Blog Archive

Wednesday, December 9

Where's Aniysah?

Okay, I did think of something I want to write about Aniysah's case.

Short story, as I understand it:

  • Aniysah's father abused Aniysah's mother.

  • Aniysah's mother got out, and even got a protective order to get Aniysah's father to have to stay away from both of them.

  • Aniysah's father persistently filed for chances to get that protective order overruled and see Aniysah anyway. This was granted.

  • Aniysah started talking about getting abused and showing physical signs of being abused. Professionals reported this to the court system.

  • Another professional 1) said it was Aniysah's mother who'd been reporting those signs and 2) said they were lies. Aniysah's mother wrote a clarifying letter to a judge, saying that 1) it was professionals, not her, who'd been reporting signs of abuse, and 2) this other professional was, well, behaving unprofessionally.

  • That judge decided that this professional wasn't doing anything uncouth.

  • Aniysah's mom moved out of the state to get Aniysah away from the abuse, since the courts weren't helping her get Aniysah away from it.

  • A judge decided this wasn't cool and granted full custody of Aniysah to the very same father she'd initially told to stay away from Aniysah. I don't know why. I guess...I guess he was really convincing over all the time between when this story as I'm summarizing it started and the point I'm up to now.

  • Aniysah's mother and Aniysah came back to New York City to visit other family, and the police came and took Aniysah away and gave her to ... well, it sounds like it's not 100% clear, but that Aniysah's father certainly has a heck of a lot of access to her right now. (Which seems crazy to me. I mean, he abused her mom so much they initially said stay away from Aniysah; later on there were professionals starting to say that when Aniysah was around him & his family, she was getting abused by someone...yikes.)

  • Aniysah's mother is hanging around New York City, trying to get custody of Aniysah back, or at least trying to make sure that New York won't leave Aniysah in any situation that'll lead to her being abused. But apparently, even the latter isn't proving very fruitful--and she could use help from people to make at least the latter happen, if not the former.

Okay, so maybe it's not much shorter than fuller story explained on Document The Silence and other blogs. Whoops.

Anyway, I hope people will blog her story, write letters to the editor about it maybe? (not sure if that'd be considered welcome by Aniysah's mother or not), show up at the court date (definitely welcome), etc.

Where's Aniysah?

For 27 hours now, I've been wanting to write something about Aniysah & her mother's quest to make sure she stays free of harm and grows up w/ truly good care and love. But I just can't figure it out yet. So there it is--a link to her story.

And I'll throw in that if you're in New York City and you'd like to support Aniysah's mother's struggle, please go to her court hearing on December 22. Directions, etc. at this link.


Friday, December 4

Quotes About The University Avenue Light Rail

"Nate" on a blog by Mitch Berg called Shot In The Dark wrote about LRT on University Ave:

I lived in Midway for 5 years and still own a house there. I rode the 16 to work downtown weekdays. My daughter rode it to the U. I went to the LRT planning meetings at the Hmong Community Center and saw the fraud that is “citizen participation” when the outcome was locked in.

I have seen the grocery carts clustered around the bus stop at Simpson. Why are they there? Because that’s where Rainbow is. Single mothers with toddlers in tow shop at the big box BECAUSE ITS CHEAPER and ride the local bus home. Honestly, sincerely, believe me – that woman will not spend one thin dime at the new Caribou. She can’t afford it. Nobody living between Rice and Fairview can afford it, which is why it’s not there now.

As Mitch pointed out, there’s a tremendous difference between Hiawatha and University, both in the character of the neighborhoods and in the purpose of the public transportation. Hiawatha is intended to get commuters from Out There to Down Town. The 16 bus gets locals to the grocery store and home. They’re completely different needs. LRT works to ship people from end point to end point but that’s not how people ride public transit on University. If you want to get from downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis you take the 94 Express bus on the freeway.

Used to be, Progressives asked people what they wanted then tried to deliver it. Seems that now, they tell people what they’re getting whether they want it or not.

(link mine)

Mitch Berg wrote on the same blog:
the “mission” of the Central Corridor is very, very unclear. Nate summed up Hiawatha’s pretty ably – move people, more or less quickly, from a burb to downtown. It does that mission more or less well, albeit at a 66% loss.

So what’s the “mission” of the Central Corridor? There are really two options: Provide commuter access to whisk people between the downtowns (replacing the 94 and maybe the 50 buses and cutting down on traffic on 94) or providing local transit along Uni (replacing the 16 and cutting down on local traffic along University)?


The Met decided to go for the worst of both worlds; to take the expense and disruption of building down a busy working street, but to build the ‘Sexier’, faster, heavier option that serves the purpose of a busy, working street vastly less well.

And they made that decision without meaningful public input, in a way that ensures the maxiumum deleterious impact on the neighborhoods and the budget, for reasons that make no sense as urban planning, as civil engineering, as economic planning, as traffic management, as anything.

One more good quote from Mitch Berg:
("Charlieq" wrote:) [Kim Huoy Chor]...has free wifi and it delivers in little red cars that look like street racers. This is an example of someone building a business to weather the construction...
(Mitch Berg wrote:) And I couldn’t be happier for them. But lots of those businesses with the signs on their windows worked plenty hard, too, and built businesses to weather life on University Avenue – no mean feat.

Dealing with life on Uni and Big, Upper-Middle-Class MPR-listening latte-drinking White Brother?

There’s such a thing as piling on.

I am an upper-middle-class, MPR-listening, fancy-food-consuming white person. But for crying out loud, we're not supposed to decide what every last corner of the earth is supposed to be like!!

Monday, November 23

Humanitarian Intervention and Present-Day (2009) Darfur

I wanted to take a printout of this to a speech in the city. The speech was calling the current situation in Darfur a "genocide" and hoping to "raise awareness" of it. After reading works like this by Richard Seymour, I agree w/ him 1) that it's not and 2) that it's likely to make things worse for people in Sudan to call it one.

But I knew I should come home and spend time w/ my family, not go to that speech.

But...I also felt like...that's probably at least 100 people who're going to hear the speaker's point of view, and if I don't go and get my 30-second point in during Q&A, only the 1 or 2 of those 100 attendees I e-mail over the next couple of days will hear this point of view.

But then I remembered that in my dawdling, trying to stay geographically closer, I'd forgotten all about a promise I'd made to help my neighbors w/ stuff "this afternoon." And it was dark!

So I had an answer--1 or 2 people it is on the Darfur thing.

I'm writing about this here also to hold myself accountable and force myself to have the guts to do the "conversation w/ 1 or 2 people" thing at all, now that my opportunity to set out anonymous printouts on random tables is gone and I could just run away from real, heart-to-heart conversations.

Feel free to comment in a week and ask, "So, didya do it?"

Wednesday, November 18

Warning: Rail Public Transit Is A Major Lever For The Rich To Get Upper Middle Class People To Help Them Gentrify Cities

Ho-lee crap.

It's the same. Thing.

"Transportation general manager Bob Boutilier said...
"The corridors are not up for debate"

-Karen Kleiss,

Not up for debate.

Just like ours in the early 2000's.

They were up for debate for a while (the early 1990's).


Once the "developers" of the world pushed and pushed and pushed to always be trusted as "correct" about land use nation-wide, and once St. Paul government officials placed all decision-making value on statements like this:

"...developer David Kent of Strathearn Heights said the LRT expansion will promote ... redevelopment .... '(this proposal) would spur my industry.'"
(emphasis mine)
-Karen Kleiss,

Then (2000's) the routing was no longer "up for debate."

Light rail was going to be routed down an already-developed street, no matter what the working-class people who had envisioned its "development" and done the developing thought.

This Edmonton case makes clear that rail transit is a MAJOR vehicle for "push the poor folks out of the city, because now rich folks consider the city fun and to have amenities and we want to turn every corner of it into a place that can maybe make money off somewhat-rich folks for other rich folks for a little while before it goes bust trying."

Just wanna let folks in other cities know that they might wanna consider "rail" a hot word for their neighborhoods before it's too late for them, like it's probably too late for folks in St. Paul.

If "folks" = you, please remember: You've got a LOT of upper-middle-class people aligned against you right now.

You've got a population that is as susceptible to phrases that make them think "green," true or not, as much of America has been susceptible to phrases that make them think "terrorism," true or not.

ALL it takes for the wealthy to align these people on their side is the general statements that "trains cause less pollution per person than buses" and "trains' high speed from one end to the other (due to not stopping every block) attract people to mass transit who otherwise would have driven."

Attracting those people to the side of considering the well-being of poorer people currently taking public transit and currently living & working along big streets is a big-ass uphill battle that will take all the time you can get.

