Thursday, January 31, 2008

I am a mean cynical person

For a debate in Los Angeles tonight Hillary Clinton is wearing a necklace and earrings made from turquoise, the preferred gemstone of the South West.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


My interest in politics is strong, but most of the time I am too idealistic and impatient to be drawn in. I get frustrated and angry.

Barack Obama is the first politician I have heard speak in a way that really resonates with me. Ever since moving to the US 12 years ago I have had a hard time reconciling what I have seen around me with the rhetoric of American politics.

During this time I have seen a lot of tension between races, but also a lot of learning and transformation. I am convinced that people can learn from each other, care about each other, and overcome great challenges. I've seen it so many times. It's been surprising to me that no one ever speaks about it. It seems in general people want to believe that race was dealt with in the 1960's, and if you treat people as if they are the same, they will become the same.

Great achievements were made in the 1960's. But the truth is also that since then people have not really gotten any closer. There is a great deal of division. Until now, no one has spoken about a unity that would be inclusive.

What is happening now makes me happy and optimistic, and my boyfriend is laughing at me for getting all worked up.

I don't care. The world is changing, I am telling you.

on the bandwagon

According to CNN Ted Kennedy is going to endorse Barack Obama tomorrow.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"a president like my father", she says

Caroline Kennedy endorses Barack Obama in The New York Times:

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

it made me cry, I am not gonna lie

My favorite part of Barack Obama's speech after having won the South Carolina primary:

But let me say this, South Carolina. What we've seen in these last weeks is that we're also up against forces that are not the fault of any one campaign, but feed the habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation.

It's the politics that uses religion as a wedge and patriotism as a bludgeon, a politics that tells us that we have to think, act and even vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us, the assumption that young people are apathetic, the assumption that Republicans won't cross over, the assumption that the wealthy care nothing for the poor and that the poor don't vote, the assumption that African-Americans can't support the white candidate, whites can't support the African-American candidate, blacks and Latinos cannot come together.

We are here tonight to say that that is not the America we believe in.

Watch the speech here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

frasier vs. mash: sometimes a toss up

Frasier just called Anders Celsius a 'famed Swedish astronomer and compulsive temperature taker.'

I thought that was funny.

life imitates art

I was driving down the hill from Cal State East Bay today in the rain and the wind, when all of a sudden there was what looked like actual honest to God tumbleweed tumbling across the road. Right to left. I only ever saw that in movies before.

(No, that's not the university there. I borrowed the photo. The thing I saw was less dense too.)

the history boys

Oh this is a sweet and lovely movie.

Monday, January 21, 2008

happy mlk day

January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Watch some of Dr. King's speeches here.

red #3

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I am all about the lemon peel

And then we made a cobbler with apples. I cooked the apple wedges with sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and chopped lemon peel. Dan poured rum onto them. Yum.

just a thought, one band-aid later

Maybe the person who sharpens all the knives should also do the dishes.

and oh it was a pretty good wine, actually, because it was a gift

I cooked a bastardized version of Boeuf Bourguignon today. It had beef and wine and garlic, onion, salt, pepper, allspice, and a tiny bit of rosemary. It didn't have bacon in it, and no bay leaf because we were out of bay leaves. No mushrooms because I forgot, and no pearl onions because we didn't have them.

I left it to simmer for many hours. Whenever I thought the flavor needed brightening I added finely chopped lemon peel. It ended up pretty good.

Dan wanted to let potatoes boil in the stew towards the end and I have to admit that was very good, even though I was opposed to it.

red #2

Saturday, January 19, 2008

just don't do that to yourself

I wouldn't recommend seeing Once if you have already seen Walk Hard. The Dewey Cox Story. Both movies tell the story of an up and coming musician. But where Once takes itself seriously, Walk Hard makes glorious fun of the entire genre.

If you've seen a hard to impress recording staff be turned around by Dewey Cox's unexpected talent, when the same thing happens to the guy in Once all you can do is laugh. And that is kind of unfortunate.


thanks evan

So here's an interesting thought.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

it's that time of year again

1. Peel a few blood oranges. Use a knife so that you get the white stuff off too. Slice the oranges thinly.
2. In a shallow bowl mix orange slices with calamata olives, drizzle olive oil on top, and add a little salt.
3. Let sit for a few minutes.
4. Yum.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

toni morrison 'wrote' to me

She wanted me to support The Southern Poverty Law Center. In return, my name would be included on the Wall of Tolerance in Montgomery, Alabama.

The wall looks really cool. The fake mass produced stationary was kind of cute. I'll send them some money. Click here for online donations.

