Friday, August 29, 2008


I'm staggered.

Four people are running for the White House and only two of them are white men.

None of them are from New England or the South.

Can there be any "conventional wisdom" about this election?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Eggplant Dolphin

This eggplant came from the farmers' market. I was immediately reminded of the Play With Your Food books, only it didn't need any alteration to look just like what it looks like.

Monday, August 25, 2008

They're Our Employees

When June 30 came and went without a FY08-09 budget, the Governator proposed reducing state employees' wages to the federal minimum, which is $6.55/hour, with the difference to be paid after the budget was passed. The State Controller (who signs the checks) refused to comply, saying that temporarily reducing and then reinstating state workers' pay would be very difficult to do. Arnold sued.

Driving home while listening to the California Report on Arnold's proposal, I was thinking that really, the salaries of the legislators should be reduced to minimum wage. I thought that might help focus their minds. While looking up how much Cali state legislators get paid, I found this report, which shocked me. I wrote the following to my governor:

Dear Governor:

Will some of the 200,000 state employees whose wages are being reduced to $6.55 an hour include the legislators? Maybe then all parties will agree to focus on the issue until there is a solution, making one appear more quickly. I understand that you already decline your salary, or I would suggest that yours be reduced as well. If the lowest paid state employees' incomes are reduced, then those of the highest paid, including UC and CSU executives, state investment officers, and the legislature, should be as well.

I suggest that the salaries of those whose total is over $100,000 per year be reduced. Even reducing those incomes just by half would save a lot of money, and those people would still be able to buy milk and gasoline.

I then sent this email to my representative in Sacramento, asking her to note that my proposal would include each of them. I got a form email back thanking me for my interest in the budget and squarely blaming the Republicans' for the lack of a resolution.

They are 56 days late on a budget, and nothing is getting done in Sac because the Governator has refused to sign anything into law until the state has a budget. In the meantime, twenty-five legislators have left for Denver to attend the made-for-TV scripted spectacle that is the Democratic National Convention, just as, I'm sure, the other 15 will head out for Minneapolis-St. Paul next week.

I'm outraged. These people work for us! I want to yell at them, "Get back to work NOW!"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Vaulting Terror

The first couple of years I attended CSH, three days of the week we had normal PE class (complete with dodgeball) and two days of the week we had gymnastics. Yes, gymnastics, with tumbling mats, a balance beam, uneven parallel bars, and a vaulting horse (which has since been replaced by a thing that looks like a big tongue).

I wonder if they can still afford the liability insurance for that equipment.

Watching the gymnastics meets at the Olympics, I was suddenly reminded of the terror the vaulting horse held for me in middle school. I'm not sure why this year I was reminded of it; certainly I've never forgotten that we had gymnastics class as I still know how to do a cartwheel, and I've seen pieces of gymnastics meets many times since 1980. One moment I was watching the event and the next I was remembering one of the girls in my class calling out "Go!" and each girl's name as they started running toward the horse. She was ahead of me in line so I didn't have to worry about whether she was going to call out my name or not (I didn't think she would have if my turn had been ahead of hers).

I was one of the least athletic girls in the class and I would always, always, have preferred to be reading a book. I disliked gymnastics less than I disliked PE, mostly because in gymnastics I wasn't picked second-to-last for a team that I would then let down during the game. Even so, I sucked at almost everything but stretching, and had to face mocking about how I couldn't even do this or that in gymnastics.

The thing I sucked at the most, however, was the vaulting horse. An excellent student would run down the path, hit the springboard, and jump over the horse with just her palms touching it, and land on the mats behind, hands in the air a' la Nadia Comaneci. The other successful students would run down the path, hit the springboard, and jump onto the horse in a crouch, then jump down onto the mat and "Y" their arms.

I would run down the path, hit the springboard, and just bounce enough to get my hands flat on the horse. I was never convinced that I was running fast enough to jump high enough to not crash directly into the horse. I never got high enough to raise my knees to even get on the horse. The teacher would give me several attempts, and I would fail at them all, out of fear.

