Wednesday, October 31, 2007

On the Politics of Hope

I haven't written anything about the presidential candidates lately, but it is no secret that I am a Hillary Clinton supporter. This weekend, the Barack Obama campaign turned me off even more. Why would a campaign publish in the New York Times their strategy? Since when do you publish and advertise your strategy for beating another candidate? It is so politically dubious, I don't see how people can remotely still think that Barack Obama is the candidate of "hope." Mark Penn, Hillary's strategist (and the boss of someone I know), says it quite well in this blog post on Hillary's page. The Democratic debate was disgraceful last night. I am starting to not respect Obama and Edwards at all (this is particularly disturbing considering I loved my North Carolina Edwards for so long) because the attacks stink of desparation. They also appear to be total frauds based on the "new and hopeful" types of campaigns that they swore that they were going to wage. Obviously, there was not much sincerity in those words (oh wait, but they declare that they are the trustworthy Washington outsiders...). What I respect about Hillary so much is that I know what I am getting with her. She is what she is and that is an intelligent, politically astute person. I know that her experience also begets her own political saviness. Why is that such a bad thing to Obama and Edwards? Oh right, because they don't know anything about actually getting work done inside of Washington (which last time I checked, is where the President of the United States actually has to operate). They get to sound high-minded, so long as it behooves them.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Scottish Ghosts for Halloween

Generally, Slate bugs me alot these days. This is generally because of their annoyingly biased campaign reporting in favor of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign. I also think that several of their writers showed that they are bigots after writing what they did about Mormons a few months ago. Every so often though, they still manage to post an article or two that is worth reading. Kate Bolick is writing one fine travel series on looking for ghosts in Scotland. Not only is she making me want to spend weeks exploring Scottish castles even more than I already want to do, but she also linked he article to the Ghost Finders Scotland Paranormal Investigation & Research website. On their website you can hear sound clips of ghosts who speak in Scottish accents and other paranormal phenomena as witnessed in many historical Scottish locales.

I have to get to those castles soon. I have read so many histories about Mary Queen of Scots, maybe if I get to Borthwick Castle, I can ask her some questions that I have about her life myself!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dad in Real Life

I saw the movie Dan in Real Life this weekend. It was very enjoyable. Steve Carrell plays very well those slightly unstable, yet good-hearted average Joes. Juliette Binoche was charming, as usual. In the movie, Dan has three daughters. The part that made me just burst in tears (which I don't think was intended by the makers of the film, because everyone else was laughing), was one of the scenes when the middle child is yelling at her dad about how he is ruining her life. It just made me think of my poor dad, and how he had to put up with three very intense daughters, but particularly I, as the middle one, was just a total drama queen as an adolescent. It just made me feel so guilty.

Thanks Dad, for putting up with me anyway!

Here is a tribute to my Dad:

Dad in his young Navy days.

Dad and Sarah on his favorite vehicle.

Dad and his favorite dessert, strawberry ice cream.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Quick Television Update

Last night's episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm was so sad, it made me want to cry. I can't believe that Cheryl left Larry. Poor Larry David just seemed so pathetic.

In better television news, a highly anticipated event approaches. Finally, My So-Called Life, the Complete Series, is being re-released on DVD on October 30. I have been waiting for this event for quite some time. When it was released on DVD before, I swear, they must have only released five copies and for five minutes only, because it was impossible to get. This time around, I already have my copy pre-ordered with Amazon, so I definitely will get it. Ever since my videotaped copy of "The Boiler Room" episode was mysteriously taped over when I was in law school with an episode of Star Trek Voyager, I have felt this significant loss from my adolescence. I know that I posted previously about my favorite moment from that episode, also my favorite moment of television of all time. It was probably the most significant television moment of high school. That same videotaped copy of that episode I watched with my friends Whitney and Drew my junior year of television, after Whitney and I went on and on about how Angela was the luckiest fictional television character of all time and Drew rolled his eyes over and over. We were walking out to Whitney's car, and Drew came up behind me and did the Jordan Catalano hand grab, just to be funny, since we had just talked about how it was the greatest thing a boy could do to a girl. Considering that I really wasn't much of a dater in high school, it was one of those moments of adolescence that stuck out in my mind. Then, we all went to Taco Bell.

I am just happy that I will be able to share My So-Called Life with future generations of over analytical teenage girls.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What a Thursday.

Yesterday was a day of unexpected surprises that reminded me that sometimes life can be more than just minimally unexpected. First, there was an unexpected, yet significant tornado that damaged a swath of Pensacola. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the last thing the people of Pensacola need to deal with is an unexpected tornado in a year when people were breathing another sigh of relief that the hurricane season was fairly sedate. In the meantime, people in Seattle were complaining about a few 50 mph wind gusts.

But the biggest surprise was a phone call from my oldest friend about this baby.

It is her story to tell, not mine, but suffice it to say, I am more convinced than ever that life can change in an instant when you least expect it.

Also, Dwight on The Office, made me realize just how much I want to have an "irrigation room" in my house. I mean, particularly since I am obsessed with water law issues.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Civics for Jimmy and Janie

Since I am now a librarian (or at least I am training to be), I thought that periodically I should provide a link to some fascinating new website that I have discovered while assisting a patron or just looking for resources. Today's websites have theme: Government Sponsored Websites for Children.

The first site is Ben's Guide to US Government for Kids which is maintained by the GPO office. I appreciate this site for the cartoon caricature of Benjanmin Franklin (since that Office episode with the Ben Franklin impersonator, I have been obsessed with all things Ben Franklin). Who better to introduce children to US Government than a Pennsylvania Quaker who possibly kept French mistresses? Ben's ABC's are particularly informative.

For the Future Farmers of America, there is the AIPL kids website, which of course is the website for kids from the Animal Improvement Programs Labratory. Do you want to know about which state is the number one milk producer? Or who knows when the first cow arrived in America? Perhaps you just want to play a good old-fashioned game of Who Stole the World's Milk Supply? All of that is available for you on this website in addition to learning about the genetic manipulation of America's farm animals so that they can be even more delicious to us.

Finally, let me just say that as far as administrative agencies go, the Department of the Treasury puts all others to same with the sheer volume of their websites for children. They've of course got the Treasury Page for Kids. The Mint has a webiste called H.I.P. Pocket Change. But the best of the government money websites for kids has to be the Bureau of Engraving and Printing's Children Page. First off, they seriously have the most interesting website to look at. It is called "Money Central Station." What kid wouldn't want to go there? From Money Central Station, you can depart to Mt. Cashmore or the Dollarado Canyon. Who knew that Engraving and Printing could be so much fun? The IRS - you clearly have something to learn. Until you can make learning about paying taxes as much fun as learning about making money, you can't possibly blame people for skipping out on their tax obligations can you?

Monday, October 15, 2007

My own Beauty Myth

So I have a new, extremely unhelpful obsession - skin care. Like my other new-founded physically based obsession, working out, I find that good skin care takes repetition and attention to detail. It pains me to admit that I can be so shallow as to spend so much time in recent weeks on these somewhat shallow pursuits, but I am a little bit vain sometimes. And I can't help it, but I really want to have porcelain skin for my wedding in March. For most of my life people always complemented me on my good skin and it wasn't something that I had to think much about but lately, I am overly concerned with the fact that too much time in the Florida sun with unprotected skin is now taking a toll on my face. The ladies at the Clarins counter at Nordstrom must be loving capitalizing on my insecurities. Even though they tell me that I look much younger than 29, they certainly know how to make me feel like my skin could age five years overnight.

Another lost soul to "The Beauty Myth." I am sorry Naomi Wolf. I was your biggest supporter back in the day. The stronger they boast about their feminist ethics, the harder they can fall sometimes.

