Friday, December 25, 2009

Book Club Book Review: What is Marriage For?

Before first delving into my review of this book, I must admit, I am both a liberal academic and a scientist, which may bias my review of this book just a bit. Altogether, I would give this book a positive review. Graff is a lesbian and lays out her reasoning for a allowing gay marriage, arguing that all of the things heterosexual marriage is for (money, sex, children, kin, order, heart - her chapters) are the same things homosexual marriage is for. She also argues that, as society has changed, so has marriage, reflecting our views as society. I found this book to be interesting in it's historical tidbits, but honestly, pretty hard to get through. The author, while understandably passionate about the subject, tends to ramble on about historical situations or studies which hammer home her point, but at a certain cost. The reader must slog through brief explanations of such studies, attempting to pull out the relevant information. For example, while I found it interesting that gender of a parent did not seem to have an effect on children, as long as the parent is loving, the studies she cited were so small as to cause me to wonder why she cited them at all. I am mostly curious how the studies would look today, with ten years time in between.
I found the language to be a bit insulting - using the term "preggers" more than once, or the term "babies" for children (that may be my elitist academic in me) and I'm still not sure to whom the book was written. As the political situation had played out, it seems to be mostly right wing conservative Christians who have the biggest problem with gay marriage. I understand it's hard to address issues of religion with reason, and I assume this book was not written for them. It seems to be written for logical, reasonable individuals who have an interest in human rights and equality, but are on the fence about allowing gay marriage, for whatever reason. At this point in time, I think most of those people have been convinced that legalization of homosexual marriage is the next logical step, perhaps making this book a little dated.
However, I do understand this book set a precedent and has been quoted and used in arguments and discussions of same sex marriage over the last few years. I also understand that this was the first book to look at same sex marriage from the woman's perspective, which is indeed intriguing. I commend the author for her work in this field, and being brave enough to be the first one to logically lay out the reasoning for legalization of gay marriage.
On the personal front, I was appalled and outraged at the blatant discrimination carried out by voters when Prop 8 passed in California last year. I grew up with an unrelated gay uncle whom I will always fiercely defend. I really feel this is a constitutional issue for the Federal Government, one that must be interpreted by both the right for equality (separate is not equal) and the separation of Church & State (in that, the government cannot force a church to marry people it does not want to marry). I am hopeful this political nightmare will play out in a rational and justified way (and am astonished that Iowa is leading the way!). Ultimately, I think Graff's book should be read by anyone interested in marriage itself (whether gay or straight) as well as people interested in the arguments for gay marriage.
If you'd like to join the discussion, head over here.
If you are interested in book club and would like to join, check it out here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

And just for fun...

"NORAD intelligence reports indicate that Santa does not experience time the way we do. His Christmas Eve trip seems to take 24 hours to us, but to Santa it might last days, weeks or even months. Santa would not want to rush the important job of delivering presents to children and spreading Christmas to everyone, so the only logical conclusion is that Santa somehow functions within his own time-space continuum."
courtesy of Santa Tracker at NORAD.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snowpocalypse 2009 continues

This storm has really killed this city. It's really amazing what a little bit of snow can do! We got about two feet of snow and the temps have been below freezing for the most part since the storm. Which means that the snow has not melted and gone away. Most people have shoveled their walks, except for those stubborn few who, apparently, like to skate down their front steps and walk. I think there are approximately 6 guys with snowplows and shovels charged with the task of snow removal. They are still working today! I walk to work every day, and once I get to Penn campus, things are great - everything is plowed and salted and it's clear and lovely. However, getting there can be quite a trick. Nobody plows the sidewalks on the bridges, which are a main thoroughfare and so us pedestrians just have to slog though 2 feet of melted and icy snow to get across the bridge to get to work. So, we decided to walk in the street. Along the side of the street, of course, but in the street. It's been plowed and is clear, does not have treacherous ice and snow on it (think about it, if you are walking on a bridge with a guard rail, and there is 2 ft of snow on said bridge - that guard rail doesn't do much for you anymore does it? woosh- right into the Schuylkill! Whoops!). So, the cars get mad, and they come pretty close to us pedestrians and nearly hit us. People on bikes don't have it much better since the snow is piled into the bike lanes! I talked to a guy yesterday who said it took him 4 hours to dig his truck out. Wow! Everything has just slowed down - I think people are still stressed, but it's more of an "Oh well" type of situation - only doing what absolutely HAS to be done and ignoring all the frivolousness. Which is lovely, I must say. Other than twisting my knee on some icy snow, this has been a lovely snowstorm, mostly because I don't have to drive or travel anywhere. To those of you traveling, godspeed and good luck. To those of you here, welcome home. And to everyone else, a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Things I learned this past weekend

we used to have a backyard!

  • Snow is very beautiful and lovely and turns me into a seven year old.
  • There is more than one kind of snow. This particular kind that fell was "light" and "dry", mostly meaning you couldn't make snowballs or snowmen out of it.
  • Snowmen made out of such snow do not look like Frosty the Snowman.
  • The City of Philadelphia and surrounding areas do not know how to deal with the snow in any way shape or form. Case in point, it stopped snowing Sat night, schools are closed today.
  • Snowplows on the freeway travel in armadas, with several plows, dump trucks and more plows. It made me think of Christopher Columbus.
  • They do not plow every street. Especially mine, which is tiny.
  • You have to dig your car out of the snow. Like, literally, with a shovel.
  • Sometimes other people shovel your walk for you.
  • Driving in the snow requires a lot of brake pumping (that's what she said, eh, Randi?)
  • The local news was on all day Sat - covering the snow. At one point, they were literally pulling people off the streets to interview them.
  • Buses, trains and airplanes do not run in the snow.
  • Snow can act as an insulator - our roof covered in snow = warmer 2nd floor of the house! Go figure!
  • Walking in the snow is hard and should only be left to professionals. Or those with Gaiters, Yaktrax and huge puffy coats, like me.
  • People are much friendlier in the snow. Or, only the friendly people come out in the snow. They tell you all about their childhood, their neighborhood, anything. We met our next door neighbor for the first time (lived there for 3 years so far....) I think cabin fever is also involved.
  • Snow falling makes a certain noise that I can't describe. White noise, maybe. And every other sound is muffled. The silence is wonderful!
  • The last time this area had this much snow in December was literally 1909 - it was the storm of the century :)
  • I am very glad I do not drive. I would have killed lots of people.
  • Sometime, when driving on the freeway, cars can randomly spin around for no reason whatsoever. Who knew?
  • Babies and dogs in snow are just about the cutest thing I have ever seen.
  • A shovelful of snow on your head is cold. And wet. And requires hot chocolate STAT.
  • You don't feel so bad drinking the full fat hot chocolate from SBux because you just walked in the snow for miles.
  • Kids really do wear snowsuits. Adults too, Haha!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Because it's that time of year....

This video makes me very happy :)
Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

My brain is mushy Haiku Friday

So many things to
do, so little time. Weekend
visitor tonight.


Tree is done, next are
cards. Mailing gifts. Some time
on the internet.


Writing a paper
Hope it will get published you
Will hear about that!

