Monday, June 29, 2009

seriously. cackling with laughter.

oh, will ferrell, you kill me. also, little doll hands are terrifying.

milk was a bad choice

it's so damn hot. hot enough that i take a siesta in the afternoon, and now i am up late. alas. but being unconscious is the way i like to pass the time during a heat wave.

i usually escape the the other side of the hills, closer to the sf bay for more reasonable, less than 100 degree temperatures. this morning during church, we were informed that the food waste, paper plates, napkins and cups for our post-service meals will now be composted, instead of sent off to the regular landfill. they apparently had been haranguing the city of berkeley for a while to make this happen. i was quite happy to hear this news and that this was one of the ways God has been calling people to live differently.

then i went home and logged on to facebook. this is one of the first status updates i see from a youth...
...hates when churches deliver political propaganda. Just FYI, as many green house gases are produced during the composting process as at a landfill. The only difference is that most landfills capture the methane that is produced and reuse it. But for some reason I thought we were in the Jesus business and not the BS business. I guess I was wrong.
there is much i find troubling in this statement. i'm not sure how to respond quite yet. of course facebook is a less than ideal forum for this. but mostly i am curious as to how this kid came to this conclusion and how this fits in with faith and worldview. any greenie friends out there want to pipe up? your thoughts are welcome.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

how to feel better about yourself

everytime i feel like i'm the dorkiest person on earth or worry about not acting my age (whatever that means), i google live action role playing game... and then i don't feel so bad.

i wanna be like ira glass

last week, i was facebook chatting with a friend of mine here in berkeley. as we caught up on things, she suddenly chimed in with "i know what you should do for your next job." in response to my questions, she only typed, "i have to tell you in person. it's good." my guesses of rodeo clown and drug dealer were left unconfirmed.

at dinner a few days later, she excitedly prepared me for her epiphany on my life. "i think you should be on the radio." in response to my perplexed look, she added, "no it totally fits. you are hilarious. you are good at talking to people and drawing them out. you could totally do it." i begrudgingly acknowledged these two facts. i have secretly been harboring a dream of writing something for this american life someday. and a secret crush on ira glass before i knew what he looked like. and when i did, i found him sweetly nerdy. crush is still on.

i am intrigued by this possibility. any suggestions/input/feedback on this? how should i go about becoming the next howard stern? hah! just kidding. i hate that guy.

in other news, it looks like a position is opening up in the dining room where i volunteer. i got the lowdown from some people i befriended that work there. send up lots of prayer about this. it goes without saying that i'd really love to get it.

p.s. the guy that looks like flavor flav that i mentioned in a previous post told me yesterday that if he were a younger man, he'd be chasing after me. meaning that he could actually catch up to me? i laughed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

fresh: new thinking about what we're eating

i saw this movie last friday. if you're all up on michael pollan's books, or part of the slow food movement, or are a farmer yourself, then not a lot about seeing FRESH will surprise you. but it's a pretty good flick. joel salatin of polyface farm is in this movie, and it was cool to see him after i read about him in the omnivore's dilemma. actually, that was how i found out about this movie - after finishing the book i googled the farm to see if they had a site, and then i followed a link there to the movie. i know you all wanted to know about that. sorry. it's my blog and i'll ramble how i want to.

the film also shows several different people doing what they can to change the way we think about food. For you urban farmers, i think you'll like this guy, will allen, and his organization, growing power. they are based in downtown milwaukee, and they've created a neat little ecosystem (go the link just to see what they cooked up, it's pretty great) on 3 acres of land to show people from all backgrounds that access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food is possible. as an ex-nba player, he is a monster of a guy, and the perfect guy to point out to your kids, and say, "that guy eats all his vegetables."

i could keep going about the people in the movie, but you just have to see it yourself. after the screening, we heard from a panel michael pollan (he lives here and teaches at the Cal journalism school). another panelist was george naylor, a farmer featured prominently in the movie, representing a farmer caught in between his principles and the agricultural industry. there was also, Brahm Ahmadi, the director of the people's grocery from oakland. these last two panelists talked about the "food desert" phenomenon in rural iowa and urban oakland. in George's entire county (in iowa!), there is 1 grocery store for about 30,000 people. meanwhile in west oakland, the situation is much the same - 1 grocery store for about 25,000 people. there are, however, 40 convenience stores - with ridiculously marked up prices on staple goods and produce, if any. that, my friends, just ain't right. this just isn't a nutritional/ethical issue, it's a social justice issue.

see if the film is coming to a place near you. order a dvd for a home screening and have a party with your friends (say, sans cheetos). i might even try to overcome my black thumb. anyway, two green thumbs up for the movie. hawhaw.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

oh the mundanity of it all

not a whole lot new to report. my grandma stayed with us last week. she lives alternately with us and with my cousins in concord. i got her some large-print books from the library to change up her routine from the price is right, the news, and jeopardy. of the books i randomly grabbed off the shelf, she liked obama's "the audacity of hope" the best. that obama, reaching across the generations.

my parents went to southern california for the weekend. my mom handed me $100 bucks before they left. a) that's cool. b) i felt like i was 15. oh well. full disclosure: i did use some of "my allowance" to buy a used copy of the lego batman video game for my xbox, so i basically am about 15. i do love me the lego video game series though.

i would have made some headway into the game by now, but i have unexpectedly been sucked into the twilight book series. somewhat shameful, i know, but it's not as bad as i thought it would be. the writing doesn't really grate on my nerves, but the super mushy sentimental adolescent true love junk. i've only read the first two (so you know what i'm doing the rest of this week) and i already wish he'd just bite her and get the whining over with. of course, where would be the fun in that? might as well work that into a 4 book series.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

warm fuzzies?

i volunteered in the dining room earlier this week; it had been a while since i was there last. getting to sf from danville in a timely manner is a little more challenging - especially with my sleep patterns of late. despite that, i am always glad to be there. it was good to see familiar faces. given the nature of the tenderloin, i'm not really sure if a person i meet will be there again next week. the people that come in for lunch, are somehow the toughest and the most fragile people i have ever seen. i wish i knew more of their names, it gets pretty hectic in the dining room, so i don't get to chit chat much.

one dude there would be the spitting image of rapper/crazy man flavor flav; he just needs the viking helmet and oversized clock on a chain around his neck. i'm not kidding - it's pretty awesome. there's another woman that comes in, and i've never seen her face. she pulls her little cart behind her with one hand, and with the other holds a flattened cardboard box over her face. she sits in the corner and props the box upright to form a little barrier around her while she eats. it makes me wonder how she got to be that way, if she ever wants to talk to anyone. even in the short time i have been volunteering, i can see a growing variety of people coming in for lunch, as the recession continues to hit the poor the hardest. where's their damn bailout?

as i stood in line with other volunteers - incidentally, more unemployed people are volunteering since they have the time on their hands - the people ahead of me made idle chitchat. "oh, i just got laid off recently," a women explained, "i figure while i'm looking for a job, i should do something useful and it makes me feel good." feel good? really? i'm still thinking about that remark. i like being in the dining room, but i don't think i would ever say that it "felt good." quite the opposite i think. i feel angry, sad, inadequate, and i do find some joy in being there in connecting briefly with people who largely go unnoticed. but feel good? nope.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

miscellaneous rants and raves

in a perpetual state of catching up with my blog. like the pile of books, ideas keep piling up and collecting dust or being forgotten. this annoys me.

you know what else is annoying? insomnia. i've had more than my fair share of sleeping/not sleeping issues. on the whole, it's just plain boring to be awake and not wanting to be. i suspect the main cause this time to be the inattentive barista at starbucks giving me a caffeinated mocha and not the DECAF i requested. mistakes happen, i understand - i've been a barista. but when you only have ONE CUSTOMER in the store, you better DAMN WELL get the order right. thanks for the time i spent at 3 am watching asinine youtube clips for lack of anything better to do. (it may be time to go on another caffeine hiatus)

which brings me to my next rant - coffee and espresso beverages are just plain better in vancouver and seattle. while i was up there i had some outstanding cups o' joe and the highest quality foam on lattes i have seen in a good while. see - i told you i used to be a barista, and in vancouver at that. two thumbs up to the many indie coffee shops up there that take the time to train their baristas right and roast some damn fine tasting coffee beans. if you are a major coffeemaker that rhymes with "glarbucks" or or "veet's" - take the time to establish some quality control and learn how to really steam milk. (this also applies to the many indie coffee shops here in the bay area, not just the big guys. so much for being coffee snobs here.)

