Sunday, December 27, 2009


There are many things to which I am immune--Brad Pitt's charms, for instance--but a pair of dark brown almond eyes attached to a curly-headed  woman certainly ain't one of 'em. All my momma has to do is bat her eyes and I melt faster than a popcicle in a Naw'leans summer. She knows this, which is precisely the reason why she's one (justifiably) spoiled momma. Least I can do, especially since she let me chill out in her womb for nine months and one week.

Anyhoo...These puppy eyes are the reason why, on an otherwise normal Saturday night, I found myself in a throng of 50-and-over people with hair Aquanetted to viking-helmet-meets-Imierda-Marcos absurdity. Quite an architectural marvel, really. My eyeballs were then treated to the delightful  gyrations of hips to the sounds of people who died long before I learned how to leave presents in my nappies. Y'all, never in my life have I seen such a vast array of sequined dresses outside a drag queen fashion convention or an arts and craft store. Add in the shoulder pads and it's a tribute to Falcon Crest, Dynasty, and Knots Landing. I halfway expected Joan von Ark and Joan Collins to storm in and engage in an all out cat fight. 

Likewise, I was amused to discover that while teenaged boys corner the market on hair gel, older gentlemen collectively keep the pomade business afloat. Even saw a couple of cheestastic Ace Ventura 'dos ;o). Ain't no recession for Alberto VO5, siree. And the cologne! Y'all, not even those charming Gulf Arabs are as enthusiastic with their dousing in Poison, Obsession, Drakkar Noir, Old Spice, or whatever discontinued/soon-to-be-discontinued bottled scent the members of the young at heart posse prefer.

Then there's the energy level.

They put me--a twenty-something, naturally peppy chick--to shame with their boundless grace on the dance floor. Samba, mambo, cha-cha, paso doble, tango...they did 'em all. Twists, lifts, jumps, shimmies, sways...They just kept getting grander and more dramatic as the hours wore on. Forget the raggaeton grinders or the scantily clad celebs on Dancing with the Stars; this is where the passion and the fun abound in limitless supply.Energizer bunnies, I tell ya!

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Rain pounds downward as the muted claps of thunder
threaten to strike a sliver of silver
to the dingy, grey streets.

Garish neon lights advertise
images unattainable
90-minute escapes.

I can still feel the hum of this city's pulse in my veins.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau'oli Makahiki Hou

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sertab Erener, "Here I Am"


Courtesy of M, Turkish dictionary-Encyclopaedia-translator-travel guide-food critic-music recommender-all around kickass dost arkadaş extraordinaire.

Sierra Cooper: The Woman Behind the Wish

With less than a month to live, Sierra Cooper lives a dream 

Source: Terre Haute Star Tribune | December 5, 2009

By Sue Loughlin, The Tribune-Star

CLINTON December 05, 2009 09:51 pm

— The kiss was unlike any other she had received, and it came from a funny-looking guy with a big nose and rubbery skin.

But the joy on Sierra Cooper’s face was unmistakable as she stood in a pool at the Indianapolis Zoo, and Kimo, the 450-pound bottle-nosed dolphin, lifted his head out of the water and gave her a slippery, wet peck on the cheek.

In late November, the 21-year-old Clinton resident fulfilled one of her dreams by spending a day with the zoo dolphins and getting to know Kimo, Sundance and that mischievous juvenile, 7-year-old Jett.

Donning a wet suit and life jacket, Sierra spent 30 minutes in the 80-degree water with her favorite animals. Beforehand, she attended an educational program about dolphins and then watched a scheduled performance.

Later, she had her own, individualized dolphin experience and got to touch them, feed them and give them commands.

“It was awesome,” she said.

Spending time with the dolphins was not only a dream come true, but also it is one of Sierra’s last wishes.

She is dying, and her health care providers say she probably has less than a month to live.

Continue reading after the cut:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Let's all contribute to grant Sierra Cooper's Christmas wish for her family

21-year-old raises money for her funeral
Her final Christmas wish

Updated: Tuesday, 22 Dec 2009, 11:08 AM EST
Published : Monday, 21 Dec 2009, 6:12 PM EST

* Amanda Jarrett

CLINTON, Ind. (WTHI) - Just days before Christmas, a young woman with muscular dystrophy is planning her own funeral, so she won't leave the burden behind for her family.

Sierra Cooper, 21, has battled muscular dystrophy her entire life, then she received another blow: Being diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Now, Sierra faces a grim outlook and doctors said she has little time left.

