Monday, November 05, 2007

Fall Food


At this time of year, when the air gets a little cooler, the leaves change, and entryways are all accented with pumpkins, I love cooking seasonal dishes. Although the pumpkin puree used in this dish was not from the farmer's market, the carrots, celery, cilantro, onion, and garlic were!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Favorite Movie of 2007: "After the Wedding"

This movie is absolutely exquisite. It is a Danish movie with English subtitles. The cinematography is beautiful, specifically the angles of the characters (pay attention to where the camera focuses) as well as the fleeting images througout the film which signify a lot and offer foreshadowing. These second long frames are not pointless, take note of them.

The acting is excellent, each character is fully developed and you feel as though you understand each character more than in most movies. You will cry while watching this movie, but you will hopefully adore the richness of the film and the story. I have seen it twice and plan to continue to watch it again and again.

Rating: A+

Monday, September 24, 2007

Why You Shouldn't Go To Law School

Today's Wall Street Journal included an article entitled: "Hard Case: Job Market Wanes for U.S. Lawyers: Growth of Legal Sector Lags Broader Economy, Law Schools Proliferate."

As I embark on my third year in law school, I find this article particularly relevant, as feelings of regret, doubt, fear, and desperation are mounting despite the fact that it is only September. I have heard so many young college kids, or recent graduates, talk about how they'll go to law school as if it is the answer to their problems, the gateway to a pot of gold. Unfortunately, only a select few will find themselves surrounded in riches. But more to the point, life for many who do excel is not what most of us would call enjoyable. Those who do excel will log countless hours getting to, and staying at, the top, and likely do not have a great deal of time for relationships or a social life.

Surfing the web, I also found this very good reason not to attend law school:

Reason 13. Bad Eyes, Bad Backs, General Sickliness
During your three years of pre-Esquire servitude, you are almost guaranteed to develop one or all of the following physical deformities: bad eyes, a bad back and general sickliness.
General Sickliness: Nowhere breathes a weaker-constitutioned, more out of shape, more pallid group than in a law school classroom. Most within their walls suffer from nonspecific symptoms of exhaustion, mild nausea and poor circulation. When consulted, doctors normally shrug and smile maliciously--having felt even worse throughout med school. Sufferers--and that includes almost all law students, with the possible exceptions of The Drudge, The Compulsive Talker and The Ass Kisser--want to go to bed and pull the covers over their heads for three years. Of those who do, 100% have reportedly been cured. The great suffering majority, however, swig from bottles of Maalox and plug along, saving their bile for that savorous day when they file their first medical malpractice action. . .
From Don't be a Fool--Stay Out of School; 29 Reasons Not to Go to Law School by Ralph Warner, Toni Ihara & Barbara Kate Repa.

This I can particularly relate to. Since entering law school I have developed a bursitis in my left hip joint as well as snapping hip syndrome (due to too much sitting), as well as slight onset of drier, older looking skin around my eyes that I am constantly battling with my weapon of choice: Anti-wrinkle smoothing cream (likely meant for women over the age of 40). I of course, am not in as bad as shape as some others because I try my best to continue going to the gym, although at the moment I am not in shape and sorely in need of several hours on the elliptical followed by a long run. I hope to God that I can afford lypo when I get a job.

Advice: Pursue the other "dreams" you have and think through all other alternatives before going to law school. Unless of course you are destined for success at one of the Ivy's and you care little for having an active social life.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Insight before Flight

Over the past twent-six years I have flown numerous times, the majority of those times alone. The first time I flew toute seule, I was in middle school. It was the summer after my mother served my father with divorce papers, which occurred in May. I was sent to stay with my cousins in Northern California, 3000 miles away from home, so that I would be shielded from the chaos and also out of my parents already distressed hair. That summer offered me a great deal of relaxation and provided an escape from a home that often felt more like a war zone, where I was forced to take sides in a political war I opposed. The years that followed the divorce have a great deal to do with the pleasure I get from flying alone.

It wasn’t until I attended college that I began to fly alone more frequently, and it was at this time that I began to take interest in the feelings that seemed to surface while I wandered and waited in the airport. First and foremost, I felt incredibly independent flying alone, managing my baggage, finding the gate, waiting to board, and immersing myself in a book. I enjoyed the feeling of people’s eyes sizing me up, and especially the seldom occurrence where a man’s eyes would remain fixed on me for more than few seconds. I like the mystery of the airport, where no one knows a thing about me (other than the security staff and airline attendants) where I am from, where I am traveling, why I am traveling. No one knows what I am escaping or to what I am forced to return. Of course for a while, the former was college and the latter was home—a home that housed only miserable memories for me for a very long time.

Unlike cafes, or libraries, or park benches, the airport has often allowed me the most clarity of thought. Perhaps this is because for a time, the airport was one of few places where I could escape all pressures, all echoes of criticism and unmet expectations. Of course the gift of clarity often brought sadness, or feelings of emptiness. Regardless, it is the place where I have undoubtedly gained insight on the happenings and people in my life.

The past several years, I noticed that the clarity I felt during my college years had faded, and all but disappeared. That is, until this very trip from Alaska back to California, where I now reside. I have been gone for six weeks, the longest time I have been alone, in a sense, for four years. Although I am generally very happy with my life, I have found in these past six weeks that I am a creature dependant upon the ability to escape. This is another trait, or perhaps more accurately called a habit, that I have acquired from my father, who now lives overseas.

I decided to go to Alaska for a summer legal internship last November. It was a decision that I took very little time to digest, perhaps only a week in full, but one that I in no way regret. However, for several months I feared that I had made the wrong decision, that I was leaving behind my life and that perhaps when I returned it would no longer be intact. This year, our fifth year together, has been the most difficult one for my relationship. It was for that reason I feared that I was doing more than leaving for ten weeks, that it was possible I was abandoning a relationship I was tired of fixing.

Turning on my computer, waiting for the screen to load, I notice I am fidgeting in the same way that my father does. I rustle my middle and forefingers against my thumb. Last time I saw my father type, I remember him pausing, thinking of the next phrase to write, and in those moments where the wheels in his mind were turning fast, his fingers moved quickly as if to rub an invisible substance on his skin. I don’t know how we pick up these minor habits, habits with no purpose, habits which have never been pushed upon us. This fidgeting of my fathers hands, and now my own, seems to signify their frustration.

I think that one very valuable trait, which seems to be increasingly loosing its glory, is the ability to spend time alone for the sole purpose of seeking clarity of thought. In addition to granting perspective on the troubles and worries of life, spending significant time apart from loved ones also grants a rebirth of independence. I am not speaking of the sort of rebelious independence that you seek as an adolescent, but an independence which reminds you that you are more than the relationships you are in, the jobs you take, and the city where you live. Remembering the thoughts which propped up in one's mind before life got too busy to eat sitting down and learning how to enjoy nights alone--a sort of independence from all habits, all routines, and all roles.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

What Are You Eating ? Books About Food

Although I'm sure you remember the hoopla about Michael Pollen's Omnivore's Dilemma in 2006, if you have not yet picked it up to read, I seriously suggest that you do. If you are interested in finding out about American Industrial Agriculture, Industrial Organic, the reason that cows should not be fed corn, and the way to make your food selection not only a sustainable act, but a political act--then you must read this book.

Although I'm sure you remember the hoopla about Michael Pollen's Omnivore's Dilemma in 2006, if you have not yet picked it up to read, I seriously suggest that you do. If you are interested in finding out about American Industrial Agriculture, Industrial Organic, the reason that cows should not be fed corn, and the way to make your food selection not only a sustainable act, but a political act--then you must read this book.

Micheal Pollen has taken detailed information about the food we eat, how it is grown or raised, how it is processed, how it gets to our hungry mouths, and the mark that its production leaves on the environment.