(To justice-minded Minnesotans: I hope I'll see you at North Minneapolis ("Bottineau") light rail alignment/routing meetings! Sorry I can't find a link--I read about them in a newsletter on public transit but can't seem to find archives online.)

Don't Let University Avenue's Current Businesses Get Ruined By Upper-Class Developers!

"Business owners are concerned that construction, increased property taxes, and a significant loss of street parking along University Avenue, will wipe out a thriving Southeast Asian-American business community."
-David Seitz, Twin Cities Daily Planet

Wednesday, November 4

We Really Need To Up Our Efforts Changing Our Culture


Because here are obviously huge-ass problems with jumping in violently, like that you might kill the boy.

THAT is why "just beat up sexual assaulters" is NOT a good default response from society to the existence of sexual assault.


"Stop people from wanting to do things that are sexual assault" is a BETTER default reponse from society to the existence of sexual assault.

Here are good examples of things that're wrong right now that we could non-violently reduce sexual assault incidents by fixing:

Harriet Jacobs wrote at Figitivus:

What I mean to say is:

The way men and women interact on a daily basis is the way they interact when rape occurs. The social dynamics we see at play between men and women are the same social dynamics that cause men to feel rape is okay, and women to feel they have no right to object. And if you accept those social interactions as normal and appropriate in your day to day life, there is absolutely no reason you should be shocked that rape occurs without screaming, without fighting, without bruising, without provocation, and without prosecution. Behavior exists on a continuum. Rape doesn’t inhabit its own little corner of the world, where everything is suddenly all different now. The behavior you accept today is the behavior that becomes rape tomorrow. And you very well might accept it then, too.

Aaminah Hernandez wrote on FlipFloppingJoy comments:
consent is a good starting point, in so far as “man, did you ASK her and did she give you a clear yes” but we know there’s still lots of room in that. much better to get to the radical “man, why do you even feel compelled to get off by doing that to a woman?”. let’s address why men WANT to do certain things that are hurtful to women, regardless of whether or not women will “let” you do it. that’s not the point. the point is where does the inclination to dominate a woman come from and why is that what makes you “feel like a man”?
and yes, i know that opens up a can of worms on the BDSM issue and policing what people get off on, and questionning women’s right to consent to things just because we find them abhorrant. but i think that’s NOT what we are talking about here. ... i think we’re talking about a whole different matter which is men being able to be men, confident in their masculinity, sexually expressive, without it resting on degradation and pain to women (or other men for that matter).

Especially us people w/ time on our hands--let's CHANGE that "daily basis" and that "day to day life" and that basis for boy's and men's masculinity and sexual expressiveness for the boys whose lives we influence. NOW. WIDESPREAD. INTENSE.

Because this boy didn't deserve to die for what he did to the female friend he was traveling with.

"Deserve" isn't even the right word for how I would feel about one punch in response to what he was doing to his friend.

I think he DID deserve a culture / cultures that would, throughout it / them, SUPPORT non-violent lifestyles.

I'll get more active in anti-violence work.

The rest of our boys and girls who are still alive deserve it, and to make what people "deserve" happen, someone's gotta do it.
(Lots of someones. But I'll start w/ me.)

Thursday, October 29

Loyalty And Tribalism

P.S. to "A Productive Conversation With Mom":

How the heck did Mom raise me w/ little to no sense of tribe loyalty?

I dunno, maybe she lost some, but not all, of hers when she strove to break out of lower-middle-class living and shot for upper-middle/upper-class living. Maybe she lost the economic part that got in the way but not the non-economic part that didn't.

But she really didn't pass that non-economic part on to me. Family, nationalism, nothin'. At the moment, I just don't really feel it as a good in the pit of my heart.

I wonder.

(Though maybe I'll get the "family" part down with work. Emotions can be instilled by repeated behavior, even as an adult.)

A Productive Conversation With Mom

I think I'm getting better at talking to Mom.

(Socio)Politics came up. And I slipped and spoke my mind a little too much.

But I must've done it better than before, because the infuriating things she said about Arabs were ridiculous. I seriously had trouble controlling my laughter.

I think it's partly that I was polite-ish enough that she had to stretch to an absolutely ridiculous context if she was going to manage to squeeze an "I despise most Arabs (and the fact that you don't makes you a less good person than me)" kind of comment into our (socio)political discussion.

And I think it's partly that I was focused enough on being polite-ish that I was in a frame of mind to fully see how ridiculous her stretches chances to say those kinds of things were.

This may not be the best mother-daughter relationship on the planet, but I think it's a good step from where we were a few months ago to where I want to be in 5+ years.

Overall (aside from talking about money or sociopolitics), it was a good conversation. Crud's been happening to her, and I think I gave her a loving ear to talk to and a loving voice to hear.

Wednesday, October 28

Temptations To Profit

Sometimes I just want to take the economic analysis I've been blessed enough to see blogging and try to use it to get a bigger piece of the pie than the median piece.

I've been telling my mom not to bother w/ stocks/mutual funds as soon as she can cash out again like she could've before the late 2008 crash.

When I've told her that I'm thinking I might not rely on them as a 50-year plan for having emergency/retirement funds, to the extent that I've felt comfortable doing so, I've even told her that I feel that way because I see signs that the "top 0.1%" aren't relying on it anymore, so it's probably not that good an idea.

I'm not comfortable sharing this all the time, because of course it leads to, "So what are the 'top 0.1%' buying to make money off over the next 50 years?"

I have suspicions about that from the reading I do. But I don't want to share it w/ her. Because I think that most of the things they're buying for that purpose are morally wrong to buy (especially for that purpose). And I don't to contribute towards one more human being doing such morally wrong things.

But sometimes I wish I could just say, "Here's what they're doing--and here's the liberal upper-middle-class greenwashed / nostalgiawashed equivalent we could pool our money on and that might keep us at our current lifelong levels of consumption / get us further ahead of the median over the next 50 years--especially if the 'top 0.1%' succeed at buying and profiting on all this."

I guess it's good that I suppress those feelings, meditate on desiring to make the Knower Of True Good proud of me rather than those who love me closest here on earth proud of me (for being the "brainiac" who helps us via the above idea), and work towards sharing my better and more godly findings w/ Mom. (And...working towards sharing includes calling her up just to see how she is and building a relationship, so I'd better wrap this up.) And learning self-discipline so I can thrive in close relationships & home relationships in a world where the "top 0.1%" succeed in buying and profiting on these oh-so-wrong things and hurting my consumption ability. (I should go finish those dishes I talked so big about.)

Over and out!

Tuesday, October 13

If Homelessness In Front Of Your Business Is Disturbing, Then...

Cool idea:

If the evidence of homelessness in front of your business or in your neighborhood is disturbing, then tell your senators and congressional representatives to readjust federal priorities for housing assistance.
-From "Stop punishing people with the sit-lie ordinance" at the Western Regional Advocacy Project

"The Unwillingness To Consider That Anyone Will Help Her"

I think about a friend, raised professional middle class with the solid safety net of well-off parents, and about the fear that creeps into her voice when she talks about saving for retirement - the unwillingness to consider that anyone will help her, the certainty that she is a failure if anyone does, the feeling that no matter how much money she saves from her large professional salary, it can never be enough.
Rothenberg describes her aging father, no longer able to care for himself, isolated from community but able to afford constant professional care, watched over at the end of his life by a rotating crew of nurses rather than by people who love him.
-From "Reflections, in progress." by tyrone at Enough.

It's really hard for me to take action based on tyrone's post. My mom, when I talk to her on the phone, helps keep me feeling this way--because I hear her feel that way and then I worry about my own retirement and how my saving is going, etc.

And I think, "Man, I've gotta share this stuff w/ my mom so we can move into a mindset of mutual care instead of separate saving."

Only then I get even MORE afraid of having to BE with my mom a lot.

She's hurtful enough to drive me up the f***ing wall and I don't think that will EVER change. Really. She gets more hurtful every year, despite the fact that I'm growing up and learning how to talk more politely about what she's doing.

And I WANT her to just...have money so I DON'T have to be burdened w/ being near her. I DON'T want to take care of her.

But that means writing myself out of knowing I would be cared for by her.
And I'm probably not going to nurture anyone else (like kids) younger than me, either. And with respect to my friends? I'm just...I am so not a loyal-type person. I'm not sure I'd make another bond w/ anyone as loyal as my mom is (loyal, in her own definitely-loyal-but-not-good-enough-for-me way) to me.
Keeping this way of thinking from Mom means keeping my own panic that I'll never have enough "for retirement."

So it's like...where the heck else to start besides this most loyal member of my whole family?

But who's a loyal person I don't actually WANT to engage with because her loyalty still doesn't provide me the emotional things I want?

It's very frustrating that I can't share the content of tyrone's post with my mom, and I just wanted to get that out.

Saturday, October 10

Talking About Sex

I thought of this guy because it was through hanging out with him that I stumbled upon a place to get a lot of exposure to very helpful sexual discussion.

But maybe if my campus newspaper had done what Towson University's campus newspaper did (by the way, I agree w/ SAFER, nice response, Towerlight), I wouldn't have missed out on such discussion even if I'd never met him!

Personal Musings On Perpetrator Accountability

I wonder if the former friend who hit me has changed his ways and has never again hit or thrown something at someone he's in an argument over an emotional subject with.

I got cautious in that friendship the first time--he was distraught he'd done it and said he had only hit someone one other time in his life (kindergarten)--so I was cautious but didn't break off the friendship 100%.

The second time, I did. No third chance. I'm really glad people all my life encouraged me to act that way over being hit if it ever happened. It did, and this was a good response for me.

But perpetrator accountability's been a theme in my thoughts lately:

One of my friends has shared her anger with me that the man who raped refused to acknowledge that he'd done ANYTHING wrong on the consent front AT ALL because he, well, didn't want to think of himself as having raped someone.

And the G20 protest had a passage in their sexual consent guidelines saying:

*We understand and respect that other communities have engaged in their own processes around these incidents. If you have gone through an accountability process and the survivor, joined by the community, feels you have sufficiently dealt with your shit, this statement does not include you.

And there's been a lot of talk on BFP's site and in Make/Shift Magazine and other places online and in print that I've been reading lately where the idea of perpetrators of violence holding themselves accountable comes up (even if just as the potential opposite of much more common unaccountability).

And I wonder if I don't need to give ****** the cold shoulder anymore, next time he pops into my life (he does every couple of years). I wonder if the consequence of a friend he hurt (me) giving him the cold shoulder for the remaining 3.5 years of college and at events where we ran into each other afterwards has had its intended effect of getting him to change his behavior.

I wonder if my warning that I wouldn't go around telling people what he did willy-nilly, but that I would do so if he hit a woman again (and that I'd do my damndest to make sure every woman at the school heard what he did to me (which we had seen could work--such an effort was underway over one of our classmates' behavior)), had its intended effect of getting him to change his behavior.

He's faced another terrible loss in his life since we finished college--a relative he was extremely attached to passed away, I heard. That kind of thing makes me wonder if he doesn't need any more external/social stimuli anymore to never do again what he did to me. It makes me wonder if he's "dealt with his shit." I had exposure to him for years and never got bad vibes from him or people close to him.

I wonder because although it's not like we're going to be buds again, relief from the cold shoulder and an "I'm really sorry--I witnessed your love for this person when we were friends, and I am so sorry to hear about this person's passing, *****" is something I would feel safe giving--if he's "dealt with his shit."

Otherwise, I think I oughtta let him find his emotional relief wherever it currently is and continue to embody a message of, "You do this, you lose friends."

I don't know how or when I'd find that out--until I do, I guess I'll leave up that wall. And...pray for God to send my portion of comfort to him anonymously but now, I guess.

Thursday, October 8

Being Indoctrinated Into A Machinery Of Death

Good quote (even if it does at the same time get this post one of my nastier tags):

Somehow, being indoctrinated into a machinery of death has a propensity for damaging people, physically and mentally, ruining their lives. Who would have thought it?
-Richard Seymour, Better Off On The Dole, Lenin's Tomb

Sunday, October 4

Vacation - Italy vs. Not Italy

If I could get the $ together, I really wanna go to Rome again, w/ my partner.

I'd said I was going to do something else for a vacation until Italy (as a government) treated its gypsies better (also, side note: despite that article's mention of crime, their violent crime rate is actually the exact same as their population proportion), and that I'd tell their ministry of tourism (or whatever they have) so...

...but I thought about that idea well over a year ago and I still haven't gotten around to sending that letter to their ministry of tourism, so I haven't done one lick of good...

...and the "I wanna see Rome again" bug is really hitting me hard as my vacation time draws near.

And if I could get the $ together, I mean, how kick-ass would the following trip be:
- Hiking at sunrise in the Lake District of England on the same hill my stupid roommates didn't wake me up to hike w/ the rest of the group at sunrise
- Visit my many friends / his 2 friends in France
- Get my partner a few artistic master classes w/ his idol in France if said idol is open to teaching him
- RomeRomeRomeRomeRomeRomeAwesomeRome fuck yes gelato cheap olive oil a-whole-lox&caviar-pizza-for-$10 holy crap cool buildings and stuff everywhere even if a dictator did destroy lots of other cool buildings to unearth them rabbit-ragout-at-this-one-cool-restaurant GELAFUCKINGTO
- The one limoncello I actually liked (house version at a hotel outside Naples)
- Greece - whatever my partner's favorite parts were
(Though I guess that "Lake District" part and the "Rome" part don't exactly go together, since in my dreams, I'd totally be hiking in the summer and visiting Rome in the winter. Hmmmmm.)

Oh yeah. After looking up this link, I saw a photo that reminded me that France is kind of on my shit list, too. Though at least I have friends there--it's not quite straight-up tourism the way a trip to Italy would be. Not that the United States doesn't do the same things--but I can't exactly tell an American tourism bureau that I'm not coming. I already live here.

Saturday, September 19

I Weighed Today's Food Purchase

I was so overwhelmed by what I bought, I weighed it. (Geek.)

ItemBy WeightBy QuantityTotal Price
Cucumbers2 lbs. 6 oz.4$1.67
Tomatoes4 lbs. 4 oz.9$1.67
Onions (red, large)1 lb. 8.2 oz.2$1
Potatoes (white, large)6 lbs. 5 oz.13$3.33
Carrots2 lbs. 10 oz.17$1.67
Beets (red, roots only)5 lbs. 14 oz.10$1.67
Squash (winter; type=mystery)? (>5 lbs.)1$1
Shallots (bunching)12.8 oz. $1
Parsley (flat)9.3 oz. $1
Sage6.9 oz. $1
Methi7.9 oz. $1
Rice (basmati)4 lbs. $6
Oil (sesame)5.5 oz. $3

Food Purchase Thoughts

Two thoughts:

  1. Oh ****.

    (I brought home a lot of high-processing-needs vegetables. And the kitchen and hosue aren't even clean. And I want to have brownies and soup done by what time??!!)

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the farmers who were still at the marketplace at 3 in the afternoon. I can't believe how much I bought. (And bonus, thanks for helping me shop by figuring out what I was trying to make and offering me things you'd already loaded into the truck that would help.) I mean, wow. I'm sorry I've forgotten your names to thank you by name, but thank you all the same. I can't believe I did this at 3PM. And I couldn't have done it without you.

Thursday, September 17

Elbow Macaroni Dish

The meal on the front of the box of Creamette brand elbow macaroni looks terribly unappetizing.

And at the same time, it looks like a freaking delicacy in my culture.

I'm sure Mom would've made it a lot like that--especially if she'd had time to shred things up that finely.

Sunday, September 13

Blog Posts Reacting To Pres. Obama's Health Care Speech

My two favorite takes on President Obama's health care speech the other night:

  1. Obama’s Health Care Reform Pitch : Why Reform isn’t the Same as Change by La Mamita Mala
  2. and
  3. Healthy Profits: Corporate Money Moves Tell the True Tale of Obama's "Reforms" by Chris Floyd
Both are outstandingly good blog posts.

Germany Bombed 70 People Trying To Get Gas In Afghanistan

"There are no words to describe these monsters. To blow innocent poor to bits, merely for the crime of taking gas to stay alive, is a crime against all humanity, and nobody cares. Nobody is screaming in the streets to put an end to this pointless barbarism and savagery."

From the comments over at

Saturday, September 12

Off The Deep End (On Food)

I have gone off the deep end with respect to food.

I just bought fresh grape leaves, that I talked the provider into bringing this week, even though ready-to-roll prepackaged ones are available w/o any inconvenience.

And then I took out a pocket knife and stole the tops of some amaranth from a street-landscaping garden. I'm thinking I'll throw it in a bag, take it w/ me to the thing I have to go to for work today, and separate seeds from chaff while I sit around on standby the way some people knit.

*sigh* It's not exactly like people on the provision side of the food world haven't noticed that I'm freaking weird! Perhaps this guy was prescient?



