May 28, 2008

How to Build Global Community

Think of no one as "them" Don't confuse your comfort with your safety Talk to strangers Imagine other cultures through their art, poetry and novels Listen to music you don't understand Dance to it Act locally Notice the workings of power and privilege in your culture Question consumption Know how your lettuce and coffee are grown: wake up and smell the exploitation Look for fair trade and union labels Help build economies from the bottom up Acquire few needs Learn a second (or third) language Visit people, places and cultures - not tourist attractions Learn people's history Redefine progress Know physical & political geography Play games from other cultures Watch films with subtitles Know your heritage Honor everyone's holidays Look at the moon and imagine someone else, somewhere else, looking at it too Read the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights Understand the global economy in terms of people, land and water Know where your bank banks Never believe you have a right to anyone else's resources Refuse to wear corporate logos; defy corporate domination Question military/corporate connections Don't confuse money with wealth, or time with money Have a pen/email pal Honor indigenous cultures Judge governance by how well it meets all people's needs Be skeptical about what you read Eat adventurously Enjoy vegetables, beans, and grains in your diet Choose curiosity over certainty Know where your water comes from and where your wastes go Pledge allegiance to the earth: question nationalism Think South, Central and North - there are many Americans Assume that many others share your dreams Know that no one is silent though many are not heard - Work to change this

- A special thanks to Jonathan who gave this postcard to me.

May 27, 2008

Best Soda Ever Made

The best soda ever made, in my opinion, is cream soda. I will drink other sodas, but I will go out of my way to drink cream soda. In fact, I am thinking about getting a keg system of cream soda when I get back from Peace Corps. My dad met a guy who has a root beer/refrigerator/keg system and that sounds pretty flippin' awesome.

Anyhow, before I leave for Peace Corps I would like to share my recent cream soda observations which have been collected over the past few months here at home. To date, as best as I can remember, I have tried six different brands of cream soda: IBC, Polar, Jones, Cott, Virgil, and Publix. I am on the lookout for more of course, but these six have been a great start. Here is where they stand on my 5-Star Cream Soda Rating System based on Creaminess, Flavor and Uniqueness.

Jones (4.5 Stars) - Pretty creamy, great flavor and unique with cane sugar
Cott (4 Stars) - Very creamy, good flavor and not very unique
Publix (4 Stars) - Creamy, very good flavor and not very unique
Virgil (3.5 Stars) - So-so creaminess, good flavor and very unique taste
IBC (3 Stars) - So-so creaminess, average flavor and not very unique
Polar (2.5 Stars) - So-so creaminess, below average flavor and not very unique

So while Jones does not receive the highest rating of 5 Stars, it is currently the leader by my estimation. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them!

May 24, 2008

Five Stars

I often rate things (movies, shows, events, food, cream sodas, etc.) by saying how many stars I give them. Here is a basic explanation of what each rating means:

0 Stars - I absolutely hated this
0.5 Stars - I really hated this
1 Star - I hated this
1.5 Stars - I really didn't like this
2 Stars - I didn't like this
2.5 Stars - This was so-so
3 Stars - This was okay
3.5 Stars - I liked this
4 Stars - I really liked this
4.5 Stars - I loved this
5 Stars - I absolutely loved this

May 23, 2008


I can't believe I haven't written about this before, but Ishmael by Daniel Quinn is one of my favorite books ever and consequently the movie Instinct (inspired by the book) starring Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding, Jr. is one of my favorite movies. My dad, brother and I just watched it and I remembered me of how awesome it is.

Here's the general idea of both the book and the movie: humankind as we know it didn't always exist as it does now. We didn't always own land, or exterminate species including other humans just because we wanted to. We didn't eat more than we needed to eat or take more than we needed to take. We lived in the wild not outside it, and we lived with animals not in fear of them. In the simplest terms we were Leavers, not Takers. Takers have dominion over animals, subdue tracks of land all around them, store up excess animals and crops, kill all animals that compete with or kill the domesticated animals, and live under the illusion that it is their right and good to do all of these things. By contrast, as Anthony Hopkins says in the movie, "tribal societies - hunters, gatherers, planters. They never killed more animals than they could use. They never ploughed more land than they needed. They fought, but they never waged war. Never exterminated. They had a place in the world. And in the world, they were part of it. And they shared it." Ten thousand years ago we changed that. If you are interested in the rest of the story, I highly suggest both the book and the movie. As one reviewer from the Whole Earth Review said, "From now on I will divide the books I have read into two categories -- the ones I read before Ishmael and those read after."

May 22, 2008

Feed Me See More

Feed readers are a really cool way to read a lot of blogs, news stories, quotes or updating pages at once. For instance, let's say you like to read Chase Vaughan's blog, Joel Achenbach's blog, Peace Corps News Releases and Time Quotes of the Day but you don't like checking back on each page several times a day. With Google Reader, or dozens of other quality readers, you just type in the address of the blog and then it automatically updates every time there is a new post or a new quote. After one quick look at Google Reader you can check up on all your favorite websites for that day and then be on your way. I have really enjoyed it myself and hope you find it helpful too. There plenty of great posts to be read out there and with a feed reader, it's easy to see more.