I finally had the chance to read this exquisite book during the last month, and found it increasingly difficult to put down, even though I am living with almost 24 hours of daylight and numerous outdoor activities to take the place of reading.

Not only is the book brimming with fascinating and useful information, but Pollen discusses and quotes various other fantastic less well-known (at least to me) writers who have written on the subject of farming.

This book has re-inspired me, it has reminded me of the values I hold in food, in treating the earth, and in treating animals. I have started a list of the things I want to do, things I have only thought about for brief moments during the past several years. I am now calling myself to action, and have finally decided that yes, what I eat is more than carbs fat and protein, it is a political statement, it is my decision not only to nourish myself and to respect the earth, but to adamantly oppose industrial agriculture. Local is the only sustainable choice--everything else has costs. I am also hell-bent on getting rid of my affinity for soda.

Other books of interest, that I haven't yet read but are sitting on my shelf:

And . . .

And . . .

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Return

It takes a trip away
to regain those things
you lost in the comfort
of his daily presence.

Learning how to sleep
without him, has somehow
helped you to dream again
and cherish the memory of his warmth.

That sprint at the end of your run,
made you lose your breath
but helped find that feeling
you forgot existed.

It took a few walks,
long and quiet, to figure out
where you came from,
and where you want to go.

You will return to
his arms, but with
this freedom and with
this confidence.

Now you're ready--
ready to walk with him.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Fire in Anchorage, June 5, 2007

Today there was a 2 alarm fire in Anchorage that took over five hours to put out. I was watching the fire rage for several hours and got some great shots, which are below.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Missing Your Touch

I spend each day, passing people, holding doors, barely brushing against an arm, possibly shaking someone's hand. After four years, feeling the warmth of your hands, the strength of your arms wrapped around me, and the heat of your breath on my neck, I now pass each day with no human physical contact. As the days pass, I feel more and more like an infant, who has been coddled for the first 10 days of life, and then left in the middle of a desert.

I come home, to a silent house, wishing for noise, for someone's voice, to fill the empty air. I stay awake until I'm too tired to think, so I won't lie in bed and think of you. I forgot how difficult it is, to stay warm under the covers, without your body beside me. I pile on the blankets, but still shiver during the night. As it approachs the summer solstice, I count down the days until I can see you.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Thoughts from Anchorage, AK

The Last Time
When was the last time
you lied down in the grass
with your face to the sky
and your legs and arms spread apart,
while you felt your chest rise
and fall with each breath.

When was the last time
you sat quietly
by yourself, with no book to read
no bus to catch, no where to be,
except exactly where you sat.

When was the last time
you appreciated an imperfection
and ignored whatever was drawn
outside of the lines.

When was the last time
you stood naked
in front of the mirror
and felt happy
with what you saw.

Just a Thought
This evening, as I brushed my hair,
I thought--what if I just asked him
to stay the night,
to nestle beside me,
put his arm around my waist,
the way that you do.

To just sleep there,
with his knees touching
the back of mine.
Without speaking, he could
kiss my neck, and say "goodnight,"
all so I could pretend it was you
beside me, your fingertips,
resting on my waist,
and your lips.

Perhaps I could make believe
that you weren't 3500 miles away,
and instead lying here with me.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Military, Segregation, and Gender Stereotypes

Here is a recent (and awful) article about rape in the military, which ends up promoting the idea of segregating women from men in the military. I thought the article was sloppy and disrespectful.

I wrote a response to the article, which is below.


Dear Ms. Parker,

I was extremely troubled by your article, "Behind those tales of rape that wasn't rape."

I think that your attempt to blame the Pentagon for tension between male and female officers was a veil for your real message, which is to keep women out of the military, or to completely segregate them from men, because it is the women who cause all the problems.

