Simon’s Cat

October 20, 2009 at 12:01 am (Fun) (, , , )

Since I currently live with a cat, I find this clip and the artist’s other works incredibly hilarious.

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School, Blah, Blah

October 14, 2009 at 9:07 pm (School) ()

After some initial confusion (or bad communication, Lord knows) with the counselor – who thought I was talking about the Berkeley School of Music in BOSTON – I think I may have everything I need short of the CD. I’ll give UC Berkeley a call tomorrow to ensure they understand the sitch, to see if they want the grades from Germany transferred (I’ll have those translated anyhow) and how my transcript will have less than 30 credits when I send it to them before November but I will have more than 30 by the time I’d actually transfer out. And so forth.

All that’s missing is an actual CD and the contact I was supposed to receive so I’d have a bit more of an in with Berkeley. Apparently I’d be able to record our lab sessions or something? I’ll have to track down the technician for it, but I’m sure it will be an adventure.

This is incoherent, but that’s alright. I’m not feeling horribly stringent right now. Next on my list: Calling about contact lenses. I’m getting pressure marks on the bridge of my nose and some minor headaches from wearing glasses again. Blergh.

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National Equality March

October 12, 2009 at 8:41 pm (Fun, News) (, , , , , )

Yesterday was the National Equality March here in DC. I went down to stay with a friend on Saturday night so I could avoid the morning metro crowds. Pictures courtesy of my friend who brought a camera. It was a beautiful day, no cloud in sight, with sunshine and wonderfully moderate temperatures.

7921_1143410665299_1228440130_30414611_6172207_nHangin’ out in McPherson square while the rally was just filling up.

7921_1143410865304_1228440130_30414616_6820699_nThe turnout was absolutely HUGE. By the time we started marching (at noon), the rally stretched back for several blocks. We didn’t stay for the whole thing, but apparently by the time the march reached the Capitol, there was still TEN BLOCKS worth of people.

7921_1143410985307_1228440130_30414619_3170459_nOne of the many funny signs we saw. We didn’t get a good picture of one sign a gal was holding that said, “IF YOU MET MY GIRLFRIEND, YOU’D WANT TO MARRY HER TOO.” We awww’ed a lot.

7921_1143410905305_1228440130_30414617_2077576_nSomeone gave me a sign. I was leaning on it at this point, waiting for the rally to start. Lots and lots of buses went past us and the tourists gaped.

7921_1143410945306_1228440130_30414618_7683048_nMore signs!

Later we went to Adams Morgan and had lunch there. We saw a whole bunch of people dressed in pink and it turned out there was a 60 mile Breast Cancer Walk going on. Among the many things we saw, there were tricked out motorcycles (one dude had put a lot of pink fuzzy stuff on his motorcycle and a pink lace bra), pink fauxhawks on motorcycles. And then there was this guy:

7921_1143411065309_1228440130_30414621_4384397_nHe was dancing to Will Smith’s Wild Wild West. It was bizarre and hilarious.

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New Jewelry

October 4, 2009 at 10:13 pm (Art, crafts) (, , , )

This is super picture heavy, so be warned.

IMG_7499The gold-stone put to use. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it, so I just went with simple gold-colored spacers and nothing else. It worked.

IMG_7500Butterfly charms (silver) with glass beads.

IMG_7515Matching necklace – glass seed beads, silver-plated spacers, silver butterflies, silver charm bead dangly things and purple cat’s eye.

IMG_7502I’ve been playing around with wire and crimps. That was one of my forays into it. Glass beads, silver spacers, silver crimps and onyx.

IMG_7501I found genius spacers. I think, more than anything, that I love working with chains and jump rings and such. It’s the most fun. Silver-plated chain, silver-plated connector, swallow/sparrow charms.

IMG_7513Silver-plated connector, silver-plated chain, bird charm.

IMG_7511This one’s going to my mother. I couldn’t pass it up. Silver-plated chain, charm, magnetic clasp.

IMG_7518I’m keeping this one. It’s a key-shaped connector, and the charm says “Wisdom.” I figure it’s a good motto to live by.

IMG_7514Dangly necklace for my kid sister. Silver-plated chain, silver charms.

IMG_7522Another one for Miriam. I call this one “Things with Wings.” Silver charms, silver-plated chain.

IMG_7519Leaf-shaped earrings.

I was busy today. THE END.

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Saturday Night

October 3, 2009 at 8:50 pm (Fun) (, , , )

Photo 135

Saturday Night at Casa Dani, because my life is exciting. I am hanging out with my BFF. (And yes, I got my hair cut.)

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Desert Flower

October 3, 2009 at 2:16 pm (News) (, , , , , , , )

0688172377.01.LZZZZZZZI recently picked up Desert Flower – The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad after finding out a German filmmaker had managed to snag the rights to it. I had heard of it before, but seeing as I only recently officially came into being a snot-nosed feminist, it hadn’t occurred to me to read it.

Waris Dirie’s story is at once heart-breaking and inspiring. One of twelve children, she was born into a Somalian pastoral nomad family and raised in the deserts among those goats and camels. With no ability to read, write or speak a language beside Somali, she didn’t seem to be destined for great things. In fact, she was rather average for a young Somalian female. She tended goats, played with her siblings, had no shoes or education. Like every girl she was expected to marry whoever her father wished in exchange for more camels.

And like every other girl, she was subjected to the awful, awful practice of female genital mutilation when she was only five years old.

