Monday, December 10, 2007


Let's face it, the majority of the United Statesians are wasteful. We not only produce a disproportionate amount of pollution, we also waste vast amounts of resources, like fossil fuels, water, and food so we can live comfortably. And by comfortably, I mean in a way that the majority of the world's population would find abounding. But this entry is not an animadversion. (Okay, maybe it is, but I just really wanted to use that word.) This entry is about wasting food... for good.

When you think of the holidays, what first comes to mind? Santa Claus. No, what else? Christmas trees! No, what else? Wrapping paper? Geez, you suck at this. Duh, gingerbread houses. What better way to ring in the holiday season than with a miniature replica of a warm and cozy house made out of gingerbread and frosting and various candies manipulated to look like roof tiles and stone walkways. (Have you ever stopped to think just how truly weird the human race is?)

Anyway, back to gingerbread houses. Interestingly, making replicas (of saints and crosses and the like) out of gingerbread dates back to the good old medieval days when people used to empty their piss pots in the streets and say things like, "Forsooth!" whatever that means. Of course, the ingredients needed to make these fine edible saints and crosses were very expensive and thus a tradition that was reserved for commercial bakers or wealthy households. Oh, the more things change, etc.

Although I am not particularly wealthy I do have wealth potential, and therefore I can afford to buy extra graham crackers (the lazy person's gingerbread), and icing (a.k.a. frosting in a plastic tub--this, by the way, is not actually a food, but the synthetic version thereof). I can also afford the various candies needed to spruce up my fake, edible house. Of course, now you're probably wondering where all this is going. The truth is it's really just a v-e-r-y long caption for the above photo of my amazing gingerbread concoction. Notice that I have a lamp post and lights on my house. It's a very upscale edible house.

The thing is, no one is going to eat it. And if so, the eater would die from poisoning since there is an entire tub of frosting on my house, which I had to use in order to cover up the graham cracker frame (kind of like insulation) and so the other graham crackers would stick on top of the frosting (like aluminum siding). Let's face it. It's cute, but it's the ultimate waste of food. I can only hope that my other conservation efforts help balance out the karma.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Cheap Hope

Okay, okay, it's been a while. However, I have been writing, only it's the kind of writing that would put you into a welcome coma after the first paragraph. Lately, I've been typing lots of sentences like this one: "These cognitive and social outcomes, which are anchored in social psychological research, have provided scholars with a framework for measuring the impacts of curricular and co-curricular diversity initiatives on campuses nationwide." Don't worry, even I'm not sure what that means, although, damn, it sounds pretty good.

Alas, I have been inspired, finally, and even though I sincerely lack the time during this final rush to the semester's end, I offer you all some... cheap hope.
Yesterday in my Student Activism class I had a kind of epiphany to the epiphany I had several years ago. We were all discussing hope. In the dark. That is, Hope in the Dark, a relatively recent book by Rebecca Solnit who is a self-proclaimed activist. No. Wait. Don't rush off to Save your $13.95 for something that wasn't actually written in the dark. Okay, it's not that bad, and she does bring to light (sorry) some very important points that most of us do not discuss nearly enough.

In case you're just joining us from a seven-year (or twenty-year) stint at the space station, all is not well on our beloved planet. Not only are we poisoning our air, water, and soil, as indicated by the life-sized graphs in Mr. Gore's Oscar-winning PowerPoint presentation, we're also insisting on continuously blowing things up in the name of democracy. Freedom, apparently, can only grow in the compost of destruction. And we have at the helm either the biggest weiner to ever walk upright or the scariest dictator since, well, you get the idea. Funnily enough, no one can tell which he is. But I digress.

The point is, we seem to be doomed. And either we're too stupid to notice, or too tired to care, and definitely most of us are too busy to feel we can do anything about it. Fortunately, there are those of us who have the luxury of meeting every week to talk about how doomed we are and what we should do about it. You must feel safer already, except I hate to tell you that we didn't really come up with anything. And I can't offer you safety, sorry, I've the power of a dust mote compared to the Bilderberg group (well, go ahead, you can Google them now, just come back). However, after a semester of discussing our doom, I can offer you something truly exceptional.

Let me tell you about it. It's something you always have. No one, not even the Bilderbergs of this world, can take it away. Isn't that remarkable? You must feel better already. Let me illustrate what I mean: My mom says we all have this little flame that can never be extinguished, not even in the darkest of times. I believe her because she's been right about everything else (especially about home perms not being a good idea). And I have this friend who believes in reincarnation of souls, which is kind of weird because he doesn't seem to believe in much else, so I have to believe him too. In case you need a third example, go find an old Odetta album, and she'll sing it to you, "This little light of mine...blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." So this flame, it never dies, not in the dark, and not when we're "dead," and it's even got its own soundtrack. So the epiphany... the flame, it's fueled by hope, see?

Now, this is how to use it. The next time you are feeling as though the world is beyond repair-- this usually includes frustration, anger, despair, depression, anxiety, all those bad feelings derived from a fear that drives us to the mall--don't buy anything. First of all, you don't need anything, despite what MasterCard, Wal-Mart, or AT & T tell you. You have plenty. Secondly, you are complete just as you are, and no snazzy sweater, shiny shoe, or sleek cell phone (or 42" flat screen plasma) is going to make you feel any better about the state of your world or the world around you.

Instead, curl up next to the flame and fill the room with hope. It's cheaper. Sing it, Odetta.