31 March 2009

Our First Visitor | Chris iv

Sunday, 22 March

We had one day left with Chris and we have a very short agenda. Chris wanted to go to M5, where the Mythbusters live. The Internet gave us no indication we'd get a tour, but the address was easy enough to find. And Chris really just wanted to see the building. His low expectations were fulfilled. M5 is not found easily located. The directions sent us to a one way road - going away from the way we wanted to go. We tried to circumvent that, and ended up going up a very steep him paved with cobble. Henry (my little car) objected and I half expected us to roll back down the hill. Once we did find it. We were faced with the most polite "go away" I've ever read. Thanks Mythbusters.

Then we went to the Golden Gate Bridge. We had driven over it, but never stopped on it. We decided to stop on the Marin County side and take pictures showing San Francisco. I was not prepared for the number of people who would be doing the same on a Sunday afternoon. I also found myself getting annoyed at teens standing along the wall "taking it all in" when I needed their sports for the best picture. Does this qualify me as a "fuddy - duddy?"

There were significantly fewer people actually on the bridge, probably because the wind was strong enough to lift a small child. We walked a little less than halfway across and took more pictures. There's not much more to say about the Golden Gate Bridge. It's gorgeous. If you're here, you should visit it.

The last thing we decided to do was eat at Tex Wasabi's. Jesse & Chris both watch a lot of The Food Network. Tex Wasabi's is owned by Guy Fieri, who is one of Jesse's favorites. The restaurant is in Santa Rosa, which is less than an hour north from San Francisco. We didn't know what to expect - California has a tendency to be on the "hoity" side of "toity," and Guy Fieri is relatively famous. We were pleased and maybe a little underwhelmed. The inside seemed small, but I think there are several floors that were not in use on a leisurely weekend. I'm not sure if the food was worth the drive, but I'm leaning toward "indeed."

We decided to each get an appetizer, main course, and dessert. We figured that was the best way to sample as much as possible. The appetizers stole the show. Chris had pulled pork sliders, Jesse had fish tacos, and I had egg rolls. The entrees were average and the desserts (breathmint pie for Chris and peach cobbler for me - Jesse doesn't do most sweets) were phenomenal. I took pictures plenty of pictures.

It was at Tex Wasabi's that I decided to start skipping entrees at restaurants. I tend to order "safe" foods that don't do a lot to challenge. I also tend to wish I had room for dessert, because desserts are something I like to make, and therefore something I like to sample. Appetizers tend to have smaller portions and plenty of food. So I'm done dealing with the middle man. I'm excited to put my proposal into practice, and will let you know how it goes.

And then our visit was complete. We took a long(er than desired) drive home through Napa and Sonoma Valleys. The grapes have already been harvested, but the entire grape growing process looked very organized and therefore appealing to me.

Chris' visit was exactly what I needed. I had started to stress about money and to refuse to do anything social. Jesse and I were doing an okay job entertaining each other at home, but Chris forced us out into the bay area. Thanks to him, we saw some free entertainment that only whet our curiosity for more. As we were out with Chris, I thought of more things I wanted to do and more adventures we could take. It was a surprisingly positive experience - considering we were sitting on the floor and eating while standing up until the week Chris came. I never thought I couold be a good hostess without furniture. Now I'm adding that to the list of "things Jesse insisted would be fine, and were."

30 March 2009

Wagoner, The Fall Guy. Et Tu Obama?

The Obama Administration is asking the head of General Motors to resign. It's like when your mom (or the mafia) asks you to do something - as in it's not really a question so much as a polite order. This is probably my largest disappointment with the new administration. I expected (and noticed) this anti-working class stance from the Bush Administration. I really did not think it would continue. To me, it screams of a double standard and Mr. President, I am displeased.

I compare the struggling auto industry to the struggling lending industry. The government says the banks can't fail. I say the U.S. auto industry has an equal if not greater importance. Yes, banks need to lend. But people need to work. I keep reading about frozen markets and plans to get credit flowing. That tells me lenders aren't lending, yet people are surviving. On the other hand, when a plant closes, people don't make money. They can't pay rent. They can't feed their families. That to me is more immediate than helping a bank that's so far just held on to its money anyway. Yes, people need credit. But not more than they need food. I think the Bush Administration chose white collar over blue collar when it came time to admit the recession and look for a solution. Now I see the Obama Administration doing the same.

