Thursday, March 26, 2009

Best Player Ever...?

found by petey.

i found this on the huffington post of all places...

cute little lebron.

kinda a weird 60 minutes teaser.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy New Day (Nowruz) to All!

by petey.

I have to say. I really really like President Obama. That is not a surprise to many of you.

Every week he does something that makes me proud that he is our president. Every week he does something new, important, or innovative. He has set out to do all of the things he promised he would. His critics say this is a bad thing. I think it is perfect.

The latest evidence of this is his New Day video message to the people and leaders in Iran. Iran is turning out to be way more important in our foreign policy in the last years than you would suspect given the tiny size of their economy, army, or real clout among major world players. They have, however, been quite a conundrum ever since the Islamic Republic took charge in 1978-79. The U.S. has had strained relationships since. It about time we ended that. The more and more marginalized Iran and countries like it feel on the international stage, the more and more radical their rhetoric and actions become.

My in-laws gave me a book for Christmas called "The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran" (by Hooman Majd ). This book was exactly what I wanted to help me start to get a feel for a country that 1) I knew nothing about and 2) I felt was becoming increasingly more important to understand. It was written by a son of a diplomat who was raised both in the West and in the Mid-East. He speaks perfect Farsi and perfect English (often a sign of culture chameleon abilities) which allows him to flow in and out of both cultures/people/etc making for a fascinating book. He writes, simultaneously, as a westerner and an Iranian which lends to an incredibly informative book that westerns can pick up, read, relate to, and begin to understand the psyche of Iranians in a way that would not be possible from any other writer.

Anyway. Back to the Obama video message. In his book, Mr Majd mentions Iranian pride: its origins as the cradle of civilization, its poetry, its legitimacy against its majority Sunni neighbors, etc. In Obama's address, he perfects, crafts and captures all the right things to speak to the Iranian people, their pride and their customs. It's almost as if Hooman Majd directly advised and wrote the message for him. The message (below) speaks to the Iranians in a respectful manner, cites Iranian poetry (again, huge in their country/culture), adds some Farsi, and begins the ever important dialogue with this ever increasingly important country.

I think this message will go far. Much of the legitimacy of Mahmoud Ahmidinejad comes from wailing against the West. President Bush was the perfect foil for him as he came to power in 2005. If he doesn't have an arrogant, domineering caricature to paint of our American president, he loses much of the thrust of his message. There is an election coming up this year in Iran and the former, much more moderate leader Mohammad Khatami will stand against Ahmidinejad in the election. If Khatami could knock off Ahmidinejad, it too could be crucial for the further corrections in our relationship with Iran. Thus, also strengthening the timing aspect to the importance of the Presidential message to the Iranian people.

There is a lot to be optimistic about. Many critiques will call Obama green or naive, but I think he is just the opposite: intelligent and ready, especially to begin putting America back where it belongs: the forefront of moral leadership/authority in the world. When I hear him speak, I get so excited, proud, patriotic, and amazed. We truly have an amazing president.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

i thank my lucky stars . . .

that i didn't grow up in the early 1900's.

seriously. i just read two books in a row that took place during that era, and boy were those times rough. first, i read the jungle by upton sinclair, and then, a tree grows in brooklyn by betty smith (thanks to my sweet mother-in-law who gave it to me because she knew i'd been wanting to read it).

both books were very good, although i definitely enjoyed a tree grows in brooklyn much more. however different these books are from each other, each book, i feel, clearly depicted the turn of the century, and the trials that many immigrants faced as they came to america and tried to make a name and a home for themselves in this "free" land. "free," not free, because although they were given opportunities to work, to get an education, and to make a new life for themselves and their families, so many of them were literally prisoners of poverty, with little hopes of rising above it. things like education were free and available, but only if you could afford to let your children go to school instead of help work and contribute money so that the family could pay rent and have enough food to eat.

the jungle is an eye-opening walk-through life in the chicago meat packing factories. and it is appalling. take this excerpt for example:

"There would be meat that had tumbled out on the floor, in the dirt and sawdust, where the workers had tramped and spit uncounted billions of consumption germs. There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it . . . These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go into the hoppers together."

gross. and the whole book's full of stuff like that. it seems crazy to think how much our country has changed. to think that such circumstances were tolerated and that the way "capitalists" could take advantage of these poor immigrants is sickening. but then to think of the perseverance, work ethic, and hope that these people had is even more inspiring than their circumstances are appalling. regardless of where they came from or what they were going through, parents kept their children's and grandchildren's futures in mind and kept working and working and working. katie nolan in a tree grows in brooklyn practically broke her back scrubbing floors just so that her kids could graduate from elemantary school. and she knew that eventually her posterity would would not have to struggle the way she did, and her parents did, and all those before them.

