Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Au Revoir for now!

So I'm spending the summer in Paris, which means I'm taking an official break from this blog.  I'll have a Paris blog as well, but it's just for friends and family - if you fit into that category let me know and I will point you in the right direction!

Until September - au revoir!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

DC Get yer vote on!

So today is a special election in DC.  That's right, we may not have any representation whatsoever in Congress, but we get an extra election that acknowledges how special we are!

Since a lot of people don't even seem to know the election is happening (It is!  Promise!), turnout will probably be super low, which means your vote counts more than normal!  And polls are open til 8 tonight.  There's an at-large seat up for grabs, and also special elections for positions in Wards 4 and 8 (like the School Board).  So get your voting pants on and head to the polls!

A couple of reasons why:

1 - There are actually Republicans running!  In DC!

2 - They're discussing the budget as I write this, pretty much, and the new at-large person will be part of that discussion.  So for instance, do the rich deserve a tax hike?  Can we get by without this DC program and that?  Or should we, as one candidate actually suggests, keep all the agency programs but just cut the staff?  (Sure, we know they've all been slacking anyway.  3 jobs for every staffer!)  [Get every candidate's take on the budget/taxes]

3 - You know you want an "I voted" sticker.

4 - Think about what this weekend was.  You know the folks running the polls will be giving away SO MUCH LEFTOVER EASTER CANDY.

Here's a really good workup of the candidates and the election from DCist:

Friday, April 1, 2011

This morning in quotes

On the bus:

Super cute 3-year-old boy sitting on his dad's lap.... you know how some kids will ask you tons of questions and when you give in and answer they just keep asking "Why?"  This kid was one of those kids.  When I sat down on the bus he was in the midst of asking his dad ten times "Why the clouds are moving?" As his dad peered over his shoulder trying to read his Blackberry.  When he finally answered, it led to a string of more "why"s.

Other questions:

"Daddy is there traffic?"  (To which he responded "Why would you even ask that?")
"Daddy I wan' see newspaper!" (technically not a question)
(Pointing to a guy sitting across from them) "Is that man old?"

"Stop asking me questions."

Slightly annoying, but mostly cute.

Also on the bus:
My text message to my boss: "The Vice President is making me late.  Think we're stuck behind the motorcade."
My boss: "No worries.  The VP could be making you late and the VP could be Sarah Palin"

And then on Metro:
Awkward me: "Hey, I think I met you"
Guy I have definitely met: "Um, no, I don't think so?"
Now starting to feel doubtful, but committed to this, me: "No, I'm sure of it.  Didn't you meet my friend Amanda? At a game night?"
Poor guy just trying to commute to work: "I don't know..."
Now definitely awkward me: "Yes, you met Amanda.  And you met me on St. Patrick's Day."
The guy: "Ohhhhh.  Yeah!  I'm sorry.  Amanda the teacher!  Yeah.  What was your name again?"

And finally, in my inbox:
Teacher friend: So, yesterday I took 200 9th graders into DC and they all came back.  I think I've earned a drink.  Happy hour anyone?
Friend #2: George Washington Carver once took 200 students to DC to see a session of the House of Representatives. They heckled the agriculture bill being debated on the floor, thus creating the phrase "peanut gallery"
Friend #3:  Wow. Solid one. A 9.6 on the GWC scale. You were like a Romanian gymnast out there.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Visuals from Japan

I usually am really vigilant about keeping up with current events, but lately, it's all been a bit much for me.  I can't wrap my head around everything happening around the world right now, particularly in Japan.

I have a couple of friends there, and one of them responded to the "Are you ok?" email to say that she and her family were all fine, but that she was "filled with a feeling of helplessness."

That's pretty much how I feel, too.  She went on to say:

"All I can do now is to start out with something simple, saving electricity, raising funds for instance."

Below, I think out loud about nuclear for a bit, but first, I want to share a link from ABC that shows before and after aerial shots from around Japan (Scroll across each photo to see the "after").  You can see the earthquake and tsunami damage, and it's pretty awful, but I think it's important to see.

This all feels personal for me, not because of my friends in the country, but because I've become really interested in nuclear in the past few years.  I spent last summer researching the history of nuclear power in France, and this summer I'm going to Paris for more of the same.  I'm not a fan of nuclear, and I've always brought up the answers people expect less: it makes zero economic sense, for one, and it's also environmentally toxic to mine for the uranium.  Oh, and we're inept in dealing with the waste.

But honestly, the fears of terrorist attacks, much less natural disaaster, never really bothered me that much.  Maybe I'm naive, or maybe I never bothered because what good would paranoia do?  Maybe I never bothered because everyone expects that argument, has already made up their mind if they think the reactors are foolproof or not.  But really, I assumed that our government - our institutions like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission - knew what it was doing.  And in discussing nuclear subs with a Navy nuclear engineer, I feel confident that our Navy certainly does.   But that Japan, a country with no less wealth of intellect, expertise and institutional capability, was so ill-prepared for this natural disaster and that we probably are, too - it's not really so different from the BP oil spill in the Gulf, except that there the bad guys are more visible and bad.  Here they may not be so bad (or maybe I just have a gene that makes me hate oil companies?) but the result is the same (or far worse, really).

It's the same reaction I have to genetically modifying our food sources (speaking of which, yesterday, a colleague sat down in a meeting and set on the table in front of him a giant apple that looked, no joke, like a parallelogram.  That is NOT natural!).  We're playing with something that, in the end, we don't fully understand, and people and wildlife that had NOTHING to do with those decisions pay the price.

Anyway, as with many disasters, there are organizations on the ground that we can support financially.  And luckily Japan is open to that help - not every country would be, so thank heavens for that.  Yesterday as I got off the metro a guy dressed haphazardly as a clown held out a coffee can repeating "Donations to help Japan!" And even though I have been a canvasser in the past, and I know legitimacy is hard to show on the street, this could not have looked more like a scam.   But for a comprehensive list of more reputable ways to give and help:

 Sorry this was a downer.  I'll close the same way my friend in Japan closed her email to me:

"I hope everyone can live a life of peace sooner."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meatcation 2011

This is about a weekend vacation from vegetarianism.

Or, more efficiently, Meatcation 2011.

(Photo credit goes to the dirty hipster I'm dating)

I've been vegetarian for almost exactly a year - I gave up meat for Lent last year, found it surprisingly easy AND a good way to make sure I cooked a lot and saved money (because quality meat is freakin' expensive!).  And, there's the whole environmental thing and the fact that factory meat disgusts me, etc etc.  Win-win all around, except for my weakness for bacon.

But it's been pretty much smooth sailing.  Since it's not a religion, I make exceptions.  For instance, when home for Thanksgiving, there is a turkey and so I am going to eat some of it.  I go by the rule of economics: my goal in being veggie is to not create further demand, in the market, for meat.  I know it's just little old me, so it's not affecting the grand scheme of things, but you could say that about voting too, and don't you dare tell me voting isn't important.

Anyway.  There's a whole turkey and my parents are not going to buy eleven twelfths of a turkey if I say "no meat for me!"  They are going to still buy a whole turkey.  And when it runs out, they won't buy another, and one person's serving or two of turkey (plus leftovers) won't be a big impact because my parents don't eat meat every night anyway.

(Another exception goes to venison because mmmmmmm, venison and also, hunting deer is actively GOOD for the environment, at least in New York State where my dad hunts.  You can't get much more local or free range or eco-friendly than to hunt wild, overpopulated animals in your friend's backyard.  Also mmmmm, venison.)

Anyway.  I've been craving meat lately, and since as I said it's no religion for me, decided to take a Meatcation.

This would be a celebration in two parts.  Part 1, BBQ.  Part 2, Irish feast.

Part 1.

For day 1 of Meatcation 2011, I went to nearby Rocklands Barbeque, which had been recommended (and also I could walk there) by a friend.  I decided to go purist and order myself a half rack of baby back ribs.

Now, they were fine and all, but it wasn't exactly HOLY COW HOW DID I GIVE UP MEAT FOR SO LONG THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE LIVE FOR kind of good.  So either Rocklands is a so-so barbeque place, or meat just isn't what I remember it being.  (Last time I craved ribs was a week into the post-Wisdom-teeth-surgery soft foods diet.  And when I could eat solid food again, my parents took me for ribs, and they were completely glorious.)

So, Rocklands, eh.

Part 2: The Annual Post-St-Paddy's-Day Corned Beef and Cabbage Extravaganza at my friend Chris'

Ok, THIS is what meat is supposed to be.  Tender, juicy, yummy, and piled on a plate with lots of cabbage and carrots.  No?  Yes.

(No pictures, sorry.  But trust me, it was good.)

However, I am happily back in veggie land.  It's become default to me, now, and sure meat is yummy, but when you don't assume that 1/3 of your plate is meat you get a lot more creative with your meals (unless you don't have time to be creative, in which case I live off of fake chicken nuggets like a little kid.)

Also, I feel I should take this opportunity to plug my friend's blog - she decided to go vegan a little while back and chronicles her adventures:

Happy Meatcation to all, and to all a good night!