Wednesday, December 27, 2006

happy holidays...

My friend Kirstin always finds the most hip Christmas cards. This one is from last year:

The theme of this card is somewhat appropriate for my holiday. I've been in Montana since last week and have enjoyed as much vino and Baily's as I've had in the previous 11 months.

I hope everyone has enjoyed their holidays so far and that you get to make the most of the remaining holidays!

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Today we took our first day off since arriving in Middleofnowhere. We went to Cleveland and it was a blast. We visited Sue at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Afterward, we got to have lunch at a middle eastern restaurant a few blocks away in downtown Cleveland and it was marvelous - hummus, falafels, gyros. Yum. (Most of Middleofnowhere is pretty much "white bread" - in every sense of the phrase.) Outside the eatery, S and I saw a city bus. I miss city buses and so does S. This nostalgia made me realize just how much I miss cities. I grew up in a "small town" (60,000) but I love big cities. I hope the fates smile fondly on my preference.

Then, we got to drive 10 miles across town to go to the Trader Joe's! (Yeah! Our cupboard is happy now too.) It took forever because Cleveland has traffic. Ok, I admit that I haven't missed the traffic but I loved the drive across town - all the discrete neighborhoods (I love to explore these places), and the specialty shops (ok, restaurants), the old buildings/houses and factories (this was textbook material - I wish I had my camera out), and all the people (I could live in Cleveland; diversity is comforting).

Now that we're back I can't decide if the great memory of our outing is due to the fact that we finally took some time completely away from work (at least I did), or the fact that I got to see R for more than two consecutive hours, or because I was in urban nirvana. Oh, well. I don't care. I'm happy with one or all.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

the verdict's in.

I had my first, first-hand experience with the US judicial system two days ago and I am still reeling from the experience.

I ended up there because I was contesting a ticket and it was everything you might imagine - prosecution, defense (me), judge, witness stand, procedure, procedure, and procedure. Given my lack of experience, I brought some unintentional comic relief to the court. I kept interrupting with my questions ("Will I get to testify?") and running roughshod over procedure (me:"Can I show [the witness] my picture?" Judge: "Only if it is entered into evidence first."). Everyone but the prosecutor was smirking. It was no fun; I didn't take it too seriously; I survived. And this is what I learned:
-the judge sees nothing before the trial (not even the traffic report - this can be good or bad)
-most of the people who appear in traffic court are unemployed, underemployed, and this is related to their frequent appearance in court
-the clerk of court despises you (unless you're found innocent)
-the court fees are punitive (again, unless you're found innocent)
-I'm innocent!

Frankly, I wasn't hopeful going into it (I relied only on circumstantial evidence and the only other witness was hostile - so I didn't call her to testify). I am still a little incredulous but there it is in black and white. (It is very fuzzy but I read that as a 'not guilty.')

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

future leaders

I, sadly, don't have the joy of grading papers and exams this term. I've been reading the Congressional Record and, I have to say there are some alarming similarities. Setting aside the poor grammar for a moment, there is a curious parallel between undergraduates and Congressmen in terms of warped thinking - as when they defend slavery as a benefit to capitalism or when they defend colonialism because it promoted American democracy. Take the following example:

Today I read the long, droning speech of Senator Samuel Shortridge (from Menlo Park, California) who, in 1930, lauded the US victory after the Spanish-American War. This was a great thing, he explained, because the US finally liberated Filipinos from Spain - after struggling and failing to liberate themselves for 300 years. He compared this "liberation" and "independence" in 1898 to the "great" American revolution of 1776. He celebrated Filipino revolutionaries and their supposed "independence" in the context of calling for the exclusion of Filipinos from immigration to the US. Of course, he glossed over the fact that the US still held the Philippines as a colony in 1930. This, after having suppressed the Filipino independence movement in 1898 and fought a war with them over the subsequent decade (killing millions of revolutionaries), enacting laws that favored American capital and global commerce which made thousands unemployed and prompting them to migrate to the US (where they found low-wage, exploitative work and encountered angry and violent white mobs). All of this was boiled down in his mind to: Filipinos = American revolutionaries = better off in Philippines (so, ship them back already). Truly, this boggles the mind.

My cynicism sees a direct line between college-student thinking and that of congressional representatives.

Saturday, December 9, 2006


The other day I heard a music reviw of Marisa Monte. Her music sounded so good that I just have to share. She sings a Brazilian "tropicalismo" style of music that is just fantastic. (She may not be new to anyone else, but she was to me.)

On the topic of good music I've heard reviewed on NPR, I should also mention Pink Martini - a Portland band with a distinct jazzy style. I guess they play a lot in Portland. I totally missed out when I was living within concert range.

(Can you tell where I get all of my information on the outside world?)

Thursday, December 7, 2006

for the dogs...

Dinner this evening (burritos) made me think of E.’s delicious post. I love cheese and I miss it.

I have discovered that midwesterners do not appreciate food as it is meant to be appreciated (with on exception) and this - horror of all horrors - includes cheese. Little Soph and I have tried the products they pass off as cheese around here - we even spent time at the deli counter sampling all the varieties labeled "cheddar." S. gave up after the first sample. (If fact, she has kind of given up altogether. Cheddar was a staple of her diet in Oregon; here, she shuttered, gagged and refused any more.) All of the samples I had tasted like one step up from American (granted, this is a very important step, but it was a tinsy, small one).

This experience at the deli counter reminded me of one of the important rules I learned while living in France; some foods are not actually meant for human consumption. My host-father, Albert told me that "Vache Qui Rit" cheese (Laughing-cow cheese?) was only for dogs. And he regularly fed it to his step-dog when he babysat her. Many of the deli cheeses we sampled in Middleofnowhere are also best for the delicate palate of our canine friends.

Next time you're cruising through the cheese aisle at the grocery store, say 'hi' to all my friends for me. I'll be back!!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

news bites

Today I was reading Delano, California’s Philippine-Bataan Herald (from 1945). The paper announced the dissolution of the Washington (State) Commonwealth Federation – an organization that I decided needs to be revived. The WCF began in the early 1930s and its goals were:
1. to help the hungry and unemployed;
2. to initiate and influence legislation “for the benefit of the common people;”
3. to coordinate with labor organizations and other progressive organizations;
4. to elect representatives sympathetic to labor and social legislation.

The WCF was, reportedly, one of the first to oppose:
-U.S. international trade with totalitarian states,
-the appeasement of totalitarian states (in for form of the 1938 Munich Pact)
-and, perhaps most importantly, the spread of fascism in the US.

Interestingly, the WCF dissolved because the members decided that their goals had been accomplished. How unfortunate. This organization’s time has come again.

Monday, December 4, 2006


The predicted snow finally arrived today. It is thin, powdery and falling steadily. This is supposed to continue for the next five days or so. This weather makes me feel sedate. It is so cold outside (today’s predicted high is 29) that when I finally warm up inside, I feel like I need hot chocolate and a movie (or a craft) not to hunker down over my computer.

Last Friday, S and I went to see the Nutcracker. She watched the whole 2 hours. When we got the last dance – the big finale – she said “this is mellow.” I agreed that the music was mellow and she added, “the dance is mellow too.” That inaugurated our weekend of mellow-ness. We unpacked decorations on Saturday, made popcorn and on Sunday went to a holiday concert. The weekend was capped off with S’s creation of this crown (her artistic genius was sparked by the bows and it came together from there).

I hope you’re all finding mellow moments now that classes are winding down or those paid vacations are approaching. Might I suggest the Nutcracker, holiday decorations, or making a crown to get things on the right track!