You promoted the idea of segregation in the military, and then stated that among other things it would reduce the plague of divorces caused by fraternizing. Segregation of women from men in the military surely, if ever done, shouldn’t be due to the fact that men and women are cheating while away from home. In fact coupling these two ideas mocks women’s rights, women’s efforts to be put on equal grounds with men, and women’s struggles to be respected in the military.

Your final sentence shows the “true colors” of your article. You stated, “Finally, our commanders and fighting men could focus on the business of war rather than tending to gender skirmishes that distract commanders and steal time, resources and energy from the military's purpose.” Your specific mention of men, without mentioning women, again undermines our women in the military, our women who have been the victims of violence by men, those who do the best they can to stay out of other’s way, to fight, and to be held on equal terms.

I am assuming you come from a conservative background, one which teaches that women should remain at home, or perhaps pursue only certain jobs—perhaps journalism is one of them. There was a time when women were not seen to be intellectually equal to men in the field of journalism, yet you today take full advantage of your ability to compete alongside men in your field. Women’s entrance into the military is new and still under fire, but if you are going to raise arguments, at least raise argument with some merit.

You should take a moment to read some cases regarding women’s rights, segregation, and gender discrimination to understand what the valid arguments are, perhaps then you will be able to write a better story. Saying that segregation is “more rational” without backing it up with any facts or research is simply irresponsible and lazy. Here is one particular to women in the military: United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996).

As a woman, as a journalist, and as an educated individual, you should try to avoid complicated subjects (such as gender segregation) without reading cases and articles, so as to avoid making overbroad generalizations which reinforce the current gender stereotypes that women such as myself try to destroy.

Many people are outraged with your story, unfortunately not all of them have the energy to write you. I hope that you will be more sensitive, exacting, and thoughtful next time you choose to write on such a political topic.



Sunday, March 25, 2007

More Coal In Your Stocking!

Despite the fact that it is known that global warming is caused by CO2 emissions, despite the fact that our weather patterns have already begun to change, that glaciers are melting inches a day, despite all of this...there are over 100 coal plants soon to be built in the US. News Article: Let's call the coal thing off by Amanda Griscom Little, Mar. 12, 2007.

Coal supplies nearly half the electricity in the U.S. and is responsible for more greenhouse-gas emissions than any other electricity source. Is it too late to kick the habit? Climate scientists, key members of Congress, enviros and the progressive wing of the business world are plotting a coup d'état. Regime change isn't likely to come soon, but this resistance movement could significantly alter the way the pollution-spewing sovereign wields its power.

The ringleader of this uprising is James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world's top climate scientists. Last week he threw down the gauntlet: "There should be a moratorium on building any more coal-fired power plants," Hansen told the National Press Club.

Coal supplies nearly half the electricity in the United States and is responsible for more greenhouse-gas emissions than any other electricity source. The Department of Energy reported last month that 159 new coal-fired power plants are scheduled to be built in the United States in the coming decade, intended to generate enough juice for nearly 100 million homes.

"If you build a new coal plant, you're making a 60-year commitment -- that's how long these plants are generally in use," explains David Doniger, policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate center. "So we really need to avoid building a whole new generation of coal plants that use the old technology."

Finish the remainder of the article online.

Texas, in particular, is contributing to the rise in coal plants. Recently, on All Things Considered, on NPR, Wade Goodwyn described exactly what Texas' role has been and will be in the future.

Texas already has a sorry reputation for its dirty air. Houston vies with Los Angeles, trading back and forth the No. 1 spot on the list of cities most choked by smog. Now, Texas utility companies are proposing to build 17 new coal-burning power plants and one petroleum-coke power plant over the next four years. They have the support of the governor, but mayors in some of the state's largest cities are putting up a fight.

Gov. Rick Perry has issued an executive order fast-tracking state permits for the proposed plants. But a coalition of Texas mayors, newspaper editors and environmentalists are playing the tortoise in this Texas race, trying to stave off the coal plants by slowing the process down until more Democrats get elected in Washington, D.C.