Hopefully, it is just another phase.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Let's Take a Train Ride

Last night I saw The Darjeeling Limited. It was enjoyable, but above all else, made me want to go to India on a long trip with my two sisters. Although, if we went there probably wouldn't be as much prescription drug abuse or purchasing of poisonous snakes (unless Melissa decides that her superior snake handling abilities obtained in the Mississippi swamps can hack it).

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Happy Update of an Old Post

When I turned over my cases when I quit my job, there were a few lingering cases to which I still felt particularly close. Last year I posted this blog about a Somali client whose asylum interview didn't go perfectly and my sense of personal responsibility. After the interview, she and I worked hard to supplement her case with other materials. We waited and waited for a response. Finally, her response came this week and we were informed that she was granted asylum! It made me so happy! I worried so much about her case, and I just couldn't imagine her having to leave this country that has become her safe haven over the past six years. I am glad that I was able to help her in whatever small way that it might have been. She is a good person who deserves to have a happy life away from conflict and threats to her and her children's well being.

Sometimes, after a LONG time (she applied pro se for asylum in 2001), something good can finally happen and the federal government can make the right decision. It is refreshing when it happens. It feels good to have had some part in it and not having to feel like I screwed up someone's life in some major way.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Back to September

I am finally getting around to posting some overdue photos from my recent trip back to the South.
First things first. My cousin Danielle's daughter, Carson, knows there is a right way to eat cupcakes. Extra messy and extra sprinkles:
Now that has been said, I can move on to the only pictures that David and I took when we were in Orlando. We went to Orlando to meet with our Disney wedding planner, to plan out the details of our reception. I didn't take any pictures of this planning frenzy because I don't want to spoil the surprise for any of our friends or family who may attend. Suffice it to say, that planning the details made me so excited and I am quite optimistic that a good time will be had by all. It was also exciting to be able to plan most of the details so that I don't have to stress out about them as much now that I am back in school. I just have to count down the days.

We also were able to see my good friends, the Messers, and meet the newest member of their brood.
I think that David wanted to take the puppy home with him.

But he couldn't. Not only would Richelle have been sad, but we had to make another pit stop before we made it back to Seattle. We had to stop by everyone's favorite money trap in the desert that built itself on the misuse of the Colorado River - Las Vegas. This time, we stayed at the Westin, which was one refreshing block off of the Strip but seemed like it could have been miles away. That is, until you looked out of the window. The view gave it all away.We had to make a stop at one of our favorite Vegas spots - the Conservatory at the Bellagio (mostly to see if it was Professor Plum with the Candlestick) to check out the seasonal indoor garden. This season featured Halloween Ents:

Otherwise, this Vegas sojourn featured the main attributes of other Vegas trips from days past, namely, a good dinner (this time at a French restaurant at the Venetian), and shopping. Back in the day, I was the Vegas shopper. Now, David puts me to shame. Las Vegas contains stores for David's favorite British designers, and he just is a weakling when it comes to resisting those slim British cuts that were made for body types just like him. Last time we were here in February, it was the Ted Baker store. This time, he did his damage at the Ben Sherman store. Well, that was where he did his damage on Friday. When we were back in Vegas on Sunday to catch our flight back to Seattle, David did the real damage at Neiman Marcus where he bought a Paul Smith suit to wear to our wedding (along with a tie, shirt, and pocket square). NOTE: For anyone coming to the wedding, this might be the one wedding that you attend in history where the cost of the groom's attire far exceeded the cost of the bride's. He better not look better than me!!

But I am getting way ahead of myself here. On Saturday morning, we drove to Springdale, Utah for the wedding of our good friends Dan and Marie. They had planned to have a beautiful outdoor ceremony, framed by the cliffs of Zions National Park. Unfortunately, the strangest thing of all happened. It poured rain in the desert in late September. Poured. This was the view from our balcony at the lodge when we arrived.

I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but it really was gray and rainy. Take my word for it. This meant that Dan and Marie had to scramble around to find another place to host their wedding, luckily finding a community center/library in Springdale itself. They were able to have their ceremony on a veranda outside, before it started pouring rain again. The wedding guests were treated to one spectacular rainbow, though.