Eventually the 1980's and aerobics came along. I think younger kids continued to take gymnastics, but in 7th and 8th grades we alternated aerobics with PE.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Los Juegos Olimpicos Parte Dos

It's been great to be seeing so many athletes and sports. Telemundo is following the Spanish-speaking countries and Brazil very closely (of course), rather than focusing on the Americans and their rivals in each given sport (the Chinese in gymnastics, the Jamaicans in track, etc.). Michael Phelps didn't swim the 50-meter free, so I wonder if it was even televised on NBC. The Frenchmen placed second and third, and the Brazilian who won the gold must not have been the favorite, because Cielo Filho sobbed through the second half of the Hino Nacional Brasileiro, winning my heart over the Americans, who stood on the podium not crying, not laughing, and not singing, but chatting during "The Star Spangled Banner."

Michael Phelps must know the words by now.

It became apparent to me during the gymnastics meet that the Russians were Brazil's rivals for these Games, while the new Cold War was playing out between the Chinese and the US (remember when all the American fingers would get pointed at the East Germans and the Soviets?). I watched that meet on NBC before I watched it on Telemundo and NBC showed just the two teams while Telemundo showed gymnasts from Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Russia, Germany, Australia, and Poland.

I've also watched lots of volleyball, and seen chunks of judo, tae kwon do, rowing, futbol, diving (synchro and solo), and handball. I'm a few days behind everyone else but I don't care about spoilers. I watch no sports in the rest of my life, and in fact haven't even watched this much of the Summer Games in years, so I have no real loyalties to individual countries' teams. And again, since the commentary is in Spanish, I don't watch anything with preconceived notions about who's going to do what except for those (Bolt, Gay, Liukin, Phelps, Torres) I've heard about in the American press.

I root for everyone who's striving in these Games, because everyone is doing the best he or she can, and because I don't really care who wins. "It's not winning or losing, it's how you play the game." I know that philosophy would not have brought these athletes this far, but I'm just watching.

Los Juegos Olimpicos

I'm watching the Olympics on Telemundo via DVR. This is so that recording the Olympics doesn't interfere with recording anything on the SciFi channel, but it's also provided the unintentional benefit of improving my Spanish ear. While I can't understand a single thing said on La Raza's radio station, Telemundo's announcers speak so clearly and slowly that I can follow a lot of what's being said, if I want to. I never want to listen to the comments about athletes' performances, and this way I don't have to. I just turn off my Spanish ear.

I chuckle when the text on the screen says "baloncesto" or "balonmano" and in a blur of words from Jessi Losada I hear "basketball" or "handball." The same is true of the athlete's names, which make me wonder if the announcers just really practice the sounds. The interview with the proprietress of a roast duck restaurant was conducted in English and Spanish, with English being the common language between Leti Coo and the Chinese. I watched NBC prerecorded interviews with Michael Phelps and with Dara Torres in which their words were muffled, but not totally blocked out, by the Spanish translation. This made it easier for me to understand the Spanish. The interviews with the Spanish-speaking athletes I mostly can't understand as the athletes speak "regular" Spanish.

I also got a kick out of the Canadian synchro diving team member hwo counted off, "Une, deaux, trois, GO!"

On Telemundo, they're pronouncing "Beijing" properly, with a hard "J" as in "juice" and not the "zh" as in "leisure" that's being said on NBC.

Finally, I've had two dreams in Spanish. In the dreams my Spanish is perfect.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Was Too Busy, Now Too Much Pain

During the weeks between New Mexico and Portland everything was full tilt boogie, with little time to write a post even if my head had been in the game, which it wasn't.

This week my head was in the game, and I threw my back out on Tuesday... The serious pain kicked in Friday night and I'm sitting as little as possible. I've been watching the Olympics while rocking side to side on my hips, or lying on the couch reading. I've also been working, which sucks. I went to the chiropractor today and now I'm hoping on the way up out of this pain.

So I've come to the end of this post as I've come to the end of my wanting to sit anymore. I'm sorry, as I have had some ideas to write about (finally!) and I just can't do it. But I am thinking about the blog... I haven't given up on it yet. So I've come to the end of this post as I've come to the end of my wanting to sit anymore. But I'll leave a photo for your viewing pleasure. Extra points if you recognize the quote on the cake.