Tuesday, October 31, 2006

skinny old men

I saw Rod Stewart on Ellen yesterday. I looked at the guy, listened to him sing, and couldn't figure out what was wrong with his voice.

Turned out it was Barry Manilow.

Sorry Kerstin.

yeah, he wants something from me. but still.

Email from Eric, Oct. 31, 2006:

"... seeing as you are the best comm teacher known to man (or woman for that matter)."

danes are practical people. (but at least the kid will get it.)

If you are a fifteen year old kid, and you break your arm while playing soccer in Denmark and it's going to be painful to put it back together again, they may give you morphine to help you handle the pain of the procedures. Since you are so young, a nurse will try to explain what the drug will do to you. If your condition is complicated, and you'll need multiple doses of morphine, the same thing may happen several times. Different nurses, same words.

What they say?

"You will feel a buzz, just like when you've had a beer."

At 15, in state-run Danish hospitals.

All according to Helena.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

acorn squash

I think acorn squash tastes like artichoke. I think maybe it can use some lemon in addition to that butter.

Decided to read up on squashes. There are lots.

First time I was invited to someone's house for dinner in the United States they served squash baked in the oven with brown sugar on top to go with a chicken dish and probably some other veggie that I don't remember. I had never had anything that sweet for dinner that wasn't dessert and I didn't like it.

Now I do like that kind of sweetness. And I like Fall when you can put cinnamon and nutmeg on pretty much everything. But whenever I do I look around for some citrus for balance.

I have been making cake with lots of cardemom, cinnamon, and nutmeg lately. It's good. But I think it would be even better with some orange.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

her 3rd mom

I had a student once who was born in San Francisco to an abusive alcoholic father and a drug addict mother. First she and her sister were adopted by a woman who over a period of time had earned her mother's trust. This woman, who was white, kept my student's sister, who was also light skinned, but after a couple of years passed my black student along to be raised by a black woman. She felt a black woman could better meet the needs of a black little girl. The little girl, my student, felt rejected. "I just thought she didn't want me", she said. "My third mom was crazy, but it kind of worked out."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


My friend Hans came to visit and he had sinus pressure in his whole head the entire time he was here so we never made it to the top of this mountain. But, Hasse, this is what it looks like up there. To the right a sliver of Silicon Valley, pollen capitol of the world.

Which reminds me: the official slogan of San Jose, CA, is "Where The Fun Never Stops." Has any PR firm ever come up with a decent slogan for any city or town anywhere in the world?

A recent example from Seattle, WA: "Metronatural."

All this reminds me that I actually grew up in "Silicon Uddevalley" (which in retrospect is a little spooky). That was a short-lived and somewhat embarrassing attempt at creating an identity for a small town out of thin air in the mid 1980's. I had forgotten all about it, but it's true. (It is.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

mais non, alain delon they're not

I just came across something called The Paris Syndrome. It appears that some young women from Japan suffer deep shocks when they visit Paris. Their (elaborate) romantic dreams of the city are shattered when faced with reality in the shape of a snotty native.

The article says: "For visitors from a country where relations between individuals are subject to a strict social code, the ordeal of being ignored by a surly waiter – or having a post office clerk deliberately misunderstand your attempts at French – must be painful indeed."

This is going to sound really bad now, but the inevitability of the whole thing is very funny to me. French people can be exceptionally rude, and Japanese people can get painfully embarrassed. Worst combo ever.

But then again you'd hope that people, wherever they are from, would be a little better at not taking things so awfully personal.


Someone in Latin America translated my blog into Spanish! I guess when you search the internet you are given the option to translate pages in a foreign language, so it's not that they actually sat there and did it. But still. Isn't that the coolest thing?

(The anonymous link appeared on the visitor statistics.)
(No, you can't trace the visitors.)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

you live you die

The Day of the Dead is coming up. This is a different holiday for the indigenous, for Catholics, and for Protestants.

Next time I visit I will bring some sand from the beach in Santa Cruz for Marie-Louise.

21 shots

Someone just sent me this photo (thanks Helene). I hadn't seen the girl's face in a long while, so it gave me a shock. Her name is Marie-Louise, and she was one of my friends in highschool. She died at the age of 19, from a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs. I visit her grave when I am in the town where we grew up. It's a ritual, but I don't think it helps me understand what I felt when she died.

I talk about Marie-Louise once in a while in class. Over the past few years there have been two alcohol related deaths at one of the schools where I have taught. In both cases someone got way too drunk and died alone because no one checked on them or went looking for them. Same thing happened to Marie-Louise. So I tell my students to look out for each other. I don't tell them not to drink, but once or twice I have suggested that as an actual alternative.