While the government set aside $700 billion for the lenders, the automakers had to beg and be humiliated for $14 billion. Now, the banks that got that money are still not lending it, and their heads are being left alone. The current administration is not asking the Citigroup CEO to step down. Citigroup did have to get rid of most of its board. But the Citigroup CEO just met with President Obama Friday. Why is it Rick Wagoner (who has put himself out there as a fighter) has to quit? Why must the working class representation in this recession be lambasted and punished in a way white collar representatives are not? It seems the White House just needed a "fall guy."

University of Maryland economist Peter Morici, a one-time critic of Wagoner who had called for him to resign but now believes he had "started to get it," said the administration has a "PR problem" regarding unpopular corporate bailouts.

"They are bailing out just about anybody that shows up and says they need cash. The public has grown weary of it and instead of throwing a banker to the wolves they have decided to throw Wagoner to the wolves," Morici said.

It's not fair. I know that sounds childish but it's true. It's not fair for Wagoner to be rushed out of his job after being with the company since 1977. I think - despite mistakes made - Wagoner has shown he is believes in General Motors and that needs to be recognized. Now I bet his severance will be gutted to ease public perception. While AIG CEO Edward Liddy is suddenly below the radar. I'm shaking my head with disgust.

29 March 2009

Our First Visitor | Chris iii.c

Saturday, 21 March

Pebble Beach
Our road trip was guided solely by a road atlas. I left my phone (and all of its mapping capabilities) at home. There are insets for certain cities, including Monterey. So we were able to see how close we were to Pebble Beach. I'm not a golfer, and neither is Jesse. But we both know Pebble Beach is a big deal, and Chris was really excited to see it. So we went. We drove further along the coast and saw some beautiful houses. Then we came to a guard.

He told us we were in fact on the way to the Pebble Beach Golf Course, and that it was $9.25 to drive by it. We turned around, thinking we had to be going the wrong way. But we weren't. It costs money to drive along the coast there, and we quickly saw why. The houses there are actually estates. And to call them ostentatious would be an understatement. Jesse & Chris fantasized about living there, having access to giant homes in an elite community, and minions to do things like get groceries and clean. I couldn't get into it though. That's not a lifestyle I want. If I can't clean my own house, then I have too much house. If I need someone to keep track of my stuff, I have too much stuff. Why would I pay someone to clean my mess? It's mine, and that's demeaning. I don't want to live behind a gate, even if it is along the coast. Thanks Pebble Beach, but no thanks.

Otherwise, the drive was beautiful. We were given a map showing a few points of interest along the way to the course. By then though, we were running out of daylight, and determined to get pictures of the course before it got dark. So we picked our scenic stops carefully. This is a picture from The Fanshell Overlook, which closes April 1 to June 1 while seals return tot have babies.

Cypress Lookout is also closed April 1 - June 1. I presume it's because you can probably see from seal births there. No one wants to disturb that.

The drive (and the highlighted stops along it) are all open to the public. There are places for picnics and other stops. There are restaurants, gift shops, and other golf courses. There is also the Pebble Beach Lodge. It's open, and is part of the guided tour. But I noticed none of the other people who had been with us on the road stopped inside. We did. We saw no reason not to, even though I'm sure we were only allowed inside by law. We did not "belong," and it was blatant.

We had to walk through the lodge to take pictures of the 18th hole. The view was lovely and we took our time taking pictures. Jesse became uncomfortable and went to wait outside. He said he didn't want to be around those people and I agreed. And then I asked why - if he didn't want to be in the same building - did he want to be their neighbor? No answer. I saw a black guy walking in as I was leaving. His double take was right out of a movie. And I did laugh.

We exhausted our daylight at Pebble Beach and drove home through Salinas. I have a friend from there and it fit with our Steinbeck theme. We didn't do anything cultural, or see anything interesting. But downtown looked fun. And the food at Norma's Diner was delicious.

Our First Visitor | Chris iii.b

Saturday 21 March

Santa Cruz
We stopped once more on the way to Santa Cruz. The sun had started win over the clouds, and we noticed we were on high cliffs. Jesse was down some imaginary path before I even got out of the car. Chris followed reluctantly and I opted to stay behind. I don't like to go through brush with exposed ankles. That's how you get Lyme Disease and that's not cool. I did take pictures though. It was pretty.

The rain had returned by the time we got to Santa Cruz. It added to the frustration of searching for the boardwalk. I mean I thought the boardwalk was the only thing going for Santa Cruz and we drove through the whole town (twice) without seeing any signs for it. We drove though Main Street at Jesse's suggestion and eventually found the boardwalk on the other side. Nice planning Santa Cruz.

It's been a long time since I was on a boardwalk. And I admit I forgot what it was like. There was the obligatory arcade and the food stands serving all things fried. There were Dippin' Dots, cotton candy stands ($3.75 these days for sugar and air), and lame games run by apathetic teens. There were the younger kids running from ride to ride calculating how many tickets they needed for each ride. There were the older kids flirting with the guy frying twinkies. And there were the adults trying to relive the good times. I enjoyed the boardwalk, and I do plan to go back on a sunnier day.

And then our planned trip was over. We had driven along the coast. We had walked the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. But we still had daylight. And decided that was all we needed to keep driving.

We kept heading south along the coast until we got to Monterey. We parked at San Carlos beach and walked along Cannery Row. Along the way there were signs explaining the economic history of the original businesses along the row and the impact both John Steinbeck and Hollywood had. Now it's mostly for tourists and is full of shops and hotels. Still, it's along the coast and has a lot of scenic spots. We did not go to the aquarium, which I've heard is lovely. So we'll be going back to Monterey.

We saw people diving and fishing along Fisherman's Wharf. Apparently there's a canyon in Monterey Bay. It's as deep as the Grand Canyon and is part of the reason the aquarium is where it is. There's all kinds of underwater exploring happening underneath those tranquil sunsets. Who knew?

The best part of Monterey Bay's Fisherman's Wharf were the birds. Not the seagulls, but the other ones who are so far nameless. I mean the seagulls are nice to look at, and they seem to have a lot of personality, but the black birds with the blue highlights and white whiskers held our attention. First off, they're black - which struck me as odd for a beach bird. And then we saw one get some kelp, fly to a rock, and start a ritual. At first we thought (s)he was going to puke, you know - to feed some chicks we couldn't see. But that didn't entirely make sense, since the bird hadn't actually eaten the kelp. So we watched for at least five minutes. I recorded it to give you a taste.

So we saw Santa Cruz. And we saw Monterey. But we still had some daylight. And the map said Pebble Beach was just around the corner.

28 March 2009

Our First Visitor | Chris iii

Saturday, 21 March

The agenda for Saturday was to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Cruz. I was told the Boardwalk there was worth a stroll. Jesse and I had planned to go a week before, but it was raining. It was threatening to rain when Chris was here too, but I was determined to go on a road trip. Jesse & Chris weren't exactly against the trip, but they were both hungover, and therefore not exactly for it either. I told Chris I still wanted to go and I told Jesse I'd go without him. They had been inspired.

I've allowed myself to get carried away with the Google Maps. The really short version of our trip in 7 stops:

View Larger Map

Clouds or not, the pacific coast is pretty. It was kind of difficult to watch the scenery and drive at the same time. There were people like us on the road (who were out for a drive) and there were other people whose regular Saturday errands were being interrupted by us "Sunday drivers." I found myself speeding up, then remembering the drive was part of the ends, not just the means.

Jesse, Chris and I stopped at Pomponio State Beach. I'm not sure why - of all the beaches we passed - that one smelled the worst. There was a dead sea animal on shore. It had been poked, stabbed, and otherwise "teenage-boyed," but was still far from being completely decomposed. I felt bad for the little guy, and showed my respect by taking pictures from a distance.

Chris and I took some pictures while Jesse did what he is wont to do - he disappeared. He wanders, especially when he's close a body of water. Eventually Jesse found the spot that felt just right. And when Chris and I caught up, he was stripped down to his trunks and jumping off sand dunes. I think he had been planning to go for a swim, 50 degree weather and all. Actually I know he wanted to at least test the water, because he asked if I brought a towel. Luckily I, (knowing Jesse quite well) conveniently forgot to bring towels.

We stayed on Pomponio Beach a little longer, watching birds and happening upon a seashell. Then we got back in the car and back on task.

25 March 2009

Our First Visitor | Chris ii

Friday, 20 March

We didn't plan a lot for Friday, because the NDSU was playing in the NCAA Tournament. Our official agenda consisted of finding a bar with drink specials and DirecTV, and parking ourselves there at 9AM. That didn't happen. If it had, I assure our day would have been much more interested, and probably a lot less memorable.

