Thursday, March 31, 2005

When does the back break?

This just in...

SLO, March 30 - Humans are damaging the planet at a rapid rate and raising risks of abrupt collapses in nature that could spur disease, deforestation or "dead zones" in the seas, an international report said Wednesday.

The study, by 1,360 researchers in 95 nations, the biggest review of the planet's life support systems ever, said that in the last 50 years a rising human population had polluted or overexploited two-thirds of the ecological systems on which life depends, including clean air and fresh water. "At the heart of this assessment is a stark warning," said the 45-member board of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted."

The report said future strains on nature could bring sudden outbreaks of disease. Warming of the Great Lakes in Africa from climate change, for instance, could create conditions for a spread of cholera.

The study urged changes in consumption, better education, new technology and higher prices for exploiting ecosystems.

I don't think we need to worry about a vengeful god catalyzing the end of the world. We are doing an excellent job of creating our own Armageddon, and an even better job of denying it.

When does the back break?

This just in...

SLO, March 30 - Humans are damaging the planet at a rapid rate and raising risks of abrupt collapses in nature that could spur disease, deforestation or "dead zones" in the seas, an international report said Wednesday.
The study, by 1,360 researchers in 95 nations, the biggest review of the planet's life support systems ever, said that in the last 50 years a rising human population had polluted or overexploited two-thirds of the ecological systems on which life depends, including clean air and fresh water. "At the heart of this assessment is a stark warning," said the 45-member board of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted."

The report said future strains on nature could bring sudden outbreaks of disease. Warming of the Great Lakes in Africa from climate change, for instance, could create conditions for a spread of cholera.

The study urged changes in consumption, better education, new technology and higher prices for exploiting ecosystems.

I don't think we need to worry about a vengeful god catalyzing the end of the world. We are doing an excellent job of creating our own Armageddon, and an even better job of denying it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

America la fea

The scholarship situation is still up in the air, so I'm back to my usual ranting...

Most disgusting observation of the day: on yesterday's evening news, the abhorrent, brutal death of a woman in Seattle garnered less attention than snow in the Cascade mountains. Today's lovely case involved a woman whose boyfriend beat her to death with his fists. Neighbors all said they heard horrible screams, yet no one picked up a phone to call the police until the poor woman's daughter came home, saw the blood, and ran to a nearby home. I can't tell you how sick it makes me that this still happens. We like to point the finger at other nations who treat women with cruelty; while it may not be so rampant in the United States, we still have a long way to go when a woman can be slowly murdered by her partner while the neighborhood blocks its ears.

Anyone who thinks that women and men stand on equal footing should monitor how domestic violence is treated in the public arena. Sure, we've made some progress: laws finally recognize that husbands can rape wives, and it's illegal to hit a woman. Yet, in too many cases, misogyny is still acceptable, albeit in quieter, less obvious forms. Flip through popular magazines like Details or Cosmo; Versace ads still depict women sprawled down staircases who look drugged or raped or both. Look at how women are depicted in the news: throughout last year's presidential campaign, most commentators portrayed Theresa Heinz Kerry as a brash, loudmouthed bitch, even though the media should have been focusing on her political aptitude or on her awareness of current events.

Yes, it's just pop culture, but it has a real influence on America's attitudes towards DV. At some point in her life, one out of every four women will be verbally threatened or physically abused. According to the National Organization for Women, roughly four women die every day in the United States at the hands of abusers. Even liberal, sensitive Seattle lives down to these statistics: yesterday's victim, Katy Hall, joins the growing ranks, along with Crystal Brame, Anastasia King and countless others.

Worst of all, women are not blameless. We perpetuate the cycles of violence through silence. We listen to desperate screams down the hall and decide not to pick up the phone. It's not our business. It's not our problem.

It is our problem. Every single one of us knows a DV victim or survivor, whether or not we are aware of it. The more we try to push domestic violence under the rug, the greater the risk that we, too, will become victims ourselves. If we don't demand attention, neither the media nor the politicians will provide it. In a so-called culture of life, too many women are being obliterated for us to rest on our laurels.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Raindrops keep falling on my head...

Ugh. Why does life seesaw back and forth with such violence?

I just received my official Gates Cambridge offer today and found out that it's only for the duration of my Master's instead of for my PhD. I really, really hope this is an administrative mistake; otherwise, I think I'm screwed.

