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31 December 2007 @ 10:39 pm

I wonder if I'm even left on anyone's friend-list? It has been some time.

Anyway, I'm back from Europe. The holidays are reaching their close. I'm kind of stranded halfway-to-home (well, school) this New Year's Eve, sad state of affairs.

Just thought I'd poke my head in on the ol' LJ. Maybe I'll even start posting again. I did miss reading about y'all.

I've started a website. Today actually, so there is only one feature up (my 30 favorite songs of 2007). The website is mostly about politics and music. Maybe check it out? - blackbubblegum.net

Anyway, good chat.
14 August 2007 @ 11:23 am
Free online translators? Completely hilarious.

I was looking over the sites for some political organizers in Croatia, specifically the site for "Center za mir, nenasilje, i ljudska prava" - The Center for Peace, Nonviolence and Human Rights. But my budding knowledge of Serbo-Croat was not quite good enough to navigate the "programi" so I decided to see what I could come up with using an online translator.


The translator decided that "izgradjna zajednice" which in my best estimate approximates "building community" should actually be read as "together with erection." Later there was something about "erection miracle play." I'm still giggling.
Current Mood: amusedamused
10 August 2007 @ 03:31 pm
Today looked like it was going to be a productive day. I filed a ton of stuff this morning, finishing the nasty task of organizing seven years worth of internal documents and research findings for the Coalition. Totally exciting. But this afternoon... not so hot on the "getting shit done" front. But Fridays will do that to you.

I might party it up on Saturday. Or I may continue to allow Final Fantasy 4 to consume my life. I guess anything could happen, but I'm leaning towards "party it up" since it'll probably be my last hurrah with the other interns. I can't believe summer is almost done. But I'm way excited for Europe.

Also to do this weekend: finish the book I'm reading. Too much computer related nerdery has impeded my reading progress.

Oh and I might quit at the restaurant.

Current Mood: boredbored
08 August 2007 @ 10:14 pm
There is not a competent American who does not realize that our public school system is miserably fucked. The real debate is over whether the schools are irreparably fucked.

Some hold out  hope that we can jolt the system back to life with some competition from voucher programs -call that the defibrillator: no big rescue attempted, but maybe worth a shot before one shuffles off the ol' mortal coil. In that analogy, a solution involving a more robust income tax would be the equivalent of, I dunno, stem cell research: probably the best chance at reversing the real damage, but the very notion seems to offend conservatives to the core. Basically, convincing Americans that the public school system needs reform is easy. Now get them to admit they might need to cowboy up for the bill, and watch the room clear out.

Which is why it is phenomenally inspiring to see that the kids who have to suffer through these inwardly collapsing heaps get it.

A small group of pupils from the Students for an Equitable Education, a new youth organization working to change Illinois' school funding system, joined the "Riding for Reform" bus tour. Pupils went to the state's capital to rally for change in education funding.

"We take our education very seriously, and so should Governor (Rod) Blagojevich and state lawmakers," said Marcus Smith, 18, a founding member of SEE. "When school starts again in the fall, I hope we don't have another year of crowded classrooms and crumbling school buildings."

To hear these pupils' cries, Blagojevich sat down with SEE to discuss alternative routes to cover the costs of public school education. SEE members said they would like to see the state look at increasing income taxes instead of relying heavily on property taxes.

If this were to happen, SEE members said school districts wouldn't be defined by the wealth of the communities they serve. Instead, they said, pupils across the state could receive a fair and equal public education.

The call for more money to balance out the rich and poor school districts is a common one. Illinois has a relatively low income tax, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. As a consequence, the state's share of funding kindergarten through 12th-grade public education is 37 percent, ranking it 48th in the nation. Illinois property taxes, on the other hand, are significantly greater than in other states.

Illinois' scheme-as-described is pretty common, and it's too bad. America's poorest communities should not be anchored to it's poorest schools, nor should the least wealthy members of our society be footing high-proportion property taxes just so their kids can get an education that at least approximates what their wealthier counterparts can comfortably afford. And within those parameters there does not seem to be an alternative to redistributive taxation. But as these cool kids point out, an alternative is not needed. We know what will work. So why aren't we doing it?

