Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Having just seen 'Milk' [Go see it! right away!], I'm keenly aware that just being out was (and still is) a challenge. The last thing we need is to add fuel to the fire of the people who actually *believe* these things. I am against discrimination of any kind, for any reason. Using religion -- which is supposed to be about accepting everyone, the Golden Rule and all that -- to further discrimination is in my mind the worst thing a leader can do.
Hmmm... Maybe the Austin Babtist Women should go and sing for the Pope? Or at the Obama Inauguration? Can we get them in to the Texas Ball? :D
Friday, December 19, 2008
Let's start with last Saturday's supper club. Every year we cook dinner for the Ronald McDonald house, on the same night that we have our December supper club event. This year, we decided to make a Mexican-themed meal for RMcD. I tried to make Mole' Brownies, from a recipe from Texas Monthly. They just didn't cook. I ended up with a rather tasty, spicy-cinnamony-chocolate mush. (Which tasted very good with vanilla ice cream... but wasn't what I was looking for.)
On to plan B. Purchase 2 boxes of brownie mix -- add cinnamon and ancho chile powder to one of them, to simulate Mole' -- and two disposable brownie pans. Much better results.
The challenge was that I was also making SK's homemade hostess cake, and Rachael Ray's chicken-feta meatballs for the supper club party on Saturday. The cake batter wasn't too hard, though there was a LOT of it -- it filled my 4qt bowl almost to the top! But I had to trade off time in the oven for the meatballs, too... the food smells wafting around my kitchen were very pleasant, though sometimes a bit incongruous. Cooked the brownies, cooked the meatballs, and then while the chocolate cake was in the oven, I ran off to the RMcD house to deliver the brownies, and then went home to finish getting ready. Whew! Turns out that much chocolate cake batter makes 24 mini-cupcakes, 12 full-sized cupcakes, AND an 8" cake. My counters were covered! (Here's a slightly fuzzy picture of the mini-cupcakes, filled and topped with marshmallow creme. They were yummy!)
We had so much tasty food at the holiday fest - I don't even think I can remember it all. Smoked gouda and veggie quesadillas... goat cheese with apples and walnuts... salmon mousse... cookies galore... Can you tell that I popped a LOT of lactaid pills that night? Oy.
Sunday night, Aubrey took us get some more religion -- and for a cause that's even closer to my heart - the Breast Cancer Research Center! The Austin Babtist women were there, along with some other drag performers from Dallas. We laughed and laughed... they were wonderful. And between the door donations, the silent auction, and people holding out their bills for the ladies to take, they raised over $4,700!
Here are the ladies doing some of their Christmas music... This was followed by "Walkin' Round in Women's Underwear" (to the tune of "Winter Wonderland", natch), in which they stripped down to their lovely lingerie -- and threw off their wigs! No photos of that - I was too busy laughing. They're amazing!
That was my weekend. (that and Giana's ballet recital, which was lovely!) The rest of the week has been a whirlwind of more cooking, holiday parties, going to the gym (yes, I'm behaving!) and even cramming in a little holiday shopping. I am now a big fan of the reserve-online-pickup-in-store option from Borders. Woohoo!
Tonight is the office holiday party, complete with white elephant gift exchange. That'll be fun... though my track record with these things is not the best. I've come home with an "It's a Wonderful Life" video (nice gift for the *only* Jew in the room), and a Longhorn spinning mobile thingy (don't know what you call them, they sell them at a kiosk at every mall)... maybe this year will be better. :)
Monday, December 08, 2008
After beating the Bruins in their home stadium (which is in fact the Rose Bowl) a respectable 28-7, and with Oregon beating Oregon State, USC was awarded the traditional Pac-10 berth at the Rose Bowl game on January 1. Four years running. It's not quite the national championship...
The sports writers are not terribly excited about this one, given how well USC did against Ohio State, but we'll see. I'm still hoping for a good game! (and I love the countdown clock on the Rose Bowl website!)
But the funniest news from the day had to be the ad that UCLA put in the LA Times, with Coach Neuheisel, with the headline 'The football monopoly in Los Angeles is officially over.'" Um. Not so much. The USC folks took that and made a t-shirt with the same text, except it says, "The football monopoly in Los Angeles is officially over THERE" (in cardinal and gold, of course). :)
You can get a similar shirt on eBay now, too.
Monday, December 01, 2008
I had wanted to go to the London Transport Museum to see the poster exhibit, but the museum entry wasn't cheap -- 10 pounds -- and it turned out that my friend Ben was on his way into London earlier in the day than I had expected. So we went to the shop and the cafe at the Transport Museum, and waited. I don't think I've seen Ben since the last Council HPC-AC meeting that I did, in April of '06. We had such a blast! He doesn't much like the tube, so we walked... and walked... and walked.
First, we headed for the Ye Olde Watling pub, over by St. Paul's Cathedral. (My picture wasn't quite as good.) We had pints and lunch, and chatted and watched the people go by. Then we ventured out into the cold again, and walked across Millennium bridge towards the Tate Modern. I got great pics of St. Paul's from many angles. Then we walked back across the Blackfriars bridge, and along the river towards Westminster. We walked along the Birdcage Walk to Buckingham Palace, and across the park to The Ritz. Unfortunately, we were underdressed and sans reservation, so they gave us the boot! We walked over to the Fountain restaurant at Fortnum & Mason, and had tea and scones there instead. (It turns out my parents had been at Fountain about an hour earlier!)
After our lovely tea service (I still don't get the appeal of clotted cream), we walked up to Old Bond street and looked at the shops (oooh, sparkly pretty things!), and went over to one of Ben's favorite tapas restaurants, El Pirata in Mayfair. I had taken him to Jaleo in DC a few years ago, so he thought he'd return the favor. I was stuffed from all the other food we had, but I tried their garlic aioli (YUM) on potatoes, tortilla, and mushrooms. And a glass of white Rioja. I couldn't eat anything else after that.
Ben walked me to the tube station at Green Park, and he was off back to Paddington to go home. All in all, we walked 6.27 miles today! No wonder I'm so tired! Here's the map of where we walked:
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I thought about sleeping late, but decided to get up and go to the British Museum with Mom and Bryan. I mean, I'm only in London once a year -- if I'm lucky -- and the last time I was here was 3 years ago. I could spare an hour or two of sleep for the British Museum! of course, it was cold and rainy and gross outside, but it was worth it to go back and see the sarcophagus of Cleopatra and the Mesopotamian sculptures and Egyptian hieroglyphics. I love that stuff. :) I also love the architecture of the internal courtyard of the museum, which they covered over with a skylight in 2000.
For lunch, we met dad and two of his British friends at the Texas Embassy Cantina. Yes, I went to a Texas-themed Mexican restaurant in London. The chips and salsa were good ... my aunt's cheese enchiladas were covered with Velveeta. (ugh.) The other food was good (not great), but I did have a Pacifico beer! And I bought a burnt-orange t-shirt with the restaurant logo, to wear when I get back.
After lunch, mom and Abbe and I headed over to the National Portrait Gallery to see the Annie Leibovitz exhibit. It's the companion exhibit with her new book, which includes both her well-known photos of celebrities for Vanity Fair, and personal photos of her children, her parents, her partner (Susan Sontag) and other life events. I heard an interview with her about the whole thing on NPR a few weeks ago, so I was excited to see the photos. The rest of the gallery was horrendously crowded, though, so we didn't stay too long.
At that point, we headed straight for the tube to come home. It was dark at 4pm, and cold, and raining! Bleh. The group couldn't make up their minds about dinner, so I chose the Greek place down the street. It was great! We brought home a bunch of leftovers. Dad tried to order spanakopita, but the waiter didn't understand him -- the guy was Italian! He only knew the name of the "spinach pie" in English. heehee :)
Tomorrow: Covent Garden market, the London Transport Museum, and souvenir shopping.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Starting with dinner last night: Indian food at Bengal Clipper near Betty's apartment. The food was tremendous, but the service was crap. (Betty did warn us that this was the case.) I hadn't seen Betty since she was in DC visiting, right before I moved to Texas. She hasn't changed! :) We took the tube to Tower Hill and walked across Tower Bridge. (Photos of this part of the evening did not come out well, because of my inability to hold 100% still when taking a photo at night. Oh well. You've all seen Tower Bridge before! Instead, I give you a photo of Big Ben that I took on the way back yesterday evening.) The food was very good, and we were part of a group of 13 -- Betty's oldest friend from high school and her husband were visiting from the DC area for Thanksgiving. Both of their sons live in London, too. And apparently the girlfriend of one of the sons went to Bryan's high school for a while, but was a year ahead of him. (did you follow that trail?)
So that was last night. We didn't get home til after 10. Bryan went out to dinner and a pub with some of his Aussie friends who are working here. He didn't come home til 3:30am... but I wasn't awake to hear it! I slept like a dead person.
Saturday is Portobello Road market day. Mom and Dad got up early and went to meet their friends around 9:30am... I didn't make it out of bed til 10:30. Bryan didn't even move a muscle. With a little effort, I made it up there by noon, and we battled the chill and the crowds looking for bargains for a few hours, and then found a nice Italian restaurant for lunch. Mediterraneo was crowded, the food was excellent, and it was staffed entirely by actual Italians (unlike most places in the States). I said "grazie" once and the waiter asked me (in Italian) if I spoke Italian. umm... no. At least I know my accent passes muster. Maybe I'll be able to pull it off when Dani and I go to Italy (someday). :)
We walked through the food stalls - they sell everything! - and bought some fruits and veggies. There was a paella stand with those giant traditional paella pans - three feet across! Amazing. Here's the guy setting up a third pan to make a new batch of paella.
Slightly off-topic... I've decided I want one of those giraffe handbags. Ok, so I'm six or eight months behind the times. Mom and I saw the giraffe bags at Dooney & Bourke in Vegas, but the real thing is very expensive. I saw one at Spitalfields market the other day, and didn't buy it, and now I can't find one anywhere! I hope they have them at Covent Garden on Monday.
The rest of the day was uneventful. We took the bus home from Notting Hill, and we haven't left the flat again. It got REALLY cold towards the end of the day -- like, "it's going to snow" cold. We cooked dinner at home - moussaka (they do a lot of pre-prepared foods here, it's great!) and vegetables, and Bryan made guacamole. Yes, it's a little random, but mom and I had bought avocados at the Portobello market (5 for 1 pound!) and dad went to the store and got us some salsa and chips. Well, not really salsa. He got us Old El Paso "fajita sauce" -- which has a "smoky" flavor. In other words, it has bbq sauce in it! ICK! We tried very hard to add only a small amount of the sauce to make the guacamole... it tasted kind of odd.
Tomorrow, we're doing museum(s) where we can be indoors and warm. Because this cold, rainy English weather is just awful!
Friday, November 28, 2008
Then Bryan made breakfast. Eggs and bacon (or sausage) and toast and tomatoes. The kid can actually cook! :)
We let the "grownups" go off on their own today, and Bry and I went to the Imperial War Museum to see the Ian Fleming/James Bond exhibit. It was REALLY well done. I hadn't realized how much Ian Fleming had used his personal experience in Naval Intelligence as influence on his Bond adventures. It was also interesting to see the gadgets and memorabilia from the movies, and how the films had differed from his original stories. (Many of the oddest villains were not written by Fleming at all -- like Jaws, Scaramanga, and Drax.) I bought some goodies and some Christmas presents at the shop! :)
The Imperial War Museum is a huge place, full of moving exhibits and interesting artifacts. Today, however, it was also full of kids on school trips. OMG! I have never seen so many people in there before! We did our best to go in the opposite direction from the student groups. We walked through the exhibit commemorating World War I. The opening wall of the gallery has pictures of the last 3 British WWI soldiers who were alive at the start of 2008. It was very moving. The exhibit also has personal effects, letters, and information about a wide range of personalities who were involved the war, including Harry Truman, Winston Churchill and Edith Cavell (and a lot of non-famous figures as well).