It's interesting to internalize this information and watch my mind detach from the new knowledge. After all, if this really is the case, I am potentially dead: I've turned down the rest of my schools, and I don't really have any other funding sources lined up, grad school financing being as limited as it is. So, I'm in a state of semi-hyperventilating denial. Something tells me this isn't good for my stress management goals.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Good Friday

I'm not the best Catholic - I still haven't decided if I really am Catholic, even though I've thought about it on-and-off since I started college. So, here we are at the biggest weekend of the year for Catholics and other Christians. I probably won't go to Easter Mass, because it feels too much like the classic behavior of a C&E Catholic (Christmas and Easter only), but I do plan to be at Good Friday services this evening at St. Therese, a Central District church where my wedding's officiant attends.

Personally, I've always been drawn to Christmas instead of Easter - I love the symbolism of the light in darkness, the coming in from the cold. Christmas brings out that boundless optimism inside me and banishes the cynic for a few weeks. Whenever we miss a midnight mass, I'm crushed.

This year, it's been rough for me to be interested in Easter. The world doesn't exactly feel like a good place to be: every day, we hear word of some new, more-screwed-up-than-the-last tragedy. In our country, I can't even look at someone with different political views without fearing that he or I will tear the other to pieces. The letters in the paper have deteriorated to mindless rants and insipid name calling; our politicians sound like a flock of vultures fighting over strips of meat left on a carcass. Racism and sexism still run rampant, and you might as well call yourself a communist if you describe yourself as an environmentalist. I try to make my mind think about religion, but that very word is tainted in our culture, a symbol of our intolerance, fear and contempt for anyone who's different.

Maybe that's why Good Friday is ringing true to me this year, even if Easter still feels a little distant. I wasn't sure what to do with myself this afternoon - in Catholic school, we were always let out early on Fridays after we did our rounds at the stations of the cross. We'd spend the hours between noon and three kicking our legs in our rooms or reading quietly. As an adult, I've had to work in the past; this year, however, I work for an agency that lets its employees have the day off.

So, after a long bike ride conducted in a futile attempt to be contemplative (which instead resulted in being worn out and dehydrated), I curled up on the couch with a bible I haven't opened in a year. Reading through the Passion sequences in the gospels, I had one of those little personal epiphanies that keep semi-agnostics like me coming back to our faiths.

The main message of Good Friday, according to tradition, is that Jesus gave his life for our salvation. But it was the other cast of characters who stuck out to me this time, the apostles, the judges, the crowd. I started thinking about their motivations for betrayal or for silent acquiescence and imagined the fear that crept over them as they faced this calm, unyielding being who challenged their way of life. I thought about being in the midst of large crowds at protests and remembered how the crowd's energy could sweep you up in a spiraling funnel before you thought twice about what you were doing. I considered how terrified many of our politicians seem to feel when they are challenged to do the right thing all alone.

And I saw that side of the story in a new light. Any one of us could be the betrayer or the one who slips away instead of speaking out against suffering. Not just "could be" - we are that every time we decide not to confront someone abusing power, or when we change the channel to avoid watching hungry children starve in silence. On a small scale, we betray Jesus' message time and again, no matter how often we vow that we're different. It's easy to sit here in the 21st century and condemn the faceless figures who called for the crucificion, but if we part the shadows of history, those faces belong to us. It's a humbling message, not meant to shame us, but to keep us alert to our own frailty. As Catholics, when we turn away from the poor, the oppressed, or the forgotten in their hour of need, we're also turning away from our beliefs. I'm not a great Catholic, and I don't know whether I really deserve to call myself a Catholic at all - but I'm grateful for finding a message in my faith today. It makes me willing to confront the world again by standing up for the voiceless...even though I know there will be times when I just find it too hard or too frightening to act.
Now I remember why I haven't been a sports fan. It's because you get your heart broken.

'Nuff said.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Nerdy Moviephiles unite!


For the first time *ever*, the Seattle International Film Festival doesn't conflict with my last month in school! I am ridiculously excited about this, especially since it's my last year here for awhile...

This calls for a major splurge; it's time to empty my wallet so I can sit, enthralled, in front of Spanish language films, African films, Irish films, Australian films...oh baby. SIFF's annual presence is one of the greatest things about living in Seattle, and I can't wait to line up under the trees by the Harvard Exit with other international film nerds.

Yes, I'm a geek :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Sick sad world

Whatever the outcome of the Schiavo case, what's being lost in all of this mayhem is the utter sadness of the situation.

