Friday, May 28, 2010

After watching "District 9" I'm wondering why this movie didn't win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Today is my birthday. Last year I was returning from the UK. This year I'm also lucky enough not to be working, but it's not quite as exciting. Instead it's the morning routine -- feed the fish, walk the dog, check my e-mail (thanks to everyone who said happy birthday, I'm very grateful), a little "Regis and Kelly." Chocolate cake for breakfast seems like a good idea.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Steven Johnson defends "oversharing" on the web:
There used to be a large crevasse separating the intimate space of private life and what's exposed by the klieg lights of fame. But in the Facebook age, that crevasse has broadened out into a valley between the realms of privacy and celebrity, and we are starting to camp out there and get the lay of the land.
Now, we have to choose whether we want to venture into the valley of intimate strangers, and how exactly we want to live there....It requires that we acknowledge that certain kinds of sharing can, in fact, advance a wider public good, as well as satisfy our own needs for compassion and counsel.
Anyone with a virtual life has dealt with these not always easy choices. I think for myself and a lot of bloggers web sharing has gone in reverse of Facebook: at first by default everything in your life is fair game for your blog, then you don't share much of anything private when you realize people are actually reading the blog, then you move somewhere in between. In between is a good spot, I think.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I heard "Walkin' on Sunshine" on the car radio the other morning, in a parking lot, and was compelled to stay in the car to listen to it. Isn't it just impossible not to smile at that song, no matter how blah of a day you're having? Then this update on Katrina and the Waves comes out on NPR. It's a mostly happy story, I'm glad the band has made a lot of money on the song.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

- My caffeine-fest yesterday turned out to be a very bad idea. Coca-Cola with lunch, iced caffe mocha at Starbucks, iced tea with dinner. Awake at 2 a.m. I think the caffe mocha did it.

- In poker, as in life, no guts, no glory.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My computer monitor conked out yesterday. I would turn the power on and the screen would flicker on for about 2 seconds before making a little noise and going black. Maybe the 4 1/2 years of constant use were too much for it? Now I regret the times I've left the computer and monitor on all night, sometimes for days in a row. I switched over to an old monitor today. Funny how bulky and archaic the old one seems. Curved glass screens are such a thing of the past, and I had to sit the monitor on a coffee table book and a few magazines to make it the right eye-height. A new computer and monitor are likely in order. Good thing my birthday is coming up.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Update to my post on the new fish tank: The fish do have names, according to my sister. Zelda is the one with the triangle marking,the leopard danios are Leo and Dan. The orange one is not a puffer but a balloon-bellied molly named Molly. The algae-eating one is a plecostomos named Falcor. Yay, fish! They are all still around. I'm cleaning their tank tomorrow, wish me luck.

Does anyone actually respond to these?

In my spam folder:
Hello to you
I miss you more than words can say and my love will reach any distance and fly to be in your dreams (URL redacted)
I'm looking for a man who will be both my partner and friend. With whom I could share my life and every bad and good moment.
I really enjoy life but I miss my soulmate to share it with. I am caring, honest, sincere, patient, like healthy lifestyle. I enjoy quiet evenings at home, eating ice- cream late at night.
I would like to meet a man for a serious long term relationship where we try to understand each other, to love and to care for.
It doesn't matter where I will find that man or where I will live in the future here or in another country I just want to be happy.
Too bad I am that woman, not a man :-). I like the part about eating ice cream late at night. Nice touch.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Toast to Juarez?

I had a mixed reaction to this piece I read in a local weekly newspaper, basically, "let's drink to help Juarez":

We can’t fix Juarez. But we can help, a little, and reclaim a little of our Juarez, the one we remember. I propose that next Friday we go to the Kentucky Club. We can do it to pump a little money into the local economy, or we can do it for our own selfish gratification. We’ll sit at the bar, and drink Kentucky Club margaritas, and watch the long shadows cross the street. We’ll tip the bartenders, and they’ll take the money and buy groceries, and the money will flow through the Juarez economy, percolating up instead of trickling down.

Um...OK, you do that. Interesting idea, sort of noble, but more tongue-in-cheek than anything. In short it's the sort of thing I'm usually up for. On the other hand, I don't drink and have no nostalgia for the "old Juarez," and even if I did I probably still wouldn't go now out of fear of the remote possibility that something *could* happen. Judging from the reactions published in the article it seems a lot of people feel the same way.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Check it out: a reimagined international bridge.

Tank girl

My exciting news of the week: I have five new pets. A. dropped off her fish tank at the house on Tuesday since she is moving away until October (sad). Honestly I never thought I'd have a fish tank. I had wanted to get a fish tank seven years ago and decided against it because it seemed way too complicated. No thanks, I'd rather have a dog, if I'm going to go to that much trouble. Dogs are much more affectionate than fish :-).

Looking over the array of accessories we took out of my sister's car, it did seem like a lot for a few fish -- a net, a bottle of chemicals, a siphon, three cylinders of food, filter, heater, light-timer, bubble-blower, etc.

I saw something move in the water while we were carrying in the heavy tank. "They're in there now?" I asked. "Yup." Five fish were in the tank: a big gold one (puffer), two silver ones (danios), one with a big triangle on it (?), and an algae-eater that usually doesn't come out of the castle.