Monday, January 14, 2008

the other day hillary clinton said she had 'found her voice'. sadly it sounds to me as if she's lost it again.

"We may differ on minor matters," Mrs. Clinton said of Mr. Obama, "but when it comes to what is really important, we are family." (From The New York Times.)

Just like The Olive Garden, right? "When you're here, you're family."

I'll be honest. I have a hard time with the current pop culture overuse of the word 'family'. To me it's untruthful, and unattractive. It implies a level of intimacy that just cannot be there. In advertising we are used to it. But in politics? Family?

How about colleagues? Colleagues who respect each other? That would actually be more than good enough for me.

I wonder if Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama would consider themselves friends. Then again, we all know you can be family without being friends. But was that what she wanted to say?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Friday, January 11, 2008

yep, I am thinking of lou dobbs

I am tired of white men deciding what is racist and not.


1. Make rice.
2. Chop anything.
3. Fry it.
4. Add a couple of tablespoons of Hoisin sauce.
5. Fry a little more.
6. Mmmm.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

today's spam

No More Classes
Lazy to attend exam or classes?
We have Diplomas, Degrees, Masters' or Doctorate
to choose from any field of your interest.
Only 2 weeks require to delivers the prestigious non-accredited
universities paper to your doorstep.
Do not hesitate to give us a call today!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

sí se puede, take two

Several points can be made in relation to Barack Obama's 'Yes We Can!'-speech. The first one came in the form of a comment to my previous post:

Dialogue about race is most often a black and white issue with no room in between. All the other colors of the rainbow are frequently excluded from conversations about race, ethnicity, etc. It's easier to recall the MLK speech despite the fact that Obama's mention of "Yes we can" is almost a direct translation of "Si se puede". I'm going to tell my migrant students. Ha!

-Frustrated Migrant Student Counselor

The Daily Kos also thinks Obama missed an opportunity to show true solidarity with Latinos:

While some might claim that Obama's use of the slogan in English is an obvious homage to it's originator, and by extension an outreach to Latino voters, the subtlety is easily lost on those not aware of the phrase's history.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

sí se puede

Barack Obama made a speech today in which one reoccurring phrase was "yes we can". Again his speech was inspirational. The MSNBC commentators were impressed, and said that they heard echoes of Martin Luther King's famous I have a dream speech.

I actually heard echoes of Cesar Chavez, and the motto of The United Farmworkers.

The Spanish Se Puede has often been translated as Yes We Can, even though that translation has been criticized. "Yes, it can be done" is a more accurate translation.

Monday, January 07, 2008

no rain today

fear or hope, you pick

I remember that some time in 2004 during the last presidential election Bill Clinton spoke out in favor of John Kerry against George W. Bush. Clinton said something along the lines of 'If your choice is between a candidate who asks you to be fearful, and a candidate who asks you to hope, choose the one asking for your hope.'

So it's ironic that his wife is the one talking about fear right now.

I am sure it's all because I joined that group on facebook

Jon Stewart is back!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

underestimated dairy product

Sour cream really is very tasty.

yeah, I am all for the inspirational

So I have written my syllabi for the quarter.
And just because I can I sometimes put quotes on them.
I am sure none of the students ever read them.
Or, maybe they do. When they procrastinate.

Anyway. I changed my favorite Dr. King quote:

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

To my new favorite Dr. King quote:

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

I really think that's true.
Yep. So that's what they can expect in my ethnic studies class.

african american in paris

Act 3 of this radio show will blow your mind. It says something about race that you don't hear a lot. That part starts 40 minutes into the show.

(It does have something do to with Dexter Gordon, but only implicitly.) (He is alright too though.)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

separated at birth: kevin & mike. get it?

yeah yeah yeah go to paris already (but don't write about it)

When I was a teenager I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. I thought that would be the coolest job ever.

And, when I was a teenager I had a favorite writer. He just died, and that I is why I think of this right now. The writer's name is Stig Claesson. (Sadly none of his work seems to be translated.)

Stig Claesson was a writer, and an artist. He grew up in Sweden. He was young in the late 1940s when the second world war had just ended. Finally it was possible to travel again, and he wanted to get out. So he left.

He has written about helping to rebuild Europe by hard physical labor, and he has written about happy carefree days in Paris. He and his friends spent years building bridges, digging ditches, traveling, writing, drawing, being poor, and being drunk.

To me that sounded great.

Somewhere in one of those books Stig Claesson reflects that everywhere he went in those years, all over Europe, he would meet the same kind of person. A fresh faced young man or woman, traveling just like him, writing stories about Europe for a small newspaper back home, wherever that might be.