Then we walked through the D-day experience. Again, really interesting and sobering stuff. Bryan and I are both well-versed in WWII history, given the house we grew up in. ;) The D-Day exhibit explores the preparation, planning, and execution of Operation Overlord. There's an Enigma machine, maps, guns, photos, artwork... it was really neat.
At that point, we were just exhausted, and we hadn't eaten lunch. We took the tube back to Embankment and got out so we could go see Trafalgar and Big Ben. We stopped for a snack and took some pictures, and then got back on the tube at Westminster. Lovely, rush hour on the tube! Worse than rush hour in DC!
Tonight we're going to dinner with Betty over near the Tower Bridge. Indian food, yum!
(pictures later, time to leave for dinner)
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Today we started off with some quick antiquing at Spitalfields. (What, you thought this family could get through more than one day without a flea market?!) They've apparently updated the space recently, so there were fewer dealers, but a slew of new restaurants -- a Gourmet Burger Kitchen(gbk), Wagamama, La Tasca, Giraffe, and some others. We didn't find much in the antique stalls, but the artist stalls on the other side were full of gorgeous goodies - purses, jewelry, shirts, dresses... (no, I didn't buy anything)
We stopped for lunch at gbk -- a fancy version of Five Guys or Mighty Fine -- we just beat the lunchtime rush. Then we went looking for Bevis Marks, the oldest synagogue in London. After a minor challenge with the map, we found it, but we couldn't go inside. The "best kosher restaurant in London" is also there. After that, we walked over to the Guildhall Art Museum, to see an exhibit of GF Watts paintings.
In the search for the synagogue, we also managed to walk right under the "Gherkin" -- (I think I'd rather call it the Towering Innuendo). But trying to get one of us in the picture AND the whole building was a challenge.
<-- Bryan and the tower
By the time we were done with the art museum, we were all exhausted. It was supposed to be naptime, but that never happened. We came back and within an hour we had to leave for Gordon Ramsay's restaurant at Claridges.
I have to say, this was one of the best meals I've ever had. We had the three course menu (which also includes at least one amuse before each course...). The first amuse was a soup/puree of parsnips with mushrooms. My lobster and salmon ravioli was incredible. It was one very large round ravioli, with a lovely coconut sauce. We all ate too much of the bread/crackers with butter, and interesting spreads -- one with truffle and one with salmon. Then the main courses came. I had venison with cabbage and an interesting dark chocolate sauce. Dad had the lamb, but the lamb was rubbed with anchovy paste, and he doesn't much like fish. So that was almost a bust - but not entirely, because Bryan thought it was fabulous! He liked that better than my chocolate-sauced-venison, but then again, he doesn't *ever* mix sweet with savory flavors. Bryan and Abbe both had the pork belly, and they really enjoyed it. Mom had the sea bass, which was also tasty.
For dessert, Bryan and I split the Apple Tart Tartin. Oh. My. Gawd. It was fantastic. But wait, that was preceded by a little skinny glass of vanilla cheesecake with blackberries. That was excellent, but then the apple tart with vanilla ice cream beat all! (yes, I was popping lactaid all night, but it was SO worth it.) They also served us little post-dessert amuses: a toasted-almond-covered ball of vanilla ice cream, a square of candied passionfruit, and a dark chocolate truffle. We literally had to ask for little boxes to bring them home in, because we couldn't eat another bite!
But we did take a tour of the kitchen. Our (handsome) head waiter, from Barbados (with a very nice accent) took us into the ridiculously busy kitchen. They have a chef's table, which you have to book waaaaay in advance, and costs over 800 British pounds for up to 8 people! (the price is the same for 2 or 8, so take more people if you can...) The people at the table can just go in and walk around the kitchen and talk to the chefs!
Then, as long as we were all gussied up, we took a family photo. :) (and Winston Churchill in the background - how appropriate!)
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! I hope y'all have a relaxing and pleasant day with your families and friends. (Can't even watch the UT-A&M game, it doesn't start here til 1am!)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
One good thing: The Dallas airport D Gate area has a nice little charge station, so my laptop can charge and I can sit on a stool and not huddle on the floor near an outlet like I've had to do at the A gates. So I'm actually getting some work done.
Haven't been to London in 3 years! It was about 10-15 degrees colder last time I was there (it was a month later), too, so I'm hoping what I've brought this time will be enough. I haven't even done any research into what's on exhibit at which museum... There just wasn't time. It didn't even feel like I was really going until I got to the gate area in Dallas. YAY! Now I'm going.
I'm hoping that the Verizon-anywhere broadband modem will work in London. If not, there's always the internet cafe. :)
Safe travels, y'all!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Anyway... the Babtist women have been singing together for nearly 22 years, raising money for HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and other charitable causes. Altogether, they have raised over $6M! We had prime location in the front of the room to watch the show. And while they only did four or five songs, they were a RIOT! They were all decked out in wigs and makeup and dresses and high heels -- though amusingly, they didn't bother to shave off their facial hair! The dresses really reminded me of the dresses that grandmothers wear at Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and weddings. Definitely the kind of dress my grandmother wore to mine! :)
Here they are, in all their glory (sorry, the cameraphone takes fuzzy pics sometimes):
you go, girls!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Where is your mobile phone? Sofa
Where is your significant other? undetermined
Your hair colour? Mahogany
Your mother? Funny
Your father? Stubborn
Your favourite thing? Cooking
Your dream last night? weird
Your dream goal? Peace
The room you're in? Living
Your hobby? Knitting
Your fear? Loss
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Austin
Where were you last night? Wake
What you're not? JAP
One of your wish-list items? House
Where you grew up? Washington
The last thing you did? Cook
What are you wearing? Jeans
Your TV? Small
Your pets? None
Your computer? Old
Your mood? Spent
Missing someone? Joel
Your car? PT
Something you're not wearing? makeup
Favourite shop? Target
Your summer? Hot
Love someone? everyone!