P.S. Glad I found this while looking for pictures. Maybe, if I want to do it efficiently, amaranth seeding will have to wait till I get back home.
Jenny wrote:
Chaff flew everywhere and I realized that (a) people had been getting grains out of dead plant since the dawn of agriculture and (b) I really ought to be outside.

Thursday, September 10

WIC & Produce

What?! $6?
I was going to send "Needy mothers, kids get a new menu from WIC: They'll find healthier options added to federal food program" to after I saw the headline.

But reading the article:

A new "produce voucher" covers up to $6 in produce per month per person, or $8 for pregnant women.
What?! Is that all of one's WIC money a person can use on produce?*

It better not be...I really hoped they made it so all the money can be used on produce if you so choose. Produce is so freaking important, and so freaking expensive.

I mean, I've been getting stellar deals on produce this summer...but I can't imagine that it costs me any less than $10 a week to buy what I'm coming to consider healthy quanitites of it.

And they're giving pregnant women only $8 a month??? And that money's only good where the produce is even more expensive than it is where I buy it?!
(Only good at brick-and-mortar stores.)


*(If anyone can tell whether the 7 "packages" now all include produce, in addition to there being that "produce voucher," please let me know.)

Tuesday, September 8

More Cookies

Then again, hey, at least I'm not crazy--I really am working from a background of indecent behavior towards a future of decent behavior.

I'll still try to stop wanting that "cookie" for common decency, but...yeah.

Racism At Home

Holy crap, can home be a cesspit of racist statements.

I have GOT to remember boundary-setting at the BEGINNING of when ANY sociopolitical comments are made AT ALL, not when I'm stewing after an argument.

(Thanks, folks. It's so helpful for you to set my political-solution-opinions straight by stating for me that the people your preferred political solutions punish are evil. I hadn't thought of that--*headsmack*--yes, make 'em all leave any territory ever occupied by a majority white population! Geez Louise.)

(Quote of the night--I kid you not, is, "I think Saudi Arabia has problems because it has Muslims living in it.")
(Context: I'd said that my family member running into lots of brown women in hijab in London 1) didn't mean there were no white people left in England--immigrants are an urban thing, and you'd see white people in the British countryside same as you'd see Muslim Arabs in the Saudi Arabian countryside but Filipinos in Riyadh, and 2) "Tell me, is Saudi Arabia going to become a horrible place to live because of a high number of Filipinos? If not, how on earth is England going to become a horrible place to live because of a high number of Muslims?")

"Whatchu Want, A Cookie?!"

A weakness I struggle to be better about, as a person:

Sometimes, I get really disappointed thinking that I won't "get a cookie" for stuff I'm supposedta do (to paraphrase Chris Rock).

Like when I thought, after reading this VivirLatino post, "I'm going to make sure I remember what people's lives are like when they're in my life--make sure I remember how much people could use time for their own chores, etc." And then I thought, "Hmm. Maybe I can live so people will really feel respected." I'd probably just, in an employment context for example, be someone who's "fine."

And that's all.

Because, well, honestly, you're SUPPOSEDTA respect other people. Yeah, it should make people "feel" respected--but...ummm....that's SUPPOSEDTA be normal. Not wowie-zowie.

And then I thought, "Crap."

Sometimes, I really want a cookie for things you're just supposedta do. Maybe I can get over that, too, at the same time as or after I'm working on doing more respectful acts.

Friday, August 21

Asylum Grants and Sex Worker Murder Investigations: Both Take Lots Of Violence To Trigger

It seems like it sure does take a lot of "not-often-cared-about" people suffering for institutions with an official monopoly on violence to do anything to help even some of those suffering people.

I am angry that no one took him seriously when he said he was afraid for his safety if he returned to El Salvador. ... When someone professes a fear of returning home, claims they are afraid of the gangs and their penchant for random murders, I hope that you will listen.
aighmeigh's story got me thinking about asylum in the U.S.

I learned a few weeks ago that aighmeigh's husband wasn't the only Salvadoran trying to get asylum in the U.S. on account of gang members back in El Salvador. These folks are, too.

I thought, "What is it that makes this different? Oh. Right--the gang members aren't technically doing thugwork on behalf of a government."


Then I thought, "Wait a second. We've got how many Somali refugees around here? And there's no government in Somalia, so whoever they claimed was being violent towards them wasn't a government."

I don't know squat about their refuge/asylum claims, but I'm guessing...maybe they involved violence at the hands of people trying to be "the government."

"Okay," I thought, "the Salvadoran gangs are obviously trying to get a monopoly on violence wherever they operate. Does that make them people 'trying to be the government?' Why are these asylum cases not being considered violence by 'rebel militias?'"

I continued, "I guess they're only trying to have a monopoly on the right to use force to do certain things. They're not exactly running the schools and the postal service once they have that right in a certain area, are they? Not that I've heard."

So I dunno. Maybe you have to be shooting for being real governance, even if that's not your main concern (how many regional/national governments' main concern is real governance, compared to controlling money and such?), to be a violent group that the U.S. government will consider giving asylum to the victims of.

But then I thought about Honduras, and I thought about certain African countries w/ ruling-party political violence against ordinary folks who support opposition parties.

There are probably a couple of dozen people in Honduras who're at the exact same point, personally, as some of the people whose stories I heard out of African countries. Something like this:
  1. Member of a political party all through college (during which the beatings and arrests and such were always going on)
  2. Always participating in marches for one's political beliefs and/or party
  3. Arrested at a march and beaten the hell out of, taken down to the station, not let out for ages for no reason, etc.
  4. Still participated in marches
  5. Arrested at a march and beaten the hell out of, taken down to the station, not let out for ages for no reason, etc.
  6. Felt "done" enough w/ that routine to flee the country w/ intent to seek asylum in the U.S.
No "torture" at the station like some of the other stories I've heard. Just enough "protest, get beaten and harmed for it, repeat" to wear down a person who can't hold their beliefs in and make them want out of the country.

I know from experience that many people from those countries in Africa can get an asylum grant based on that experience. But I seriously doubt someone from Honduras with the exact same experience could right now.

The only difference I can think of between this happening in Honduras and this happening in some of the African countries I've worked with is how many people have had to endure it (due to the amount of time it's been happening).

And then, all of a sudden, I connected that with my comment on VivirLatino:
It really does make me feel like the police aren’t doing things well enough when a non-police person (Johnson) figured out that there was someone trying to kill sex workers after ONE person but the police don’t start looking to stop the deaths of sex workers until NINE. :-(

A potential Honduran asylee would have figured out that the government is going to have people keep on beating them up for demonstrating after A FEW DOZEN people but the U.S. government doesn't start looking to grant asylum until A FEW THOUSAND. :-(

Again: it seems like it sure does take a lot of "not-often-cared-about" people suffering for institutions with an official monopoly on violence to do anything to help even some of those suffering people.

It's just not at all the what happened that makes a murder investigation of sex workers happen or an asylum grant happen, is it? Even though that would make sense!! It's...the "how many." :-(

Wednesday, August 19

Immigrants Should Be Equally Eligible For Permanent Residency

I don't give a hoot if an immigrant's working in a kitchen or working as a programmer--if they're working X hours a week here, and especially if I'm benefitting from what they're doing, they should be EQUALLY eligible for permanent residency. EQUALLY.
No "points."

Monday, August 17

Please Pray For Donna (And Donate If You Can)

Donna, one of my favorite blog authors, has asked for prayers.
This is why.
I'd recommend sending money, too, if you can. She's said that money sent to Paypal link on the left side of her blog, in the sidebar, under her blogroll, is only accessible by her.

A message to those who have plenty of money to spare:
501(c)3 deductible? Hell, no. Neither prayers nor money. The right thing? Hell, yes.


Friday, August 14

More From BFP

I would like to learn to do this.

I'm glad you already do, bfp.

Quote From BFP

Where’s the news in women being raped? Unless it’s in an african country that has lots of resources?

And more from the same post...
I think this also has a lot to do with “what are the legal ramifications for the nation/state, for private corporations, for individuals, if rape of WOMEN is declared a way to torture?” I mean, I think you’d be hard pressed to find many who would say that rape and sexual violence against men is not torture (because *REAL* men don’t raped, right–it’s the worst of the worst of the WORST thing to do to a man)–but against women–it’s just normal–I mean, I’ve asked myself over and over again, what would have happened if those pictures released in Abu Ghraib were of women–and I know the answer because there WERE pictures released that were of women being raped. They *never* made front page news, and half the people who saw them declared them fakes–the other half didn’t have much of anything to say.
The thing *I* want to know: Why do we recognize that Jose Padilla’s detention drove him mad (and yes, I specifically use the gendered terminology of mental illness there), but a woman who lived through many, if not all and more, of the same situations that Jose Padilla did is considered "faking it?"

