A sad day

Alfred Peet of the Peet's Coffee enterprise (that started in Berkeley, no less) has died at age 87.

Since he retired in 1983, I suppose his death doesn't really affect the welfare of the company. But somehow, the Big Box Corporation that Peet's has become seems more obvious without a nice man who opened a coffee shop in a liberal hippie town in the sixties.

Because with all that acid and free love, there's gotta be a niche market for caffeine just waiting to happen.

To be fair, I didn't really know that he was alive (or dead) in the first place, but at least now they can put a memorial plaque or something at Walnut & Vine Streets. It's not like the sidewalks need repaving or anything.


In case you haven't heard,

The massive expected holiday traffic will be just awful this Labor Day weekend.

But make sure that traffic doesn't go anywhere near the Bay Bridge, because historically (at least according to the Bay Bridge Project's website) it's been light traffic, anyway. And, you know, it'll be closed, since Caltrans is taking a giant chunk out of it.

I have not fallen off the face of the earth...

I've been here. Granted, I've been better at multitasking in the past, but my potential 22-unit course load is distracting me from what's obviously more important- entertaining my faithful readers.

Also, my camera has run out of batteries, and I've been meaning to post some lovely pictures to make me seem technologically impressive.

I'll be back soon; just getting my crap together.


Selling myself, one page of advice at a time

I've been looking to make a few bucks on the side, because I'm really awful at finding well-paying hourly jobs. Since the cocaine biz seemed a little risky, and because I am too lazy to get my dream De-Cal organized (titled: "English as a First Language," co-taught by my roommate, and if anyone else takes that name I will be totally annoyed), I decided to use some of those English skills for some freelance editing.

So if you students have papers to edit while you still have Daddy's money, I'll be happy to procrastinate my own homework to proofread them. I'll be brutally honest if it sucks, but ask the 2005-06 Davidson 6th floor whether it worked out for them.

My terms:
-I'm not rewriting your papers. I'm telling you what you did wrong, grammatically and conceptually, and how to fix it.
-I will not guarantee that I've read whatever you're writing about or taken the same class, and I am not responsible for factually incorrect arguments; only how those arguments are presented.
-$2.50 per double-spaced (Times 12 or Arial 11 font) page for the first 3 pages (add $1.50 per page after that), which is approximately the cost of the latte I will be drinking while I read.
-Turnaround time varies, based on how immediately you need it back, how long the paper is (or needs to be), and what my schedule is like.

About me:
-3rd year Rhetoric student with extensive experience in writing and editing, academically and professionally. Most well-versed with MLA and AP, but I've had to use APA a few times, so that's becoming more familiar.
-Good GPA, scholarship recipient, and a featured blogger.
-You can find an unflattering picture of me on the Internet here, at my newest place of employment.

Contacting me:
My target clientele is fellow Berkeley students, and since most have Facebook, try this. No stalking!

It sucks to be you.

If you don't see Avenue Q, that is.

Aside from the old ladies passing around cookies during the second act, the show was hilarious. The guy at the box office told me the cheap seats on the side balcony were sold; maybe it's the 20/20 vision, but I could see just fine from the center balcony.

It was refreshing to see a small cast and a set that actually fit the dimensions of the space, after spending a summer with sets that nearly crushed the electrics and a cast the size of a small army. Plus, there's nothing I enjoy more than the brisk San Francisco fog to quicken my way to BART, as opposed to the dry Utah heat to quicken my mile walk.

As one might expect for SF, there is a George W. Bush crack that incited self-righteous hoots and applause from the Prius-driving crowd, but being in college never seems as cool as when puppets are missing the dorms.



-Take out "Hurricane" in the headline.

-Latest crimes against Canadians and the elderly.

-Excess of unrepaired building damage sustained by human remains kills two firefighters.

-Film director directs neighbors, own funeral.

-Liberal Iranian Christian "balances" CNN conservatism.

-I rock. Except when answering questions.


Updates, schmupdates

It has been really great to be back from Utah. My slow recovery from acute culture shock aside, things have been going well. I got a job at the Daily Clog, whose measly pay will provide me with this semester's caffeinated indulgences. Kyle is convinced I don't know how to get a job that pays me well. Still working for the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, but also stage managing a show, which will certainly change things up a bit.

