June-July 2010
Carolyn & Dolan

North? South? East? West? Never could stay straight. I think it’s because never in my world has the sun risen in the NE and set in the NW. I expected to notice the transition from summer solstice to winter solstice, going from the northern hemisphere to the southern. Instead, I hardly noticed going from twilight at 9:45 to well-lit city streets after 5:45. In the morning, I slept hours past daylight, so not only did I not notice the late sunrise, there was essentially no jetlag because in staying with Kragen & Beatrice, my waking hours also shifted nearly 5 hours, into Argentine active time of noon to midnight.

Loose dogs. Trotting around free and happy, usually seeming to be on a mission (a daily routine?), well-fed, interacting easily with other dogs, peeing on posts & signs & corners, begging for food at sidewalk cafes. For me, having dogs all around fostered a relaxed public atmosphere.

No traffic control at intersections except on major city streets. Mostly. Drivers stop and go, slow down and go, without honking at perceived trespasses. Mostly. And to think I’d been concerned about a couple of unmarked intersections of Glen Park (my San Fran neighborhood).

My Spanish was not sufficient. Or rather, my non-Castellano. That’s Castezhano. Not pollo: poyo, but pollo: pozho. I understood less than I expected to. I’d have to do some drills on verbs and their forms, as well as Castellano pronunciation, to go back. Nothing to do with lisping s’s though.

Noisy Buenos Aires. Also not bueno aire. Or clean BA. Garbage is put out at curbside every evening, scavenged through by self-employed recyclers and dogs, leaving garbage strewn everywhere. In the early AM, before dawn, garbage truck crews comb the neighborhood, cleaning up the remaining trash. Mostly. Apparently the upscale neighborhoods of BA use the method we admired in the small towns we saw, that of a basket perched on a pole about a meter high. Dolan observed that it seemed to be an offering to the garbage gods. Cats have the animal scavenger role with these – little competition with the dogs. Each garbage basket is made by the owner, so there are some interesting varieties.

BA sidewalks in bad condition everywhere. Missing chunks of concrete or stones, even holes.
Hard to remember to focus on the sidewalk when the sights are so interesting. Kind of like driving to Alaska in 1989. Potholes every few miles, enough to want to be cautious but not often enough to require constant attention. Then, whoops.

Very friendly people, both in BA and the smaller towns. And once either of us said anything, very curious about where we were from. Quizzed extensively twice by little boys.

Maps. Each mapmaker has a different idea of what towns and roads are worth representing. Quality of roads and their level of importance are not consistently or accurately represented. On Michelin country map, Lonely Planet maps, Google maps, not even the locally produced tourist maps. Reality was all of them combined.

Soccer – futbol – was the obsession the weeks we were there, and we actually enjoyed being a part of the local crowds watching the Copa Mundial, as well as watching the celebrations following the wins. Didn’t have much choice, in fact, as in BA, where we were asked to leave the National Ethnology Museum early so the staff could watch one of the early games. Every TV in every business was on, with sidewalks and streets virtually empty. For the first win, against Greece, we were in BA, and on our bus /subway/ walk home, we happened upon the very intersection that public celebrations (and demonstrations?) are usually held. A live band in the median of one street, with a balloon image of Maradona floating above the band. That may have been when I finally realized that Diego Maradona, who I knew of as a star Argentine player, was that good-looking coach the TV cameras focused on. The sadness following the loss on the day we left Cordoba was palpable.

For the second victory, against Mexico, we watched the game in the lobby at the small resort we were staying, 5km from the small town of Villa Carlos Paz, with a half dozen Argentinians. It is easy to get caught up in the fervor, and it was hard to concentrate on my email at the computer at the periphery. Later, when we went into town in search of a few groceries, we became part of the gridlock of the mass celebration, with every car in town on the road honking, everyone waving flags, and young people of all sizes were playing pickup games of soccer in every small field along the way. We began to wonder just how bad we needed to find coffee and milk. But as with all travel adventures, you go with the flow.

Soccer must be in Argentine genes, or, well, maybe in the air or water, because even Hermanito, AKA Messi, one of K&B’s kitties, plays soccer across the floor many hours a day with his little jingly ball. He didn’t demonstrate any headshots though. And they don’t even have a TV for him to learn from! Messi’s name is seen on the backs of the blue and white jerseys seen on lots of kids and adults. Girls and women, however, are not seen playing the adhoc games.

Lovely blue and white flags of every size were everywhere for the games, which coincided with the national bicentennial celebration, with ongoing festivities while we were there.

Almost everything was cheap. What a relief. Except coffee. A pound of regular coffee was 35 pesos, as much as a really good bottle of wine. The less expensive coffee was all mixed with sugar. Hm. Whatever led to that? Eating out there cost the same as buying food from the store here. Milk was about twice as expensive as here, and 100% fruit juice was not easily available. Gasoline was about US$4.

There was inexpensive fruit and vegetables at the small markets, but at the one in K&B’s neighborhood, the customers were not supposed to handle them. I had immediately picked up a tomato to examine it, and Kragen quickly told me that I should not. The seller then came up to ask me what I wanted, and offered me one tomato at a time to me until I accepted its condition. I wanna touch my fruit and veggies!

Another relief is that my body – my joints, my feet, my temperature – was happy. [Except on the return flight, sitting in the plane in Mexico City for many long minutes with no air conditioning, temperatures climbing into the high 80s, but that is another story!]

Beggar children on the Subte (subway). They have a procedure: they walk on the train, go up and down the row of passengers, holding their hand out vertically, occasionally with eye contact, laying a little card (some said “Yo te quiero”) on nearly everyone’s lap, and then after making their way around the carful of passengers, coming back to pick up their cards and your offering. Perhaps as many as half of the passengers gave some coins. These kids are dirty and obviously uncared for, and have no emotional involvement with the passengers. Some were solo, and some had a friend. Some ate snacks out of a bag, some didn’t. Not a good childhood.

Small green parrots and pigeons/doves. Everywhere in BA, everywhere around Córdoba and small towns nearby. There were very few other birds, except many small condors.

Roadside shrines, not only with santos, but also with many liter bottles filled with water. Sometimes the rocks adjacent were painted red and shredded red flags showed the wind direction to motorists. Seemed gory. But it turns out not to commemorate a loved one killed at that site as in New Mexico, but for good luck. There is recent Argentine mythology that paying homage to “Gaucho Gil” would bring them luck. For the entire story, Beatrice & Kragen, or other Argentinean, must be consulted.

At night, the streets of the midsize town of Villa Carlos Paz were decorated with “Christmas lights” – stars, evergreen trees, and bells. It was winter, yes, but June, not December. They also had 2 large (10’ x 10’) menorahs used as standard street lighting. Didn’t ask why.

Spanish (Castellano) being spoken by Asian faces. Spoken with Italian accents. Italian gestures. Much physical contact among males, just as with Maradona and his players.

Not nearly as many earbuds for music or cell phones as in San Francisco.

Streets change names every few blocks in some towns, less often in Buenos Aires. Directions given are either vastly incomplete or completely in error.

Ford Falcons, 1950s. Perhaps 10% of all cars. Also, old and new Fiats, old and new Citroens, Peugeots, and Renaults. Tiny old unidentifiable cars. And a smattering of Japanese cars, but no Subarus.

Paid 200 pesos cash (about US$50) to the receptionist at the Swiss Medical Clinic Hospital. The doctor was supposed to give a receipt, but that day he could not for some inexplicable reason so I was told to come back next week for it. Didn’t have it then either. Hmm.

The bus system in Buenos Aires is complicated, the routes are unmapped, and the information given in the official guide and in Lonely Planet was not consistent with reality. Who knew that Bus 62 was the same as Bus 61? Cries to be searchable on a website.

Bidets in even the most basic apartments, like Beatrice & Kragen’s, as well as in some public restrooms!

The contrasts of some aspects of a poor undeveloped country was side by side with high technology, such as the fantastic production projected on the side of the capitol building, incorporating the building’s aspects into scenes of Argentina’s 200-yr history.

Muy interesante!
  • Current Music
    Nestor Garnica (Argentinian)

Playing with Kids

There's been discussion about how much a parent should play with their kids, and I'm posting this in support of all of you now involved in the "work" of raising kids. Any of my own offspring (and other family) can add their own perspective!

How much “should” parents play with their toddlers? What do we really mean by “play” anyway? We know that play is essential to healthy child development, but to get at the “should,” let me frame this discussion by defining “play.”