We carried the tank up the stairs and plopped it down next to the TV in the lounge area. A. brought in loads of water from a white plastic bowl to fill it up. Suddenly I didn't know if I was going to be able to do this. So much could go wrong. I asked question after question: How often do I clean the tank? Do I have to dump out all the water when I do it? How much should I feed them? When do I turn on the light? How do I know when it's dirty? What if the filter breaks down?

My sister went over how all the gadgets work but seemed nonchalant about it. "Just clean it when it looks a little dirty, around every two weeks." Ah, but what if all the fish are dead when you get back?

Two days in and they're still alive, so that's a good sign. They seem complicated to take care of but most of it is automatically controlled. I'm enjoying these fish so far, somewhat unexpectedly. The whir of the tank was there to greet me when I got home late the last couple of nights. I fed them first thing when I got up this morning, watched them come to the surface to eat the particles of fish flakes. I peered into their world and wondered what it's like to spend your whole life in a 10-gallon tank with four other fish. In my nervousness I forgot to ask A. what their names are, or if they even have names. They should have names, I think.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thank you, Time magazine, I finally know who Justin Bieber is other than a trending topic on Twitter. My gosh he is young.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Love story

I raised an eyebrow at a lot of Michael Moore's generalizations in "Capitalism: A Love Story" (capitalism=bad, socialism=good), but there were some really shocking facts in this film. Who knew about "dead peasants insurance"? And that new airline pilots can make under $20k per year? The facts page on Moore's website is worth going through after you've seen the movie. You can call this movie one-sided but he isn't making this stuff up.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

- Three parties in two days. With enough practice, could I be a decent conversationalist and not a person who sits there and says nothing? I don't know how people can love parties. I get to a party and start plotting how early I can leave without it looking weird.

- I don't want to say good-bye to my sister.

- Working on a Sunday feels wrong.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Music to drive home to: I bought a ticket to the world/But now I've come back again....Huh hu hu hu-uh hu/I know this much is true

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Time to break out the Claritin again.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

NY Times poll: Fifty-one percent of Americans say the new Arizona law on immigration is "about right" in its approach, even though 50 percent say it will likely lead to racial profiling. Only 13 percent of respondents were Hispanic.

"Three quarters said that, over all, illegal immigrants were a drain on the economy because they did not all pay taxes but used public services like hospitals and schools." But the NY Times writers note, "In fact, many illegal immigrants do pay taxes into the Social Security system, but never see a return on their contributions."

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Another thing to consider with the article linking chocolate and depression: obesity is also linked to depression: "Obesity, Luppino and colleagues found, increases the risk of depression in initially non-depressed individuals by 55 percent and depression increases the risk of obesity in initially normal-weight individuals by 58 percent."

Peace and prayer for Juarez

May 1. The International Peace and Prayer Day for Juarez. I almost didn't go to Saturday morning's event at the Chamizal National Memorial. I had stayed up until past 2am, and there was laundry to do. But I thought back on the horrors of Wednesday and felt I needed to go to an event like this. I wrote last year about a need to express solidarity with the citizens of Juarez. Well, here is a chance to do this, to show up and say I am not OK with the way things are going. I was late but I was there, the white ribbon a volunteer gave me in hand.

I sat down in the grass at the outdoor amphitheatre and my first thought was, wow, there are not very many people here. A few hundred people were in attendance. I've seen the Chamizal packed with thousands of people for summer concerts, and this was pretty skimpy in comparison. I don't know what it is about El Paso. I know it is not that the people don't care about what is happening in Juarez. They do. I think that is just not this city's mentality to get up on a Saturday morning and show up at a rally. (Actually, I wrote this and then saw this story about Arizona immigration law protests, where around 400 people showed up. Maybe it depends on the issue and the type of event?)

I listened to alternating choirs and speakers. An all-girls choir sang in heavenly harmony "This little light of mine/I'm gonna let it shine." A women's group leader read (in English and Spanish) a powerful long prayer written by some women from Juarez. She said, I want my mother not to tell me, God watch out for you when you go out and when you return. Her voice cracked with emotion. A reverend invoked Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, and even the book of Exodus in comparison with the oppressive violence in Juarez. Then another choir followed with gospel songs. "I Never Lost My Praise" is the one I remember most. It's a thought-provoking song. How can you be joyful even when you are suffering? Over five thousand murders in the past 2 1/2 years, and you can still find a way to praise God?

It was such a beautiful morning. The sun finally came out after two days of hiding. I looked at the border fence a few hundred yards away from where I was sitting and thought, the sun is shining just the same on the other side. There is still sunshine in Juarez, still joy, still good people, even with the seemingly never-ending stream of deaths.

The portion of this event I saw was beautiful and I'm glad I attended. Still, I was a bit frustrated by the lack of specifics. A couple of speakers prayed that all evil would end. I don't disagree with a general sort of "deliver us from evil" prayer. But my mind knows that it is the specifics that will help put an end to Mexico's drug war: laws, money, and focused courses of action. What do community and religious leaders agree should be done to help Juarez?

The other thing was, well, I wanted to see more anger. I'm all for peace and tranquillity, but I think there's a place for anger, too, even at a peace rally. I found myself thinking about a different sort of event that could be held with picket signs and loud rock bands, something that might draw more attention (and possibly more people).

But I know there are different ways to demonstrate, some quiet, some loud. Does every event have to involve marching down streets and shouting slogans? Here the emphasis was on peace and healing, solidarity of the community, and connection with God.