Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How Professors Grade Exams

It all makes sense to me now.

For more information, see Daniel J. Solove's A Guide to Grading Exams.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Raul Midon

...kicks ass!

Plumeria Update

Since you've all expressed such keen interest (not), I thought I'd update you on the progress of the Plumeria which I brought back from Hawai'i and planted in February. Very slow going, but we have the start of three small leaves.

Spring in Cambridge

These Robins are coming of age on a low branch of a bush just next to the driveway. Every time I go outside, the angry mother sounds the alarm and tries to lure me away from the nest. She should have figured out by now that a.) I know where her nest is, b.) I'm not going to eat her babies, c.) she should save her breath and go look for worms.

The Rhododendron is starting to bloom, and the Pansies are almost a foot tall!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Highly Recommended

Enjoyed every minute of this in my post-paper-writing daze. Watch out--you'll fall in love with Mr. Darcy, or Elizabeth Bennett, or both.

Stay Tuned

Hi Friends,
I'm afraid to lose you...I've been distracted from the blog by finishing up papers for my masters degree, graduating, packing, selling my car etc. I promise I'll be back after a few weeks, with a few random posts from time to time between now and then.
(Maybe I'll entertain you, meanwhile, with my Buffalo Horn Ranch diaries from 2000...)
Thanks for wandering with me!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Buffalo Horn Ranch - I

Buffalo Horn Ranch Diaries:
A New York Chef at Home on the "Range"

These letters were written to my friends in NYC in the Fall of 2000, when I worked as Head Chef at a hunting lodge in Meeker, Colorado.

Hey y'all! Greetings from Buffalo Horn Ranch in Meeker, Colorado. I'm sorry I have to respond to you all at once, but it would just be the same letter over and over. I've seen and learned many subtle things just in the few days I've been here (i.e. when driving in the middle of nowhere at night, drive down the middle of the road over the yellow lines--that way if a deer jumps out, you have more room to swerve to either side!) I've also learned to appreciate shit beer. At the bar we have Coors, Coors light, Michelob, Michelob light, Bud, Bud light, Amstel, Amstel light...mmmmm. Somehow, I'd never drink this stuff in NY, but out West it's OK.

So on Saturday, I got on a 6:25 am flight, arrived in Denver at 10:00 am mountain time, drove 5 hours to the ranch, had ten minutes to put my stuff down before I had to prepare dinner for 20 people!! Luckily it was successful...and everything since has been too. I've gotten lots of compliments. Even the wild game turned out marvelously. For never making venison before, I have to pat myself on the back for that one. It was tender and delicious!

I've been working long hours...9am-10pm...but it's fun so far, and I'm learning a lot...and fast--often having to make stuff on a moment's notice that I've never made before. But so far there've been no disasters!

It's so quiet here. I don't know if I've ever experienced such silence. The stars are bright, the coyotes howl at night, and at every chance I have to step outside for a few minutes, I spot a deer or elk just grazing off on the hillside behind the lodge. The mountains here are gorgeous--but not as tall or dramatic as some I've seen. What's beautiful here is that the hills are covered with scrub oak, a shrub that turns bright shades of red, orange and yellow this time of year. So far I haven't had much time to myself to go exploring, but I can't wait to get out into this beautiful countryside.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about the cowboys! Yes, real ones. With big rodeo belt buckles that do rope tricks and wear old weathered hats. Not old haggard ones, neither. Young, cute ones who talk with drawls and all have perfect teeth and manners. But it's funny how cultural differences can separate people. It can be hard to communicate with people who have a different vocabulary for everything (cowboys do) and I find myself occasionally feeling like Frazier or Niles (note to mom--these are stuffy intellectual TV characters) among these folks. They ask me lots of questions about the big city and seem puzzled by some of my clothing...

Everyone's very nice, but like anywhere there's a fair share of "office politics". I guess when you get 25 people out in the middle of nowhere, personalities can flare sometimes. I think I might even have an enemy! The bartender is quite rude, and I told him so!! But he's rude to everyone, not just me....gee, don't he know where his food's coming from? Don't piss off the chef, pardner!

Well friends, it's time to go start lunch. I'll send more news later... hope you're well!! I'm having a great time!