Play is usually agreed upon as having some of these specific aspects:
- a child experimenting with the physical world with no particular goal except to satisfy the child’s curiosity. The curiosity might be about any number of aspects: what the object tastes like, how it feels to throw it up and catch it, what it can be combined with to explode.
- a child experimenting with the physical world in rough imitation of adults, a genetically programmed urge. Somehow the child knows that he or she will need to be able to shoot arrows accurately from a bow, or fix things with a screwdriver, and can play at learning skills without perfect results.
- a child experimenting with his or her mental world, as with word games, as a child’s language development becomes a focus of his or her attention, or artistic or musical expression, as the voice or colored markers or instruments pass through their hands (this is when the “only on paper” lesson comes in).
- any of these or other activities prompted simply by a desire to have fun, based only on the child’s interest. This can escalate into silliness, and knows no bounds.
- a child experimenting with how his or her own body can move and experience sensations.
Playing with a child by blowing raspberries also gives the blower the fun of hearing the blowee giggle.
- babies discover the nature of the world with games such as peek-a-boo, which makes a game out of learning that people and things do exist even when they disappear from vision.
And gravity. What a fun thing to play with from a high chair!

Parents often are involved in play activities, by intention, such as inviting a small child to catch a rolling ball, or by opportunity, as in swinging a small child who wants to fly around in the air.

But the nature of a child’s play is that, at core, they are “child-centered” activities. Children will play and they will experiment, regardless of what a parent does. But learning more and having more fun can be supported by a parent by providing time, space, and materials, whether it be sand and water, a guitar, or an X-box.

Parents can demonstrate how much fun an activity can be, putting together several legos to make a person, reading with a child before they can read, discussing things in language beyond which the child comprehends totally. But only if doing these things are also “play” for the parent. I rarely got into the sandpile and made the trucks go “rrrrrrr.”

One pleasure of parenting is that you can play with a child in whatever way feels like “play” to you, benefiting you both. Of course, playing with a child is giving the child attention and strengthens the bond between you, and lets the child feel valued. My father used to play with my kids, who wanted to be pushed in a swing, by counting each push in Spanish. That made it fun for him, and as an intuitive teacher, he knew it was an effective way to teach.

“Playing” with a child also encompasses activities that might not be thought of as “play” to a parent, like gardening and encouraging the child to “help” you. Sometimes, if the parent is feeling very patient, play can even be combined with work, (!) such as letting the child join you in washing dishes.

And we all know it is more fun to play than not play, so having a child show you how to play when you otherwise wouldn’t be is their gift to us. I think I probably would have benefited by playing more!

How much “playing with” a child is necessary for good development of your child and your relationship with him or her? Just enough. And only as much as feels fun to you.
  • Current Mood
    contemplative contemplative

steep learning curve

All right now, this is driving me nuts. I've got to set everybody straight (sounds like me, eh?).
A "steep learning curve" is not the right term for what people mean when they invoke it.

I see it used everywhere to mean that it takes a long time to learn the task at hand. But the convention in drawing graphs is to put time on the horizontal line, the “x” axis, right? And the other variable, in this case, information learned, is on the vertical line, the “y” axis, right?

So if a task takes a long time to learn, the slope of the “learning curve” will not be steep at all; it will be a very gentle incline, increasing in the vertical increments slowly. Is it that the metaphor of a steep hill to climb is equated with great difficulty? Don’t these people take enough science classes (or critical thinking!) to know this?

Any thoughts, anyone?

An afternoon in the Richmond

In the Outer Richmond district of San Francisco Monday. Car repair shop owned by an American of Chinese ancestry, whose wife (of same ancestry?) is feeding their Pekingese dog canned dog food with a spoon at her desk next to his. Very nice guy. Doesn’t try to sell me extra stuff. We’ll just do front brakes today.

I go to an Asian-American household variety shop (40 million items in about 3 cubic feet) and think to look for a shower cap. I find a bag of “Bath thing” – not only does it have a shower cap, but a long thin back scrubber thing, and a hand foam washer thing – all for $1. Hey, ok, the scrubber washer things would even come in handy for travel. The label also says, “New century Sanitarian thing,” dispelling any further hesitation. And “Made in Chian.” Uh, um, ok, I’m not eating it, or using it to teach how “China” is spelled in English.