Nothing to add...just trying to amplify.

Thursday, August 13

Quick note

I love the phrase "slightly more enlightened in gut wrenching privilege and ignorance by Sydette. I will try not to be that. What a memorably worded reminder...thanks, Sydette.

Oliphant v. Suquamish + news out of Alaska

Geez, heaven forbid Alaska, either, let tribal police do to everybody what Alaskan police get to do to everybody.

The Visitor

Just watched "The Visitor." Wanted to blog at the beginning, "What an unempathetic a*****e."

Towards the end, changed my mind to him being one of those people who seems to only be able to love (have empathy for) a few people total. (A description I learned from the book version of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables describing the innkeeper's wife who genuinely loved her daughter but treated the girl she was taking care of, and many other people, like sh**.)

And now, at the end...WHAT. THE. F***!

They did a "things don't always end up okay" "deep" movie by giving Tariq a sad immigration outcome. Tariq, the guy who didn't DO anything against the law to get arrested. All he did was jump his way out of a turnstile that'd gotten him stuck, but that he'd paid for.

I'm just sure that Tariq's pause and dodging the question when Walter asked him why he didn't try playing in the subway was supposed to show him knowing that he could get arrested (and then sent to a deportation center) for doing so, because it was against the rules w/o a permit.

And yet then they f***ing END THE MOVIE by having Walter--the guy we're supposed to see as now more empathetic than he was at the beginning of the film--twiddle around and break the subway system's regulations? This asinine abuse of white-skinned born-citizen rich privilege is supposed to somehow be tied in with having LEARNED to be MORE empathetic?

Is that SERIOUSLY supposed to make us LIKE Walter more?

Well f***--not me. He's still an unempathetic (except-towards-a-few) a*****e, for everything and for that.

Wednesday, August 5

Ho. Lee. Sh**. 350 a year in ONE country.


From Liquidate Empire by Chalmers Johnson:

in October 1953, the Japanese and American governments signed a secret "understanding" as part of their SOFA in which Japan agreed to waive its jurisdiction if the crime was not of "national importance to Japan." The U.S. argued strenuously for this codicil because it feared that otherwise it would face the likelihood of some 350 servicemen per year being sent to Japanese jails for sex crimes.
350. A. Year. (Or, as the Economist said, citing Shoji Niihara:)
Why did America fight so hard in 1953 to maintain control of criminal cases involving its boys? The documents do not say, but provide a clue: in numerous settings, American officials express unease that American servicemen commit roughly 30 serious crimes each month.
(Third source.)

AGGH. Crap.

(By the way, although I don't know what they were like in 1953 compared to ours, in 1984, this is what it was like to be in a Japanese prison. Fair. Unlike the "who the hell cares about letting Japanese people convict & punish American rapists?" Status of Forces Agreement.)

Tuesday, August 4

Community Conflict Deescalation On The Public Bus

On the public bus about a week ago, a man seemed quite drunk (trouble speaking and moving coherently--though more likely to fall asleep than to barge around harmfully), had an open water bottle full of brown (like whiskey) liquid, and had a huge splint on his foot.

The bus driver wasn't okay with the drunkenness and bottle of what seemed to be alcohol. When I boarded, they'd obviously been arguing for a while, and the man said he'd get off the bus. But he didn't.

As time went on, I felt like it became obvious he wasn't getting off the bus because he couldn't walk. I'm not sure if that was obvious to the bus driver in the heat of the moment (who felt under pressure to follow agency rules).

Bus riders were shouting out that the bus driver should leave him alone--and when the bus driver finally closed the door and picked up a phone after the man kept not getting off the bus or handing over his bottle and he'd heard lots of shouts to get moving so people wouldn't be late to work, the riders shouted things like, "Oh now he gonna call the cops." "Why you have to call the cops on that poor old man? Let him off! He said he was gonna get off!"

I realized the bus driver felt kind of powerless to facilitate the man being off his bus on his own and was turning to his support network from the agency. I didn't want to see someone arrested for having a shitty, painful day and getting drunk, so I got out of my seat, went to the front, and asked the man if he'd like help getting off the bus. He said, "Yes pleashe," and I extended an arm like a gentleman does to a lady on some sort of date from the 1900's.

While he struggled to stand up, I asked the bus driver to open the door so I could help him leave like he'd offered to, and the bus driver thought for a moment, then did. Only thing is...the man I'd offered to help wasn't even managing to stand up (partly because he didn't seem much in control of his body, and partly because his pants were falling down and he didn't seem much in control enough to take care of that). I was NOT offering enough support for him to lean on--especially w/ my opposite shoulder full of my belongings.

Thank GOODNESS someone the same size as the drunk man, if not larger, asked, "You need a hand?" from behind me (to the other man), to which he said, "Yes," and HE was strong enough (and experienced enough holding people up) to REALLY give him full support--support standing and everything.

After he was off the bus, on a bench, and we'd given him his bottle and taken our seats and our bus was on its way, I was feeling pretty darned good. As a community of "people on the bus right here and right now," we'd given the bus driver the support he needed to implement our ideas about what he could to, rather than pushing him to rely on the agency's support!


And then...

"You happy now?!" I heard from behind me. "You gonna check MY bottle? Oooooh, you never know what's in it!" The heckles rained on the bus driver.

Those heckles, after he'd switched and sided with our plan for getting the man who was offering to leave off the bus (rather than having authorities take him off the bus) and people had already pretty much offered the same ones before he did.

*sigh* I don't know if he'll ever let the rider community be his support network for executing their suggestions rather than the authorities be his support network for executing their suggestions again. I talked a bit w/ everyone (nods & smiles to the people saying, "let him stay!" / "let him go like he said to--don't call the cops!"; a thank you to the strong man; a thank you to the bus driver for processing so many thoughts so quickly and doing what I thought was the right thing), but I just don't think that'll really help.

Oh well. Crud. :-(

I got real "I tried" experience to keep w/ me for the rest of my life, and I realized that I really need to work out and practice things like holding limp people (I would like to be able to let a 190-pound person lean on me and do a serious assist in walking. 190 isn't beyond reason).

Cirila Baltazar Cruz And Action Links To Help Other Mothers

Just keepin' the names Cirila Baltazar Cruz and Rubi Juana Baltazar Cruz on the radar every couple of weeks till November (the next court date that has anything to do w/ the case). You could donate/volunteer for the SPLC or MIRA, by the way, if you want to do something that won't hurt the case while that gag order's on, maybe. (Lawyers working on the case, after all, still get to talk about it to each other...)

Or, for another thing to do between now and November: volunteer and/or raise hell about these issues brought up by BFP:

i hadn’t known about the “offer” to let her be a governess to her own child. thanks for pointing that out. it makes me sick to my stomach–mothers of color are SO good at helping white women reach their full potential as mothers. they even provide a child to practice on and everything!

I also want to say, women caught up in the immigration system ALWAYS have responsibility of the children, if there are any. they are forced to do things like express milk from their breasts to prove they are breastfeeding (in front of gaurds who make mooing sounds at them), they are locked up in small cells with the children (check out hutto prison), they are silenced or kept from protesting while in jail with threats of separation from their children (which has happened–there are several cases of women being deported while the children are left in prison with no caretaker at all–and to add insult to injury, those children often are u.s. citizens who have committed NO crime at all)–there have been *several* cases of women being raped while in front of their children by prison guards in “exchange” for extra bedding or food–and it’s a small thing, but a devastating thing–mothers are often not believed when they say who the father of the child is (i.e. a husband or partner)–and children are thrown into foster care until “paternity” can be established. and none of this gets into the abysmal way *pregnant * women are treated.

All of these things–including more, are regular experiences of mothers going through immigration. I think it’s important to point out so that we don’t only support women like Cirila–but so that we also ask the right questions and support the right answers (and organizations–because trust me, not all immigration orgs are as connected to the community as MIRA is) as the U.S. begins to confront “immigration”–as Barack Obama et al have promised to do in the next year.

With respect to Ms. Baltazar Cruz's case, please keep in mind the following comments by AnonymousCoward (1,2,3):
As terrible as this situation is, contacting the presiding judge is not the appropriate course of action. Your letters, calls, faxes, and other communications will go completely unheeded, as the judge is ethically obliged to ignore them.
With that in mind, I think donating to SPLC or writing letters to the editor of the Clarion-Ledger would be more productive. Citizens of Mississippi may want to consider writing their representatives in the state legislature to encourage them to explicitly condemn the actions of CPS and pass legislation to make this action clearly illegal.
(emphasis mine)
I’d just hate to see this case get prolonged because the “foster” parents find out about the flurry of letters and raise the issue on appeal, claiming that the judge should have been recused or something.
If you want to put pressure on someone in this case to make them consider doing the right thing, you should be pressuring the parties (apparently the Department of Human Services), not the court. You’ll just annoy the clerk of court, frustrate yourself, and arm your opponent with grounds for appeal.

