Wednesday, September 10, 2008

the answer for hot, flat, and crowded? green.

yesterday i was at barnes & noble, enthusiastically picking up a copy of thomas friedman's new book, hot, flat, and crowded. i talked to the cashier about it briefly after he said a lot of people had come in to buy the book. that made me really happy. friedman is an extremely prescient man, and his columns in the new york times are always enlightening and forward-thinking. his 2005 book the world is flat is an amazing look at the current state of globalization, how we got there, and where it's going.
as he finished my transaction, the cashier began to put my book into a bag. 
"oh, i don't need a bag," i told him.
"following in line with the theme of the book!" he said, and bid me goodbye.
it reminded me of something i wrote in one of my ucla classes, and prompted me to post it here. while it is by no means an earth-shattering solution, it's a way to approach daily life and try to contribute less to the problems that will shape the future.

How to Decrease Waste Without Losing Much at All

I like to think of myself as conscientious. I care about my impact on the environment, but I’m by no means Captain Planet. I feel guilty drinking bottled water, but will reach for one if I’m thirsty. I bought a carbon offset for my car, but sometimes drive a quarter-mile to McDonald’s.
Even so, whenever I see the 65-gallon trash can my roommates and I fill to the brim every week (and the equally large recycle bin we only fill every couple), I marvel at how much we consume, and especially how much we throw away.
I challenged myself to do better. Finding miniscule changes that started to add up, I made reducing waste a game. And if we all started playing, it’s our landfills that would win.
The rules are simple. Give yourself points anytime you stop something from going in the garbage—either by diverting it, or never using it at all. Ready to play?


Use dryer balls. These nubby do-dads tumble around in your dryer, eliminating static cling and the need for dryer sheets. 2 pts per load
Clean green. Use reusable sponges and cloths rather than disposable wipes or paper towels. Instead of buying a new spray bottle every time, look for concentrates and refills. Cleaning solutions like Oxiclean and Simple Green are biodegradable, too. 1 pt per wipe, 2 per bottle
Give your postal worker a break. Opt out of junk mail, pay bills online, and request e-statements whenever possible. Reuse envelopes for shopping and to-do lists. 1 pt per bill


• Coffee like you care. If you can’t go a workday without coffee, you toss about 250 paper cups a year. Use a mug instead. And for a little extra brown-nosing, use one with your company’s logo on it. Purchase a mesh coffee filter to avoid using paper ones. Going out? Starbucks and Barnes & Noble give discounts to patrons who bring their own mug. 1 pt per filter or cup
• Print sparingly. Send directions to your phone. Use PowerPoint instead of handouts. Print double-sided when you can. Save copies for notepaper when you can’t. 1 pt per page


Eliminate receipts. Most ATMs and gas pumps have a no-receipt option. The Apple Store even offers to email your receipt. ½ pt per receipt
• Canvas the neighborhood. Most grocery stores and major chains offer incentives for using canvas bags. Even better, you’ll save huge amounts of closet clutter. Throw loose items like apples or tomatos in the tote, and save another bag in the produce section. And tell the clerk, “I don’t need a bag,” whenever you don’t. 2 pts per bag
Pretend trash cans say, “No, thanks,” and not “Thank you.” Fast food creates a lot of waste with its wrappers, cups, and boxes. So when eating out, cut where you can. Do you need a lid on your cup? Can you use a tray rather than taking it to go? Do you really need 50 napkins? ½ pt per item

Make these tiny changes into habits, and you’ll never look at trash the same way again.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

sex ed for kindergarteners

John McCain and Sarah Palin are pro-choice—at least when it comes to schools. They say that “parents should be able to decide the learning environment that is best for their child.”

But a recently released McCain ad lambasts Barack Obama’s achievements in comprehensive sex education, scoffing at the idea of “learning about sex before learning to read” and concluding that Obama is “wrong on education… wrong for your family.”

Excuse me, but shouldn’t parents be able to decide?

After all, every parent is a sexual being. But more than likely, their sexual activity didn’t begin with a marriage vow. Government data show that not only do 9 out of 10 people engage in premarital sex, but that the rate of premarital sex has been consistent for over 50 years. Even Sarah Palin can’t claim she saved herself for marriage; she gave birth to her eldest son only 8 months after eloping.

