January 31, 2010

alone together

i was at the doctor's office a few weeks ago, sitting on the little table...waiting. i looked down at the floor and saw my shoes sitting there, looking so small and lonely. for some reason, it was breathtaking.

January 30, 2010

5 year anniversary

five years ago today, i blogged for the very first time.

my inaugural post was a poem i'd written just days before. i don't fancy myself much of a poet, but i do love to compose this type of work. it's inspired by a 1967 poem called "message clear" by scottish poet edwin morgan (introduced to me by one of earth's greatest english teachers: clay collins).  i've probably written half a dozen of these in my life because they are such a beautiful way to show the versatility of language and words and what you can find if you look at them more closely.

i've republished the poem here (click to enlarge):

January 26, 2010

prop 8 trial: is that all you've got?

day 11 of the proposition 8 trial in california wrapped up today, and it was the second full day of the defense's witnesses (fyi: the defense is the team in favor of prop 8 -- they want to ban same-sex marriage in california).

i have to say, given the high profile nature of this case, i expected more from the defense. their arguments thus far have been pitiful, and they're rumored to be done after just two witnesses. as a long-time and outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage, i usually think the arguments in favor of a ban are pretty thin, but to see them laid out in a trial makes them look even weaker.

the courtroom is cut off from cameras, so my only knowledge of the trial comes from reading recaps on news websites, but here's my understanding of the defense's case so far:

  • gays don't need special protection of their rights because they're a powerful and well-loved minority group
  • the purpose of marriage is to make babies
  • legalizing same-sex marriage paves the way to a world of widespread polygamy and bestiality

really? is that all you've got?

the first point was made (surprisingly) by my friend and mentor prof. kenneth miller from claremont mckenna college. he was brought in to refute the testimony of prof. gary segura from stanford who testified on behalf of the plaintiff that gays and lesbians still face significant threats to their civil rights. according to the mercury news, miller himself has written about the use of the california initiative process to side-step legislative protections of minority groups' rights, so it seems odd that his testimony would imply that gays and lesbians were not at risk of being marginalized by the initiative process. despite the seeming ubiquity of gays on television shows, most gay people i know still face tyranny of the majority on a daily basis.

the "marriage = babies" argument is just plain silly, since the logical legal extension of that argument would outlaw marriage between old people, sterile people, and people who don't like diapers. i can't even believe this was admissible in a court of law, and it's really not worth any more discussion.

the "slippery slope" argument -- that someone else's gay marriage puts me on the fast track to marrying my spatula -- is really predicated on the belief that same-sex love is somehow different and lesser than heterosexual love. a "slippery slope" implies that there's a slope -- that same-sex love is inferior. i don't suppose it's very easy to change someone's mind about that, but my experience is that committed gays and lesbians love each other the same way straight people do: in a romantic, one-on-one, i'll-wipe-your-nose-when-you're-sick kind of way. it's very different from the way one loves a kitchen utensil. i can't believe i even have to say that.

i hope -- only for the sake of their own credibility -- that the defense's lawyers have something else up their sleeves, because if this is the sum total of their argument, i think it's obvious that the emperor has no clothes.

January 22, 2010

charting the beatles

the folks at michael deal design have created some fascinating infographics about the career of the beatles. these graphical beauties track the band's evolution over time including diminishing collaboration, increased self-references, movement away from standard pop/rock chords, and a work schedule that appears to favor the month of april.

a small sample...

January 18, 2010


my favorite photo from the weekend

January 15, 2010

half my DNA

i got an unexpected package in the mail from my mom today. she sent me a stack of dish towels onto which she'd hand stitched vocabulary words that sort of look like my name or nickname:

she explained(?) the purpose of the towels in the enclosed card:

love love love this woman.

January 14, 2010

pouring on the pounds

last month, the NYC health department released a controversial ad admonishing one of my least favorite things: sugary beverages.

the ad is totally gross, but i agree with the message. in my opinion, sugary beverages are a total waste of calories. i'd much rather have an extra slice of pizza than a super-sized serving of high-fructose corn syrup. consumption priorities, people.

January 13, 2010

coming out of the christian closet

lucas faber is just an ordinary gay teen who's grappling with the gnawing feeling that, deep down, he may be a fundamentalist, right-wing christian.

favorite quote:

"I caught him watching The 700 Club once when he thought he was alone in the house, and last week, I found some paperbacks from the Left Behind series hidden in his sock drawer," his mother, Eileen Faber, said. "I'm sure he'll grow out of it, but even if he doesn't, I will love and accept my son no matter what."

thanks to the onion for this satirical gem (and a hat tip to andrew sullivan)

January 12, 2010

life philosophy

"well," said pooh, "what i like best..." and then he had to stop and think. because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. 

-a.a. milne.