Again, the short version of our day is easy enough to follow. I'm adding numbers to the descriptions, so no matter which balloon you click, you'll know where you fall in our trip. Today there are 7 stops:

View Larger Map

We started at the day at Giordano Brothers. It did not take long to realize that was a mistake.

Jesse: "You guys got any specials?"
Guy: "The game. The game's the special. It costs an arm and a leg."
Jesse: "Oh. Okay."

The it was time to order. Jesse and Chris ordered beers and I ordered my usual Captain Morgan & Coke and was denied.

Guy: "We don't have spirits."

So there we were, pretending a sandwich shop was a bar, paying $4 for un-special beers, and not having any rum. On top of that, we were watching college basketball, meaning (even with my interest in NDSU) my attention could not be held. I spent a lot of time taking in my surroundings, noticing the delicious looking sandwiches, and all the Pennsylvania artifacts. There was a giant Steeler hovering in the corner, and a sticker from Slippery Rock University, which is Kate's alma mater. But black and yellow (and yellow and green) only went so far. By halftime I was glad to go meet some ladies for lunch.

I met some of the women from work at the Cheesecake Factory. There's something about seeing work-people outside of work (and having cocktails with them at 11AM) that makes the world seem right. There's also my love of cheesecake. I ate myself sick, then met the boys who had gone to a sushi restaurant. Jesse wants everyone to love sushi. Chris was willing to try and did end up liking Jesse's recommendation. Great for them. I'm still staying away.

From sushi (and sake jello shots) we walked back toward the Haight. Our eventual goal was the Mission, and we did get there. We stopped at a restroom, and then at a bar and eventually at the place that became the highlight of Jesse's day: Taqueria Pancha Villa. I didn't eat because I was brimming with cheesecake. But Jesse designed a fajita burrito in his mind, and conveyed it to the burrito maker. He asked for something that was not on the menu and she delivered it perfectly. He was thrilled. He swore he needed help finishing it, but managed on his own just fine. Chris was focused on not accidentally eating any vegetables.

From there we took the BART to a grocery store near home, and got some bagels for our Saturday road trip. We had big plans. Once we got home, I stayed in for the rest of the night. My stomach was less than pleased with caloric intake, and threatened to clean house. Jesse and Chris went out though. And from the noises I heard when they came home, they had a great time.

24 March 2009

Our First Visitor | Chris

Thursday, 19 March

While I washed the upholstery, cleaned the dog hairs off the couch, and looked up new couch covers, Jesse took Chris on a walk through North Beach and over to Fisherman's Wharf. Chris had his first burger from In N Out (which he loved) and we met at a bar named The Saloon. Jesse and I had been to that bar once before. It seems like a good neighborhood bar. I can see the people who were there Thursday being there several days a week, just hanging out with their bar friends. It won't be our neighborhood bar though - I could not stop staring at the dust that had accumulated on the walls. It was high up, and appears to have been thrown from ceiling fans for years and years. I don't think it falls onto the patrons - that would be gross. Still, dust that sits and grows and is never addressed does not sit well with the same girl who was overjoyed to wash couch cushions. Thanks but no thanks.

Our adventure officially began once we left The Saloon. If you want the short version, just single click on the balloon. There are eight in all:

View Larger Map

We went to Coit Tower first. It was our first daytime visit and we got to go inside and see the murals. We also took a sketchy elevator up to the top so we could take more pictures of the city. The views are okay, but obstructed by both the design of the building and the glass put up to keep anyone from falling into a world of pain - if not death.

It was all downhill from there. We walked down my favorite San Francisco staircase. It seems more open to me than other steep staircases, probably because no one parks on the hill. It's not necessarily a site to see. But if you're in town with me, you likely will. The staircase was just a means to an end though. We walked through the financial district and caught a bus to Alamo Square.

Chris wanted to see the Painted Ladies - aka that row of houses from Full House. We're not sure which house was supposed to be the house used in the show, but I don't think it matters. Alamo Square is technically walking distance from Haight Ashbury. No one would have faulted us for taking a bus, but Jesse (as party leader) didn't want to chance it. So we walked another mile and a half. We might have walked more, if we hadn't spotted a bar with more than 100 kinds of rum. Hobson's saved the day.