Monday, December 7, 2009


I broke my coffee pot on Friday night. On Saturdays and Sundays, I usually lounge around and read the paper and enjoy my cup of coffee. You know, because on other days, it's Go!Go!Go! So we tried to make coffee on Saturday morning and it didn't quite work well. Everything we made turned out weak and sad and watered down. Alex realized that he had an old 4-cup coffee maker in the basement from his bachelor years, so we pulled that out. Thankfully, that still worked and we were able to get a couple cups out of it for Sunday morning. I then headed to the dreaded KMart. Why is that the worst place on earth? Seriously? I've hated KMart ever since I was a kid and the one in Ventura had no parking and the worst lot on earth to get out of. Then, in college, the only place near campus was KMart, and it sucked just as bad as the one in Ventura. Now, the only "discount" type store I can get to in the city - KMart! Grrrrr....
Everything is Martha Stewart crap everywhere. Their Christmas decorations are hideous, cheap and nasty. Everything is jumbled about, the lines are a mile long, the service is slow and rude and mumbled, you are accosted as you leave the store for your receipt and all your stuff you bought that you've carefully packed into your backpack (yeah, I literally JUST checked out - could you pay attention, security person? Then maybe you would notice that I just paid!). So, the have a Mr. Coffee replacement carafe and I purchase it. For maybe $12 or so (silly to pay for one of those when a whole new one is $30, I know). And I get it home, and lo and behold, it's, literally, 2cm too wide in diameter. So it won't fit into the burner (or into the machine, for that matter). So, I'm back to my dinky little 4 cup coffee pot. Which is fine, mostly, but we've got people visiting this weekend and then right after Christmas. It's kinda a pain to make, basically 1.5 cups of coffee per run o' the machine.
Mostly, I would kill for a trip to Target right now. I wish they were close by or I wish I had access to a car that I could just pop over there one evening this week. Sometimes, living in the city is great. When it takes a 2hr bus ride or a treacherous bike ride across town to get the things you're looking for, then it kinda sucks!
Considering the pros and cons of purchasing a car......

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dear State of New York,

Could ya get it together? You and CA are supposed to be the trend setters - instead you let places like Iowa take the lead? What the hell is wrong with you? Who are these damn people who oppose gay marriage? Can we just give them one of the shitty states and the rest of us non-discriminators can just have the rest of the country? I'm so sick of this shit - where are these people coming from and where do they get off restricting access to state sanctioned institutions?

Arrrrrrgggghhhhvoldknsrbo;erinbsozeibfhjwiorg pbthhhhhht!

And thus concludes my rant for the day....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Would You do to Graduate?

A recent article in the NY Times highlighted an interesting tactic in college graduation. Lincoln University, a predominantly African-American college a bit outside Philadelphia, has declared that students with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30 need to take a gym class to graduate. BMI is a ratio of your weight to your height and is a crude (although somewhat effective) way to determine if people are overweight. Granted, if you are Peyton Manning (quarterback of the still undefeated Indianapolis Colts), your BMI is pretty skewed because he's 6'5" and a ton of muscle. But for the rest of us, it's a pretty good indicator of size. And I realize that obesity is an American epidemic that especially hits lower income families and minorities the most. I applaud Lincoln University for recognizing the epidemic, and for trying to do something about it, but I think the approach is wrong. I think the majority of us could use an extra gym credit, a health class, a cooking or nutrition class. When I was in college (back in my day...), I took some dance classes that I loved. It was a great way to burn off steam, and there was no homework! Just show up. I understand that perhaps these classes are not for everyone. Someone commuting to school, or paying on a per credit basis, would probably not appreciate the little one-unit class that made them drive all the way to campus for no reason. But, for students attending college and living on campus, as the majority of students at Lincoln are doing, an extra class dedicated to nutrition, how to use the gym or a plethora of sports, could be a great addition to the curriculum. For ALL students. Not just those considered technically obese. I think it's pretty prevalent that a lot of us get out of college and don't know how to take care of ourselves. I had late nights filled with pots of coffee, dinner consisted of Spaghetti Os or Ramen noodles, or those Pasta-Roni boxes, and I drank copious amounts of alcohol. It would have been nice to have a nutrition or health class, or, heck, even Home Ec in high school (please, without the sexist agenda!). I guess what I'm saying is that the sentiment is right at Lincoln, the execution is just off. Let's make eating healthy and taking care of yourself part of our education, but let's not single out one group of people to force that education on. I think we'll all be better off if we do.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

  • had 6 people for Thanksgiving - I think it was a total success, even if one guest was terrified of cats and jumped every time a cat walked near him.
  • have so much turkey, I have no idea what to do with it - want some?
  • did absolutely nothing but sit on my ass Friday. Barely even cleaned up after dinner. Tryptophan indeed.
  • Had a lovely day walking about on Saturday. Checked out Christmas displays, looked in windows at all the things I can't afford and caught part of the Macy's lights show in the old Wanamaker building.
  • Found out that the display on Princess Diana at the Constitution Center costs nearly $30 to get into. Doesn't that seem excessive for a display on someone so rich?
  • Hit up the movies, which was a treat.
  • Had several lazy mornings, reading the paper and drinking coffee.
  • Went for a 3 mile run yesterday, and MAN was it hard! I guess eating all that food sure can kill your stamina.
  • Can't believe it's almost December!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Alex and I caught a showing of The Fantastic Mr. Fox last night. It's a Wes Anderson film, and I honestly has not heard about it or seen any previews of it anywhere. It stars George Clooney as Mr. Fox and Meryl Streep as Felicity Fox, Jason Schwartzmann as their son, Ash and several other big names (Willem Defoe as a bad rat, etc). I must say, the cast list is impressive. Plus, it's stop motion animation, which I have loved ever since the debut of the California Raisins. I might have been a little old to have read this book as a kid - I don't really recall. The story follows Mr. Fox and his family. A former chicken stealer, Mr. Fox settled down with his wife, Felicity, to have a family (his son, Ash) and decided to give up chicken stealing (it's dangerous, you know!). Upon moving the family from a burrow to a tree, Mr. Fox is tempted one again to steal farmed fowl from the nearby farms owned by some nasty farmers. He successfully breaks into the farms, steals various fowl and food and humiliates the farmers, who vow to get him back. The story is a little bizarre (the original was written by Roald Dahl, which might explain it) and I was constantly looking for "other meanings" in the story (and I am not so sure this movie has underlying meanings or themes). I was incredibly pleased by the animation, the characters, and the plotline. Mr. Fox indeed is fantastic, and I cannot think of anyone better to play him than Clooney. The supporting characters are brilliant, and everything turns out OK in the end. Plus, there are little snippets like, "Everyone knows that Beagles love blueberries!" which just kinda make you giggle. I was surprised to see a theatre full of people watching this movie on a Saturday night, but it was super entertaining and a great example of stop motion cinematography (although perhaps not as great as Wallace and Grommet, which I think is the best!).

Monday, November 23, 2009

I ran a race....

On the day before my 32nd birthday.

Prior to starting, I was in my corral, waiting for the race to start. The mayor was an MC- literally "singing" (if that's what you'd call it) the theme song to Rocky prior to the start of the race. I was freezing my rear off and goofing for the camera!

Here I come into the chute, ready to cross the finish line....

Sometimes, I run like a gazelle. I know you're jealous....

Official time: 51 mins, 47 seconds to run 5 miles. About a 10:25 mile - not too bad in my book!
I think I'll keep doing this!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Poem about Running

As and ode to my health, to prove I'm not old,
I am running on Sunday, even in the cold.