Buffalo Horn Ranch - II

Buffalo Horn Ranch Diaries

A New York Chef at Home on the "Range"

These letters were written to my friends in NYC in the Fall of 2000, when I worked as Head Chef at a hunting lodge in Meeker, Colorado.

The saga continues...

So the excitement today was that Xavier Wolf (my boss) left the one of the Toyota Land Cruisers in neutral without the parking brake and it rolled backwards off the road, down a hill, and through the lodge pole fence before coming to rest in the middle of a cow pasture. By the time I went out to look, a small herd of deer had gathered nonchalantly near the broken fence to assess the damage and gossip amongst themselves.

It was also my first day into town...Meeker...a one street town where most everything is closed on Saturdays AND Sundays so I was only able to get a few of the things I needed--particularly MOISTURIZER. It's so dry here, my skin is chafed all over and my hands are cracking and sore. On the way to town, one passes a convenient store called "Kum and Go," more favorably known on the ranch as "Ejaculate and Evacuate"...(to quote Yuri, "now that IS convenient.") Tee hee.

I saw my first dead animal today (aside from the ten I counted in the dining room--mounted and hanging on the wall). It was a huge elk hanging in the big walk in cooler down the road--shot by one of the hunters I've been cooking for. (On the whole, everyone loves my food...except for the occasional cowboy grimace at the mention of Asparagus or Butternut Squash Soup.) They're very happy if I open a can of Campbell’s and serve up hot dogs and fries for lunch. Easy enough.

My helper in the kitchen is Andy, a Mexican man with one tooth who speaks very little English. Xavier and the waitress, Chrissie, call him "El Dente" (get it?) He's sweet, and a very hard worker who says he's been washing dishes for 23 years!

Tomorrow, Chrissie and I are going 4-wheeling up to some hunting cabins that she visited today. She said I HAVE to see the beautiful canyons up after breakfast is done (5:00 am) I'll be free for the rest of the day (and Monday) for a little R&R and hopefully a little time off the ranch to explore the area.

More stories to come (ahem, Kum) I'm sure...


Buffalo Horn Ranch - III

Buffalo Horn Ranch Diaries

A New York Chef at Home on the "Range"

These letters were written to my friends in NYC in the Fall of 2000, when I worked as Head Chef at a hunting lodge in Meeker, Colorado.

So for those of you who are current on the events around here...The evil bartender was fired last week (thanks for asking, Indigo). As they say in The Green Mile, (excellent movie, by the way) "his cheese had slid off his cracker."

And thanks to those of you who offered to send moisturizer. A trip to Kmart a few days back in the exciting town of Craig, Colorado solved that little problem. I FINALLY had a day off, and spent it shopping in thrift stores. I found a brand new Pendleton wool jacket for $6 and some groovy 60's and 70's ski parkas. Can't have too many of those...

Craig is home to the only radio station we can get out in these parts, KRAI, which plays the most unbelievable mix of music, from Metallica to Marky Mark, Classic Rock, lots of 80s metal bands and pop music, and all of the bubble gum stuff of today, like N*SYNC and Britney Spears. And they have theme days. Like the other day they played songs from 1977 across genres. That was cool...until a few days later, they did it again. Songs from 1977. I've never heard them choose any other year, just every few days...1977.

My excitement this week has been learning to "rope". (That's lasso to you). I've been practicing on a garbage can...and let me tell you, I make sure it doesn't escape. Shiloh, the young rodeo star (complete with big belt buckle) from Texas, has been teaching me, and says I handle the rope well, but my release is sloppy. It's hard to swing it just right over your head and get the loop to open up just at the moment you extend your arm and release it at your target. But I'm getting better. Shiloh has been promoted to "horse manager" :-) for next year and he's been all excited about that this week. He's a very talented roper and can do all kinds of tricks. I wish I had a video camera--I doubt still photos will capture how amazing it is!

Yesterday marked an important day in the history of Sara B. -- my first pair of Wranglers. They're a must around here. But I didn't have to buy them. All I had to do was express the wish, and the cowboys have given me about 5 pair.

I also went on a hunt for the first time yesterday morning. (This involved getting into an old Jeep Wagoneer and driving across the range to the foot of the mountains, spotting elk through the binocs, then driving over to them as close as possible before the hunters got out to stalk them on foot.) I waited in the Jeep and watched the beautiful morning sunlight turn the dew into mist that was rising off the frozen brambles. The light is very dramatic here...a few days ago I saw the most amazing rainbow--a complete arch over the mountains behind the lodge that lasted for a good 15 minutes.

Oh, there's so much to tell about this place, I could go on and on. My favorite moment in the day is my walk down to the corral where I feed the goats, calves, foals and horses some carrots and I guess I'll go do that now, before making lunch for the crew.

Kisses to you all,


Buffalo Horn Ranch - IV

Buffalo Horn Ranch Diaries

A New York Chef at Home on the "Range"

These letters were written to my friends in NYC in the Fall of 2000, when I worked as Head Chef at a hunting lodge in Meeker, Colorado.

Well, it seems I've been slacking on my ranch reports. So much has happened, but I've become quite burned out...because until yesterday and today, I worked three weeks straight with one day off. I know it sounds like a lot, and it is, but in this type of work, the time seems to pass pretty quickly, and a common question around here is "what day is it?" Time has little effect or consequence here. So I've been busy, but have also managed to have some fun and even get into some trouble!

The trouble started with Andy's birthday (Andy-AKA El Dente--remember?) First a note about Andy (since I've promised some of you that I would start describing the characters around here): Andy is a Mexican immigrant who has been washing dishes in these parts for the past 23 years. However, he still knows and understands very little English. Besides his one tooth, Andy's distinguishing characteristic is his affection for our waitress, Chrissie, whom he emphatically calls "Christinita!" In fact, Andy doesn't speak to me. When he walks into the kitchen in the morning, he doesn't say, "Hi, Sara"--he says "Christinita????" "No, she's not here yet, Andy." This is the extent of our daily conversation.

Andy is known for repeating himself endlessly. The only thing he's really ever said to me is that he wanted me to make some frijoles... and then he reminded me about 25 times. But his favorite phrase is "Mucho valle, Christinita!!!" which means, "Dance,Chrissie!!" "Mucho Valle!!!" One day Chrissie caught him in the kitchen dancing by himself singing "Christinita mui bonita, Muuucccho Vaaaalle, Chrissstinnita!" She's starting to get a little freaked out.

So it was his birthday and I made a big cake and we all gave him presents and drank Margaritas and then decided to get in the hot tub. At some point, Chrissie dared Shiloh (more about him later) to take off his suit which resulted in the removal of all suits and another round of margaritas. Even Shane, who was embarrassed to get in (with a suit) because of his weight, threw caution (and his tightie-whities) to the wind...(the underpants to be found frozen on the deck the next day by Tedi, the office manager, who proceeded to get us in trouble).

Actually we were not in trouble for the party but for the fact that one of the guests had complained that we were making too much noise. Well, would you believe this entire adventure was over and completely quiet by 10:00 pm? We were all at home in our little beds by 10:30. That's what I mean by time. Any reasonable person could deal with a little birthday party noise that was over by 10 pm...but to the guest it may have seemed like 4:00 am. I guess there's not much difference out here. When you're ready to sleep, it doesn't matter what time it is. So we all apologized and the whole thing provided a great day of entertainment the following day.

The other adventure of this past week was a trip into Glenwood Springs to go dancing last Saturday night with Chrissie, Shane and Jake (a sweetheart ranch hand from Nebraska who tells endlessly monotonous stories about his home town of Lincoln. Yee haw.) We had a lot of fun dancing, ran into Josh (the evil bartender) who had supposedly taken a train to San Fran when he left the ranch, but I guess he stuck around. I proceeded to ask him why he was such a jerk, but he didn't have a sufficiently good answer. And I forgot to ask him if he had in fact stolen my lotion.

An-y-way, the highlight of the evening was when I convinced a very drunken back-woods redneck from Tennessee to give me his shirt. Which he did. I probably could have gotten his belt buckle and hat too, but that wouldn't be nice of me, would it? It was pretty cold that night, so instead of just leaving him shirtless, I gave him my girlie t-shirt, which he put on and kept asking if he looked like a "faaag?" Shane was nodding his head and laughing hysterically, but I told him it looked just fine.

Today, I'm heading into Rifle (town about 40 miles from here) to look for a Halloween costume and to just get off the ranch for a little while--maybe pick up some pumpkins for carving. We'll all be going over to Sleepy Cat Ranch on the 28th for a Halloween shin-dig with live country music. Wish you all could be here!



Buffalo Horn Ranch - V

Buffalo Horn Ranch Diaries

A New York Chef at Home on the "Range"

These letters were written to my friends in NYC in the Fall of 2000, when I worked as Head Chef at a hunting lodge in Meeker, Colorado.

Hey friends,

Hope you all had a mischievous Halloween! Since many of you have asked, I'll begin by telling you all about our Halloween adventure on the ranch: Last Saturday night, we all went to a shin-dig over at Sleepy Cat Ranch about 40 miles from here. Everyone had their costumes well in advance (except for me) because this party was a much-anticipated escape from the doldrums around here and folks were talking about it for weeks before hand.

But I just couldn't come up with a costume. I had found an alien mask that glows in the dark--very cool!--but I couldn't keep it on for more than 5 minutes 'cause I couldn't breathe. So on Friday afternoon, with only 45 minutes in town before I had to get back and make dinner, I was frantically searching the two possible stores in town for something, anything to wear. Finally in the thrift store I found a bag of bows and some green felt. "I'll be a Christmas tree!" So on Friday night, with a glue gun and some thread, I made my costume in about an hour. Quite proud of myself. It even had popcorn strung around and tinsel and a star on top of my pointy hat.

Chrissie was a cave girl, Luke and his girlfriend Faye (who came down from MT) went as Cowboys (gee...original...) Shane was a chef, Shiloh was a pirate and Jim and Gayle (the folks who run the ranch...more about them later) went as a preacher (Jim) and the Devil (Gayle). None of us could figure out why Gayle decided to go as herself.

An-y-way...things on the ranch have taken a "Lord-of-the-flies" turn. Not that things aren't still fun, but when you've got 12 people out in the middle of nowhere for months on end, and with burn-out setting in for most of us, things can get a bit dramatic to say the least. Actually we have a GREAT crew (even when on edge) and i know I've promised to describe them for you. Let me a nutshell:

Gene--a 45-year-old cowboy who looks like a 75-year-old string-bean. He's got the classic bow legs, probably a 20 inch waist and handlebar mustache. Gene has the greatest dog, Bear-Bear--a sheep dog that rides in the back of Gene's pick-up and bites at trucks that go by. When I went to the drive through bank in town with Gene one day, they put a dog bone instead of a lollipop in the tube for Bear-Bear. Gene is the sweetest person, and a hard worker, but unfortunately serves as Jim's doormat and is always complaining about “gettin' chewed-out.” He'd quit, but needs the insurance because of his Diabetes and stomach problems relating to rodeo accidents.

Luke & Tedi--they can be described together, because they're inseparable. He's about 23, manager of the Bird hunting on the ranch, and has a bad attitude. I don't think he's said more than 3 words to anybody except Tedi without being spoken to. I've been told that he used to be a lot of fun...back at the beginning of the season...before he burned out. But I haven't seen his good side. Tedi, the office manager, is his sidekick. The two of them make snyde remarks and talk unkindly about others behind their backs. She's been here 4 years and has to work directly with Jim and Gayle everyday in the office. I guess that explains her bitter attitude. But hey, can't we all just get along?

Shiloh and Shane--brothers from Texas. Shiloh is 21, the younger brother, but people always think he's older, 'cause he's always telling people what to do. He's been given the title of "Horse Manager" and is in charge of all the wranglers (who are ALL older than he is). He's quite cocky (as bull-riders are, according to Gene) and hasn't quite learned how to manage people. So he gets on the older guys nerves and kisses up to Jim (as the other guys say...if Jim stopped too quick, Shiloh'd go right up his ass...) but he's a good kid and the common phrase around here in regard to him is "he's young...he'll learn." Shane, the quiet older brother, just turned 25 and is quite a moody guy but very funny when he wants to be. He's great with impersonations and voices and has a great memory for movie lines. Back in Texas, he trains bucking-bulls. He told me that he was driving a car by the time he was in kindergarten with a 2x4 strapped to his foot. His dad made him drive down the ranch road to meet the school bus in the mornings.