We sat and drank and decided to go home. I'm not sure why - I think we were going to find another bar closer to home. Either way, we took a bus and a cab to undo the walking we had done. We ate like we had never tasted food before, and promptly fell asleep. I suppose we had done enough.

The pictures from Thursday are all under the "pictures of us" label to your right. But I've also made a wee little slideshow.

23 March 2009

March Madness Indeed

Believe it or not, I've been to three cities, dozens of towns and probably four or five counties since I last wrote. We had an amazing time with Chris, and did a lot of things we'd thought about doing but never actually did. As soon as I figure out which beach pics go with which part of the coast, I'll tell you all about it.

Today I just waned to share several small successes. I've accomplished nearly all of my goals for March. Some (like working out every single day) weren't so much for realizing as they were for wishing. But the majority were concrete, and attainable. They also met the requirements I set in my 90 day challenge. I'm better off at the (near) end of March than I was near the end of January. That's a plus and I'm proud of that. So I have decided to share.

I passed the test for the California driver's license. Eventually that means I'll get to rent a cargo van using my debit card. Immediately it means I've taken another step toward finishing this eternal move from state to state. It'll be another 4 - 6 weeks for the actual license to arrive. So I'm staying away from anything that requires a picture ID.

I compiled some notes I've kept from job to job. I taken advice given and notes from presentations made and saved them via Google. I can access my Google Documents through my phone, so I always have the lessons learned at my fingertips. Mobile knowledge is the best knowledge.

I updated my address with the library (another step toward being moved), organized all of our recipes in a recipe book I created, used my back up drive to replace some files I deleted, and visited the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. I read two books and plan to read two more before the month is finished. All of the above tasks were sketched on a pad sometime during the last week of February. I still have two tasks I haven't started, and I don't want to jinx them. But I'll let you know as soon as they're completed.

~ Danie D.

Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

19 March 2009

Thursday. Fun Day.

This is what it looks like when the stars align. It's me, in front of a bunch of dryers.

My awesome Thursday started with a trip to the DMV (I know!) to get my license. I read the entire manual this morning in preparation. I also brought my passport, birth certificate and social security card - just in case. I can't take any more DMV issues. I went with my friend Mariana, who also needed her license. She recently got married and changed her name. And while the Social Security Administration accepted her documents as proof enough to change her name, the California Department of Motor Vehicles did not. Mariana ended up having to sit (her version here) and wait for me. Fortunately everything at the DMV was moving quickly. I even got the missing month sticker for my license plate without hassle. If I had brought the proper ticket with me, the whole thing would have been written off. Instead I grabbed a different unpaid $60 ticket. So I will have to make a fourth trip to the DMV. But I won't need to stand in line. So that's a plus.

Jesse and I then went to the airport to pick up our friend Chris - who usually is called and answers to "Homo" when we're not in San Francisco. On the way home, we spotted a couch left out for trash just two blocks from our place. As I was inspecting it for remnants of bugs or dead bodies, its former owner suggested I take it. She was moving. It's not in perfect condition - she had a short haired animal that shed quite a bit - but the couch certainly has life left. There are no rips or tears in the fabric. It's orange, which we were considering for paint. Plus everything is removable and therefore washable. I stripped it before Jesse & Chris (I didn't even have to lift!) brought it inside and scurried to the laundry washing place. I called my mom to share my excitement, and she recommended I wash everything twice and in different machines to get as much of the pet hair out as possible. And since I wouldn't let her buy us a couch, she's mailing me $10 to cover the cost of the washing. Moms are awesome - even though it seems mine has not been getting as many MRIs as an MS patient should. Don't worry. I'm watching her.

So all is grand - minus the cable car worker who stopped in to ask me (while I was clearly typing to you) if I was lonely. He also asked if I'd be lonely later tonight. If he asks, my name is Sarah. I thought I left "lying about my name" in Vegas. Guess not.

~ Danie D.

Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

17 March 2009

Buying More. Spending Less.