"If it was up to me, she'd have another 30 to 40 years and she'd bury me," Sallie Cooper, Sierra's mother, said. "You're not supposed to bury your child."

Sierra may only have weeks left. This Christmas, her wish isn't under the tree this year. She's asking for donations to help pay for her funeral.

"I love my parents and I don't want them to be struggling when I'm gone," Sierra said.

Sierra isn't eligible for life insurance. Every day is a struggle for the 21-year-old, as she's hooked to a pack of oxygen and medicine. That's why her mother wants to give her the only thing she can: A proper funeral.

"She'll never get a wedding, so I want to do something special for her," Sallie said. "She's been planning her own funeral, so of course I want to give her the funeral she wants."

While she's planning for her final days, Sierra said she's found peace.

"I'm going to be with God and I'm going to be pain-free, no oxygen, no pain pump," Sierra said. "I'm going to be normal for once and be able to do the stuff you guys take for granted."

For now, she's living life one day at a time. Sierra prepares for a final Christmas. She's hoping for help as she leaves her family behind.

If you'd like to help the Cooper family, you can make donations to the Sierra Cooper Benefit Fund at any First Financial Bank location . Contact First Financial Bank at 812-238-6000.

First Financial Bank
PO Box 220
Clinton, IN 47842

Harvard Lecture, free and open to the public

Here's an interesting upcoming lecture sponsored by my alma mater, to be held in January. Entitled Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, Richard Langham's lecture posits cooking as a significant marker of human evolution.

Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human
When Wed., Jan. 27, 2010, 6 – 7 p.m.
Where: Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 xford St.
Type of Event: Presentation/Lecture, Science, Social Sciences, Special Events
Organization/Sponsor: Harvard Museum of Natural History
Speaker(s): Richard Wrangham
Cost: Free and open to the public
Lecture and book signing with Richard Wrangham. In his latest book, Harvard biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham puts forth a bold theory — that our Paleolithic homo ancestors tamed fire and began cooking 1.8 million years ago, much earlier than conventionally believed. Wrangham will discuss how the cooking kick started a revolution in human evolution — driving whole scale changes in our physiology, behavior, and cognition that define our species to this very day.

New York Times book review after the cut:

For M, a Cherished Friend

M, being the usual kickass and thoughtful person that he is, sent me a list of Turkish songs and musicians a while back,  complete with YouTube links. Whereas some were of musicians that I already knew and loved--Mor ve Otesi, Pinhani, Portecho, Sezen Aksu, Enbe Orchestra, Teoman--some were hidden gems that made me smile like a kid on Christmas morning while I listened to them. M not only compiled a list of modern pop/rock/dance musicians, but traditional ones as well. 
Today  as I was listening to Pinhani's Istanbul'da , I was struck again by how nice M was to do this. M's is a very busy person whose work demands a lot of time and brain power, but M still managed to carve out some time to look up these songs and E-mail them to me. More than expensive presents on special occasions, it is the little unexpected presents--random acts of kindness, unexpected gestures of thoughtfulness--that I cherish the most. What makes me even more grateful is that this list of Turkish music was sent to me on an ordinary day. I had a rough day, actually, which became extraordinary because of this little present via E-mail. It is in these little details that I realize how lucky I am to have such amazing family and friends. 

So for my favourite Turk who doesn't celebrate Christmas, I dedicate these songs:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jose Protacio Rizal, "Mi Ultimo Adios"

¡Adiós, Patria adorada, región del sol querida,
Perla del mar de oriente, nuestro perdido Edén!
A darte voy alegre la triste mustia vida,
Y fuera más brillante, más fresca, más florida,
También por ti la diera, la diera por tu bien.
En campos de batalla, luchando con delirio,
Otros te dan sus vidas sin dudas, sin pesar;
El sitio nada importa, ciprés, laurel o lirio,
Cadalso o campo abierto, combate o cruel martirio,
Lo mismo es si lo piden la patria y el hogar.
Yo muero cuando veo que el cielo se colora
Y al fin anuncia el día tras lóbrego capuz;
si grana necesitas para teñir tu aurora,
Vierte la sangre mía, derrámala en buen hora
Y dórela un reflejo de su naciente luz.
Mis sueños cuando apenas muchacho adolescente,
Mis sueños cuando joven ya lleno de vigor,
Fueron el verte un día, joya del mar de oriente,
Secos los negros ojos, alta la tersa frente,
Sin ceño, sin arrugas, sin manchas de rubor
Ensueño de mi vida, mi ardiente vivo anhelo,
¡Salud te grita el alma que pronto va a partir!
¡Salud! Ah, que es hermoso caer por darte vuelo,
Morir por darte vida, morir bajo tu cielo,
Y en tu encantada tierra la eternidad dormir.
Si sobre mi sepulcro vieres brotar un día
Entre la espesa yerba sencilla, humilde flor,
Acércala a tus labios y besa al alma mía,
Y sienta yo en mi frente bajo la tumba fría,
De tu ternura el soplo, de tu hálito el calor.
Deja a la luna verme con luz tranquila y suave,
Deja que el alba envíe su resplandor fugaz,
Deja gemir al viento con su murmullo grave, 

