Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Photos

Please visit Angles and Light to see some of the new photos I have uploaded. Here is one of the new ones.

"Gray Petals"

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bay Area Belly

If you love cooking and food in general, please to visit my blog Bay Area Belly (http://www.bayareabelly.blogspot.com) for recipe ideas, restaurant reviews, market reviews and more!

Recent Posts:

Rock Shrimp Risotto
The Hint to a Perfect Omelette
Pumpkin Apple Muffins
Cream of Carrot Soup

Perfect Holiday Presents

Are you already stressing out about the holidays and unsure how you are going to get through another year buying presents for family you see often and family you hardly see?

Well here are some ideas!
First: For the Person that Loves to Cook!
Round up any empty and clean Mason jars you have around the house. If you don't have any you can buy them at craft stores such as Micheals. Then collect any old ribbon you have lying around, or if you knit/crochet any left over colorful yarns.
Look up some recipes, for example a chutney recipe or jam. In this month's edition of Cooking Light, there was a delicious recipe for Cherry, Cranberry, Walnut Chutney. We were making some for Thanksgiving anyway, so I used some extra to give as a gift to our landlord. Below you can see I used a small, old, honey jar and some leftover yarn. I then cut out a rectangle from a paper bag from the grocery store, folded it, punched a hole in the top left corner, and wrote a little message inside.

Second: For the Person that Loves Food, But Doesn't Have Time to Cook!

I personally live in an area with lots of great food stores and farmer's markets with local foods (gourmet and non-gourmet). When I was shopping today at our favorite store, an independantly run health food store, I noticed that there are tons and tons of gourmet items like tapenade, chutney, barbeque sauces and marinades as well as many other "local" items that my family (back east) would never be able to find. You can also grab holiday items like cookies, gourmet hot chocolate mix, or teas. If you have extra baskets at home, round those up. Otherwise hit up a craft store and buy some small, inexpensive, wooden baskets. Place three to four items in a basket et VOILA! Decorate with yarn or ribbon.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Movie Review: "In America"

Tonight I finally watched the movie "In America." As the director writer said "It is about letting pain go."

So much of life seems to be about letting pain go and letting new life in, and this film presents that common thread we all share in a very sweet, funny, and realistically sad story.

A family of four (a couple and two young girls Ariel and Christine) moves to America from Ireland so that the father may follow his dream to become an actor. But the family has recently lost their only son and the pain still lingers within each of them. The family faces new challenges as they try to acclimate in one of Manhattan's not so forgiving neighborhoods. In their apartment complex lives another young man, Matheo, who is afflicted with his own burdens, which are revealed in the movie. The young girls form a bond with Matheo that ends up helping the whole family.

The actors in this film are all excellent. The story is true, and without even knowing that you can feel the story's reality. I recommend "In America" to those seeking a thought provoking film. It deserves your complete attention, so please immerse yourself in it without distractions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Separate But Equal, Is Another Phrase for Unequal

Yesterday in one of my law classes, we were asked to debate the issue of gay rights to marry. The idea to debate this issue was, already, an invitation for disaster. I attend law school in the Bay Area, so as you may imagine the views here about gay rights, for the majority, are for extending those rights. Our professor posed a question, during the debate, to the entire class. The question being, "Is the question of allowing marriage for homosexual relationships a question of civil rights?" Interestingly enough, the class was mostly silent, which I found shocking. So many people, liberal and conservative alike, squabble over the issue of gay rights to marriage and yet this question was given little in the way of comment. I, of course, had something to say. Something which I felt was neither hugely intelligent nor hugely original.

Yes, the right of gays to marry, as heterosexual couples do, is plainly a civil rights issue because marriage is a civil right. Some people perhaps believe that there is no comparison between civil rights issues, (for instance racial issues surrounding segregated schools, or the right to vote,) and gay rights. But how can one not see the glaring similarities.

What the Right to Marry Entails:

Taken from the decision in Baker v. State of Vermont, the court summarizes exactly what tangible benefits, rights, and protections are not given to people who are in homosexual relationships:
The court stated, "In denying [the plaintiffs] access to a civil marriage license, the law effectively excludes them from a broad array of legal benefits and protections incident to the marital relation, including access to a spouse's medical, life, and disability insurance, hospital visitation and other medical decisionmaking privileges, spousal support, intestate succession, homestead protections, and many other statutory protections." Baker v. State, 170 Vt. 194 (Vt. S.Ct. 1998.

The counter argument to giving gays the right to marry is founded on the idea that the State of Vermont has an 'interest in promoting the "link between procreation and child rearing." Baker, 170 Vt. 194. It is unbelievable that this was the argument, the way of masking the religious beliefs that people have concerning the nuclear family and how to maintain it.