American kids can't drink alcohol until they turn 21. It's illegal. (But they do anyway, of course.) So when you turn 21 it's a big deal. For the first time you can visit a bar legally, and some celebrate by taking a shot of alcohol for each year of their life so far: 21 shots for your 21st birthday.

People talk about it as if it was normal. I am from one of the most liberal countries in the world, and I didn't think anything alcohol related could shock me. But the 21 shots is pretty much the dumbest thing I ever heard.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

ufo re-enactments too, actually

My boyfriend says Harry Potter movies are documentaries.

cauliflower bacon soup

tiny bits of bacon
1 potato
salt, pepper
onion, garlic
->let sweat
chicken stock
->boil ->blend

butternut squash soup

1 butternut squash
1 potato
onion, garlic
salt, pepper
->let sweat
chicken stock
->boil ->blend


I just read a story online about my high school math teacher. I knew he was Hungarian, but I didn't know he had escaped from Budapest as a 16-year-old in 1956 with just a friend for company. I didn't know he actually climbed the Iron Curtain to get out. At the Jugoslavi border the Iron Curtain was a 10 feet barbed wire fence, and that's what he climbed.

Or maybe I did know, maybe he told us. But I sure didn't understand. My first year of high school I was actually 16 too, but whenever he might have told us his story I am pretty sure I was older already.

Friday, October 20, 2006

he was basque, actually

I knew a kid who came to California from Spain to surf (and to go to school for a few months). He was a very good surfer. He told me he was afraid of the ocean. I said it doesn't make sense to surf, if you are afraid of water. He said that fear kept him from falling.

He also thought the name of the Pacific Ocean was a bad joke. The Pacific Ocean is anything but calm. He was extra afraid of it, of all the oceans.

the ballad of ira hayes

One of the men who raised that flag in the photo below was Native American. This song is about him.

the flags of our fathers

Clint Eastwood's latest movie opens today. It tells the story of the battle of Iwo Jima, where the Americans fought, and defeated, the Japanese in February and March of 1945. Some say it's a great movie, "nearly picture-perfect". Others are more cautious. It seems Eastwood has omitted all African Americans in his version of the events, even though there were almost 900 African Americans taking part in the battle. This article in the Guardian today addresses that side of things.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

my new toy. I love it already and it's only been an hour.

So I got the new camera and I am at that stage when I take photos of everything just because I can. This is the end of a blind. Sorry. I can't help it. It's way too much fun.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

gone with the wind

We tried, but we barely made it through the first hour. Dan said Scarlett O'Hara reminded him of Lucille Ball. I was just bored.

Monday, October 16, 2006

fact and fiction

We just finished watching Lawrence of Arabia.

Quiz: At what point in the movie does the first woman appear?
Answer: Many hours into it. She is a Red Cross nurse, she has no lines, and she may very well have been played by a man given all the Red Cross nurse uniform she is wearing and the fact that she is only visible from a distance and from behind.

This article talks about a woman called Gertrude Bell. In reality she made Lawrence's "incredible exploits" possible. As an intelligence agent she had drawn the maps, and she provided invaluable information about desert tribes.

So why wasn't there a small part for her in the movie? Because reality didn't fit the mold?

Art gives us hopes and dreams, and millstones around our necks.

(Dan found the article. Credit where credit is due.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Santana Row in San Jose is a newly built vaguely European area. It's only a couple of blocks. It has lots of restaurant and shops and hotels, and sidewalk cafes and benches and people walking.

First time I went I couldn't understand why it felt so familiar. (Maybe I should have paid more attention to the vaguely European ambiance, it kind of is a give-away... ) After a while I figured it out. I felt as if I was back in the little town where I grew up, where people will walk up and down the main street, eating ice cream and looking at each other.
Only difference is of course that the shops lining the street in my parent's town aren't all exclusive. The people drinking coffee and chatting don't all wear expensive clothes. The stores are ordinary, and so are the people.

It irritates me when 'European' is made to equal fancy. Europe isn't fancy. Europe is all sorts of things.

A friend of mine spent a year in Arizona on research scholarship once. As he was planning a trip to San Francisco someone gave him tips on where to visit. His new friend talked about bars and restaurants that were in her mind "European", and therefore interesting. Then she took one more look at my friend, in my mind a tall and handsome Swedish soccer player and political scientist, admittedly favoring baggy jackets and pants. She looked confused. To her he didn't look so good. She changed her mind. "Oh those restaurants and bars, they are the other kind of European."

the queen

Saw The Queen.
Helen Mirren is very good as Elizabeth II.
The film is sad in that it shows a dysfunctional family, and people obviously unable to express their feelings. The film is funny because it gives plenty of opportunities to laugh at the British. The British are silly with their stiff upper lips, their kilts, horses and dogs, tea and sensible shoes.
Monarchies are silly too, I was thinking, as I was watching this film in America. Land of huddled masses - but no royals, and no aristocracy. And isn't that a relief (that I have never really thought of before).

