Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Clooney for the cause

Turns out after all his time, money and effort have been invested, George Clooney is not sure he is helping, or changing anything for Darfur. I love to see celebrities fighting for a cause; when you can do good things with your fame, I believe in it. Otherwise, I think the way American culture idolizes these people is absurd. They are just people, doing something they are good at (sometimes they're not even good at it, they just enjoy it)- just like you. According to the Time Magazine article, Clooney became interested in Darfur in 2005. His dad and him had been reading about the lack of attention being given to Darfur, so the two went on a trip to Africa to shoot footage. Turns out Clooney wasn't able to get into Darfur until late January, when the U.N. said it would give him an official title. "I have a U.N. passport. It says 'Messenger of Peace' on it. It's very cool," he says.

Later he helped found, Not on Our Watch, which has given away more than $9 million. But now he is wondering if his critics are right, if his scheme to use celebrity to bring attention to the world's plights isn't, if not vanity, at least striving after wind. "I've been very depressed since I got back. I'm terrified that it isn't in any way helping. That bringing attention can cause more damage. You dig a well or build a health-care facility and they're a target for somebody," he says. "A lot more people know about Darfur, but absolutely nothing is different. Absolutely nothing."


Get your give on. If you have extra boxes, unused plastic bags, tons of bubble wrap, old shoes etc think about donating them on Freecycle. Turns out someone's trash really is another's treasure!

So what is freecycle? "The Freecycle Network is made up of 4,260 groups with 4,565,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills." Just go to their site, type in your location, and they'll hook you up with a bunch of local people interested in getting or giving.

It works- I listed some boxes and someone came to pick them up! That helped de-clutter my closet, and it was easy and fast.


As for me, this week my work has taken me to Budapest, Hungary. I got in early yesterday morning, after an all night flight, during which I unfortunately was unable to sleep even a wink. RDU to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Paris, then Paris to Hungary. The Paris airport was cRaZZZy! Built in the 60s, the colors and layout scream that it has not been updated at all since then. I was bused 3 different times, to 3 totally opposite locations, and once you are in the waiting room to board the plane there is no way to get to a bathroom. You go through a one way security tunnel to get in!

Now that I'm in Budapest I'm having a great time. There is so much fancy architecture to observe; I am enjoying walking everywhere. Here is a picture of a chain bridge at night. And another of vorosmarthy ter, which I walk through to get to the apartment I am staying in. The apartment has a high vaulted ceiling, and is right in the center of the city- above some of the coolest shops. Yesterday I tried out the famed cottage cheese stick (image to the right) it's covered with chocolate. Not bad, actually pretty good. For dinner I scrambled around to find anything, as all I really wanted to do was crash into bed. I ended up with what was described to me by a co-worker as "chicken in pancakes"- I was skeptical to say the least. Turns out it was some sort of ground meat with cheese in a sort of fried shell. I also added some orange and chocolate covered cookies, peach juice and sour cream and onion chips to top the meal off. Today I got some local currency and am off to work.

Update from Cali

This morning, walking around the lake, my mom saw an iguana about 4 ft long. It was green with a green and black striped tail. Funny that with the choice of the lake or the vegitation with bamboo, it choose the lake! Tonight, she is leaving the hospital, where they are doing the medical mission trip, by 6pm and go to a Columbian restaurant with the mayor. She is planning on trying the lula juice- composed of a green fruit that is supposed to be so good.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Love Mom

Note via Cali, Columbia,

On the flight to Cali, I sat next to a man from Cali. We talked the whole time and I saw his computer work pictures. Upon arrival, I walked around the lake I remembered from my last trip, and the ducks and water birds are in the same places! I have not seen the shy white one yet. I have seen little red ones, blue, little yellow, green and heard lots of different bird sounds. One tree smells like jasmine, and I can not tell which one. Cali is full of lush growth with palm leaves and flowers of orange, yellow and magenta, bugs everywhere. The bugs don't bother some but they are in the room all around if you look closely...I am going to try not to look! I've had fresh fruit- pineapple, watermelon, star fruit, kiwi, avocado etc...and corn kernels everywhere- like in salad and eggs. I had empanado, ground meat in a fried dough pocket, last night for dinner. I swam in the long pool later that night. It's cool because I can do back stroke at night and seeing palm trees when looking up. This morning I went up on the mountain edge which is in the resort; it is a new bird trail. I heard so many different bird sounds. Suddenly I heard huge loud ugly sounds from what? big black birds!!! Even thin green "moss" on the paths in the mountain, such a moist climate. (Photo courtesy of Dan Brooke)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Deliciously snacky