But what I'm sure you all are waiting for is how the summer went. Avid readers know that I was stuck for three months working in marketing and box office for an opera company in northern Utah, where I was paid about $1000 to work 9-12 hours a day, 6 days a week. I was pleasant and helpful to the 3,000+ people to whom I sold seats, which totaled over $75,000 in ticket sales. Bragging aside, I found it exceedingly difficult to be patient and kind with elderly people who have been attending for many years who still do not know that we do not, have not, and will not offer a senior discount.

The entire experience was sort of like an anthropological or ethnographic (Pop quiz: and can someone identify the difference?) experiment. My brief stint as a Catholic in my early years (namely, that I was baptized) served as one of my only playing cards in casual conversation with coworkers and locals. My knee-length skirts were gawked at by more conservatively-dressed women and honked at by truck-driving men; tank tops were frowned upon, sleeveless shirts questionable; the coffee shop was my only safe haven.

Caffe Ibis
is lovely. It reminds me of several coffee shops around the Bay Area and Sonoma County (think Aroma Roasters, Coffee Catz, Ritual), but since it's so sparsely populated by heathens who drink coffee, the employees have more time for conversation and making me whatever they please.

There is little to no interpersonal conflict in Utah, at all. A lot of passive aggression, a lot of gossip, but no argument.

The living situation was fascinating. 50-60 people from all different parts of the country living in the same apartment complex about one and a half miles from work. The parties were outrageous, the cops even more outrageous (half the force takes pictures with the crew, the other half belligerently breaks up the parties), and the crazy youngsters could not keep their pants on. Maybe it was my terrible bed or the guys that make Berkeley EECS boys look hot, but Marvin Gaye just wasn't doing it for me.

The nature, however, was gorgeous. Whenever I could, which wasn't especially often, I'd tolerate folks I could hitch a ride with into the canyons or up to Bear Lake, like my parents, who came to visit.

All in all, I'm glad to be back. Back from one of the world's largest per capita consumers of Jello and Kraft products, back from a highly concentrated demography of the world's richest and fastest growing religion's followers, back to my comfy bed and gay roommates and social and genetic diversity.


More bridges collapsing...

Add another tally to transportation to the political platform prediction table, because even internationally, bridge collapses are proving the hard way how important the little things of government really are.

Granted, this particular instance was in a bridge under construction-- as in, newly built-- but that doesn't mean the incident won't give people in the States something to worry about when it comes time to evaluating "important issues" in the upcoming elections.

And speaking of China, it seems that
It is common for disgraced officials to commit suicide in China.

Does this seem suspicious to anyone? I feel like this toy company CEO would have been dead anyway, if the Chinese government had its say.


Toot, toot!

Hey, I'm like, famous, sort of...at least on a lesser-known website with a small pool of regular bloggers. I'm the first featured blogger this year at ProgressiveU.org, and that's certainly exciting. I'm apologizing here and now, by the way, for the terrible quality of my answers to the questions I wasn't exactly prepared to speak intelligently on. But the part where the moderators wrote about me was Very Nice.

I suppose being featured makes up for not winning the actual scholarship money, but remember- there are still opportunities for you, my adoring fans, to vote for me here. Because I'm that awesome.


Indian givers act on 'principle,' abandon all other principles

We declined to host the service- not based on hatred, not based on discrimination, but based on principle.

That's Rev. Gary Simons, head of the nondenominational High Point Church in Arlington, TX. He canceled a large funeral service for Navy veteran Cecil Howard Sinclair, who died at age 46 after complications following pre-heart transplant surgery. Simons canceled because Sinclair was gay, and he did it "on principle," not out of hatred or discrimination.

Since when is acting on a hateful, discriminatory principle not acting out of hatred or discrimination?

The church originally offered to host the funeral service because Sinclair's brother works there, and then rescinded their offer because they couldn't appear to condone a gay lifestyle, which was evident from the photos the family had provided of his happy, post-Gulf War life.

I'm not entirely sure which is worse: your brother dies and your boss offers to host the service and then changes his mind because the deceased was gay, or the church prioritizes not endorsing certain behavior over acting like benevolent, God-loving creatures.

Water, water, everywhere

Water, like transportation, is one of those other essential things that keeps us alive and is generally considered pretty cool. It's like, a part of us, man. 70 whole percent.

