Friday, October 31, 2008

What indeed ....

"Everybody loves white women except white women. White women are the majority of the country and they've had the right to vote for almost a hundred years. And still they've never elected a white woman president. What are you bitches waitin' for?"

-Chris Rock


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Dignity is more important to the human spirit than wealth." - Jacqueline Novogratz

I am home visiting my parents. I've mentioned before that they grew up during the Korean War and every once in a while one of them will tell me a story from childhood. This time we were sitting at lunch and my dad told me this one:

His family was making a very long journey by foot. It was my dad, his brother and his parents. They had no food and they had no cash. They were far from home and far from friends and family. My dad, a small boy at the time, was so hungry that he couldn't walk any more. He sat down and refused to move. The whole family was so hungry and tired. They were a days walk away from their final destination and wondered whether they would make it. Perhaps this would be it.

A man on a bicycle rode by carrying a bag of rice. As he rode by the bag split open and rice started to leak out on to the road. My grandmother had a needle and thread and offered to sew up the hole. They helped the man scoop up the rice off the ground and put it back in the bag and he was off again.

As they sat there, my uncle noticed that there were still grains of rice on the ground and started to collected them. They collected the rice and he took it to a public fountain and washed it until it was white. My dad says that it was the most delicious meal that he has ever had. My grandmother thought it was the fates lending a help hand where most desperately needed.

I've dated a lot of guys who are poor or broke. There inevitably comes a point, usually during a fight, where they mock me for my soft middle class life of privilege. They tell me that I don't understand poverty. I don't understand the first thing about deprivation. They are right about this. That was not my experience. It was the experience of my dad. My parents and their families has done everything in their power to make sure that it would not be mine. Can you blame them?

It's Blog Action Day today. The theme for this year is Poverty.

I was not going to participate because as my ex's have said, what do I know about poverty? Added to that my energies and attention have not been focused in that direction and I couldn't really think what I would contribute to the day. But Blog Action Day people sent me a very effective reminder email that did more than remind me of the day, it also reminded me of some really amazing ways that people are fighting poverty right now.

Just imagine how the world would be doing if some of that global pool of money went here:



The Grameen Foundation

The Accumen Fund whose founder, Jacqueline Novogratz, gave this TED talk. She says, "Dignity is more important to the human spirit than wealth."

Hell, Charles Schwab Charitable is now getting into the act, using a portion of their Charitable gift accounts to guarantee microfinance loans.

Give someone a goat or a chicken:
Heifer International

If you want to kick it old school:


Habitat for Humanity

If you are concerned with Hunger:
Food Not Bombs

The Burrito Project

Feed Just One

Feed My Starving Children

Share Our Strength

City Harvest

If you want to sit on your butt:
Free Rice has some really interesting talks by really interesting people about interesting subjects. Among the subjects that have been discussed -

Paul Collier has a very interesting take on how to help the "Bottom Billion" on our planet.

Andrew Mwenda's TED talk about the effect of aid in Africa

Majora Carter, environmental justice activist in South Bronx

Hans Rosling has given
two amazing talks on statistics and the state of the world today.

Perhaps at some point in the very near future we will be done fighting poverty and will move on to illiteracy or discrimination or totalitarianism or rudeness or poor personal hygiene.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

From the AP newswire

Chicago's Cook County won't evict in foreclosures

"Dart [Cook County Sheriff] said that from now on, banks will have to present his office with a court affidavit that proves the home's occupant is either the owner or has been properly notified of the foreclosure proceedings.

Illinois law requires that renters be notified that their residence is in foreclosure and they will be evicted in 120 days, but Dart indicated that the law has been routinely ignored.

He talked about tenants who dutifully pay their rent, then leave one morning for work only to have authorities evict them and put their belongings on the curb while they are gone.

By the time they get home, "The meager possessions they have are gone," he said. "This is happening too often."

In many cases, he said, tenants aren't even aware that their homes have fallen into foreclosure."

"...there are more than 1 million U.S. homes in foreclosure — with about a third of that number occupied by someone other than the owner."

I may have to take back whatever smack I was perpetrating on Chicago. I am very impressed with this Sheriff. Thanks, Don Babwin!

Humans are friends. Not food.

The Emotron played a show in Brooklyn on Friday with Mose Giganticus and Belly Club. the show was at a place called Surrealestate in East Williamsburg.

I got there at 8pm but the show was not to start until 10pm. They were still building a stage and speakers for the big event. Time to kill.

Around the corner in the middle of what seems to be a warehouse district, there was a coffee shop/movie rental joint and tiny corner granola grocery.

Time to kill.

I chatted with CK. Time to kill.
I got some california roll at the grocery and inspected their granola organic wares. Time to kill.
I looked at all the titles at the coffee shop. Time to kill.
I got some hot chocolate. Time to kill.
I read a book in the stairwell. Time to kill.
I took a walk around the block in the dark.
I read on the street. Time to kill.
I went back and had some tea.

Time to kill.
Ah yes.

At last, they arrived in their short bus fueled with veggie oil, full of gear, a mattress, six sleeping bags, band boys, and god knows what else.

The show was like nothing I have seen at a ticketmaster venue these days. The Emotron bringing his technicolor electro-shock-strip-punk gospel, Belly Club a rap duo with a fella at the laptop and a lady rapper channeling the Beastie Boys through a veggie fueled, pro-bike, granola feminista point of view, and Mose Giganticus rocking the keytar heavy and hard. Exactly, what's been missing from my life.

I sat on the couch after and caught up with KK. The life of a starving artist is hard knock indeed. Full of hunger and hustle, shady characters. Gawd. CK reminds me that these are his choices. And to be fair, he looks good.

It was good to see him. I am glad that he is still alive and shiny, whole souled. Were I a praying women I would ask that the road be merciful enough to keep him that way. As it is, I know that he can do this for himself.

Two people had their bags stolen at the show that nights, a purse and a fanny pack. It was my first exposure to crime in New York.

One of them was CF, roller derby queen and also of Sonic Death Rabbit, whose phone is gone but fortunately her gameboy was left behind. The gameboy is her instrument of choice for music. She had tales of being trapped in New York, shady promoters in LA, doormen who run off with the money, and the cutest little bike I've seen.

I also met MG. He asked me about my life and what I want for my life. What my ideal and happiest version of my life would be. I have been asked this often and asked this of myself as well. But so far have no satisfactory answer. He asked me what I have done with my life so far. I told him, only to have him ask me if I was lying. Apparently, the true story of my life is improbable. I asked him to tell me a tall tale version of his life which he did with great ease after which I had to agree with him that my life up to now has indeed taken some curious turns.

From that point on he would request lies of me only to find that I am terrible at it. Despite the interrogations and accusations of the brilliant and the powerful, I am not as skilled at it as I once was. These things take practice.

I slept on the floor with them. Cuz, I am not very smart. Ach. Sleeping bag on a cold concrete floor, I have not missed you. My hip bones have certainly not missed you. And you probably contributed to the plague that has since settled on my lungs. I don't really have the constitution of one who tours hardcore like that.

I got up eventually and met the girls for boozy brunch the next day. From one world to another and then back to my current reality, whatever/wherever that happens to be.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

If you fall, say you'll fall for me, when autumn leaves are falling from the trees.

a. I saw Built to Spill. I only recently discovered them through various young men that I have been meeting. They were a bunch of regular looking guys who played wistful melodic music and could jam on and on forever. They only played one song that I actually knew but it was a good one and really, I didn't care. It was like sunshine radiating from the stage. It felt so good to be there and bask in the light. I felt pieces of myself temporarily fall into place. TBW, who went to the show with me, apparently didn't feel the same and left before me without saying good bye, not even a tap on the shoulder.

That was the last time I saw TBW, who has moved to SF and back into a life of research. He was my bitch and moan about work buddy. Probably best for the morale of both of us to be separated. I am hopeful that the move back to the bench and a change of scene will bring him greater happiness.

b. I found my NYC bar. The first bar that felt like home to me in the City. It was lost but now it's found. On off nights when I have nothing to do, that is where I intend to be.

c. After a summer together, the LYM asked to take a break. I think that I kinda know what that means but not really. It may mean that he needs some time to himself and then we will resume our particular acquaintance. It may mean that he is trying to also leave me without exactly saying good bye. Good bye is hard. I am not so good at it. I am not sure that anyone is, besides Phoebe Buffay-Hannigan (of Friends). We will see.

My abandonment issues are coming into play here. He asked for this right as I was leaving for a work trip. He asked for this six days before my 38th birthday. His timing is impeccable. Makes me think of that blues song: "Nobody love me, but my mother. And she might be jivin' too." Very young men are bad news. BAD NEWS!

d. I was in Chicago for work and got to hang with EH, see my parents, and many a blast from my scientific past. I felt very sheepish that I have not done a post-doc. It was good to see everyone, though.

e. I tried to OD on cable TV, leading to much sleep deprivation. The Sheryl Crow cover of "Here Comes the Sun" in "The Bee Movie" is gorgeous and the whole premise of "Open Water 2" is hilarious, and "Almost Famous" is even better than I remember it.

I used to only like the movie for the "Tiny Dancer" scene but now, there is so much more to love. Perhaps in part due to my tour nostalgia.


"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool."

"Now go do your best. 'Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.' Goethe said that. It's not too late for you to become a person of substance..."

I want to become a person of substance. I think that I kinda know what that means too, but not really.

And when Penny Lane turned to William Miller and twinkled her fingers saying "You are home." I felt so homesick. I cannot tell you.

f. People in the conference industry in downtown Chicago are damn good at their jobs. Damn good. They are may not be the nicest and you may be asked to pay for each and every calorie that they expend on your behalf. But they reach a level of excellence in execution that is a real delight. Totally worth the expenditure.

g. Which brings me to what I've been obsessing over off and on, the economy. What is selling short? Why would anyone do such a thing? And why is it a good thing? Who is too big to fail? Why has the price of oil been so high? What is a financial derivative? Why did Lehman Brothers tank? Why would AIG's financial status be of national concern? What is commercial paper? Is anyone making money right now?

I stumbled on this audio piece on "This American Life" titled: "The Giant Pool of Money." Which basically describes the story of subprime loans and the housing bubble. *Ach* Makes me mad and heartsick.

h. It seems that for many of the single women in the circle of my acquaintance that love is going awry. Lotta guys out there who apparently need a break. Poor babies. Is it the market?

Monday, October 06, 2008

the Summer of Bugs

I turned 38 last week. I have been trying to figure where the time has gone. That would be a pretty long post. So we could start with, where the heck did my summer go?

I met the LYM.
I visited Champing-Banana.
I went to Paris for work.
I went to PS1 over the summer.
I saw Michael Pollan give a talk.
I saw Sonic Youth for free.
I saw Yo La Tengo for free.
I saw "Powasquatsi" accompanied by the Philip Glass.
I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.
I took Summer Fridays. They were delicious.
I saw "Enter the Dragon" with Karsh Kale's soundtrack.
I got bit to hell by bugs. You have no idea. They were out to get me. I think I spent the better part of my economic stimulus check dealing with the itchiest bites I've ever had.
I went to two weddings back to back.
One in Brooklyn and one in Toronto. I was a minority at both.
I went to Toronto. My first visit to Canada since reaching the age of reason.
I worked a lot and very late.
I went to Boston for work.
I slept on an air mattress all summer.
I visited MomVee and her family for a day at the Shore.
I saw the Cloisters.

And then it got colder.

In years passed, I loved the Fall. Years and year of schooling cause me to usually associate it with a fresh start, new beginnings, new school supplies and lots of stuff to learn.

This year not so much. This year I wanted the Summer to keep on keeping on. Except for the bugs. I am glad that they are gone.