speaking of which, a few weeks ago i had a latte from "veet's" that i swore was a cup of dirt and hot water flavored with a paper napkin that had wiped up some vanilla syrup. I AM NOT EXAGGERATING. this statment should be taken seriously because it was written in all caps. the beverage quality could just apply to the one near my church, since that is the one i (used to) frequent. since "veet's" originated in this area, people are absolutely fanatical about them, but i am not impressed - and some would say i am blaspheming here. ooh, it tastes strong? that means it's probably been roasted to a crisp - and the real kicker is that there is less caffeine when that happens. it pains me a little to say this, but i tend to prefer "glarbucks" - at least for the espresso drinks, the baristas seem to know what's going on (though the night-time energizer i mentioned earlier was from there). i have never had to explain what "skim milk" is to someone there, like i had to do once at "veet's." yes, this "barista" actually said to me, "what is skim milk?" my jaw dropped. "ummm... nonfat milk?" "ooooh, right, okay."

wow. that obviously needed to get out of my head. more later.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

sweet nostalgia

it's that time of year, when kids are lauded for surviving high school. congrats - once you survive adolescence, you can survive anything. can i get an amen? anyway, it made me scare up an old photo i had scanned a while back. on this day in history, i graduated from high school, and o.j. simpson went on his crazy freeway chase. name that date, friends.
these friends i have not seen in a good long while. there's a doctor on the left, a high school french teacher (at our alma mater), and some freeloading yahoo there on the right.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

the park of oversharing: a critique of cell phones and public spaces

seeing as how i am free lots of the time, i end up hanging out with one of my trivia (now defunct) friends and her cute kid. we go for walks and usually end up at this toddler park. it's tucked away from busy streets, and pretty quiet, usually no more than 5 kids and their moms/nannies plus me, the child(ish)less unemployed friend.

somehow, this little cul de sac in an urban area is also a haven for people to bare their souls. at the very least, they bare the souls of people they know. i first noticed it when a woman pulled over on the narrow street while we lolled in the shade on a hot day. she was on her cell phone and sat with the windows rolled down, i thought she was just finishing her conversation before she went into one of the nearby homes. instead she just got out and leaned against her car, loudly discussing what i guessed to be a client's mental state. i tried not to listen but it was fruitless since she made no pains to lower her voice. something about his course of therapy, my friend caught a bit about his divorce. then she got in back in her car and drove off. i suppose confidentiality was maintained, since we didn't know who the guy was, but the spirit of the rule was violated.

when we got there the next week, a mom was sitting on a bench asking about a relative's cancer condition while her child went down the slide. the other day i get a text from my friend alerting me that i was missing out on some people discussing their juvenile mental health patients. seriously? wtf, people. keep it at home or the office.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


i don't know what it is that has been going on lately. i can only call it an accumulation of big event hangover. not a real hangover, mind you, just the aftermath of a ton of different stuff going on. the month of may brought a more than welcome change to life, what with a lengthy trip to the northwest, and then our annual church conference (accurately not designated a retreat) and end of the school year happenings, and our head pastor leaving. anyway, my fragile schedule was disrupted, such as it was. so i still feel askew. not my optimum operating conditions. getting used to life back in danville, even though much of my life is concentrated back in the berkeley area.

for those keeping track, it's been 10 months since i left my last job. hey, i didn't know the economic shit was going to hit the fan like it did in september. dude, i could have done many things in the last 10 months - had a baby, for example. but if we're going with more realistic scenarios... learn to play the guitar, trained for the AIDS lifecycle ride from SF to LA, gone to barber college, or sucked it up and been a barista this whole time. i didn't think things would have played out like they have. there has been much blessing, and much frustration. i long for a little bit of certainty.