Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I always think of John McGlynn when I'm flossing.

John was a classmate of mine growing up who died in a motorcycle accident near my house when we were 17.

But before that - back in third grade - John and I were in the same homeroom class with Mrs. Bennett. Like most small schools, Mrs. Bennett did double (and triple) duty on all subjects; she was the social studies, spelling, math, science, reading and - you guessed it - health teacher, all rolled into one.

I specifically remember the unit on flossing. She taught us how to much to take out, how to roll it in on our thumb and forefingers, and to never use the same piece of floss twice - but to move methodically up (or down) the string until we got to the end. At the end of the lesson, Mrs. Bennett told us we'd be having a drawing contest. There would be a boy and girl winner, with the grand prize being a large stuffed footprint pillow (pink or brown) - about two feet tall. If you grew up in the eighties and/or frequent alot of county fairs (or both), you remember what I'm talking about.

Ahem, anyway. Long story short - John and I were the winners. I was sooooo excited - I'd never won anything that big. I still have the pink foot at my parents house, stashed on the top of my bookshelf. To date it is still the largest stuffed anything I have ever won. Sometimes I wonder what would've happened if I'd taken the brown one and left the pink for John.

Lately, I've begun to see the merits in flossing (never too late for an old lesson to sink in, Mrs. B.). I had a friend in college who swore that frequent flossing would protect him from heart disease. I'm not sure if I believe him, but something lately has led me to pick up the floss more often, and subsequently, think of John.

Strange memorial, I know.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Overheard Saturday Night at a Bar

"So what do you do for money?"

"--------" (quiet talking)

"Wait, what? How do you pay for your bills?"

"-------" (more quiet responses...)

"Are you saying you prostitute yourself?"


"You PROSTITUTE yourself??!?!?"

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Random Website, Subject: Fair Trade

Today's website of the day comes from my friend Chew Kuek. A group of us were having drinks last night and I finally got to ask him about his new non-profit, Village Exchange.

It's based on the concept of fair trade, which, if you haven't heard of by now, you should've. Basically, fair trade involves allowing people from poorer nations the chance to market their goods in 'developed' countries for more than just pennies, but cutting out many of the large middlemen (*cough*WALMART*cough*). I find it kind of exciting because it deals with all aspects of the market chain - and with all the US' emphasis on the making economies - not social provisions - grow, it sets out to beat the conservatives at their own game. Right now the arena seems to focus on chocolate, tea, coffee and craft type items, but it's growing. If you've ever shopped at 10,000 villages, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Obviously, the idea is a lot more complicated than that (for more information, check out Chew's explanation on his webpage: http://www.villagexchange.org/ft_overview.html), but you get the idea. As development students, we're asked to study this alot. I'm not as intimately familiar with all the ins and outs of the industry, but what I am is excited that one of my friends has decided to use it as a tool to make a difference.

Chew told me that he and his partner started this non-profit (based in Singapore) to raise awareness for the issue of fair trade in their home country. Essentially, they market fair trade goods to Singaporean businesses. Rather than create their own supply chains - difficult to do with a new organization - they use other, more established chains created through reputable orgs like the Fair Trade Labelling Organization.

I think the idea is brilliant. I told Chew I would go home right then and order something from him for my sister's birthday. He laughed and said "Well, it would ship from Singapore, so you'd be better to go to 10,000 villages (in Bethesda!)!"

What I can do for Chew is post a blog, raising awareness for him and the other fair trades out there. I urge you to do your own thinking and ruminating on the subject - there is quite a huge debate in development circles - and both sides have merit, I think, to some extent. (For example, StarBucks has done alot in marketing fair trade coffee, but there is some question as to whether (and how much of) the price hike to $9.99 for the pound of fair trade coffee beans actually trickles down to the farmers in Kenya/Tanzania/Malawi/etc.

In the end, whether or not you choose to buy fair trade is up to you. Anyway, that's today's website of the day - and public service announcement.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Random Weekend

After weeks of doing nothing special, I finally had a full weekend. All the better as my irresponsible roommate has decided to turn up the passive agressiveness in the final death throes of her stay. Needless to say, I wasn't home much!

It started by picking up the TOHMF from the airport, after a two month stint in Houston. Hooray!

On Saturday, having scored free tickets from work (let's hear it for being employed!), my friend Angeli and I took in a Washington Capitals hockey game. I'm sorry to say that I was born in raised in Minnesota and HAD NEVER BEEN TO A HOCKEY GAME in my life. This is almost as bad as being American and not liking apple pie. (A predicament I'm also intimately familiar with...)

Luckly, Angeli had been to a few before and could fill in a bit of the gaps. As for the rest, well, we were happy to fill in with hotdogs, french fries and gossip. In the end, the Caps lost to the Florida Panthers 4-1 (not as bad as the week before, when they lost in Florida 9-3!!)

Saturday night, TOHMF and I went downtown to catch a play called This Is How It Goes at the Studio Theatre to celebrate his birthday. Back in Minnesota, he was very active in The Mixed Blood Theatre, so it was reminiscent of our time there together. The play was very thought provoking. It dealt with personal thoughts versus public expressions on race; telling the story of an interracial couple in a small midwestern town. In the end, the audience was forced to question if what was presented was the truth, or twisted by the narrator to serve his own design. As usual, you could count the number of non-white people in the audience on two hands. Not that that's saying anything but...well, the crowd was pretty different from the Caps game that afternoon.

