Thursday, August 31, 2006

Batten down the hatches

Tropical Storm Ernesto is heading this way, and I mean RIGHT this way. We're supposed to get eight to 12 inches of rain tonight. My first tropical storm. Hells yeah. The only thing that worries me is that I live at the bottom of a hill. There's some land that's lower, but it looks like the water could back up a bit. There are also storm drains nearby, and if they back up, we'll be a-swimmin'. So no toilet flushing allowed.

Last night a different storm came through the area, and the rumbling thunder was so long and loud it sounded like a tank coming down the street. The lightning was silent but bright, like someone flipping on and off a light right outside the window. I love thunderstorms, and it's interesting that thunderstorms in less congested cities with higher humidity are much different than the thunderstorms that blow through the tall buildings of Chicago. Here, and in Missouri, the storms are long and low, with flashes of lightning and thunder that sounds like it's quietly complaining about something. In Chicago, the claps of thunder will jar you wide awake in the middle of the night, and even if you've never been afraid of storms before, you'll begin to fear that the sky will soon fall through the roof.

Speaking of storms, yesterday after a downpour, a woman walked into the building and apologized for being late because she had gotten stuck in a gulley-washer. I love the South.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Paul Salopek is not a spy.

Chicago Tribune correspondent and National Geographic freelance writer Paul Salopek was detained in Sudan, charged with espionage and two other criminal counts on Saturday. He was on assignment in sub-Saharan Africa, and as people sometimes do, he entered the country without a journalist visa. National Geographic's editor in chief, Chris Johns, stated, "He had no agenda other than to fairly and accurately report on the region," Johns said. "He is a world-recognized journalist of the highest standing, with a deep knowledge and respect for the continent of Africa and its people."

Read the Chicago Tribune's statement here and National Geographic's statement here.And hope for a speedy resolution of this problem so that Paul can be released soon and get back to (legally, according to Sudan laws) doing what he does best: reporting about the problems plaguing the peoples in Africa, with the hope of affecting positive change in the region.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I don't care what those astronomers say...

Pluto IS a planet. Just take it from 2 Skinnee J's, whose song "Pluto" has been flying through my head lately because of astronomers' recent decision to downgrade Pluto. Don't worry, littlest planet, we still love you!

"Pluto" by 2 Skinnee J's, off the Supermercado album
With depravity,
I break lots of gravity
Blast past the atmosphere
to the last frontier
I go boldly through space and time
The sky's the limit,
but they're limiting the sky
I break orbit by habit,
I ignite satellites and leave rings round the planets
A flying ace like that beagle,
nevertheless this alien remains illegal
Cause their discovery dont cover me
the immigrants been left in the cold
to grow old
and disintegrate
against the distant and disclaimers,
Cause small minds can't see past Uranus
When I shun their race
cause that's just a phase
and my odyssey runs in 2001 ways
And I can see clearly now like Hubbell
shoved off the shuttle,
here's my rebuttal
It's a planet.

Who do you represent?
I represent the smallest planet
A tourney in this journey
versus those who tried to ban it.
If you don't agree
go see interplanet Janet Cause
the sun is star like
is planet.
So lend me all ears
and let me state my case,
about all the types of satellites we must embrace
Cause like parents'
this planet was an immigrant,
to deport its an offense.
It's an upstanding member of the solar system
Abide the laws of Earth and make it a victim.
Of Proposition
When Pluto spawns a moon it will apply to the heavens.
A dandy like Judas of a chariot
If you demote this boat
remote to a goat
It's like taking ETs custody from Elliot,
support yours
clearly put cause,
simply put

Pluto is a planet. Pluto!
Pluto is a planet. Pluto!
Pluto is a planet. Pluto!
Pluto is a plane

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Shame on Horizon Organics, which has lately been pushing the limits of what can be considered organic. They're owned by mega-farm Dean Foods, and the new management has trouble keeping the cows out in the pasture, which is the key element of organic dairy. The cows often remain in the barns, and they're fed food that, while healthy, is meant to increase milk production. It's not like Horizon is some small farm struggling to survive, so the company's behavior is puzzling.

Check out the article here, which does include explanations from Horizon.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


McDonald's is pairing up with Hummer to offer kids a special toy rootin'-tootin'pollutin' machine with their Happy Meals. Well, only if they're boys--girls get Polly Pocket fashion dolls instead. Let's count how many things are wrong with this:
1. Feeding McDonalds to kids. Keep doing that, and someday the only cars big enough to fit their fat behinds will be Hummers.
2. Advertising products to children that they won't even be able to use for a good 10 years. That's like Joe Camel advertising to kids. I guess at least a Hummer won't outright kill them, just slowly pollute their world and drain their wallets. Oh, Hummers really are like cigarettes.
3. Reinforcing gender roles by giving cars only to the boys. Picture a little girl accidentally getting a happy meal made for a boy. "Do you want a Hummer?" she asks a boy in her class, offering him the toy from her meal. And we thought that stuff only happened in the White House.
4. Hummers and fast food are the kinds of things that are essentially totally wrong with this world in general. Nuff said.