On CBC news, they ran a videotape from her birthday in 2002. One of her parents had a bright blue balloon with a picture of a birthday cake, and they were waving it gently in front of her eyes, trying to have some sort of celebration. She didn't track the balloon with her eyes, but they just kept trying. For whatever reason, as numb to this case as I am by now, that just devastated me; I've been on the verge of tears since I saw it. I think it's just that horrible sense of pain and anguish that you feel radiating from those tapes, the desperate refusal to let go of hope. Or maybe it's just the sense of loss and the recognition that everything you do isn't enough to bring back your daughter. It's difficult for me to articulate why this affected me so much. The whole situation feels awful, particularly because such intimate moments are being paraded out before the public - a family's grief is live on national television for viewers who have no real connection to the case. It just feels sick and tremendously, irrevocably sad.

How to deal with an impending LDR

Accept the fact that everyone thinks your relationship will fail.

This assumption is implicit in every look you receive after you mention your situation. Instantly, people look down or say, “Oh—“ and trail off…this is always a bad sign, because most of us don’t ever know when to stop talking – so, if people know they should shut up, it’s gotta be trouble.

Prove them wrong

This isn’t as easy or as difficult as it sounds. Of course, what do I know, since I haven’t actually started my long-distance effort yet? Still, I feel that AH (almost husband) and I have a going for us. AH’s university program is flexible enough to provide him with ample visiting time; if we were so compelled, we feasibly could meet every week for a few days.

However, I want to be realistic going into this: every week probably won’t happen. For one thing, it will be crucial for each of us to develop social support networks at our schools, since we are leaving friends and family back in the US. Without friends to lean on when the water gets choppy, we probably won’t survive beyond the second term. If he is constantly at Cambridge, he’ll never have the chance to bond with his Oxford brethren – and I just don’t think a statistician is going to be happy hanging around a bunch of geographers all the time.

Beyond that, this is graduate school: our lives are bound to spiral into a cycle of papers, talks, and seminars that leave us breathless and exhausted. There will be weeks when I can’t get out of the library, or when he can’t escape from his lab. Fortunately, I think we’ll be too swamped to feel neglected (a bonus, actually: since I won’t be at Oxford, I can’t get jealous of how much time he spends at work instead of with me – because I can’t expect him to be at Cambridge every day).

There are ways for us to survive this, although I know I won’t always be able to think with such clarity. I’m barely mature enough to say something like that and believe it when I’m confronting a situation – I still haven’t reached the point where I can keep believing it in the midst of a situation (which is why I’ll have email so other people can remind me that everything will be okay). But still – we’ll have the internet, the phones, the mobiles, and a dozen other forms of communication that other generations didn’t get to use. We’ll make a promise to call each other at least once per day. I’ll send packages, love letters, and increase the frequency of my “just because” notes.

In the long run, what’s three years compared to several decades together? Military families do this all the time; so do pilots, fishermen, and a lot of other people. We have five months to think this through before we leave, and though we can’t plan for everything, we should be able to hit the ground running.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

More on Schiavo

There are some provocative letters in the NYT today. I particularly like this one:

To the Editor:
Washington's intervention in the Terri Schiavo case is a grotesque spectacle. The only person qualified to make a decision in this tragic situation is her husband. So much for the sanctity of marriage.

William C. Brown
Urbana, Ill., March 21, 2005

It's ironic that Republicans are supposed to be the party that champions a smaller, less intrusive government. Apparently, that's the case in every instance -- except when it comes to the most intimate, personal decisions of citizens, like who to marry or when to die. We can't tax ourselves to assist African nations in conflict, or even to restrict businesses from dumping chemicals into the water we drink...but when it comes to a single family's life-and-death decisions, the government must wade into the fray.

I'm tired of being told that as a liberal (who does not identify as a Democrat), I am an unpatriotic whiner who should move to Canada. I don't think that people like me -- or our conservative counterparts -- are the anti-Americans. Rather, it seems our own government is out to redefine our national identity in detrimental ways. Again, from the NYT editorial board:

...President Bush and his Congressional allies have begun to enunciate a new principle: the rules of government are worth respecting only if they produce the result we want. It may be a formula for short-term political success, but it is no way to preserve and protect a great republic.

For a party that sings paeans to states' rights, it seems incongruous to stampede over Florida's legal decisions in the Schiavo case. It doesn't make much political sense, either, since a large majority of Americans are opposed to hooking up the feeding tube again. Maybe this really is about making an overture to the hard-right backers who helped reelect the President...but the President seems to forget that a lot of other people voted for him, too, and that they aren't necessarily going to be comfortable with this turn of events.