After the play, we went to bar Dakota Cowgirl for our free dessert (as stipulated by the playbill), and TOHMF got a free shot of whiskey. Who says people in the city aren't nice??

Sunday found us resting, reading and running errands. It also brought the first snow fall of the winter season here in DC. I just love when it snows here - people go nuts. It was only three inches - just enough to cover the grass - and it spent most of the day melting.

But hey, here's a nice photo of the National Zoo Panda lounging around in a snow covered rocks.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Dumpster Diving

I was at my friend Tim's house on Saturday night for his birthday. Tim is well-known amongst my group of friends as being an avid dumpster diver.

Dumpster diving is the action of rummaging through garbage, refuse or dumpsters to get valuable (or atleast, valuable to the diver) items. Some people do it spontaneously, some people plan and some people actually do their grocery shopping this way.

Tim is one of those people. Most things he pulls from boxes or bags (ie never touched other garbage in the dump) and gives it a good wash when he gets home (if it's fresh fruits/vegetables). Some grocery chains throw out food that is within a few days of being expired, so it is still good to eat. And sometimes, you hit the jackpot. In fact, on this particular evening, we all enjoyed a case of wine Tim pulled from Trader Joe's. It might sound gross, but Tim is adament that he's "never gotten sick from dumpster food."

And he's eaten sushi from it, too.

While he doesn't do it all the time, he and his friends offered a few key tips:
1) choose dumpsters from high-end groceries and bakeries that are located a fair distance away from metro stops. Homeless people tend to congregate around the metro (it's warmer) and hence, the pickings are slim.

2) Go after 11pm when stores are done throwing things out for the night.

3) Check your local laws. In California, police can't pick you up for taking garbage (hello, it's garbage!) but some states can. In Tim's case, he knows all the beat cops :)

4) Wash wash wash!

In reality, while I don't know if I would do it with food, who hasn't walked by the berm, seen that chair with the crooked arm and taken it home? I know I have (heck, I got one of my favorite college easy chairs that way!)

Anyway, that was today's brief look into counter-culture.

Ahhh! Life in the city!


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Washington DC Weekend

I'm only homesick for Minnesota when I'm actually there.

This is my first weekend back in DC after spend the holidays at home and I kind of entered it with an 'eh' attitude. TOHMF is out of town until the 19th, my favorite roommate moved to South America, my obnoxious roommate is still irresponsibly broke (and thus, always around), there's no internet at my house, there's no homework to do (wait, this is a good thing), my gym membership has expired and my budget is tight.

Add to all this that I feel kind of personally adrift after finishing grad school and I'm left with:

What to DO?

I think anyone who has graduated from college is familiar with this feeling. I think it must be like what cattle feel like when they bust out of a pasture and end up huddling outside the fence. For one moment you're like "Wheeeeeeee! This is great!" and then you're struck with, "Oh. What do I do NOW?"

I'm not complaining. I used to be terrified of this feeling, but over the years, as I've matured I've learned to deal. I call it 'pre-loneliness' or 'potential loneliness.' I'm not lonely, exactly, I just don't have anyone to hang around with. And, being a pretty social animal, sometimes I really crave that. Sometimes, it's not logistically possible for you to hang out with your close friends or be near family. They've got work or other engagements or you live in another state. Sometimes, you just have to make your own fun.

Luckily, I'm very good at this :)

Not having any plans for this weekend, I called an old classmate on Friday afternoon and we met up for drinks at a local Dupont hotspot that ended up being filled with long legged WASP blondes. Not so good for scoping men or for the self-esteem, but great for margaritas and snide remarks. (Quoth Lane: "All the estrogen in here is giving me a stomachache.")

Today I enjoyed the 70 degrees with a long bikeride, got a surprise phone call out of the blue from a long lost friend, looked at a new apartment, dropped in on another fun friend, called someone else to tell her of a job opportunity and got subsquently invited to a party tonight. Now I'm at a coffee shop, enjoying free internet and caffeine smells until it's time to par-tay.

Not bad for a person who didn't know what she was going to do when she got out of bed this morning!

Tomorrow I'll probably go to church (addendum to previous post: I also go because it sucks up extra spare time), look at another couple of apartments, try the free pass to a local gym I downloaded at work, read, make a huge supper and watch cartoons all night. Maybe I'll try calling Megan again or write a letter.

A side note to this is that the second I decide to grow up, get married and have babies these days will be sweet sweet memories.

Funny how time does that.

Or maybe this is it? Who knows? Perhaps this IS my life and I'd better get used to it. Oh well, that's another blog.

M is for meandering,

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Don't Understand

Why do people walk so fast to get to the metro? It's only going to take you to work.
Why do you run down the escalator? Work isn't going anywhere.

I don't understand why people are in such a hurry to get to work! If anything, they should be lollygagging to work and running home in the evening.

I feel like I'm in backwards world.