Y si desciende y posa sobre mi cruz un ave,
Deja que el ave entone su cántico de paz.
Deja que el sol, ardiendo, las lluvias evapore
Y al cielo tornen puras, con mi clamor en pos;
Deja que un ser amigo mi fin temprano llore
Y en las serenas tardes cuando por mí alguien ore,
¡Ora también, oh Patria, por mi descanso a Dios!
Ora por todos cuantos murieron sin ventura,
Por cuantos padecieron tormentos sin igual,
Por nuestras pobres madres que gimen su amargura;
Por huérfanos y viudas, por presos en tortura
Y ora por ti que veas tu redención final.
Y cuando en noche oscura se envuelva el cementerio
Y solos sólo muertos queden velando allí,
No turbes su reposo, no turbes el misterio,
Tal vez acordes oigas de cítara o salterio,
Soy yo, querida Patria, yo que te canto a ti.
Y cuando ya mi tumba de todos olvidada
No tenga cruz ni piedra que marquen su lugar,
Deja que la are el hombre, la esparza con la azada,
Y mis cenizas, antes que vuelvan a la nada,
El polvo de tu alfombra que vayan a formar.
Entonces nada importa me pongas en olvido.
Tu atmósfera, tu espacio, tus valles cruzaré.
Vibrante y limpia nota seré para tu oído,
Aroma, luz, colores, rumor, canto, gemido,
Constante repitiendo la esencia de mi fe.
Mi patria idolatrada, dolor de mis dolores,
Querida Filipinas, oye el postrer adiós.
Ahí te dejo todo, mis padres, mis amores.
Voy donde no hay esclavos, verdugos ni opresores,
Donde la fe no mata, donde el que reina es Dios.
Adiós, padres y hermanos, trozos del alma mía,
Amigos de la infancia en el perdido hogar,
Dad gracias que descanso del fatigoso día;
Adiós, dulce extranjera, mi amiga, mi alegría,
Adiós, queridos seres, morir es descansar.

English translation below the cut: 

Snow does not necessarily make for a Winter Wonderland...

...and no, I am not dreaming of a White Christmas.

East Coast storm heads north, leaving snowfall records in its wake
December 20, 2009 9:28 p.m. EST

(CNN) -- Much of the East Coast was digging out Sunday after a monster winter storm caused record snowfall in some areas, disrupting holiday travel and shopping and leaving at least four people dead.
But the worst of it appeared to be in sight. Winter storm warnings for New York and Long Island expired at 11 a.m. ET Sunday, and warnings for the Boston, Massachusetts, metro area and much of southeastern New England expired at noon.
By early Sunday, Bethesda, Maryland, had recorded a whopping 23 inches of snow, and Medford, New Jersey, had seen 24 inches. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received its second-highest snowfall in a single event, with 23.2 inches.
Video: Flights return to D.C. skies
Video: Snow blankets Boston
Video: New York digs out
Gallery: Wintry weather hits East Coast
Washington's Dulles International and Reagan National airports saw snowfall of 18 inches and 16.4 inches, respectively -- the highest one-day totals ever for December. The previous record at Dulles was 10.6 inches in December 1964, and at Reagan National, it was 11.5 inches in December 1932.
East Coast travelers again were warned to expect treacherous roads Sunday and face flight delays and cancellations.
Dulles was accepting flights and had one runway open Sunday, said Tara Hamilton of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. A runway opened at Reagan National just before 1 p.m., and flights began taking off.
New York's LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy and Newark airports were all open Sunday morning, according to the Port Authority of New York.
However, air traffic was light, said spokesman Steve Coleman. "The runways are good to go," he said.
But 1,200 flights had been canceled by the airlines at the three airports, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. JFK airport canceled the most flights, with 550 grounded.
American Airlines canceled 160 flights Sunday and has canceled another 20 set for Monday, said airline spokesman Charley Wilson. The 20 Boston and New York flights were grounded because of the backlog of flights the airline has to manage in the wake of the storm.
Elsewhere in New York, the Long Island Railroad was running limited service, but train service was suspended on several branches.
Two people were killed in weather-related crashes, the Virginia State Police said Sunday, and "there are two additional deaths that are likely related to the winter storm."
Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine authorized up to 1,000 National Guardsmen to assist in response to the storm, which had dumped up to 18 inches of snow in parts of the region by Saturday evening. Through 8 a.m. Sunday, Virginia State Police had responded to more than 6,100 calls for service, nearly half of those for traffic crashes and disabled vehicles.
The storm, known as a nor'easter, blanketed the mid-Atlantic region and the heavily populated I-95 corridor.
However, the interstate itself was in good shape Sunday morning, reported CNN producer Xuan Thai, who drove to Washington from Philadelphia. She said while traffic was extremely light, snowplows were out and the roads were cleared.
Meanwhile, people in western North Carolina were digging out from the powerful storm. About 28,000 households had no power into Sunday night, including 24,118 in Asheville's Buncombe County, said Drew Elliot, spokesman for Progress Energy. That's down from 50,000 in Buncombe on Saturday.
Power has been restored to 39,000 households, according to Elliot, but new outages continue as trees or branches fall on power lines. While the majority of customers should have electricity by Monday, "We don't see full restoration until midweek," Elliot said.
The weather delayed the start of two National Football League games Sunday. The Chicago Bears-Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers-Philadelphia Eagles games began at 4:15 p.m. ET instead of 1 p.m. to allow crews to clear streets and walkways in and around stadiums.
The weekend storm could rival the Knickerbocker blizzard of 1922, which dropped between 28 and 33 inches of snow in the Washington area, said CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis.
"I don't know that it will be a record-breaker, but this is significant," Maginnis said. "This is a really bad storm."
The foul weather prompted an emergency declaration in Washington, stranded hundreds of motorists, shut down airports, caused power outages and threatened to keep hordes of holiday shoppers indoors.
New York City sanitation staffers worked all night to dig out, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters Sunday. The heaviest snow fell in the eastern part of the city -- 12 inches in the Rockaways, he said, as opposed to 6 inches in the Bronx.
Officials were focusing on clearing the highways and bus routes before surface streets, he said, but it estimated most streets would be cleared by Sunday night. Authorities reported "no major snow-related incidents," Bloomberg said.
Virginia State Police reported travel was still hazardous in several areas Sunday, saying, "Virginians are still discouraged from traveling unless absolutely necessary."
Slick road conditions, disabled vehicles and crashes were reported on I-81 through the New River Valley west of Roanoke, authorities said, and U.S. 29 was also hazardous. Numerous vehicles were pulled off I-81 overnight Saturday and early Sunday.
On I-81 Saturday night, authorities moved motorists to shelters because of traffic stoppages, said Bob Spieldenner, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Those people were being taken back to their cars and put back on the road Sunday, he said. About 73,000 utility customers were without power Sunday, he said.
Washington Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said the storm is "perhaps the biggest we've seen in several years."
"We are going to throw everything we have at it to keep the District open for business on this busy pre-holiday weekend," Fenty said as he announced the snow emergency.
But he also urged residents to stay put in their homes.
"We urge everyone if you don't have to go anywhere, wait. This snow should end early tomorrow morning with a 24-hour cleanup," Fenty said. "We should have a lot of streets ready to go by rush hour Monday. And, hopefully, all of it done between Monday and Wednesday."
Nine people were taken to a hospital after a bus and city snow plow collided, a Washington fire official said. The injuries are not considered serious.
The storm also halted above-ground Metrorail operations in the District because of the "heavy snowfall that is covering the electrified third rail," according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin on Saturday declared a state of emergency and "authorized the use of the National Guard to assist with snow removal and emergency assistance and operations." Manchin said West Virginia is working to help stranded motorists, clear roadways and restore power outages.
Farther north, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino declared a snow emergency after forecasts of up to 15 inches of snow with 30-mph winds between Saturday night and late Sunday morning.

We must never permit the voice of humanity
within us to be silenced. It is Man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him a Man.

--Albert Schweitzer

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

--Viktor E. Frankl