anyway. i'll stop rambling, but really. i feel so lucky to live now and to be able to enjoy the luxuries of the 21st century. and i also feel extremely grateful for my predecessors who came over from sweden (and france and maybe england and norway???) and worked for the freedom and opportunity that america offered.

oh and ps. i totally recommend a tree grows in brooklyn. it's really a touching story, and i thoroughly enjoyed it. the jungle, however, well, it's good but i only recommend it if you think that you'll be able to stomach it . . .

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Live Preview of the Big Easy

presented by petey.

so last week marked the last spring break that i will have as a student. sorta a milestone. sorta not a big deal.

anyway, emily and i figured it would be our only chance to get down south to check mississippi out before we move down there in a couple of months.

(for those that are just catching up, i'm going to be doing a 1 year residency program (AEGD) at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.)

first impressions:
i can't believe that the confederate flag still gets as much air time as it does... this picture was taken off the jefferson davis memorial highway, where the last home of jefferson davis still stands as a museum and a reminder that the rebel spirit of the south is still alive and well.

i can't believe that the first question you are asked when entering one of the seven restaurants is: smoking or non-smoking? are you serious? there are still smoking sections in public restaurants in 2009? it turns out there are lots of them, in the south. NYC clubs and bars have even been smoke-free for years... so crazy. emily and i were confused at first and almost didn't know how to answer.

i can't believe how desolate this place is. biloxi (along with new orleans) was devastated by katrina a couple years back. the beach boulevard highway is brand new and nice, but there is a lot of open space (presumably once occupied), skeleton houses, regular homes with boards, and other rebuilt stuff as well.

we got in on friday morning. by friday afternoon, we had visited the AF base clinic and seen several apartment complexes and felt like we had basically gotten a good feel for the city/town.

so with nothing left to do in all of biloxi, first thing saturday morning, we took off for the big easy. one nice thing about Biloxi is that it is only an hour or so away from New Orleans. it's like driving from SLC to visit my cousins in Spanish Fork. it's also only 20 mins longer than my daily commute to northern manhattan from brooklyn. (it feels longer because driving is different than being driven) it's also only an hour to mobile, alabama and about 2 hours to pensacola, florida. i bet we'll be taking off most weekends to get out...

we had just missed mardi gras in NO which ended about a week ago. there were celebration beads on the streets everywhere. you can even see some beads hanging on the wire in the middle of the streets behind emily if you look closely enough.

we putzed around the city for a little awhile and had lunch at this sweet little cuban restaurant. sidenote: i really hope the cuba embargo is lifted soon. it needs to be and i can't wait to go to cuba. anyway, only on our way out of the city did we discover the french quarter. that will definitely be on top of the list when we go back. which, i think we'll be often, given the dearth of activities in biloxi.

we also found these delicious new orleans treats. basically a square type donut smothered in powdered sugar called a beignet. sooo good. almost worth the trip itself.

there isn't a whole lot else to report from our little scouting trip. it was only an extended weekend and there wasn't much going on in those parts. we did manage to find some good little nuggets of entertainment.

photo round-up:

monster truck rally. (we def need to find a nearby NASCAR event to attend while we live in the south.)

the beach in biloxi is pretty nice. it's not hawaii. but it's nice enough. and since it's the gulf and there are no waves, it's perfect for relaxing and floating on those rad inflatable one-man mattress type thingies. we almost got an apartment just across the way from the beach, but didn't want to live in a dive...

so. when i was little i used to collect hard rock cafe glasses, aspen, LA, orlando are just a few of my awesome collection. seeing that hard rock cafe is one the nicest dining establishments around in Biloxi, i resumed my collecting this weekend adding Biloxi to the exclusive list. emily and i both got smoothies that included getting our own hurricane glasses.

here is a picture of emily being the hardest rocker she knows how to be:

and lastly. i can't wait to get my hair cut here.

all in all it was a pretty decent weekend. i think this year in mississippi is going to, um..., well i'm not actually sure. it could be very long. it could be very dull. it could be awesome. it could be packed with fun weekend get-aways. it could be a lot of things. it will definitely not be new york city. and i guess emily and i have to come to terms with that sooner or later...