Your favourite colour? Red!
When is the last time you laughed? 8pm
When is the last time you cried? 10am
Little did I know that the dead animal that was removed from the attic in September -- right before Gigi was here - the smell was awful! -- was related to the weak signal... Two and a half hours later, when the tech finally finished re-running my cable all the way across the garage and through the attic and down into the wall behind the tv, he told me that the cable had probably been chewed by a rat. *shudder* Maybe that's what killed it - it got zapped? Yuck.
But that wasn't his most interesting comment. As he was finishing the paperwork, I turned on Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, who was talking about President-elect Obama's first press conference. The tech (who I think was Ethiopian) said, "I guess you are an Obama fan?" I said, yes definitely!
He said, "you want to make another Obama?"
(I said no.)
It's been a heck of a week.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I am asking every American who has a gay child, parent, sibling, cousin or friend to read this through to the end. It is my plea.
When Merideth and I exchanged vows seven years ago (on October 20), we asked Merideth’s sister to do a reading. She chose her text from various sources, all on the subject of “home.” She explained that that was what marriage meant to her, and what she hoped it would mean to us. She emphasized that that this one person, this one who loves and supports you and greets you in the morning and at the end of the day with a smile: This person is home.
In the past seven years, we’ve discovered just how true that is. We are each other’s home, and we work every day to make sure that is as true on the days when the most romantic thing we do is laundry as it was on the day that we promised to love one another forever.
We consider our wedding date to be that day: October 20, 2001. But the state of California thinks our wedding date is July 11, 2008, because that was the day that we promised we would love each other forever after the California Supreme Court declared marriage a legal option for ALL consenting, adult Californians on May 15, 2008. And to be honest, I didn’t think that second wedding date was going to be a big deal. We considered ourselves married already; this was just a formality. But when I heard the words, “By the power vested in me by the State of California…,” I knew there was a difference. There was a difference between a legal recognition of domestic partnership and a legal recognition of a marriage. In fact, there are over 1000 civil rights afforded by “marriage” that are not afforded by “domestic partnership.” The Supreme Court of California noted that this was a case of separate but (un)equal, and I agree. It felt different. (Please see Lesbian Dad’s similar post for what can happen when insurance companies will not recognize a designation.)
On the California ballot in the upcoming election, Proposition 8 proposes to reverse the California Supreme Court decision that allowed same-sex marriage to make marriage between “one man and one woman.” This proposition has extremely heavy funding from the Mormon Church and other religious organizations who are using scare tactics that include unabashed lies (not very Christian, that) in their advertisements, stating that churches will lose their tax-exempt status if gay people have the right to marry. I have also heard arguments that Proposition 8 should pass because marriage between a man and a woman is “traditional,” that heterosexual marriage needs to be protected, because the Bible says being gay is bad, or because it’s all a slippery slope into bigamy and (my personal favorite) bestiality. I truly believe that these arguments are all a smokescreen because people feel icky about gay marriage. And to be even more forthright: They feel icky about gay sex, but have too much difficulty enforcing anti-gay sex laws, so instead want to make sure that gay families aren’t allowed the same rights as heterosexual families.
But let’s look at the arguments anyway:
THE LIE: Churches Will Lose Their Tax-Exempt Status
The pro-Proposition 8 ads note that if Prop. 8 is defeated, churches COULD lose their tax-exempt status.
Well, you know what? The sky could fall in, too. However, if churches lost their tax-exempt status every time they did something that went against law, then the Catholic church would have lost their tax-exempt status when they refused to let women become priests. Any other business would be in huge trouble with labor attorneys over gender discriminatory practices, but the Catholic church continues on its merry way because of the separation of church and state (otherwise known as the First Amendment to the United States constitution). And that’s fine. I truly believe in all of the amendments of the Constitution, that one first and foremost. I have no interest in legislating churches with my “gay agenda,” and neither does the government.
And while I hate to accuse anyone of lying outright, the pro-Prop. 8 people are LYING. I cannot believe that they are so stupid that they think that this one tiny proposition allowing gay marriage to be recognized by the state will spell the doom of any church, be it founded by St. Paul or by Paul down the street. And the fact that the pro-Prop. 8 campaign is predominantly funded by churches and church organizations means that they are knowingly lying, or at the very least purposefully misleading others through fear. Which is not really something I should expect from my church.
Marriage Between a Man and a Woman is “Traditional.”
Merideth, Mandy and I have a tradition where we go shopping together on the day after Thanksgiving. I get an eggnog latte, and we stroll the Stanford Shopping Plaza, picking up Christmas gifts and enjoying the high school carolers. We’ve had this tradition for seven years, so I think it’s time to legislate it.
Nevermind that I could argue that a marriage between one man and one woman is hardly “traditional” based upon historical documents and using the Bible as examples. Nevermind that we all have to give an offensive wink, wink, nudge about the Mormon religion’s idea of traditional marriage. You know what else is traditional? Slavery. Also? Subservient women, racial separatism, spousal abuse, peeing outdoors, and sitting in the dark once the sun goes down. Happily, along with tradition, there’s also progress, both in technical inventions and in societal understanding and conventions.
Heterosexual Marriage Needs to be Protected.
From whom? Me? Really? If anyone’s THAT intent on protecting marriage, I think all states should refuse to recognize marriages from Nevada unless all parties signed a sober affidavit. We should also maybe outlaw divorce. That’ll protect marriage.
The Bible Says Being Gay is Bad.
