Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mitral Valve Repair

Charlie Rose has had heart surgery. He was in Syria to interview the President Assad and started to have shortness of breath. His surgery happened in Paris where he is now recovering.

The show goes on without him. But of course it is not the same.

People of Paris, I know you are caught up in your current labor and student protest but please, please, please take care of our Charlie, Paris. We cannot lose him. Not yet.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

and for today

I am pro-choice. It is not for me to make that decision for a woman. It is not for the government or the church or her neighbor to do so either.

After the legislation banning abortion passed in the South Dakota legislature, the Daily Granola community referred me to a blog post detailing what would be required to open an underground abortion clinic. This post has generated over 800 comments expressing all kinds of viewpoints on the question of abortion. The Author's a tough cookie. Posting this information and being staunchly pro-choice has put her on the receiving end of hatefulness and death threats from people who claim to value life.

That post and the ones that follow are a very interesting dialogue. The folks that thought women who were raped should not have the option of abortion were a shock. The commentor who thought that women who had consensual sex and then chose to have an abortion were guilty of murder and should be sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty was also a shock. And some folks just really hate the idea of women haveing sex for pleasure or intimacy. They insist that women don't matter, breeding matters. I wonder if the same people are against the sale and use of Viagra or eager to criminalize condom use.

Her March blogging has been pretty lively.

For other arguments on the topics of choice and sex ed I can refer you to the Angry Black Bitch.

Makes me think we are being pushed back from the long way we came, Baby. *sigh*

Seems like time for people to start pushing back. So I signed up to participate in the "Lobby for Women's Health 2006: Responsibility = Prevention." I got up at 6am, put on a black suit and my grown girl shoes, threw a bag lunch together, and got on a bus for Jeff City.

Two buses were filled up with people from the Lou, "ooh aaah, St. Charles," and Chesterfield. There were more people than seats. Some folks ended up carpooling instead. There were buses from Rolla, Columbia, Springfield, Kirksville, and Kansas City. There were more folks than fit in the rotunda for the opening ceremony. We were recognized during the Senate Session. We all stood up and were acknowledged.

And then we lobbied about two bills. I will leave it to you to guess on which side:

HB1520/SB943The Prevention First Act
- Ensures school district accountability to current sex ed law to provide age appropriate medically accurate sex ed that includes information about contracepttion.
- Ensure that victims of sexual assault who present at an emergency room are provided with info about Plan B, emergency contraception.
- Prohibits government interference in a woman's access to contraception.
- Directs funding for a program that serves low-income women with well-woman services.
- Requires pharmacies to ensure all legal prescriptions for birth control and emergency birth control are filled in a timely manner without hardship to the patient.

(There are stories in MO of pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for Plan B and then refuse to give the prescription back to the customer. Women have had to request the assistance of police officers to retrieve their prescriptions. And all this because pharmacists are ill-informed and refuse to read the FDA studies. Plan B is a high dose of birth control not RU-486. It does not work on fertilized eggs. It does not abort. It invites the unfertilized egg to take an exit stage below.)

HB1075/SB776 Sex MIS-Education
- Eliminates the requirement that sex education in Missouri's public and charter schools include medically and factually accurate information about contraception. Instead, it would refer teens to their "previously designated family practitioner."
- Bans trained sex educators and unbiased information from public schools if the individual or publication is affiliated with a "provider of abortion services."

Sex ed with no information about contraception. Seriously?

Them was the issues. We weren't asking for state funding for abortions or over the counter access to RU-486 or laws stating that Missouri recognizes that a woman has a right to control her own body or that the citizens of Missouri have a right to privacy. Just medically accurate sex ed and unfettered access to prescription birth control.

We walked the state capitol from top to ground. I shook hands with a state representative in a targeting lobby team. I shook hands with my state senator and my state representative. My state representative has an anti-choice voting record. Which had me wondering what I should say. Surprisingly, my visit coincided with four women who are Republicans for Choice. They had copies of the bills in question and highlighted language that was of concern to them. They had been in ongoing email contact with the representative for quite a while. They were organized, dedicated, and determined. They were also impeccably turned out in their designer clothes. It was a spirited but civil back and forth.

I don't know if anyone was swayed in one direction or another. The gentleman representative from my district said something to the effect that essentially everyone wants the same things we just can't agree on how these things are accomplished. I would love to think that this is true. But I'm not so sure.

Unlike South Dakota, Missouri prefers indirect attacks on reproductive rights. Bills that bar funding for anyone who dares mention abortion or is in any way affiliated with a group that mentions abortion. Bills that bar funding for family planning that bar funding for contraception. Bills allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth control. Bills allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense Plan B (which is contraception!) protecting them from civil or criminal prosecution and from censure or loss of license. Bills that affect women. Bills that affect low income women.