Jake-- As I've mentioned before, Jake is full of stories from Nebraska. Jump-roping competitions, a game called "butt darts" (go figure), and how all card games end in fist fights. He's real tall and trustworthy and quiet...until he starts in on everything he's done and everything he knows. I'm pretty sure half of what he knows are tall tales, and sometimes he goes a little to far convincing you he knows something, when it's kinda clear that he doesn't...but a good guy overall. He's the only cowboy who doesn't eat bacon and eggs & coffee for breakfast...He's got his own box of Grapenuts back in the kitchen that he eats with yogurt. Must be why he has the whitest teeth any of us have ever seen.

I've told you a lot about Chrissie I think...she's our bubbly waitress from Georgia who at times drinks a little too much and believes stories about jackalopes and snow snakes. Some folks talk about her behind her back as being an airhead, but she's been a great friend to me...and she and I have had the only intellectually stimulating conversation I've found around here. And thank God for her energy. She keeps me going! Unfortunately Gayle picks on her quite a bit...but then, Gayle picks on everybody.

Jim & Gayle--Our Alcoholic Hosts. J&G start drinking Maker's Mark at around 9:30 am. Jim keeps mini Jack Daniels in his pick-up to add to his Coca Cola. In short, the perfect models of dysfunction. And these are the folks calling the shots around here. As you can imagine, with these types running the place, things are often confusing. You're told to do one thing in the morning, and then catching hell in the afternoon because you did it. I could go on and on, but in short, they don't have the respect of anyone around here...including the folks in town...and we've heard through the grapevine from the office of the owner (in Florida) that there are going to be some changes around here.

Jim asked me to dance at the Halloween party and when he found out that I had a full Bud Light in my hand, he took it from me and chucked it--full speed--over his head into the dancing crowd. LUCKILY it hit the wall above the door--and not a person. It could have killed someone! When I scolded him for almost killing someone he only replied "Well, I always have to act professional...but not tonight!" I have YET to see him be professional... Gayle is probably on pain killers in addition to alcohol. She broke her neck once in a rodeo accident. She's a space cadet with a superiority complex and is always finding fault or asking us to do something that has clearly already been done. She just likes to give orders. She doesn't check first to see if the thing has been done.

Well, enough about that. I was fortunate enough to get away from the characters here for a few days in Aspen. I rented a brand new SUV for $40/day...CD player and everything! They guys at the dealership just left the keys above the viser for me so I could pick it up after they closed. I didn't sign anything. They didn't even ask to see my driver's license!! Don't you just LOVE small towns? It's truly great to say hello to people you pass on the street and to be trusted, even as a complete stranger.

I hope you're all super-well! I've got a few slow days here before a mad dash for the finish--2 1/2 weeks of solid work! But that should be fun. We need some guests around here to stir things up a bit. Take care!

xoxox SB

Buffalo Horn Ranch - VI

Buffalo Horn Ranch Diaries

A New York Chef at Home on the "Range"

These letters were written to my friends in NYC in the Fall of 2000, when I worked as Head Chef at a hunting lodge in Meeker, Colorado.

Hey Friends! I can't believe my time at the ranch is almost up. I'll be so sad to's been an incredible experience! I just came in from helping shovel all the snow off the deck...we got about 6 inches last night. It feels so good to be out in the cold fresh air and sunshine with icicles & little snow crystals blowing off the roof. Today's my day off, and I wouldn't have had to lift a finger, but the exercise

feels good and I'm eager to breathe in as much of the west as I can before I head back to the big city.

The last week has been fun--we had a bunch of hunters from Florida--one guy who owns all the Hooters in the south east, so I got a pretty cool camouflage Hooters hat and all the guys got big-boob calendars. Though I expected them to be "pervs" (Chrissie's word) they were very polite and funny! Two of them had brought their teenage sons to shoot their first elk, and when they did, I made them a cake. After searching all day in Meeker for some kind of elk figurines to put on top, I finally came back to the ranch and at Chrissie's suggestion, we made two elk out of tin foil that were better than anything we could have bought! (I DID find Michael Jackson's Thriller on vinyl in town for 50 cents, so the trip wasn't wasted!) I cut off some juniper branches for "trees" and covered them with "snow" icing and the cake was gorgeous! I'll show y'all pictures when they git developed!