Here’s the contact information for DHS, obtained from Shakesville.

Children’s Justice Act Program
MS Dept. of Human Services
750 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39202
(601) 359-4499
Ex parte communications are not limited to factual matters. Ex parte communications are *not permitted* unless explicitly authorized, for things like administrative matters, emergencies (TROs, for instance), speaking with court personnel, or asking disinterested legal scholars with notice to both parties and the opportunity to respond. Notably excluded from that list is: “angry members of the general public.”

A judge isn’t permitted to discuss (including listen to) their own family on how a case should be handled; what makes you think it would be appropriate for them to factor in the opinions of the general public? I’d refer to this as a “question of justice,” but it’s not even really a question – judges interpret and apply law, not the views of the general public, no matter how outraged that public may be.

As I said before, contacting the parties, writing letters to the editor, or supporting SPLC are appropriate reactions. Attempting to sway the court proceedings via unethical direct contact with the judge won’t be effective, and might create grounds for appeal if the judge ultimately rules against the “foster” parents.

Another thing you can do between now & November, besides following AnonymousCoward's suggestions, is to help this other mother whose child the state has unjustly kept away from her.

Get Mad That The Rape Occurred. And Stop There.

WOW, do people have their priorities out of wack.

YOU PEOPLE who are berating this girl's family: STOP IT.


Your own families, if not you, are just as bad. TRUST ME. They are. In some way or another. You'll figure it out one day.

So LAY THE HECK OFF that family and get yourselves and your media railing against:

the actual crime and the socio-economic factors that may have contributed to the horrific incident.

Saturday, August 1

Cheap hot peppers

Note: As always, written in response to BFP's call for recipes for healthy cooking while in poverty.

You might've already known this, but to me it was only book knowledge until recently: at least in certain climates, fresh hot peppers don't mold; they just change colors and dry out.

I can buy them and not worry about not using them in time.
Thanks, God! I like these things.
(Still can't handle the taste of more than 1, seedless & pithless, in a whole dish...but I definitely like the concept.)

Amaranth & Potatoes (cost)

Note: As always, written in response to BFP's call for recipes for healthy cooking while in poverty.

I had a somewhat bland, but not too bland, quickly made, healthy meal for lunch. It cost $2.36 by my estimate.

$1 of fancy-schmancy potatoes (actually, I cooked the whole $4 pound, but this is what I ate in my stir-fry)
$0.01 salt
$0.01 sugar
water (cost not figured)
$0.02 roasted garlic (keeps well in the freezer!)
$0.10 herbes de provence

$0.35 amaranth leaves (35% of a big $1 bunch)
$0.33 onion (1 onion)
$0.33 garlic (half a head)
$0.20 ginger (out of a jar)
$0.15 sesame oil
$0.07 dried chili pepper
$0.05 mustard seeds
$0.05 garam masala
$0.02 cinnamon

I was boiling the potatoes the way they're prepared in this book w/ an addition of flavorings, so I'd have something to eat right away as I prepared my amaranth dish.

The amaranth dish was kind of a funny combination of the basic starter techniques I'm picking up from an Indian-ish cookbook and a Cantonese-ish cookbook. My order today was, "Heat wok. Pour in oil. Add dry spices. Add onions. Add ginger. Add garlic & hot pepper. Add a few more dry spices. Add greens."

And, finally, "Hey--the potatoes are done and I'm not ready to eat them--but a few of them sure would work chopped up in this thing I'm in the middle of making!"

And come to think of it, I didn't eat the entire I guess the cost was more like $1.75 for lunch and $0.61 for a snack later on.

Got other shoestring healthy eating recipes? Pass it on!
(P.S. Chop your amaranth coarsely first. Alanna Kellogg mentioned it here, and I followed her advice and it went well. I couldn't really imagine having eaten those leaves whole.)

Friday, July 31

Immigration Changes I Want To See

I see a lot of activism about a few aspects of immigration law that would keep help a few immigrants stay in the country, but I sure do wish I saw more on the following:

"10-year/3-year ban"

From Immigrants' List:
The three- and ten-year bars were added into law by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA).
INA § 212(a)(9)(B)(v) provides a waiver of these bars if ... refusal of admission of the foreign national would result in extreme hardship to that spouse or parent. Hardship to the foreign national or his or her children is not a factor.

That's an insanely LONG line people with kids are having to go to Mexico/Honduras/India/Guatemala/Ecuador/the Dominican Republic/Nigeria/etc. and twiddle their thumbs in while their KIDS GROW UP. Parents can't stand their kids growing up by a year when they're in the country and just working too hard to really see it. Geez Louise, 3/10 years OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY w/ your kids growing up? Frack. I want to see this one changed.

Thanks, Dave Bennion, for bringing my attention to this.

Judicial Review, part 1

It looks like the same bill (the "IIRA" half of it) did the following:
this legislation stripped immigration judges of the ability to take into account any persons circumstances when it came to deportation matters.
That's absolutely ridiculous. I don't know about the campaign at the link I found this language from, but if what it says that bill did is accurate, all clauses of that bill need to be taken right back out of federal law.

Judicial Review, part 2

From Immigrants' List:
cases decided by the immigration agencies have life-altering consequences. Under current law, even decisions which are arbitrary, capricious, show prejudice or misconstrue or fail to consider the evidence are not reviewable by the federal courts. In addition, the critical safety net provision of habeas corpus review is no longer available.
What...the...f***. ARRRRRRRRRGH. *hangs head*

I'm not really sure where the "amplify your voice" area of activism is if you're really interested in these issues. Maybe just Immigrants' List & (according to Dave Bennion) Families for Freedom right now. I hate starting things. I am such a joiner. Am I really going to have to get up & start something out here in this part of the country?

Tuesday, July 28

make/shift Didn't make/it

That was fast! I didn't make/it halfway through make/shift magazine before I ended up giving it away. I only did this because there's ooooooone more copy at the same place I bought mine. I'll have to go get it soon. But the person I gave it to will enjoy it, and she seemed soooooo bored by the newspaper!

But I was reading that, and it had good stuff left to read! Oh well. *vows to get other copy soon*

Healthcare - I Will Be Okay Even If I Get Wronged This Time

I got really stressed out today because I couldn't get a letter I wrote yesterday morning to my doctor through to her office, and because when I finally get it there tomorrow, probably no one will read it (since she's out for months). I was very stressed, thinking, "How will I get the results I want from my upcoming appointment with the bad doctor w/o a primary care doctor's advice/intervention?"

Then I drove by a house where the scene of kids playing didn't look like the scenes where I grew up. That knocked me out of my own tied-up thoughts for a second. Next, in that state of mind, I passed a house w/ a family that just didn't seem at all happy sitting out in their yard. Very similar house, but instead of playing, they seemed to be being sad.

Based on the demographic averages of the neighborhood I was driving through, there's a damn good chance they wouldn't have even had the experience I've had so far w/ healthcare. Mine isn't perfect, but my stress over that imperfection evaporated. It evaporated because I realized that although they could've looked so sad for no big deal at all, maybe they were sad because they had something really really big and painful to be sad about--and I didn't have any such thing to be so sad about.

It's amazing how much "space" I expect to "take up" as a minimum standard for my life. It's probably unusually high at the doctor's office, having heard a lot of "good doctor; bad doctor stories" in my life as a kid (from the insider's point of view, giving me a sense that, price being equal, one's healthcare quality is something one can control w/ the right tricks). But whatever caused it--I realized that there are a lot of people who would accept a lot less than I was expecting.

I calmed down. I feel a lot calmer now. If I don't get everything I hope for out of this appointment, the cost of a superfluous appointment or two will be felt (just the minimal appointments already are), but it won't make any collectors come calling. I have wiggle room to make this work. Getting stressed that I'm failing to take up as much space as I want to as quickly as I want a kind of stress I'm privileged to be able to have, and because it's a privilege, one I can let fall away and still be okay in the world no matter what happens.

I feel good about this, too. I feel a release and joy that's kind of the opposite of the tenseness and sadness I felt when I withheld help from a woman who asked for it last night (but I was too wrapped up in my own fun night out to take 5-10 minutes for her). I think that's a good sign.