Merideth and I are both Christians, which might come as shocking news to other Christians who keep throwing their Bibles at us. (We have a few, and have actually read them, but thanks.) And while I would love to get into it about what the Bible says about homosexuality (this San Francisco Chronicle article did a good job, as did Jen Austin in her book, “Coming Out Christian,” a must-read for any Christian struggling with homosexuality) the Bible shouldn’t even be figuring into this. Once again, the separation of church and state must wield its ugly head and roar about how the Bible doesn’t get to dictate what happens in the law. And if the Bible DID get to dictate, I think we should probably be pointing fingers at the people who are trying to persecute gay people based upon outdated Old Testament laws when Jesus clearly said we had a new covenant. I’m pretty sure that if we all glanced at our bracelets and asked ourselves what Jesus would do in this circumstance, it would be to promote loving families, not stone a minority group.
The slippery slope has always been my favorite. If we let the gays marry, the next thing you know, bigamy will be rampant and people will want to marry their dogs. This will, of course, be right after my head explodes because of how obtuse anyone who spouts this argument has to be. How hard is it to have a law that marriage can be between two consenting adults?
I’m much more scared of the other slippery slope: If we decide to take away the right of homosexuals to marry, what’s stopping us from letting them have jobs? And who said they had the right to be out after dark? At what point will they have to wear a symbol on their clothes so we can recognize them? Sound familiar? If not, Tivo the history channel for one day for a big fat refresher on what the “slippery slope” of letting the government revoke human rights looks like. Or better yet, ask your grandfather what it was like to liberate Germany.
I realize that I’ve treated this with a silly tone in some parts, but I am deadly serious about this Proposition. The venom and bigotry behind it make me dizzy because of the amount of effort being put forth to restrict my right to pursue happiness.
I wasn’t alive when the Nazi party came to power, but I know it didn’t happen in one day. Little laws and restrictions kept sneaking their way in until one day those who were considered unfit for civilization were all hauled away, many never to be seen or heard from again. Do not misunderstand: I do not think we are on the threshold of a Holocaust, nor do I want to minimize the amount of suffering of those who lived through it or died because of it. My point is that we are currently seeing a specific targeting of a minority class who has not done any harm other than make some people feel squeamish. And that is dangerous. As Americans — hell, as people — we have an obligation to protect the minority classes, because often the majority turns into mob rule.
Call me melodramatic, but I am honestly fearful that those who will not help protect me today would also turn their faces if I or someone else were made to wear a sleeve insignia or get taken away on a train in the night.
So please: Donate to Equality California. Even if you don’t live in California, do it for every person you love who is or might be gay. Do it for the children you have or might have. Do it for that uncle who’s been living with his male “friend” for the last fifty years. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Do you have ten extra dollars? Donate ten dollars.
And if you do live in California? For heaven’s sake, vote No on 8.
* and in case you're wondering, here's why it's called getting up on your soapbox.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Laura Bush made the White House pink. Elizabeth Hurley was on hand (and popping out of her dress) to light up the Tower of London in pink.
Why, you ask?
Estee Lauder has sponsored the Global Landmarks Illumination Initiative since 2000. They've been able to illuminate ('pinkify' is my new word) an amazing array of world landmarks. The whole list for 2008 has yet to be released, but they have made a good start with the White House and the Tower, I'd say.
Images from past years (and the White House) in this slideshow ... we won't discuss what the photo from Jerusalem sorta resembles...
I'm arranging "Passionately Pink for the Cure" Day at my office on Friday... as long as some people would be dressing up for Halloween anyway, I'm going to put it to a good cause! I'm asking everyone to wear pink, and donate $5 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It worked last year - we raised over $200!
Are you doing your part to raise Breast Cancer Awareness? to support the search for the Cure? High risk people like me need all the help we can get!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
"'Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt." -- Abraham Lincoln
And just so y'all know, those contributions to Planned Parenthood "in honor of Sarah Palin" have now topped $1 million!
now, GO VOTE! And let's change the direction of this country as soon as possible! :)
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
and we get to come back and do it again tomorrow!
Friday, September 26, 2008
*Sigh.* The Trojans went back to Corvallis, and got their a$$es handed to them on a silver platter. Again. Freshman Jacquizz Rodgers (the 5-foot-7, 193-pound tailback) became the bane of their existence, running through blocks and streaking down the field like he was covered in Crisco. Couldn't stop him! Wasn't hard to see what he was doing, he was just so "wiry" (my favorite line from Rhys Ifans in "The Replacements") that they couldn't grab him. And the team's trademark ball-stripping moves wouldn't work, because he was so much smaller than the defense. *sigh*
Two touchdowns in the third quarter, one in the fourth (in 1:20, no less!) -- flashes of "the real USC" muted by their inability to stop the Beavers from running all over them. And Rey Maualuga's knee injury didn't help.
It was a long night. I'm sure it was a long flight back to LA.
Next week: the Oregon Ducks at the Coliseum.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Please give to Planned Parenthood!
Here's an email that has been going around this week... it was not started by anyone at PP, but it appears to be working - as of today, they have received 18,000 donations in Sarah Palin's honor!! If you haven't done it yet, please consider following the instructions below. (I wonder how the folks at the McCain campaign feel about all those postcards they've been receiving...)
Dear Friends:So please, if you haven't already, support PP and let the McCain campaign know that the fact that they chose a woman does not mean that the rest of the women of America support her views.
We may have thought we wanted a woman on a national political ticket, but the joke has really been on us, hasn't it? Are you as sick in your stomach as I am at the thought of Sarah Palin as Vice President of the United States?
Since Palin gave her speech accepting the Republican nomination for the Vice Presidency, Barack Obama's campaign has raised over $10 million dollars. Some of you may already be supporting the Obama campaign financially; others of you may still be a little honked off over the primaries. None of you, however, can be happy with Palin's selection, especially on her positions on women's issues. So, if you feel you can't support the Obama campaign financially, may I suggest the following fiendishly brilliant alternative?
