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 smugmug.com. 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.

Monday, September 08, 2008

henry w. coe state park (I)

yellow little flower


and don't tell me I have no sense of humor

I'll be honest, what might happen in this election scares me. If Sarah Palin pulls John McCain to a win... that won't be fun.

But fun is exactly the word the Swedish press has been using. They think the campaign is fun and exciting now with the addition of new female blood.

Obviously an American election is international news. The US is a powerful nation. But when the election coverage gets reduced to ideas of what is exciting and not, and people forget that the candidate is strongly anti-abortion and a creationist... not so fun to me.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

last chemo

So yeah, I just completed 20 weeks of chemotherapy.

For several reasons I haven't talked about it much, but I was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer earlier this year. I had surgery, and then the chemo. And now it's over. Yesterday was my last day.

It hasn't been bad. (Knock on wood.) Before you start they tell you all about the different side effects. It's a long list. I've been lucky. I haven't had many. I am doing good.

I did loose my hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. But a scarf and make-up make that less obvious. The hair is coming back already, short and gray. I am thinking in a month I'll have styling options.

Cancer is a scary disease, but it also teaches you to focus, and to appreciate life. A woman I met today was talking about the horses she wants to raise when she is done with all her treatments. She had had eight horses before she got sick, but she said that cancer had made her poor. A single mom she had had to stop working, and sell the horses. And move to the city to be closer to the hospital.

Horses, not for me... But I find myself wanting to make things. Time to think.

“we’re not going to get into discussing her religion,” said the spokeswoman

The New York Times on Sarah Palin's religious views.

Also in the New York Times, here someone talking about women and politics. It's well worth reading:

"One of the worst poisons of the American political climate right now, the thing that time and again in recent years has led us to disaster, is the need people feel for leaders they can “relate” to."


"Why does this woman – who to some of us seems as fake as they can come, with her delicate infant son hauled out night after night under the klieg lights and her pregnant teenage daughter shamelessly instrumentalized for political purposes — deserve, to a unique extent among political women, to rank as so “real”?"

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"she didn't like the way I was pouring"

Someone is adjusting to new room mates:

I thought maybe I was just being oversensitive so I exercised my much worked on patience. Then today after she re-applied the trash bag in the trash can AND took my milk carton out of my hand because she didn't like the way I was pouring, I realized I'm not the crazy one.

local? news?

Headline on my local news right now: Meet the father of Sarah Palin's daughter's baby!

the teenager

Monday, September 01, 2008

me? right now?

Catching some rays.

in america, they talk

I was on the trail just now, and a family of four or five came bicycling up behind me. Every kid (ages 4-7, roughly), and then mom, practiced their best "On your left, please!" as they passed me and another woman walking ahead of me.

Last came dad on his bike, pulling one of those little wagons behind: "Good job, Jeremy! Thank you, ladies!".

I know a country where this entire episode would have taken place in complete silence.


Seems most of the TV folks have given up on the German in favor of a French-ish pronunciation: Gystavve.