By the by, I muddled through Illinois' mess of a public school system until I was 8. So, y'know, represent or whatever. I never thought too highly of my schools there, until I moved to Texas, where I learned that the good folks in the Land of Lincoln were amateurs when it came to devastating poor schools.
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Current Music: Vashti Bunyan
08 August 2007 @ 10:12 pm
My laptop has now recovered from some perfectly trivial technical difficulties. Hope y'all's worlds didn't come crumbling to bits without me.
29 July 2007 @ 06:15 pm
Spoiler alert! I wrote this entry while I was a bit on the tipsy end - you find that out at the end. As I'm sure you know, I like to mock things/people and so now sober me will go through and laugh at the confessionals of three-okay-maybe-four-glasses-of-wine me.

Today, was the absolute worst day of work ever. (Nice opener.) It was a Sunday brunch shift - typically, pretty simple. And at first it seemed as though this one would fall politely into pattern. When noon rolled around, the place was still empty as when it opened, just Alcione, Cort, Karina and I sitting in the back drinking coffee. A welcome and refreshing start - I didn't get home from Apex until three last night, so I was not too psyched to be catching a metro ride to work at nine .

At some point between 12:00 and 1:00, the place went nuts - it was packed. Two groups with babies, both demanding the single high-chair we owned. Overlapping orders, special drink requests - the place went absolutely fucking crazy.(Nuts AND crazy? I'm surprised the men and white coats didn't shut us down! I need to diversify my set of comparisons for situational clusterfucks) Alcione, who insists on making all drinks, from lattes to cocktails, himself disappeared for twenty minutes, creating a colossal back-up of drink orders. Cort, for who knows why, wasn't writing his table numbers on the ticket which caused the crisis to culminate with us bringing an order of food to the wrong table.  We spent the next minutes apologizing profusely to the table whose order we had fucked up, the table who was wondering where the hell their food had gone, and Karina, who was mad as hell that she had to make the same order twice. That last bit nailed it. I freaking love Karina, and while Alcione gets pissed at me about twice a minute, Karina has never been anything but a doll to me (A doll? Since when do I use that expression? How very... gay).

Needless to say, Alcione was incredibly angry. I didn't really care - the problem started when he let the whole place get backed up on drink orders. And the tips, as a result of the long waits and mess-ups, were pretty poor. Alcione basically berated Cort and I for the thirty minutes it took for us to finish our sidework, and then I left to walk to the metro in the rain.  (EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-mo!  I'm an awfully whiny wine-o)

By now it was three, and my day was in the shitter. But I had plans to reclaim it. (Turning point in the narrative arc, blunt but well established).

I ate an early dinner (having not had lunch) with a side of the Pinot Noir I had swiped from Park Cafe a couple weeks back. Delicious. It was then that I decided to correct that awful culinary situation of my Dad's apartment by cooking up a spectacular sauce for Wednesday night. I could even use the Pinot Noir! Knowing that Andrew and my dad were both fans of spicy food, I resolved to make a kick-ass arrabbiata.  (This segment tries to do too much backwork in justifying why I, for really no reason, became super fixated on cooking an arrabbiata sauce).
Bit first things first - I finished the first half of Angels in America. Incredible, incredibly depressing, Now I wasn't sure I wanted to go out on my food-making mission. Mopey, yah? I needed some instant comfort  - (that sounds like a tampon commercial) -, so that third of a carton of French Silk ice cream sitting in the freezer got killed. Indulgent? A bit. But there is probably nothing I love more than ice cream, and that delicious chocolate-y goodness  melted away whatever frustration had lingered from the hellish morning at the restaurant. (This passage gives the mostly untrue impression that reading the book made me mopey after I had stopped moping. Really, I moped continuously until ice cream time. It was a very poor-me kinda day).  With newfound energy, I set off to gather the ingredients for my pasta sauce.

Trader Joe's for the first time in memory, disappointed. I got the garlic and  tomatoes - but they had no crushed red pepper, nor did they have my fall-back substitute (Cayenne pepper). So I marched a few block out in the rain to the Safeway, only to be let down again. What the fuck is wrong with this town? - I thought. I'm looking for a spice that I could literally walk into any fast-food pizza chain in the country and swipe off the table, and not a grocery store in  the District carries it! And then it hit me - fast-food pizza chain! There was a Papa John's just a few more blocks from my apartment. So I made just one more trek through the rain to that humble proprietor of pizza.

"So this is a weird question," I asked the kind of-imposing-manager, "but when people order pizza, do you ever give them crushed red pepper?"