My shining moment this week is when I locked horns with Gayle over a comment she made to Chrissie. As I think I mentioned, Gayle no less than HATES Chrissie (and, actually, anyone who enjoys life--I'm now on the shit list as well!) and after a near-miss accident on the icy ranch road (which Jim and Gayle refuse to gravel even after many have gone off into the ditch) Gayle was blaming Chrissie for the damage made to Marty's truck (Marty is a hunting guide who works here when we have lots of hunters at once). Marty and Chrissie didn't hit each other, but when they met on the road, Marty's truck slid and hit some trees.

An-y-way...I told Gayle I was tired of her blaming Chrissie on a daily basis for things that are clearly not her fault. "Well, I often have a hard time finding ANYTHING nice to say," replied Gayle. (No kidding.) She also expressed the fact that she did not like to be snapped at by me. And I replied that we do not like being snapped at by her. So I had the last word and she went storming off in her Jeep Cherokee. Tedi told me later that Gayle said, "I am SO OVER her" and "she thinks she's more important than she is." Oh dear, my self-respect is getting me in trouble again! However, Gayle has been nothing but sticky sweet nice to the kitchen staff since, and even invited us to a "Christmas Craft" show with her today. ....I don't think so.

We've got plans of our own. A lamb roast this afternoon at the Meeker high school (Chrissie met the high school wrestling coach at the Halloween party) so we're going to show our support and party with the locals. Then off to Glenwood tonight for our Saturday night dancing fix. It's become a tradition. Last Saturday, I tried to make it 2 for 2 in the sport of drunken "shirt trading"--(one of the bouncers has a rugby shirt that says "dip me in honey and throw me to the lesbians") but he said I had to come back this week to get it. We'll see...

Speaking of lesbians, Jim, interrupted dinner conversation the other night to tell us this joke: What do you call two lesbians in a canoe? Fur Traders...He also told Amy, our new waitress (a sweetheart 19-year-old hippie-chick from Ithaca, NY) that she should look like the girls in the Hooters calendar. YIKES!! He's said a lot to me too that would be grounds for a sexual harassment suit, but never anything that cuts that deep. Nothing he's said to me has ever hurt my feelings, but poor Amy was very upset, as she should be. I told her if she wants to sue, I'd back her up with examples. (like when he mentioned "cross-tying" me to the bed? Whateverthehell that means. Or wanting to put a leash on my collar (necklace)) But I just blow him off 'cause he's always drunk, and for the most part harmless. He was drunk this morning at 9:00 as he was plowing the driveway at 60 mph. Or should I say, re-arranging the landscaping.

Well, friends, I'm gonna go play in the snow!! Jake and Gene (Yake and Yiminy as Andy calls them) have gone to get the hood off an old car at the junkyard, which they say makes the best sled. We shall see!

I can't wait to see you all when I get back...It's almost Thanksgiving! The holidays are nearly here and John Denver is singing Silent Night on the sweet!

Love to you all!

xo SB

Buffalo Horn Ranch - VII

Buffalo Horn Ranch Diaries

A New York Chef at Home on the "Range"

These letters were written to my friends in NYC in the Fall of 2000, when I worked as Head Chef at a hunting lodge in Meeker, Colorado.

Well, with just minutes remaining at the ranch, I thought I'd close out the Buffalo Horn Chronicles with a sigh. I'm really sad to be leaving the west...I guess I'm a little bit country, a little bit rock & roll after all. Some folks have already left...Luke, Jake, Shane. Chrissie and I are next. We'll drive to Denver today and fly out tomorrow.

Whit Hudson arrived the other day. He's the owner. He also partly owns the Miami Dolphins and Blockbuster Video. He seems like a very decent guy, but a bit reserved, probably because, as I just found out, he'll be closing down the ranch and selling it off in pieces. What a shame. The possibility has been in the air as a rumor floating around...we were all kinda hoping that he'd just get rid of Jim & Gail (the probable cause for the Ranch not making money) and hire us all back next year for Buffalo Horn, part deux. Funny that I'll probably never see these great folks again, after getting to know them all so well. It's something that doesn't happen in NYC. We don't have as much time for each other in the city. I don't think we care any less, but we just don't get enough time to enjoy the people that we love. Hmmm...

I do look forward to seeing you all again. I'll be sharing Thanksgiving with my dad and sister at the loft, so if you don't already have plans, please join us! Dad's bringing a turkey fresh from the Pennsylvania farm! And I'll probably make a dish or two myself!

Hope you have a merry Thanksgiving with your friends and loved ones!