When it comes down to it, I'm still just outraged and frustrated that our legislature can gather the resources to enact an eleventh hour policy on this very, very special case -- yet it can't find the motivation to do anything substantive about real issues that affect all of us? Why does it take decades to make a decision about health care or global warming when it only takes days to "help" one family?

Gaaah! They say every empire must fall; historically, those tumbles are precipitated by a collapse from the inside. I'm not really interested in following the path of the Roman Republic, the British Empire, or any other world superpowers from days of yore -- but the powers that be seem intent on marching us into the darkening days ahead.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Misplaced priorities

Let me see if I can get this straight. In Rwanda, almost 1,000,000 people died on the world's watch. In Darfur, right now, at least 70,000 people have died and many more than that have been driven from their homes to languish beneath the four horses of starvation, disease, drought and global disinterest.

Yet, in the space of a single weekend, our entire national legislature can come together to draft and pass legislation that prolongs 1 life. Our president can fly from Texas to Washington DC just to sign this bill, even though this issue barely registered on the national radar a few weeks ago.

What kind of priorities do we have that we clamor for the life of a single person while ignoring the deaths of thousands? Why does Terry Schiavo merit more attention or action than three month old babies who are being shot to death while their mothers are assaulted and their fathers gunned down in the fields? Is it because Schiavo's life has only become valuable because of its political weight? After all, it conveniently fits into a "culture of life" -- a culture that doesn't acknowledge the death it propogates every day through indifference and ignorance.

I don't really care much about what happens in the Schiavo case, but I find it sickening that pro-life ideology wears such constricting blinkers. Right now as I'm writing, people are dying in Darfur, in Congo, and in dozens of other war-ravaged places around the world. Children in our own country are dying from malnourishment -- but you sure as hell don't see the legislature convening on a Sunday to save their paltry lives.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Whose house? Dawgs' house!

Woo-hoo! We slammed Pacific today and won by's onto the Sweet Sixteen, where we'll face either G Tech or was great to see the Dawgs electrify the crowd.

Man alive, I can't believe how ridiculous the wording is for wedding invitations! Apparently, weddings are the opportunities to make up for all of your past social gaffes and inappropriate informalities...we're off to investigate doing it yourself tomorrow, so we'll see.

Not much to report tonight. Go Dawgs!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Moving daze

We're about a month away from the move to Snohomish, and I'm starting to think about what feasibly can be lugged to England. It's strange to look at the trappings of domestic life I've accumulated and think that it will all be gathering dust soon; I'll miss my incredibly comfy couch (go, Craigslist) and the beautiful table our friends painted. It won't be the same without our three towering bookshelves, or without our grumpy tortoise kicking up a storm in his indoor jungle. I don't even think I'll be able to bring most of my CDs, jewelry or books with me -- how could I ever find the space or money to send them?

Guess moving across the sea really does require one to start from square one. I feel like I should be done with that -- I did it freshman year at Seattle U, then two years later when I secured my first apartment. How many times will I have to purchase all new bathroom supplies, pots and pans, sheets and towels?

One thing I know: my photos of friends and family are coming. It will be comforting to see them smiling down from my walls when the cold UK rain is too chilly to bear, or when I wish I could share my excitement with someone who knew me back when I was a wide-eyed undergrad without a clue about where I was headed. Damn, I think I might still be that girl. :)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Double standard

One other thing. Already, the net is heating up with articles about how our game against Montana opens our seeding up to even more questions about whether it was merited. Yet, Kentucky barely survives a game against its 15th-seeded in-state rival, and no one says a damn thing about how they must be completely overrated, too. Oh, the privilege of being a regular in the tournament.

I hope Saturday and next week shut the naysayers up for awhile.

Current bracket count: 2 misses with Alabama (unlike the product, they don't get the job done) and Iowa.

Heatin' up the dance floor

Let’s get the disclaimer over with first: I didn’t see the game.

I am stuck at work, having already missed half the day for a doctor’s appointment, so I listened to most of it through my static-saturated headphones. The reception inside this glass Duplo block is terrible, so I really only heard about half the game. Still, I feel I can offer at least a little analysis.

We do need to play better if we’re going to squash the whining about how we didn’t deserve a #1 seed. While it’s true that the first 10 minutes looked like we were playing a pack of third graders, we shouldn’t have let the Grizzlies back in the game at all. Because I couldn’t physically see the game, I might be wrong; maybe Romar decided to let the guys back off and play easy so they could rest for Pacific on Saturday.