On to a Bagel/Donut shop, which has Asian delicacies too – hey, those don’t have to be exclusionary foods from across one counter! Very pleasant young woman of Asian descent waits on me. Young “Anglo” man at next table, sitting with a very attractive young “Anglo(?)” woman, can’t help but spill over his enthusiasm about Barack Obama with me.

I have time for a movie, so I pop into the neighborhood theater, buying a ticket to VickyCristinaBarcelona from a very polite young man of Asian descent. Fun enough movie for an afternoon. Reflects a common dilemma, I suspect, but temptation from monogamy is a subject of its own. As is young adult angst. Interesting shots of Barcelona architecture. But I notice that the Spanish they speak is completely understandable to me, unlike if they were speaking Catalan.

Still have a bit more time, so I pop my non-Asian head into a beauty salon, ask if they take walk-ins, ask if they can give me a trim, now, and a young woman of Asian descent climbs off a vibrating chair to take me in, sit me down, and determine the finger measurement that I want off. She motions me over to the sink, speaking English phrases. She starts combing me out and apparently doubt creeps into her mind about how well she can handle this, uh, curly, well, wavy, anyway, not straight, hair, and wordlessly leaves to go in the front room to confer with the woman performing a manicure on a young “Anglo” woman. [Actually, in the Richmond, she is as likely to be Russian, so perhaps I should retreat to the more accurate “Caucasian”.] Both workers return, the replacement takes over the haircut, and I readily click to the obvious and say, laughing, “It’s not Asian hair, is it? Curly, or wavy, I know, it’s different to cut!” She is, as I guess aloud, the owner of the shop, and knows how to cut curly/wavy hair. I ask, in a pause in their conversation, which I presume was her teaching the first woman how to do it, “Is that Vietnamese you are speaking?” Yes, it is, and they are pleased I know, and ask if I speak any words. I say no, I just used to hear it among my students when I taught English/ESL. Woman #1 spends a long time ostensibly learning to how to cut curly/wavy hair, while the young woman getting a manicure is still waiting, which I consciously decide against apologizing for.

The shop owner is fascinated by the color of my hair – so many different colors and types of waviness, and proclaims that my grey hair looks great – “it looks like highlighting” –
and I tell her that it was blonde until I was 28, then turned dark suddenly. She keeps talking about it, trying to figure out what color it could be called – I offer brown, and she shakes her head and asserts that her own hair is brown – while her, motioning to the first woman, hair is black. I declare, to their amazement, that my mother had straight black hair. We agree on “dark blonde with grey” – I keep hoping it will become “silver threads among the gold” as Marian the Librarian in Dallas told me hers was.

Then she asks me if I am “100% American” – obvious in context that she is referring to my ancestry or place of origin, not my ideology. Yes, I assure her, laughing and enjoying her intrigue with me. She persists in doubt, and I try telling her about New Mexico, between Arizona and Texas, and hearing a lot of Spanish. Then I explain in a couple of sentences my heritage, including the American Indian. I’m sure some other women of European ancestry have come in her shop – there are signs in English, though I’m not sure how the Russian immigrants regard Asian hair salons. Then I ask her if she thought that I wasn’t “100%” because of my hair, or because of the way I speak. The way I speak, she indicates. Hm – is it the pen/pin phenomenon?

I wanted to make the point that anyone who is here long enough should consider themselves “American,” and ask if she has children. No, she said, not even married. “Missed that one,” she chuckles. So I don’t pursue the discussion of what it takes to be American – it no longer fits into the conversation.

My guess is that she is about 40, but I don’t ask. I decide to indulge myself, though, and I ask her, “How old do you think I am?” She knows this is a tricky question, dances all over it, and we both agree that women of Asian ancestry do not show aging in quite the same ways as those of European ancestry. She comes up with “40,” at which I whoop with laughter. She explains that Asian women know to stay out of the sun, which is not a precaution that women like me usually take.

