Monthly Archives: June 2013

It bends toward justice

Being an adult who keeps up with politics can be an emotional roller coaster.  We were electric the day Obama was elected president, but that evening I attended a protest in West Hollywood with a devastated crowd: Prop 8 had passed.  I stood among throngs of people, angry, confused and disappointed by their fellow Californians’ callousness, and held signs that asked passing cars, “When do I get to vote on your right to marry?”

I realize I never posted the photos I took there.  It seems appropriate to post them today to commemorate our disappointment and burning desire for equality.  Almost five years later, the nation has changed for the better.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  Let’s keep fighting.

media exposure was minimal, given Obama's election win that same day

media exposure was minimal, given Obama’s election win that same day

finally, those signs speak the truth.

finally, those signs speak the truth.

poignant

poignant

holding his adopted daughter, this man spoke eloquently to a reporter on the passage of prop 8

holding his adopted daughter, this man spoke eloquently to a reporter on the passage of prop 8

our numbers swelled, and eventually there were enough of us to claim the Santa Monica/San Vicente intersection

our numbers swelled, and eventually there were enough of us to claim the  intersection (today, it has rainbow-colored crosswalks)

we received a surprising amount of support from inconvenienced commuters as we marched east on Santa Monica Blvd

we received a surprising amount of support from inconvenienced commuters as we marched east on Santa Monica Blvd

she asked if she could climb onto his hood, but the taxi driver thought she was asking for a ride and yelled at her to get down

she asked if she could climb onto his hood, but the taxi driver thought she was asking for a ride and yelled at her to get down

the police were calm and gentle with the few protesters they arrested, including this man in the blue striped shirt (far left)

the police were calm and gentle with the few protesters they arrested

I stood with the people in this last photo in a kind of mutually respectful standoff with the police at Santa Monica Blvd and La Cienega.  There was a sense of defiance and desperation in the air.  An officer on a megaphone told us to get out of the road and back onto the sidewalk.  I stayed where I was, along with almost everyone else.  The officers were discussing something and pointing toward our section of the crowd.  I had positioned myself in the front of the group to get some good photos, and was rethinking that decision.  I thought about how much trouble I would be in with my very conservative, white, Republican boss if I didn’t show up for work the next day because I had been arrested at a protest for marriage equality.  There was a very real chance I might be fired, which worried me (the job market was gut-wrenchingly bad: I had put in 50 job applications, gotten two interviews, and one job offer in order to land that job, which I hated).  I took a breath and elongated my perspective; I saw my future self reflecting on this moment when I would quietly comply, or be escorted to a police car.  I stood very still.  As the officer approached us I felt a hand on my arm, and was gently pulled backwards into the crowd by a woman who seemed to be accustomed to attending protests like this.  “They’re going to arrest someone,” she said calmly.  “Back up.”

They took the guy on the far left in the blue striped shirt.  The crowd yelled and cheered as he was slowly led away toward a waiting police car.  No one harassed or boo’d the police.  We had effectively stopped traffic on two (now three) of the busiest streets in Los Angeles, and we recognized they were just doing their job, regardless of moral standing.

this should really feature her now famous neon sneakers, but who can complain?

this should really feature her now famous neon sneakers, but who can complain?

My Facebook feed is lit up today with support for the end of DOMA, the renewal of weddings for gay and lesbian couples in California as early as next month, and the federal legitimation of already existing gay and lesbian marriages.  But it was a victory for women of all sexual orientations today, too: Texas Senator Wendy Davis (D) successfully filibustered an anti-abortion bill that would have threatened to shut down “all but 5 of the 42 abortion clinics in the state.”  Thank you, Senator Davis.

As an English-speaking, American, white, employed, middle class graduate student, it’s easy for me to say: I dread not future, for I am its architect.  My goal as a teacher of English as a foreign language (and a supporter of marriage equality) is to share this sense of empowerment with others, every day, one word at a time, and watch as the arc of American history bends toward justice.


Hive inspection: Success edition!

