Natala la la la ... ... ...


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

i've moved to seattle 

I'm off to the norah jones concert...but don't fret, there's more to come (including a recap of an amazing weekend in tennessee - go VOLS!). the above is a picture of the sound from my deck.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

hey goofy 

Cards by: Laboratory5

my sister gave me the coolest card today with her kick-ass, uber-sentimental and just damn *HILLARIOUS* birthday present. The card is above. The crazy critter on the cover is made out of felt WITH grommet eyes! you know i loved it [1]. The inside of the card said: "hey goofy just a note to say i love you." awwww. I'm really going to miss being so close to my family.

my boys 

For the last year, I've led semi-weeekly roundtable sessions at the East Palo Alto Charter School through my work with the Junior League. Spending time with the boys has been an amazing experience - I think i've learned as much from them as they from me. Today was my last session. We talked a lot about why I'm moving, tackling opportunities and facing diversity. I was impressed with all of them -- even with their constant chatter, it really showed how much they have grown in the last year. Of course, now they are 8th graders so they have the run of the school -- and we talked a bit about what that means and the responsibility that comes with it. We also recapped the year, and came up with these takeaways:
(1) Don't react / overeact. (brush your shoulders off)
(2) Take care of yourself.
(3) Be kind to each other.
(4) Focus on success. Livestrong.

All things I'll certainly take with me as i head into this next adventure. I'll miss my boys!

cold in california 

i woke up last night at somewhere around 4:45 AM because i was too cold to sleep. Now, this could also be because my subconcious was awakened by a text message (you know who you are) i received at the same time, thus awakening a part of me that said "wake up! it's freaking cold!" So, I got up and shivered and then did the only thing that seemed to work: i put on a second pair of pajamas. I was already wearing my nice warm late summer PJs, but i decided the only way to get back to sleep would be to add on top my velour hoodie and pants. I was warm and toasty, and ready to go back to bed.

The thing is, when i sleep in the cold I have *weird* dreams. I think my entire life of the last two weeks ran through my head -- but through the view of a kaleidoscope with a host of new melded characters and, thankfully, a pretty good soundtrack. I woke up this morning a little stiff from sleeping in the fetal position of warmth and with "just a ride" by jem running through my head.

The lyrics are telling given that in the over the next week my entire life is going to flip:

It’s good for a change
You think you worked it out
Bang, right outta the blue
Something happens to you
To throw you off course
But then you

Break down
Yeah, you break down
Don’t you break down
Listen to me

It’s just a ride
It’s just a ride
No need to run, no need to hide
It’ll take you round and round
Sometimes you’re up sometimes you’re down
It’s just a ride
It’s just a ride
Don’t be scared, don’t hide your eyes
It may feel so real inside
But don’t forget it’s just a ride

(complete lyrics here)

I have the break down, break down lyric stuck in my head. thankfully, i'm not breaking down. yet.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

blogview: voter registration in afghanistan  

A good friend of mine is deployed “somewhere” in Pakistan as an Operations Officer for the International Organization for Migration's Out-of-Country Voting Initiative for Afghanistan. She recently sent me an e-mail discussing her experience abroad and with her permission I’m sharing some of her insights.
*Please post comments so that she can read them, she's now being deployed in-field!*

What are you doing?
I’m working as a voter education officer for the United Nations/IOM Out of Country Registration and Voting Afghanistan. I create public information programs to encourage Afghan refugees to participate in the political process. Dream work!
(note: seriously this is so cool, she’s been active in this type of stuff since, well, we were scruffy teens!)

What’s day-to-day life like in Pakistan?
The security is pretty thick around here, armed guards day and night, shatter-proof glass, etc. We’re under surveillance by the Pakistani secret police and have good reason to believe the offices are bugged. I’ve heard its standard for an operation like this, so I don’t think there’s much to be worried about. We’re not supposed to walk around alone, but I shirked this rule after consulting the locals. Not being able to go out on your own for a walk or for a browse at the marketplace is no fun. I’m not taking any chances, but I think its harmless enough so long as you stick to areas where expatriates are welcome and observe the dress code and customs – I always wear the chador, a huge scarf that covers the hair, neck and upper body and the salwar kameez, which is a long tunic paired with wide trousers.

What do people think of Americans?
When asked where I am from, I respond, “Belgium.” To say you’re American is the social equivalent of telling someone upon first meeting them that they fornicate with their mother. After the initial shock, the response will range from talk about pop culture to marking a target on your body. Best not to take chances!

How would you describe Pakistan?
Pakistan is beautiful. Reminds me of California -- very hilly and rocky, green in parts, desert in others. Very dusty.

What are the people like? Have you visited any of the camps?
The Pakistani and Afghan people I've met are very kind and honest. I haven’t had much chance to venture out, but I did take a trip to the North West Frontier Province to a refugee camp by the Afghan boarder to observe the voter registration procedures. You can well imagine what the camp conditions were like. I went to the men’s camp first, but they didn’t take too kindly to my presence. I was first ignored, then was made a spectacle and sneered at. So I headed over to the women’s camp and was greeted formally and warily, but that’s also to be expected when a stranger descends upon you and is observing your every move. The kids were the saving grace, as they always are.

How is the voter registration process going?
The voter registration process is a difficult one when you’re working with a population that has uprooted from one place to the next. Most are illiterate and have no legal documents. Many did not know how old they were, or what year they left Afghanistan (to be eligible to vote, you must have left on or after the Soviet Occupation of 1979). We improvised by asking neutral questions to determine eligibility: “What kingdom was in power when you were born, or left
Afghanistan,” etc. Their answers told the history of the country these last thirty years -- the famines, the Soviet and American Occupations, the Taliban, the landmines, the lost children, the disappearances of loved-ones. Most wanted to return, while others were adamant they had no “home” to go back to. All hoped that Afghanistan would one day be a stronger and more peaceful nation than how they left it.

How are the Afghan people helping with registration?
The Afghan women who were registering voters were so proud to be given such an important task. However many feared for their safety should their elders believe they had something to do with the potential selection of the “wrong” candidate. Others were afraid to leave the registration cards and ballots at the poling facility and asked if they could take the boxes home to keep them safe.

What do people think about the election?
No one believes these elections are going to usher forth revolutionary change. But we all share the belief that it’s one crucial step along the way.

Friday, September 17, 2004

john john 

so, i'm voting for kerry. but i'm not sure why...
honestly, it is largely because i'm sick of W. I was an early Dean supporter, and I've never been 100% won-over by Kerry. I just can't stand another four years of W. Things like letting the assault weapons ban "just expire" infuriate me. but they also exasperate me. When it comes to Kerry, I know i should support him. I often joke that I'm a "traveler for kerry" -- as Bush's one great success has been to make the rest of the world wary of American's, a sad state for a traveler who likes to explore. But yet, even so, I don't find myself drawn to Kerry. I think it is because, as Phillip James noted, Kerry's a rambler. He talks in long, drawn out sentences, and he is, at times, overly academic. It isn't engaging... and it makes it difficult to find the "point" in what he's saying. I think this is a huge problem for his campaign -- I should be a strong supporter yet I'm not even that excited about the specific candidate! I'm more excited about getting rid of W -- a sentiment that seems to be widespread.
Anyways, I did find this quote from a guardian article compelling - notably the quote is from John Edwards:
"Everywhere in America, families sit at the kitchen table and divide the bills into two piles: one says 'pay now' and the other says 'pay later'. You're worrying that this week's paycheck won't cover last week's doctor's bill. That it won't cover the mortgage and the college tuition bill."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

more innovative philanthropy 

Photo Credit: Smithsonian Magazine / Enrico Ferorelli 2004.

I just read an article in the Smithsonian Magazine called "New Leash on Life." The article profiles a program in New York -- Puppies Behind Bars (PBB) -- that places puppies in the care of inmates to train them to become seeing-eye dogs. It's a remarkable program -- and highly successful. Jean Coaxum, an inmate serving for second-degree murder and attempted robbery said," You get confidence, and you believe that you can do something good." I love these types of programs that instill confidence and work to assist individuals in seeing alternatives so that they can change their lives. I also like that prisoners provide freedom to the new, blind puppy owners -- seems like everyone involved is getting out of their own prisons.

If you don't have time to read the article, I highly recommend visiting the PBB website where they have a video that profiles the program and the individuals who participate.

Monday, September 13, 2004

what do you give a person who has nothing?  

free voicemail. what an excellent concept. In the past, when i've worked with homeless populations one of the greatest problems for them is taking calls from employers. Without an address, you can't get a cellphone, and without a phone you can't get a message from an employer who may want to offer you a job. It's a problem for homeless shelters too as they don't typically have the infrastructure to support a multi-person phone system...and we all know what happens to messages on pieces of paper...but this idea - free and simple voicemail -- is one that is helping the homeless secure jobs. i love it!

Grameen bank has also started a project that gives beggers cellphones -- which they then use as "mobile phonebooths" charging for the service to local villagers wanting to make a phone call. Already they are seeing success as beggers earn money to get housing and create a successful mobile-phone-booth service.

i think these ideas are great -- because they are liberating and easy. i've always felt that true charity is one that not only gives something to an individual in need -- but provides respect in the process. But ulitmately, I've always felt that charity has to be liberating -- it should provide freedom as a component of the gift. Both of these programs embody these ideas. Paulo Freire would be proud.

trinkets & treasures 

From left to right: Jess, Anna, the cindy sign, jb, vignetta, me, sean, chris, steve. circa 1993.

as part of my move to seattle i'm consolidating all the junk i own... it's not an easy process as i am quite the packrat... here are a few notes on things found:

above: picture of my friends from school (and today!)
tossed: jr. high / high school rolodex...did everyone have a rolodex in HS or was I the only neurotic one?
kept: kings quest I-IV guide/introduction books. these things were a serious part of my computer life!
found: blue glass bracelets from my 1987 trip to india.
donated: plastic french fry "fashion" earings. never worn and not sure what i was thinking...
treasured: panda bear pin from their 1984 visit to the SF zoo.
gifted: little caesar's "pizza pizza" guy - i know she'll thank me before she tosses him into the trash...
washed: now-vintage "freshjive" t-shirt
reading: my copy of the "APT" - the American Political Tradition...

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

we have nothing to fear, but fear itself 

Photo Credit: Democratic Underground

I am sickened by this statement from dick cheney:
"It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," (AP)

Complete FUD -- and exactly the type of BS that has characterized the bush administration. leading by fear is NOT leadership. The fact that he rolls out this statement at the same time that we cross the 1000 US casualty mark is just crass. (note: 865 soldiers have died since President Bush declared, "Mission Accomplished.")(1).

I’m not the leftist-liberal i used to be, but i will say this: voting for john kerry is the right thing to do for America.

if you have yet to register to vote, register NOW.

UPDATE: Reason #465 not to vote for bush: sovereignty.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

black rock city 

Photo Credit: Karen Riley

i'm off to burning man in a few hours, so i really need to get to bed! it will be my first time. i'm excited, and a bit anxious. dreading the long ride...but i've "iMixed" a bunch of CDs so the ride should at least *sound* good.