Austin Cline, in his summary of gay rights and marriage, said the following:
"In debates over gay marriage, there is a lot of focus on the various legal rights which same-sex couples miss out on because of their inability to marry. If we take a closer look at those "rights," however, we find that they are primarily about helping couples care for each other. Individually, the rights help spouses support each other; taken together, they help society express the importance of being a spouse and the fact that marrying changes who you are and your status in the community."

Those rights are not just about helping or pushing a couple to care for one another, those rights are also about the "community" treating that union with respect and giving or upholding that couple's right to be treated as spouses when at the hospital, at their child's school, at church, at work, etc. So much of a union is economic and legal questions pertaining to marriage such as intestacy statues and other state and federal laws concerning spousal survivorship rights are much more important than some people may realize.

In addition, in tort actions for wrongful death. In most states, same-sex partners are unable to bring an action for wrongful death or loss of consortium for their partner. If they are not named in a will, they are even less likely to be compensated.

However, I think that Cline's mention of "community" is well founded. The ferocious attacks against same-sex couples marrying is based on notions of community and the relationship between marriage, family, and the health of the community as a whole. Some people view same-sex marriage as a disease, that may spread once a community is "infected." For those people whose religious beliefs tell them to scorn same-sex relationships, marriage is a large part of life, a life which is based on religious teachings that tell them same-sex relations are wrong.

State Constitutional Amendments:
"The 17 states that currently have constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a man and woman only are: Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah." Human Rights Campaign

Sadly, these constitutional amendments are not just barring same-sex marriages, they are often barring domestic partnership between even opposite-sex couples.
In Michigan and Ohio, domestic partners are denied benefits. "In March 2005, the state attorney general issued an opinion stating that local jurisdictions and governmental entities, such as school boards, are prohibited from offering domestic partner benefits to their employees." HRW

In addition, the amendments are raising questions about domestic violence laws pertaining to same-sex couples.

"The three states whose initiatives refer only to the granting of marriage licenses are Montana, Oregon (the one place where the vote was very close), and Mississippi. The states that used marriage as a cover to mount an assault on contractual relationships of all kinds were Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah." Boston.com News

Gender Issues:
If Same-sex couples cannot marry, who decides who is a man and who is a woman?
The question of barring gays from marrying also delves into other far more complicated notions of gender. For those people born beleving themselves to be women, though born men, who live their lives as women, they could not under our law marry a man because as we "biologically" define them, they are men.


"Gays Need Heterosexuals to Oppose Queer Crow' Laws"
"The Gay Marriage Deception"

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Review: Côté Sud

Côté Sud
4238 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94144

Last night I was treated to a wonderful dinner at Côté Sud, a French restaurant in the Castro (San Francisco). The restaurant is on the second floor of a cottage like building. The outside and inside are painted in canary yellow and periwinkle. After you ascend the awkwardly steep stairs, the entrance brings you into the front room, which is open and airy. There is a bar (more for show) and small tables with simple white tablecloths. The design of the restaurant is simple and not at all snooty. We sat in the front room, which is an enclosed porch. You have a nice view of the street below and a fresh outside air (although slightly chilly if you are wearing very little). Below is a view of the front room.

So, on to the food.
For my first course I had the Risotto de crevettes (Risotto with Rock Shrimp). It was delicious. I have not had better risotto in my life. It was served in a shallow bowl, the risotto sitting in a pool of sauce w/ a slight shrimp taste. I used my bread to soak of the remaining sauce after I finished eating the risotto.

For my entrée, I had the Thon Ahi sauté servis sur une purée de panet avec coulis de tomates basquaise (Pan seared Ahi tuna served with a puree of parsnips and a coulis of tomatoes basquaise). Again, the presentation was very elegant and simple. The portion of tuna was small, but just right. The purée was delicate and light, very good.

Finally, I ended with the poached pear soaked in Port with cinnamon. This dessert comes in another shallow bowl, with a deeper pool of dark purple reduced port, in the center a dark purple, skinned pear. Very artsy! It was a nice light dessert, and dairy free (for those that don’t consume milk).

My date/boyfriend got the assiette de charcuterie, bouillabaisse, and lemon meringue tarte for dessert. He was equally satisfied and recommends the bouillabaisse most highly.

This is an authentic, French restaurant. The waiters are French, and you can hear the cooks speaking French in the kitchen! My kind of place. Our waitress was very nice and treated us well (which is not always expected being a younger couple and sticking to the less expensive wines).

There are coupons on the website for a free glass of champagne, which we took advantage of.