The last day I can say: I'm but thirty 0ne
Thirty two I will be on Monday - hope it's fun!

While I'm running the course with thousands of others
I'll be thinking of you and everyone's mothers.

So, if you happen to wake early on Sunday morn,
Think of me and the thousand of others in the Philly marathon!

I'll be huffing and puffing long before eight,
here's to the weekend! I hope it will be great!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dear Bicycle Riders,

You are a moving vehicle - stay off the sidewalk and don't try to run over pedestrians. There is a bike lane for your use. It's clearly marked. Use it, not my sidewalk.
Thank you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dear Christian Fascists,

Please don't hand out an edited version of Darwin's book On the Origin of Species as a cheap ploy to get me to listen to your intelligent design/creationism bull shit. I don't take your Bible and edit it to support my views on life (oh, wait, you already do that!). I am perfectly happy with the absence of religion in my life and I don't need you to hang out on the campus of a medical school, for Christ's sake and try to trick people into believing you are celebrating the publication of Darwin's groundbreaking work. I am sorry that you feel the need to edit and alter Darwin's work to serve your own goals. I am also sorry that your arguments are so thinly veiled and so easily discounted. I think it's sad when you take quotations out of context and you use the wonderful openness, and peer review process of science to attempt to prove your points. It's also a shame that all of your bibliography consists of references to Newsweek articles and Creationist publications and websites. What? You couldn't find any legitimate, peer reviewed articles to quote? Not even from your friend Richard Beehe? The fact remains that you are trying to force your brand of religion on the rest of us, on our schoolchildren, and on the public in general. This is precisely why there is a clause in the Constitution regarding the Separation of Church and State. If you are so concerned about your children learning false viewpoints, then, by all means, teach them all you want. Just don't usurp our scholarly and scientific texts to try to shove some Christian Fascist bullshit down our throats. Your book will be stoking our Thanksgiving Day fire. And so concludes my rant for the day.

"Teaching intelligent design in public school biology classes violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (and Article I, Section 3 of the Pennsylvania State Constitution) because intelligent design is not science and 'cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents'."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


My labmate is graduating. She's a year ahead of me and has been working on her thesis for a while. She's not really sure what to do with herself after she graduates, so she's been exploring lots of different career options. She's limited to a certain area because her husband has a job at a somewhat local school, and the economy's been shitty (as if you hadn't noticed). Having worked in industry, I keep encouraging her to stay patient and on top of things and that, eventually, she'll get the job she wants. Sometimes it's hard to take your own advice. You see, I have a problem with my boss. I need to publish at least one first author paper in order to graduate. I will have done enough work for (hopefully) three first author papers by the time I'm ready to graduate. My boss has some weird aversion to publishing. He doesn't like to read the things you send him unless it's under a deadline. When I wrote a grant with him a few years ago, I was up all night the night before, getting revisions from him until 3AM. Honestly, it was kind of a nightmare since I'm not really a procrastinator. I try to finish things up with plenty of time. So, on top of all the worry and anxiety of dealing with and getting through grad school, I have to now figure out a way to get my boss to read and critique and publish my papers. It's pretty stressful to say the least. I'm also trying to consider where I will go next, what I want to work on, what type of environment I want to look for and where I want to live. Needless to say, I've got a lot of anxiety in my life right now. I've been trying to develop my "patience" skill. I don't have a lot of it, especially since I moved East. It's definitely a skill I'd like to develop! I've also been running a lot. I run at least three times a week. It feels great to get out all that energy and decompress. I don't listen to my headphones, I don't do anything but focus on my breathing and my stride and I run. It makes me feel like a kid again (although I don't have nearly the amount of endurance or energy as I did when I was a kid). I'm not very fast, and I probably have all the wrong form. But it helps. And I just have to trust that when the time comes, things will work out for the best.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday, Monday

So, my birthday's coming up in a week. I am glad it doesn't fall directly on T-Day this year (yay, I can have cake instead of pumpkin pie!). I usually get really excited for my birthday, and this year is no exception. I've asked Alex over and over again what he's getting me for my birthday, and he just won't say. You see, Alex has a wee bit of a gift confidence problem. He is not too sure how to buy me gifts (yes, we've been together for nearly 4 years now LOL). So, I hinted heavily that I needed some new slippers. Mine have gone to hell in a handbasket, let me tell you. So, over the summer, we visited the LL Bean store in Freeport, Maine, and I found the slippers I wanted. Fast forward to a few days ago. I was falling asleep one night, while Alex was reading something in bed. I woke up to a sound downstairs, wondering what was going on. Alex wasn't in bed anymore and I asked him what was going on. Turned out, he had walked into his bike, making the noise. Asking what he was doing downstairs, he said he was checking the lock on the back door (a door we hadn't opened in quite a while, since it's been freezing lately). He came back to bed and I saw him try to slide something underneath the bed. I started bugging him about it. Turns out, he was hoping to replace my old, beat up, nasty old slippers with the new ones I had wanted. Had I stayed asleep, he could have pulled it off. Instead, the bike gave him away. I have to say, it was a wonderful surprise either way and I am so pleased to have warm, fuzzy toes for the winter!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Haiku Friday the 13th!

Happy Friday the
Thirteenth. Superstitious say
it should be bad luck.


I always think it
can't be that bad, right? It is
Friday, after all.


Ten days to go till
the big three two. And to think
I still feel fourteen!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dear Julie Andrews,

There's been a theme in my life. And I'm not quite sure where it came from, but Julie Andrews has always been in it. I think, perhaps, it's because my mom always sings in this false operatic voice (and, trust me, she is constantly singing) that sounds somewhat like Julie Andrews. Perhaps my mom always sang Julie Andrews songs ("What do the Simple Folk Do?" from Camelot comes to mind, as well as the Do Re Mi song). I have always sort of thought of my mom as a cross between Angela Landsbury (she is always reading and solving mysteries) and Julie Andrews. As you can imagine, I loved The Sound of Music, and had never quite experienced it in such a way before. We had the great pleasure of attending the Doug Elkins & Friends performance of Fraulein Maria, a dance/vaudeville interpretation of The Sound of Music, complete with Rodgers and Hammerstein original cast recording as music. I was even involved in the show! I broke the 4th wall! The show stays fairly true to the original storyline, but includes not one, but three Fraulein Marias (one of them a man!) and included lots of wonderful dance moves, including classical, modern and even hip hop. Their portrayal of Germany invading Austria was carried out by Elkins himself (along with our lovable MC) fighting over the seat on a bench - one of the most innovative ways I could think to show invasions of countries. The final scene, danced to "Something Good", the couples include, not only Fraulein Maria and her handsome man, but also a female-female couple and a male-male couple, nicely bringing in some modern twists to the plot. The show is funny, moving, sad and wonderful. The dancers are fantastic and I loved every minute of the hour long show (in fact, I wish it was longer). This troupe is based out of NYC, but if you get the chance to see this amazingly innovative and entertaining show, DO IT!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dear Veterans,

Thank you. I don't think we say it enough.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Love's Labour Lost