"There's a national movement by the utility companies to build coal-burning plants," says Dallas Mayor Laura Miller. "And the reason is coal is plentiful, coal is cheap and, unfortunately, coal pollutes the air aggressively."

Continue reading more online.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another Form of Child Abuse-

This past week a mother in London was able to keep custody of her 8 year old, 218 pound, son. Hopefully she will take the court's orders seriously and help her son to eat a healthy diet and exercise.

In my opinion, parents who allow their children to eat whatever they want, whenever they want, are committing another form of child abuse. This poor boy's health will be impacted for his entire life by his weight if something isn't done about it. Even if he loses weight, it is unknown what the effects of his weight have already had on his internal organs.

The other day while riding on public transportation, I saw a family of four-mother, father, son, daughter. All of them were severely overweight. The mother and father were far over 200lbs, and the children, who seemed to be 8-10 years old, were each at least 130 pounds despite the fact that they were only around 4'6. I think that doctors should be more aggressive in telling parents of overweight children that they are to blame, that they need to toughen up, and that they (in my opinion) committing a form of passive child abuse. I know this sounds extreme, but if a person allows their child to become obese, is that not abuse? I believe it is Passive Abuse--the result of a parent unable to say no. If the child has a genetic disorder, that is a different matter, however the majority of children who are obese ARE NOT suffering from genetic disorders.

See the article below from the Canadian Press:

Overweight 8-year-old sets off child obesity debate in Britain

Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2007 | 5:35 PM ET
Canadian Press: THOMAS WAGNER

LONDON (AP) - A mother who feared she might lose custody of her obese eight-year-old son unless he lost weight was allowed to keep the boy after striking a deal Tuesday with social workers to safeguard his welfare.

The case has set off a debate over child obesity and raised questions about whether genetics, junk food or bad parenting is to blame. Connor McCreaddie, of Wallsend in northeastern England, weighs 218 pounds, four times the weight of a healthy child his age. Connor and his mother, Nicola McKeown, 35, both attended a child protection meeting Tuesday with North Tyneside Council officials.

Before it began, McKeown, a single mother of two, said she hoped she would not lose custody of her son.

Afterward, the Local Safeguarding Children Board issued a statement saying it "was able to confirm that its hope and ambition is to enable this child to remain with his family. In order to move this matter forward, we have made a formal agreement with the family to safeguard and promote the child's welfare."

The agency provided no details about what Connor or his mother would have to do to fight his obesity.

The hearing was held under the Children Act, which places a duty on the local authority to conduct an inquiry if it has "reasonable cause to suspect that a child . . . in their area is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm."

The boy's case attracted national attention after his mother allowed an ITV News crew to film his day-to-day life for a month.

When he was 2½, Connor was too heavy for his mother to pick him up, and at age five, he weighed more than 126 pounds, said The Journal, a regional newspaper. Now the boy, who is tall for his age at five feet, wears adult clothes, the newspaper said.

Sky TV showed footage of Connor's mother serving him meals of french fries, meat and buttered bread. "He'll hover around the kitchen for food. He'll continually go in the fridge," McKeown said of her son. "I just keep telling him to get out of the fridge, wait until meal times and stuff. But . . . he was born hungry. He has always been hungry."

"Bacon. Mmmm. . . . That's my favourite. Um . . . chicken , steak, sausage," the boy told the camera.

Obesity is essentially caused by eating more calories than you burn. Obese people are sometimes thought to have lower metabolic rates than normal, meaning they need less food to maintain their weight. Childhood obesity is of particular concern because it greatly increases the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, skeletal disorders and strokes. Certain cancers are also associated with obesity, and obese children have a higher chance of premature death.

Read the remainder of the article at CBC.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Raid in Greely, Colorado Will Leave Deep Scars

Once again our Administration has effectively sent a message that if you (1) look like an alien or (2) are an alien, you will be terrorized, disrespected and stripped of your civil rights.