The idea of royalty is outrageous when you think of it. Tradition may be valuable, though. And that's the dilemma, right there.

As we were walking out of the theater I heard someone with an Indian accent make a comment about the movie we had just seen. There we go again with the British Empire, casting its shadow everywhere. (And yes, that's the Canadian flag behind Elizabeth there.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I saw a rattlesnake!

He didn't like having his picture taken.

peter norman

I learned today that Australian athlete Peter Norman died on Oct. 3rd. He was the man who spoke of himself as "the white guy in the picture" there. He won the silver medal for 200 meters at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, and his time still stands as the Australian national record.
There is a statue on the San Jose State University campus commemorating the 1968 protest, because Tommie Smith and John Carlos were San Jose State student athletes and activists.
The silver medalist's spot is left empty. Peter Norman suggested that. The inscription reads: "Fellow athlete Australian Peter Norman stood here in solidarity. Take a stand." Anyone who wants can climb up and try it out.
At the unveiling of the statue in October 2005 I heard Peter Norman speak for the first time. Until then I hadn't considered his part of the story, even though the image from the Olympics in Mexico City is very powerful for me. I guess I just never really saw him.

During the ceremony I learned of his support in 1968, and of the deep respect Smith and Carlos felt for him. Peter Norman was funny, sincere, and humble, and what he did was very brave.

Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at Norman's funeral on Oct. 9. See that's another picture now.
I was 7 years old in 1968. I was a small white girl, and everyone around me was white. I had no experience of racism. I remember seeing the images from Mexico City on TV. Without understanding I still somehow got the point of the silent protest, because the dignity of it was clear to me.

I remember asking why everybody was so angry. None of the answers or explanations I was given made any sense to me. I think I was shaped by that, by that lack of understanding. I am grateful for it. It still doesn't make sense to me. And that's because it's wrong to attach value to skin color.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


One thing that happens in American grocery stores and that really irritates me is that cashiers will comment on what you buy. Somehow they figure that if it comes down that conveyor belt it's fair game. Yesterday I had picked up a loaf of bread with olives in it. (It's really tasty.) The cash-out woman took one look. "That's interesting", she said.

As a comment "interesting" pretty much equals "different", I think. It's plain disapproving. So there I am, again, having to defend my taste to the person who is taking my money. Isn't there somehow something real un-American about that?

eternity (if it wasn't for global warming)

This is a beach in Santa Cruz last Sunday. It looks like a beach last Sunday in the 1950's. In a way it is of course. Because, after all, at one point it was.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

if the tulip is ever out of season

I am very much in favor of the tulip. It's one of my favorite things. And it so happens I know someone who actually lives in the land of the tulip. His name is Erik. He sent me this photo. In it you see the runner-up pride of Holland: the windmill! How could I forget?

I'm obsessed with the mountains

Monday, October 09, 2006

1 month, 1 week

Remember 'before' (Sept. 2)?
Here comes 'after' (today):

our hero

It's Lennie Briscoe month on TNT.
This is a good month.

this time it's actually her birthday

santa cruz

These are monarch butterflies. Every year they return to the same spot in Santa Cruz to spend the winter. There are thousands of them there. Some years they drape the trees in huge clusters. They have perfect conditions in that particular grove: food and just the right temperature.
Lots of people come to see the butterflies, and to take photos of them.
This is my best shot with the little camera. I know it's lousy. People brought all their fancy equipment and I brought the little digital camera, and my Pentax from 1979. (The Pentax got some attention.)

Afterwards we went to the UC Santa Cruz campus, where I know I would have loved to go to school. That's the ocean way down behind those kids there.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

the departed

This is my favorite movie theater, Century 21 in San Jose. The building itself is huge and round and inside it has a huge wide screen. It's absolutely great.
And this is from my latest favorite movie, Martin Scorsese's The Departed. It's so good I don't know where to start. (Really). Martin Sheen? Baldwin brother? Leonardo DiCaprio? The score? The screenplay? Jack Nicholson's wardrobe? Down to the last rat it's just fabulous. (Hi Adrianne.)

Friday, October 06, 2006


I have one of those brown hats too (below). It's a Woolly Hat from Afghanistan, and the very same friend gave it to me. I wore it to a basketball game once and lots of people liked it. It's very warm but I couldn't take it off because inside the hat my hair had become a sweaty mess.

somebody I know has an incredible hat collection

every day is somebody's birthday

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

gotta love orange

California poppies,
California overcast sky,
and California sunburnt grass.