Awesome to see someone combatting the myths: BYU professor takes on immigration bills

A wonderful victory today at work, involving a U-Visa, a visa designed to protect immigrant victims of crimes from being further victimized, and to encourage immigrants cooperation with law enforcement.

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Love these adorable pencil portraits from artist Mel Stringer.

from Bust: "Check out this story by the New York Time's David Carr, a cogent look at the real tragedy surrounding Charlie Sheen. Sheen has been abusing drugs, alcohol and women throughout his eight seasons with Two and a Half Men, all without putting a stop to his participation in the show. Hey, it's consistent with the character! Wink, wink. Until now. As of this past weekend Sheen's disparaging remarks about the show's creator Chuck Lorre finally threaten to derail this insanely successful franchise. The difference in crazytown now? According to Carr, 'abuse yourself and the women around you to your heart’s content, but do not attack the golden goose.'"

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As usual, I made my lunches and dinners for the week tonight - this week, both in keeping with my no meat, no sugar, no processed foods commitment. First dish: polenta, sweet potato fries, and steamed broccoli with pepper jack. Second dish: pasta, cheese, veggie casserole. The only thing I would do differently nutrition wise is probably cutting out the white pasta, since it's so processed, and trying whole wheat or spelt pasta instead. Otherwise, pretty proud of myself and looking forward to a second week of healthy eating!

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More awesome, modern pre-fab homes. Love that this is a 'thing' these days. Now I just need a piece of land...and money...

Amanda Marcotte hits the nail on the head with regard to Rush Limbaugh’s invective towards Michelle Obama: "But then there’s the other way the term is used, and that’s as a free-floating insult that can be applied to any woman at any point in time, regardless of her actual body fat percentage. In a patriarchy, all women are 'fat,' i.e. they take up too much space and have physical bodies that are coded as Other and therefore disgusting." source.

"Just because the road ahead is long, is no reason to slow down. Just because there is much work to be done, is no reason to get discouraged. It is a reason to get started, to grow, to find new ways, to reach within yourself and discover strength, commitment, determination, discipline.

The road ahead is long and difficult, and filled with opportunity at every turn. Start what needs starting. Finish what needs finishing. Get on the road. Stay on the road. Get on with the work.

Right now you’re at the beginning of the journey. What a great place to be! Just imagine all the things you’ll learn, all the people you’ll meet, all the experiences you’ll have. Be thankful that the road is long and challenging, because that is where you’ll find the best that life has to offer." source.

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Great medley of "I Hear Them All" and "This Land Is Our Land"
Songwriters: D. Rawlings and OCMS, and W. Guthrie (respectively

I hear the crying of the hungry in the deserts where they're wandering.
Hear them crying out for heaven's own benevolence upon them.
Hear destructive power prevailing, I hear fools falsely hailing.
To the crooked wits of tyrants when they call.

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

I hear the sounds of tearing pages and the roar of burning paper.
All the crimes in acquisitions turn to air and ash and vapor.
And the rattle of the shackle far beyond emancipators.
And the loneliest who gather in their stalls.

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

So while you sit and whistle Dixie with your money and your power.
I can hear the flowers a-growin in the rubble of the towers.
I hear leaders quit their lying
I hear babies quit their crying.
I hear soldiers quit their dying, one and all.

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

I hear the tender words from Zion, I hear Noah's waterfall.
Hear the gentle lamb of Judah sleeping at the feet of Buddha.
And the prophets from Elija to the old Paiute Wovoka.
Take their places at the table when they're called.

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all


Ran/walked 7 miles today, the longest since I hurt my ankle. Feeling renewed hope for making it to the marathon.

Interesting: A Network of Support: "For troubled or victimized children, assistance at home is often more effective than foster placement."

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SO much cute stuff in this Etsy shop: corduroy. Perfect place to visit if you need a sweet gift.

“It is crucial to look deeply at your thoughts and your views. What are you holding on to? Whether you are an artist or a businessperson, a parent or a teacher, you have your views about how to live your life, how to help other people, how to make your country prosperous, and so on. When you are attached to these views, to the idea of right and wrong, then you may be get caught. When your thinking is caught in these views, then you create misunderstanding, anger, and violence. That is what you are becoming in this very moment. When you are mindful of this and can look deeply, you can produce thoughts that are full of love and understanding. You can make yourself and the world around you suffer less.” – from “This Silence is Called Great Joy,” a teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh
Interesting new website, PlaySpent, "designed to help people understand the challenges and trade-offs faced by low-income people with insecure employment. The 'game' begins when you’ve been unemployed, have only $1,000 left in your bank account, and need to get a low wage job." Give it a look.

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This pillow is adorable. (Poppytalk Handmade has lots of lovely things.)

Among other things: "Incredibly, the McDonald’s product contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin. (Even without the brown sugar it has more calories than a McDonald’s hamburger.)"

On that note: Hey all, I'm crafting a "self-syllabi" on food issues (sustainable growing and eating etc). Here it is so far, I welcome suggestions! "King Corn," "Sweet Poison: Why Sugar Makes Us Fat" (D. Gillespie), "Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal" (E. Schlosser) (I've actually read it but I would like to reread it), "The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love" (K. Kimball), "Eating Animals" (J.S. Foer), "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto" (M. Pollan), "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals" (M. Pollan), "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" (B. Kingsolver), "Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals," "The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter" (P. Singer), "Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook" (I. C. Moskowitz). Also these books, which are a bit different but similarly about our relationships with food: "Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food" (J.C. Bays), "Women Food & God" (G. Roth), "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body" (C. Martin). Also, are there blogs on eating/food that people recommend as well (I read Mark Bittmans...)?
I'll be honest: I've avoided watching Food, Inc and reading Eating Animals because I knew they would push me back to being a vegetarian. (I was a vegetarian for 8 years and a vegan for one, and started eating meat again about 7 years ago.) But they are both about so much more than just eating meat. I think what finally pushed me to watch Food, Inc today was the eye-opening experience in the last week of truly cutting out sugar (not just cutting out sweets, but cutting out all sugar.) Now when I walk into a grocery store, I see that most of the stuff in the store has sugar in it. I've been eating so much processed foods my whole life and it's only now becoming clear to me. Watching Food, Inc. and hearing all the talk about animals and food being "engineered" instead of grown or raised really...wow....Whether you care about corporations dictating our health and national agenda, labor rights and the treatment of workers,the way animals are treated in factory farms, or whether you just want your family to be healthy....see this movie!