I went to a Shakespeare play. Not just any Shakespeare play, but a good one, put on by Skakespeare's own Globe Theatre Company. With proper British accents, impeccable acting, beautiful singing, and a lot of laughter. I felt compelled to attend because I am neither an English major, nor am I knowledgeable about Shakespeare. I read the requisite Romeo and Juliet and Julius Ceasar and I'm sure a few sonnets in high school but that's about it. I recall Shakespeare being difficult to understand, and having to go line by line through the parts in order to understand nuances and innuendo and to get the the gist of it all. In general, I think I had pretty good English teachers who helped me to understand the interesting parts of the plays. I also recall them being very minimalist, not describing a single direction or stage cue or lighting or anything. Which, in general, makes them a wonderful thing to interpret, right? I enjoyed Baz Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet when I was a kid, most probably because it had the My So-Called life girl in it with Leonardo DiCaprio. And I had read it before, thanks to Mr. Lewis, I believe in freshman year English.
However, this was different. A true acting troupe, fully realizing the characters on stage. The performance was wonderful, beginning with a group of musicians wandering about the area outside the theatre, playing lovely tunes on their (presumably) 16th-17th century era instruments. There was no curtain, and the actors marched into the theatre together, along with the musicians. The actors were truly brilliant: pantomiming, enunciating, emphasizing Shakespeare's unbelievable ability to write poetry. The costumes were beautiful, and the storyline and plot was truly hysterical. I am so glad I took the time to see Shakespeare performed as I would imagine it was performed way back when. I am hoping to not be so intimidated to see another difficult play again. And, surprisingly, the second act was much easier to follow than the first. I guess I must have a small English major deep within my psyche!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009


I am a very lucky student. We get to obtain tickets to amazing shows for very little money here at Penn. Our most recent venture was to MacHomer, a one man show derived from Shakespeare's play Macbeth. The twist? One man plays all the characters - and all the characters are from the Simpsons TV show. I thought Alex might like this, and having grown up watching the Simpsons (jeez, I was 11 when it started!) I thought I might enjoy it too. Rick Miller is the writer and performer of the show, and it apparently came from backstage humor during a performance of the actual Macbeth. Miller is phenomenal - energentic, funny, over the top, really entertaining and extremely talented. I had a blast. The play was very short (maybe a little over an hour or so) with no intermission, but I didn't get bored or itch to move around. Miller has a myriad number of voices he lends to the play and the giant TV screen behind him helps you identify the characters he is emulating. The dialogue is a bit fast, and sometimes is exactly what Shakespeare himself wrote, so it's funny to hear Homer quote some of the more famous Macbeth lines, like
"Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand?"
And then have is say, "Or is it a pizza?". It's also funny to see Marge as the murderous Lady Macbeth, encouraging Homer to go out and kill in order to become queen. There are references to present day pop culture, as well as a wonderful encore in which Miller sings a great song by many, many characters. Altogether, this is a great re-interpretation of Macbeth, and I would higly recommend checking it out, especially if you are even remotely a Simpsons fan.

Monday, October 12, 2009


So, I fully admit that I'm behind on the whole "movie watching"
thing. We rented Michael Moore's Sicko this past weekend, mostly because of the loud roar over health care that's been going on for some time now. I have to say, this is Moore's best film yet. His first movies had this greatly brazen asshole trying to get into GM or Nike headquarters, trying to make a point. At the time, I loved it because I had never really seen movie making quite like that. In this film, Moore actually lets the people tell their own stories. And short of a little ridiculous excursion to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Moore actually hits the nail on the head. He is able to interview many, many people all over the country to drive home the point that big insurance companies have wrecked our health care system. We are the only developed nation to not offer universal health care. And we seem to care only about profits and money making than anything else. Why else would we have publicly traded insurance companies? How do insurance companies make a profit? By denying your claims. Who denies your claims? Doctors hired by the insurance companies to maintain a certain percentage of denials in order to make a profit. The current ways of denying claims is to say you have a "pre-existing condition" or that you have had in the past something that you did not disclose, say a cold or the flu. It's thoroughly disturbing that we do not have any sort of health coverage for a significant part of the population and that those of us who are insured are insured on a tenuous level (as in, it can be taken away from you at a moment's notice). This movie was interesting, provocative and sad. It was hard to watch and even harder to comprehend why we would deny basic medical service to people in need. This is not the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take. This goes against every tenent in health care - to do no harm. Insurance companies are greedy, selfish and unnecessary. The saddest thing to me is that the health care reform Obama is trying to push through is being so changed and altered by big insurance companies that I fear it will do nothing to change our health care predicament. I think we need drastic changes that may never happen.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Haiku Sickie-Face Friday

Sneezing and coughing
aching and sniffling and
stuffy and loopy.


Haven't been this sick
in a long time (thank god) but
am slowly healing


The flu kicked my ass
swiftly and took prisoners
weekend rest and bed.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dear Ken Burns,

I have been watching the new documentary on America's National Parks by Ken Burns (showing now on PBS). I don't know what it is about his film-making, his cinematography, the narration, but it's amazing. His stories are so touching, recalling a day long ago when the US was struggling to set up the National Parks system. Not only are there beautiful landscapes of the varied lands across our country, but they follow people and their stories - normal, regular people who traveled to the parks, or people who advocated for the parks formations. It's a story of politics, as well as the "American Dream" and the last few remaining untouched spots in our country. This documentary, like Burns' others, is touching, heartfelt and astonishing. It literally has made me cry on several occasions. I am looking forward to the other installments of this series. Good on ya, Ken!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Phila Fail

epic fail pictures
see more Fail Blog

I actually like the name of this store - esp since it's in the gayberhood and full of totally kitschy stuff.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride my bike. What did I do this weekend? Went on a 50 mile bike ride. Holy moly, is my ass sore. We took the bike path up to Valley Forge yesterday. The day was perfect for a bike ride - in the 70s, very few clouds in the sky, warm sun. The leaves are just barely starting to change around here, and it feels like fall is in the air (equinox is tomorrow, so it should be). We came back exhausted, so it may be a couple weeks before Alex can convince me to get back on the bike and go that far again, but we'll see. With the scenery so pretty and the summer crowds gone, it's great to bike around the area. Since we took such a long bike ride, though, now I've got a ton of housework to catch up on...never done, right? I also promptly fell into bed after a quick trip into lab. Even the excitement of the Giants v. Dallas game couldn't keep me awake!
How was your weekend?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Haiku Friday

Not a plan in sight
Nary and scrap of work to
do. No traveling.


Weekend chores, shopping
maybe a bike ride or run
Reading, relaxing.


