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November 30th, 2007

05:19 pm: Major News from Sedona!
Hold the presses!
Major News Flash!

Ready for this?

It's raining!!

It's been raining all day, and I can't begin to tell you how happy this makes me. It's been probably 6 weeks since I last saw rain.

November 16th, 2007

12:30 pm: Hope, for domestic violence and humanity in general (totally worth reposting)
 In 2004, Jackie Brown Otter founded Pretty Bird Woman House, a women's shelter at the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. The shelter is named after Brown Otter's sister, who was kidnapped, raped and beaten to death in 2001.

According to Amnesty Intn'l report,

High levels of sexual violence on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation take place in a context of high rates of poverty and crime... The unemployment rate on the Reservation is 71 per cent. Crime rates on the Reservation often exceed those of its surrounding areas. According to FBI figures, in 2005 South Dakota had the fourth highest rate of "forcible rapes" of women of any US state.

As a special bonus to the Lakota Sioux Reservation, there are sufficient desensitization to crime and confusion over Tribal/Non-Tribal jurisdiction at Standing Rock to create rape tourism. Says Andrea Smith, an Assistant Professor of Native Studies at the University of Michigan,

[N]on-Native perpetrators often seek out a reservation place because they know they can inflict violence without much happening to them.

Against these odds, Pretty Bird Woman House is staffed by three people-- a nurse, a volunteer, and a part-time employee-- and from January to October of this year, they managed to:

-- answer 397 crisis calls
-- give emergency shelter to 188 women and 132 children
-- help 23 women obtain restraining orders, 10 get divorces, and 16 get medical assistance
-- provide court advocacy support for 28 women
-- conduct community education programs for 360 women.

A few weeks ago, PBWH's phone lines were cut, the office was ransacked, and the building was burnt down.

Everyone was away from the house at the time, but all possessions were lost, and-- because PBWH's grant from the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence is predicated on its ability to shelter women-- its funding is also lost. Now everybody's trying to pick up the pieces.

Click here for the full story.

How you can help:

1. Donate what you can for a new house.

Pretty Bird Woman House already has two potential replacement houses in mind. Both offer significantly more space than the previous building... full basements, storage room and would house more than double the families and women than their previous building. Both buildings have yards which means possible playgrounds for children.

One house has a major advantage in location - a police station across the street.

Because of difficulties obtaining loans (banks are allergic to both Native Americans and poverty) the best solution lies in purchasing the house outright. The Tribal Council could hold the mortgage but coming up with the mortgage payments every month creates an ongoing problem. Since both houses are on the market, they could be gone anytime. Depressed property values on Standing Rock mean that $60,000 gets the house. An additional $10,000 is required to make them secure, with proper fencing, video cameras, reinforced doors and other measures.

Since 10/25, the drive for donations for PBWH has garnered 17% of the $70,000 goal; the drive ends January 2008-- so consider donating in someone's name as a Christmas present. Donations can be made here.

2. Donate material goods-- clothing, toiletries, non-perishables, etc.

USPS to:
Pretty Bird Woman House
P.O. Box 596
McLaughlin, SD 57642

or FedEx, UPS, DHL ship to:
Pretty Bird Woman House
302 Sale Barn Rd.
McLaughlin SD 57642

3. Spread this meme.

November 9th, 2007

12:25 am: the weather in AZ
It's cold  tonight! I'm still getting used to the weather patterns in the high desert: at night it can be 30 degrees, but 75 degrees by lunchtime...
And where's my fog? Persistently dry air is definitely a different experience for an ocean girl.

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October 18th, 2007

11:32 am: Book List Meme
I accept the meme. I am to bold the books I've read.

These are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing’s users. Here's how I shape up against them (with my comments):