A woman on the bus told me that she remembers a time when Planned Parenthood was putting women on airplanes flying to New York to get abortions. A man told me that his two daughters grew up after Roe and they can't understand what it was like before Roe. I can't understand it either. I don't want to experience what life was like before Roe. I really don't.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Dance of Love

I love the Japanese movie "Shall We Dance." I get incredibly choked up over it. I just think about the scene *sniff* with the daughter *sniff* *grabs tissue* ...

With this in mind I had some reservations about the U.S. version of this movie. It's not as good. Still there's something about a dance movie. Especially a ballroom dance movie -

J. Lo:
"The rumba is a vertical expression of a horizontal wish. You have to hold her like the skin on her thigh is your reason for living. Let her go like your heart's being ripped from your chest. Pull her back like you're gonna have your way with her - right here on the dance floor. And then finish like sh'e ruined you for life."

Not J. Lo to a stunned Richard Gere:
"See, why can't you just do it like that?"

*fans self, blushing*

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The house of the future

In high school RT and I were friends. Neither of us had our license. My Dad would drive me out to visit her or sometimes I took a two hour bus ride that required two transfers to go see her over the summer. We used to sing and walk from her house to various parts of town and see stuff, shop, hang out, and of course talk. Talk a lot.

She lived in this groovy metal house that reminded me of a toaster. Her neighborhood was full of them. And now I know a little bit more about her house. It was a Lustron.

I watched a documentary this weekend called "Lustron" The House America's Been Waiting For." It was the house of the future. The idea was to make a prefab house out of metal and delivery it to people who needed housing at low cost. Folks got pretty jazzed about the idea. 2700 of them were shipped out and installed. Large orders started to come in for them but by this time the company was out of cash and went bankrupt.

The documentary makers believe that Lustron was destroyed by politics and greed. That the trouble with Lustron is that its founder trusted the wrong people in Washington D.C. and got screwed in the end.

You can get a minitour of a Lustron house here
There are pictures on flickr.
You can vacation in a Lustron in Chautauqua, NY. It's superstylin' but it ain't cheap.

And apparently there some Lustrons for the taking in Quantico, VA that are available to people who can pay to have them dismantled and relocated. I cannot find a date on the website so I don't know if it's over yet.

There are people who love Lustrons. There was a Lustron preservation convention. And there is a registry of them. There is a locator. The locator along with other sites like document efforts to preserve Lustrons. Historical societies have dismantled and moved them to new locations. The locator also keeps track of ones that have been demolished. Because not everyone is a fan.

There's folks who just see an ugly metal house that occupies land with more value as scrap metal. They march on eager to tear them down to build a home that by our standards is gorgeous, now and wow. Eye of the beholder, friends, eye of the beholder.

I am, clearly, a bit obsessed with this house. I have been asking myself why. After all they come from that period after the war which led to a way of life in conflict with the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the environmental movement. I grew up aware of and indirectly exposed to "the counter culture."

So why exactly am I so enamored of this metal house? Firstly, I like the look of them. They are cute and they look so distinctive in amongst all the other kinds of housing out there right now. More than that, they represent an optimism that existed back after the war. Where science and technology were going to take us into a bigger, brighter more prosperous future. Where we would find new ways to doing things that would change everything for the better for everyone. It was such a beautiful vision full of confidence and naivete. They had no idea what they were doing. They thought that you could duck under a table to protect yourself from a nuclear blast.

The reality is darker and the future is much more complicated and emperiled. I envy that innocence and optimism and the sense that the sky was the limit.

Unlike the Bush administration and the legislature of Missouri I don't wish life was still like that. And even if I did, you can never really go back. You can slam the lid back down on Pandora's box but there's nothing left inside.

There were reasons for the country to move away from that life. The solutions to our current challenges lie ahead of us. But y'know, I wouldn't mind working them out while living in "The House America's Been Waiting For."

All I got was this lousy t-shirt

There were any number of stalls at all tourist attractions that sold various trinkets.


This is a street near Wang Fu Jing (I think). Wall to wall stuff. Minature terracotta soldiers, chop sticks, handbags, fans, all kinds of stuff. Among them was a stand that would carve you a seal with your name in Chinese characters. It is your signature. A stamp carved with your name that you imprint onto paper with red ink. They have a thick book full of Chinese versions of western names. It is not clear whether names are translated by meaning or by sound. But the vendor will promise you that they can take care of you.

I had decided to get one for My Guy. Thinking about it I wanted to say something genuinely significant to him about him. So I toyed with various ideas and decided on something, looked it up in the English to Chinese dictionary and wrote it out as carefully as I could.