Waris Dirie is now a renown supermodel and UN special ambassador for the elimination of FGM. While I read this book, it felt like a small part of me died when I came across her experiences with FGM. When she was five, her mother woke her in the early morning before anyone else was awake and taken out to the bushes where the “gypsy woman,” as she was referred to, waited for them. Dirie was given a root to bite down on and held down by her mother. The gypsy woman herself used a razor stained with the blood of countless other young, helpless girls that this woman cleaned with her saliva and nothing else.

By African standards, this is relatively cleanly, apparently. Anything can be used – razors, glass, sharp rocks and when nothing else is to be had, teeth. The severity of the mutilation ranges from the removal of the clitoral hood to the full on removal of the labia majora, minora and everything else, then the girls are sewn shut. Dirie experienced the latter form – thorns from a nearby bush were used to create punctures for the sewing. After this, Dirie’s legs were bound together in order to create a minimal, “tidy” scar and she was left in a specially built hut to heal for a whole month.

Many girls die from blood loss, tetanus, infection, gangrene and other horrific side-effects of the “operation,” which include pelvic infections, severe UTIs and more. One of Dirie’s sisters bled to death. Dirie herself suffered for many years because she was left with only a small hole through which urine and menstrual blood were supposed to be allowed to escape. She was able to get surgery later in life, but will never regain much of the feeling in that region of her body because the surgery was performed back in the 90s. Nowadays, with medical advances, there are doctors who specialize in reconstructive surgery in order to help women regain feeling and a sense of pride in their bodies again.

I remember being in an Ethics class and the topic of FGM coming up. I argued against it because I feel, as a woman, that it is a cruel, unnecessary and awful tradition to uphold that gives a whole continent a bad reputation. I was told my Western privilege was showing – that it was necessary to approach some traditions with respect and the dignity it deserves because – while it is not my own culture – it is someone else’s cultural practice.

I call bullshit on that. I agree that the Western way is not always the right way, but I see no reason to accept a practice that is so barbaric. Many of the cultures FGM is practiced in are Muslim; men argue that the Q’ran demands it. Nowhere in the Q’ran does it state that you are to maim and brutalize your women. FGM – I refuse to deign it with the term “female circumcision” because it undercuts the severity of what is done – was invented by men in order to oppress women and make them pliable through their pain. Those who argue that male circumcision is equally cruel – what on Earth are you thinking? We do not cut off young boys’ penises. We don’t divorce them from their sexual organs in order to oppress them. There is a vast difference between a small surgical procedure in which the foreskin is removed and the hacking off and permanent crippling of young defenseless girls.

It makes me sick to my stomach that around 2 MILLION girls a year are at risk of being victims of FGM. I hope that, through education and redirection of practices, it will be possible to decrease and maybe eliminate the practice entirely, though it will take a long time. Meanwhile, here is the trailer to Desert Flower where Dirie is played by Liya Kebede:

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Why Some Pet Owners Suck

October 2, 2009 at 7:00 pm (Life) (, , , , )

Today, on our way to school and work, C. and I got stuck in traffic. The traffic patterns at one of the pikes has been reset because they have been futzing around with construction a lot. So for a while, we were only inching along. At one point, we come to a halt. I make the mistake of looking out the window. What do I see?

That’s right, someone’s run-over pet.

The poor cat had probably been hit by a car and managed to drag itself off the road before it croaked. It was clearly someone’s pet – well-fed, otherwise in good shape, still fairly young. I couldn’t see its face, thank God, but it lay on its side, legs splayed as though it were running and twitching in its sleep, blood caking its mouth.

Until recently, my family basically always had a pet. We never had cats, but Lena was a regular old escape artist of a dog and whenever she disappeared, it felt like a little part of me died. She was a Golden Retriever – that means a BIG dog, the kind you can see in case it streaks across the street in front of your car. However, that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t do it totally unexpectedly or that you would be able to break in time not to hit her. Much like Winnie the Pooh, she had more fluff for brains than anything and she certainly wasn’t gifted with common sense. We always understood that having a pet escape and run about was a dangerous thing – most dog owners comprehend this matter. Cars are not safe to be around as a pedestrian, why would that be any different for a four-footed family member?

What I DON’T get is how this seems to be too hard for a lot of cat owners to understand. A cat, dear friends, is a PET. A cat is an animal. No matter what you may think, cats are not smart; most dogs have more common sense than a cat ever will have. Cats are, above all, arrogant and will not understand that a ton of metal will crush them. Some cat owners place way more faith into their cats than is ever warranted. Let me repeat: it is a RARE instant for a cat to be smart. Frankly, cats are also nowhere near as FAST as you think they are. A car is faster, bigger, meaner.

What I’m trying to get at is this: If you love your cat, don’t let it out. Just don’t. Unless your cat’s a Main Coone (thus a huge bugger), it is small and almost invisible, especially in the US where everyone drives SUVs which are generally higher than most European cars. People’s reaction times are slow. A cat doesn’t stand a chance.

Today, I saw someone’s beloved family pet dead at the roadside. I’m very sorry for their loss. But I can’t help but wonder if they really loved that cat since they let it out of their house in a high traffic area. Since I no longer have a pet of my own, it makes me resentful that someone would gamble with their pet’s life that way.

This cat lost the gamble and its carcass probably traumatized a bunch of small children who were on their way to school this morning. Please don’t be that cat owner.

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