Since she was about to blow dry my hair, she continues her discussion, now about Vietnamese women specifically, who, she says, believe that blow dryers cause headaches, and even loss of memory. I can’t tell how she reconciles this, since she didn’t seem to altogether discount it, and it is clear that she uses blow dryers regularly on her customers. Do you suppose a dry wind is indicative of bad weather in Vietnam, or just that wind is never dry, and therefore must not be healthy?
  • Current Mood
    mellow mellow

Color Preferences and the Expression of Gender Identity

I wrote this as a fuller response to RebbyRibs' post about girls and pink. You may want to reread her post and my first response.

Iris claimed her gender a long time ago. It is an inextricable part of her. There is “girl-ness” that is sensed when being with her, as distinguished from “boy-ness.” Fifty strangers could meet Iris today dressed in green, yellow, brown, black, or white, and 49 of them would know she is a girl.

Declaring a preference for pink (and purple) and “pretty” shoes is behavior that is modeling one end of the continuum of “girl-ness” in American culture. In Japan, until the American occupation after WWII, little girls were dressed in red. That other cultures associate different colors with genders shows that color preference cannot be mapped directly on to an expression of gender identity. The color preferences are culturally determined, as contrasted with gender identity, which remains (relatively) stable whatever the culture a child is in.

Here is my assessment of the American girl pink preference:

Many articles of children’s clothing, toys, and even household items for children are manufactured in pink. American adults who buy things for small girls associate the color pink with girls, and when there is a choice of color, pink is often chosen, both consciously and unconsciously. Especially when the alternative is military camo, pink seems the obvious choice.

Iris knows she is a “girl” and knows which gender her friends and most other children she meets are. She is seeing lots of pink being worn and used by her girl-friends, and since she is also becoming more social and socially aware, will tend to model her color choices on that, just as she will model some things that they do. Pink has become a common, familiar color with her, and therefore a comfortable part of her world. She and other little girls share the tendency (that often continues into adulthood) of preferring the familiar, which leads to a color monopoly when choices are made. And therefore manufacturers meet the demand, continuing the cycle.

So pink preferences are perpetuated, through the association with the dominant notion of American girl-ness for at least the last 50 years. The color pink itself does not have a one-to-one correspondence to female gender identity. The stereotype that “girls prefer pink” does no favor to those girls who don’t prefer it, and to those who did last month but don’t anymore, and to those who are indifferent. The stereotype disenfranchises those who don’t buy in to preferences on the end of the continuum. It is another story to write how those who are inclined to fit the stereotype are ill-served by it.

Offering choices to her may not be enough to offset the implicit message that there are a series of preferences that must be subscribed to in order to be a “girl.” I think parents have to be aware of sexist cultural messages and work actively to promote alternatives in all areas.

As I stated before, allowing “girl-ness” to be defined widely is in the best interest of all.
Buddy Belly


A new infirmity! My carpal tunnel is yelling "Symptoms!"

I'm doing everything I should do, NSAIDS, using my left hand more (toothbrushing is a challenge), and I've made adaptations -- fastening Buddy (above, in repose) to my beltloop instead of to my wrist when we walk (by leash...)
and wearing a splint at night and some of the day, to keep it out of Buddy's wrist position above...

That's all ... just wanted to bitch a little about my body getting worn out .... I know, it's not fatal ... no sympathies requested ...
  • Current Mood
    pissed off pissed off

Baaad Experience

I came closer to death this week than I ever have before. Sitting at my computer.

It came on suddenly, as a sensation of having a war of some sort inside. It went from, “gee, this is an unfamiliar uncomfortable sensation” to “ooh, I’m getting sick” to “ooh I’m getting very sick – what is going on here?” in less than ten minutes. I was writing an email to Beatrice, after having looked at a link that she’d sent me, and having printed out a page of the website at 8:46pm, when I was starting the “ooh, I’m getting sick” stage. “What is going on here?” progressed to “maybe I should call Serafina, ... or 911 ... ooh, I’m a little dizzy and nauseated...”

Then waking up looking sideways at the floor with my head cushioned in my wicker wastebasket. Was it my lifesaver? Maybe, because when I woke up I sat up immediately to vomit. If my head had hit the sides of the sharp edged oak bookshelves, I might have been unconscious longer, when I needed to vomit. Oh, not a good combination.