Make a donation to Planned Parenthood. In Sarah Palin's name. And here's the good part: when you make a donation to PP in her name, they'll send her a card telling her that the donation has been made in her honor. Here's the link to the Planned Parenthood website:
You'll need to fill in the address to let PP know where to send the "in Sarah Palin's honor" card. I suggest you use the address for the McCain campaign headquarters, which is:
McCain for President
1235 S. Clark Street
Arlington , VA 22202
Feel free to send this along to all your women friends and urge them to do the same.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
First, we had to go to happy hour, to say farewell (for now) to Aaron, who is moving with his wife (Erin) to India. She won a Fulbright scholarship to go study art! He'll be "telecommuting" til next June. But we couldn't stay at happy hour for long, because we had dinner reservations. We went back to my house to change and wait for Atesha, and then we were off to Ranch 616. It was crowded, but the food was SO good. We all ordered steak - three different specials. Mine had crabmeat, Giselle's had a little quail on the side, and Atesha got a mesquite grilled steak as big as her head! And the biscuits - we were so glad Aubrey told us to make sure we got biscuits! :)
Once we were completely stuffed, we moved on to Momo's to see Skyrocket. The first set was interesting - songs I'd never heard them play before - but Gigi just couldn't get over the variety (and the vintage) of the songs they played. The first few notes of every song made her say "oh my gawd!" or "wow!" Then Keith and Steve and Alli showed up, and we hit the dance floor for the second set. These are the hits we know and love -- Blondie, the Bee Gees, Air Supply, Eurythmics, even the Bay City Rollers! It was great! We stayed through the second set, and then it was just too late and we were all exhausted.
Saturday morning I took Giselle to the Omelettry for late breakfast. We stuffed ourselves with pancakes and eggs and coffee, to fortify us for going to the Pecan Street Festival. I had never been... it was pretty much the same as most other street festivals, in New York or DC... It was a little warm. We wandered along the stalls, and she bought a cute painted metal fish for her bathroom, and some gorgeous earrings at the SoLa booth -- it was great to see Coral & Joel, and their booth was busy! I hope they did well.
Then we went home to veg for a bit and recover from the heat, before going back downtown with Atesha for the UT-Rice football game. It was a great game for Texas... not so much for Rice. We left after the third quarter, when the score got out of hand. We had to have some bbq before Gigi left, so we went down to County Line on the Lake. It was about 9:30 when we got there -- the place was empty. We stuffed ourselves (again, but we hadn't really eaten since lunch) with bbq pork/ham/brisket/sausage/ribs, and dessert. Urp.
The only thing that we did on Sunday morning was go to the airport. I dropped off Gigi and went straight to the gym, to burn off all the calories from the weekend of stuffing my face... and boy did I ever burn them! Lara made sure of that. :)
So, thanks, G, for coming down to visit, and I hope you had fun! I know I did! (Eventually I will get around to posting the three pictures we took the whole weekend...)
* Stuart has been here more than once, but he didn't stay with me or need me to show him around. ;)
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Recently, the lovely Washington-area resident (betcha didn't know she lives in DC!) did an interview with Philadelphia magazine, where they asked her about people comparing Sarah Palin to Wonder Woman. Here's what she said:
Don’t get me started. She’s the anti-Wonder Woman. She’s judgmental and dictatorial, telling people how they’ve got to live their lives. And a superior religious self-righteousness ... that’s just not what Wonder Woman is about. Hillary Clinton is a lot more like Wonder Woman than Mrs. Palin. She did it all, didn’t she? ...You go, Wonder Woman! Yay!
I like John McCain. But this woman — it's anathema to me what she stands for. I think America should be very afraid. Very afraid. Separation of church and state is the one thing the creators of the Constitution did agree on — that it wasn’t to be a religious government. People should feel free to speak their minds about religion but not dictate it or put it into law.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Playa del Carmen was beautiful. For the most part, hurricanes Hannah and Ike left us alone -- though we did get a few minutes of heavy rain every afternoon, which reminded me of being in Miami!
We stayed in a 3-BR, 2-BA condo, nicely furnished, at an apartment complex with a lovely pool, free wireless, and few people (that we saw). It's one of those places that rents out the apartments when the owners are not there, like the flats we've enjoyed in London. We generally had the pool to ourselves, and the water was perfect.
The adventure began on the way to the condo, as apparently the driver of the airport van didn't know where the condo complex was. Granted, it's pretty new -- some of the apartments are still under construction -- but every other taxi driver we had knew about it! And unfortunately, the helpful guy at the airport didn't know where the condo complex was either! The place he pointed to on the map was nowhere near the actual condo, which only added to the confusion.
The condo complex is in Playacar, which is a new development of nice houses, beach resorts, and condos at the south end of Playa del Carmen -- but there's no food, unless you're at one of the resorts. So we had to go into "town" (by taxi, $5 each way per cab) to find lunch... and boy, we were starving! Our first meal was at a Mexican place right on the beach. Huge margaritas, lots of chips and salsa and guacamole. YUM. Yep, we're on vacation!
Then we wandered around a bit, but we were all dying to go back and get into the gorgeous pool. We knew we couldn't have a very late night, because we were getting up early in the morning to go snorkeling with the sea turtles! :)
We decided that the munchies we had bought in town weren't going to be enough for dinner, so Faith, Janie and I trundled off to Wal-Mart (the biggest supermarket around) while the others tried to figure out how to order pizza. We got some good munchies at Wal-Mart, some fresh fruit, peanut butter, milk for coffee, etc., and came back. The pizza, however, was elusive - we had the wrong phone number! We finally managed to get some pizza, and all went to bed pretty early.