Fall is coming soon
Smell the air, feel the change in
seasons. Time goes on.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


It seems like all we do lately is say how sad we are that somebody died. MJ was a shock, Patrick Swayze was really sad. Farrah, etc, etc. Yesterday I learned of the loss of two women, one famous, and one not so much, which saddened me much more than any of the others before.
My mom is a very kind soul. She wouldn't hurt a fly and she always wears rose-colored glasses. This can both be a good thing and a bad thing, but it's something I love about my mom. She doesn't judge people, she tries to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and she likes to "Live and let live". My mom also loves to sing. In this weird, slightly operatic, slightly off tune voice. Which drove me nuts when I lived at home, but I now find myself singing to myself all the time (I guess I'm turning into my mother...). As far back as I can remember, my mom listened to Peter, Paul and Mary. I don't know what it was about the music, but I just loved it. The harmony, the song lyrics, the messages underneath the lyrics, and the fact that they continued to sing those songs as they aged, just spoke volumes to me. I remember loving the stories behind the songs, the emotion put into the lyrics. "Puff the Magic Dragon" will still, to this day, make me cry for lost childhood dreams, forgotten childhood experiences, and all the innocence and wonder that exists in childhood. For some reason, I drew parallels with Mary Travers and my mom. Mary was in a band with two men, and she often carried the tune, made the transitions, or started the song. In other words, she was a leader, in a time when women were not really leaders and were trying to change their position. My mom was that way, too, working as a mathematician for the Navy, surrounded by men in every position above and below her. Yet, she embraced it and did what she could to keep her job and move up in the ranks. Mary Travers never changed her position on war - I remember Peter, Paul and Mary singing at the protests against the Iraq war. I remember thinking, wow, how amazing to keep your convictions all these years, to stick to them and to continue the movement they were so integral to starting. I am so grateful that strong women like Mary Travers (and my mom) preceded me and paved a path on which I would build my career and my life as I want to.
The other person who passed away recently was Mrs. H. Mrs. H was an old family friend; a matriarch of the H family which has been close to my family for years. My grandparents met Mr. and Mrs. H upon moving into Ojai in the 60s. It was back when there were "Welcome wagons" int he community and Mrs. H was the first to greet my family. She noticed that my grandparents had 3 boys - she also had 3 kids - and they got together and were friends ever since. Mrs. H was the quinessential grandparent as long and I knew her. She lived on a ranch in Ojai that had acres and acres of orange trees. Mrs. H canned and cooked like nobody's business. She was a wonderful host, but was not afraid to put on her overalls and get out in the barn and deal with the chickens. We lost Mr. H several years ago, to many different illnesses. Mrs. H carried on, renting out her house and living in a small mobile home on the property. When it became obvious she could no longer live on her own, she was moved nearer her son, and she passed away in her sleep. Mrs. H always made me feel loved an welcome in her house, she always took time out to talk to everyone, be a part of everyones lives. And she seemed to know that the simplest things in life are the best. I don't recall her owning a TV (maybe a small set for the kids) and I do remember sitting in the hot tub with all her grandkids. My Dad used to visit her every time he was in Ojai, and he always came home with another jar of something Mrs. H had canned. I used to send her Christmas cards, and she always wrote back, marveling that someone had remembered "an old lady". She loved Las Vegas, and we all headed out there for her 80th birthday party. The H family has always been a part of our family, and I feel very saddened at the loss of sucha wonderful, loving woman. I know her spirit is passed on to her children and her grandchildren and I am just so thankful to have known her.

Monday, September 14, 2009

RIP, Patrick Swayze

Your movies were always a staple of my many sleepovers. Cancer is an asshole. You will be missed.

Guess what I did?

I ran a 5K!

At the starting line, standing around.

Run, CD, run!

I love it when I dribble water down my front!
Yay for me!

Some thoughts...

  • Screaming "You lie" at a President - really, South Carolina? Really?
  • A woman was murdered in her lab at Yale. Scary? Yeah....freaked out? Just a little...
  • Health care: why are all the people screaming and yelling about health care? You're required to insure your car, but not yourself? Makes no sense to me. And to prevent insurance companies from gouging us, there should be a public option. Doesn't seem that complicated. Trust me, Medicare/Medicaid will still be there, so stop bitching about it. And stop hating on the poor people.
  • Americans are ridiculously opposed to change. Change is good. It keeps us moving forward. What's so scary about that?
  • Philadelphia is in the worst way. The city needs money to function, but the state won't allocate it. We are facing shutdown of city business on Oct 2, if a budget is not written by Sept 18th. Personally, I don't want to live in a city without police and fire officials. The signs on the libraries (all of them, this time) states they will close on Oct 2. How sad.
  • I think women should run things for a while. Men have had their fair share of governing, and look where it's gotten us. Let's give the females a try.
  • I guess I am in the minority when I say that I still approve of President Obama. I think he's doing a great job, trying to focus on the issues, while hearing all sides. I do, however, this that this health care issue will make or break his presidency.
  • I can't believe how ridiculous people are about their kids. Thinking that Obama will "indoctrinate" their kids into "socialism" when all he really wanted to do was tell kids to work hard and stay in school? Get off your high horse, conservatives. Have a little respect for the Office of the President. And let him inspire minority and inner city kids across the country.
  • As far as I can tell, the "deficit", or the "debt" or whatever you want to call it has no effect on my everyday life. Why do I care if we borrow money now so that it's better in the future? This is the worst depression in nearly 100 years! I think this calls for some fancy finances.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Home Haiku Friday

Finally here for
a weekend, but not for long.
More trips in future.


Looking forward to
unpacking, cooking, cleaning
relaxing, biking.


Summer, where have you
gone? I can't believe soon kids
will be back at school!

Dear Philadelphia Eagles,

I have to say I've been really disappointed with your behavior lately. You've made questionable decisions in the past, like letting Jeff Garcia go, getting rid of Jim Johnson (RIP) and getting rid of B.Dawkins. I've always tried to have a little faith, tried to see it through, tried to think you might know what you are doing. However, employing Michael Vick, to me, is abominable. Sure, everyone makes mistakes. And if his mistake, were, say, hitting a dog with his car, then maybe it's forgivable. However, the long term breeding, torture and abuse of animals over years and years is unacceptable. I'm surprised at the sentence he got (and that he served it without bitching and moaning). I know that the Humane Society is trying to work with Vick to promote awareness of dogfighting in urban areas, especially around poorer neighborhoods. I commend that. However, as a member of my team? No way. I just don't condone it and I am not OK with it. Eagles, I think you've lost me as a fan. I really believe that. I think you are selling your soul to the devil in order to win some games, and it disgusts me. I think about all the merchandise you sell, all the kids that watch your games. All the fans that bleed green literally every time you lose. And I can't believe you would disappoint us like this.
Guess I'm looking for a new team to root for. Perhaps one with a few morals....I dunno, Eli Manning's kinda cute.....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Where have I been? Part 2

A stop at the Madonna Inn. This is their bathroom. For those of you looking for a weekend honeymoon getaway {ahem, Randi, ahem}, you should go here. It's so ridiculous, it's amazing. And also where my parents spent part of their honeymoon.

Eating lobster in Maine. Too much lobster....

Watching the sunrise atop Cadillac mountain, the highest peak on the East Coast, and the first place to see the sunlight in the US. Oh, yeah, this was taken around 4:59am. Whew!

Bah Habah.

Sand Beach, Acadia National Forest. 5:45am


Monday, August 10, 2009

Where have I been? Part 1

San Francisco is one of my favorite cities, and I love nothing more than sitting and watching the sea lions bark and play with each other. I was there for a conference in which I gave my first talk to a "national" audience. I actually remembered to breathe, which was good. And I'm glad to add it to my list of accomplishments.

Another thing to add to my list of accomplishments? Yorkshire pudding. Which came out exceptionally well, considering I was flying by the seat of my pants. Deeee-licious!

A little relaxin' in the yard with Randi and Husband. What a day, what a night.

Kitty thinks she lives in a jungle. Very predator -like.

A Black&Tan with Dad at the local bar.

more to follow....