Parents understand that just as babies discover their fingers and toes, they also discover their genitals. They know that on every playground, toddlers are aware of the biological differences between boys and girls.

Age-appropriate sex ed helps shape healthy attitudes about gender roles, teach communication, and heighten capacity to build relationships. And as children progress into adolescence, they need complete, medically accurate information on the values of abstinence, the use of contraception, and the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI).

But even though only 10% of the nation’s school districts teach comprehensive sex ed, McCain wants to rob parents of that choice completely. Since the 1980s, McCain and his cronies have forced abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) programs on parents, students, and public schools, spending $1.5 billion in the process. Palin has echoed these sentiments, writing “The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.”

Of course, we all know how well that turned out. Bristol Palin’s pregnancy is national news, and her boyfriend Levi Johnston had to shut down his Myspace page because it stated “I don’t want kids.” No matter how the McCain camp spins it, if Alaska’s school system had encouraged safer sex practices, Bristol and Levi might not be expecting one.

But if Bristol Palin isn’t evidence enough that abstinence-only doesn’t work, try a 2007 Health and Human Services study that says just that. Of the more than 700 federally funded AOUM programs, the evaluation looked at only four. These four programs were handpicked to show positive results—and still failed.

If McCain hopes to overturn Roe v. Wade, and remove a patient’s choice to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, then he needs to do more to ensure young people never have to face that choice. He needs to advocate real efforts to curb teen pregnancy and reduce the number of teens who have an STI (currently 1 in 4).

Instead, when a reporter asked McCain whether he thought contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV, he replied, after a long pause, “You’ve stumped me.”

And if McCain is stumped, then the choice for parents who want real sex education for their kids should be crystal clear.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

kk recommends: fresh n easy edition.

i've been to fresh n easy twice now, and i am a smitten kitten. at first the packaging of a lot of the produce might seem a bit sterile, but i appreciate the simplicity behind it. i also like that there are many items suited for a single shopper, and the prices are completely reasonable. but specifically, what i like about fresh n easy:

outside the store, there are reserved spaces for hybrids, expectant mothers, and adults with children. i don't qualify to park in any of these, but i certainly applaud the emphasis.

has a cupholder! brilliant!! i actually walked in from lunch, and i still had my cup of coke. imagine my delight in having a place to put it. 

anyone who went to vcu with me remembers the indian cart, a roach coach that would serve generous portions of indian food for $5. this frozen dinner is the closest we'll ever come to that without returning to richmond. a simple chicken makahni, rice, potatoes, and peas. granted, it's a tv dinner but none of us are over completely over frozen foods quite yet, are we? this is the best tv dinner you'll ever have. you won't be hungry (in fact, i couldn't finish mine), and it holds up well in the microwave. it's definitely not healthy (50% sodium/per serving... it's 2 servings) but it is gooooood.

surprisingly flavorful. same deal with the makhani, not good for you but goood.

mmmmm, mango nectar. 

granted, not a f&e brand, but they carry it. rather than using high fructose corn syrup, hansen's uses pure cane sugar. you can taste the difference. at first it seems a little too sweet (sort of like sugar in the raw) but then you get used to it and realize it's amazing.

ok, so i got pretty excited about the frozen food section. sue me. i would put these frozen pizzas just a notch above trader joe's pizzas. the crust is better. 

normally i hate self-checkout. i mean, it's never proven any faster to me, the machines practically yell at you, and it's generally a hassle. but at f&e, they've got it down. plus, it's your only option. i like that you have an "i don't want to bag this" option, because, in trying to be environmentally conscious, i'm not going to put a gallon of oj in a bag when i can carry it by the handle. normal grocery store self check-outs don't allow this (and the machine yells at you!). also, because most of the produce is packaged, it's easy to scan... no looking up codes. annnd, while you're scanning your groceries, a manager comes by and gives you a $5 coupon for your next visit. (not sure if this is a grand opening thing, but it's happened both times i've gone). one more bonus: no rewards cards.

i tried both the chicken and the beef, and both are awesome. i had my bowl resting on the counter while i tore a paper towel and my roommate walked by. she goes, "that looks bomb." it was. 

did i seriously just say that? yes. wheat bread that's good.

all in all, i would say fresh n easy is a safe bet. if you haven't hopped on the shopping bandwagon, go now. NOW.