Hippie environmentalist crap aside, Bear's Necessity talks about bottled water, which puts the convenience of carrying water in light plastics in perspective. But what about people's lawns?

In Orem, Utah, a 70 year-old woman was arrested earlier this summer for not watering her lawn for over a year. Yes, arrested.

Interesting, because the San Francisco Chronicle worries that in such an extreme water shortage, people will start getting mad at each other for watering too much or during peak hours.

Obviously these are different states, but let me illustrate just how liberal Utah is with their water.

That's water flowing from a drain, and it does that every day I walk by on my way to work. Sometimes it even floods part of the street. And where does it come from? Locals tell me that their almighty irrigation system pumps water from the nearby mountains and supplies the town, via underground irrigation canals, with lots of verdant nature that would otherwise be arid and even more boring.

A local also told me, in order to relieve my fears about tons of kids in public pools during 107 degree heat, that the water in the aquatic center is dumped and replaced every fifteen minutes. Where does the water go? I have no idea, but if I find out I'll let you know.

So the next time some hippies come yelling at me about pouring out two sips of water left in my convenient plastic bottle, I will tell them they need to take a mission trip to Utah.


Cat fight!

Cindy Sheehan, our least-forgettable overbearing Mom, has moved on from Crawford Ranch eyesore to official politics. Now she's challenging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her seat in the US House of Representatives. Sheehan had earlier announced her intention to run for the House if Pelosi didn't try to impeach President Bush by July 23.

I'm all for people doing something about the injustices they perceive in the world. I'm all for people loving their children. But Sheehan has effectively made her son a martyr to her cause, and I'm not totally sure that he would appreciate that. Of course, it's awful that she lost her son, but does every grieving mother of deceased soldiers seek justice by camping out in front of the President's house, or running for political office? Okay, okay, so it only takes one to make a difference, blah blah blah, but what makes someone like Sheehan, and not, say, my mom, decide to challenge the first female Speaker of the House?

Mom, I'm sure you'll disagree with me because you're a mom and I'm not, but I think Sheehan's trying to be Supermom, and she can't do everything.

That said, if she raises enough money, I imagine her pre-existing publicity will probably earn her at least a handful of votes. If not for being crazy, votes will be from those who know she's not too afraid of party politics to shove her beliefs down everyone's throats.



now I might be able to qualify for all of those scholarships!

America's Favorite Pastime

Shoving little old ladies to the ground for a baseball?

I guess I'd do the same thing if that baseball were worth millions.

The Countdown

I leave Utah on Monday. Except for one of my sisters visiting, Monday couldn't come soon enough.

But there are things about this place I will miss staring at, like the beautiful sunsets, the perfectly manicured mullets, or the fundamentalists who still think the word "damn" is using the Lord's name in vain, "darn" is pushing it, and hot chocolate isn't hot.

Really, I'm just looking forward to having something interesting to stand up for.


Scavenger hunt!

Here are some Utah photos, courtesy of my dropped-once-or-thrice-too-often camera.

And here's the scavenger hunt part: find evidence of live dog, nightclub, or God. Ten points for correct answers, twenty-five for funny ones.

Because things actually happen everywhere else.

-Don't stick stuff up your nose. It might not get removed for 55 years.

-Does the Transamerica Pyramid look like a Victorian home? Because the new Transbay Terminal design proposals look nothing like the pink ladies, either.

-People are socially and physically trapped in Utah.

-Something involving transportation made several of today's headlines.


Talking to Strangers

I met an Indian woman on the street last night, about mid-40s and traditionally dressed. I couldn't have been dressed more differently, in a tank top, skirt, and flip flops.

She had been walking ahead of me on the sidewalk until we came to a stoplight. She stared for a few moments, and though it appeared as if she were just another conservative woman giving me the evil eye for showing my ankles, there was something different about the way she stared. It was evident that we were not from Utah.

At this realization, Bibi, the Americanized version of her Indian name, began asking rapid-fire questions in thickly-accented English. I mentioned I was from California, and she immediately asked whether I knew her friend at UC Berkeley who had gotten a PhD in Comparative Literature three years ago. Of course not, but it was nevertheless impressive that she lucky-guessed my school in a state that's practically 1000 miles long.