However, we do have a notable tendency to play down unless the game’s on the line. This is a maddening trend which has caused many a Husky fan to turn gray before their time, and it needs to stop. If we start slow against a Pacific, a Georgia Tech, or (dare I say?) a Wake, we’ll never be able to catch up. The Huskies have to stop being complacent when they have a lead: we need to keep our shooting clean, stay out of foul trouble, and learn to run the ball inside and outside. Since our inside ball handlers don’t actually handle the ball with superiority, this isn’t going to be easy. I mean no offense to our guys – they are an incredibly talented team with the ability to annihilate a fellow top seed like ‘Zona – but this is a one round elimination, and we can’t afford to cut anyone any slack. Every team is dangerous. Every team has the ability to send us packing, and the same goes for the other 1 seeds.

If there’s one thing we lack, it’s the seasoned perspective that comes from being a perennial tournament team like Duke or Kentucky. We are a bit behind on the learning curve, but we need to start absorbing new skills at an exponential rate. UW has the ability to make a deep run in the tournament; they demonstrated that potential against some high quality teams this year…but we have to play like we mean it from the second the clock starts ticking, or else we’ll be hearing those “overrated” chants long after the last nets come down.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A shadow on the midnight sun

It's over. 16 years of consistent "no" votes and unwavering opposition from the American public don't mean a damn thing anymore. The Senate has tipped the first domino - now that ANWR is open to drilling, who's to say other wildlife refuges won't follow? Why don't we just get rid of the distinction altogether, since the entire point of a refuge is supposed to be to protect it from us?

I'm at a loss. There's nothing at all to say.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Heartbreak in the making

I try to avoid off-the-cuff environmental commentary because I've become overly self-conscious about the stereotypes that can invoke (e.g., the bleeding heart liberal with a swan song about everything). Still, I am grieving tonight and don't feel like making apologies for wanting to express it.

As a vote on ANWR approaches, my heart feels like breaking. Even though the public opposes it by a vast margin, even though the administration itself admits that ANWR doesn't contain enough oil to do anything for our shortage, even though the USGS estimates it will take 7 - 10 years for us to see a drop of oil, still the government persists with its agenda. For the sake of making a political statement and holding up a faltering way of life, we are about to alter a wild place irreparably. Once we go in, there's no going back - something you think we would have learned by now after all of our Exxons and Superfunds and Amazon burnings.

But we don't learn anything; never have, never will. I wouldn't mind if it only affected people - if we serve as the implements of our own destruction, then we reap what we sow. However, we are determined to take every living thing down with us, to eradicate much of the life that has coursed over this planet for thousands of years, and which would continue to do so for generations more if not for our fatal intervention. We operate on ignorance: I don't want to know about the endangered species! Other animals would probably like to remain ignorant of us, but they don't have that choice.

Here's an interesting tidbit: in about 10 years, leatherback sea turtles could go extinct because they keep ingesting plastic bags that are clogging the oceans, and because we've turned their beaches into waterfront resorts. They've been around longer than most animals on this planet, and certainly longer than our miserable little species. We are wiping out something with almost perfect evolution, something which has been able to withstand more change than we can even imagine. We are destroying a piece of our global heritage -- and no one gives a fuck! They're just turtles, right? If they can't keep up, then they might as well drop out of the race. Ohh, how I wish that the tables would turn.

What upsets me the most is that my grief and despair don't seem to echo with most people. I can't even share my pain because I don't think the powers that be understand or care. No one in power cares about anything other than our own rapidfire progression towards fame and fortune, and few politicians are willing to forsake a dollar today for a national refuge in the future.

You know what I would like to see? I hope that if and when there's a judgement day, the other animals get to determine our fate. I want us to have to stand before the species we've eradicated and try to explain why our needs superceded their very existence. Let them look into our eyes and see what's there, if anything is.

The end of the 9-to-5

Well, I gave my unofficial notice at work today, since I won't really be able to manage the England-to-Seattle commute this fall. It's bittersweet: as my friends know, my job isn't exactly a bundle of joy, but I really love my co-workers and value our comraderie. Social services may be home to the most warped senses of humor on the planet, and it's something you have to experience to understand.

To anyone who walks past our offices, the remarks floating out the doors sound blasphemous at best and terribly insensitive at worst; however, "gallows humor" is the only way to survive here. How else can we deal with the homeless moms who call us begging for housing we can't provide? How could we endure long enough to tell clients that they'll have to go back into shelter because we don't receive Section 8 voucher allocations anymore?