How many weddings get to have that? David and I tried to have our picture taken in front of it. Unfortunately, the part with the rainbow didn't quite turn out.

The wedding was great fun as we got to see lots of old friends including Abby, still in North Carolina, and the entire van Uitert clan. It was good to see everyone. On an unrelated sidenote, here is a quick thought regarding my attire. No one else told me that the entire wedding party, and most other people at the wedding were going to be wearing black. I, on the other hand, had dressed to match the colors of Southern Utah, so it was easy to spot me in the crowd.

I met Dan and Marie, the Groom and Bride, the same weekend that I first met David in New York in 2003. Marie and David were roommates in DC and Marie's sister Becca and her husband Jason lived in Queens and Marie and Dan were visiting them that weekend. It was one weekend where I was able to meet so many great people. Congrats Marie and Dan!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Going Crazy Over Ricky

Last night when I was going through some of the boxes that my mom brought to me of my books that were in Florida, I thought that I had found my first photo album, the one that Pa-Paw had given me in 1984. However, when I opened it up, I instantly recognized it as Sarah's photo album because I was greeted with this:

And this:

I love that my sister, who is now a Post-Doc at Harvard, not only was in love with Ricky Schroeder when she was a kid, but that she used her allowance money to purchase Bop Magazine, so that she could cut out all of the photos of Ricky Schroeder and preserve them in the photo album that Pa-Paw had given her. That is just too awesome for words.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The War

Tonight PBS showed the seventh and final installment of Ken Burns' The War . As expected from Ken Burns, it was tremendous. I don't think I will ever look at World War II the same way again. I had already been thinking alot about World War II since I saw this V-mail from Pa Paw posted on the Street Family Website. I don't know if it is legible or not, posted on my blog in this fashion, but it made me sob and sob and sob the first time that I read it. I love the simpleness of the letter, considering that Pa-Paw only had a sixth grade education. I love that Pa-Paw, in his youthful innocence, was more concerned about eating his next meal than the fact that he was part of a build-up of American troops preparing to invade Nazi-occupied France. But he knew enough about the War to know that he must reassure his mother. I love this letter in the context of the Pa-Paw I knew, who was shaped profoundly by the War, as were all people who served in World War II. I didn't know much about Pa-Paw's service in the War, as like most veterans, he was hesitent to talk about it. But reading this letter made me feel close to him, perhaps in a way that I hadn't since he passed away in 1991. Pa-Paw was seriously injured in the War months after this letter was sent. After he fought his way across France with Allied troops, he was injured in fighting in Germany when a bomb blew up in front of him and shrapnel lodged into his leg, nearly severing it. He recovered in an Army Hospital in West Virginia, but years later, he still had pieces of that German artillery in his leg and showed his young grandchildren his scars.
By the time my generation came along and came to know our War veteran grandfathers, they had over 30 years to process the war. Men like my Pa-Paw (and also my Grampy who also fought in the Army in Europe and was also present on D-Day) had 30 years to reconcile the nightmares they faced on those fronts with the relative tranquility of life back in the States. There had been violent episodes with their loved ones along the way, perhaps in part caused by the violence they had seen and experienced in Italy, Okinawa, or Libya. There had been sleepless nights and demons wrestled. But I like to think that by the time my generation was birthed, they were finally able to receive the long deserved peace that came after the lingering personal battles were appeased and calmed. After dealing with the individual tragedies and terrors they had witnessed, and in some cases were ordered to perpetrate, people like my grandfathers could finally have the peace of knowing that what they fought for was good and right. They could know that they enabled my generation to be birthed into such prosperity and peace. We took their bravery for granted. We did not know what the origin of their kindness was. They were simply our granfathers who bought us treats and took us on truck rides or boat rides. They could look at our smiling faces, ignorant of the sacrifices they and their comrades had made for us, and finally truly feel like they had conquered the War.
Sidenote: If anyone needs an idea of what to get me for Christmas how about this?