Speaking of Hummer, those tv commercials are really lame. One appeals to the soccer mom in all of us when someone else's kid cuts in front of ours in line at the playground, so we must buy a Hummer to feel superior. Yes! Get our girl on! the ad states. Another ad appeals to the neanderthal in all of us when some guy with meat and beer gets in the checkout line behind a guy with vegetables and tofu, so we must buy a Hummer to even the score or something. For the record, I would guess that any guy who eats tofu and vegetables (which does NOT make him less of a man, by the way) certainly would not stoop to buying a Hummer to boost his ego. Maybe Hummer has issues because real men don't need a big gas guzzler to feel better about themselves. That's what trophy wives and fancy technology are for.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dust in the wind

Not to be morbid, but I thought I'd put this out in cyberspace, in case I meet an untimely demise. Let it be noted, I am not the least bit afraid of death, as long as it comes when I'm at least 100 years old and asleep in bed. I think I have too much to accomplish before then. In any case, eco-burials are becoming a trend. Hmmm.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Some Durham discoveries

After riding the bus a few more times, I've decided it's not so bad after all. I think the bus drivers are starting to recognize me. Anyway, riding the bus has given me the chance to see parts of the city I wouldn't normally ever see. And the rumors are true: the rest of Durham is VERY separate and different from the university. It's almost a little saddening because many of the areas seem kind of run-down, and they are definitely segregated (by situation, not by law). Maybe things just look different in the South. There's very little snow or cold weather, so houses don't need to be built to withstand the weight of packed snow or 40 mph icy winds. A lot of them are wood, so I guess that means they need more maintenance. They'd be charming with a fresh coat of paint and some landscaping. All those movies set in the South seemed like just that--sets. But that's really how it looks down here, and it's quite charming. There's a part of me that really feels at home here. If only there were a city that combined Southern charm with the awesomeness of Chicago. Maybe Atlanta? Austin, Tx?

Today I also went to the farmers market. Now THAT is home. It's a quick hop on the #6 bus and I'm there. Today, Bull City The Band played under a little white tent. Just some local guys adding some musical accompaniment to the shoppers sorting through purple peppers, fresh flowers, and baked goods. Every week at 9 am they have free yoga (although today it rained so they canceled it) and a downtown tour at 10 am. Today's tour featured the tobacco district, which I would have liked to see if I hadn't been meeting up with someone at 11 am (the tour lasted til 11:30). Each week is something different, new music and a different tour. And the kids and dogs and friends all meeting up makes it such a fun place to hang out on a Saturday morning.

One more thing about Durham: clotheslines are a big thing here. In Chicago, people steal anything not locked down with chains. People probably steal here too, but they probably don't waste their time on bedsheets and children's toys and things that are at least kind of locked up. I hope.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The girls aren't the wild ones

Not that I'm surprised by any of this, but it looks like Joe Francis, the man behind the Girls Gone Wild empire, is not the charming, innocent, just-for-fun kind of guy the media portray him as. Read this article from the L.A. Times about him. Read toward the end of the story and you'll realize that this guy is really rather nutso, and definitely has some demons he's trying to deal with by exploiting hot women who maybe wouldn't have anything to do with him if he weren't standing behind a camera. I think this is my favorite line from the article: "I won't sit back and be called a rapist. Rape is a very serious crime that I personally find disgusting. As a son, and as the brother to three sisters I love very much, I would NEVER have sex with a woman without her consent." But he would film her doing naughty things (sometimes coerced) while under the influence. Would he approve of one of his three sisters doing such things?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Public transportation, an official review

Perhaps you may be wondering how I could possibly give a thorough review of the Durham area public transit system after riding it for only one day. Well, one day was enough, trust me. First of all, the bus riding experience was just fine. The bus doesn't announce every stop, so if you don't know the area at all, you have to pay attention. Otherwise, it's just like riding the bus in Chicago. Sometimes the AC doesn't work, and sometimes the windows are a little gross, but it's still just a bus. They don't come very often, so you really can't be in a hurry (or you have to plan your trip in advance so you know when to get to the stop). The biggest difference between public transit in a big city and public transit here is that in Durham, pretty much anyone who can afford to own a car drives everwhere. So the people who take the bus are working class (or are a little off, if you catch my drift), and unfortunately segregation is a problem here, so 95 percent of the people on the buses yesterday were black or hispanic. That doesn't matter to me at all--I took the bus and the train on the South Side of Chicago, and anyway, we're all just people trying to get somewhere. I felt a little out of place, but otherwise it was fine. And after all, I can't afford to own a car right now, so just like everyone else on the bus, I gotta take it to get anywhere I can't walk to.