Friday, we took a taxi to the ferry pier, where we met the tour leaders for snorkeling. We had already put on our biodegradable sunscreen (a requirement) at the condo - bleh! - so we were off to Akumal in a little van, along with two British girls who came over from Cozumel for the tour. Here are some of the girls with life vests on (we didn't have to inflate them) when we were getting the rest of our gear.
The first snorkeling adventure was in the Yal Ku lagoon. It's a small area with lots of interesting fish swimming around... not terribly deep -- though I did have a few minutes of nervousness that something would come out of the rocks below me. [I tend to prefer swimming pools... probably saw Jaws when I was too young.] There's a little set of steps for the snorkelers to put on their flippers and get in carefully. Unfortunately, this didn't stop Atesha from slipping and landing on the stairs pretty hard - she's still got bruises all over, poor thing!
We swam around for a while and took pictures of the fish, but the water was kinda murky. Then they took us to a resort on Akumal bay, where we went back into the water to see the sea turtles. Ah, the sea turtles. :) They were SO beautiful. [Here's one I snapped a picture of as I was swimming over it. Unfortunately, I got salt water in my snorkel as I did this! bleh!] We saw four or five of them, a stingray, some barracudas, and lots of other little fish around the coral reef. But after all that swimming around, I was exhausted! (and starving!) Our tour price included lunch at the resort buffet, but I have to say, we weren't all that impressed. It was good enough - salad, pasta, some chicken or fish, nice rolls, and dessert. And beer or margaritas. Then they let us lie on the nearly empty, white sand beach for a few hours, under the cabanas, before bundling us back into the van to go back to town.
All in all, Friday was exhausting. We went back to the condo and swam for a bit, and then the rain came... and then we got ready to go out to dinner. We didn't really have a plan, we just wandered down Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue, the "main drag" in Playa) until we found a place we all liked. Turned out to be the sports bar. We had nachos and guacamole and margaritas (again), and watched the people go by. I have to say, the people-watching was tremendous, all weekend!
My photos have been posted here on kodakgallery. I'll be snagging some photos from the other ladies to make a full slide show later. :)
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Anyway, on to the topic of my post.
George Coyne, an ordained Catholic priest and renowned astronomer, discussed intelligent design and evolution at a lecture Sept. 4 at the College of New Jersey (not to be confused with Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, my alma mater)
He said although he believes in G-d, and believes G-d created the universe, he cannot believe in intelligent design as a scientist.(emphasis mine)
He personally encourages evolution to be taught in school, not intelligent design.
"You shouldn't talk about God in a science classroom," he said.
According to Coyne, it is the parents' duty to teach their child about G-d if they want, not the science teacher's responsibility.
He also said as a scientist, he cannot truly believe in the biblical explanation for the creation of the world.
"The Genesis stories are the most beautiful stories I've ever read. They're stories. Not science," Coyne said.
Hurrrah! A Catholic priest who understands the difference between religion and science! Now, somebody go find Sarah Palin and make her listen!
[I haven't touched on the topic of Sarah Palin or the McCain campaign yet... I'm building a whole list of items to post about her/them, when I recover from the idiocy of it all.]
Friday, September 05, 2008
and now, naptime. all that snorkeling is exhausting!
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I've always loooved the Circus. When The Greatest Show on Earth would come to DC when we were little, mom would take us down to see them unload the train cars and walk the elephants over to the Armory. I used to love Gunther Goebel Williams - he was flashy and fun, and was an expert at making the tigers do exactly what he wanted!
We even skipped class one day, senior year in high school, to go down to the DC Armory to see the circus - we got hopelessly lost along the way, but made it in time to see Gunther. It was his farewell tour -- here's the program that I had kept *forever* -- I think I might have gotten rid of it when I moved to TX. (Drat! might have been worth something!)
Summer of '87, we went to Milwaukee, WI for the APIC National Convention (see previous post about APIC). Mom piled us into the car and we drove to Baraboo, to the Circus World Museum, which displays the artifacts, old train cars, and other historical materials in the place where Ringling Bros. started. Somewhere, I have pictures of me and Bryan and the beautiful antique circus wagons, and even inside a train car with a (fake) gorrilla!
In those days, there were two "versions" of the Ringling Bros shows - the red tour and the blue tour. Now, apparently there are three - red, blue and yellow. The Red tour, the "Bellobration" is what we got in Austin this week. It's all about a clown named Bello... though he's actually much more than a clown - he's a heck of an acrobat, too!
Giana and Nicole were riveted by the whole spectacle, but both admitted that they liked the performing dogs the best. Somehow, the three rings seemed so much larger when I was little. Hmmm. (Here they are goofing off during the intermission) :)
I am interested to learn that Ringling Bros now funds the Center for Elephant Conservation. Good for them.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I missed the APIC National Convention in Las Vegas two weeks ago, but my friend Adam is expert at the PR thing (it's his job, natch), so he corralled a good number of media outlets to come and report on the event.
He got everyone from the New York Times to UPI photographers to the Las Vegas Review Journal to come and interview folks and record the event for posterity. A reporter from the Las Vegas Sun spent some time talking to Dad -- I could recite the stories he tells about small buttons on lapel pins, and people's habits changing because of air-conditioning... in my sleep! ;) (love ya, Dad!)
It's nice to see that the hobby is getting good press. Now if only we could find somebody other than old white guys to join! We're forming an Obama collectors chapter, so maybe we'll drum up some more members in the next few months. Election years are good for that.
Monday, August 18, 2008
The Omnivore's Hundred is a list of foods the gastronomic Andrew Wheeler thinks everyone should try at least once in their lives.
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
7. Cheese fondue
10. Baba ghanoush
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses [ahem. lactose intolerant]
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
27. Dulce de leche
30. Bagna cauda [never had it, but it sounds good!]
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi (is that a different version of mango lassi? I've had that.)
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (I used to be part of a cigar-and-networking club)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly (red/white wine jelly, yes. Vodka jelly, no.)