Ignoring the book of names, I copied it out for the lady at the stall and as I did so she gave me a funny look. The vendor to her left came over to see what it was that I had copied down and grinned. She said that it would take about 10 minutes to carve these characters in reverse into the seal that I picked out.

We came back she demonstrated the seal for me:

signature seal

I think it is pronounced: Wu Giyu Peng Yu - Tortoise Friend (I hope that's what it says)

The neighboring vendor asked CE while pointing to me, "Is that her name?" He was mildly flabbergasted that someone would name their child so outlandishly. She, trying to think of how to explain in Mandarin said, "No, her boyfriend -"

"That's her boyfriend's name?" he exclaimed, still flabbergasted.

She was trying to remember the word "like." She didn't want to say "her boyfriend loves tortoises." Because as they said in "The Truth about Cats and Dogs" it's okay to love your pets but not to love your pets. And then she remembered and she said,"Her boyfriend likes tortoises."

Which he does. He is a keeper of rare species of tortoise. They are not endangered yet but their current status is: threatened.

The vendor nodded and tried to sell me a big turtle paperweight carved in jade. "I no cheat you," he said grinning.

I let out a big laugh over that. Most everywhere we went bargaining was a required part of purchasing and CE was frustrated by how difficult it was to bargain effectively next to my longingly acquisitive face gazing at the item in question. Apparently, I was getting cheated left and right everywhere we went despite her best efforts.

The whole flabbergastedness made more sense on further reflection. It was as if I had ordered a thousand business cards with no contact info that read simply "Laughs Loud" or "Chocolate fiend." The guy behind the counter at shop might raise an eyebrow and ask if there was some mistake. When assured of the correctness he would shake his head and mumble something about silly tourists who don't understand.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

75 band seek and find

Got this from Todd who was a myspace friend. Drummer, weight-lifter, and very funny blogger. Sadly, has left myspace for reasons he did not divulge.

There are 75 bands represented in this photo:

There were 75 bands but access to the picture is now restricted. I ganked it. Which was bad of me. Apologies to the artist and to the person who's bandwidth may have suffered.

If you missed it, sorry. It was pretty frickin' cool.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Literality vs. Reality

So there's this punk band with a punkish sort of name. And they made a sticker which a kid at Ohio University bought and put on his bike. A cop read the sticker and had a shit fit. The Columbus police were moblized to clear and secure the area and rip that bike open.


The punk band is called "This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb."

They have this hillbilly punk thing going. Makes you want to promenade, do-si-do, and then kick your partner in the butt.

Innocent bicycle torn to shreds

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Chinese have a saying for everything

Over drinks in Beijing CE informs her friend G that I have a boyfriend who is younger than I am. She asks how much younger and I say 9 years. She laughs approvingly and points to me exclaiming to everyone at the table that the Chinese expression for this is: "Old Cow, New Grass."

First position

My parents put me in dance classes when I was little. I donned the black leotard and the pink tights and went to classes twice a week during the school year and then four days a week over the blistering summer.

I was a slouchy kid who liked to dance. I slouched in general but more so when I didn't feel safe. It made me feel closer to the ground, more solid, more invisible with my neck pressed out and low like a turtle. My mother made fun of me puzzled whenever I did this.

One day while in ballet class doing exercises at the bar the instructor, DD walked up to me. She tilted my chin up and pushed my shoulders back, straightening my spine. "There. You are a queen," she said.

In that moment, the world looked totally different and I felt different in it.

My parents told me later how pleased they were at how ballet lessons improved my posture. And they loved the fancy bow I was taught at the end of class.

I disliked DD when I was little because she was such a strict demanding teacher. Looking back there is so much more.

Socially, she was a different creature entirely: marvelous, glamorous, and pretentious, speaking in theatrical tones while making grand gestures calling everyone darling. My father thought she was flakey to the max. My mother considered her a good friend.

She lived in a house by the lake with several interior greek columns, a gas fireplace and a cat named Zephyr. She was one of the few women at that time I knew who was divorced. She had three grown children. She was one of the few women I knew at that time who had had plastic surgery. She looked younger everytime I saw her over the years.

She ran the studio and made a very decent living at it. Every year she put together a dance recital at the local university's big auditorium. We giggled in our costumes backstage watching the older girls dance in toe shoes before it was our turn to take the stage.

She insisted that the local police deputize her so she could carry a gun in her handbag. Her reasoning for doing this was that her studio was on the outskirts of town surrounded by open fields and gravel pits. She carried a weapon to protect her classes of little girls. No one was going to hurt them on her watch. A queen protects her people.

Years at desks and lab benches have adversely affected my posture. When I straighten up I cannot help but hear DD say to me "You are a queen."

Which is laughable, really. I am far from regal. I rule over nothing but a laptop and mountains of dirty laundry. But sometimes I wonder if DD was trying to convey something besides good posture.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I've had a bit of a life block lately. It's like writer's block only more broadly blocking. My mind is everywhere at once. I spin around and around chasing my tail and then sink into bed, exhausted.

The irony of this is that in the last several weeks I started doing Hatha yoga. I go to classes in which I try to breathe like the ocean while striving to get into one pose or another. It's great. I really like it. My mind turns to breathing, balance, alignment, the tightness in my right shoulder, the stretch in my hamstring. Everything else clears away.

The instructors say beautiful things. There is a pose called Tree pose in which you balance on one foot with your other foot pressed against the standing leg with your hands pressed together in front of your chest. Last week P said, "Don't feel bad about wobbling while you stand. This is Tree pose and trees sway in the wind."

Besides the poetry, the instructors keep you honest. They put everyone in a pose and talk to you while walking around the room inspecting everyone. Pushing here or lifting there so that you REALLY feel it. I sweat and shake trying to actualize the images they encourage me to visualize. Muscles wrapping around bone, drawing up thighs, pushing down the tailbone, opening up the ribcage, energy shooting out from my fingers and feet like a star.

When you buy a new yoga mat you have to break it in with much washing to get the factory finish off of it. Until that happens, it's pretty slippy. Added to that I break into a sweat with the slightest movement or when holding a difficult pose. Most noticeably, the hands and feet. So while I am trying to break in my newly purchased yoga mat I lift up into downward facing dog feeling my hands slide forward and my feet slide backward in a mild panic that I will end up belly flopping onto the floor.

I finally understand the body hugging yoga clothes too. It keeps you from flashing body parts at the class while doing inversions. And allows the instructor to see what you are actually doing.

My parents call this my souvenir from Beijing. CE is a total yoga nut. It is her workout of choice and she also finds it centering. And on her recommendataion I thought I'd try it too. It quiets my mind. Although afterwards the thoughts go Brownian. Maybe I'm not doing it right.

Beyond (or aside from) crazy poses, yoga is for many, a spiritual journey. I wonder to where? and to what?

There are other paths of yoga as well that take you on this journey by a different path and while they are classically practiced one way I like to think that I know people who are right now practicing them in their own way.

Bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion. Devotion of the lover to the Divine as beloved. Which we practice in acts of devotion to our partners or our children or our friends or our family.

Jnana yoga, the yoga of wisdom. Which my Dad practices with his books and study trying to see the world in a way that others don't.

Karma yoga, the yoga of selfless action. My Guy practices this form of yoga several hours a day.

Raja yoga, the "royal" yoga. The yoga that reveals the king within each of us. Some of us have certainly found it in ourselves and have only to look to see it in others.

Mantra yoga, the yoga of sound. We tend to use mantras of negation: "oh shit, oh shit." But we could use positive ones too.

My saying all of this probably reflects how little I understand about yoga. But that's okay. I just got started.

Some instructors start the class by having you each choose an intention. You devote your yoga practice that day to this intention and at the end of the practice you seal that intention to take it with you for the rest of the day.

R at Yoga Yard would at the end of class share with us an intention to have words, thoughts, and acts that are clear and compassionate. I think I will take that as the intention I dedicate my practice to this and next week.


Home Cooking

My Mom doesn't cook Korean food. She doesn't cook American food (whatever that might be.). She is not tied to any genre. She just cooks. It's a fusion of what she's made before, recipes she runs across, recipes her friends give her, and the memory of food once eaten. Whatever her process is, when it comes to the table it's great.

People might laugh at having a sliced apple and muenster cheese sandwich or shredded lettuce on top of a crazy broth soup. But I assure that each is not to be missed.

Tonight she made sweet bean puffs.

Take refrigerated crescent roll dough and a package of sweet red bean paste.
Unroll the dough.
Place a spoon full of bean paste on each triangle.
Wrap the dough into a pocket
Press the seams shut.

Bake at recommended temperature for 11-13 minutes.

Oh my god. Maybe you're not a sweet red bean fan. In which case, don't bother. But if you are. Oh my god.
I'm sure that it could be made with from scratch pastry dough for those of you who are hardcore/oldschool.

I don't know where she comes up with this stuff. So simple and so totally yum.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Octavia Butler

I heard from Spacethyme today that Octavia Butler died at the age of 58.

Octavia Butler wrote these deep strange really incredible books. Books that did what great science fiction (what great writing) does - ask the really hard questions about the human condition.

Ms. Butler, rest in peace.