Monday, July 21, 2008

album review: little jackie, the stoop

normally i send album reviews to, but they don't review hip hop or r&b. so, friends, here it is, my latest obsession, little jackie.
S-Curve Records

Take hip-hop themes of poverty, racism, and sexuality. Sprinkle on pop rhythms. Add old-school R&B backbeats and silvery vocals. Blend til smooth. 

This is the winning recipe behind Little Jackie, the refreshing combo of singer Imani Coppola and programmer Adam Pallin. Proving that you attract more flies with honey than vinegar, Little Jackie’s debut album The Stoop masks sharp-tongued lyrics with sweet, easygoing melodies.

The title track invites the listener to Little Jackie’s corner of Brooklyn, which “ain’t no Beverly Hills.” But this isn’t some angry polemic of life in the ghetto; instead, we’re treated to a celebration of a brownstone paradise, where piano and trumpet create a danceable groove, and Coppola’s vampish voice assures us “it ain’t all hard up in the hood… sittin’ on the front stoop, it’s all good.” 

That “all good” mentality prevails throughout the eleven tracks on the album, led by Coppola’s provocatively femme attitude on the mic. Songs like “The World Should Revolve Around Me” and “Guys Like When Girls Kiss” are cheeky, seductive, and instantly endearing.

With its genre-bending and -blending, Little Jackie offers something for everyone. Coppola sings that “there’s only one of me in the galaxy,” and The Stoop is certainly a strong argument in her favor.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

kk recommends.

i first tried one of these at the ivy, where they make it all fancy with mint leaves, like a mojito. but it's actually quite good in the classic way, sort of spritzy and fresh. another way to enjoy a nice ketel.

this is a surprisingly easy way to prepare a semi-fancy meal, courtesy of real simple. i'm learning that goat cheese is a great thing to pick up at the market, it spreads easy, tastes good, and seems classy.

normally i am not a proponent of anything in irvine, but i have to say that the service at this dealership is top-notch. the customer lounge offers a tv, wi-fi, cheesy oc magazines, coffee, water, and tea. and when they wash your car, they clean the inside!!! this was amazing to me. fucking irvine pricks. they probably expect all this shit.

colin meloy, death cab, m83, elbow, she&him, the ting tings, rjd2, the republic tigers, pela, cut copy, MGMT, ladytron, errors, the list goes on and on...

i especially endorse the following: cinema, wikipedia, facebook and inetflix. but i am too lazy to provide links.

you can protect the beauty of your iphone without a clunky cover.  i have to admit i have a clunky cover for the back, but for the front, these covers keep your fingerprints off the touch screen and supposedly make the touch screen work better. 

ok this was a lame list but i was bored at work for a minute and i thought i had more to recommend. now even i have lost interest.

Monday, May 12, 2008

death cab for cutie, narrow stairs

please take a gander at my album review of the new death cab album, which hits stores tomorrow.

and please offer your criticisms of my criticism!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

misplaced modifiers

i can't believe i couldn't find a blog of misplaced modifiers submissions. there is, of course, the blog of unnecessary quotation marks, which i quite like. but no place to share this little gem. i shot it on tuesday at angels stadium.

what do we think, should i start another blog? hehe

Monday, April 21, 2008

mad as hell

today is a good day, because one of the personal essays i've written in my ucla extension classes got published. it's this week's guest column on a site called mad as hell club, an apt venue for me for sure.

please check it out at here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

support our athletes

yesterday's olympic torch protests in paris got me thinking. there is a supposed line that separates the olympic games from politics; however, that line has been fairly consistently blurred. there are those that believe that the spirit of the games should transcend geopolitical divides, and others who believe they can't.

it reminded me that during and after vietnam, people who opposed the war were known to yell at, spit at, and harrass soldiers. sometime after that, a movement emerged to separate the troops fighting in wars from the wars they were actually fighting. "support our troops" bedecked banners, bumper stickers, and lapel pins.

i wonder if a similar movement will start to emerge, one that is equally open to interpretation and could be used as a similar diversion from the issue at hand. will "support our athletes" become the rallying cry of those who wish to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses, choosing to drape themselves in the olympic flag?

but then i thought about the protesters themselves. if they are truly opposed to beijing's politics vis-à-vis tibet, human rights, or free speech, wouldn't a more effective protest be against anything manufactured or processed in china? of course, in this flat world, such separation is nearly impossible. nonetheless, that might be a rallying cry that china's government is actually forced to pay attention to.

