Monday, December 29, 2008

I feel the power growing in my hair

This is a cliche quote from a Cat Stevens song, but I like it:

Life is like a maze of doors
and they all open from the side you're on.

I like January. I like light, and I like new starts.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

proposal (upon seeing the preview of the new james bond meets schindler's list movie)

How about this, a collective decision among film makers: no more Holocost, no more hidden Jews, no more saving Jews, no more concentration camps, no more German soldiers. No more World War II. Deal?

What happened was horrific, in every way. But I've had enough. I think we've turned those years into heroic images one too many times already.

There are other moments in history. There are other 'finest hours'. There are other acts of defiance. (Yep, that's the title of the new movie.)

Why is it that we, as a society, are programmed to turn to the 1940s when we want to portray bravery, humanity, and selflessness, in the face of evil? I mean there is plenty new evil...

In media theory there is something called the agenda setting function of mass media. That means that media has the ability not to tell us what to think, but tell us what to think about.

Same thing here. Just think of all the movies never made because of all these WW2 films.

And, we run the risk of having people never learning the real Holocost actually happened, for all the saccharine versions that are told. We sure know the fiction that we like to repeat, but does that mean we understand what happened?

Maybe that's it. The repeating of the stories is an attempt at rewriting history.

And in the edited version of reality the bravery gets to overshadow the death and the suffering. Which is, sadly, not what happened.

Friday, December 26, 2008

who were first, the mexicans or the vikings?

The Latin American (and Spanish, obviously) Arroz con Leche and the Swedish risgrynsgröt are pretty much the same dish. You make it with rice, water, salt, cinnamon, butter, and milk. Sometimes there is lemon peel and sometimes evaporated milk.

But, who owned it first?

In a Christmas Day showdown Dan pitted his mother and three of her sisters against me, and then stepped back to see what would happen. His mom was ready to take it outside.

All I can say is that you do not want four culturally possessive Mexican women ganging up on you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

re: gay marriage again

I was listening to a Swedish documentary on my ipod today when I was on my hike/extremely slow jog. For some reason a woman started talking about an autobiography she had read, by a German journalist who remembered Germany in the 1930s.

This German journalist had said that society did not change due to politics or political decisions. Germany had changed, he said, because people started treating each other differently. When people started hating each other, that's when things turned ugly, was his conclusion.

And that what scares me about Prop 8, and the fact that the civil rights of one group was put to a general vote. There is something very wrong about that.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

4 candles, 3 bottles of glögg

it's all mean as far as I am concerned

I just watched the end of Brokeback Mountain on HBO. That's the story of the two gay cowboys who spend one glorious summer together, and then spend the rest of their lives dreaming about that summer. Unable to break free of society's expectations, they never have a life together. Instead they marry women, lead unhappy lives, and sneak off together on short trips.

Up until one of them die.

It's heartbreaking.

What I was thinking about is this: As much as I love the fact that Barack Obama is the President-elect, I don't understand what's wrong with him when it comes to gay marriage. He's awfully vague whenever he talks about it. Can't get out of there fast enough.

I understand there may be a religious argument somewhere, but I don't know enough about the Bible to be sure. And, if so, the Bible says many things we choose to disregard nowadays.

Gay people can't procreate. But there are other ways to get pregnant, for those who want kids. And gay people are more than able to raise children who have already been created by less responsible straight people. Right? So why would we, as a society, deny those who see marriage as a way to form a stable family the right to get married?

And then there is the issue of the Pastor Rick Warren, who Obama has chosen to give the invocation at his inauguration. As an evangelical Christian, Warren is opposed to abortion, and to gay marriage. Many are surprised he has been picked to play such a central role in the Obama inaugural ceremony.

Here he is, and Rachel Maddow too:

Friday, December 19, 2008

makes your insides warm and happy

I just made a kick ass glögg. I've borrowed the technique of steeping spices in alcohol from somewhere online, but other than that it's my own invention.

I took (roughly, I didn't really measure):
2 long cinnamon sticks (the real stuff, from Ceylon), broken into pieces
5 cardamom pods, inside content only
15 whole cloves
2 pieces of fresh ginger, 1 inch/2.5cm by a quarter inch each
1 vanilla pod, sliced open
7 whole allspice
3 pieces of lemon peel, about 2 inches each, yellow part only

I put all of that in a jar and I covered it with rum. I've read recipes that call for brandy, but I had rum so I used that. I let it sit for two days.

Then I opened a bottle of Spanish wine, and poured it into a pot. I added the rum and spices, and warmed it gently. I added a deciliter (0.4 cup) of light brown sugar, and a splash of port, and heated it some more. Then I let it cool, strained it, and poured it into bottles.

Yeah I tasted it too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

cancer update

Give or take a couple of months, I spent pretty much all of this past year being treated for breast cancer. I had surgery, many months of chemo, and 33 days of radiation.

As it was going on, I didn't find it particularly hard.

When I was first diagnosed with invasive cancer I thought, like anyone in that situation will think, "why me?". Then I remembered others I've known, or others I've known of, like the moms of my students. And I thought, "why them?".

No one deserves it, or earns it. Cancer is not payback for anything that you did or did not do. It just happens. And when it happens, you deal with it.

I realized that I kept waking up every morning, feeling pretty good. It sounds cliche, but cancer does teach you to appreciate life better. I was happy, happy to be alive.

Now it's been about a month since I finished treatments. I am exercising again. Chemo is rough on the body, and in some ways I know I will never be the same. But I can do a lot, and I enjoy being able to do it.

Something else is also happening. Some of those feelings that I fought off during the months of chemo are coming to the surface.

My way of dealing with the rough treatments, and the endless hospital visits, was trying to have as much of a normal life as possible, and trying to enjoy the time as much as I could.

One doctor I met in late March wrote in his notes that I was in 'no distress'. True. I wasn't.

I was teaching classes spring and fall quarters, and I taught summer school in July. Just as I normally would.

I joked with the hospital workers. I made a point of being a really easy going patient.

One time in the summer when my friend Babs came with me to the chemo center we got a talking to from one of the nurses for being too loud. Babs has some good stories. It's true we were the only ones laughing, but laughing seemed perfectly normal to me.

Now, though. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but I am tired in some weird way I've never been tired before. Not sleepy tired, and not exhausted tired.

Tired as in needing a break from being tough, maybe.

Monday, December 15, 2008

when hell freezes over

There was a 4.5 earthquake in Sweden this morning. I've facebook-talked with one rattled friend already.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

huh? (now with fresh linx update)

This week's episode of This American Life, about an evangelical pastor who stopped believing in hell.

This point of view deeply upsets other evangelical Christians, since the implication is that everybody will go to heaven, not only the born again. The pastor forms a new church: New Dimensions.
. . .
Update: I just randomly managed to see this episode of Dateline on MSNBC. It too tells the story of Carlton Pearson and his gospel of inclusion.

And through google, and the idea of a gospel of inclusion, I made this find: Bad questions: Questions never to ask a transsexual person, with Calpernia Addams, whose life was turned into this really good movie. Her list of bad questions is funny, and sad, and some of them can easily be applied to all sorts of situations where people try to understand someone who they perceive as 'different'.

"one wife is not enough"

Spam received by my friend the Catholic priest.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


As far as I am concerned, Milk is this year's best movie. Sean Penn is extraordinary. Wonderful. Floating on air.

The film is named for Harvey Milk, who was a gay activist in San Francisco in the 1970s. He was the first openly gay elected city official in the United States. But his career was short. He, and the then Mayor, were shot by a colleague in 1978.

To me, this film is about conviction, passion, leadership, and social justice.

It's also about the fact that progress is not automatic. In some ways things are better now, compared to 30 years ago. In some other ways things are clearly not better: Prop 8 just passed in California.

One message that Sean Penn's character keeps repeating in the movie is that gay people need to come out, they need be open about their sexuality. "They [straight people] will vote for us if they know one of us", he says.

But, straight people will only know gay people if the gay people are out of the closet.

I didn't hear that argument in any of the discussions around prop 8. On the contrary: the TV spots made a point of not showing gay people. Instead they focused on everyday straight people, probably because someone figured that giving voters someone to identify with (=another straight person) was the most important thing.

Maybe that was unfortunate.

Labels mean less when we know someone who can break the stereotype for us. That person, who helps us learn, can be a friend, a relative, a co worker, or a classmate.

Or, it can be a nationally known political leader. Look at Barack Obama. Where are the gay leaders of today?

what frost/nixon and milk have in common? david bowie. nothing says the 70s like david bowie.

I went to see Milk today (more about that in a minute). It was in the middle of the day, and the theater was almost empty. Mostly old people go to the movies in the afternoons. Some go by themselves, some with a friend.

One of the previews was for Ron Howard's upcoming Frost/Nixon, the story of David Frost's interviews with Richard Nixon in 1977.

And that's when I heard it, behind me: Two of the old women were having an animated discussion about who was the worse president, Nixon, or George W. Bush. They had a lot to say, and they spoke with the certainty of those who have seen something with their own eyes.


Loved it. LOVED it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

'tis the season

cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom

Places to put gingerbread spices:

1. plain yogurt
2. tea (quickie homemade masala chai)
3. butternut squash soup
4. carrot soup
5. gingerbread sweet loaf with lingonberries
6. oven roasted butternut squash
7. I've let some steep in oil with orange peel... this is an experiment.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

happy advent

Today when I was on my hike I managed a half hour - ultra slow, but still - jog. Yay for me.

if you want to know

I hated this movie. I also disliked Lost in Translation. (I think it's relevant.)

yes there will be pictures

I am doing a restoration light of my classic car. This means getting new tires, and polish to make the interior shiny. If it wasn't for other people on the road I'd be driving it all the time.

Speaking of 1971 releases:

Friday, December 05, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

how about, "I like it better when there is more chocolate"?

Weirdest thing said on Top Chef: Every s'more I've eaten have had a higher ratio warm chocolate component.

I don't know who said it, but it was in last week's episode.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

just look at these two photos. they are from the same movie. and that's the point.

Australia may not be the best film ever, but it's interesting. It's entertaining as a movie (albeit way too long), but to me it's really worth while for this reason: In between being a frontier love story with an unexpected amount of WW2 drama thrown in, it actually takes on the issue of Australia's stolen generation.
If you pay attention you learn a lot about the life of the narrator, a young boy of mixed blood. You get to see something of how life for someone like him was framed, and you learn a few things about the sometimes not so pretty history of Australia.

I think it's brave. The only way to achieve change is to see clearly what came before us, right?

holy night

Sunday, November 30, 2008

and if I go blonde I will be in the annie lennox/david bowie territory

My hair? Slowly moving on from Anderson Cooper, to Anderson, Laurie.


Lentil soup cooked with bacon, and served with balsamic vinegar on top.


Well, how about that.

Read about "a move that sounded so preposterous it became a Stephen Colbert skit".

bye bye lavender

Yesterday, in preparation for today, the first Sunday of Advent, I put new candles in the advent candle holder.

And then I went outside to see what kinds of evergreens I could use to make it pretty.

There was none. But there was lavender, so I used that and the cedar roses I had picked earlier. It was pretty.

Fifteen minutes later Dan declared he was allergic to cheese, because he had eaten a piece of cheese and now his nose was stuffy.

My eyes were itchy.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

you won't put it down, that's how good it is

Many years ago an older woman I knew thought I was reading far too many books written by men, and that I was accepting what they said far too easily.

She told me I ought to read some female authors once in a while.

So I did, and since then I have almost exclusively read fiction written by women.

Then what happened, just recently, is that my friend Babs, and a bunch of her friends, were all talking about the same guy writer. They wouldn't stop.

So I got a collection of short stories: The Palace Thief, by Ethan Canin. A really good book, by what seems to be a really good guy.

today's mailing news

I wrote a check for Children's Cancer Research Fund (donate online here), and I leafed through a catalog known to Dan as Dorks-R-Us.

I ordered a couple of things.

Have these ones already.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

it took me 13 years, 4 months, and 2 weeks

Finally I have a favorite superhero: Elastigirl. And it's only partly because she has the voice of Holly Hunter.

happy thanksgiving

Today I learned from Dan's aunts how to make Te de Canela, Mexican cinnamon tea. It is super easy, and oh so good.

Also, a mixture of cinnamon and honey is said to cure many things.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

more from alisa

This link. A story to inspire, and warm your heart.

(Gotta love NPR. Bookmark this! Next time someone asks for 'positive news' in that sarcastic tone of voice you'll know just what to give them.)

from the former student's travel blog

On being in South East Asia for this year's US presidential election:
We really do feel like we can be less ashamed of being Americans. In nearly 10 months of travel we have not met a single person, be it Thai villager, Indian rickshaw driver, or fellow traveler who was not rooting for Obama.
By Alisa.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

biggest american family holiday of the year, minus two days. or: why I didn't buy any tea.

The aisles at my local Safeway were super busy today, and also blocked by women on cell phones. At one point I was locked in by two animated discussions. As I picked up my water, the phrases and key words I caught were "... and for you to INVITE HER...!!", and "... his basketball practice...!!", respectively.

I turned the corner, but gave up on getting all the way down to the juices and teas.

Back to the water aisle. "...MANIPULATIVE!!" the conversation there continued.

I left.

meals with love

This year it's going to be hard not to give to organizations that work with, and for, people in need. I just gave to these people, Project Open Hand.

Friday, November 21, 2008

town is 87% white, 0.8% black, and the home of netflix and steve wozniak

There was this one woman I used to run into when I had chemo, and later when we both had radiation at the same time every day. We'd chat.

She got her hair back a little before I did, and when she saw my hair had started to grow she told me to get a product she had been using to stimulate hair growth. It was called Super Grow, and she had gotten it in the African American isle at the drug store.

So, today I looked for it at my local Rite-Aid.

No, didn't think so, no African American isle in a Los Gatos store. To really drive home the point, the home relaxers were at a 75% discount.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

you'd be lucky having such problems

One of my students told me today that he had been yelled at by another professor for not living up to his potential.

Downside of having potential: Being expected to live up to it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


This quote sat at the bottom of an email I received from a student today, the way many people have quotes that get glued onto the bottom of every email they send. I have one too. My favorite Malcolm X quote even appears at the bottom of this blog page.

Anyway. I actually read the quote, even though I've read it before many times in other places. It struck me as true, today, for some reason:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
- Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

david bowie, -72: not jaded

So in a successful attempt to further feed the European nostalgia that I have been suffering from I got the David Bowie Live Santa Monica -72 CD.

At the end of Andy Warhol (the song), our favorite David talks about having eaten a piece of palm tree along with his rock star's lobster tail earlier the same day (Oct. 20, 1972, for those of you who are interested).

You can hear the English boy's awe in his voice.

And it's not about the lobster.

That's how I feel too, every day, everywhere I turn. Palm trees, more palm trees, and the shadows of palm trees.

Pinch me, somebody.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


New favorite chocolate bar, sold by girl who said she liked my hair.

stay happy

First song you hear in Happy-Go-Lucky, from one of my all time favorite albums:

Happy-Go-Lucky, my new favorite movie, is both charming and refreshing, if you can imagine that. If not, watch the trailer here.
And it's not just because of my constant low grade European nostalgia that I am saying that. (But yeah, right now I am prepared to like anyone with a European accent, and the tiniest twinkle in their eye.)

This movie is lovely. There is something irresistible about people in non perfect outfits enjoying themselves, each other, and their lives. And Camden Lock.

British bonus from my youtube trip:

those emancipated europeans

"You can do it!"
Husband to wife, who was pushing a stroller with a 10 month old in it steeply uphill at Rancho San Antonio on Saturday. In a German accent.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I am expecting something from you, now, mr obama

Today I had to fill a couple of prescriptions in downtown Los Gatos, the well to do small town where I live. As I sat there waiting lots of other people picked up their pills too.

I couldn't help noticing that quite a few people lacked health insurance, paying $200-300 for what they needed. One man didn't have the $150 that his medicine cost. He was nicely dressed and had a small boy with him. He made an offer to pay $50, but of course that wasn't accepted. He left without his medication.

Me? I paid $20. Insurance picked up the rest.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

who do you think you are?

This American Life did it again:
This week we bring you stories of privilege and the lengths some will go to to maintain it. In one story, a woman fights—on tape!—with her city's parking enforcer about playing favorites. And in honor of the late Studs Terkel, we bring you a special collection of stories from his Hard Times radio series; the haves and the have-nots talk about life during The Great Depression.

Monday, November 10, 2008

yeah, the swedes talk about the devil a lot

The devil makes work for idle hands, someone told me today, as I was correcting an exam while waiting for the doctor. I hadn't heard that saying before, but it sounded reassuringly Protestant. Just like home.

surgery, chemo, radiation: today I had my last treatment

Stops on my end-of-treatment extravaganza tour: one, and two, by way of this store.

It's very weird to be done.

and he's got a sense of humor too

Barack Obama’s election is a milestone in more than his pigmentation. The second most remarkable thing about his election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual.
Read more.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


I made a salad today with roasted butternut squash, baby spinach, and feta cheese. A while ago I read about something similar, but I couldn't find it. So I improvised.

The squash I roasted pretty much like in this recipe, but I quadrupled the amount of spices. I used cumin, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and black pepper. And a mortal and pestle to grind it all.

When the squash was done I mixed it with the spinach, so the leaves wilted a bit, and added feta cheese. No dressing, just a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And more salt. Yum.

Next time I think I will add some nuts or seeds of some sort.


First time on the mountain trail since April.

Friday, November 07, 2008

it's judi dench and I

Chemo update: My hair grew back solidly salt and pepper. I've got almost an inch now so I've shredded the head wrap.

And given how much time and money I've spent the past 15 or so years to cover the gray in my hair, all I can say is that that was a big fat waste of time. Rarely have I had so many compliments. It could be that people are just glad to see that I have any hair at all, but I don't think that's all of it. I actually like the gray myself.

I'm just saying. Clairol and the others have us captive. Reclaim the gray.

don't ask random strangers to speak for their race

Dan works with a couple of African-Americans, and they told him that the day after Obama won the election, complete strangers would come up to them to congratulate them, high-five them, or ask them what it felt like to have the first Black president be elected.

Dan suggested they'd look the next stranger in the eye and tell them, "It's pay-back time."

I thought that was funny.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

"I expect a lot from you"

I have borrowed this from Babs and her friend Mark. It's a commencement address given by Barack Obama at Northwestern in 2006. McCain had been the speaker the year before. Watch it.

this is me

Thanks to Babs and Alice.

another thing you can do

Petition to re-open Proposition 8 for California: Click to sign.

four years, two days

Aug. 4, 1961: Barack Obama was born.
Aug. 6, 1965: President Johnson signed The Voting Rights Act.

one thing you can do

"By signing this petition, I affirm and agree that banning gay marriage is unconstitutional, and that a better method of saving the family and protecting the institution of marriage is to constitutionally ban divorce."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

and the cool thing is that both of those things are true at once

So, compared to every other day in the history of this nation, today is a real good day to be Black in the United States.

And, it's also a good day to be in the United States.

today's the day

And it's the first time since I started teaching in the US in 1999 that the students are engaged in the election.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

they are fun when you have them, I am not gonna lie

I was strutting (admittedly) down the hallway at work today, when I heard a voice behind me:

Look at you, all proud of yourself, just because you have eyebrows!


Eyebrows are back.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

he can say that, because he is mexican too

I was talking to one of my favorite people today, a very passionate gay young man. He told me he had been volunteering his time phone banking, making calls against California's Proposition 8, but that he had had to stop because he was getting too upset, too involved. He was fearing for his health.

Proposition 8 would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. That right is important to my friend. He said the issue is affecting his friendships, and that friends are telling him he shouldn't take it personally that they support the proposition.

Not take it personally?

He said, "I tell them how would you feel if I told you Mexicans can't marry, but that you shouldn't take it personally?". And he said, "I want to vote on straight people's right to marry."

Friday, October 24, 2008

so yeah

I bought shampoo today. And conditioner.

Which might seem mundane. But after 20 weeks of chemo, and six weeks of no chemo, my hair has gone from nothing, via salt, salt, and pepper, to pepper, pepper, and salt.

So yeah. Conditioner.

lesson from my high school history teacher

In every war soldiers on both sides believe that God is on their side. Because that's what they are told in the churches back home.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

people have too much time on their hands

And thanks to them, we get to play around with this.

[expletive] you, indeed

So today as I was waiting for my turn to be radiated I took notes on a topic I have been thinking about for a while.

As I was sitting there writing, through the wall I could hear the muffled sounds of the doctor speaking in labored Spanish to another patient. And, later, I could hear his voice in English, getting help from an interpreter on speaker phone.

In Santa Clara County 64 percent speak another language than English at home. And, according to one of my students today, in Santa Clara County 2 out of 3 is either an immigrant, or the child of immigrants.

Which brings us to the point: Lately Sarah Palin has been making distinctions between "pro-America" parts of the US, and the rest of the country.

"We believe that the best of America is in the small towns that we get to visit, and in the wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation," she said.

To which Jon Stewart, of New York, responded:

"She said that small towns, that's the part of the country she really likes going to because that's the pro-America part of the country. You know, I just want to say to her, just very quickly: [expletive] you."

It's interesting that someone would actually come straight out and define 'real America' in an exclusive way.

Because it follows, then, that there are parts of America that, according to Ms. Palin, are not pro-America, and are not "the best of America."

Where are those places? The big towns? The big cities? You'd have to think that was what Jon Stewart was thinking.

Any definition of America needs be in-clusive. Any definition of America needs to include a big-city immigrant Irish cancer doctor speaking bare bones Spanish to his immigrant patients. And it needs to include those patients, and their young relatives who drive them to the hospital every afternoon.

If that's not the best of America, and the real America, I don't know what is.

19 radiation treatments down, 14 to go

I've read about fatigue that comes with radiation, and I think I have it. At least a little, and at least in the afternoons. After teaching, and being zapped.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

irresistable: red, black, and flowers

- Who bought the coolest Japanese lunch box yesterday?
- Me.

fear not, men of fox news, she's not coming after you with tweezers

As much as Sarah Palin drives me up a wall, in some unexpected ways her being part of the presidential race is pure entertainment.

For instance, it is fun to hear male right-wing pundits and talking heads get themselves worked up over what they perceive as sexism. Never heard that before. Sure didn't hear it when Hillary Clinton was running.

That Newsweek cover there, for instance. I heard references to it in that teaser-TV manner: "Coming up, after the break, why this cover is angering republicans".

So, during the break I picked up my own copy, and looked at it closely. I could not find anything wrong with it.

When the break was over, I heard a frantic male voice from FOX news being replayed on MSNBC:


I've never heard a man sound so afraid of wrinkles. True fear, I am telling you. Funny, yeah?

So why didn't I find the cover photo offensive? The obvious reason is that I am a woman in my forties, so I know what a woman in her forties looks like. And, compared to that, Sarah Palin does not show a lot of wrinkles on that cover. In fact, she looks happy, friendly, and like a real person. Nothing there to scare FOX news.

november: national novel writing month

November is National Novel Writing Month. Sign up and accept the challenge of writing 50 000 words in 30 days!

today: national coming out day

"Coming out, and living openly, as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, or as a straight supportive person, is an act of bravery and authenticity."

Video from the Human Rights Campaign.
National coming out day link.

And, actually, I think that given the sentiments expressed in the youtube clip below, and the proposal of Proposition 8 in California that would "eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry", the pressure is on for the silent masses of supportive straight persons to be silent no more.

I am in. Everybody has the right to love who they love, right?

god bless america

Thanks to Babs.
It's so scary what is going on.
It does matter what you yell from stage.
It does matter what words you use.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


So I've been sick for a few days and I've been making a lot of my new favorite home remedy, the ginger tea with lemon and honey. (And sometimes a dash of chili pepper, that really opens those sinuses.)

Anyway. For the first few days of sick I had a bag of homegrown perfectly in season delicious Santa Clara lemons (thanks Kathy!). After I had run out of those I've had to rely on Safeway.

I just used one of those Safeway lemons right now. Guess where it was from?



"being able to answer a question forthrightly"

Sarah Palin answers a question on whether she thinks Barack Obama is dishonest:

“I’m not saying he’s dishonest, but in terms of judgment, in terms of being able to answer a question forthrightly, it has two different parts to this. The judgment and the truthfulness and just being able to answer very candidly a simple question about when did you know him, how did you know him, is there still — has there been an association continued since ’02 or ’05, I know I’ve read a couple different stories. I think it’s relevant.”

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

sometimes what you think you can do is just a result of your limited understanding

Maureen Dowd asks a question (The New York Times, Oct. 4) I've been thinking a lot about lately:

We could, following [Sarah Palin's] strenuously folksy debate performance, wonder when elite became a bad thing in America. Navy Seals are elite, and they get lots of training so they can swim underwater and invade a foreign country, but if you’re governing the country that dispatches the Seals, it’s not O.K. to be elite?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

for a cold

Smash up half an inch of fresh ginger. Put the smashed up pieces in a teapot, add boiling water, and let it brew for ten minutes.

Pour the tea into a big mug. Add the juice from a half a lemon, and a tablespoon of honey. Mmmmm.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

yuk yuk yukky

So I have been trying to eat healthy and cook real food every day. It's going great.

Yesterday I figured I should venture into the whole bring your lunch to work and heat it in the microwave thing. So I prepared a container last night, and this morning I even remembered to bring it. When lunchtime came I put the container in the microwave, and zapped it for a bit.

It wasn't the right container. It didn't have cauliflower soup in it, it had some other random leftover. And a not so successful experiment of a leftover at that.

Mango with citrus soy sauce, blended with plain yogurt. Imagine that, lukewarm and with a spoon.

big ideas

I really liked this week's episode of This American Life.

First you get a story explaining what it takes to help children born into poverty to succeed in school. It's very inspiring and hopeful, beacuse it seems it actually works.

Then comes a really funny story about a musician who is asked by a guy to serenade him and his girlfriend to help the guy get the girl back.

Friday, September 26, 2008

time to get back in shape

Three radiation treatments down, 30 to go.

Each treatment is super fast, a couple of minutes only. What takes time is getting the receipt for the copay, changing into the gown, and getting lined up under the machine.

And I learned today the YMCA has classes for cancer survivors. Just what I need.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

a woman's right to choose

From The San Jose Mercury News:

HARTFORD, Conn.—Attorneys general from 13 states on Wednesday protested a proposed Bush administration rule that would give stronger job protections to doctors and other health care workers who refuse to participate in abortions because of religious or moral objections.

In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, the states said the rule is too vague in defining abortion, and may be interpreted to include birth control.

"It threatens to drastically discourage and even deter a woman's right to choose," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said. "This proposed rule unconscionably puts personal agendas before patient care ... failing even to acknowledge the rights of rape victims and others to access birth control and related vital health services."

Other states joining Connecticut in protesting the rule are Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont.

Whole article here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

no, she wasn't listening to the radio either

After my class and my office hour today I left our building and stepped out into the perfect California September day. There was a nice warm breeze, and sunshine. Finally the heat is gone.

As I was walking towards my car I really paid attention to how wonderful the sun and the breeze felt. I was doing a good job of appreciating the moment.

I reached my car. Next to it another car is parked, with the windows rolled down. Inside, a girl is eating her homemade lunch sandwich out of a plastic container.

See, that is something I do not understand. The campus has beautiful lawns, and benches everywhere. Why eat in your car?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

otherizing obama

Interesting column from the NY Times again, this time by Nicholas D. Kristof:

What is happening, I think, is this: religious prejudice is becoming a proxy for racial prejudice. In public at least, it’s not acceptable to express reservations about a candidate’s skin color, so discomfort about race is sublimated into concerns about whether Mr. Obama is sufficiently Christian.

The result is this campaign to “otherize” Mr. Obama. Nobody needs to point out that he is black, but there’s a persistent effort to exaggerate other differences, to de-Americanize him.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


People are walking their dogs a lot in the park and on the mountain trail close to my house. Sometimes these people bring water for their dogs, which seems reasonable when it is hot outside. Dogs drink sloppily out of bottles, and seem happy.

Yesterday, though, I saw a woman who went one step further. She had brought not only water, but also a snack for her little dog. A snack in a plastic container, so the little dog wouldn't be hungry on the walk home.

Haven't we gone a little too far in taking "care" of our best friends? Americans love to walk and eat at the same time. They also like to eat while they do a whole slew of other things: drive, watch ballgames, watch TV and movies, the list goes on. No activity is too small not to warrant a snack. But to train your pet to do the same? Isn't that insane?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

halloween food

Dan always tells me I throw out food that is perfectly fine. So for that reason today I took the seven carrots that were hiding at the bottom of the crisper and made carrot soup. The carrots were a bit beyond their prime (had they been furniture they would have been shabby chic), but the only other ingredient was garlic, and that was fresh.

I took: carrots, cut up in pieces, and garlic, and let that sweat in olive oil.
I added: salt, black pepper, cumin, and allspice.
And then: water to cover generously, and a chicken bouillon cube.
I let it: Boil until the carrots were soft.
Then I zapped it with the hand blender.
Natural yogurt (yeah, the Russian again), and dill on top.


One thing I never have the energy to make is muesli. Every recipe lists hundreds of ingredients and have multi-step instructions. Too much work, too much planning, too much time at the whole grain bar at Whole Foods.

And I never buy muesli either. Too much sugar.

So for breakfast today I had plain yogurt ('Russian', yum), a little apricot jam, and oats. Plain, dry.

Needs improvement.

maureen dowd again

Referring to her recent trip to Alaska, she ends today's column like this:

R. D. Levno, a retired school principal, flew in from Fairbanks. “She’s a child, inexperienced and simplistic,” she said of Sarah. “It’s taking us back to junior high school. She’s one of the popular girls, but one of the mean girls. She is seductive, but she is invented.”


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

mmm it was good

I made a pretty good spinach soup, and then I remembered that you are not supposed to reheat spinach.

My insides are very green now.

defending palin

Anyone who talks negatively about Sarah Palin's tanning bed (which she bought for her own money to have put in the Governor's Mansion in Juneau, AK) doesn't understand exactly how pale a white person gets that far north in the winter when there is barely any daylight. (Juneau and Stockholm are roughly on the same latitude.)

Myself, I turn a sickly blueish green.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

anyone remember adam morris?

Thanks to Netflix I have been able to watch again a TV series (or, more like a series of related plays written for TV) that I loved in the late 1970s. It's called The Glittering Prizes and I don't think many people remember it.

The focus is on a group of friends who meet at university in Cambridge in the 1950s. We then follow them for 20 years, into the 1970s. I am sure I liked the series when I was young because it gave me an idea of what growing up might be like. I also loved the romance of British university life.

What struck me when I watched it again was that I still like it. The actors are good, and for the most part the stories are interesting. I also liked the feeling of watching plays rather than TV. It had to do with the lighting and the writing, and how the tension is allowed to build. Very cool, and very unlike American TV of today.

One thing that surprised me was how all of the actors were super skinny, men and women both. Apparently that was the ideal in the 1970s. Skinny, no muscles. People today are much more toned. Gives a very different feel.

The sad part: I remember the main character, played by Tom Conti, as witty and funny. Now I found him slightly annoying. I guess my taste has changed. I also wonder why wikipedia's only photo of him in his older years is this one:
In a robe? Who took that photo? Apparently someone very short who didn't want to do him a favor. Disgruntled grandkid mailed it in?

shameless self-promotion

As you may or may not have discovered, I show my photos on And guess what? I just created a new gallery for the Henry Coe State Park pics.

I have millions of flowers on that site, but other things too. A couple of random examples: If you want to know what a Swedish forest looks like, click here. And here are pics of Stockholm from last summer.

"I probably should have wanted it more"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I feel a little better about school starting in ten days now

In three autobiographical books Francisco Jimenez chronicles his journey from migrant child to starting grad school to 'become a college teacher'. I just read the third installment, Reaching Out, that tells the stories from Francisco's undergraduate years.

Like many other students - and people in general - Francisco Jimenez received help when he most needed it. Often the help came from his teachers, but it also came from strangers. His books are quiet reminders to help others when we can.

thanks andrea

Oh this is just lovely:
On Wednesday, September 3, we sent out an email to 40 friends and colleagues asking them to respond to Sarah Palin’s candidacy as Vice President of the United States. They forwarded the letter to their friends across America. To date, we have received more than 90,000 responses from women of all ages and backgrounds. Below are their voices.

The blog: Women Against Sarah Palin.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

henry w. coe state park (III): the golden state

the europeans get along

I randomly met a Swiss woman today. 'Other people think we are the same', I said. 'Yes', she said. 'I tell them I am from Switzerland, and people say Oh, I've been to Sweden'.

She was probably in her fifties, and she told me that she still remembers how her hands and feet hurt when she was sitting on the train going to school at 6AM when she was at university in Geneva.

When it's cold outside and you come into a hot room, your hands and feet hurt in a very special way. I had forgot all about that until she mentioned it.


Cardamom in the pancake batter.
I am just saying.