"Give them?" He scoffed - "We sell it to them." He drew  a few packets of the red stuff out of a cabinet. (Nice verb selection with scoffed'. This sounds so much more confrontational than it actually was).

"Well," I put on my best haggling face - "How much for that much, right there?"

"15 cents a pack. So... $1.25 for this."

The tension broke (Hahaha... so ridiculous). "Great!" I couldn't help but enthuse. "I went to every grocery store in the neighborhood and couldn't find this stuff!"

I forked over the cash and walked away with about three times as much pepper as I needed. VICTORY!

So I got home, Cued up my soul mix, and made some pasta sauce. Sadly (AKA not sadly at all), once the allotted amount of Pinot Noir had entered the sauce (giving it a thick but subtley tangy flavor that goes nicely with the bite of the pepper), I couldn't  really resist the call of the open bottle - (the call of the open bottle sounds like dialogue from a really bad Lifetime movie about alcoholism) - and the remaining wine was consumed during the hour-long marathon of chopping, pouring, frying and boiling. But seriously - I have never had an experience as therapeutic as this soul-jamming, wine-drinking, sauce-cooking marathon of AWESOME. The sauce turned out... well, let's just say it's a pasta sauce so good it DEFIES REASON. I just hope a couple days of refrigeration doesn't hurt it at all.

So let it be known: no matter how awful a day has been - a cup or so of ice cream, a bottle of wine, and some sweet Southern soul (not my expression - one song I listened to is actually a meta-soul song that namechecks a lot of soul singers and talks about how great they are) can turn any day around. Today... has rocked. And now,I'm off to read the second half of Angels in America.

(PS: this definitely a drunk LJ entry. I do not apologize at all for any incoherency or nonsensibility.)
(Now, I actually do apologize).
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: Ike& Tina - "Proud Mary"
28 July 2007 @ 12:59 pm

Can I just take a moment to point out how wonderful libraries are? Using taxes to buy books that anyone can read for free. It's like my socialist utopia. And it also means the Borders and Barnes & Nobles that live on either side of me won't be taking all of my money. Because, seriously, with a bookstore on each side of the apartment, my paychecks don't stand a chance.

Anyway, the MLK Library in DC is now the love of my life. Here is what my lover, the library, gave to me today (AKA, this is my summer reading list, part something of something):

Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by Tony Kushner
A Force More Powerful: A Century of Non-Violent Conflict by Peter Ackerman and Jack Duvall
The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K Le Guin
We Make the Road by Walking: Coversations on Education and Social Change by Myles Horton and Paulo Freire
Dominion: A Novel
by Calvin Baker
Shadows of Tender Fury: The Letter and Communiques of Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

Apparently, a pre-requisite for me to consider reading a book is that it must have a subtitle.
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Current Music: Broken Social Scene - "7/4 (Shoreline)"
27 July 2007 @ 06:12 pm

I had a really intense conversation with the other interns at lunch today.

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
26 July 2007 @ 05:38 pm
The crisis continues - rather than doing actual food cooking (which I am now prepared for), Mr. Rowe decides we should do snack/desert foods instead. Ok, fair. I can actually bake pretty damn well, thank you very much. But I get home with less than an hour on the clock to find, no joke, my dad's apartment contains neither sugar nor flour.

So... I made a trail mix. And by "made" I mean I ran out of pretzels and peanuts halfway through and just started pouring in packs of Chex mix. WHY I AM SO LAME?

On the plus side, this is a mighty fine Scotch I'm sipping. And Gayle McCormick has (had?) some pipes on her. Soul and alcohol... the two things that are reliably good in my life.
Current Mood: sillysilly
Current Music: Smith - "Baby Its You"
26 July 2007 @ 08:56 am
I'm supposed to make some food to bring with tonight when I venture off to rock 'n' roll adventures with Mr. Rowe. But there is zero food in my apartment. Well there is pasta, but nothing with which I could make sauce. I may need the combined forces of AllRecipes and Trader Joe's to save me. Otherwise... the rock 'n' roll potluck will be ruined! And I can't live with that.

Also, I saw an incredible documentary at the Palestine Center last night. It was about grassroots resistance to the Israeli wall. Tremendously sad, but it was still powerful to see people standing up for their homes even when they knew they couldn't succeed. The facility was really impressive too - I live three blocks from the place and I'd never noticed it. I'll need to head back that way and look around sometime.
Current Mood: awakeawake