41. Curried goat
44. Goat’s milk [again with the high-lactose items!]
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu (aka pufferfish)
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi [there are a lot of Japanese items on this list...]
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin martini [not a martini fan, but I've tasted it.]
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine [uuuugh. cheese curds on my french fries? no thank you!]
60. Carob chips
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette (aka chitlin's)
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost [and even more cheese!]
75. Roadkill [I suppose it would depend on what kind of animal and how much gravel was embedded in it... ;) ]
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
79. Lapsang souchong
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
89. Horse [I've eaten camel, does that count?]
90. Criollo chocolate
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Monday, August 11, 2008
Saturday was "get your groove on" night. While we do absolutely loooove seeing Skyrocket or the Spazmatics at Cedar Street, sometimes it's nice to go hear music someplace where you won't sweat to death within 60 seconds (i.e. indoors). So on Saturday we decided to go to the famous Broken Spoke. Cowboy boots required! (well, not officially, but strongly encouraged!)
We had to have dinner first, of course, so El Sol y La Luna was destination #1. Yummmm. A carpool of four turned into dinner for five - no, six! - and then a table for seven at the Spoke. The singer -- Dale Watson -- looked a good deal like Billy Bob Thornton, though with more hair (and a little more meat on his bones). The dance floor was packed most of the night. The people-watching was amazing - everyone from long-time-practically-pro-dancer couples, to little kids being held up by their (grand)parents as they spun around the room, to a sudden influx of CLOWNS (I kid you not!) spinning around the floor in their makeup, colorful wigs and floppy shoes. And yes, Aubrey and I did a spin around the floor. So now I can say I danced at the Broken Spoke -- I might even have to go back!
Unfortunately, the crowd and the lackluster A/C made it a little difficult to hang out for too long, so we bailed. But it was only midnight - too early to go home! - so we found our way to Charlie's. Needless to say, the four of us ladies were the only females in the place -- 12:15am is early at Charlie's -- and we were not, um, the focus of any male attention... at all. The two speedo-clad guys dancing on the "stage" were very popular, however. I think all Atesha could say for the first ten minutes was "oh my." But, the music was good, and the dance floor was empty, so we boogied! Each of us made friends in a different way on the dance floor, but those are stories that are better left untold. (don't want to shock the masses too much...)
Then the clock struck 2am, and I just couldn't stand up any more (good thing my boots are comfy!) so it was time to get some munchies. We headed straight to Kerbey Lane, but the service wasn't particularly fast and we were all sooooo tired... I took my gingerbread pancakes home to have for breakfast (i.e. lunch) on Sunday.
It was definitely "cultural whiplash" to go from the Broken Spoke to Charlie's, but it was the most fun I've had in a while -- and I was even the designated driver! :)
Monday, August 04, 2008
The Washington Post notes that Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), a chief architect of the stem cell research bill that was vetoed twice by President Bush, writes about the Bush administration's politicization of science and sex and warns that if the country elects John McCain president in November, "we'd be signing on for four more years of more of the same - the same blind faith that dogma and ideology ought to stand ahead of science and reason."
... And more government invasion of women's bodies:
The Bush Administration has ignited a furor with a proposed definition of pregnancy that has the effect of classifying some of the most widely used methods of contraception as abortion.A draft regulation, still being revised and debated, treats most birth-control pills and intrauterine devices as abortion because they can work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. The regulation considers that destroying "the life of a human being."
Many medical groups disagree. They hold that pregnancy isn't established until several days after conception, when the fertilized egg has grown to a cluster of several dozen cells and burrowed into the uterine wall. Anything that disrupts that process, in their view, is contraception.
Please, can we listen to the DOCTORS instead of the Religious Right and the politicians?! There are many more important things for the government to be worrying about! ugh.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
1967: 3 stores (all around Bentonville, AR)
1988: 1167 stores (pushing north and across the south, but not yet northeast or west)
2007: 3176 stores - blanketing every population center in the USA (many times over), and some really out-of-the-way locations, bringing every-day-low-prices to the masses! Civilization!
Next stop - world domination!
Friday, July 25, 2008
Grilled Scallops and Nectarines with Corn and Tomato Salad
Ok, first off, I wish I were as good a food photographer as Deb over at smittenkitchen. But we'll just have to live with my imperfect camera skills. (and in this case, the quality of my camera-phone, which makes it even worse!)
Things I did differently -
1. In the move from DC to TX, I got rid of the stovetop grill pan, so the George Foreman grill was the only option. I nixed that, and used a big sautee pan.
2. I bought smaller bay scallops rather than sea scallops, which would have made it nearly impossible to grill anyway - hard to get those little suckers on skewers!
3. I didn't do the basil puree, but I did chiffonade some basil leaves and sprinkle them over the top. In retrospect, the puree would have been nice.
4. I thought it needed a little more greenery, so I laid everything over a bed of romaine. Voila - salad AND entree!
The verdict: very tasty. Glad there are leftovers!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
These are pointers on how to cheer up from 1820. Many of them still apply. (and if you need some more, Gretchen posted her own tips for cheering up on her blog.)
1st. Live as well as you dare.
2nd. Go into the shower-bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold, 75 or 80 degrees.
3rd. Amusing books.
4th. Short views of human life--not further than dinner or tea.
5th. Be as busy as you can.
6th. See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you.
7th. And of those acquaintances who amuse you.
8th. Make no secret of low spirits to you friends, but talk of them freely--they are always worse for dignified concealment.
9th. Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.
10th. Compare your lot with that of other people.
11th. Don't expect too much from human life--a sorry business at the best.
12th. Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy, sentimental people, and everything likely to excite feeling or emotion, not ending in active benevolence.
13th. Do good, and endeavour to please everybody of every degree.
14th Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue.
15th. Make the room where you commonly sit gay and pleasant.
16th. Struggle by little and little against idleness.
17th. Don't be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.
18th. Keep good blazing fires.
19th. Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.