I'm pretty un-flashy but for some reason I love these gold flats. Could I wear them to work without looking crazy? I feel like they would spice up all my fairly low-key work outfits. (Also, so apt that they are named "South Beach." During the 3 months I lived there, I was blown away by the fearlessness of ladies when it came to wearing bright colors and any sort of sparkle).

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There's lot of crappy writing out there about heartbreak (understandably - it doesn't really bring out the best in most people). Here is a good piece on being heartbroken, for those of you in pain: "So go out and love, whoever it is that you love. Go out and get your heart broken. And let the pain, even when it feels like too much to bear, remind you of the importance of empathy. Because no matter our differences, we have this thing – this one achingly important thing – in common. We all get our hearts broken. We are all human. We are all connected."

“Breakfast is the only meal of the day that I tend to view with the same kind of traditionalized reverence that most people associate with Lunch and Dinner. I like to eat breakfast alone, and almost never before noon; anybody with a terminally jangled lifestyle needs at least one psychic anchor every twenty-four hours, and mine is breakfast. In Hong Kong, Dallas or at home — and regardless of whether or not I have been to bed — breakfast is a personal ritual that can only be properly observed alone, and in a spirit of genuine excess. The food factor should always be massive: four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crepes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned beef hash with diced chiles, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of Key lime pie, two margaritas, and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert… Right, and there should also be two or three newspapers, all mail and messages, a telephone, a notebook for planning the next twenty-four hours and at least one source of good music… All of which should be dealt with outside, in the warmth of a hot sun, and preferably stone naked.” - Hunter S. Thompson
After hearing multiple interviews with the author of the book Hellhound On His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin, I knew I would love it....and I do. It's exactly the sort of book I wish I could write - a nonfiction book that reads like fiction, where all the amazing research work that the author has done lies just palpably below the surface of a really strong narrative. I wish I could spend like 10 years digging into every nook and cranny of a topic and turning out such a riveting read! So far, highly recommended.

I'm back on the treadmill, and couldn't be more thrilled. At this point I've just been running about 5 miles a day (actually alternating between jogging and walking at a steep incline). Being able to move again, combined with being on day 5 of no sugar (which I'm actually realizing is turning out to be less "no sugar" and more "no processed foods, no sugar, more fruit and veggies") and I'm feeling great. Go healthy me! (I did have a nightmare last night about a triathlon, which sucked but....)

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“What on earth can you do on this earth but catch at whatever comes near you, with both your hands, until your fingers are broken?” - Tennessee Williams


Interesting book review/interesting sounding book. Added to the "to read" list: NYTimes' review of "In The Valley of The Shadow: On the Foundations of Religious Belief," By James L. Kugel.

I was impressed by this ad idea. Clever and effecdtive.

If you haven't already seen it, check out this video of Mr. Rodgers defending PBS from budget cuts. (And, on that note, a great infographic on why we should save PBS)

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Oooh, hoping this gets made: the filmmaker behind Helvetica and Objectified (the former I liked much more than the latter) is working on a documentary about urban planning. (I will say I thought it was a little odd that it's up on Kickstarter - he seems a bit successful for that forum.)

"There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature - the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter." - Rachel Carson
I'm in my fourth day of no-sugar living and so far yesterday has been the hardest. Work is definitely where I get the most cravings (I think because the stagnant feeling of being at my desk, in an office with no fresh air makes me bored, maybe). I mean, I guess I shouldn't be surprised - prior to this week, I had been eating almost twice my weekly recommended amount of sugar in one day. So, it's a big change for my body. Without having read her post until now, I'm basically doing what this blogger recommends, which is replacing healthy fats and proteins for my sugar cravings. Also, as this blog suggest, making sure I have a protein rich breakfast (egg and cheese whole wheat sandwiches or peanut butter and banana on whole wheat toast, etc). Although lots of people talk about subbing in sugar free cookies and candies, I don't want to do this because part of my purpose is to get myself to eat more healthy foods (especially unprocessed stuff), not just replace my sweets with semi-healthier-sweets. I do notice now that when I crave sweets if I take the time to check in, I realize there is something else I'm wanting other than the cookie/candy/etc, namely reassurance (if I'm feeling unsure), a distraction (if I'm bored), etc. Once I realize what is actually going on, I want the sweet less. I still want it. But less.

As I mentioned, I've been reading "The Four Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace," by Martha N. Beck. While she does try a little too hard to be witty, the book does have some really good stuff about why trying to eat right isnt about "will power" and ways to get in better touch with what your body needs. While it is a "diet book" in the sense that she says that the end result of learning to eat this way will be weight loss, it's actually more of a psychology book, helping you observe your own eating habits and finding a way to be more at peace. It's helping me in the quest to overcome sugar addiction, to eat more fruits and veggies, and generally to stop my cycle of body hatred and unhealthy eating. It's not an eating plan or anything, it's a series of exercises designed to help you confront your food demons, whatever those may be. It's far from perfect, but I am finding it encouraging (I don't have to be at the whim of sugar!) and positive (she's an Oprah favorite, so yeah).