January 10, 2010

LA's cultural segregation

when people ask for my impression of LA, i usually tell them that the segregation (cultural, racial, socio-economic, etc.) is really striking.  although LA is diverse as a whole, neighborhood-by-neighborhood it's very homogeneous.  we've all seen the data to prove racial and socio-economic segregation, but the analysis of netflix rentals by region is a great way to see how strong cultural segregation is in LA.

what does segregation look like in LA? it looks like the invisible lines drawn by the 10 and the 405.

check out the map for obsessed, the thriller film about a skanky white girl trying to destroy beyonce's relationship:

or how about milk, the oscar winning biopic extolling the life of gay activist harvey milk:

call me a californiaphile (i am), but i think this analysis is really most interesting for big, spread out metros that don't have the "bullseye design" of urban-city-center-surrounded-by-white-washed suburbs (e.g., LA, the bay, and NY).  that said, i really recommend checking out all the maps, because it's chock-full of cultural/regional gems.

for example, the map for the movie adventureland is pretty much a city-by-city "do not enter" map if you're allergic to hipsters:  silver lake and culver city in LA, the mission and berkeley in the bay, east village and brooklyn in NY.

January 7, 2010

just marry your cousin

you can't marry your true love, but you can marry this nice cousin of yours...because we all know marriage is only so people can have babies. genetically homogeneous babies.

January 6, 2010

bank statement = diary

ever since high school, i've been pretty anal about monitoring my expenses in an excel spreadsheet. i'm not sure that i still need to do this manually given all the great tools available these days (mint.com is awesome), but i guess it's a habit i can't break.

since i have all the data (and a consultant's natural inclination to run pivot tables), i thought i'd do some analysis on my spending habits in 2009.

top 20 places i spent money in 2009 - by frequency
  1. mozzarella
  2. ralph's
  3. cvs
  4. pinkberry
  5. huckleberry café
  6. union 76
  7. amazon
  8. whole foods
  9. vons
  10. long's drugs
  11. target
  12. netflix
  13. forever 21
  14. trader joe's
  15. kreation kafe
  16. queen bee
  17. itunes
  18. exxonmobil
  19. southwest airlines
  20. pitfire pizza

top 20 places i spent money in 2009 - by amount spent

  1. TED
  2. american airlines
  3. alaska airlines
  4. southwest airlines
  5. ralph's
  6. claremont mckenna college
  7. forever 21
  8. target
  9. ticketmaster
  10. cvs
  11. mozzarella
  12. united airlines
  13. union 76
  14. huckleberry café
  15. delta airlines
  16. queen bee
  17. time warner cable
  18. best buy
  19. long's drugs
  20. victoria's secret

so what does this say about me? we all know that groceries and gas are necessities and flying is expensive, but i think there are a few takeaways that are unique to who i am:

  • i finally felt like TED was in the budget this year because TEDIndia was much more affordable than any other TED. that said, it was still pretty freakin' expensive. worth it? totally.
  • i am very loyal to american airlines and their codeshare airlines (holdover from my days as a weekly traveler)
  • my priorities: i buy expensive food and cheap clothing
  • music is important to me -- recorded and live
  • coconut and passion fruit swirl...mmm...
  • on any given work day, it's pretty much guaranteed that you'll find me at mozzarella for lunch
  • weekends aren't complete without a green eggs and ham from huckleberry cafe

    January 3, 2010

    peanut butter chili

    californians can be really judgmental. sometimes we stereotype the cultural practices in other parts of the country, and often, we're unfairly hyperbolic with our caricatures. nowhere is this more true than on the topic of food. california urban legends tell of the crazy and mysterious cuisines of the middle of the country where high-fructose corn syrup and lard reign supreme. sometimes i think we're really blowing it out of proportion -- unjustly allowing the red states to be the butt of our culinary jokes.

    but this weekend, i realized we might be right.

    a native of the indiana-kentucky border (kentuckiana, he's called it) shared some information with me that i simply cannot keep to myself. we were talking about chili, and, in an effort to learn more about regional variations, i asked if indianans use beans (sacrilege in texas, i'm told). yes, they use meat and beans, he said, but they also use noodles. "like, egg noodles?" i ask. "no, like spaghetti noodles," he explains.

    this alone is shocking to me, but i can see how that could be delicious, and i guess it's not that weird...very reminiscent of a bolognese, i suppose. bolognese with beans. then he asks me, "what would you say is the most common thing to eat with chili?" he seems puzzled by my initial answers: cheese, cornbread, and fritos.

    "in indiana, we eat our chili with peanut butter sandwiches," he says proudly.

    upon further investigation, i learn that that's not the whole story. apparently, the peanut butter filling is a whipped combination of peanut butter and pancake syrup, into which you dip your bread before eating it with a bowl of chili. i was also warned against the assumption that they're using trader joe's peanut butter or all-natural maple syrup.

    "we're talking peter pan peanut butter, aunt jemima syrup, and wonderbread," he explains. "which you eat with your chili."

    "your noodle chili," i correct him.

    i have not been so shocked to hear about an american cultural practice since my scandalizing encounter with homecoming mums last year.

    UPDATE: origins of the noodle chili: cincinnati