I can't say I'll miss the actual job because it's emotionally grueling and intellectually numbing - I'm the lowest on the totem pole, so I get all the fun jobs like faxing and filing. Paying your dues is about as fun as it sounds...

Yet, this is bittersweet because of its implications. I'm now left with six short months before I crate up my belongings, purchase a one-way plane ticket and leave my familiar world behind. Apart from my month-long winter breaks (for which I will be eternally grateful), I won't really see my little city for awhile. I have to bid goodbye to the few close friends I've managed to make; as a socially insecure loner, that might be the most upsetting part of all. Three years isn't long in the grand scale of things, but it still leaves enough time to drift apart and lose touch. I'm determined to prevent that from happening, but the time zone difference certainly doesn't help - somehow, even my best friend would probably not enjoy being called at 3am. :) I know it will be okay, but after many, many childhood relocations I have become incredibly obssessed about keeping my friends - I'm convinced that the slightest slip or lapse in communication will result in losing them forever. It's difficult to explain, but it's how I feel, even though part of me knows better.

I realize that your mid-20s are all about striking out on your own and doing things you won't be able to risk later. Still, this isn't easy...but what right do I have to expect that it should be?

Monday, March 14, 2005

B.S. of the Day

Oh, Gale Norton. You make me smile. Actually, I'm lying. You make me want to usurp your position and get someone with a single iota of environmental integrity into the Department of the Interior.

In case you missed it, Ms. Norton wrote a lovely editorial in the NYT today singing a paean to modern-day oil drilling. Apparently, the Arctic won't even know we're there! Funny, that..."When the spring thaw comes and the road melts, any evidence that a man or a machine ever crossed there will be gone," she claims. Hmmm. I've seen aerial photos of the tracks left by giant transport machines called rolligons. They don't generally leave the tundra untouched; rather, their heavy weight causes them to emboss the tundra with tire tracks that can linger for years. This effect will only be enhanced by global warming, which will melt the ice, thaw the permafrost, and leave the tundra vulnerable to human damage...

Oh wait, I forgot. By her administration's book, global warming isn't happening - silly me!

Let me quote the NYT's editorial board, which responded to her piece:

"The United States Geological Survey's best guess is that even at today's record-high prices - in excess of $50 a barrel - just under 7 billion barrels could profitably be brought to market. That's less than the 7.3 billion barrels this country now consumes in a year. At peak production - about 1 million barrels a day in 2020 or 2025 - the refuge would supply less than 4 percent of the country's projected daily needs."

I've studied this, and their numbers are correct. The other often overlooked fact is that it would take years for this oil to reach us after we begin setting up the infrastructure to extract it. This isn't going to do anything for our current shortages, which will only increase as the world's reserves dwindle. Increasing fuel efficiency, on the other hand, would have tangible impacts: it would cut pollution, reduce our dependency on oil, and subsequently increase our nation's security. It's a no-brainer.

But there are no brains in certain portions of the government right now, and we may not have the power to stop them this time. It will only take 51 votes in the Senate to open up ANWR - a brief hour is all that's needed to seal the fate of one of our last wild places. Time and again, polls and studies have shown that Americans of all political stripes are largely opposed to drilling in the Arctic. I guess what we want doesn't matter. Big surprise.

Roses are red...

It's three and a half months to the wedding, and I think I've managed to avoid devolving into Bridezilla...unless, of course, my friends are cleverly lying to me and waiting to enact their revenge when I become an inebriated bachelorette!

Seriously, however, I've decided there are two key elements to remaining happy and healthy while planning one's wedding:
  1. Resist the urge to begin looking at wedding dresses and floral arrangements when you aren't legally old enough to be married. Microwave your Barbie Bride doll (trust me - it makes a great science project). Don't even let the word "wedding" enter your mind until you are actually engaged. If it's too late for that, start immediately by purging your surroundings of bride magazines, catering brochures and frou-frou accessories. Escape for a weekend with a case of Guinness, your best gal-pals, and some anti-romance movies. Trust me: when you have no predetermined expectations, everything is a blast. Instead of obssessing over the perfect dress you saw when you were 14, you'll be musing over the racks thinking, "Hmmm...any of these look good to me! Let's try them all on..."
  2. Give your caterer, florist, photographer, etc, much more credit than most brides allow. These people are experts, and they know far more about their jobs than you do. I've been amazed at how relieved people are when we say, "Well, we're not sure what we want - here's a rough idea, and we'll be happy with what you provide." They just about fall out of their chairs with gratitude - and occasionally it's saved us some money, too. No one is going to remember the exact side salads you served, or the precise blossoms included in your bouquet. As long as it all fits together, it's good to me. This saves much grief, and it prevents bride and groom from wanting to throttle each other during the photography sessions.