RaceWife: Drop the I-Word: I Am...a Mother: "Rosario Lopez migrated with her family from Mexico to North Carolina 13 years ago. In this latest installment of Drop the I-Word's 'I Am...' series, Lopez shares concerns about how her daughter and the children of other undocumented immigrants are affected by today's hateful anti-immigrant climate. "

Interesting article on the way yoga may help those suffering from eating disorders heal. (Thanks for sending, PC!): "Yoga instructors have long believed that yoga can increase body satisfaction by switching the focus from what the body looks like to what it can achieve. At the same time, they say yoga encourages people to be aware and forgiving of their physical limits. When eating disorder patients become more attuned to their bodies, experts say, they are more likely to treat them with the respect they deserve."

(Note: I do think it is bad practice for articles on eating disorders to include specific low weights that people "got to" during their sickness. It can be very triggering for those struggling with similar disorders, and also places the emphasis, once again, on weight loss instead of the psychological and physical effects suffered by anyone who struggles with disordered eating - regardless of their weight. I actually wrote the author of the article, thanking them for the piece but encouraging them to refrain from recounting low weights similarly in the future. I'm trying to do more of engaging with people, instead of just complaining about it on my blog, or to friends.) (Update: the author of the article wrote me back right away, saying they would keep that in mind for future articles. Awesome! Yay for constructive conversation!)

AP: More US Companies Covering Transgender Surgery

Wohoo! "President Obama has decided that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and has asked his Justice Department to stop defending it in court, the administration announced today."

Greg Brown "Just By Myself"

One of my favs. A beautiful, funny, smart anthem for those of us with hermit-like tendencies.

Richard Thompson "1952 Vincent Black Lightning"

This songs been stuck in my head for a few days and I have no complaints. It's an incredible song. (Greg Brown does a great cover as well, on "Live One")


Dance An Awkward Dance*

Going to my first Community Family Court graduation today (as part of my work with CRB). I've heard they are pretty inspiring, and I'm looking forward to it.

From Immigration Equality: Give A Damn.

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Just read this post, on a friend of a friends blog, about her first marathon. Wow. What a beautiful, honest, funny, awesome account of a race. It was just what I needed to get refocused on my own running goals.

About a year ago, I quit caffeine (I drink decaf tea and coffee which I know has minimal amount), and it is one of the best things I've ever done for myself. It's helped my anxiety and depression immeasurably. Over the last 8 months or so, I've also cut out alcohol (for physical and emotional/psychological reasons, although I've never had an issue with addiction), and it has had a similarly amazing effect - less depression and anxiety, and general better health. I don't think I will be totally sober for my entire life (I probably have about one beer a month right now, and I love the taste of a good beer), but I can't argue with the positive affects of sobriety. Anyways, I have a lot more to say about that, but my point in mentioning it was because I am currently wrapping up my second day of quitting sugar. My main goal behind this was to stop the out of control, up and down, roller-coaster feelings I have in relationship with sweets. I have always had a sweet tooth, and can down a pint of ice cream without a second thought. My routine was this: have a sweet or two for breakfast (danishes, donuts, muffins), dessert after lunch, a sweet snack in the afternoon, and dessert after dinner. I've gone for days without a fruit or vegetable. I know, not good. I don't like the out of control feeling of not being able to just have one cookie, or the buzzing and sickness I feel after I gorge on sweets. I have no interest in cutting out sugar for the rest of my life, but my experiments with caffeine and alcohol have shown me the benefits of eliminating things from your diet temporarily - it makes me so much more aware of their effects on my body and mind. Anyways, I'm sure the first few weeks will be difficult, but it's already been great for getting me to try different foods - I've had over 4-5 fruits and veggies both days! I'm pretty proud of myself. Anyways, here are a few blogs I've found helpful during the process, and turn to when the cravings strike (at work in the afternoon is the hardest): 1, 2, 3, 4.

* "There is no unassailable solitude. All roads lead to the same point: to the communication of who we are. And we must travel across lonely and rugged terrain, through isolation and silence, to reach the magic zone where we can dance an awkward dance." - Pablo Neruda
This (very) limited edition book looks fascinating: "Stories Behind Bars was inspired by the author's job as a Spanish interpreter in the US courts. It consists of four individually bound silkscreen printed booklets: in one, a young man is deported using video teleconferencing, another gives some brief history of immigration detention, and all tell stories of immigrants in U.S. prisons and jails. The stories give the reader an insight into the complex issues surrtounding the immigration debate. The four separate pamphlets are housed in a slipcase with a barred window." via Immigration Prof Blog.

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I'm happy to say that (with only 9 weeks till the marathon! Eeps), I have started jogging again. Since I hurt my ankle I've only been walking but today I alternated jogging (5.4 mph/1.0 incline) with walking (3.8/3.5) for 4 miles, without any noticeable ankle pain (fingers crossed). Trying not to get overexcited and push it. Might try yoga today, but am wary of all the "stand on one leg" or "grab your foot" poses that might irritate my ankle.

"Emotional discomfort, when accepted, rises, crests and falls in a series of waves. Each wave washes a part of us away and deposits treasures we never imagined. Out goes naivete, in comes wisdom; out goes anger, in comes discernment; out goes despair, in comes kindness. No one would call it easy, but the rhythm of emotional pain that we learn to tolerate is natural, constructive and expansive... The pain leaves you healthier than it found you." - Martha N. Beck


House Bill Cuts $70 Million from Legal Services Corporation Appropriation

Ha! Love Lessons Learned From Early ’00s Hip Hop Videos

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Right on: Books That Rocked Your World at 16 But Fall Flat Now

Interesting article about dating while sober. Being on a break from drinking has certainly changed the way I socialize and, I imagine, will greatly affect my dating life when I start dating again.