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina (last-minute, for first day of 11th grade AP English)
Crime and punishment
One hundred years of solitude (12th grade AP English, and I really liked it. Never got past page 3 in the Spanish version...)
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi
The name of the rose (oddly enough, yes.)
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities  (I think I was way too young to really understand it)
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife  (bought in an airport as a gift, surreptitiously read beforehand, then eventually given back to me)
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs Dalloway (I read Rebecca instead)
Great Expectations
American Gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha (Lyrica borrowed it from the bookstore where she worked, and we both read it)
Middlesex  (started it)
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury tales
The Historian : a novel
A portrait of the artist as a young man (I think this was required in 11th grade AP English, and I did not particularly enjoy the experience)
Love in the time of cholera
Brave New World (10th grade English, but I liked it)
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo (a loooooong time ago)
A clockwork orange
Anansi boys
The once and future king
The grapes of wrath  (started it)
The Poisonwood Bible 
1984  (10th grade English, and I enjoyed it)
Angels & demons
The inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest 
To the lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles 
Oliver Twist  (long, long ago)
Gulliver’s travels (even longer ago, but again in college)
Les misérables (purchased on a trip to England, started it, but it was "borrowed" by my dad, who actually read the whole thing)
The corrections
The amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time 
Dune  (after reading this I became very fascinated by politics and the subtleties of interactions between people)
The prince
The sound and the fury
Angela’s ashes 
The god of small things
A people’s history of the United States : 1492-present
Cryptonomicon  (started it)
Neverwhere  (enjoyed it)
A confederacy of dunces
A short history of nearly everything
The unbearable lightness of being  (never quite finished it)
Beloved  (good book, but it became the focal point for a power struggle between me and the new HS principal, who guest-taught my English class presumptively and with administrative style rather than teaching style -- we didn't get along...)
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey 
The Catcher in the Rye  (10th grade?)
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything  (deeply enjoyed)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
Watership Down  (read many times, and love it)
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit  (same as for Watership Down, but times 100)
In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White teeth
Treasure Island  (read when I was very very young)
David Copperfield

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October 17th, 2007

12:10 pm: Sedona, ho!
I arrived in Arizona, after an exciting cross-country adventure. I slept in a 19th-century plantation in Louisiana where I needed stairs to get in and out of bed. I drove through the night. I heard about the yearly migration of tarantulas that stops interstate traffic in New Mexico. I visited my grandmother and uncle and aunt in Georgia.  On the day of departure I had to purchase a new car because my old car no longer believed in 5th gear. I crossed the Mississippi River amidst a gorgeous sunset, to dramatic crossing-the-African-desert music. I totally forgot where my sister's family lives. I --

Well, I arrived. So far, it is good. I live 4 minutes from my office, my housemate and I are rediculously compatable, and I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Granted, the weather is still a little confusing to me. When I arrived, I struggled to be comfortable while stil remaining adequately clothed. Last night, I had to wear a hat to bed. I hear that it does sometimes snow in Sedona, and there really are four distinct seasons. I do miss New England, but I had to move out of Massachusetts one day. I've been talking about it for months, and it finally materialized. And here I am.

September 25th, 2007

03:59 pm: For a short review of how the world is changing, and at what rate, watch this:
It temporarily blew my mind...

September 15th, 2007

03:32 pm: I am suddenly struck by a nigh-uncontrollable desire to obtain and osmose this book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1556434308/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-0872657-4281518#reader-link

Note that in this context, "osmose" is intended to mean, "absorb through osmosis" but this seemed gratuitous in the sentence. Of course, now I've created not just one but two extraneous sentences to explain why I used fewer words...

I just love English.  

September 10th, 2007

05:44 pm: Here's a really neat quote for you, about being able to trust yourself (phrased here as trusting your brain) and then accomplish what you want to accomplish. I got it from the quote section (called "Statements" for some strange reason) at www.ilchilee.com

"The trust of your brain cannot be earned in a day. Your brain’s trust is a form of energy, an asset that must be accumulated and managed carefully by investing a great deal of time and effort. You build faith in yourself when you continue to show devotion to what you do, beginning with small things and moving one step at a time to larger things. This growing faith, ultimately, quiets the brain’s doubts and fears, and enables the brain to reveal and utilize its powers to the greatest extent possible.

"To win the trust of your brain, you must develop and exercise willpower. Willpower is the ability, once we establish a goal, to see it through to the end. It is persevering despite obstacles and pain encountered along the way. When you make up your mind and say, “I’ll do it,” our fear of the task will vanish, and your heart will feel lighter. We will use 100% of our energy because we will be free of conflict over whether to do the work. Once you truly make up your mind to do something, your brain, on its own, will make all the preparations necessary to accomplish the task. Then, quite mysteriously, conditions surrounding you will develop in a way that will make it easier for you to accomplish what you set out to do."

September 2nd, 2007

04:51 pm: Don't shampoo your... mice?
Here’s some shocking news for you: shampoo will mess up your brain! Diethanolamine (DEA) is a chemical that can be found in shampoo, hairspray, and soaps. When researchers at the University of North Carolina applied it to pregnant mice, the offspring suffered from impaired brain development.

So the moral of the story is: don’t wash your pregnant mice with shampoo!

September 1st, 2007

12:21 pm: Mmmmm.... peanut butter....
I submit to the general reading public that peanut butter is one of the best things around. What say ye? 

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