I canceled the "No Buy Month" for March, even though it was a resounding success in February. I wasted less than $11 on discretionary spending, changed the way I shop for groceries, and found free ways to enjoy the city. I can't complain about February, but going for March would be too much. I totally believe I can go forward with my techniques for cost effective living without saying "no" to everything.
One thing I learned about me: I love eating in restaurants. Back in January I would have told you I felt no way in particular about it, that a good meal is a good meal. But I miss restaurants. I miss everything from waiting to be seated, to water refills and bread, to being rushed out the door. We used to eat out whenever we wanted. If we wanted burgers, we went to Red Robin. If we wanted wings, we went to PT's. If we wanted cheese on cheese, we went to Maggianos. It seemed sporadic at the time, but I bet my checkbook tells a different story. I didn't buy shoes, clothes, coffee, or sweets in February. And at the end of the month, all I wanted was a nice dinner. I didn't get it. I'm saving it for a special occasion. But I do have a brunch date planned.
The best thing I learned: how to save the most on groceries. My new thrill comes from checking the bottom of my grocery store receipt to see how much I saved. I honestly get a kick out if it and gush about it for at least an hour. I saved $48 (37%) off our last bill. We planned meals based on what was on sale - even though that meant going to the grocery store in a Saturday, when certain deals were active. I clipped coupons ahead of time and I discovered P&G's e-coupons. If you go to that website, you can add coupons right to your grocery store club card. I tested it. It works. Even the woman who checked me out said "wow" as my discounts were applied. She also (seriously) asked me if I were having a boy, but we won't hold that against her.
I've also managed to have some adventures and take some pictures. I'll post those soon. Right after I frame my grocery store receipt.

06 March 2009

I Just Need A Moment

I've become angrier and angrier in the last eleven hours, even though I was asleep for most of it. I need a moment to explain, and hopefully get over it before I explode on an unsuspecting (and not technically deserving) Jesse.

I checked on my car Thursday. He was right as I left him - parked on a hill with his wheels facing the proper direction, permit properly displayed, license plate registered in the proper state, and with a $60 ticket on the windshield.

I only have one sticker on my plate, because that's what I got at the DMV. Yes, it's odd. It's so odd, I asked about it when I was there.

"[Do] I only get one sticker?" ~ our heroine
"Yes you only get one sticker." ~ person at window #17
That person let me leave the DMV improperly tagged. As soon as I calm down, I will be writing to the DMV. I will ask if that employee has any relatives working for the Department of Parking & Traffic. It smells like a racket to me. Any DPT employee has to know I can't display a sticker I don't have. That same employee must also be able to deduce I have nothing to personally gain from getting a $60 ticket.

This may mean I have to go back to the DMV. I was planning to go anyway for my license, but that was still a week or more away. Of course I can't go to the DMV today, because it's closed. California is broke remember, and state offices are closed today to save money. That also means I can't pay for my license with my tax refund, since no one knows when it will come. However I can still get ticketed through the weekend, as parking tickets come from the city. My sleep was disturbed all night.

Google changed it's iGoogle designed again and added the "Home" tab. Google had done this before, and I responded by no longer using the iGoogle feature.

I strongly dislike the "Home" tab. It takes up it's own row, and pushes the rest of my widgets to the side, squeezing them and making them ugly. Also, Google tried to be helpful, but allowing me to compose email from my iGoogle. But there is no rich-text formatting, which I enjoy. So I opted to use "full Gmail." But full Gmail opens in another window, when it used to open in another tab. This may seem like a lot of nothing to you, but I had streamlined iGoogle to be as efficient as possible, as this "Home" tab screws it all up.

Chris Brown & Rihanna
Chris Brown was charged with two felonies for attacking Rihanna. It annoys me that people only care because they're famous. Domestic violence happens every single day. If you've never paid attention to domestic violence before, I'm glad it's never affected your life. But Rihanna walked away. A lot of people don't. Rihanna walked back. A lot of people do. I don't think he'll go to jail. A lot of abusers don't. This is the system. This is the reality. This is the cycle of abuse. This is not new. This is not either of them being a poor example. It's both of them following examples they've probably seen several times. It's easy for outsiders to question their problems, wonder what could possibly stress them so, debate Rihanna's self esteem issues, and dictate the standards by which those two should live. But I object to her being the poster child for awareness. She's clearly not taking a stand for other victims. She asked the court not to make Brown stay away from her. A woman who can afford to stand on her own and leave (but chooses to stay) is not the story. The story could and should be about the system, the cycle, the victims who don't get away, or the children who watch daddy beat mommy and who wonder why mommy stays. Rihanna is capable of changing her life. I care more about the people who can't.

President Obama
He's traveling again today. Spending money we don't have to watch 25 police cadets graduate. I also applaud those new officers. But I'll do it for free from San Francisco. Why hasn't the President read my argument for him to actually work from home?