Friday, July 31, 2009

Dear Oxnard Haiku Friday

Dear Oxnard, could it
be any nicer here? I
don't want to go home.


No humidity,
cool breeze, warm sunshine, a
bit of fog at night


Sometimes you have to
leave a place before you know
how nice it can be.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I finally watched this move this weekend and cannot say enough good things about it. I must admit, I was a little too young to realize the situations going on in CA in the late 70s, early 80s. Until this movie, I had never really heard of Harvey Milk. I knew he was a gay icon, but I didn't really know why or what he had done. And there are some things I just can't imagine: like the Castro being anti-gay, people being unable to express their relationships with each other in public, and state-sanctioned discrimination (oh, wait, I can imagine that one! No on H8 BTW Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act). In every movement, it takes someone with more bravery and courage than I can imagine to step out in front of the issues and call them to people's attention. Harvey Milk does that. He spearheads a campaign to put a gay person into a public office (and he runs more times than you can count). He eventually wins a seat as a City Supervisor in SF, only to be shot and killed by another deranged Supervisor at their place of work. (Yeah, talk about justice: see the "Twinkie Defense" if you really want to get pissed off). Harvey inspired a whole host of activists, including the man who set in motion the AIDS quilt, as well as many other people advocating Public Health and Equality for All. I cannot imagine a better time for this movie to come out. Sean Penn is amazing in it, James Franco is (wow) really great. There's a grassroots feeling to this movie, and it was great to see parts of SF re-created for this movie. Altogether, I loved it. It's heartbreaking, heartwrenching, but ultimately has a message of hope. I only hope this movie an inspire others to advocate for themselves, stand up for their rights, and hopefully, soon, we can have equality for all people everywhere. At least, that's what Harvey Milk believes in.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ode to the Fisher Fine Arts Library

I go here a lot
Makes me feel like a student
in the Ivy League.

Vaulted ceilings, arched
doorways, even a fireplace
big chairs and tables.

Not like biomed
library; less stress, more calm.
Suggest you visit!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

40 years ago today....

The Apollo 11 mission left earth for the first manned flight to the moon. Understandably, an unbelievable feat, I just wanted to commemorate the awesomeness of this day. NASA was able to pull off an amazing trip to the moon that was broadcast around the world. I know that I have always been inspired by astronauts and space. Another trip to the ISS is underway today. I was able to watch the live broadcast of the launch last night, and it brought back so many memories. I remember the Challenger blowing up. For some reason, I was at my Grandparents' house that day, home sick from school. The first schoolteacher in space. I remember waking up early to hear the sonic booms from the space shuttle landing. I remember seeing the weird 747 at Mugu, preparing to fly the shuttle to Florida. NASA and the space program have so advanced science and made it open and accessible to the public. What a truly historic day. Congrats, NASA! Here's to 40 more years of exploration (at least!).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Rant

While understandably excited to watch the confirmation of our first Latina woman on the Supreme Court (and only the THIRD woman to serve), I can't help but be pissed off at the conservative conversations happening in the media. Here is an intelligent, hard working woman who graduated from Princeton undergrad and Yale law School. She has, as far as I can tell, risen from a working class family (in which her father had a third grade education and did not even speak English) to become a judge in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. I am not sure how much hard work it requires to become a judge. I don't even know how much work Yale Law School might be. I know that grad school takes a lot of determination, intelligence, perseverance and the right attitude. I imagine Sotomayor has all of these and more. I would like to think that Obama saw in her the same pragmatic attitude he has, having come from a working class family and having risen to the Presidency. I would like to think her decisions as a judge have been well thought out and have been based on precident as well as the laws on the books. Nobody really knows. However, I will not stand for this blatant racism, saying she is the product of affirmative action - that she never would have made it this far without racial quotas. I'm sorry, but what? We are talking about a wildly sucessful 55 year old woman, here. Someone who has clearly planned her life journey according to certain values, one who has worked her ass off to get where she is today. It has nothing to do with her race! Don't diminsh he accomplishments by saying they only occurred because of affirmative action. Don't deny young women a role model they can look up to; don't deny the Hispanic culture the right to celebrate this nomination.
I guess the idea is taken with a grain of salt, right? If that's the worst thing they can come up with to say about her, so be it. You and I know the real story. She's an amazing woman, a role model we can all admire. And I dare her to confront those stuffy old white men on that damn Supreme Court. Let's see how well "affirmative action" works for us!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Transformers: Robots in Disguise

Yesterday, we had a big, suburban adventure that included watching Transformers 2. It was about this time last year that they were filming this movie around campus and around Philly, so it was great to finally see the movie. I loved this movie. I loved the first movie, too, so I probably walked in there a little biased. Transformers 2 definitely delivered. It was as good as the first movie and was very exciting and fun to watch. The plot? Not so much. If you're looking for a good story, you won't find it here. However, if you are looking for some awesome military footage, lots of robots turning into cars and vice versa and a whole lotta explosions and violence, this is it. Josh Duhamel is pretty damn good looking, and Shia's not too bad either (am I allowed to like him? Is he too young and I'm too old? not sure how this works...). Meagan Fox is gorgeous (although, I wish women could play actual characters of substance sometimes) and the new Transformers that populate the movie are also pretty cool. I loved the CGI, mostly because you couldn't tell it was CGI (although, it had to be, right?) and I loved seeing Penn represented on the big screen. Altogether, this was a great summer movie, perfect for a Sunday afternoon. And the best part? Alex saw Optimus Prime driving around NY State a couple weeks ago - sounds like they're working on a sequel!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ode to Summer Haiku Friday

Dear Summer, I love
you more than any other
season in Philly.


Relaxed atmosphere,
Long days, bright sun,
warm evenings, chill.


Green trees, blue skies, toes
are free from shoes, lemonade,
fruit and veggies, Yum!

Monday, July 6, 2009

My new favorite thing

I've recently discovered Pandora, an internet radio station you can program yourself by putting in your favorite songs / artists / albums. Our radio stations here in Philly are pretty bad (same thing, over and over again) and I guess I'm just not that into "newer"music, except for select artists. What I'm saying is that I'm old and set in my ways :)
After MJ's death, I started to realize how long it had been since I've heard his music and the music from my childhood. I created a radio station around MJ, and have repeatedly heard my favorite song, "Man in the Mirror", as well as music by Janet Jackson (Ms. Jackson if you're nasty), Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie, Smokey Robinson, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, etc. I've also added some of my other old favorites, like NKOTB (I know, I'm shameless), Belinda Carlisle, Jackson 5, Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, etc. Apparently, I am a gay man trapped in a woman's body - LOL. I just wanna DANCE :)
Anyways, just thought I would share my new favorite thing. And stop by my lab, we'll have dance party!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, America!

I love living where this country started and feeling the rumblings of change coming ahead. I love that the Liberty Bell has come to stand for some much more in this world than just American freedom. And I love that our forefathers made the time and effort to write our Declaration of Independence, which should always be remembered.

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

Friday, July 3, 2009

Celebrate America Haiku Friday

Dear America,
Happy Birthday! You don't look
too worse for the wear!


It's been a tough time
these last few years: elections
wars, economies.