Dad and I have been attempting to keep some bees for months now, and every time we think they’ll stay, their numbers peter out.  The first batch just took off, the second and third hung out for a while, but didn’t make much progress and were too small.  The fourth built a bunch of comb and then started leaving.  The most recent colony, however, has taken to the hive beautifully.  We did an inspection yesterday and saw loads of brood (mostly capped), two generations deep, meaning: The queen starts laying in the center of the comb and works her way out toward the edge of the comb.  On a few of the strips we saw capped brood at the edge of the comb (unhatched first generation babies), then empty comb (where some first generation babies had already hatched and left), then, in the center of the comb, more capped brood (where the queen had already laid another batch of babies: a second generation).  That’s our working theory, anyway.

note the brood right in the center, almost ready to be capped

note the brood right in the center, almost ready to be capped (and the capped honey at the very top)

Once their numbers are shored up, they’ll keep building comb and dedicating more comb-space to food storage (honey, pollen, and a combo of the two adorably called “bee bread”).  We saw a high concentration of bees on the edges of the comb, which probably means they’re already building the comb out, and in fact there’s already been a noticeable difference in the size of the existing comb leftover from the last swarm.  Some of the strips were downright heavy with the weight of the comb, full cells and bees milling around.  There wasn’t much honey, but we’re assuming that once their numbers go up, they’ll shift their focus a bit.  I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

We took a bunch of photos of each strip so we could inspect them carefully without disturbing the bees.  I lifted each strip out of the hive while Dad took some quick hi-res photos, and carefully replaced each strip so we wouldn’t crush any of them.  There were only maybe a dozen bees that were noticeably agitated (flying at our faces and such), which is a sign that either smoking bees really does make them more docile, or we have some very well-behaved ladies in the hive.  They stayed on the comb when we pulled each strip out, even when a stiff breeze came by.  We even saw a few bees waggling their abdomens up and down.  It didn’t look like a waggle dance, so we’re not sure what they were doing, lil’ weirdos 🙂

Afterward, while examining the photos (very thoroughly), I spotted the queen!  We knew she must be there, but it’s good to see her.  We didn’t find any drones, though.  Perhaps they were on a mating flight?  We also saw some really pretty pollen, all different colors, on the comb and on some bees’ legs: dark orange, dusty yellow and vivid yellow.

They seem like a strong colony.  I can’t wait to see how they do.  Dad’s going out of town for the week, so I’ll check on them in his absence, checking for pollen on their legs when they return to the hive, and peeking in through the window to see if they’re building more comb.

various colors of pollen in bright new comb

various colors of pollen in bright new comb


NOW NOW NOW

When I’m about to go to an appointment like a job interview or the first day of a volunteer thing that might turn into a job (like today’s thing), I get nervous.  Not worried-nervous, active-nervous.  My insides vibrate at a frequency that would make a Beagle go deaf.  My typing becomes sharp, quick, and super-accurate.  No web page loads fast enough.  I zoom around the office completing tasks with an efficiency that would make a German blush.  I snap my head back and forth and squint/expand my eyes like a hunted animal instead of glancing around casually like a normal.  I’m doing it now, right now.  AAAAAAH SHIT GOTTA GOOOOOOOOOO!


Hawai’i: Day eight

Finally, I’ve gotten around to writing about our last day in Hawai’i.  We were bummed to leave, but also kinda ready (the humidity makes you feel sticky all the time.  The copious amounts of sunscreen didn’t help either).

Our last day there was the day of my presentation at the conference!  I was a bit nervous, but mostly excited about meeting people, presenting my ideas, fielding questions, and hearing the other presentations in my session.  My presentation went really well; there were several questions afterward, and one of the women (who was also presenting) had also played World of Warcraft, so we had loads to talk about afterward.  Her presentation was on gender roles in TV and movies, particularly the way they are portrayed in ancient dramas (Rome, 300, Game of Thrones, etc.).  It was really interesting.  She lives in Sweden, and invited me to come speak at her university so we’re staying in touch.