What many may not know is that if you have entered the United States, even illegally, you have constitutional rights. Only those who have not yet entered and are seeking admission are denied Constitutional Rights. Even those seeking admission may not be detained for an unreasonable amount of time. Certainly the raids of several companies, Swift & Co was that raided in Greely, were far beyond reasonable.

ICE has become an agency aimed at terrorizing both documented US residents and undocumented aliens.

See the excerpt of "Lockdown in Greely" from THE NATION magazine's February 26th, 2007 issue.

Lockdown in Greeley

Greeley, Colorado
On the northern edge of this frozen-over city of 90,000 halfway between Denver and Cheyenne, Swift & Co.'s beef processing plant squats like a windowless concrete bunker alongside the snow-covered railroad tracks. The winter air hangs heavy with the stench of animal waste. And the three strings of barbed wire atop the chain-link fence that girdles the facility give the hulking complex all the appeal of some forsaken, remote prison. Nevertheless, the steam snaking high and gently from the plant's smokestacks has for several decades served as a beacon of hope and promise for thousands of immigrants, mostly Mexican, who have come north looking for a better life.


At least until December 12, the holiday celebrating the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe. What materialized in front of the Swift gates that morning was more like a vision of hell. Shortly after 7 am a half-dozen buses rolled up with a small fleet of government vans, which unloaded dozens of heavily armed federal agents backed by riot-clad local police. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents sealed off all entrances and exits and formed a perimeter around the factory. Then others barged inside and started rounding up the whole workforce.

Some of the frightened workers jumped into cattle pens; others hid behind machinery or in closets. Those who tried to run were wrestled to the ground. Sworn statements by some workers allege that the ICE agents used chemical sprays to subdue those who didn't understand the orders barked at them in English. The plant's entire workforce was herded into the cafeteria and separated into two groups: those who claimed to be US citizens or legal residents and those who didn't.

While the Greeley plant was being locked down, more than 1,000 ICE agents simultaneously raided five other Swift factories in Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, Utah and Minnesota. By the end of the day, nearly 1,300 immigrant workers had been taken into custody--about 265 of them from Greeley. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff boasted that the combined raids amounted to the largest workplace enforcement action in history. ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Myers would later claim that Operation Wagon Train, as the raids were dubbed, dealt a major blow in the "war against illegal immigration."

Now critics of the raids--workers, union reps, clergy, community leaders, policy analysts and lawyers--wonder what the high-profile sweep accomplished other than to traumatize a few hundred Latino families and to cost Swift an estimated $30 million in lost production. If anything, it starkly reveals, once again, a federal immigration policy completely detached from economic and social realities and a Bush White House incapable of moving ahead with much-promised reform. "What has changed because of all this?" rhetorically asks Francisco Granados, a Greeley businessman and volunteer providing relief services to the affected families. "Nothing. Nada. The whole system is set up to make you lie."

Read the remainder of the article online.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Federal Judge Tells the Dept. of Agriculture to Do Its Job!

The Center For Food Safety Press Release (portion of article)


February 14, 2007

Precedent-setting Decision May Block Planting, Sales of Monsanto Alfalfa

Washington, DC (February 14, 2007) - In a decision handed down yesterday, a Federal Court has ruled, for the first time ever, that the U.S. Department of Agriculture failed to abide by federal environmental laws when it approved a genetically engineered crop without conducting a full Environment Impact Statement (EIS).

In what will likely be a precedent-setting ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California decided in favor of farmers, consumers, and environmentalists who filed a suit calling the USDA's approval of genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa a threat to farmers livelihoods and a risk to the environment. Judge Breyer ordered that a full Environmental Impact Statement must be carried out on "Roundup Ready" alfalfa, the GE variety developed by Monsanto and Forage Genetics. The decision may prevent this seasons sales and planting of Monsantos GE alfalfa and future submissions of other GE crops for commercial deregulation.

Read the Remainder of the Article:

Read the District Court Opinion by Judge Breyer (brother of Supreme Court Justice Breyer):