Monday, April 7, 2008

this is a skill.

getting 7 E's is probably a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, so i figured it merited online immortality.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

losing sleep

insomnia has been a mainstay in my life since my very young childhood. but over the past few years, the problem has virtually gone away. sure, there have been sporadic sleepless nights here and there, but the reasons were always evident and understandable.

the past couple nights, however, i've been losing sleep for increasingly stupid reasons. and it makes me mad. it makes me mad because i'm about to hop into bed, and i know it's just going to piss me off.

so what's keeping me up? let's examine:

1. it is fucking cold in my room. i sleep directly under a window, which perhaps was not the brightest placement for a bed. however, i fucking live in california. why is this a problem?

2. my dog likes to nestle. which is so freaking cute. but while he's getting close to me, he also has a tendency to get me to scoot over... until i'm sleeping on like an inch of the bed. not usually a problem, except i think he's cold too... therefore, he's REALLY nestling and pushing in for heat.

3. my roommates and i are all worried that we're about to get kicked out. we have a "structural and appliance assessment" coming up on saturday, because we believe the landlord is looking to sell. super. awesome. higher rent or moving... both GREAT options.

4. i have way too much on my mind. and it seems like this week, it just keeps piling on. the thing is, with the exception of the whole apartment thing, it's mostly good stuff. but it's still overwhelming as hell. i'm juggling my job, my class, my next steps, my diet, and my travel plans... and now i'm getting all riled up because i'm sure i'm forgetting something. in other words, i'm a fucking basketcase.

5. 8:00 comes really early. really, really early.

Monday, January 28, 2008

kk recommends.


i'm not sure i can make it sound any more amazing than that. but it is very, VERY good. esp. if you're the kind of person that likes cookie dough, except it's friggin CINNAMON BUN DOUGH. incredible.

there's no guilt in this pleasure. it is seriously entertaining. i'm still mad that we didn't make it to the taping, but i almost feel like it's better on tv, and even better than THAT if you can dvr it and skip all the ads.

it's on bbc america. parts of it are shot really beautifully, and gordon is quite the sustainable nut, which i like. he has started a campaign to "get women back in the kitchen," not in a derogatory way, but because he's noticed that this generation never really learned how to cook, and the majority of those who didn't regret that they didn't. so he's adapted his recipes to things you can make at home. and he does side stories about raising pigs and turkeys that are really interesting.

also on bbc america. this woman named jillian finds the most disgusting people in britain and makes them face their awful diets. then she transforms what they eat for 8 weeks, basically turning them into vegetarians. it's actually very interesting the things you learn.

a little belated, but i can't get enough. hop on the band wagon before the real scrabble shuts it down. even better against your facebook friends, but the robot is a hell of a competitor.

not to sound like an eco-nut, but these things are actually great for practical reasons, too. they hold a SHITLOAD, and you're not stuck with a million plastic bags when you get home that just end up as clutter. and i actually enjoy shopping with my bag rather than a grocery basket, because i can just sling it over my shoulder, rather than weighing down my hands. great for so many reasons.

my favorite movie in a very long time. and i'm not just saying that because of all the hype; in fact, when i went to see it, i knew nothing about the story. it is heart-wrenching, but in a great way. it is beautiful and well edited, as i went with my friend's book club and they talked about how the book was a little hard to get through. i may still attempt to read it, but... i say that about everything:)

Monday, January 21, 2008

i've been saying this for a while...

but i think white people should have to work martin luther king day. i'm pretty peeved that i have to. i'm two kinds of minority, dammit!

but seriously, if white people had to work today, they'd either a) build an appreciation for what the world would be like without the contributions of minorities, or b) grow in resentment for what they feel is a world turned against them.

i am ok with either.