"This illustrated map of Central Park individually depicts, labels, and categories by species every single significant tree in the park. All 19,630 of them."

“You are worthy of love. You don’t have to DO anything. You have a beautiful heart, you have a beautiful soul, you have a beautiful body. Everything about you is beautiful. You can’t fuck it up.” source.
"I'm all over the place, up and down, scattered, withdrawing, trying to find some elusive sense of serenity."

"The world can't give that serenity. The world can't give us peace. We can only find it in our hearts."

"I hate that."

"I know. But the good news is that by the same token, the world can't take it away."

- Anne Lamott

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A heartfelt thanks to everyone who wrote and messaged me in response to my post about eating, running, etc. It breaks my heart that so many of us go through similar acts of self hatred and punishing and not-enough-ness, but I also know that reaching out to others with compassion is often the first step towards walking into a place of compassion for ourselves. Isn't it always that way? I can find 1000 supportive things to say to my friends, but blank when it comes to my self.

Anyways, it's obviously a life long conversation, but one thing I turned to last night that provided a moment of calm in the storm was Martha Beck's book "The 4 Day Win." It's not entirely free from problems (anything involving the phrase "thinner peace" certainly advertises it's issues on its cover), but she has some really good discussions of the ways in which trying to rely on "will power" to push our way through our complicated issues with eating and food only backfire. Also, the book has a great excercize about stepping back and watching our "Commander" (the us that tries to take control and boss us around) and our "Wild Child/Resistor" (the us that fights back, gives in, resists control) respond to the choices we make. Somehow stepping into the role of the "Watcher" instead really allowed me a moment of peace and non-judgement - how rare those moments are! I'm wishing all of you out there many of those moments.

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“You feel like life is always leading up to something, but it isn’t. I mean life is just life. It’s all happening right now, and we aren’t going to be any more complete a month from now than we are now.” - Donald Miller


Book update! Just finished yet another wonderful Poirot mystery, this time "The Clocks." I'm also still meandering (enjoyably) through the Eileen Myles I've been on for a few months. And I've been enjoying a very different book, recommended to me by the minister at my church, "An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land"
by William Stringfellow, which, so far, I think is great, and has put into (eloquent) words some issues which have caused me discomfort for years.

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Sort of obsessed with these adorable little shoes. I think I need them in every color for summer.

From the New York Times, an interesting interactive map that uses Census data from 1880 to 2000 to show where various immigrant groups have settled. via Sociological Images.

Interesting article from Eyeteeth: A journal of incisive ideas about Dorothea Lange's Japanese internment photos.

“It is in solitude that compassionate solidarity grows. In solitude we realize that nothing is alien to us, that the roots of all conflict, war, injustice, cruelty, hatred, jealousy, and envy are deeply anchored in our own heart. In solitude our heart of stone can be turned into a heart of flesh, a rebellious heart into a contrite heart, and a closed heart into a heart that can open itself to all suffering people in a gesture of solidarity.” - Henri J. M Nouwen, “The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life” (source)
So, it's been four days since I hurt my ankle playing soccer, and I've quickly melted into a mess. I know, only four days! I am not proud of how quickly I have crumbled. I'm cranky and angry and have taken to lying in bed reading mysteries for a good 12 hours a day (as opposed to my usual 6). Already I am freaking out that my goal of running my first marathon on May 1st is thwarted, that all the effort I've put into becoming a runner is going swiftly down the drain.

Most of all, however, being injured has made me realize that my relationship with food remains (has become) (once again) (still) unhealthy. At the risk of starting a too-long story, or becoming confessional, a bit of background: like most women (unfortunately), it's hard for me to remember a time I wasn't at war with my body. I recently found a journey of daily measurements of height and weight at an age I don't even remember being aware of "fat." And yet, apparently, I was aware. Or at least I was aware that something needed to be closely monitored. The low point in my body-life came as an 17 or 18 year old. An overachieving high school senior with good grades, a wonderful family and best friend, and all sorts of personality, I found myself in the grasp of a horrendous eating disorder. Starving myself, working out incessantly, drinking coffee by the gallon, tracking every calorie, and torturing my body with laxative and caffeine pills, I whittled myself away, bit by bit. Those closest to me could see I was miserable, and so I pushed them away. Everyone else congratulated me on my weight loss, and asked for my secret. Long story short, thanks to my mom, my best friend, and an amazing nutritionalist, I slowly started the journey back to health.

It's been 12 years since then, and becoming a healthier person (on all fronts) is, perhaps, the accomplishment I am most proud of. But there has still never been a day when what I eat, and what I weigh, has been far from my mind. Jump forward to now. At 29, I am a healthy person by all accounts: active, achieving physical goals I have set for myself, at a reasonable weight according to the hated BMI, and I even choke down the occasional fruit and vegetable! But 4 days without intense excercize, and I'm a wreck. Obsessed with the fear of gaining weight because I'm not exercising, pushing myself to limit my food intake, and then lashing out by stuffing my face with Girl Scout cookies. This tells me that something is not ok. This is not the behavior of someone healthy. This is not how I want to live my life.

Why do I put this all out there? Partially to force myself to write it, to be honest with myself about finding a way to say "Hey lady, you have made a lot of progress" and, at the same time, "Girl, you still got some work to do." Partially because I don't know how else to move forward. Partially, because I think a lot of other people will relate. We want so badly to have moved past our issues, to feel like the hard work we have done on ourselves is this concrete thing that can never be taken away from us. We are so so scared of having slid back, back to a place it took all our strength to get away from.

In church today, when we were invited to go up front and light a candle for the prayers in our heart, I moved forward and stepped into the end of the line. The first candle I lit was an easy one, a prayer of health and joy for a pregnant friend. The second one I lit impulsively, and guiltily - a prayer for myself. A prayer asking God, or whatever is out there, to grant me compassion. Compassion for myself, the strength to be gentle and forgiving. I spent the rest of the service wondering if it was wrong that I had done that, if lighting a candle for myself was a serious Christian faux-pas.

But how else can we gather the strength to walk out the door every day, into this harsh world, this world whose beauty is rough and sudden, whose silence can be as overwhelming as its noise? How else can we find patience with all our annoying and pushy and hateful and scared co-habitants of this place? Because, seriously, us humans are a mess. We have no chance at surviving out there unless we start here, lighting a small candle for ourselves, admitting that we need prayer as much as anyone else.

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Yet more misguided immigration policies that help no one: NYTimes: Crackdown in Virginia Strips a Legal Immigrant of His Livelihood.

Some cheaper wedding-attendee dress options from F21....: 1, 2, 3.

So, bum out: I hurt my ankle in soccer last night (a woman from the other team kicked it out from under me and I rolled it...I think. It's all sort of a blur. She was extremely apologetic.) Anyways, I'm VERY relieved that it's not serious - I can walk on it etc - but it may mean I can't do the half marathon tomorrow, which is a huge disappointment. We will see.

Ever since I posted yesterday about creating my own syllabi I have had fascinating comments from and conversations with friends about being life-long learners and all the things they are trying to learn about as adults (with full time jobs, families, etc competing for their attention). Specifically, I've been talking with a friend about the issue I brought up of wanting to learn more about increasing the sustainability and health of rural areas and small towns. There has been so much focus in the last decade or so on the potential for cities and urban areas to be economically and ecologically sustainable - this work is amazing, and something I'm interested in learning more about, but I'm still left with the question: what about the rest of the country? It's no longer shocking to say that cities are/can be "greener," healthier, etc than most rural areas, and having lived in both cities and small towns over the last decade I have seen that to be true. But do we just encourage Everyone to move to cities? How do we go about making small towns (and collections of small towns, like the area I live in) more enjoyable, profitable, healthy, sustainable places to live? I'm not finding much on this issue, or what I have found seems limited to "buy local," which seems like only one small part of the issue/solution...

This story on NPR about best friends who combined their familes when one of them deployed got me choked up: A Friend Calls, And A Best Friend Moves To Help: "Along with caring for her own children, Jihan Sanders takes care of the children of her best friend, operations specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Sheena Sullen, while Sullen is deployed with the guided missile destroyer USS Mahan."

The U.S. House of Representatives has just voted to bar Planned Parenthood health centers from all federal funding for birth control, cancer screenings, HIV testing, and other lifesaving care. Click here to sign the letter fighting this bill.


Book Learnin'

I'm feeling a real thirst for knowledge these days....basically, wishing I was an undergrad again. What a life! Taking classes in whatever I wanted, learning for the sake of learning, writing papers on things I was not at all qualified to expound upon, and discussing my not-at-all-original ideas with friends and teachers. I didn't appreciate it at the time! But how could I?, I was 21 and miserable.

Also, I had (and, sigh, have) a real guilt about learning for the sake of learning. I have such a conflicted relationship with academia - part of me thinks there could hardly be a better life than to learn and read and write and discuss full time. But the other half of me thinks, how indulgent, how pointless, how privileged. Or is all of that a cover for my fear that I'm not smart enough to partake in such a life, such discussions? Ah well, I don't know if that conflict will ever be resolved.

In an ideal world, if I was going to spend my life studying, I'd to go back to school and get my masters in public health (focuses: epidemiology? reproductive rights? environmental racism?), maybe also a masters or PhD in some sort of urban planning (or just study Anthropology with a focus on Urban Studies? Or maybe a focus on Rural Studies instead....). I'd love to get an undergrad degree in science, and finally understand the natural world around me. There isn't much I wouldn't love to study. Hell, I'd even love to go back and do law school all over again.

Since I'm not headed back to school any time in the near future (or even the future future), I've sort of been putting together syllabi (syllabuseses?) for myself on different topics. (In fact, I recently wrote my college advisor and Anthropology professor asking if she wouldn't mind sending me her syllabi.) One of the "self syllabi," as I'm calling them (which combine books and articles and movies), that I'm putting together is on urban studies stuff (I guess that's a good title for it. My subtitle - I told you, I'm a huge dork - is "city love, rural roots"). So far it's a mix of Mike Davis and Jane Jacobs and this recent book, which is on the top of my reading list as soon as it comes out in paperback (my local library, sadly, doesn't have it).

But I'm realizing that I want there to be a rural component too. I love me some cities, I love thinking about ways they can be changed or planned or lived in to maximum benefit, but I'm a rural girl at heart, and I live in a rural area now - how can we work to make small towns more sustainable, healthy, progressive, economically viable, ecologically responsible, etc? I see so much awesome material on city-love, but know so little about similar work re: rural areas....thoughts, anyone? Reading recommendations (articles, blogs, books, etc)?

(Image: old pic of me reading a great book, William Kunstler's My Life As A Radical Lawyer)
Well-written and well-reasoned, sobering and inspiring both. Please read, even if you aren't an Ithacan, and remember why you buy local and love independent bookstores. "Community Buy Out Proposal for Buffalo Street Books." (Full disclosure: I'm both a proud ex-Ithaca, a book lover, and a friend of the author).

Image: source.

Today's planned workout: 45 min swim, 5 mi run. Today's actual workout: 90 min Bikram, another soccer game (subbing for a women's team). Yes, I know, I need to cut down on the yoga and soccer and increase the running and swimming. Both my one month yoga pass and my soccer games end in about a month, so I will start adhering to my training schedule then. I promise (myself).

An awesome (and long-time) friend of mine, Alden ("the Eagle"), has started a podcast - check it out! "The New Old Fashioned is a weekly podcast made by Eagle and The Bamer in New Orleans, Louisiana. We make old drinks (like older than your grandparents), talk about New Orleans’ goings on, tell drinking stories, and contemplate the big ideas in life. Such as, why people like vermouth."

Six Pregnancy Tests in One Week: "I visited Christian pregnancy centers that lure women in with false promises of medical care. Here's what they told me about abortions, breast cancer, shame, and death."


I have a three day weekend coming up and I'm considering spending one of those days entirely in silence. I don't know why, but the idea just occurred to me....I guess I was thinking about how I miss writing (I was quite a prolific writer in my teens and early 20s and now don't write at all), and realized that part of what I missed was the silent act of observing (and responding, I guess, silently in writing). I have some nervousness about how I would make it work, on a practical level - would I carry a piece of paper around that explains I'm not talking at all today, so people wouldn't be offended at my silence? Ugh, that seems so contrived and obnoxious.

Adele KILLS IT at the Brit Awards, singing "Someone Like You."

Spent a good hour last night organizing my GoodReads list/account. Do I know how to party or what? What can I say, I love organizing things, I love lists, and I love books. Feel free to add me as a friend if you're a GoodReads user.

Image: source.

"She carried within herself a great fund of life, and her deepest enjoyment was to feel the continuity between the movement of her own heart and the agitations of the world. For this reason, she was fond of seeing great crowds, and large stretches of country, of reading about revolutions and wars, of looking at historical pictures--a class of efforts to which she had often gone so far as to forgive much bad painting for the sake of the subject." - Henry James, from one of my favorite books, The Portrait of a Lady
This article on the burnout faced by female activists reminded me of so many of my inspiring women friends. Take care of yourselves while saving the world, ladies! (Thanks for the link, PC)

A little street art humor. I like.

Immigration developments and challenges in my town: Ashland Daily Tidings: "Bill would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition"

Image: source.

Today's planned workout: bootcamp. Today's actual workout: bootcamp, 90 min Bikram, soccer game.

"Rape is rape, whether in a federal prison, a local lockup, or an immigration detention facility": "President Barack Obama should direct the Justice Department to apply Prison Rape Elimination Act standards to detainees in US immigration facilities, Human Rights Watch and 10 other organizations said today in a letter to the president." via Human Rights Watch.

Interesting project on Etsy: Alyson Provax's exacting inventories of her wasted time.

More from Etsy: I'm not normally a jumper fan, but this one is awesome! Makes me even more excited for summer (and I'm already damn excited).

I thought I was continuing my reading of all the 2011 Edgar Award nominees, but it doesn't appear my current read - Necessary As Blood - is on the list. So I have no idea how I decided to read it. Ha! Nonetheless, it's a decent read so far.


Great, and very necessary: New York State Guarantees Legal Assistance In Foreclosure Cases: "While defendants in criminal cases are guaranteed lawyers, folks involved in foreclosure cases either have to go out of pocket for a lawyer or try to fend for themselves. Now the state of New York has become the first state to guarantee legal representation to all residents involved in foreclosures."

Image: source.

As someone who struggles with anxiety, I appreciated this bloggers post on dealing with anxiety, and finding ways to enjoy life despite the ups and downs. I recently realized that while I spent a lot of my 20's battling with anxiety, I'm rolling into my 30's with a variety of tools for coping. Namely, cutting out caffeine (I only drink decaf coffee and tea), taking a small dose of anti-anxiety medication daily, cutting down on sugar where possible (I fail at this a lot), getting regular excercize (between 2-3 hours a day is ideal, but not always manageable), going to acupuncture (when I can afford it), and going to therapy to learn how to cope with panic attacks and general anxiety. I'd agree with the above blogger that anxiety, while horrible, can also lead to great things - it has forced me to be super aware about how I live my life, what I put into my body, the choices I make, etc. It has pushed me to learn how to take care of myself in a way I might not have otherwise. Anxiety will undoubtedly be my life long companion and, while that may not be ideal, I have accepted it.

I think about this quote a lot. So freakin true. "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." - The Buddha
Awesome. I love Wendell Berry. Wendell Berry Won’t Quit Trying to Save the Mountains: "Fourteen mountain-top removal protesters — including author Wendell Berry — are in their third day of a sit-in/sleep-in at the Kentucky Governor’s Office in Frankfort. The group, known as Kentucky Rising, is demanding that Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who is up for reelection in November, end his support of mountaintop removal, a destructive form of surface mining that has buried over 2,000 miles of Appalachian streams. They also insist that he withdraw from a lawsuit he filed, in an alliance with the Kentucky Coal Association, against the Environmental Protection Agency."

Image: source.

Today's planned workout: 8 mi run, 45 min swim. Today's actual workout: 5 mi sprint intervals (I exchanged yesterdays run and todays).

Some really interesting articles in the NYTimes Magazine this past weekend (I'm a little behind on my reading): one on why Things Organized Neatly is so satisfying, and a fascinating article on the attempted revitalization of a small town in PA: Mayor of Rust: "John Fetterman has turned the busted town of Braddock, Pa., into a national symbol of hope, hard work and authentic blue jeans. As an actual place to live, however, it’s a much harder sell."

Love this! '“Back to the Future,', an amazing series of photos by Irina Werning. People were invited to re-create their old photos." (Thanks to E for the link)

Congrats to my bff, the amazing Lisette Murphy of Rogue Femme Art, on the selection of her short animated film “Ino” to screen at the amazing wonderful Women Action Media! Film Festival in Boston on March 26th, 2011! Visit the "official" Ino site here.

Image: source.


Not the same without him: "After 40 years and a life of adversity, St. Mary's history teacher Patrick Naumes says goodbye." Mr. Naumes is a model of humor, humility, intelligence, and commitment to education. The turnout for his retirement party on Sunday was great, and I hope he felt the influence he had on so many students. Thanks for your committment to St. Mary's, Mr. Naumes!

Image: source.

Perfect timing, given my recent confrontation: Why We All Need Planned Parenthood, from Jezebel.

I have 4 weddings to attend this summer (and, so far, no money for flights....we will see how that works out). Here are some contenders for dresses to wear, any thoughts/votes (please keep in mind that I plan on being tan and buff)? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Yay Obama! Obama Bucks Calls for Legal Services Cuts, Boosts Budget: "To many House Republicans, it looked like a legitimate place to cut: the Legal Services Corporation. The organization funds local agencies that provide legal services for low-income individuals. But President Barack Obama’s budget proposal unveiled on Monday failed to heed the Republicans’ calls. Rather, his budget proposal calls for an increase of $30 million for the next fiscal year." This is great, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a Legal Aid attorney (believe me, there is no check in the mail headed my way from the White House). As the economy has struggled and suffered, more and more people turn to Legal Services - both because they cannot afford other attorneys, and also because they are facing increased problems with housing, employment, and disability services. In the long run, I truly believe Legal Services is not only a moral and ethical necessity, but a fiscal one: competent legal services attorneys can prevent frivolous lawsuits, act as a needed check on employers and landlords, and ensure that systems like immigration, social services, and health care are running smoothly.
I unexpectedly spent some of my lunch hour in a yelling match. Specifically, with some protestors outside my local Planned Parenthood. I didn't know they were there, I was just headed to tutor ESL students at the local community college and there they were, gory signs and all. Usually I'm too intimidated to say anything (and I just scurry by with a mean look on my face), but when I saw the protestors today, I saw all the girls and women who would now be too scared to enter the building and, as a result, would be at increased risk for STDs, unwanted pregnancy, and a sense of shame about their own bodies. I saw every woman who doesn't think she has the right to say no to sex, every girl who believes the lies she is told about what's "normal," and every boy or man too scared to talk to his partners about sexual health. Those protestors aren't just voicing their opinions - they are spreading lies and putting other people at risk. I've decided that now, anytime I see a protest outside a PP, I will take the time to cross that protest line, go inside, and thank the workers. That's what I did today, and they were so touched and grateful. It felt like an important human connection, and stopped me from feeling complicit in supporting the protestors with my silence. Women's rights are human rights.
Awesome (thanks to Smasters for the link!): Magnetics Fields' 69 Love Songs, Illustrated.

On camera phones, and apps: Through My Eye, Not Hipstamatic’s

Oregonians, tell your civil rights story: Shireen Duke, the rare black Portlander with local roots reaching back to the mid-1800s, is among those writing a history many Oregonians would rather forget."

Image: source.

Today's planned workout: 5 mi sprint intervals. Today's actual workout: 7 mi slow and steady run. I really need to get back into running with more regularity. I'm starting to get nervous about the marathon.

Very neat: even if you're buying eBooks, you can still support independent book stores, like the wonderful Powells.

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." - Lao Tzu

Good advice.


My love for mysteries is widely known and well documented - especially classics like Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, and the like. However, sometimes I need new suggestions, and there are two places I have started checking: the website of the Portland mysteries-only store Murder By the Book (or follow them on Goodreads) and the Edgar Awards site. I just finished up "Caught," a nominee for the latter, and wasn't blown away. While I was genuinely a bit stumped as to how the mystery would unravel and I will admit there were some unique plot structure bits (you'll see if you read it), it definitely contained some seriously cringeworthy attempts at being hip (iPhones! Facebook!), and didn't seem to me to rise far above your average contemporary thriller. Ah well.

Image: source.

Today's planned workout: 1 hr bike. Today's actual workout: don't know yet. Definitely will get in the 1 hr bike, but I think I'm going to take a day off Bikram and maybe go for a run outside. My 10K yesterday was a little weak and reminded me that I've been slacking on my running in favor of other activities.

“When we accept that true love is rooted in recognition and acceptance, that love combines acknowledgement, care, responsibility, commitment, and knowledge, we understand there can be no love without justice. With that awareness comes the understanding that love has the power to transform us, giving us the strength to oppose domination. To choose feminist politics, then, is a choice to love.” - Feminism is for Everybody, bell hooks


From my favorite scientist, Ms. Phoebe Cohen, a discussion about the importance of science outreach/education. I've always loved Phoebe's ability to talk complicated science to mere mortals like myself, and love that she is making an awesome career of it. Go PC!

Image: Indra's Cloud, a Water Bottle Raft by Anne Percoco.

A powerful post about the choice to be fat positive. This passage particularly resonated with me - I've definitely fallen prey throughout my life to this sort of "magical thinking" and the quest for enough-ness: "I’m fat positive because I’m a feminist, and I refuse to acknowledge in the magical thinking that if you’re small enough, quiet enough, compliant enough and saccharine enough, you will somehow be enough."

Today's planned workout: 8 mi run, 30 min swim. Today's actual workout: Truffle Shuffle 10K, 90 min Bikram.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” - Maya Angelou


Viciously, then, I lock my door.
The gas-fire breathes. The wind outside
Ushers in evening rain. Once more
Uncontradicting solitude
Supports me on its giant palm;
And like a sea-anemone
Or simple snail, there cautiously
Unfolds, emerges, what I am.

- Phillip Larkin, Best Society

Image: source.
NPR valentines, just because.

I read every single word of this. It's oddly enthralling. All The Boyfriends I've Had In Chronological Order.

Ha! I'm officially one of those people. After months of nagging on my part, my boss finally approved me to attend a work training in May. The first thing I did? See if there was a race I could run in that weekend. There is: Seattle's Best 15K.

Image: source.

Today's planned workout: 1 hr bike. Today's actual workout: 45 min run, 90 min Bikram.

Wow. Wonderful piece. On Labor: "My embrace of a pro-choice stance is not built on analogizing Rick Santorum with Hitler. It is not built on what the pro-life movement is "like." It's built on set of disturbing and inelidable truths: My son is the joy of my life. But the work of ushering him into this world nearly killed his mother. The literalism of that last point can not be escaped. Every day women choose to do the hard labor of a difficult pregnancy. Its courageous work, which inspires in me a degree of admiration exceeded only by my horror at the notion of the state turning that courage, that hard labor, into a mandate. Women die performing that labor in smaller numbers as we advance, but they die all the same. Men do not. That is a privilege."

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able to truly care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom.” - David Foster Wallace, “This Is Water" (thanks, E)


"Tiny Beautiful Things"

Reposting this entire thing, because I thought it was great (from TheRumpus):

Dear Sugar, I read your column religiously. I’m 22. From what I can tell by your writing, you’re in your early 40s. My question is short and sweet: what would you tell your 20-something self if you could talk to her now? Love, Seeking Wisdom

Dear Seeking Wisdom,

Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this, sweet pea.

In the middle of the night in the middle of your twenties when your best woman friend crawls naked into your bed, straddles you, and says, You should run away from me before I devour you, believe her.

You are not a terrible person for wanting to break up with someone you love. You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.

When that really sweet but fucked up gay couple invites you over to their cool apartment to do ecstasy with them, say no.

There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.

One evening you will be rolling around on the wooden floor of your apartment with a man who will tell you he doesn’t have a condom. You will smile in this spunky way that you think is hot and tell him to fuck you anyway. This will be a mistake for which you alone will pay.

Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.

You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

One hot afternoon during the era in which you’ve gotten yourself ridiculously tangled up with heroin you will be riding the bus and thinking what a worthless piece of crap you are when a little girl will get on the bus holding the strings of two purple balloons. She’ll offer you one of the balloons, but you won’t take it because you believe you no longer have a right to such tiny beautiful things. You’re wrong. You do.

Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naïve pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you.

When you meet a man in the doorway of a Mexican restaurant who later kisses you while explaining that this kiss doesn’t “mean anything” because, much as he likes you, he is not interested in having a relationship with you or anyone right now, just laugh and kiss him back. Your daughter will have his sense of humor. Your son will have his eyes.

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.

One Christmas at the very beginning of your twenties when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life.

Say thank you.


Image: source.
Some good reminders: "Are you sabotaging your own happiness?"

Starting my morning with Steve Gollnick (of Hubcap)'s solo effort, Chapter and Verse. I've loved this album since first listen when it came out about 4 or 5 years ago. Steve's immediately recognizable voice, the collection of wonderful musicians on board, and amazing song writing (my favorites include "Numbers and Such," "San Andreas," and "Three Cheers Slaterville") make it one for the permanent rotation. I really miss getting to see Hubcap and Steve play live - I never saw a bad show from them. The fact that Steve is also a great guy doesn't hurt. If you don't own it, get it.

Image: source.

I bunch of books arrived for me at the library yesterday, and I can't wait to get started on them. This months picks include Chi Running (recommended by a Y&Y reader!), Hellhound On His Trail, and, for my mystery fix, Caught. I'll let you know how they are!

Also, someone recently wrote in asking me for book recommendations, so maybe I will start writing about some of my favorites. The one that first comes to mind, although I haven't read it in years, is Midnights Children. I'm not a huge fan of Rushdie across the board, but Midnight's Children is a beautiful book, and was responsible for beginning my lifelong fascination with India. I should actually re-read it soon...

Today's planned workout: 45 min swim, 30 min run. Today's actual workout: headed there post-work, so it remains to be seen. But, I can tell you that yesterday was epic! Morning bootcamp, evening yoga, and a soccer game - and it felt great! Further (unscientific) proof that the human body was designed for movement, not sitting at a desk all day.


The awesome Alternative Apparel now has accessories - in LOVE with this beautiful bag.

Image: source.

I thought this article ("Confessions From A Christian"), was interesting; while I come from an entirely different family and background than the author, I could relate to some of what she writes about being a progressive Christian. While I'm not comfortable calling myself a Christian, and haven't formally joined my church (although I apparently call it "my church") even discussing my recent church attendance with friends proves challenging. And I find myself thinking that I don't even want to tell Christians I know that I attend church because I'm "not like them," and my church is "not like theirs" (I know, how very un-Christian of me). However, the Ashland UCC remains a place of great power, comfort, and challenge for me, and my exploration of my own theology and faith continues. (Check out one of Reverend Pam's sermons here, the most recent (from Jan 30th) is a wonderful discussion of social justice and faith. "The Rev. Jorge Lara-Braud once said, God knows it is still a serious risk to be merciful, to keep one’s heart pure, and to make peace with one’s enemies. But the much greater risk is to confuse privilege and self-protection with the good life . . . Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth, scripture says. Reina is quick to tell you the meek should organize.")

Right on. 7-year-old donates money to LGBT charity: "Given money to donate by his parents, Malcolm decided to split it between the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation."

"David Biello has a thought-provoking slideshow up on Scientific American today. It features eerily beautiful snapshots of industrial processes and fossil fuel development that are, simultaneously, necessary to our current way of life, and kind of horrible to look at. " via Boing Boing.

Very cool. I wish this had been in place when I was at Bard: Bard College Freshmen Get Crash Course in Science: "In an intensive new program, freshmen at Bard College, a campus with a decidedly arty bent, have had to take a crash course in science."

Image: source.