black pepper. Throw that in the soup. Add a little finely grated lemon peel.

Let everything boil until soft. Blend. Add a squeeze of lemon to each serving and maybe some ground black pepper.

the proof: exclusive dual rubber compound. superior wiping performance. mounted by yours truly. I am just saying.

people are randomly funny. old ladies are cool.

It's very sunny and warm today, so I was actually wearing my sunglasses right now when I was out in the street attempting to put new wipers blades on my car. I've owned the car for almost 12 years and this is the first time I have replaced them. There is a storm coming in tomorrow, and the rubber on the old blades was glued to the windshield. So I figured it was time.

The old wipers had a nice patina, and given the fact that I bought the car from a lady in Santa Barbara where it hardly ever rains, they may very well have been original.

It was a sweaty half hour. When my patience was running out the first time, I got out the WD 40. When my patience ran out the second time, I tried to be rational. And I actually figured it out. The instructions said 'snap!' and that's how it happened.

As I was finishing up a couple in their 60's walked by.

- That's a nice Karmann Ghia, the man said. What year it is?
- -72, I said.
- My mom had a -65, the woman said. She was bad! She drove it 90 miles an hour. And she actually wanted to be buried in it, but I told her that would be an expensive funeral.

kind of only makes sense if you're swedish

Tipstack till Lena.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

lou reed can just go ahead and play himself

We saw a preview for I'm Not There, the new movie about Bob Dylan, tonight. In the movie, six different actors will take turns portraying Dylan. One of them is Cate Blanchett. Lovely as she is, more than anyone she reminded me of Laurie Anderson. I am sure the movie will be great and everything, it was just funny. Double androgynously funny.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

east meets west, part ll

For dinner I had rice, kimchee, and a fried egg, with sesame oil on top for flavor. And a root beer float for dessert.

And as I am reading about Jewish dietary laws right now, I realize it was actually kosher.

as I type: east meets west

Dan is making a Kimchee Quesadilla. He says it's a winner.

three blanket morning

It's getting colder over here.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

for that sugar and cinnamon fix

You can either heat up a tortilla, spread it with butter, sugar, and cinnamon, and roll it up. Or, you can heat up leftover rice with a little bit of milk, and sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon.

Either way, you'll be pretty happy.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

the heart of the game

I saw this movie tonight. Very cool! Any girl or woman or old lady who ever played a sport should see it. And everyone else too. (I am sure it's on Netflix.)

There is an almost 100 year old lady in the movie, who was a girls' basketball coach in the 1920s, shingle bob and all. In those days the objective of womens' sports was to protect the girls from over exercising.

Now, not so much... The movie tells the story of a girls' high school basketball team in Seattle. Those girls were tough. That's all I am saying. The rest will be a surprise.

links everywhere

I am all networked out.
Facebooked. (Look me up and be my friend!)

NaNoWriMo even loves me.
They are the National Novel Writing Month people.
How about it, Babs?

Monday, October 01, 2007

the non-conformist

safe, unsafe

Last night at 1:30 there were loud bangs on our door, and strong flashlights shining in through the floor to ceiling glass walls. Three police officers were outside, demanding to see us. They asked Dan to step outside, "would you mind stepping out here, sir?", while they blocked the doorway to force me to remain inside.

Then one of them asked if I minded that he came in. I said I didn't. He put the flashlight in my face, and then let it play around my arms and upper body. I was wrapped in a blanket because they had woken us up and I hadn't had time to find any clothes.

He asked questions. Had we had a fight? Had we been on the phone? Did we have animals? Was there anyone else in the house? I said that we hadn't, we didn't, there wasn't. He repeated the questions. More flashlight in my face. I didn't like it. It made me nervous. I didn't understand what was going on.

All the while the other two officers were asking Dan similar questions outside.

Then they looked at each other, apologized for having gotten us out of bed, and said that they had had a call about something sounding like a woman being beaten up by her boyfriend and that they were checking everywhere. We said we hadn't heard anything. They apologized some more, and then they left.

Then I didn't go back to sleep for a long while. I have never had a flashlight in my face before. I have never been separated from my boyfriend by police department standard procedure before. It's not nice.

And I sure looked down our pretty, calm, and quiet suburban street in a different way today. Where was it? What is going on out there?