A Privilege Of Not Having Children

I read Mamita Mala's comment on Flip-Flopping Joy and was really upset.
(Hmmm...I hope she doesn't mind me writing this hear rather than in the FFJ comments section?)

I/Others like me have GOT to work harder to get that kind of injustice ended, and ended fast.

In the meantime, though, my brain connected an idea lightning-quick that maybe could patch over the effects of the violent injustice occuring in Mamita Malia's life--I thought, "Maybe I can find her a bike!" (Cheaper than the subway, but in a flat area, less physical work per mile.)

Then I realized--duh--"Mamita" means she's a mom, and she lives in New York City. You can't safely just up and take a gaggle of kids around New York City on bikes every day.

Biking is my way of avoiding a long walk when public transportation seems too expensive. I don't have kids. Of course it is.


(Though that definitely brought me back around to the thought that I have GOT to work harder to get economic injustice ended, and ended fast.)

I'm sorry, Mamita Mala, that times are so hard for you. I'm really sorry about that. *hugs*

Revealing Myself

You know, part of me wants to make connections w/ area readers whose lives some writing I do might serve.

But part of me, well, I started this blog back when I mostly just read mainstream feminist blogs and wanted to contribute, too.

And dangit, I want to be anonymous enough to write about sex and write about genitalia and write things you can't write when you're not anonymous...
(And as much as I'd love to meet the bloggers behind my blogroll, I doubt we'll ever end up offline friends, so there's that "it's the internet!" buffer that makes it feel okay even if for some crazy reason they're ever reading this.)

...I know my friends & family have this blog link. So I never really can. But I'm not sure I want to come out to the politicians and the NGO folks and such. I've got plenty of other spaces online for that!

But blogging about Minnesota issues and Twin Cities region issues is drawing folks to my blog who, as I said, might be served by me letting them cross-reference my public stuff and my private stuff.


To Do: Reduce Stress

I have got to make myself chill out.

I'm getting all angry (traffic, people supporting someone who absolutely loves ruining the quality of some of the metro region's most valuable-to-the-bottom assets whenever the rich say, "But I want to do XYZ to it!", and now people at work making excuses not to do work that's their job. (Okay, okay, and others who are reminding me of excuses I've made that're coming to bite me.)

Must. Not. Get. Pissed. I just started the day.

Primary Chris Coleman - Don't Let Him Be Mayor!

As if I weren't cranky enough from that bad traffic.

I had to drive through St. Paul today and saw Chris Coleman for Mayor lawn signs.


And in lawns where last year, when I had to drive through the same area, I saw Obama signs and McCain signs. I guess that sounds about right for Chris Coleman, but can these people all really be united by a love of stealing from the bottom 90% and giving to the top 2%?


Monday, July 27

Hateful Graffiti Didn't Make Me Scared

There was hateful graffiti left not too far from where I work lately.
I saw pictures of it, but the contents of what I saw didn't make me wonder if anyone was in the area waiting to hurt me.
That's damn lucky.

The Star-Tribune Could Do Better Publishing Hmong Farmers Speak For Themselves (especially considering their importance)

Hmong Farmers Talked About, But Mostly White Farmers Get To Talk, In Star-Tribune Article On Farmers' Markets

All right, I figured out what's wrong with the way this article on Minnesota farmer's markets (note: multiple pages) is written.

Click here to jump to the end of this post and see what made me figure it out.

Actually, I'll start with some "right" things: Ms. Blake's and Mr. Giles's article starts strong, by having the first quote, and a good amount of quote, come from a Hmong farmer.

Why is that so right? Well, as quoted and elaborated upon in the article (the other "right" things):
Hmong growers represent about 70 percent of sellers in suburban markets and more than half of all growers in Minneapolis and St. Paul markets, said Jack Gerten, manager of St. Paul Farmers Markets. "If you didn't have the Hmong you couldn't have these markets," he said.

However, the article is 3 pages long, and most of the farmers interviewed are white farmers. Despite them making up only 30-50% of the farmer population at the markets.

Challenges of Talking Business w/ Hmong Farmers

This weekend and last week, I finally met children of Hmong market vendors who both:
  1. were raised so much in America that I had no language barriers talking with them at all, and
  2. were super-duper interested in "shop talk" and the business of, well, the family business.
I'd met plenty of farmers and family members who fell into one category but not the other over the past 3 years. These are people who I feel like my grocery store might actually sustain conversations with if I connect them.

If it took me 3 years to find 2, then yes, I get how "on assignment," Ms. Blake & Mr. Giles might have had a tough time getting interview quotes they like for their article from Hmong farmers and their families.

But you know what?

I'm not a reporter.

Surely my search was slow because it related to a spark of an idea in the back of my mind (getting Hmong produce distributed in cooperative grocery stores, too) as I went about my chores (shopping for food).

Now, I understand that even for a journalist, whom I'm going to hold to the standards laid out by blackamazon below, it might be a challenge to find these people to talk to in a single 2-hour interview-gathering trip to a market.

Why? Because children of farmers who are 100% fluent in American English and who are interested in the business probably spend a lot of time talking to non-Hmong customers, pushing the family's produce, explaining things, giving impromptu cooking lessons, etc. If you're actively hunting for them (which I wasn't over these 3 years), you can probably find them (now that I'm getting a sense of what to look for--start with the twentysomethings, not the teens or the people whose names are on the signs), but you might not be able to interview them.


But after reading blackamazon's writings below, I now believe that the right thing for a journalist assigned to this story to do, as soon as he/she finds out the markets are 50-70% Hmong, would be to actively hunt for lots of such people and schedule interview appointments outside of peak market hours.

How I Came To Be Able To See This In That Star-Tribune Article

From blackamazon:
Immigration is a great topic, centering immigrants making safe spaces for them to talk to be credited and set the tone for their work

Not so much

Talking about black women/people , issuing dictums and easily digestible pieces for non black audiences, or even having to prioritize non black audiences over black ones.

Can make you famous.

Being one often makes the act of reading news something to be accompanied by a finely tuned bullshit meter and someone to hide the sharp objects so you don't go to jail.
Let's speak about events as snippets that we can skim or miss, let's write more and more about populations we are not a part of, or frame the populations we are apart of as voiceless by not actually hearing from them.
And from make/shift magazine, "Listen: Voices the World Needs to Hear" (Oh. Hey! Also from blackamazon!) issue 5 p. 7:
The all-too-common idea that underrepresented communities need spokespeople in the media because they are not...speaking for themselves justifies their erasure from the media. ... "Some of Us Are Brave" exists to amplify," [Thandisizwe] Chimurenga says. "Black women are already speaking."

What I Plan To Do About It

I think I'll write Ms. Blake & Mr. Giles and give them tips, based on my experience, on how to find Hmong farmers w/ no language barriers but w/ enough of an interest in the business to say "quotable" things.

I think I'll also include my suggestion about scheduling interviews because of such people's importance to their vending tables (if they step away for an interview, there might not be anyone else w/ no language barriers and a strong interest to pitch veggies to potential customers like there would be at a booth of farmers who've lived in an English-speaking country for generations).

I think I might include (with full citations) those quotes or some others from blackamazon, if she'll allow me to, to express why I feel that my suggestions are important.

And I'll ask that they pass these tips around the staff writers so that next time someone has to do a similar article (or an article that, on the interviews, they discover is similar), they will be armed with those tips. (And, if I include the quotes from blackamazon, armed with a sense of importance about trying them out.)

"Not Like PAIN 'Pain,' Right?"

Next week I am supposed to follow up with a lousy doctor who gave me medication to stop bleeding and pain.

Only I think he's convinced it's only to stop the bleeding.

Because, after all, last time, he refused to accept my "always 1-2, maybe sometimes a little more" on the 1-10 "pain scale." I had my first horrible doctor story when he repeatedly tried to get me to talk about the lack of pain and clarified what he was trying to get me to say by saying, "Not like pain 'pain,' right?" (And said it again when I replied, "Yes--pain--the nature of it is ____ sensation.")


I could've had the good doctor--just not for several more weeks. And everyone around me--laypeople and doctors--suggested I take the first doctor in the field available.

And now my insurance and I are supposed to pay him Heaven only knows how much more money to say, "Problem solved!" when the problem isn't solved--it's only half-solved. The bleeding stopped. But my--yes, pain 'pain,' fuck you--hasn't. And it wasn't there before, so I want it back to normal, and that's your high paid f***ing job.

My partner thinks it's not really a doctor's job and that I should see if some physical self-displine (exercise, etc.) clears the rest of the pain up.