So, how's it going for us? Well, so far, we've purchased our rings, booked our photographer, selected our florist, set our menu, found our presider, and scoped out our location. Not too bad for a couple of clueless rookies who could only give the florist blank stares when she asked what kind of flowers we liked.

I felt like such a tomboy. I really do not have a favorite flower, let alone flowers. I couldn't name more than a handful...all I could say was, "Um, are there any dark blue ones?" Since I had the flu, most of that sentence was a garbled, stuffed-up mess. I think she felt sorry for me. :)

Seriously, though, I've had a blast planning so far. We're keeping it small, semi-traditional (although I think we're the only couple ever with both a ring dog and flower tortoise), and simple. I'm looking forward to it - but I'm more excited about afterwards. Hey, no dirty minds - I'm talking about the honeymoon! (Or am I? Heh heh.)

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Mad dawgs

Holy freaking mother of god! The Huskies are a #1 seed in the NCAA tourney! This is an unheard-of event - I was at Hec Ed when ESPN made the announcement, and the entire arena exploded in a frenzy of barking, purple bodies richocheting around the stands. Unbelievable.

We have more than enough to live up to now, and it's not going to be easy - when the Huskies are hot, they're hot. When they aren't, well, we lose to Oregon State. We weren't hot the last few games, however, and we still managed to pull off the wins...the first game is Thursday against Montana (hooray), and the second will be against Pittsburgh or Pacific. We're going to try to attend that one...we'll see!!

Bow down to Washington....

Saturday, March 12, 2005

God for Greens?

A long awaited movement may finally have stirred in its sleep.

The New York Times reports that a small cohort of evangelical Christian leaders is calling on the flock to act on global warming. The arguments run the biblical gamut, from interpreting stewardship as conservation to suggesting that it is Christlike to protect the poor from environmental degradation.

Whatever their reasoning, I hope this is a sign of change. The divide between environmentalists and evangelicals has always seemed incongrous; an environmentalist might argue for earth on its own merits while an evangelical views earth as a gift to be used judiciously, but the point remains the same. Global warming is threatening biological life, from phytoplankton and polar bears to humans, and as sentient, highly conscious life forms, it is our obligation to mitigate the damage. (Contrary to popular belief in the US, the majority of the world has accepted the science behind global warming, and anyone who disregards mounting evidence should have a talk with residents of the Arctic.)

My concern, however, is that these evangelical leaders will not be able to reach people like the woman who sat behind me on the plane to Maryland. She told a seatmate that she didn't worry about environmental problems because they were all part of God's plan; personal salvation was all that mattered, and anything beyond that was out of her control.

This seems like a beautiful way to avoid feeling responsible for a host of problems, and it's not a mantra exclusively repeated by evangelicals. It's something we all say, one way or another, trying to convince ourselves that we shouldn't feel guilty about war-torn Darfur or ecologically devastated Ecuador. Whether we attribute the turmoil to God or to human greed and capitalism, the fact of the matter is that no one wants to accept culpability -- because what the hell would we do? And who is going to listen to a handful of Christian leaders asking what Jesus would drive when it's so much easier to turn the key in the Excursion and drive to the grocery store? Yet, nothing is going to change if we choose denial over action, if we continue to insist that nothing short of a divine hand could get us out of the mess we're in today. That prophecy will come true if we keep sitting on our couches at night, clucking sympathetically at the hungry kids on tv.

I hope these religous leaders get through where others have failed. In a globalizing world, maybe people will finally see that we have more in common with each other than we think. In the end, we all live on the same planet, and that rocket ship to Mars doesn't look like it's made it off the White House lawn.

Oh baby!

Well, after two brutal games, we scrapped our way to the first Pac-10 title for UW! I think I'm making up for a week's worth of missed workouts; at one point, I checked my pulse and found it at 120 bpm. This rapidity is probably attributable to my ever-unpredictable thyroid (or nonthyroid, I suppose), but I don't think it's a coincidence that it occured at the exact moment that Stoudamire tripped on the court. Now, it's on to the NCAA...I'm telling you, college basketball should be classified as an illegal substance.