All over the world, Claesson said, you find these people, busy writing home about their lives.

That idea stuck in my head. It seemed to me he was saying that instead of living a life, people were writing about it. I am not sure if he would include himself in that. Maybe not. He probably considered himself part of the scene, and the others merely traveling through.
Stig Claesson is also known for his stories about slightly eccentric and stubborn people living in the Swedish countryside. The stories are tender, respectful, and patient portraits of the ways people are connected to their surroundings.

I think Swedes like to think of those people as quintessentially Swedish. They are not. That's just how people are, everywhere. And I guess the lesson is that after you've been to Paris, you may know to appreciate them.

Friday, January 04, 2008

the empty reservoir before the big rain

They say this summer there will be water rationing.

more on the weather

Grrrrr the cable just went out.

so this is actually a winter storm, not just some rainy weather

You can't tell from this photo but it is really raining like crazy right now. I was out in the street to check on the car cover and I got soaked in a minute. The car seemed OK but a street sign had toppled over right next to it. Toppled over as in the wind had pulled the metal pole right out of the ground.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

the iowa caucus (speaking of history)

Youtube clip of the speech. (People are fast.)
Here is a print version of Barack Obama's speech.

more from my favorite radio show

I just finished listening to this episode of This American Life. In it Sarah Vowell goes on a road trip with her sister along the Trail of Tears. Wikipedia tells us that "The Trail of Tears refers to the forced relocation in 1838 of the Cherokee Native American tribe to the Western United States, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 4,000 Cherokees."

Like many other Americans, Sarah and her sister are part Cherokee. Being at least a little Cherokee in northeastern Oklahoma is about as rare and remarkable as being a Michael Jordan fan in Chicago, she says on the show.

Towards the end of the hour Sarah talks to one of her uncles, and she realizes how deeply impacted by history his life has been. He didn't go to school past third grade because he had to help support his family. And then came the depression, and then the war.

Contemplating her own life, Sarah Vowell comments that she herself is "free of history". I have to get in a car and drive seven states to find it, she says. History has no natural place in her life.

Compared to other cultures, American culture is future oriented. That means that people live their lives with their eyes on the horizon. They define themselves by their plans for the future rather than by their history. The future is simply more important to them than the past. Sarah Vowell's remarks reflect that. Even though she has a strong interest in history, history does not have a presence in her culture.

Oftentimes this attitude is stronger among people who define themselves as white, or whose ancestry is mixed to the point where they don't really identify with any single group. People who identify as Black, Chicano, Jewish, or Japanese American, just to name a few, usually have a stronger sense of history. For them it's easier to see how the history of their people have helped shape their lives today.

The United States is highly individualistic. That means that we have been trained to believe in free will and the power of the individual. We are hellbent on feeling in control, and having our choices matter. That attitude makes it hard to see that our lives are indeed also shaped by circumstances beyond our control. And, that our lives are connected to the lives of people who we have never met.

In reality all of us are just as inscribed in history as Sarah Vowell's uncle, or any other person on the face of the earth. Habits, norms, and life circumstances are handed down to us. The misfortunes, or opportunities, we may have today are often the direct results of decisions made by those who came before us.

Those of us who are not Black, Chicano, Japanese American, or Jewish, are still affected by what happened to those groups. We are all caught in the same web. We may be sitting at different corners of it, but it's still the same web.

For that reason I think it would be helpful if we could broaden our perspective a little. Taking an inclusive approach to history would mean that we would realize that we don't have to be part Cherokee to be influenced by the Trail of Tears. We shouldn't have to be Japanese American to be affected by the internment of people of Japanese descent during the second world war. The Civil Rights Movement did not concern African Americans only. All of these things are part of American history. It affects all of us. It may not affect us in the same way, but it is the history that belongs to all of us.

And then maybe we can use some of that free will to decide on how we are going to let future be shaped by what we have learned.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Dan and I went to see Atonement. (Yeah yeah yeah, you guessed it: English, and a period piece=my suggestion).

The movie made Dan angry, but I liked it a lot. At the same time it might have been the most unsettling film I have ever seen. I have read a few reviews, and they all do their best trying not to give away the plot while at the same time talking mostly about the plot. Which makes sense because the story does keep you on the edge of your seat.

Crisp English accents, fantastic clothes, and drama aside, what really got me hooked was the time line. It's very cool the way the story is told.

Just don't expect this movie to help you feel better about the world. Very likely it will make you feel worse. By the end of it I wanted to punch Vanessa Redgrave in the nose really really hard. And I am not just saying that either.

the alameda, san jose calif. dec. 30, 2007