SB over and out

Monday, May 21, 2007

This is Nutz

OK, what's up with this? As you see, now that I'm finished with school my wanderings have led me to the other side of intellectual. What would you call this? Can anyone explain to me why your truck would need testicles? They don't teach us such things in Divinity School...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

French Military in Africa


"Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking out together in the same direction."

-Antoine Saint-Exupery

Monday, May 14, 2007


I found this quote in a book I'm reading on genetic engineering...

"At the level of genes, what distinguishes human population groups from one another is almost negligible. We are more than 99.9 percent the same...This means that race, as a category invented by early modern Europeans, is a complete fiction, a fabrication of the will to domination."

-Theodore W. Jennings, Jr.
Image from

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Rare Sight

This morning, I saw a robin lay the first few straws of a new nest. She (he?) hopped from branch to branch with a bundle in her mouth, actually "tested" the site by fluffing up her backside and sitting down, and then turned around and deposited her materials across the branches and flew off to find more.
The simplest things make me very happy.

Friday, May 11, 2007

We're Motorin'

Congratulations Class of 2007!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Young owls at the Teller Wildlife Refuge in Corvallis, MT.
Photo by Alan Applebury.

I'm interviewing for a job with the Teller Wildlife Refuge today. I'm glad it's with the Executive Director and not these guys. I feel their penetrating stare to the depths of my soul as they wait for my response to that horrible question: "So why did you go to Divinity school?"

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Think About It...

“Most people are not even aware of their need to conform. They live under the illusion that they follow their own ideas and inclinations, that they are individualists, that they have arrived at their opinions as the result of their own thinking—and that it just happens that their ideas are the same as those of the majority."
-Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

The Other Africa

“The Other Africa” is the photographic project of Philippe Sibelly, who aims at offering a different vision of the continent. Africa is treated by western media in a very specific manner. The editorial lines followed are consistently biased and misinformed. The continent is only talked about in terms of disasters, civil wars, famine, diseases or a more patronizing approach, referring to ancestral tribal ways of life. Africa is advertised for its differences with the West, never for its similarities. These ways of depicting the continent have created the idea of cultural shock in the minds of Westerners, when thinking about Africa. See more photos.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Il Faut Danser

A little Monday morning dance-in-your-PJs music

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Travel Treasures

Ever wonder what happens to unclaimed baggage?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cinco de Mayo

Wow! I guess I really don't know my history...

I had no idea that France invaded Mexico nor that Napoleon III was supplying troops to the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War.

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day, as some might believe. It is actually the anniversary (May 5, 1862) of the defeat of the French by a much smaller group of Mexican soldiers.

France had significant interest in halting the growth of the United States. The North American country’s rate of expansion and power was threatening to the other world powers. If Napoleon was successful in conquering Mexico, he planned to march north to aid the Confederates in dividing the United States into two less powerful and less threatening countries.

Read more. And more.

Isn't it a joy that there's always more to learn?

Unpack This!

Now that the semester has come to a close, it's time to publish the list of impress-the-professor academic jargon. You just have to put a few of these words into conversation with any discourse in order to tease out the overarching meta narrative. Blech!

Tease Out, Unpack, Normative, Overarching, Heuristic, Discourse, Problematic, Dialectic, Frame/Lens, Deconstruct, Meta Narrative, Put in Conversation With, Hold In Tension, Paradigm Shift, Hegemony, Empower, To Flag, Bootstrapping, Social Justice, Debunk, Reify, Academia, Trope ...

This is an incomplete list. Please feel free to add your own.

Book Review: Nervous Conditions

Nervous Conditions
by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Nervous Conditions, written by Tsitsi Dangarembga in 1989, is a semi-autobiographical coming of age story about a young woman in Rhodesia in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The story centers around Tambu and Nyasha, female cousins who, until their early teens, lead very different lives.

Tambu was raised on her family's farm in Umtali where she was responsible for household chores, gardening, and caring for her younger siblings. Tambu's dreams of getting an education are only fulfilled when her brother dies and she becomes next in line for school since she has no other brothers. She is allowed to stay with her aunt and uncle while she attends school at the mission. While there, Tambu shares a room with her cousin, Nyasha and the girls teach each other many lessons.