I'm compiling a list of things to do before I leave Seattle in the fall:
  • Spend a weekend at the Hoh Rainforest in Olympia
  • Climb Mt. Si again
  • Complete the RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party) in August
  • Settle down on the pond shore in Snohomish to watch the trumpeter swans fly in at dusk
  • Go to Jazz Alley and take in a show, even if it costs more than my wedding invitations

I'm open to suggestions, particularly when it comes to important aspects of Seattle's nightlife, since my after dark activities generally have been limited to studying in the back corners of UW libraries. Be still my beating heart.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Woof woof woof woof!

Two down, one to go - we eked out a win over Stanford, 63-66. Now comes Arizona in the final tomorrow - a difficult prospect, since we have played two tough games in two days, while Zona blew out OSU today and spent the last half of the game cooling their heels. I still can't believe I've become so addicted to college basketball, but I think it's because it includes everything that other sports lack: it is fast-paced, the halves are short, the games are always lively, and the players (at least the Dawgs) are actually likeable. No after-hours scandals! It's also refreshing to watch a bunch of little guys beat up on the big players from other teams, although I still find it difficult to believe that 6'5" is "little."

I took a walk from Fremont to the U-District today in the hopes that fresh air would clear out my lingering flu bug. Slowly, I am realizing how much I will miss this city, how its pulse has become a part of my own. By going to England, I hope to be home that much sooner so I can return to the streets I know so well. This is the first time in my somewhat nomadic existence that I have been able to develop a sense of place; whenever I cycle down the Burke Gilman and see the houseboats bobbing lazily along the water, I feel like an essential component of the city, a small tooth in its ever rotating gears. More on that later...

Blogs of greater merit than mine

If you have spare time, I would highly recommend checking out the following blogs: and

These are maintained by amazing people who are confronting health problems that we all might face someday. The stoicism in the posts is inspiring. It's definitely worth a few minutes here and there.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Dawg power!!

Hah! Huskies won! Granted, we should have been able to pull away with our 18-point lead, instead of almost blowing it and going into OT, but we still stuffed ASU in the end. Now, just two more rounds left in the Pac-10 tourney...looks like we'll be playing Stanford, unless WSU manages to pull out a miracle in the next 10 minutes...maybe we'll finally avenge the loss that tore the Pac-10 title from our paws...go Dawgs!

Cambridge details...

For anyone interested, here's the college where I will be staying during my first year. Colleges aren't quite like dorms in the U.S. - I'm still figuring out the system, but they play an integral part of university life for undergraduates. I believe they actually oversee undergrad education. For graduate students, colleges seem to be more of a place to develop one's social life and find affordable food. New Hall is an all-female college about 15 minutes walking distance from the center of the university. I went out to visit it on our trip this January - it's quite large for being a "smaller" college!

My department and program both look fantastic. The staff and faculty are extremely friendly (and overwhelmingly intelligent, accomplished people). During my course of study, I'll complete a 1-year Master's degree and a 2 or 3-year PhD. They don't require student teaching at UK universities, so the time to completion is much shorter than in the US. I can't decide whether I'm elated by that news or completely terrified by its implications - do I really know enough to be that sharp once I start coursework there? Guess we'll find out...


Greetings, one and all! Welcome to my blog, which will hopefully become a frequent stopping site as time passes...this blog exists largely to keep in touch with friends and family back home, in anticipation of my upcoming relocation to the United Kingdom. That move looks more likely now that I've received word on funding - I have managed to receive an offer for a Gates Cambridge scholarship, which should enable me to complete grad school without going into debt. This is an exciting but bittersweet moment, as it means my fiance and I will be attending different schools in England; Bryan will be studying statistical genetics at Oxford, and I'll be working on geography (not maps!!) at Cambridge.

The cities are not far apart, but there are no direct routes between them thanks to the miracles of modern transportation. The nearest rail station requires one to go from Oxford to London, then from London to Cambridge - two legs of a triangle. The third leg, between Oxford and Cambridge, does not have any rail or road connections that we've discovered. Our bus requires similar ambling through the British countryside, which creates great scenic views while dashing the hopes of anyone who'd like to live at one uni and attend the other. A set of rather archaic rules also prevents that - during term time, I'm apparently required to live within 10 miles of the bell at Great St. Mary's (I hope that's its name - please correct me if I'm wrong!). However, it does sound as if those rules are flexible enough to accomodate the occasional excursion away to see one's husband.

I'll sign off for now, but I'll try to be good about updating regularly, especially after I finish my current job and start preparing for our wedding and our big overseas move. Until later!