I also scratched my nose so hard it started bleeding. There is a positive from today though:

Roxana Saberi
A former coworker of mine was arrested in Iran. She had been there for six years and was about to publish a book about the country. She was arrested a month ago and no one has heard from her in that time. I was originally annoyed that (while the people who actually know her were calling their representatives) the entire minority journalist population asked me to sign a petition on Facebook. Excuse me? A woman is being put through what I can only imagine to be awful and a network of journalists is only concerned enough to post something on its respective wall? Her life is at stake. Please tell me you've got more than a Facebook petition.

I wrote to Secretary of State Clinton. I also sent her a text message. She did not reply, but this morning I read Hillary is aware, and that the United States is working to at least make sure Roxana is safe. Roxana's troubles properly trivialize mine. I'm still annoyed, but I am very happy to have Hillary Clinton on the case. I think her office's efforts will apply the proper pressure. Toady they're saying Roxana should be released "soon." According to that petition, more than 2,000 people are waiting.

04 March 2009

27 Days Later

Remember Donnell? He's my nephew and today he's 27 days old. So far I see a strong resemblance to me. I mean I don't have dimples, but look at that smirk. It's so "Danie." My brother says the baby has an "attitude." Clearly my brother is wrong. This baby is wise, possibly already witty and clever. But he certainly doesn't have an attitude. Derek called it a "what are you doing? Why are you holding me that way?" attitude. My brother says Donnell also grunts his displeasure. My mother says she has yet to be the recipient of any grunting, so clearly it's operator error on my brother's part.

I'll meet the baby next month. You'd be silly not to expect a full report.
~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

02 March 2009

Recession | The Good Stuff

They may be difficult to notice, but the recession has caused some positives. I've noticed them, and have decided to share. I know it's not easy to see good on a Monday morning. It may be even worse if you're unemployed, supporting someone who is, about to be laid off, watching your home value plummet, or feeling guilty because you're not affected and feel like you have to act as if you are. There are lots of reasons to be down this year, but once the world rights itself, there will be long lasting benefits - courtesy of the recession.

When there is less money, there is more time. I learned this last month when I forbade myself from buying the nonessentials. The majority of errands (for me anyway) were based on finding an opportunity for convenience, going somewhere, and buying the desired fix. No money means being content with what I already have, and avoiding stores full of things I can use but don't need. I have more time to myself because I'm not shopping. I also imagine if we had kids, we'd be spending more time with them as well. We might play board games and make staying home more fun. The recession is forcing people to make the best with what they have.

It really could be worse. There is a new definition of "awful" now, which I think helps people keep things in perspective. Working weekends might have been "awful" at one point - back when "working" was a given. Now it's a pleasure to be asked. Rising college tuition is & was "awful," but not as bad as pulling your kid out because you can't afford to send them anymore. It's easier to see what's actually terrible these days and therefore easier to dismiss the small(er) stuff.

People are caring, and acting. I've read volunteer rates are up. People know it's bad and they want to help. Without cash to donate, time is all a lot of people have to give. I tried to volunteer around thanksgiving. The first weekend opening was in mid-January. I was pleased to know that. People are also paying more attention to government. Hopefully we've learned it does not pay to simply let the leaders lead. It's time for involved participation *after election day. Even if people don't know what they as individuals can do, they know it behooves them to watch investors and politicians and determine how their actions affect us all. The economy is so bad, people are inspired to be more involved in their communities and with their country.

Better physical health may be over that next hurdle. Some restaurants have recession-ized their menus. Smaller portions for less money. That tells me Americans (the ones who still eat out) will be eating less. It gives me hope for obesity rates. Maybe parents will cook more and give their kids healthier meals. Or maybe they'll still eat out, and just eat less. Either way, saving calories will be better for our overall health. We stand to emerge leaner and healthier.

I've made other assumptions about recession benefits. Despite my feelings about organized religion, I think it's good more people going to church. That shows me people are looking for hope and camaraderie. They're possibly expecting divine intervention, which I think they'll find through community support. I see more people choosing repairs over buying new, more recycling, more reading, maybe more donations from people like me who want a higher tax break. It seems to me people are looking for ways to give, ways to be better neighbors, better employees, and better Americans. I can't see us going wrong with that.

~ Danie D.

Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry