Tuesday, December 25, 2007

write soon...

i wish people still wrote letters. i just finished going through a bag my mom kept from the house. in it i had letters from fourth grade all the way up until my freshman year of college. first off, i had a lot of friends! damn!

but before the advent of email, we all wrote letters to each other. how wonderful. some of the later cards and letters allude to the start of email, but the time capsules that are a lot more interesting include the mention of tapes, new kids on the block, and how much we hated christie young in the fourth grade.

it's so funny to see what we worried about as time went on. in 4th grade we got excited that the newest installment of the babysitters club was about to come out. in junior high we laughed about our gym teacher, mr. jones. and in high school we stressed about AP tests and whether our scores would get us into the colleges we hoped for.

it's funny too, the personality cues you can pick up from your past. i remember myself as an incredibly happy child, someone practically oblivious to the problems going on in my own home, and without a care in the world. but, perhaps unsurprisingly, i was quite a snob, even back in the day. i had a penchant for gossip, enjoyed shared hatred, and found inclusion in groups by excluding others. i guess i didn't really forget that part, but it's funny to see it expressed outright.

jackie's letters were probably the best, but that's also probably because we're still friends. she sent one letter that was partially indecipherable because it was written in pencil almost 20 years ago. but apparently we started something called the "call me club" and she mailed me my membership card. from the letter, i can't quite understand what we did, except she felt it necessary we have an advertisement [ which she also included ] and that certain dorks like karyl goldstein couldn't be a part of it. hahahahaha

i'm going to have to scan some of these gems in. that, and some of the old worksheets and writings i found. they are precious! my ode to money and my "sometimes i like you" card are unbeatable. that will most definitely be my next blog.

it has been so fun to travel down memory lane. it pains me to throw some of these cards and letters out. but what am i going to do with them? put them in a closet for another ten years?? i'm keeping a few select ones and parting with the rest. i'm keeping all of the letters megan moskwa sent me, but haven't gone through them all. they're just funny because she was such a spaz. i wonder if she ever calmed down at all. megan and i wrote letters to each other most often though, because after 8th grade, she moved to illinois. so after that, our entire friendship took place in letters. i'm interested to see what i find in there, but, as i mentioned, she's a spaz, so her letters are long winded and it's far too late to delve into illinois high school drama at the moment. maybe on the plane:)

i know that we have emails and they probably are much better for archiving, but there's something so charming about a stack of letters. they feel more intimate, they have more personality. the fact that we used to decorate them with stickers and doodles really show how much thought we put into each one. we'd tell people where we were at the moment [ bored in physics class, at governor's school, at grandma's house in wisconsin ], we'd answer questions that were asked in previous letters, we'd get lost in stream of consciousness, and we'd say things that we probably never would in person, or even in email. i'm kind of pleasantly surprised at how many times people told me how great a friend i was, how funny i was, or how much they missed me. sure, i barely remember some of those people now. but it still makes me feel like i must be pretty all right.

as the new year approaches, i'm definitely resolving to lose weight, eat better, and all the usual stuff. but i think i'm also gong to make a concerted effort to write more letters. i hope those i write to will resolve to do the same :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

rest in peace, sean taylor.

i've been very saddened today from the news of sean taylor's tragic homicide. i think some people may think i am overreacting. after all, sean taylor isn't someone i knew personally. he was just a football player. but, just as they said on tonight's sportscenter, the importance of the washington redskins to dc and its surrounding suburbs cannot be understated. and i can say firsthand that that is absolutely true.

i was at the last game sean taylor ever got to play. i'm glad that it was at home at fedex field. and i hope whoever brought what could have been a long, much more productive and extremely successful life to an end is eventually brought to justice.

more than anything, though, i hope sean taylor's death does not pass us in vain. i hope it serves as a wakeup call in how we look at violence and guns. jemele hill does a good job delineating her outrage in an espn article. but while she is justifiably outraged about race and violence, i wonder, when are we going to get serious about gun control in this country?

i understand that the gun lobby is a formidable force in this country. and i also understand that our founding fathers wanted americans to have the right to protect themselves. but while "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed," i believe that we must ask ourselves, when are we fighting oppression, and when are we gunning down 24-year-old men in their sleep? when will we institute real reforms, which can be enforced state to state, in a singular, reliable fashion so that people don't fall through the cracks? and when are we finally going to say, no hunter or law-abiding person need own certain classifications of weapons?

i don't know what the answers to any of these questions are. but i hope that as they heal, sean taylor's family, and especially his father, a former chief of police, can become advocates for real change.

sean taylor, rest in peace.

Monday, October 29, 2007

impressions of paris.

much delayed, but still fresh in my mind.

paris was/is amazing. i wish i could have spent more time there, yet i think it was somewhat more exhilarating to rush around.

first impressions
getting off the train at gare du nord was a little overwhelming. the gypsies we had heard so much about were crowded around, asking whether we spoke english. here are my beefs about gypsies: 1. surely there is a way you can mix up your schemes. i've heard of others, but the whole time we were there all i got was "do you speak english?" apparently what happens once you've said yes is they give you some sob story about some poor baby, and either ask you for money or rob you while you're listening. i just feel like there must be a different opening gambit. mix it up! try a little harder, sheesh. 2. if you're going to rob me, just rob me. don't make me talk to you. pickpockets at least don't waste my time with idle conversation. 3. i guess gypsies have to pee too. but i turned off the champs-élysées to go to the bathroom and ran into one there. she told me the stalls were occupied, and i said, "tous les trois?" which means, "all three?" then, before i knew it, she asked me if i spoke english while her cohort came out from the stall. what was she gonna do, rob me right in the bathroom? for chrissakes, lady, i'm just trying to pee.

okay, that turned into a rant about gypsies. but one of the first things to happen was ron's ATM card got swallowed up. i surprised myself by being able to speak with the bank teller. speaking french was one of the most exciting things about being in paris. while i was by no means fluent, i felt very good about my speaking skills. more about this later.

we had a little bit of trouble finding sacre-coeur, and were pleasantly surprised when a local, unprovoked, pointed us in the right direction. much like st. paul's cathedral, we entered from the back and i would say it's much more serene there. there is a small garden with a less than impressive fountain, but it's isolated and quiet. there was an overhang where a man was doing what i assume was tai chi or something like it.

one thing i started to notice at sacre-coeur and throughout our short trip was that all the birds are fat. i suppose i would be too, if all i ate was baguette! not to mention happy.

of course, architecturally, the front of the cathedral is beautiful. and the view from the top of montmartre is great. with all the tourists, however, an unblemished picture of the cathedral, the stairs, or the grounds is near impossible.

le métro
finding the métro was our next task. and once again i was able to ask for directions, which proved a lot easier than trying to make sense of the map. more fun, too, if you ask me. it takes a little getting used to to navigate. something i will remember for next time is the numbered lines are subway cars, and the lettered lines are actual trains which run less frequently. but the train turned out to be a good thing on day 2:)

anyway, we got off the subway and had to find our hotel. got lost again. once we were there, i was a little disappointed that an american greeted us and continued to speak english. maybe she was trying to make us feel more comfortable, i'm not sure, but it was a bit of a buzzkill. the guy who showed us up to our room spoke french though, and i was happy to learn [ in french ] that if we wanted to use the safe, all we had to do was use our key card.

speaking of showing us to our room, the elevator that took us to the third floor was the smallest elevator i have ever seen. it barely fit the three of us, i can only imagine how cramped it would be with bulky luggage or a family. crazy.

la musée du louvre
we had to rush out to see the louvre, because we were only going to be in town monday and tuesday, and it's closed on tuesdays. we didn't get there until 3:30 or 4, but it's almost the perfect way to see the museum. knowing it closed at 6, we rushed around on a rampage to take in all the art we could. and it is. a. lot. of. art. almost obscenely so. each wall was covered in priceless art works, and the rooms went on seemingly forever. it looked almost cluttered compared to american art museums, and no one seemed to bat an eye as everyone took flash photography.

it was all a bit strange. it felt disrespectful to all the other art just to be ripping through the museum. but once i accepted that that's really the only way to do the louvre, i really enjoyed myself. we ran up to see the mona lisa, but i'll admit my favorite things to see were the ceilings and the delacroix paintings. the sculpture collection was also pretty incredible. i'm amazed by pretty much any sculpture though.

the outside of the louvre is also quite impressive. the pei pyramid seems a bit out of place, but still manages to look cool among the triangular water fountains on the plaza. that aside, the façade of the louvre is like stepping right back into louis XIV's court. or at the very least into a nice revolutionary period piece. i was never that good at french history.

le jardin de tuileries
art is simply everywhere in paris, and that's one of the best parts about it. across the street from the louvre, there's a sculpture garden with much more modern art featured. there was a great piece by max ernst: a hydrant with a funnel on top where, when rainwater collected, would pee on a dog. my other favorite piece was this one: i'm not sure who did it, but it's a high-heeled shoe made of pots and lids. see more pix [ including a cool piece in the fountain ] here.

café kleber
of course, eating is amazing in paris. we sat down for dinner at café kleber, a very cute eatery right by the métro trocadéro. dinner started with a bottle of côte-du-rhône and a waiter that we slowly won over as the night progressed. ron tried the salmon, and i ordered steak tartare. i insisted we end the meal with a cheese plate, because, hell, when in france, eat cheese. the baguette had a flavor that neither of us could quite describe... i couldn't put my finger on whether it was just a bit saltier or yeastier or what, but it was the best bread i've ever tasted.

the eiffel tower at night
call me cheesy, whatever, but seeing the eiffel tower all lit up at night is awe-inspiring. so much so that we watched it twice. [ it lights up for a few minutes every hour on the hour ]. that's all i'll say about that.

l'arc de triomphe
on tuesday morning, we hit the arc first thing. it's a great place to watch the sun rise. check out the pix, if for nothing else but the natural light!

notre dame de paris
of all the cathedrals we saw, this was my favorite. despite the many gypsies waiting out front, notre dame is magical. i remember studying it briefly in FIA 106, "arts and ideas," my freshman year at college. from what i remember, the mark of gothic architecture is that it was constantly being improved upon... it never reached true "completion." i think to most, notre dame looks like a perfectly constructed piece, but it is more like looking at a work in progress, a work that was in progress for centuries.

when you go inside, there are posted signs that say to keep silent and please refrain from taking pictures. unfortunately, any free admission is going to attract quite a large number of tourists, many of whom ignored these requests. i figured, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, so even though i kept my mouth my shut, i did snap a good deal of photos. how can you not? the stained glass, the statuary, the vaulted ceilings and flying buttresses—it was here where i thought to myself, wow. i am not a religious person, but notre dame is a powerful statement to the glory of god. i can see how artworks like these can inspire belief. i haven't prayed in the catholic sense for over a decade, but i lit a candle for someone i was thinking of.

outside the cathedral, i found the zéro kilometre which i had read about the night before. when it was decided that paris would be france's capital, this marked the point from which all distances were measured. it made me a little sad to see everyone stepping all over it. shouldn't there have been a little cordon or something around it? oh well. i guess it's just stones after all, but still.

la rosace
we stopped for a quick lunch at a café by notre dame. i had my very first croque-monsieur and i couldn't have been more excited about it. how do you go wrong with ham, thick bread, and tons of cheese? it was delicious. also to note: french coffee is so far superior to the tar that we drink. i ordered café noir [ as opposed to café au lait ] and it was freshly drawn from a proper espresso machine, perfect crema and all. try it.

the eiffel by day
i won't go so far as to say i didn't enjoy the tower, because i did. but if you're going to do this, go very early. the lines are pretty ridiculous. we got there in the afternoon and by the time we got to the ticket counter, they closed the sommet, or 3rd tier. the view from the 2nd is still pretty amazing, but for the amount of time you spend looking out, you'll spend probably 3 or 4 times that in line. don't attempt this while cranky.

les pompiers
remember when i said that the lettered lines on the métro are trains? well, the way we learned this was by getting lost on the train system. but it all became worth it when a group of pompiers came traipsing in. i made sure to get on the same train as them. one pretended to fall down the stairs, and when his friends reacted to help him, he said "c'est une blague!" [ "it's a joke!" ] i laughed, and he looked at me and said, in french, if i were to fall, i'd want you to catch me. HOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!

another pompier sat down next to me, and said something which i would kill to understand. i told him it was too fast for me, that i was american. he didn't translate what he had said. but i did ask him whether he and his group were une équipe, a team. after all, the rugby world cup was going on that week, and rugby fever seemed to be everywhere. he said, no, they were pompiers. "qu'est-ce que c'est, un pompier?" i asked. "a fireman," he answered. firemen?!? HOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

le champs-élysées
great shopping. and then, before i knew it, it was over.

paris, vous me manquez.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

impressions of london.

overall, being in london and paris was amazing. the architecture is so overwhelming, and the people just seem more refined. my pix can be found here, and here are some highlights of the trip:

big ben and parliament
extremely beautiful. this was my introduction to the art of trying to fit it all in the picture, which you realize in europe is hard. i think that's why photos fail to express the true scope of what you see in person; it's almost as if every snapshot you take has to be a panoramic for it to do even the slightest justice.

westminster abbey
though we didn't go inside, the exterior of westminster abbey is gorgeous. we did go into st. mary's church, which is right next door and open to the public. i didn't realize until i had snapped like 8 pictures that you weren't supposed to. oh well. i think the next time in london, this is definitely a site i will hit up.

fall is the perfect time to go to europe. for me, personally, it was nice because we don't really get fall weather in california, and i miss it. but it's great for a number of other reasons; 1) it's the off-season for tourism, and although there are still crowds, i imagine they are far more manageable than summer or christmastime, 2) the weather is good for walking and touring--not too hot and not too cold, and 3) you get to look cute in a coat!

buckingham palace
the best part of visiting buckingham, i'm ashamed to admit, was shit kid. shit kid was this little american tourist who couldn't have been older than 3. he was adorable. and right in front of the main entrance to buckingham, some horse had taken an enormous dump. shit kid, with the purest glee imaginable, found this enthralling, and provided us with at least 7 minutes of pure entertainment. he danced circles around it, pointed to it, and squatted over it, pretending it was his. it was incredible. had i had a video camera, this would undoubtedly be the #1 video on youtube.

we didn't even mean to, but we saw the changing of the guard. it's cool to see how formal they are over there, and i must admit it was cool to see the guards protecting the palace were women [ at least until they were relieved of duty ]. we couldn't figure out why they were wearing non-traditional garments, but i'm sure there's some formal reason for that as well. the statuary and architectural details surrounding buckingham are incredible.

the london premiere of once
first off, if you haven't seen once, do. don't be put off if you hear it's a musical. it's really not. well, i guess technically it is, but they don't bust out into song and dance or anything. it's a very charming movie, and if you are a friend of mine, chances are you will like it.

since london premieres i guess are always a little behind ours, once was just premiering. best part was at the theatre right down the street from us in angel. literally right down the street. after the screening, glen and marketa did a short q&a and then performed a few songs. afterwards we chatted with him on the street. it was such a great evening. definitely a highlight of the trip.

tower bridge
the iconic bridge of london is often thought to be london bridge, but london bridge is actually a piece of shit in comparison to tower. not to mention the day we went the sky was so blue and perfect. once again, pictures fail to do justice to the massive size and incredible detail of the structure. right around tower bridge we also saw a much more modern-looking building, which apparently is city hall. i found it impressive, and maybe a bit telling, that their city government would embrace a much more modern style. one of the things i did notice just in the way the city functions and in things like advertising on the tube is the UK is far more environmentally conscious than we are.

the tate
the crowds at the tate SUCK but the art is awesome. especially now. i guess they just recently put a new sculpture in front of the tate building, by a woman named louise something. it's a giant spider and super cool.

the other highlight was part of a yearly grant, and this year it was a piece by doris salcedo. it has a fancy name, but everyone knows it as a big, giant crack. when i heard about it, i thought, ok, that's probably cool, but to see how she split the entire main hall of the tate is a lot more impressive than a crack in the floor sounds. unfortunately, she didn't provide any info as to how the piece was constructed... in fact, after doing a little research she actually scoffed at the question, saying HOW the thing was made is immaterial, what's important is the why. ok, ok, i get what she's saying about modern art and making a statement about the art world and all that, fine. but shit man, how'd you do it??

there was a bunch of other great stuff at the tate as well. warhol had some great pieces, there was a really cool short film of these ants and confetti, some cool murals by african artists, the only one whose name i remember being modo.
even the gift shop at the tate is overwhelming, but i came back with a cool souvenir... it's a postcard calendar where you can switch out various artworks and have a piece of the tate every day. i'm very excited to do so.

st paul's cathedral
again, an architectural marvel. it's funny how cathedrals really can inspire belief. i'll get to that more when i hit notre dame, because that's where it really struck me. but st paul's is beautiful, and i must admit, i almost liked seeing the back of it better because it was so serene. if you come across the millennium bridge, you can enter a garden along the side, and it's very peaceful there. of course, the front with its statues is amazing and shouldn't be missed, but if you want to spend a quiet hour, definitely find a bench in the garden.

piccadilly circus
my first impressions of piccadilly were not good. the rugby world cup semis which england won had just finished, and it was just soooo unbelievably crowded. i was very put off by the whole thing, so i was glad when we went back the next day and things were a little calmer. we also walked down to trafalgar and took a few pix there. piccadilly is sort of like times square on a smaller scale, and to be honest, i can kind of do without either. but we did eat at pret à manger, and i liked that sandwich a lot:)

oxford circus
great shopping! hit up zara and some of the cheesy souvenir shops. the dollar is so weak right now it sucked, it's like the prices are exactly the same except they're in pounds. but you kind of just have to get over that. i did.

the tube
i love the tube. it's a little tiring to hop on it four or six times a day, but if you were using it as just everyday transport, i think it would be great. it's not at all intimidating like navigating the ny subway system, and it's clean and goes everywhere we wanted it to. rush hour is claustrophobic, but i guess that's to be expected.

... ok. i'm tired now. will blog about paris later.

Monday, October 1, 2007

more brilliance from thomas friedman.

i'm not going to post the whole editorial here, because times select is gone [ hooray! ]

however, i will say that thomas friedman is, once again, the voice of reason. it's not that what he's saying today is anything particularly new, but i do think he brings up some interesting points as far as globalization, terrorism, and travel are concerned. i'm interested to see what my experience coming back from london will be.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

a makeover.

this month, i've decided to give myself a total makeover. i won't lie; this is partially due to the fact that i've been watching "tim gunn's guide to style." as cheesy as that may sound, it made me think about a couple things.

1. over the past few years, i've been gaining weight. and while i'm working to remedy that situation, i still need clothes that accentuate the strengths of my silhouette and hide the flaws... at least better than i am doing right now. so i need to look harder for clothes with the right fit, even if that means buying sizes that i'm in denial about wearing, and visiting the tailor more than i'd like. [ even though she's the cutest woman and i love her, and actually sort of look forward to seeing her... ok, maybe the tailor isn't such a bad thing ]

2. while all that is going on, however, there is no need for me to look like a sloth. sure, i still have a HUGE respect for a cool t-shirt collection, and i don't think i'll be casting off my flip-flop fetish entirely. but it is time for me to start looking and dressing like a grown-up. what's funny is i used to do this every day. but i think because of the way i was doing it, ie, clothes and shoes that didn't fit properly, i associated fashion and dressing well with both pain and poverty... since the only reason i was dressing that way was because i was working my ass off in a women's clothing store. so not only am i trying to find clothes that work in the adult world, i'm also trying to find clothes that i know i'll be able to breathe, walk, and work in, so i'm not sucking in all day, or rubbing my tootsies, or unbuttoning top buttons, or hoping my shirt doesn't pop open. unbelievably, this was a complete revelation.

3. it's time to clean out my closet. it was a complete disaster in there. i'm about 80% done, and i already feel better. next is completely cleaning the bathroom and organizing my bedroom in a way that makes sense. i feel like bringing a sense of order to my home is going to help my mental state immensely.

4. all the fashion thoughts got me on a trail of looking at my body. i NEED to do more for myself. so i'm trying to eat better, and i've been going to the gym more this week, and hopefully will continue to do so. i even scheduled a long overdue trip to the gyno for an annual exam. i'm just trying to take better care of myself in general. i owe it to myself. no one else is going to do it. [ ...and i need to lose 10 lbs:) ]

5. on the line of taking care of myself, i need to stop pulling teeth when it comes to my love life. no more accepting less than i deserve. i made a promise to myself a while ago that i didnt' keep too well, but now i realize i absolutely need to. my best friend's wedding is next may, and i am the maid of honor. i feel like in the next 7 months, anyone who i even potentially look at, i need to ask, is this the kind of person that is going to be crazy enough about me that he'll fly across the country to go to this very important wedding with me? if not, fuck him! i don't have time to fuck around and act like i don't want a serious, meaningful relationship. i do. and anything that doesnt' head in that direction is no longer worth my time.

6. and speaking of mental state, i think i finally figured out what how i'm going to move forward in my whole job/identity crisis. after much pondering... i'm talking YEARS of it... i think the most sound thing to do is to stay with my career in advertising but write more on the side. take up projects that i have complete control over. i've already done 2, and they felt great. now it's time to do more, more, more.

i'm hoping this better clothed, more healthy, and more mental health-aware me will start some good life momentum. whether that means a new job, a new guy, or just a better feeling getting up in the morning, i think this is probably the most worthwhile project i can undertake. it's taken me some time to care enough to do something about myself, but it feels really good taking it on.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

great news!

i'm planning on going to europe for the very first time. my friend ron is spending a few months out there with his friends, and i am leeching off his good nature. so october 11 i'm landing in heathrow for a few days of london and then we're off to paris for two days! i am so, so excited. i hope this is just the first of many international trips. i've been itching for changes of scenery lately, which helps explain the weekend jaunt to NY and the impulsive buying of tickets to DC. but europe, i feel, will be worth its cost many times over. and i'm so glad i won't be experiencing it with total strangers, which i was afraid it was going to come down to if much more time passed! anyway, more to come, pictures, all that good stuff. i can't wait to wear my new peacoat!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

random thought

random thought:
if an auto store is having a sale on tires, i don't think they should call it a "blowout."

Thursday, September 6, 2007

how to change iraq, by madeleine albright.

in today's washington post

How To Change Iraq
Bush Should Start By Admitting Fault
By Madeleine K. Albright
Thursday, September 6, 2007; Page A21

The threshold question in any war is: What are we fighting for? Our troops, especially, deserve a convincing answer.

In Iraq, the list of missions that were tried on but didn't fit includes: protection from weapons of mass destruction, creating a model democracy in the Arab world, punishing those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks and stopping terrorists from catching the next plane to New York. The latest mission, linked to the "surge" of troops this year, was to give Iraqi leaders the security and maneuvering room needed to make stabilizing political arrangements -- which they have thus far shown little interest in doing.

A cynic might suggest that the military's real mission is to enable President Bush to continue denying that his invasion has evolved into disaster. A less jaded view might identify three goals: to prevent Iraq from becoming a haven for al-Qaeda, a client state of Iran or a spark that inflames regionwide war. These goals respond not to dangers that prompted the invasion but to those that resulted from it. Our troops are being asked to risk their lives to solve problems our civilian leaders created. The president is beseeching us to fear failure, but he has yet to explain how our military can succeed given Iraq's tangled politics and his administration's lack of credibility.

This disconnect between mission and capabilities should be at the center of debate as Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker report on the war's status and congressional leaders prepare their fall strategies. Despite the hopes of many, this debate is unlikely to end the war soon; nor will it produce fresh support for our present dismal course. Although U.S. troop levels will surely start to come down, big decisions about whether and under what circumstances to complete the withdrawal seem certain to remain for the next president, when he or she takes office. Yet this should not preclude Democrats and Republicans from trying to agree on ways to minimize the damage before then.

According to the National Intelligence Estimate released last month, the recent modest but extremely hard-won military gains will mean little "unless there is a fundamental shift in the factors driving Iraqi political and security developments."

Given the depth of the sectarian divisions within Iraq, such a fundamental shift will not occur through Iraqi actions alone. Given America's lack of leverage, it will not result from our patrols, benchmarks, speeches or "surprise" presidential visits to Anbar province. That leaves coordinated international assistance as the only option.

The Balkans are at peace today through the joint efforts of the United States, the European Union and the United Nations -- all of which worked to help moderate leaders inside the region. A similar strategy should have been part of our Iraq policy from the outset but has never been seriously attempted.

