Monday, July 28, 2008

this american life breaks your heart

Here is that link.

wall-e (out there is a world outside of yonkers)

I did like the opening half hour or whatever it was with no dialogue. But most of the rest of the movie is pretty two dimensional, I think.


I like: The Dark Knight, Hellboy II, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
I don't like: Wall-E.

And I guess Mamma Mia I will have to go see by myself.

Friday, July 25, 2008

reading glasses also help when you write, it turns out

So I broke down and bought a pair of reading glasses. Cheapo, but still.

That distinctly middle age experience was balanced by the check-out guy at the drugstore calling me Miss fourteen times during our brief interaction.

No, it wasn't Ms, it was Miss.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

pet peeve: grammar edition

I don't know when it happened, but at some point people started attaching the prefix "pre-" left and right in unnecessary places like it would save their life. Drives me nuts!

Cooking shows are the worst. There they "pre-sift" flour, "pre-cut" tomatoes, "pre-chop" onion, and "pre-wash" salad greens. In short (and here comes my favorite), they "pre-prepare" ingredients. They actually say that. "Pre-prepare". What's wrong with people? "Pre-prepare" is tautological, meaning that you say the same thing twice. I'll get it the first time, don't wear me down.

The thing is that without exception that added-on "pre-" can be taken out, without the meaning being changed. I mean if I say that I have cut the tomatoes, the verb tense indicates that I did it already, right? And that I did it before whatever is going on now? What more do you need to know?

for the record: I don't remember the tv series at all and I am not sure I want to see the movie

There is a movie based on Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisted coming out soon.

In the early 1980's there was a TV series based on the same book. It was hugely popular and my friends and I watched it religiously. All of a sudden I am brought back to rainy and cold winter streets, and memories of who my best friends were at that time. I am rarely in touch with them. I don't miss the liar of the bunch, but the other two I liked a lot.

oh yeah there is a presidential race going on

Get an Obama button.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

in america

So I had lunch today at the little place where I often go. I had a Korean noodle soup, and it was good.

When I was sitting there waiting for my food the lady came out from behind the counter to ask me if I had dropped $20 as I was paying for my food. I was pretty sure I hadn't, but I checked my wallet anyway. No, wasn't mine. I told her so.

At that moment the guy sitting at the next table asked where the bill had been found. She told him on the floor. He said he thought it was his; he had kept $20 in his pocket but hadn't been able to find it when he was going to pay so he had had to use a credit card instead.

Great, guy got his money back, everyone was happy.

The American part of this story? After he had gotten his money back, and he had put it away, the guy turned to me. "Thank you for being honest", he said. "I really appreciate that." And I said that of course I wasn't going to take money that wasn't mine, blah blah. And we told each other to have a good rest of the day and then he left.

Americans like to thank each other for things. I really like that habit. It only takes fifteen seconds but it makes a world of difference.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I love my emails

Got this today from a former student:

"I just wanted to tell you a funny thing that happened to me recently. I met this guy who is a friend's friend's friend, and who struck me right away as being kind of in love with himself. I met him the first time going bowling with a group of people, and he has shoulder-length-ish hair that he would shake around a lot and put up and down and play with all the time, and he took his game very seriously. Anyway, I was at a party recently that was Olympic-themed, and I went as Mt. Olympus. I was standing talking to someone, and this guy comes up and yells, "Hey, Mt. Fuji!!"

So I asked, "Oh, because I'm Asian?" (He's white.) And he got really defensive and said a bunch of stuff about how he doesn't know a lot of mountains, and the Olympics are in China and Mt. Fuji is the only name of a mountain in Asia that he knows about, etc. It was pretty funny to me at the time, and an interesting example of the ways people's perceptions work, and what a sensitive subject race still is in a lot of ways."

I love it when the students keep feeding me these stories, these funny little everyday examples of how people think and speak. You can't make them up.


thank you, facebook

I just reconnected with a student who graduated years ago. He is the only student I have ever had who would sit through class just because he wanted to learn. At least two quarters he attended without being enrolled. Another quarter I turned him and a friend away, because the room was packed already. I still feel bad about that.

for ever and ever

nothing is real

Monday, July 21, 2008

I am a cold desserts purist

I like vanilla ice cream. And strawberry sorbet. Lemon sorbet. Chocolate ice cream. And the hazelnut ice cream that you get in Italy.

I do not like ice cream with cookie batter in it. Or cake batter. Or bits and pieces of candy. Or both. Yukky, if you ask me.

al gore doesn't read my blog

So yeah last week I innocently bought the Chronicle and Dan said I was killing the planet.

So today I brought a reusable grocery bag with me when I went to the stores. The bag stayed in the car while I shopped at Whole Foods and Safeway. I don't know how that happened. I'll burn in hell.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

ooh don't even think of the nerd factor

So I drove Dan's truck around town this morning to do errands. Driving the truck means stereo instead of mono radio, and no 1970's VW engine to drown it out. It's pretty much like Christmas.