SO GOOD

SO GOOD

Afterward I felt free as a bird and really excited to get some pork laulau, which I’d been craving all week.  We went to Ono Hawai’ian Foods on Kapahulu near Waikiki on uncle Bobby’s recommendation, and it turned out to be the same place I went with my cousin Leah the last time I was in town for the same conference.  Boyfriend tried poi for the first time and actually liked it (shock).  I was still riding high on being finished with my presentation (even though it was the last day of our trip), so we drove to Dave’s Ice Cream for another helping of azuki bean ice cream.  They had a dark/bright purple ice cream that was imo flavored (Japanese [Okinawan] purple sweet potato) which was bonkers.

how does this sign help?  all it does is freak people out.

found this sign at the Pali Lookout. how does this help? all it does is freak people out.

We headed back to Lanikai side to have one last ocean experience before we left the next day.  On our way, I realized that we’d been driving past the Pali Lookout but hadn’t yet gone up.  So we took a quick detour to enjoy the view and almost got blown right off the mountain.  There were loads of tourists from all over, but my favorite was a German woman feeding wild chickens that had come out of the forest right next to the parking lot while her husband smiled and told her to get in the car.

We brought Boyfriend’s nice camera to the beach, and I brought my ukulele.  He took a few photos, and we swam around a bit enjoying the water and watching people kayak around.  When we went back in, a guy had a bucket with a couple fish, and encouraged us to take a photo of them in rapid pidgin.  He said one of them was a barracuda, cool!

it stared at us with its dead, beady eye

it stared at us with its dead, beady eye

We were sad to leave Bob and Nancy (and Bella, *sniffle*), but it was so nice to spend so much time with them that it was hard to be too broken up.  Boyfriend and I woke up at 330am to drive across the island and arrive at the airport by 5 so I could be on a plane by 620am.  On the drive back, boyfriend apparently stopped and took a bunch of photos of the sunrise over the ocean near Lanikai.  I’m jealous I couldn’t see it with him, the photos are incredible.  I ended up taking a later flight anyway, and got a $400 voucher in exchange, woot!  Continental owes me that for that time they botched my trip to the east coast to visit Boyfriend a few years back (I’m still a little broken up about that, lol).

I’m so glad Boyfriend and I had this trip together.  After more than five years we’re still excited to see each other and spend time together.  I’m looking forward to spending that voucher on another fun trip with him 🙂

playing some Jamaica Farewell to the mokes on my ukulele

playing some Jamaica Farewell to the mokes on my ukulele


Hawai’i: Day seven

amazeballs

amazeballs

We got up super early this morning to go to the convention so I could hear a talk on social media in the classroom.  I made a couple of contacts (and emailed them immediately), and got a tip on another one at Harvard.  Boyfriend and I got some AMAZING tonkatsu and curry afterward at Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin in Waikiki.  I’ve been craving some Japanese curry since we got here, and I’m so satisfied now that I’ve had that meal.  The pork loin was crunchy and juicy, the curry was hot and flavorful, the service was amazing, the ambiance was great.  It’s located on a little side street and I’ll definitely have to find it another time.

this hibiscus was outside Tutu's building.  I've never seen one this color before.

this hibiscus was outside Tutu’s building. I’ve never seen one this color before.

We came home and Jon knocked out while I went out with uncle Bobby to get some stuff at the hardware store and visit Tutu.  She was sacked out when we got there, so we went back to the hardware store and bought some sink drain stuff and lumber, which we lashed to the top of the car with a trucker’s knot (pretty cool), and headed home.  The whole time, Bobby filled me in on the family drama, all of which sounds totally unnecessary, but it’s family so what can you do?  Anyway, it was nice to spend some time with him one-on-one.

I showered with Boyfriend when we got home and headed out to dinner with just Nancy (Bobby’s root canal went well but it started bothering him in the afternoon) to get dinner at one of her friends’ houses on the other side of Kaneohe Bay.  The house is right above the water, and the view is absurd.  There’s a set of stairs right down to the water, and a little private dock.  We had dinner on the balcony.  Ridiculous.

kaneohe bay

kaneohe bay

Dinner was nice, and all of Nancy’s friends are intellectual, educated and super nice.  Nancy brought mochi-ice cream from some market and it was easily the greatest mochi I may ever have.  I had a little white one that was lychee flavored, and almost tasted like it had some rose water in it, it was so perfume-y and delicious.  I drove the Kia home and we chatted about cats and coyotes on the ride home.