Nyasha spent most of her formative years in England while her mother and father were pursuing graduate studies. When she comes back to Africa she realizes the vast differences between British and Rhodesian culture--especially where women are concerned. She experiences inner turmoil as she tries to come to terms with being a woman in this context. As we see Nyasha's struggles through the eyes of Tambu, we begin to understand the continuing devastation countries are experiencing as a result of colonization by another culture.

Sara's comments:

Another wonderful novel to recommend! I have really enjoyed this book, which explores the position of several women living in the same country whose lives take vastly different directions according to their circumstances and the constraints of their changing society. Nyasha and Tambu are the main characters, but we also see the struggles of their mothers, one who loses her children to the mission school and the prospect of a better life through education, the other who is unable to enjoy the benefits of her masters degree because she is required to play the role of the traditional wife.

Tsitsi Dangarembga bio here.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Just Like Butta...

Scrabble word of the day:

adj. / resembling butter

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Nine Inch Snails

The Old Sperry Room

For my Div School friends...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Damned If You Do...

Barak Obama is getting nothing but flack about his religion. Some are worried that his middle name sounds too Muslim, that his last name rhymes with Osama. Others are concerned that he's too tight with his Christian minister. Cut him a break. It seems to me that he has quite a diverse background for understanding Christian and Muslim concerns in America and the world over.
Read more in the New York Times.

The Power of Images

It's very interesting to reflect on the political implications of seemingly simple photographs. The woman to the left is Obama's Muslim grandmother who lives in Kenya. While this photo may be an accurate depiction of her daily life, it would have been possible to present this woman in a much more dignified manner to the American public.

To picture a woman barefoot, with chickens, sends certain unavoidably negative messages and reinforces dangerous stereotypes that Americans make about "poor Africans" and American Blacks. The NYTimes must know that these associations will easily transfer to Obama himself by associating such a photo with him and his family.

While part of me argues that this photo is probably an accurate representation of Obama's grandmother and thus should be unproblematic, another part says that we must be very careful to monitor the sub-conscious messages we receive through such kinds of images. Racism is insidiously buried deep within the American consciousness. None of us are excepted, and we must take responsibility for it.

(See here for a very important essay on White privilege.)

The Pope in Brazil

Pope John Paul II travels through a showerof confetti in his popemobile during a 1980 visit to Brazil. Photo: RNS

Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Brazil next week. According to my professor, Harvey Cox, one of the leading experts on Pentecostalism, Brazil is now home to the world's largest number of Pentecostals, as well as the world's largest number of Catholics. However, the Catholic population is in steady decline, and perhaps Benedict's aim in this journey (his first out of Europe since becoming Pope) is to find out why and what to do about it.

Interestingly, according to Professor Cox, Benedict sees the focal issue of his papacy being to re-enliven the Catholic faith in Europe, where there has been much more of a move toward the secular than in the Southern Hemisphere, of late. Catholicism is alive and thriving in Asia, Africa and South America, where Christianity in general has seen explosive growth over the past few decades.

It strikes me that the European missionary efforts of the 19th and 20th century are now coming back to bite them in the proverbial ass. Cox explained that Catholicism in many non-European parts of the world has been molded and adapted to local cultural norms and even often blended with other religious traditions. The Pope, of course, would like to put a stop to that.

With Europe's comparatively luke-warm interest in Christianity, many were wondering if it was time for an African or South American Pope after the death of John Paul II. But on that front, Europe maintained control once again.

It will be interesting to watch the developments in the Catholic church and its scramble to maintain a European cultural dominance over the rest of the world as the

...seems like his ring could feed a small country
Catholic population wanes in Europe and perhaps now even in places like Brazil. I think Benedict will either have to accept and celebrate the changing face of the world's Catholics, or end up losing them to the more accepting and celebratory Pentecostal movements. Christianity was once used to spread European cultural hegemony. But Rome can't control forever the power of the Spirit.

See here for Harvey Cox's interview on the subject on NPR.

Sao Paulo, Apr. 23, 2007 ( - The papal throne to be used by Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) during his May visit to Brazil will be made of recyclable materials, organizers report.

The cathedra, which is being donated by a charitable group, will be over 5 feet high and nearly 3 feet across. It will be used during major liturgical celebrations at which the Holy Father presides.

The use of recyclable materials will highlight the keen interest in ecological issues that are especially high on the agenda in the Amazon basin.