But I feel good,
optimistic, even, that
we can get 'er done!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Book Report Thursday

My mom lent me The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. She had just finished reading it and sent me home with it the last time I was in CA. I've just finished the book and I am absolutely in love with it. It takes place on a British island between England and France shortly after the end of WWII. The entire book is written in letters, which, at first, are somewhat cumbersome, but eventually come to represent the characters quite well. Our heroine is Juliet, a writer living in London who receives a somewhat random letter from a man named Dawsey, who is residing on the island of Guernsey. He has come across a book Juliet used to own and begins writing to her about the book (and can she send him some more?). The correspondence is lovely and well written, and brings you into a world you never thought existed. It turns out that Guernsey was occupied by the Germans during WWII, and they are now starting to recover from said occupation. Juliet becomes fascinated by this subject, thinking nobody knew about these plucky islanders and their multiple year occupation. Looking for a subject to write a book on, Juliet embarks on a journey looking for tales of the occupation and how the islanders, particularly a group called the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and how they dealt with the occupation. As she begins to get to know the characters on the island, she begins to make plans to visit and meet the friends she's made quite by chance. This novel is lovely, brave and endearing, written in a manner I thought long dead (actual letters) and it describes (sometimes in horrifying detail) the trials and tribulations of war and all of its consequences. At the end, I could not put the book down and actually carried it with me to work to finish during my lunch break. It's a great book, with wonderful characters, a great story line and a nice, although somewhat sad ending. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, as the characters are still in my head, the humor is dry and entertaining, and the plotline seems original and creative.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Time to go organic?

I always thought we should listen to the frogs.


So, the most recent ad campaign for Philadelphia Tourism is all over the city right now. It's "With love, Philadelphia" (as in, the sign off to a postcard) and it's part of the "Philadelphia, the city that loves you back" ad campaign that's been going on for a few years. There are signs all up and down Broad St saying "With love, Philadelphia" in several different languages, I suppose trying to show you how cosmopolitan we can be here in the city. I think this whole campaign is kinda funny. Aside from NYC, I have never been to a place filled with such anger and impatience. People are not nice here. And if you are nice to them, they're suspicious (like, what do you want from me?). There is traffic everyday, at rush hour, as expected. Yet, everyday, people are honking the hell out of their horns all the time. Homeless people masturbate on the sidewalk. People are screaming all the time and most weekends, there are roving bands of drunken Jersey fools screaming various forms of the "F" word for all the world to hear. Don't get me wrong, I love Philly. I think it's eclectic and rough around the edges and full of working class neighborhoods where families have lived there for decades. I am pretty sure it's where "stickball" originated, and man, are we nuts about sports. But lets not misrepresent, right? I mean, yes, we have world class museums, wonderful universities, great art, music and theatre. But I guarantee you, you will see someone pissing on the side of the road as you make your way to said places. I'm not sure there is an ad campaign that would tout that (or would want to) but Alex and I came up with some "ironic" slogans just for fun. Let me know what you think!
  • Philadelphia: We're really fucking trying, OK?
  • Philadelphia: Buy your guns here!
  • Philadelphia: Teach your kids the proper way to use curse words all in one trip!
  • Philadelphia: Yes, that man is jacking off, honey.
  • Philadelphia: You better not be wearing the other team's jersey or we will kick your ass.
  • Philadelphia: Didja hear me?
  • Philadelphia: We will SERIOUSLY kick your ass, even if you're a grandma!
  • Philadelphia: What the fuck?
  • Philadelphia: Don't expect bus drivers to help you.
  • Philadelphia: What corruption?
  • Philadelphia: What do you mean cheesesteaks and pretzels are not a food group?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP, Michael

There's not a slumber party I remember that did not include the Thriller video. Thanks for all the good times, the amazing music, the videos. You will be missed.

An Affair to Remember?

I have attended several weddings this year (and last). A fair number of my friends are now married and I have watched most of them stand up in front of friends and family and take the vows of a lifetime. I have witnessed as they fell in love and chose a partner (and even as some have reproduced - eek!). We've all formed families of our own choosing, with our own unique signature. A lot of my friends are in science - we are apparently the "educated elite" that was so reviled in this past election (good God, no! not a smart president!). We are or will be significant contributors to society and most of us will hold pretty powerful positions. We are all driven and determined and many of us have put off having a family in order to pursue a career. To each his own. What I am not understanding is this connection between holding positions of power and cheating on your spouse. For one, how long are you going to be in said elected position? Seriously, Bill, can you keep it in your pants for 8 years? It's not that long? Do you have to go AWOL, fly to Argentina to get laid? Really? Hire a prostitute? WHILE IN OFFICE? I realize, people have sex drives and egos and that not all marriages last forever. I realize that sometimes you don't think and you make mistakes and you need to apologize. I get that. What I don't get is the forethought part of it. If you are so calculated as to have reached a position of power (trust me, it's a long hard climb), don't you examine your priorities? Your actions? Watch your steps? Don't you know that people are depending on you? Looking up to you, even? Do you think about that? Have you seen others fall? Have you learned from their mistakes?
I realize that nobody's perfect, that people living in the public eye might have it harder than I do. I'm just disappointed and disgusted. I have no idea how this affects a family and a career and a life. I just feel like this betrayal is so prevalent - and I'm sorry, but a PRESS conference to announce it? Oh, you are so full of yourself. How about doing YOUR JOB - showing up on a daily basis and letting people know where you are? Is responsibility that hard?
I guess I'm an idealist. I just hope that all my friends' marriages and relationships are built on more steady ground than these peoples'.
getting off my soapbox now...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

First Harvest

kale from our garden - I picked and cooked WAY more than this!

our first peppers from our garden :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Movie Review Monday

For some reason, I feel the need to explain why I would watch this movie. I'm not sure why - I think that romantic comedies are one of my favorite genres (even though I know they are completely out of touch with reality) but they are looked down upon as something intelligent people wouldn't possibly want to watch. Which is not necessarily true, right? I mean, every once in a while, we need an escape, and, in general, romantic comedies are so light, fluffy and airy, it doesn't require much energy or a "mood" to watch them. Anyways, I discovered this great way of watching some movies on Netflix - you can just stream them and watch them on your computer (hence, no wait time and no need to get the DVD). Last night, this is just what I did. Alex has gone to a conference, and I have the house (and the remote control) to myself. Since Alex would never in a million years want to watch this movie (or this genre) I was excited to curl up on the couch and take it in. Altogether, this movie is exactly what I expected. Patrick Dempsey plays a womanizer whose best friend is a woman (played by one of those Monoghan girls). Dempsey is, of course, a commitment-phobe with all these rules to keep any sort of relationship forming. As soon as the girl decides she's met "the one" and is getting married, Dempsey must now confront his feelings for her and try to win her as his bride. There were some funny parts, like him and the guys planning the bridal shower (mostly because I've done all that shit recently) or the dorky guy always trying to play some b-ball with them. It's also kind of touching but also unrealistic - I mean, are guys really going to talk about this stuff? And the whole "changing from a womanizer / unfaithful man to a wonderful man you might want to marry" is the oldest story in the book. Dempsey goes from a selfish asshole to a great guy - while I think this happens at some point in a guy's life (I mean, the do eventually get out of high school), I'm not sure it would happen when the guy is 30ish. Anyways, it's a great movie to suspend disbelief, enjoy some funny scenes and have an evening in front of the tube. It's not deep and meaningful, it doesn't tug at the heartstrings and it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. However, it's light, airy and fluffy and precisely what I wanted to see.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dear Dad,

I love that you send me random pictures from your iPhone. It makes my day every time and it makes me feel like I am a big part of your life. I wish I could be there to celebrate with you and the family. I hope you have the most wonderful Father's Day because you're the best Dad I could have ever hoped for.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Holy Batmobile Haiku Friday

End of a busy
week; Alex's Dad coming
in today. Please! No rain!


Two dance classes, house
cleaning, cooking, laundry, work
also yoga class.


Why do I feel like
I am fighting a losing
battle v. chaos?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book Report Thursday

On my most recent trip home, I happened across A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve in my Mom's library. I have read other books by Shreve and have found them to be entertaining and fairly good, so I thought I'd check this one out. The story is broken up into a weekend, with sections for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The novel takes place in a small inn in the Bershires run by a woman named Nora. The wedding is for Bridget and Bill, high school sweethearts who met again after many years apart and decided to get married. The people invited to the wedding are all old high school classmates who knew the couple "way back when" - surprisingly, there are few family members invited to the wedding (that wouldn't make a good story, right?). The novel follows several characters, including Bridget, Agnes, now a teacher at the high school they all attended, Harrison, a publicist, married with two kids, and Nora, the owner of the inn. All of the characters have some sort of unrequited angst or unfinished business from high school. We catch up to these people as they are in their late 40s, seeing what they've done with their lives and where their lives are headed. All of the characters experienced a tragedy during high school, and many have not seen one another since graduation (again, bizarre group of people to invite to your wedding, right?). And many of the scenarios described in the book are overly dramatic or exaggerated. Por ejemplo, I understand having had a crush in high school, but let me tell you, I am way over that by now (and I am not in my late 40s). Seeing my crush might bring back pleasant memories, but it certainly would not lead me to sleep with the person and consequently cheat on my spouse. All of the characters have flashbacks to the days of their youth, attempting to illustrate how far they have come or how many obstacles they have overcome. But, realistically, since the book is not about them in high school, it's hard to match the teenaged character with the characters in the book. And, ultimately, it's really sad. A teenager with lots of potential stuck in a dead end job, never married and unhappy (and, realistically, such a boring character that the author has her write a "short story" as part of her character sketch). I liked this book, and I found the writing pleasant, descriptive and interesting. I guess I just have a problem with people who complain about their situations or their lives without doing anything about it. They just kind of sit in their sorrow and sadness and just live in it instead of trying to do something to change it. I hate that. It drives me bananas. It also bothered me that the female character fighting off cancer had to always wear her wig and just kind of accepted that she would die from this disease, instead of doing everthing possible to fight it. Shreve's characters are definitely flawed, as we all are, and perhaps that's what I didn't like about the book. However, it obviously made me think (and, realistically, I had no idea this post would turn out so negative!). And I found myself drawn to the book, wanting to know what happen to the characters. Even now, some of the scenery comes to mind, pleasant and interesting. I guess, overall, I would say this book is like watching a movie where you're not entirely invested in the characters, but it's interesting to watch it play out. Oh, and some of the most interesting characters are merely supporting cast or characters that die off, unfortunatley. Perfect summer reading for me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hellfire and Damnation

God knows, I hate weather. Anything but sunny and 80 degrees and it's always a struggle for me, especially since I've no car, so I must navigate by my own two feet. This morning, I was woken up to the sounds of bombs being dropped on our neighborhood in the form of thunder and lightning. Holy Jesus. I seriously thought we might die. Not only does thunder sound like and oncoming earthquake, but the whole g-damn house shakes too. It literally looked like a tornado would touch down any second. No, thank you!
Man, I gots to get back to CA :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Saga of the Toilet Seat

On Friday night, Alex came downstairs with a funny look on his face. Half laughing, half crying he confessed that he had broken the toilet seat. I seriously laughed my ass off. Alex is by no means a fat dude - he's super skinny and it as funny to tease him that he had put on some weight (he has not, trust me). The seat had always been a little "off" and apparently he was just the one to sit on it and turn in such a way that it broke. So, off he pedaled to Home Depot to buy us a new seat for th throne. Not only was he kind enough to buy us a schwanky padded seat (reminds me of my childhood at Randi's house) but he also had to pedal his ass home, carrying a toilet seat under one arm because it wouldn't fit in his backpack. And, of course, he happened upon a block party or two on his way home. I have no idea why toilet seats are so damn funny, but I am still laughing my ass off. And thought I would share :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In Bruges

Last night, I had the rare evening at home and was able to settle in and watch a movie. I chose In Bruges, mostly because I really like Colin Farrell (despite what people might say about him) and I tend to love European films. Plus, it was nominated for some kind of Oscar, so I thought it had to be good. Let me tell you, rent this movie. It is phenomenal. Funny, contrite, disrespectful, mean, violent, bizarre, fascinating - all of these things and more. There are two hitmen, Ray and Ken, played by Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who are sent to Bruges in Belgium, a beautiful medieval city with a small town feel. They are told to wait there for their next assignment, Ray feeling trapped and bored to death and Ken taking the opportunity to sightsee and catch up on culture. The film is both funny and serious, and it reminded me of what Quentin Tarantino tries to do (with the black humor and super violence) but I thought this film did it way better. For one, the violence did not feel like porn, the characters are ones you and identify with and they show their humanity in a way that I've never seen Tarantino's characters do. Farrell was amazing as this child-like, kinda dumb "new" hitman and Gleeson was phenomenal as his "mentor". Ralph Feinnes comes into play and he's hysterical, even though I still can't figure out why his name is pronounced "Raiph". The ending is interesting and ties into a painting the hitmen see while sightseeing around Bruges. And the "extras" on the DVD are really funny and interesting. Altogether, an A+ for this movie.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns

After reading The Kite Runner several years ago, I absolutely was waiting and waiting for this book to come into the library at Penn. Fortunately, from all my bitching, my mom bought the book through her book club and lent it to me. I was not disappointed. I was trying to figure out what it was that I liked so much about this book. Is it that it takes place in a land far away, yet I still identify with the characters? Is it that is deals with cultural identifications I know little about? Is it that it describes a country which I have only heard in the news as being "bad" as a wonderful place full of interesting people, places and things? Perhaps it's all of these things and more that drew me into this book. For two days, I could not put it down, did not want to leave the story line, could not get the pictures the book created out of my head. The story is of two women, Miriam and Laila and their relationship with each other. The story starts by describing the girls' upbringings (very different), but it leads them to the same place eventually. At the same time, the author has incorporated Afghan history and culture into the story, talking about the ongoing wars, the changes in government, power and overall culture, and the effects these have on the main characters. It's also a powerful testament to the treatment of women in some of these states which practice extreme Islamic law. The story is sad, yes. The characters endure things I could not imagine. There are many hardships, heartbreaking situations, awful circumstances. Yet, I don't doubt this story is true in so many aspects. I was humbled by the storyline and almost ashamed of all I have and all that I will have in my future. It's hard to be reminded that we are very lucky people which very little to want for. This book was beautiful, endearing, touching, heartfelt and phenomenal. I am sure there are people like Laila and Miriam all over the world today. And we should celebrate these women, and fight for more equal treatment of women all over the world.