Sunday, August 31, 2008

- My car battery = dead. Looks like I'm staying home for the evening.
- “By and large women believe that the workplace is a meritocracy, and it isn’t.” Some great advice for young women in the workplace.
- Sarah Vowell cracks me up:
When Barack Obama talks about an America as it should be, I’m guessing the best of all possible countries he imagines would look awfully similar to the ideal America just about every registered Democrat would dream up. Picture this: a wind-powered public school classroom of 19 multiracial 8-year-olds reading above grade level and answering the questions of their engaging, inspirational teacher before going home to a cancer-free (or in remission) parent or parents who have to work only eight hours a day in a country at war solely with the people who make war on us, where maybe Exxon Mobil can settle for, oh, $8 billion in quarterly profits instead of $11 billion, and the federal government’s point man for Biblical natural disasters is someone who knows more about emergency management than how to put on a horse show. Is that really too much to ask? Can we do that?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Persepolis is one of the best movies I've seen lately. I have a feeling the book will be even better...
Add "Spanish classes" to the list of things I've quit this year. Right below "piano lessons" and "teaching job." The classes were twice a week after work and by that time my brain was completely useless. Furthermore, the classes were on the expensive side, and I decided I wasn't benefiting much given what I was paying. It wasn't a total loss -- at last I can conjugate in past tense, and I know how to use the incredibly cool phrase "que padre." Progress.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Heard this morning on NPR: Songs for a nine-minute road trip. "Song 2" by Blur is always refreshing, but I really liked Neko Case's "Outro (With Bees)".

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fall angst

There's a heaviness to this time of year, the traditional beginning of the school year, where everything somehow takes on a new urgency.

I haven't faced a fall without classes to go to since I was four. Twenty-one years total, four of them spent in grad school. Technically, I could still be doing the grad school thing if I wanted to, having part of a thesis to complete, but I decided not to. Earlier this year I decided I was fed up with academia -- its disconnect to the real world, how people treat it as such a joke, a system to be toyed with with such little accountability. I feel more respectable being a working girl with a "real job" now. I'm moving on with my life. Finally.

But I miss it anyway. I miss collecting fresh syllabi and buying new books and seeing everyone after a long summer of slacking off. I miss my friends most of all. Forget everything I said in the last paragraph, I half-wish I was going back with them.

Predictably, work is in some ways easier than school -- no more reading and heavy intellectual lifting -- but in most ways more difficult. College was a good place for a shy, geeky person like me to hide. Work is much more fast-paced (at least this job), there are many more expectations, and I have to play politics, which I hate. The term "pro-active" has been tossed around, a term I hate. Sounds too much like Prozac, not to mention it's a word that was made up in a self-help book. I have yet to make any good friends.

In transition is the worst place for me. Depression and stress, I really don't know a good way to deal with those. Talk to someone, I guess. But what if all your conversations are superficial and you don't think anyone wants to listen to your problems? I turn to brownie sundaes and late-night journal entries, tears, music.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My first attempt at making pesto was a success! I'm getting good at this cooking thing...
Interesting article about Aimee Mann in Jazz News: "There's something intrinsically classy about Aimee Mann. Class isn't a description one feels inspired to use much these days but there's not a moments hesitation when it comes to this gifted chronicler of the human condition. She's able to take discontent and armchair philosophizing and wrangle them into compact dissertations on what makes us tick."

Through a glass, darkly

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Waiter from Waiter Rant on the difference between writing a blog and writing a book:
"But I discovered early that blogging is nothing like writing a book. Writing a blog is like being the head guru in a commune of hippies. Writing a book, however, is like being a hermit in the desert...Psychologically speaking, writing a book is like getting into a knife fight with yourself in a phone booth."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Apparently, Rick Warren is quite a guy.
Quote from an interview with Javier Bardem: "The difference between an artist and a person that's crazy is that the artist has a two-way ticket and the crazy person only has a one-way."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The cheapest UTEP parking permit (for perimeter parking, which is beyond walking distance to campus) costs $80. That's messed up.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Storm drama