More importantly, this is Bella:

always in a good mood

always in a good mood

Bella is awesome.  She’s a golden retriever, only about 8 months old, super sweet, and my new best friend.

 


Hawai’i: Day six

I was too wiped out to write about our day last night. We got an early start at 730am. Bobby was nice enough to get up with us to show us which house we were borrowing a kayak from. We found a two-person kayak, grabbed a couple of oars, and threw everything in the back of the Kia while Bobby went back home to sleep. We drove about a block with half the kayak sticking out of the back of the car, unloaded it and carried/dragged it down a sandy path to the beach.

this kayak, but without the seats (wtf would you do with those?)

this kayak, but without the seats (wtf would you do with those?)

Boyfriend and I were super excited. I had him sit in the front even though he weighs more so he could have a beautiful view while we paddled around. I had him pull the kayak down the beach to the water to feel how bouyant it is so he would feel safe in it (and it’s fun to feel something so heavy become so light so quickly). He got in and I launched us and jumped in behind him, and we took off toward the Mokuluas.

my shot of the Mokuluas from a pillbox

my shot of the Mokuluas from a Lanikai pillbox

Our goal was to make it out to the left Moke (Moku Nui), and we made it no problem. We took a couple of breaks on our way there and back to enjoy the view, feel the water and generally relax. The morning was perfect for being out on the water. There was plenty of cloud cover, there was a little wind, the water was calm, and there was no rain. As we approached the Mokuluas, the sun broke through the clouds, Boyfriend paddled, slow and strong, and the cool emerald water dripped from his paddle onto my legs. The beauty of the moment is hard to describe. It felt like a dream.

some jerk photographer's shot of the mokes

some jerk photographer’s shot of the mokes

Once we arrived, we walked around the beach and enjoyed the view. We found a sea slug covered in sand and latched onto a rock (it was alive and healthy, so naturally we both poked it gently and laughed), and a sea urchin a couple feet from that (it was also alive, and we watched it move it’s spikes slowly whenever the waves receded and the sand settled. We were tempted to take a shell back with us, but decided to be responsible tourists and left it behind. We were both bummed that we didn’t have any way to take a photo of the gorgeous view of Oahu, and the Mokuluas up close, especially where the waves crashed against the dark black rocks on the south side of the island.

exterior tiles at the Doris Duke estate

exterior tiles at the Doris Duke estate

We paddled back in no time flat, returned the kayak, and headed back home to shower and change. We headed straight out for Waikiki to eat (more udon, yum!) before heading to the Honolulu Museum of Art (cool Japanese art collection; beautiful kimonos, wallets, netsuke and komainu) to meet up with a tour of Doris Duke’s house, Shangri-la. I’ve been there once before, and my memory of it was apparently very sharp. The house is an odd mixture of responsible art preservation and evidence of obviously wreckless looting. It’s been ten years (at least) since I first saw the house, and I didn’t have a degree in art history then, so I felt somewhat more disturbed about the acquisition of many of the pieces in the house. Regardless it’s an incredible resource, and a semi-legitimate museum in its own right.

We headed back across the island to the cottage so I could take class only to realize once we arrived and couldn’t join the classroom that I had forgotten about the 3-hour time difference. Derp. So I missed the last class of the semester. I’ll still get an A in the class (assuming my case study doesn’t suck), and I really disliked the professor, so I don’t really care.

that means you, asshole

that means you, asshole

We ordered Thai food for dinner, which Jon and I picked up and paid for.  At the restaurant, there was a fish tank with a huge, hideous looking fish, apparently named Bruno, whom only a guy named Joe is allowed to feed.  Huh.  We ate dinner in front of the TV with Bobby and Nancy (we watched another episode of The Protectors, one of the Danish cop dramas that Nancy likes, and which I have to watch from the beginning now because I’m totally hooked). We crashed hard after that, and had to get up super early this morning to make it to the conference for an 8am talk about social media in the classroom. Boyfriend said he would come with me, even though I said I’d be back home by noonish. He’s so sweet.

Bobby’s having a root canal done today, and seemed a bit on edge about it last night (naturally). He doesn’t do well with pain, so I’ll have to check on him later.


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