Is such an initiative still viable? Perhaps. The United Nations has pledged to become more involved. Europe's new leaders -- led by Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and Gordon Brown -- understand their region's stake in Iraq's future and seem willing to assist. The Saudi, Jordanian and Syrian governments all view Iraqi instability as a profound security threat. Turkish and Kurdish representatives recently signed an agreement to cooperate along their troubled border. Iran is the wildest of cards, but it would be unlikely to isolate itself from a broad international program aimed at reconciliation. If it does, it would only hand a political victory to us and to the many Iraqi leaders, Shiite and Sunni alike, who would prefer to minimize Iranian influence.

President Bush could do his part by admitting what the world knows -- that many prewar criticisms of the invasion were on target. Such an admission would be just the shock a serious diplomatic project would need. It would make it easier for European and Arab leaders to help, as their constituents are reluctant to bail out a president who still insists that he was right and they were wrong. Our troops face death every day; the least the president can do is face the truth.

A coordinated international effort could help Iraq by patrolling borders, aiding reconstruction, further training its army and police, and strengthening legislative and judicial institutions. It could also send a unified message to Iraq's sectarian leaders that a political power-sharing arrangement that recognizes majority rule and protects minority rights is the only solution and is also attainable.

If there is a chance to avoid deeper disaster in Iraq, it depends on a psychological transformation so people begin preparing to compete for power peacefully instead of plotting how to survive amid anarchy. The international community cannot ensure such a shift, but we can and should do more to encourage it.

The writer was secretary of state from 1997 to 2001. She is principal of theAlbright Group LLC.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

says you/what's the difference

tuesday nights on kcrw, you can hear a quirky little game called
says you.
it's sort of like balderdash; a panel of people make up definitions to obscure words from the dictionary. it doesn't sound like an amusing thing to listen to on the radio, but somehow, it really is.

anyway, they do little variations on games, and tonight, one of them was "what's the difference?" i thought some of the questions were worth sharing.

for instance, do you know the difference between ability and capability?

what about the difference between pronunciation and enunciation?

and, perhaps less essentially, but by no means less interesting, the difference between a tortoise and a turtle, or a rabbit and a jackrabbit?

you should have tuned in, my friends.

but. no worries. i'm not the type to make you go look up the answers yourself. actually, i am, except that i want to have them archived for my own sake the next time i need to look this up. so here they are...

ABILITY is something innate, while CAPABILITY is a skill that's been demonstrated or improved.
for instance, many have the ABILITY to hit a baseball; few have the capability to hit a long ball.

are we learning??

next up, according to the dictionary they used, PRONUNCIATION is the manner in which a word is spoken, while ENUNCIATION is the expression of a proposition or theory in clear or definite terms.
therefore, you PRONOUNCE the word declaration but you ENUNCIATE the declaration of independence.


last up, our animals.
tortoises are terrestrial; turtles are sea creatures.
and jackrabbits are hares, while rabbits are not. a jackrabbit's ears and legs are longer than a rabbit's, and their nesting habits are different [ a hare lives in simple nests above ground, while a rabbit burrows ]

see what you can learn when you listen to npr!! tell me you're not a more interesting person now. go ahead, tell me!

Friday, August 31, 2007

blog 2.1

no, seriously this time. i really mean it. this is now my blog. even though i posted to myspace earlier today. hehe. this is what i wrote, in case anyone is keeping track:

another one bites the dust.

today, john warner announced that he would not seek a sixth term in the US senate.

john warner has been virginia's senator for my entire life. in that time, he has become one of the most influential senators of either party, heading up the armed services committee and famously opposing robert bork's confirmation and oliver north's bid for public office.

warner has always been one of the more popular politicians in virginia, never afraid to stand up against his party. i have a deep respect for this man and will miss him dearly.

virginia may become more of a battleground now, as the GOP tries to regain the senate, and as virginia closes further in to the center. it will be interesting to watch.

that's all. so i'm pretty excited about my new site, which is 99.9% done. all i have to do is upload the goodwill video and i am off and running. even though, technically i was off and running last night. lapu even stumbled upon it and commented, which i would NEVER have suspected. oh well. please feel free to comment on the new site, report broken links, difficulty, or viewing issues. annnddd... this really is my blog now.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

people i don't trust.

last night i hung out with some of priscilla's friends, and i learned that none of them liked the decemberists. this is actually an understatement; one of them went so far as to say she "can't stand the decemberists." i was kind of taken aback. granted, these kids are younger than we are, and while i didn't ask, i assume they listen to craptastic bands like my chemical romance and fountains of wayne. the decemberists are a little more cerebral, experimental, and definitely not for everyone, but still, i found this discovery to be more than mildly disturbing. i realized that i immediately didn't trust anyone involved in this conversation, for the pure fact that they were trashing my favorite band. and it made me realize there are certain triggers that send up blazing red flags right away for me. triggers that immediately tell me, "i will never get past this hang-up, and therefore, our relationship will advance no further." i'm not sure this is entirely reasonable, but i can't deny it's true.

so, i don't trust people who don't at least appreciate the decemberists. ok, maybe they're not your bag, but admit that the instrumentation and the lyricism is something to behold. i mean, damn.

but there are others. i don't trust people who have no rhythm. being able to clap along to a song on counts 2 and/or 4, or 1 and/or 3, whichever is applicable [ even if you don't realize that's what you're doing ] seems to me a quality that is just plain HUMAN. if you don't have it, it's almost as if you're some kind of un-human, like a robot that wasn't programmed the right way. marc einhorn is the perfect example of this. not only could the boy not find the beat, he was in a time signature that has yet to be invented. it made absolutely no sense. and i distrusted him immediately.

i don't trust people who don't like dogs. furthermore, i don't trust people who dogs don't like. dogs know. they just know. they know you are not to be trusted.

i don't trust people who root against their home team. no one should. if you have a home team, and you purposely cheer on their rival, you and i will never fully understand one another. and i for one, will have no interest in understanding you. also, if you give me shit for liking a team that is not doing well, you have no understanding of what being a fan is. while i may or may not give you a chance at trust, odds are i count it as a strike. and usually one strike is all it takes.

i don't trust people who can't tell the difference between coke and pepsi. it's one thing to like pepsi, which all of you know i don't. at least you understand there is a fundamental [ and diametrically opposed ] difference. as stephen colbert would say, "pick a side, people, we're at war."

given this set of standards, i'm not sure how i function in general society. that's probably why i don't. but seriously, are these qualifiers completely unreasonable? am i the only one who thinks that they make utter and perfect sense?

perhaps i am doomed to a life of solitude, but i would rather live in my solitude than try to make sense of the above. these are things i will never understand. and i'd choose being alone than trying to solve these mysteries any day.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

blog, 2.0

so this is the new iteration of my blog. no more myspace silliness for me. well, of course that isn’t entirely true. myspace silliness certainly still has its place. i was actually going to use iweb for this at first, since i had more control over its design and what not, but there aren't any comments, and what the hell fun is that??

anyway, hopefully not much else has changed with this blog. i’m even thinking about moving some of my better entries over to this new home. i will still be featuring “kk recommends,” ny times editorials that even i’m too cheap to pay for but still have access to, stupid musings and whining, and, of course, lame attempts at self-actualization.

with any luck nothing i publish here will get me fired or put me on any government watch lists. but, if it does, fuckit.

while i'm here, let me recommend some new music that i've gotten my little hands and ears on:

i actually like the remixes better than the album. with heavy hitters like album leaf, dntel, and nobody stepping in, the songs can't help but be improved. my personal favorite track is the arab strap remix of "something to do with my hands." it's kinda dirrty, but that's probably why i loooooove it.

so this is an indie [ maybe not so indie ] darling, but you can't help but bob your head. it's loveable, fun, bubble gum pop with highlights including lyrics like, "big girl, you are beautiful" and "am i too dirty, am i too flirty?" i mean, cmon, that's brilliant.

for those more mellow moments.

in searching for the album artwork, i learned from wikipedia that dean and britta are the couple behind luna and galaxie 500, which, had i been more in the know would have lent much credibility. but i like it even without that little detail.

i've given it one listen and liked it immediately.

a good follow-up to underwater cinema. haven't fallen AS in love with it yet, but i'm giving our relationship time to grow.

i actually like these guys for more than their name. no, really, i do.

good advice for all.

well, that's plenty for now. i've downloaded much more, believe me, but this should keep anyone who is reading this busy enough for now.