Yes, the bus riding experience is fine. It's the bus waiting-for experience (as well as the walking-down-the-street experience) that requires some strength. Maybe once students get here, it'll be different, but right now, I get really funny looks for walking a mile and a half to the CVS or standing on the sidewalk waiting for the bus. Apparently people aren't used to seeing a white girl who doesn't have a car. Funny looks I can handle; my good friend reminded me that I just have to be my own person. It's the creepy guys who drive past me slowly, honk at me, call out to me, openly gawk at me, as if I were a prostitute. Hardly. Yesterday I was sweating my balls off in a plain t-shirt from Old Navy and denim capris from the Gap and Teva flip flops. Sexy, I was definitely not. I don't know what makes these guys think they can act so disrespectfully to me--they didn't do it to any of the other women standing at the bus stop, and a couple of those women definitely looked more put-together than I did. I feel like it has something to do with me being one of the few white people among the other racial minorities, so I stand out, but how does that warrant such behavior? The other day I was riding my bike down the sidewalk, wearing a white t-shirt, soccer shorts, and my bike helmet, and I got honked at then too, although I think that was some dumbass macho white guy. Why?

Maybe that's what they call Southern hospitality. That, or there really is such a split between whites and racial minorities that a middle-class white girl from Chicago can't blend in at all.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I love beer

Not in a drunkard, keg-stand, frat party kind of way, but just in the way some people really appreciate a fine wine. I enjoy wine but it makes me sleepy, and I'm not the biggest fan of hard liquor. But give me a tall glass of a fine craft beer or local brew and I'm a happy girl. I became a big fan of Goose Island's 312 (which I realized is named after the Chicago area code, not the number three-hundred-twelve). It's good to support local breweries, just like it's good to support local growers by shopping at farmers' markets. Which is why I'm saddened to learn that Goose Island beer, a Chicago institution, will soon be distributed by Anheuser Busch. I read this in business section of the News & Observer yesterday (Aug 4) but can't find it online, but here's a link to another site regarding this story. Actually, this is the same story, it was just released over the wires July 24th and printed in yesterday's paper. Way to sell out, Goose Island. It's okay, I still love New Belguim Brewing Company best. The ironic thing is that since New Belgium doesn't use huge distributors, I can't find it anywhere west of the Mississippi, save for a 20 oz Fat Tire. Huh. Go figure.

This just feels wrong

Something I've heard a little bit about here and there, but since someone from the career center emailed this out to us, it feels real now. Basically, it's an article about how potential employers check out online social networking profiles and Google results to learn more about candidates for positions at their companies/organizations. I agree that it's foolish to post photos of yourself doing something sketchy or illegal on a public profile, but the fact of the matter is that people use these profiles as creative outlets and connections with friends, and how does anything on a profile relate to a person's professional capabilities? This is a little too much invasion of privacy, if you ask me. What if I were to post a musing or a link to my blog on my MySpace or Facebook or Friendster profile, and a potential employer read something that they personally disagree with but has nothing at all to do with the job I applied for? Can they not hire me because they don't like my poetic turn of phrase or because I'm holding a cup of beer in a posed and perfectly proper photo of me and a friend from a street fair? What if they read this posting and decide that because I feel this sort of thing is invasion of privacy, they don't want to hire me? That's the kind of discrimination that's the hardest to prove and it's so unfair. Thoughts?

Friday, August 04, 2006

I've been tagged

My dear friend tagged me on her blog , and since I've been in the midst of a move, I haven't had a chance to play. Until now.

Five items in my freezer
1. frozen fish
2. peas
3. green beans
4. edamame
5. veggie burgers

Five items in the closet
1. shoes
2. sheets
3. purple trunk filled with the fall/winter attire that I will probably get little use of in the NC
4. Book shelf that will probably get replaced since it has finally bitten the dust
5. plastic bin equivalent of a real tool box (just in case I ever think I need to fix something)

Five items in the car (I don't have a car, but when I did, here's what was in it)
1. face tissues
2. car rack for bike
3. old firewood I never got rid of
4. towel, jacket, old running shoes
5. sand and dog hair

Five items in my backpack (well, not using the backpack yet, so I'll look in my traveling bag)
1. face tissue
2. National Geographic magazine
3. little bag that holds pens, female stuff, padlock, chapstick, mints, and lip gloss
4. hand lotion
5. Palm PDA

Five people I tag
1. Sarah
2. Vince
3. Kaara
4. Alison
5. Jose