May 19, 2008

iPod Slipcases

There are a lot of cases out there made for iPods, and some are quite expensive, but personally my favorite has always been the one that came with the iPod for free. It is soft, thin and simple. Unfortunately the iPod Touch didn't come with one like the normal iPods do. I looked everywhere for one, but couldn't find one until last week when I finally lucked out! eBay apparently has just about everything, including iPod slipcases, for $1.40 with free shipping! I got mine in the mail today, one black and one white, and they are made by Apple and everything! If you want some, hurry up and buy them. There are a couple hundred left, but I like mine so much I might buy all of them...

May 18, 2008

12 Days Left

It’s pretty crazy, but I will be leaving for Mongolia in 12 days. I am working on my packing list and spending a lot of time with my family and friends, but most of all I am trying to stay aware of the present moment and appreciate every little thing that happens around me (such as the month-old kitten which happens to be asleep here on my shoulder). It is a little daunting to pack for two years, but it is comforting to know that the most important thing that I am bringing is myself...oh yeah, and the computer, and base layers...

May 16, 2008

No More Telemarketers

The National Do Not Call Registry works with telemarketers across the country to remove phone numbers from calling lists if their owners do not want to be called. It's free and it's pretty awesome. If you want to remove your number from all telemarketer lists just visit the website, put in your numbers and then you're all set!

My Favorite Thing About Myself

A few years ago I read a worksheet that my little brother brought home from school. It had lots of questions on it such as, "What is your favorite color?", "What is your favorite sport?" and "What is your favorite thing about yourself?" The answers to those first two questions haven't stuck with me, but I remember what he put for the last one: my hair. I think I remember because I thought, "Yeah, me too." Funny isn't it, how we attach ourselves to physical features and identify ourselves with them? I think it's good to appreciate our bodies and be grateful, respectful and caring toward our bodies, but when I called my hair one of my favorite parts of my body I was going further than appreciation or respectfulness.

About two or three years ago my hair began to thin and that was when I started to realize how attached I was to it (and ironically how unattached it was to me). It was hard. As much as I had liked it and identified with it I then began to miss it and need something else with which to identify myself. I know it seems kind of crazy and petty, especially when compared to losing an arm or a leg, but I think the difficulty has a lot more to do with the attachment than with the object. If your "favorite thing about yourself" is anything physical that can be lost then losing it can and will be very difficult.

Now I am not totally over my attachment to my hair, but I am slowly getting there. I appreciate my body, though I need to show that more through regular exercise and healthy habits, but I am trying not to identify with it as much anymore. It is my hope that soon, when I think about my favorite thing about myself, I will think about character rather than follicles.

May 12, 2008

A Different Later

When I end a conversation by saying "See ya later!" I usually mean about a day or so, maybe as long as a week. But as I see my friends here at Campbell for the last time before I head to Peace Corps in Mongolia "later" actually means two years from now at the earliest. What do you say to people when you know you won't see them for months or years? I guess you tell them that you love them, that you will be thinking of them, and that you will miss them. You tell them how much they mean to you and how much you have enjoyed your experiences with them. For everything else you don't know how to say, you smile at them, hug them, kiss them and know that they are probably having a hard time thinking of how to say everything too.

May 11, 2008

Changing Times

It is always a blessing to see friends who I have known for years and years. They remind me of the many incredible experiences I have had as well as all of the things that have helped make me into who I am. At the same time, it is also a blessing to enjoy new experiences and realize, as events are happening, that these too are memories that will be cherished in the future. I graduated from Campbell right at one year ago and that still feels wild. I know I have grown since that time, but I still feel like the same person. Visiting with Shaw as he graduated from his Masters program yesterday and visiting with Chase and Michael as they graduate the day after tomorrow from Campbell, it's easy to see that life is moving along quickly. Change happens all around us all the time and it is very important to be present for it, appreciating it and recognizing that it is real and inevitable. It is good to appreciate the past, certainly, but I think it is very wise to appreciate the present. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to share these moments with my friends and family and I hope I appreciate them fully.

May 5, 2008

Your Check From George W.

Checks and direct deposits have started being made by the IRS to over 137 million Americans as of this week. The Economic Stimulus Package, as we have all heard by now, was approved by Congress and will give each individual who filed their taxes returns and made over $3,000 a $300 check or a $600 based on how much they paid in taxes. You can find out how much you will receive here and you can find out when you will receive it here. The system is based on the last two digits of your Social Security number, so if you are like me and your last two digits are 97 than you will receive your direct deposit by May 16th or your check by July 11th. As far as whether you will get direct deposit or a check, it will be the same as what you received when you filed your taxes. As you can see by this newspaper ad that my sister clipped out, local businesses are all over this. Good luck with your check, may you all stimulate your wallets and the economy.