Saturday, October 30, 2010

PSA: those microfiber cloths really work

Just bought a couple $1 microfiber cloths at Staples, hoping to do something about the ever-streaky mirror in our bathroom.  LOVE it already.  Just a little bit of water and the thing gets everything super shiny and clean. Not just the mirrors, but the stainless steel and chrome on kitchen stuff, and the tiles everywhere. And I don't need to use any sprays or Earth-hating chemicals.

$1 microfiber cloth where have you been all my life.

This has been your PSA of the day. Happy almost Halloween!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why do you DREAM? MomsRising wants to know!

Cross posted in full from

Odds are, if you are a mom, you're one of the 72 percent of women in the United States who support the DREAM Act. [1]

But we want to know why.

First, a quick refresher: The DREAM Act is short for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. Currently, undocumented immigrant children who were brought to the U.S. at a young age and have grown up here have no way to become legal citizens and fully contribute to society. Upon graduating from high school, these children face an uncertain future, including barriers to college and risk of deportation to a country they often no longer remember. The DREAM Act would address this problem.

If passed, the DREAM Act would provide approximately 800,000 young adults with the opportunity to work legally without fear of deportation and ultimately earn permanent legal resident status if they meet certain requirements. These requirements include needing to show that they came to the U.S. before their 16th birthday, lived here for at least five consecutive years prior to the bill's enactment, be of "good moral character," earned a high school diploma or GED, and completed at least two years of college or military service.

The legislation could also prove to be a boost to our economy. A soon to be released study by the UCLA North American Integration and Development Center finds that the estimated 800,000 youth legalized through the DREAM ACT will potentially generate $1.38 trillion dollars over their work-life. (2)

Not surprisingly, a large majority of Americans support the DREAM Act including 80 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Republicans, according to a poll conducted by First Focus, a bipartisan child advocacy organization.(3)

In spite of such widespread support, our elected representatives in Congress are pretty much sleepwalking on this issue.

Versions of the DREAM Act have been introduced into Congress, either alone or as part of larger legislation for the past nine years. And yet still Congress has failed to act.

What's it going to take?

How about moms flexing their political muscles? Let's tell Congress that as moms, we think it's long overdue for them to wake up and do the right thing by these children and young adults.

Our elected representatives need to listen to mothers like Elaine Lindelef who says: "No good can come from the U.S. deporting hardworking, talented, devoted kids who grew up here, regardless of where they are from."

Congress should also listen to Fiorenza Comunian whose daughter studied alongside undocumented students at UCLA: "They pay full tuition and they have proven they have the will and determination required to succeed. Granting them a path to citizenship will be an investment in this country's future and an act of compassion that benefits everybody."

Now, tell us, why do YOU support the DREAM Act ?

MomsRising, a million member advocacy organization, wants to hear from you. Simply complete this statement:
"I'm a mom and I support the DREAM Act because______________________."

Then send your statement to You can sign your first name and identify your state, or you can sign 'anonymous' and we will honor that. You can also drop us your comment below.
With these mom-quotes, we'll tell our elected leaders it's time to stop snoozing, sleepwalking and stalling. Moms across the country want our representatives in D.C. to wake up and make the DREAM possible for all children in our nation.

Footnotes 1 & 3: "Public Support for the Dream Act," a public opinion survey commissioned by First Focus, June 2010. For more information, contact Wendy Cervantes, Senior Director of Child and Family Immigrant Policy,

Footnote 2: Statement provided with permission from NAID founder and director Dr. Raul Hinojosa. For more information, contact Tolu Olubunmi, a consultant with First Focus,
Para leer en español, haga clic aqui.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Against Bullying, or why we need a new social movement

Like everyone else, I've been completely overwhelmed and utterly heartbroken by the stories of young boys and men compelled to take their own lives because of bullying. Yesterday evening, the front story of the NY Times was about the kidnap, rape, and torture of a gay man by nine other men, and then this morning, I came across an op-ed about mean-girl behavior starting as early as kindergarten. Evidence for the cruelty and violence that humans are capable of, yes. But not necessarily for the inevitability of such evil behavior. 

This is the where I think Richard Kim's essay, "Against 'Bullying' or On Loving Queer Kids," really hits the mark. Kim alerts us to what, with a few exceptions, has been missing in the national discussion about bullying: the homophobic nature of our current political discourse, and its effect on young people. For example, a new Time Magazine article on bullying focuses primarily on ways in which new media make it easier for aggressors to pursue their victims without having to actually come face to face with them, something that, in the past, may have mitigated such cruel behavior. Furthermore, as a recent NPR report argues, the pace of education about interpersonal skills in a hyper-connected world has not kept up with the rush of technology and its earlier and earlier adoption. 

Kim argues that while all this is true, we must not ignore the larger role discourses of homophobia and hate have on shaping cultural notions of belonging and difference. Cell phones and the internet are vehicles for bullying, but the impetus comes from heteronormative attitudes cultivated in entertainment, as well as in the legal and rhetorical strategies of politicians who continue to use the penalization of queers to further their agendas. Examples abound: the debate over same-sex marriage, the Republican push back against overturning DADT, and most recently, Tom De Mint's statement, in a speech given at a church rally in South Carolina on Saturday, that local school boards should be able to ban gays and unwed mothers from teaching. Yes, you did read that correctly.

And this is not just a question of sexuality (I mean, it never really is, is it?). The invocation of a politics of difference as a social and political platform in and of itself (as in, I represent that which is not different, which belongs, and thus I have de facto moral value) is always a raced, gendered, and classed project as well. The identification of gays and Muslims (and - the horror! - queer Muslims) as America's expendable others in large-scale national debates most certainly shapes the ways in which children are learning to make sense of their own, and their peers', place in the world. As Pamela Paul argues in her NY Times essay, it really is "monkey see, monkey do" when it comes to children's attitudes about what makes oneself and others valuable.

So... what can we do?  I think this is where a rejection of inevitability (the "kids are just cruel" rationale) comes in. We can - as parents, educators, participants in a public discourse - insist on educating ourselves and others about where hate and the moral adjudication of belonging come from. They do not stem from ahistorical religious tenets, or from hallowed tradition, or from any type of radical and universal difference in being, but rather from the history of modern power and the continued actions of those who seek to maintain (or in some cases to obtain) economic/social/cultural privilege. I think this is the issue of our day!  Anita, a few days ago you shared an op-ed about the urgent need for a third party in American politics - maybe this is the crisis that will energize those who seek a government that is based on the principle of social justice.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

MadMen- