Thursday, August 26, 2010

nothing you have to say can be that important

One of Dan's sisters was hit from behind and pushed into oncoming traffic when driving home from work a while ago. No one was hurt, but someone coming from the opposite direction had to drive into a field to avoid a collision.

My office mate's husband was in a similar accident a couple of months ago. He was the passenger in a car waiting at a red light when they were hit hard from behind and pushed into the intersection. No one was seriously injured, but my friend was bruised and hurt when he was thrown first forward, and then back. He's a big guy. The car seat broke from the impact of his weight. They were lucky no other cars were traveling through the intersection at the time.

Neither of the drivers hitting my friends from behind had time to brake. They didn't even engage their brakes. Why? They were both busy texting.

Tonight when Dan and I were driving to San Jose we noticed an SUV swerving and straddling two lanes on the onramp to 280. As we passed the car I turned around to see what was going on.

The driver was a guy, around 60, and he was operating a smart phone with both of his hands, looking down at it.

He was steering with his knees. He was going 50 mph.

get low

Get Low, a movie with Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek, is really really good. Here is the trailer:

what an i can do, and an s

The HR department where I work puts on workshops. The fall schedule is just out and I glanced through it. Given the times that we're in, the title "How To Lead More Effectively With Less" shouldn't come as a surprise. But I read it as "How To Lead More Effectively With Lies".

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

the mlk library, san jose, calif.

downtown san jose, calif.

santa cruz mountains, calif.

ice cream-y

Freeze some bananas. Peel them first and cut into pieces.

When the bananas are frozen solid, get out the food processor. Throw in some pieces of banana - one banana per person is plenty. If you want you can add frozen berries, like blueberries or strawberries. 

Also add some vanilla, and sugar to taste. Maybe a splash of orange juice or lemon. 

Add a larger splash of milk, and pulse. Watch the consistency, and add more milk until everything is smooth and ice cream-like. 

Yesterday I made a version with banana, milk, lemon, brown sugar, vanilla, and Bailey's Irish Cream. Yum. It was for Dan but I had a taste.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


There are two things that are especially attractive to me in the American constitution and in American society: freedom of religion, and the absence of royalty, nobility, and hereditary titles. Freedom of religion is protected under the 1st amendment to the constitution, and when you become an American citizen you are stripped of any titles.

Sweden didn't have true freedom of religion until 1951, when Swedish citizens were allowed to leave the Swedish Church without being forced to join another church instead.

The Lutheran Swedish Church was a state church from the 16th century and until the year 2000. Up until 1996 you became a member not through baptism, but through birth.

Growing up I had Jewish friends who had had to wait until their 18th birthday to be able to leave the Lutheran state church.

The Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden got married earlier this year. I watched coverage of the ceremony and the dinner online. It was pretty, extravagant, and the couple was radiant. But after hours of commentary around who (of European royalty) was there, what they wore, and how they (in the European nobility) were all related, I had had enough. I started seeing not individuals, but an archaic system.

The Swedish monarch, now Victoria's dad, King Carl XVI Gustav, has no real power. He and his family act as bejeweled goodwill ambassadors at home and abroad. The cost for their upkeep is increasing every year. According to the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, for the year 2010 Swedish tax payers will chip in 17 million dollars. They have staff, palaces, and travel expenses. They have to be addressed formally. Women are to curtsey.

Of all the ways someone can earn your respect, being born into a position ranks real low for me.

cancer and estrogen

Since being treated for invasive breast cancer two years ago I've had to make some changes to my diet. The type of cancer that I had is sensitive to estrogen, so I should avoid any foods with high levels of plant estrogen. That means soy, most importantly, but also other beans, and grains.

The research around plant estrogen is not conclusive, though. It's actually contradictory. Plant estrogen can alleviate symptoms of menopause in healthy women, and some argue that it protects healthy women from breast cancer. But in my case it's the other way around.

In addition to the plant estrogen I'm avoiding food stuffs that are bad for you in general, or bad for cancer patients in particular. This is what I don't eat or drink:

red meat
garbanzo beans
flax seed
sweets, desserts
anything white (rice, white flour, sugar)

There are also a bunch of chemicals that act as estrogen in the body. Those include BPA, which is used in plastics and in the lining of cans, and parabens, which are preservatives that are used in skin lotions, shampoos, and other cosmetics.

I don't store food in plastic containers, and I don't eat or drink anything out of a can. The parabens, though, are harder to avoid. But I'm working on it.


The Swedish language actually has a word for Swedes living abroad: utlandssvenskar. The literal translation would be abroad-Swedes, or Swedes abroad. I've asked a few people, but I haven't been able to find another language, or culture, that makes the same distinction.

The connotations of 'Swedes living abroad' are not positive. The stereotype is negative: someone who retires early, moves to a warm and sunny climate, and from that vantage point proceeds to criticize the old homeland, while at the same time growing increasingly out of touch with what actually goes on there.

Obviously this is interesting to me because I am one of those Swedes living abroad, and I don't think the stereotype applies to me. I keep wondering why this category exists, what that reveals about Swedish culture. I haven't been able to come up with a good answer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

choices, choices

So I haven't shopped at Whole Foods for a year, sticking to the boycott initiated after the the CEO weighed in against President Obama's health care reform.

Now I am asked to boycott Target, because they have given $150 000 to a Minnesota politician who opposes gay marriage.

I'll do it, no problem. But where am I to get my stuff? I guess I'll just have to avoid news stories about Safeway and Trader Joe's.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010