I recently stumbled across a new find in my local grocery store- edaname. Edamame, or vegetable soybeans, are fresh soybeans that have been lightly cooked within their pods. For those who choose to lead healthy lifestyles here's a fun fact about this wonderful food: soybeans are the highest in protein (35 percent) of any plant, and contain the most complete complement of amino acids. Anyhow, basically it takes no effort to make these suckers (I buy them from the frozen foods aisle at Target, or the veggies/sushi section of my local mart): Bring a pan of water to boil. Add the edamame and return the water to the boil. Remove from the heat, drain and rinse with cold water. The bag itself says to add salt or soy sauce- but I don't do anything to them and they still taste wonderful. I found this recipe, if you prefer to be fancy. Not only do they taste great, and are healthy for you, but they are so fun to eat. Seriously. I could spend hours popping the little beans out of the pods. Try them, in place of chips, or any sort of snack. I usually don't like veggies, but they have won my heart over.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

To the finish

With all the hub-bub about NASCAR in the south, every once in a while I do take note of a few things happening in the car racing world. Rather recently, the world’s leading seller of hybrid cars, Toyota, has announced they will be racing to win the world’s most challenging car race- Le Mans 24-hour race in 2010. The catch is, this time they are aiming to do this using a hybrid car. The car will be fitted with special capacitors and batteries to facilitate an extremely fast power supply and charging function. But this isn't really something new for Toyota; they have had success in the past. Toyota entered hybrids in the last two Tokachi 24-hour enduros in Japan- with a win last year. Toyota is hoping to promote its hybrid technology in Europe since its market presence is currently usurped there by diesel. Here's hoping this hybrid car can change the world of car racing. The last sport that I thought would "go green" is a sport entailing burning fuel for hours chasing others around in circles. I will be the first fan drive out to Charlotte for an all day event, to view a NASCAR event when all the entrants are hybrids. Did I ever mention one of my favorite movies is Talledega Nights? "Greatest Generation my ass. Tom Brokaw's a punk! Chip, I'm all jacked up on Mountain Dew!"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cali's birthday

When we're not outside exploring the woods, Cali likes when the window blinds are open, and the window is cracked a bit. This way she can sit on my bed and watch and hear the other dogs, cats, and birds going by outside.

Anyhow, this weekend was her birthday. She turned 2 on Friday. Last year I made her an elaborate k9 friendly cake, but she didn't really like it. So this year we just had a bunch of people over again, and focused on good human food. I made a pasta dish, with homemade pasta, swiss cheese and caramelized onions. Others brought, a salad (with greens, walnuts, pears), chips n dip, pasta with pesto and veggies, fruit salad, and home baked oatmeal butterscotch cookies. Cali enjoyed the cookies the best- and did some counter surfing to get one. She was happy that people played tug of war with her huge stuffed animal elephant with her. We'll see how the terrible twos continue to unfold...

Friday, February 15, 2008

What a shoxer

Steve Nash is the All-Star guard for the Phoenix Suns whose passion for environmental awareness forged a partnership with Nike to create the Nike Trash Talk, the first performance basketball shoe made from manufacturing waste. Among many other good attributes, the outsole uses environmentally-preferred rubber and incorporates Nike Grind material from footwear outsole manufacturing waste.

“Any opportunity to promote the environment and preserve our planet is a step in the right direction,” Nash said. “I’m very excited to be one of the first athletes to wear the Nike Trash Talk. I think people will love the shoe, and hopefully by wearing it I can inspire others to try it out as well.”

I'd have preferred Dwayne Wade- but I guess he's already committed w/ Nike through Converse. The best news is, the shoe doesn't look half bad.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Splish Splash

I find this pretty funny. I am shocked that anyone besides my mother actually spends time doing something so tedious- although I'm not against it. My whole life my mom would always try to take the little bits of soap left over and make a new bar of soap with them. She would get so angry when we tried to throw them away, or let them slip down the sink. Her method was to save all the little pieces and then use warm water and a bit of real liquid soap, to somehow melt them and meld them together. After all her hard work, my dad would get angry if she put the combination soap out when guests were over- because it embarrassed him. So we were the only people left with sore hands from scrubbing with the roughly combined soap. Lets hope this new product will help smooth the edges- and speed up the creation process.

A nook of our own

There are a few places in the woods that we have made our own, after seeing the original rock art. It's fun because other people see it, and don't know who does it. There is one huge fallen tree trunk, down by the stream that has a hole in it. We like to line the bottom of the opening with green moss and place little trinkets on it- sometimes flowers, sometimes marbles, or a little gnome we bring from the garden. Each time we visit we see if it is still the same. For a while we would find pennies left there- pretty neat. Other times people stole or broke the gnome figurines (so we stopped putting things like that in there). Another place we have left our mark is on the opposite side of the hill- after you cross the stream and head up. There was originally a path that was eroding too much, so now a new path snakes around the old one. On the old path there was a part loaded with interesting roots on the ground. My grandma has made that her own "collage." She has taken whatever "sea glass" she can find (glass bottles often get thrown into the river, the glass shatters, gets broken down and becomes a bit misty) and arranged it into a bit of a mosaic. Things have just expanded from there- there are now all sorts of little rocks around the perimeter. This is a picture we took of it.