I happened to catch one of my favorite NPR shows, Car Talk. It's a weekly show where two brothers in Boston answer call-in questions about cars and driving. Callers often imitate the weird noises their cars make, and the brothers are usually able to figure it out. It's funny. And you get good advice too. Like that it's cheaper to replace your brakes than your clutch, so you shouldn't down shift as you come up to a red light. Guess who stopped doing that right away.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

apparently he does remember the clothes. the one part you'd wanna forget.

A decades old Swedish summer tradition is a daily radio show on the national public radio where someone is given an hour and a half to tell whatever stories they want, and play whatever music they want. When interesting people make good use of their time and it's great radio.

On Sunday I heard Björn Ulvaeus's show. He is one of the Bs that helped make up ABBA, and it's him on the right there, in the dark suit.

Björn Ulvaeus spent his hour and a half talking about his lack of 'situation memory'. Apparently he doesn't remember many of the things that ABBA did. He said he doesn't even remember things that pretty much everybody else on the face of the earth remember, if they were born at the time.

Startling, huh?

In sensitive Scandinavian mode Björn examined possible reasons. He referred to discussions he had had with psycho therapists, and sessions he had had with hypnotists. In the end, his conclusion was that the reason he doesn't remember is that he never really felt it was him who did the different things. He has, he told us, a really weak sense of self.

Imagine that. Enourmously successful, self revealing, sensitive. No sense of self. And then the punch line: I am a perfect example of how you don't need self esteam to become successful.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Through this really pretty site (it's in Swedish, but everybody can enjoy the pretty photos) I found this really cool company that lets you upload your own photos and design business cards, note cards, stickers, and more. I've ordered two sizes of business cards. These are the large (normal size) ones. Stickers are next.

hi cecilia

To respond:

I was at Whole Foods today and they apologized for making me wait, because the store policy is not to start ringing up the next customer's items until they're done packing the previous customer's bags. No one should be made to feel they're rushed out of there, they explained. So yeah.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Saturday, July 12, 2008

little survivors of the heat

as monica and robyn well know

Wanna feel like a winner? Invite me to play facebook scramble. I suck so bad it's not even funny.

pet peeve/mini rant

I bought some really tasty bread the other day, and on it I put butter, and really tasty ham. I had no plan, I was hungry and just grabbed the closest things. It was super good. And it reminded me of France and the sandwiches you buy to-go in bakeries.

One thing that Americans do that irritates me and sometimes drives me plain crazy is assuming that "European", "French", and "Italian" (other European countries usually don't count) equal fancy and complicated. That is so not true. The trick of good cooking (or, as in this case, good assembling) is using high quality stuff and being able to make three ordinary things taste wonderful together. Simplicity.

Same goes for the Los Gatos Diner milkshakes, actually.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


According to the weather people it was 106F/41C here today.

getting worse



100F/38C in the backyard.


So it's hot, and when it's hot you go to the movies.

There is a lot of crap out.

Hancook has mostly gotten bad reviews, but it's not all that bad. It's pretty funny, actually. The reviewers all say there is an unnecessary plot twist towards the end, but I don't agree. I am not going to give it away, but the feminist in me got a little up in arms there for a moment reading the reviews.

Friday, July 04, 2008

happy 4th of july everybody

I am reading Working Towards Whiteness. How America's Immigrants Became White by David R. Roediger, and I came upon this gem regarding the term English-speaking races, used in the early 20th century:

[...] the term "English-speaking races" - so at odds with presumed connections of race and biology - recurred again and again. Theodore Roosevelt, social reformers, steel mill workers, immigration officials, and sociologists regularly used it. Warne's jeremiad against the "invasion" of new immigrants denominated the "foreign-born from [northern and western European] countries supplying the earlier immigration as English-speaking" and the arriving "Slavs and Italians" as not "English-speaking." In fact, as Isaac Hourwich showed at the time, data from the Dillingham Commission suggested that, controlling for length of U.S. residence, immigrants from Poland may have been more "English-speaking" than those from Germany. Warne was thus right to admit a certain absence of "scientific precision" in terming the Germans, French, Dutch, Swiss, Norwegian, and Swedish as "English-speaking", but the idea that a language change could announce a racial transformation spoke profoundly to the biosocial definitions of race. Peter Robert's revealing teacher's manual, English for Coming Americans (1912), counseled an alternative strategy for teaching Scandinavians, Germans, and Finns as against the "wholly different problem" of laborers from southern Italy, Slavs, Hindus, Chinese, or Japanese. Those born in "favored nations" should not, he warned, be mixed with new immigrants and Asians as both of the latter groups suffered from "a heritage of inefficiency and sloth... which will take more than a generation to slough off". (p 52-53)

It's all a matter of creatively defining "us" and "them". Let's define you as "English-speaking", because that means you are one of us, irregardless of whether you actually speak the language or not.

if you fight against human rights I guess that is what you get

Former Senator Jesse Helms died today. Someone I know, who is half Black, half Filippino, and gay, put on his Facebook status line:

Ding dong the witch is dead. Helms is dead. The witch is dead.