Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Big Things Comin'

Over the past two months I have become so much better at regularly posting (until this past week; oops) that it has made me reassess why I even have a blog.  What do I want to accomplish?  Whom am I trying to attract?  In other words, where is this going?  How many italicized question words can I use?  (Five.)  I am having trouble managing my life, but I am sure I can micromanage the hell out of it!

That said (written), Seth and I are heading to Cyprus for the next week (tough, I know.)  I will be teka, teka (thinking, thinking) and promise that, come September, I - and this blog - will have definite focus, a purpose! Meaning: more than just a personal journal.  I hope.

I have several things on my mind but have been unable (or unwilling) to put them into coherent paragraphs, but feast your mind on these tidbits:

--> There is a large wage gap here between Westerners and Easterners.  I understand that the exchange rate of Kuwaiti Dinars into whatever local Eastern currency (Indian rupees, for example) highly favors the local currency - that is, these employees are earning a wage largely unattainable in their home country.  However, there is a tendency by Westerners to treat Easterners as lesser people, yet not feel guilty about such actions because said Easterners are so much better off here than they would be in their own country.  I can't get behind that kind of skewed logic.

--> According to my Indian cookbook, "Vindaloo is notorious for being hot and spicy."  The recipe calls for 4 dried chilies, which you then pound or grind into a powder.  Not having dried chilies, I decided 2 teaspoons of chili powder would be the same (note: it is not.)  Combined with the 4 fresh chilies you also add (with other spices, of course) what resulted was a powerful inferno.  I had sweat pooling on my eyelids.  That shit was so hot (yet also delicious) that my endorphins were increased to the point that I felt like I was on uppers.

--> While my loving husband has assured me that I don't need to find a job right now; I can focus on writing and whatnot; he just wants me to be happy; I personally want to make some money.  I want to contribute!  But I become paralyzed when I have to actually apply, envisioning the possible rejections that follow.  Nothing to fear but fear itself - and multiple job denials.

--> Pay attention when chopping or you will slice off the top of your thumb.  Oops.

It's looks like my thumb's brain is poking through.

--> There are so many actors involved in the DRC that I feel as though I am trying to figure out a puzzle.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back to Basics: Defining Genocide

It's time I return to my genocide posts. I realize I have seriously dropped the ball on this series I started, but that's just me.
In my last post on the subject (four weeks ago!) I briefly raised issue with listing common factors of genocide, insisting that without critical analysis of such stages, such information should not be accepted as immutable fact. The same goes for the "12 Ways to Deny Genocide" because that list is vague enough to be renamed "12 Ways to Deny Anything". I have particular issues with each, but in the interest of brevity I will focus on one thing at time; today, it's "definitionalist" denial.

Precise interpretation of the definition of genocide is unavoidable, at least when one is prosecuting or defending the accused: if a person (or persons) is accused of committing genocide, and that person is brought to trial, it stands that there something in the legal definition that matches the supposed crime. My problem is Gregory Stanton's claim that it is only people who haven't read the UN Convention who ever make a claim that a certain crime/situation doesn't fit the definition of genocide - and maybe he's right. But something Stanton is ignoring is that as genocide, both as a concept and and as a crime, increasingly permeates our everyday lives, in news, books, music, and movies, then a common understanding forms that may or may not strictly adhere to the letter of the law, and more often than not, "genocide" commonly means annihilation; complete destruction; lots and lots of death.  In other words, genocide means "killing", killing everyone. I know this is wrong; anyone who studies genocide or crimes against humanity or even international law should know this is wrong; but the popular (mis)conception holds that it is right.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wrecking Ball

I have been procrastinating on my next genocide post like it's an end-of-term paper. It's been almost four weeks since my last. Who the hell do I think is grading me? I partially blame my renewed addiction to the internet: the slow and sporadic internet (and power) I lived with in Uganda did not allow for hours upon hours of mindless surfing, but now with no job but endless power and connection, I am reminded how quickly five hours can tick away.

Today it was with Cake Wrecks. Oh, funny site, very funny site, which left me giggling hysterically for almost an hour straight. Yet it is also one of those sites that you can't show to someone else and automatically expect them to find it funny, too; I think you need the hour or two build-up.

"Oooh, okay look at this one. No, you have to read the captions." Pause. Silence. "Isn't it hilarious? Ahahahaha! No? This one, then. No, remember, the captions are part of the fun! Just keep reading . . ."

You know what it's like. While I may have failed forcing guffaws on my husband and our roommate, check it out yourself, by yourself. Especially if you have something more important to do.

All photos courtesy Cake Wrecks.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Coping with (Physical) Pain

On Saturday I got a new tattoo, adding to the tribal piece I already had beneath my belly button. It hurt. Agonizing. Horrendous. I had thought the piece on top of my foot was as painful as it could get, but boy, was I wrong.

Oh god, it's not finished yet?!

Or was I? It's now Tuesday and while I remember thinking that the tattooing process was painful and recall the experience as painful, I have no physical recollection of that pain. I can close my eyes and and imagine myself getting worked on, but I can't focus on the actual feeling. So maybe my foot tattoo was the most painful - I remember describing it as such. Then again, I have a feeling I described my first stomach tattoo the same way. I know my first tattoo felt like "burning knives being dragged through my skin" (my words), but at this point I am not even sure what that means - especially since I had that one redone and it felt like nothing. And now this new work. How remarkable is the human body that it can so easily remove pain? And no wonder I am already dreaming up new additions to this latest piece, if agony is an experience I can't even remember.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rwandan Elections

Rwandan elections are tomorrow. I don't think anyone, including opposition leaders, doubt Kagame's victory or suspect violence of any significance, but it will be interesting to see the margin of victory for the RPF. For coverage and editorials, please refer to the following:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bye-Bye, Bread

I have been on a bread-baking kick since returning to the Bread Basket of Civilization. Though my first attempt was a tooth-breaking disaster (not to fault Solveigh's instruction of "knead for a bit"; how could she know how literally I would take that?) I have greatly improved thanks to some simple and helpful tips. A simple carrot and rosemary loaf; huge Wheat Thin impersonations (delicious impersonations); challah - amazing, soft and golden challah!; whole wheat Italian bread. Given that all I have to do is place my dough outside the apartment door and the heat will activate the yeast to overflowing in 30 minutes, it's been a fun and (fairly) simple task.

My biga (for the Italian bread above) looked like chocolate chip cookie dough(!), thanks to the addition of granary flour. Making bread is (relatively) simple and fabulous.

But eating so much of it - especially with the whole wheat substitutions I make - has caused me to question whether or not I have a slight gluten allergy (judging by the all night bathroom raids, occasional vomiting and increased levels of exhaustion, anyway.) I haven't had health insurance for two years (guess which side of the health-care debate I'm on!), but am not in the States to utilize that resource even if it was available, and can't really be bothered to find out about testing in Kuwait, so will settle with the good ol' scientific process of elimination. No bread, pasta, pizza, etc, for the next few weeks. Maybe my digestive tract will calm down, but if not, at least it should help me slim down for Cyprus.

"Gluten-free and slim as can be!"

I love bread. 8^(

P.S. - I also love Smitten Kitchen!

Sunday, August 1, 2010