In a way, I see his point, but in a way ... FUCK THAT. As lucky as I am to pay as little for healthcare as I do, relative to others, I WANT TO GET EVERY BIT OF CARE PER DOLLAR THAT IS AVAILABLE AT ANY OTHER COMPARABLE OFFICE IN AMERICA PER DOLLAR. I don't know...all the other doctors say not to doctor-hop. So instead of doing so right away, I guess I'll start by writing my primary care provider a letter, ahead of this appointment, expressing my discomfort. Maybe she'll be able to write a letter to the bad doctor that will influence his behavior for the better at my appointment with him next week, and I won't have to have paid him for 2 appointments and start the expensive-appointment process all over w/ his good-doctor (or so I hear) colleague.

I feel a little less upset, angry, and sad having thought of this idea.

Promise to self: I will follow it through.

Saturday, July 25

Opening A Five-Pound Bag Of Rice

It looks like there ought to be a way to rip a bag of jasmine rice open by the strings, but I can't figure it out.

I Really Need To Learn More Spanish

I gotta learn more Spanish!

What the heck is the word for "too?" Not "trop." Not "troppo." Not "mucho." What is it?

Hey wait a minute...what is "too" in Latin? I supposedly know that language. Where'd it go?

It's not "tantus." Not "si." Shoot!

But at least I remembered that "but" in Spanish is "pero," not an "m" word. What w/ me already overusing "mas" in my conversation, throwing in "mas" again to mean something else, or guessing "ma," would only confuse the conversation even more. Thank you, VivirLatino authors, for using that word so much I've finally started to remember it.

Also--it's really hard to have a conversation about merchandise when I not only can't say "too big," but forgot how to say "small" and thus can't describe what I want, either ("smaller")!

Wednesday, July 22

Childhood Best Friend

That childhood best friend I referred to a couple of posts ago?
I Google-stalked her again, and something finally came up.
She's had a baby.



Tuesday, July 21

Cross-Class Friendships

I talked about this to my partner after I blogged it, and he had an incredible response (or, rather, responses).

I wrote a lot of it down meaning to blog it, but I think I might just keep it as a diary entry.

But two key points:

  1. I've got him. If I don't know how to handle something, I can step back and talk to him about how an interaction with any friend or acquaintance is making me feel.
  2. I'm too embarrassed about my troubles to write them here--that's why I'm not publishing the whole conversation--but he phrased shit I live with in a way that sounds pretty bleak. And he said, "When people get close, sometimes they talk about the shit going on in their lives." So I need to--as is the solution for a lot of social problems in my life--JUST LISTEN. (And stop intellectually categorizing and analyzing everything that comes into my ears from people.)

My partner is so helpful.

That said, and me having snuck behind his back while he's gone to blog this, I'm going to respect his wishes that I stop exacerbating my repetitive stress injury and get of the computer.

Good night!

I Have No Cross-Class Friendships

I have my needs met--and have surplus.

I have no experience maintaining friendships with people who don't have their needs met, even if I happen to make one through a chance spark.

I don't think I have successfully maintained any of the few I've made ( / the one I seriously built back in my childhood before I failed to maintain it).

Increasing Poverty In American Suburbs

A while ago, I remember analysts predicting that as urban landlords raised rent knowing neighborhoods' new tenants could afford it / as cities raised property taxes knowing neighborhoods' new owners could afford it, poor people would end up only being able to find affordable housing in the suburbs. Only it wouldn't be so affordable as the face value--it'd take a lot more of their time and energy to survive--because there'd be fewer amenities per square mile. Or something like that.

Thinking of France got me thinking of such suburbs.

I thought, "Can I imagine names of suburbs of the Twin Cities resonating the way some Paris suburbs resonate in France? Sounding like saying 'Compton' or like 'South side?'"

And I realized I could. I can imagine an exact one. I could see people moving there from the Twin Cities proper if rents / taxes got too high.


I know one thing--I'd be far more scared to live in a dangerous place that's far from hundreds of thousands of other people than I would be to live in a dangerous place that's close to them. I really hope people don't get forced to 1) move (moving sucks) and 2) get even more stranded than can happen by being forced to live in an urban bubble of cheap rents.

French Income/Wealth Gap + Socialing Health Care Costs

When I stayed in France for a while, I knew a man who was 2nd-in-charge at a pretty large company.

I ate at his house a couple of times. He had a full-sized minivan, a lot of privacy in his neighborhood and a lot of landscaping / no lack of comfort in his house...
...but not marble everywhere, either.

At the time, I think back on him and wonder if he was one of the European executives who allegedly don't make much more than a few double-digits times bottom-of-the-company workers.

Did I possibly see a typical French "top 1%" person's house? It really wasn't that much different than my other friend's parents' house, which is probably a typical French "top 20%" person's house, and not too terribly much different from my other friend's parents' house, which might be a typical French "top 50%" person's house.

I mean, maybe he was only "top 20%" himself and I'm overestimating his income percentile.

But what if I really did see the life someone in the top 1%, and that's all he got as a member of the top 1%, with the rest of the portion of the country's GDP that he'd be allowed to take home in America going towards things like health care instead?

Congo Rape And Murder And Theft -promoting Companies Named

I have trouble w/ PDFs on this computer, so here's a longer list than what the bigger press is reporting so far, according to what I could search, of companies that Global Witness named as buying minerals from militias controlling the eastern Congo (and perpetrating all sorts of horrors on those who live there to keep that control):

Voici la liste de ces entreprises publiée par Global Witness : Belgique : Trademet, Traxys, SDE, STI et Speciality Metals ; Thaïlande : THAISARCO (détenue par la société britannique AMC) ; Royaume-Uni : Afrimex, AMC ; Malaisie : Malaysian Smelting Corporation, Berhad ; Chine : African Ventures Ltd ; Inde : Met Trade India Ltd ; Russie : Eurosib logistics JSC. Consulter le rapport complet pour avoir une liste plus exhaustive et connaître les statistiques des exportations de la RDC sur
That would be:
  • Trademet (Belgium)
  • Traxys (Belgium)
  • SDE (Belgium)
  • STI (Belgium)
  • Specialty Metals (Belgium)
  • THAISARCO (Thailand; held by AMC of the UK)
  • Afrimex (UK)
  • AMC (UK)
  • Malaysian Smelting Corporation (Malaysia)
  • Berhad (Malaysia)
  • African Ventures Ltd (China)
  • Met Trade India Ltd (India)
  • Eurosib Logistics JSC (Russia)

Overpaying Taxes

I'm thinking about paying taxes that by law I don't have to.

Is this a ridiculous idea?

Ever since I read The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, I decided I didn't want to hunt for tax-deductible donations anymore--when & if I donated money, I'd pay 100% attention to my desire to donate to the organization and 0% attention to whether or not I'd get a discount at tax time.

But another part of that book keeps sticking with me--the part about tax-deductibility allowing wealthy people to put a significant chunk of their money into something they like instead of into the general tax pool. The related part about how the general tax pool is far more weighted towards really helping the poor than the donation pool is (the donation pool is far more weighted towards keeping rich people's favorite symphonies, colleges, etc. open).

The book relates the story of a foundation board member who told George Soros, "No--it's our money. You would have had to pay it to everybody in the form of taxes if not for what this foundation allows you to do with it" when Soros said something like, "It's my money, dammit!"

I'm no George Soros.

But what if I donated at my usual rate and paid the general taxes I could legally write off?

Is it similar to or the opposite of refusing to pay part or all of your general income taxes because you disapprove of much of what they fund (war, giveaways to the rich, etc.)?
(And though I haven't ever gotten serious in thoughts about withholding parts of my taxes against the law, how funny would it be to do both?)

Monday, July 20

Tenderloin Beef

At an Asian grocery store, I asked the deli what cut of meat they used in their things w/ chopped-up pieces of meat. They said to ask the butcher in the meat department. The meat department said "tenderloin." I don't know if it's true, but I ended up on a tenderloin hunt and cut-of-meat price comparisons, trying to get a good deal on meat for stir-frying.

Recently I saw tenderloin come in both "tenderloin filet" as "choice" beef for about $7/lb, and "tenderloin filet mignon" as "angus" beef for about $14/lb.

The butcher at this grocery store told me that "choice" = "plain old cow," but that a tenderloin is equally tender on a "plain old cow" as an "angus." It's just got less flavor.

But if you're doing a lot of seasoning, it's a discounted way to get super-tender chunks in fast cooking like stir-frying. Hopefully this will get me eating more greens from markets (which save me money if I actually eat them instead of letting them rot and buying a burrito).

Recent headlines from the blog "Black and Missing but Not Forgotten:"