The cause? Food with excessive bacterial growth, to which, apparently, I respond to rather aggressively, or to the toxins they’ve produced. Restaurant subsequently inspected and cited, finding:
tofu stored on counter, not refrigerated
knives not being sanitized between uses
towels used for wiping down counters and cutting boards not stored in sanitizer
(allowing those bacteria to do even more than "hold hands" as my Pop used to say)

Scenario: tofu sitting out at room temperature, growing bacteria, cut on a cutting board just wiped with a bacteria-laden towel, with a knife used previously (on raw pork? chicken?), introducing more bacteria, sauteed a bit but not thoroughly cooked, served to Ben, Becca, Iris, and Carolyn, eaten primarily by me. YUM!

By 9:08 I had passed out, woke up and vomited, got up and rinsed and gargled in the bathroom, washed my face, and typed a final sentence to Beatrice.

Then I typed an email to all my geographically close family (S&J&B&B) that I was sick and to come check on me that evening. I was also worried about Ben & Becca in case both of them had reacted as I had. It apparently took me 5 minutes to type the email, and I sent it at 9:13, still contemplating the humor of my final remark “well, I have to go clean up my vomit now, before Buddy comes back in.”

I was unconscious for anywhere from less than one minute to thirteen minutes, with the likelihood about 7-10 minutes, given that:
- I was probably on the computer typing for a couple minutes or more after the printing of that page – I remember looking at it, annoyed how it printed, but being distracted by feeling sick.
- I’m sure it took more than a minute to wake up, sit up, vomit, and recover enough to stand up.
- And I was in the bathroom for at least five minutes afterward.

The time between 8:46 and 9:08 can be accounted for using those minimums, but I think events probably took longer, though I doubt I awakened upon hitting the floor, cushioned by my devoted wastebasket. I’ve never passed out like that, and accompanied by vomiting, it is scary. I recovered quickly, telling Serafina on the phone at about 9:30 that I felt better, and that I was much better at 10:00. I stayed up til midnight doing this and that, and felt normal before going to bed.

Usually when people get sick, there is a longer time frame of development, and even when mental judgement is impaired, after a few hours of being sick, most people living alone would call for some help. I suppose some people die with very little warning after “ooh, I’m getting very sick.” Even when they don’t choke on their own vomit.

Back to the topic of the smashed wastebasket – I look down now and imagine landing with my head in it – how hard that must have been since I have absolutely no memory of it. That wastebasket has been the focus of my attention all week – this happened Sunday night the 5th.
My head would have hit hard on the floor, and even more severely, on the edge of the bottom shelf of the bookcase. At least half the time the wastebasket is closer to my other desk, on the other end of the bookshelf. What luck.
  • Current Mood
    contemplative contemplative

Buffalo & Indians

Following here is a series of emails from yesterday, which I think are self-explanatory:

Subject: buffalo and what?
Date: August 4, 2008 9:20:50 AM PDT

At 8:48am this morning on KQED radio, I heard a most disturbing racial stereotype by your morning announcer: the traffic reporter had just said that there were buffalo in the road (giving the specific location) and the announcer's immediate addition to that was something to the effect of "the Indians can't be far behind"

While most Americans of Native ancestry are proud of their heritage, which includes the historic association with buffalo, most are not happy to have this stereotype invoked as entertainment. Group stereotypes, even when generally positive, can be unhelpful to individuals as they find ways to be happy, productive citizens in today's world. Envision a job interview this morning with a young Native person and a supervisor who has just heard the radio comment. Will the supervisor joke to the Native person, "Did you lose your buffalo today? They were on the freeway!" or will the supervisor merely contextualize this young person as "different" and be distracted from the positive qualities of the Native applicant?

Your announcer needs to have some sensitivity training....

thanks for listening,
Carolyn Kernberger, a listener with a bit of Native American blood

from KQED:
Your comments have been forwarded to the announcer and our operations
We received a phone message and several emails concerning this
inappropriate remark. I brought this to the attention of the announcer,
face to face and he said he knew the minute he let this out that he had
just been totally stupid and unprofessional.
His supervisor will discuss this with him very shortly.
We regret this occurrence. We can only hope this announcer and the many
others on staff will engage their brains before starting the mouth.
Thanks for listening & bringing this to our attention.

Dear Ms. Kernberger;

I'm writing in response to your complaint sent this morning. As the
person responsible for the utterance, I want to apologize for the nature
of the comment and its obvious lack of sensitivity. The truth is I knew
the moment the words left my lips that it was something I shouldn't have
said. I hope and trust you won't hold this against me or KQED radio,
and that you'll continue your listenership secure in the knowledge that
you won't hear this sort of inference in the future.


Matt Elmore

Dear Matt,

I appreciate your personal response to my expression of outrage this morning.
I’m sure your day has been full of repercussions about your off-the-cuff remark, but let me tell you how my thought processes went which contributed to your day: Buffalo on the freeway? Well, I had no idea there was enough ranchland around CommutableToSanFran to have buffalo. I wonder where the buffalo ranch is? I’ve seen buffalo being domesticated (kind of) to market as a beef alternative in New Mexico. I wonder who owns the ranch through which fences buffalo have prevailed? [Not who runs it, but who owns it.]

I am very glad that you were relaxed and enjoying your job this morning, I mean, seriously, that’s very good for listeners. The personality of a news announcer is important, even in public media. It affects the tone and mood in a household or car, or within a person’s reception network. My late husband (who was never late, and would want me to note that) was a public television producer, and I respect someone who is working in public television/radio.

In fact, I was kind of enjoying the change of personality this morning, when I was confronted with an image of Warrior Indians with loincloths and tomahawks chasing buffalo! BAM!

Can you empathize with my perception? I, a “white” woman, felt not just dismay at hearing the flatly racist comment, but I felt it as an abrupt jolt, and undoubtedly so did many of my cohorts.

I find it unfathomable that such a comment could come from a sensitive enlightened person, so I want my comment to show you that if you consider yourself sensitive and enlightened, then you need to gaze at your navel on your very next weekend off.

Please take this as advice from an aging Boomer, and just chill with it.



What a satisfying day. I had a visit with an old friend, who(m) I hadn't seen for about six years, a woman who lost her husband to cancer the same year as Karl died. Two "young widows" -- I had gone to graduate school with her husband -- we did ESL projects together -- and I was always touched by how he used to speak of her with such love and awe. She now lives in Palo Alto and is remarried, and we've been emailing since January. Just now we were able to coordinate our weekends! She teaches kindergarten, absolutely loves it, and has 2 grandchildren in New Mexico, who(m) she also loves! She is the kind of person I would have been friends with anyway, even if I hadn't known her husband. She's warm and witty. We had walked up to my house from BART, heard a mockingbird, and I postulated the question to her of what evolutionary advantage their song repertoire could have for them? Can't be for breeding, since bird species don't interbreed, so it must be for food resources somehow. She posited that maybe they are the Mozarts of the birds, and I added that maybe it was for fun. I read Baboon Metaphysics recently and the idea of carefully examining animals' motivations and reasoning is continuing to churn in my mind. So I'll be doing some mockingbird research.

AND, if that weren't enough, Jay transported me with bags of topsoil home this evening, and I finished my raised bed with the soil and 12" stakes -- I've been framing it with wood and rocks this week. Then I planted the 2 little tomato plants I bought this week on a busride out Sloat with Buddy. And then watered it, dammed up the leaks, watered again. Oh, my goodness, this is so wonderful to plan to be in one place all growing season, and be able to go outside to tend to it. I'm always down to just a T-shirt after much work at all, at temps in the high 50s - low 60s. Then as soon as I'm sedentary, its on with another layer, and another. So I am looking forward to home-grown tomatoes! (And smelling the bushes!)

Bay to Breakers afternoon

Yesterday, hours after the Bay to Breakers "race," I waited for the bus for a full 45 minutes -- after 30 minutes, the "we're strangers -- just happen to be waiting for the same bus" starts to evolve into "we're passengers on a sinking ship, folks, why don't we chat about it?" The other woman keeps checking the Muni website on her phone/computer, proclaiming its accuracy. I've not found the info on the ones I see displayed at the shelters very accurate. On the #1 California, it would be off 10 minutes as often as it was right. And then the guy would step out in the street and proclaim he SAW ONE! But when I stepped out, I never saw it, so we all joked that *eventually* he'd be right. And this banter went on a loooooong time.

But more people were more drunk or stoned, so the crowded ride was relaxed, with people joking with each other. A couple guys who were dressed as golf players from England 100 years ago stood right in front of me, and we joked about how many balls they'd lost.