It's the storm season in the desert, and the most recent ones have been especially violent.
Last night, a little past midnight, it was raining yet again, this time with some fierce lightning.
I saw it all through the window from my computer desk. Am I the only one on the Internet a little past midnight on Friday night/Saturday night? Apparently.
One bolt flashed particularly close by and a second later everything was black.
Everything I had typed was lost, not that I cared, since it wasn't anything worth saving.
It was amazing how lost I felt in that moment. In the darkness, I wondered, what do I do now? No more computer. No TV. Not even a light so I can read. It's scary just how much of my life depends on electricity.
I had just decided to go to bed when the power was restored. Whew, safe again. My alarm clock flashed 12:00 over and over. I reset it before I went to sleep. By that time the rain had stopped.
Twice this past week I was caught in my Spanish class during rainstorms. It's become a routine where my classmates and I look out the windows and see the huge purple clouds forming and start worrying about whether we're going to be able to get home OK.
"Hay viene la lluvia," is what my Spanish teacher said, and she taught us the words for lightning and thunder: rayos or relampagos for lightning and trueno for thunder.
Thursday night after class I was afraid I was going to float away in my car on my way home.
I was literally driving blind at some points. I had the windshield wipers on the fastest setting, but I still couldn't see. When I finally could see, I saw that the rainwater was flowing by so fast and deep that it looked like a river.
It was probably stupid to even try driving home in weather like that, but hey, we all do stupid things sometimes. Home was an amazingly welcome sight that night.
If memory serves, the storm season will end in September, then we'll be back to dry-as-a-bone weather. Until then, a little more drama...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

What is a caper, exactly?

According to Wikipedia,
The caper (Capparis spinosa L.) is a perennial spiny shrub that bears rounded, fleshy leaves and big white to pinkish-white flowers. A caper is also the pickled bud of this plant. The bush is native to the Mediterranean region, growing wild on walls or in rocky coastal areas throughout. The plant is best known for the edible bud and fruit (caper berry) which are usually consumed pickled. Other species of Capparis are also picked along with C. spinosa for their buds or fruits.

The buds, when ready to pick, are a dark olive green and about the size of a kernel of maize. They are picked, then pickled in salt, or a salt and vinegar solution, or drained. Intense flavor is developed, as mustard oil (glucocapparin) is released from each caper bud. This enzymatic reaction also leads to the formation of rutin often seen as crystallized white spots on the surfaces of individual caper buds.
Along with a few billion others, I watched the Olympics opening ceremonies last night. Honestly, has there ever been a more spectacular event? I couldn't believe how well-choreographed it was. I asked my mom, who watched it with me, Do you think the U.S. could pull off something like this? We both said no.

I've decided to stay home this weekend. Tonight I'm trying out a new recipe. Brownies for dessert.

I'll probably spend some more time reading. I've gone on a book-reading binge lately, mostly because on weekdays I get home from work and I usually want to unplug from TV and technology and news. Reading books fits the bill. Current reading agenda: The Gum Thief, Eclipse, and The Book of My Life by Sister Teresa of Avila.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Brillante weblogs

La Brown Girl nominated me for this award:

Thanks, La Brown Girl! So apparently I have to nominate seven other "brillante" weblogs. OK, here we go:

Feeling Listless - Stu's blog always makes me smile.

NewMexiKen - The best.

Knit-a-little - I *love* her knitting.

After Hours/Unfinished Business - Frank, if you're out there, the blogosphere needs you back!

Tales from the Lake Shore - Interesting photos and notes from Chicago.

A Nun's Life - Great blog written by a nun.

Bitch Ph.D. - My feminist hero.

If you're nominated, here are the rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog.

2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.

3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.

4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.

5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I think it's funny that my bank lets you choose between "Corporate" and "Gen Y" styles for their website. The corporate style is green and white with a picture of people in suits on it, the Gen Y style is orange and pink and has pictures of young people dancing around. As a member of Generation Y I'm a little insulted at being branded. Besides, does a bank really need to be "cool"? I'll be happy if they just handle my money correctly.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

TIME magazine on the closing of Bennigan's:
While the franchise outlets remain open for now, Americans who want to peruse oversize menus for oversize portions of unremarkable food in unremarkable settings may soon have to check out Applebee's or Chili's. Or Ruby Tuesday or T.G.I. Friday's. Or the scores of other family-style restaurants serving deep-fried mozzarella sticks beneath hypnotically rotating ceiling fans.

They're a lot harder to distinguish than they are to find. Bennigan's had an Irish theme, with burgers slathered in Guinness and a drink called the Blarney Blast, but it was about as Gaelic as Barack O'Bama. Its Fajita Chicken Quesadillas somehow lacked that old-country Dublin feel.

The cost

The house my family moved into in February is amazing--brand new, nice location, great comforts, amazing mountain views. I love it.
But I've never been quite so aware of the cost that has been paid by the environment for a home that I'm living in. The house is right next to wild desert, so recently settled that the scars of new construction are right up in your face every single day. This is what it looks like a block away:

I'm no raving environmentalist, but this is ugly. Seeing this every day I wonder, what the hell are we doing here, bulldozing the desert for middle-class comforts? Do we have the right?