In the course of our 1.5-mile walk, I find out that she is from India and came to the States to get her master's degree in Folklore at UPenn. In the course of her studies there, she came to work and study in the apparently prestigious Folklore program at Utah State University, where she is an archivist, curator, and English professor. Bibi's dissertation is on the relationship between Tennessee Williams and some other gay playwright who had a fat crush on Williams. Not exactly something to publish here in Utah.

She talked more than she breathed, like a toddler after an ice cream cone or an undergrad after forty-two sleepless hours finishing a mostly crack-induced thesis. Bibi complained about how uneducated her students are-- that they don't know, or think it's important to know, anything about the period during which an American novel was written. (Normally, I would argue that literary works can be appreciated differently outside their historical context, but I'm sorry, America is barely 200 years old. How hard is it to know at least something about the Depression? Like, that it happened?)

I was glad to have met Bibi. I hadn't expected to find a Fulbright Scholar in the entire state, let alone walking the same way home one hot August night. Hopefully, she finds an outlet that isn't her meticulously archived British theater history library with which to share her intellectual prowess.


I've said all along that road maintenance should be a political platform.

"They won't like, fall down or anything, but they'll blow your tires" is basically CalTrans' position after a slough of "our bridges are fine" press conferences held across the country following Minneapolis' bridge collapse.

CalTrans officials officially say of California's bridges:

The majority of bridges considered structurally deficient in the state are in that category because of potholes and paint issues, said Caltrans supervising bridge engineer Ken Brown.

Right. I guess it makes sense that paint isn't really a structural issue per se, but then how was that rating given in the first place? I'm sorry, you must have been looking at the foresight structural deficiency rating, where we included cosmetic deficiencies so that later we can disprove the necessity all of our salaries.

And, okay, the news?

The local 10 o'clock news:

The travesty-you-never-thought-of piece of the evening was about dog fighting. You know, that rampant and cruel sport where people's dogs die frequently and breed even more frequently, living in sin and often Latino. I'm sure it's truly tragic that dogs are so cruelly treated, but everyone important must be healthy and moral if this is their headlining "investigative report."

Reports of the clean-up camaraderie following flash flooding yesterday featured pictures of what once was flooded and interviews of neighbors helping neighbors, because they waited until the other station's evening news to find out about the actual flood in southern Utah. You see, they're the more human station.

-The "Summer Shot of the Night" feature-- a nightly winning photo submitted by viewers to the TV studio-- was of a Suburban driving through some flooding-aftermath puddles, creating a picturesque wave of water to drench a couple walking on the sidewalk. Another case of being at the right place at the right time-- for the photographer.

-Buying a European car may actually cost you more money, not only because they cost more money, but because they are un-American and don't sustain damage well in minor accidents or fender-benders. Duh.

-And Jim Maland, a larger, older and slightly affected man, "hoots" at minor league baseball games. His hooting is so loud, the opposing team often thinks there is actually an owl in the stadium. Of course, the home team's mascot is the Owls, so this guy's punny cheer has inspired a new rooting chant for baseball fans everywhere. His contribution to the Glossary of Hoots and Hollers Appropriate for Minor League Baseball Games is enthusiastically noted.

Another reason I strongly disagree with Utah.

Remember this lady?

Well, her polar opposite showed up today.

A couple, probably mid-thirties to early forties, stormed out of the theater not more than a half an hour after Porgy & Bess started. They approached the theater's box office (which was not staffed with Opera folk at the time) and demanded a refund because they were so grossly ashamed that such a well-respected leader in the Mormon community would allow such a vulgar and profane show to be presented. The theater people sent them over to us at our administrative building, then called us to warn us.

Both of my bosses reprinted our program's disclaimer about the show's language (which, by the way, is not especially profane or vulgar for most standards), but this made no difference to the self-righteous couple who clearly had no idea what the opera was about. They asked why it didn't have words in it (um, it is an opera...), why Michael Ballam's standards would stoop so low to allow people to use the Lord's name in vain, blah blah blah.

We gave them a refund and invited them to see the show Michael's starring in, but they huffed and puffed that they were never setting foot inside that heathen theater again.

This was the first time our general director wasn't apologetic to an unhappy customer. He refused to write them a letter because they had the gall to question his moral standards-- standards that one of the Apostles approved of enough to see all four shows. Go President Monson!

All I have to say is this: really? Really?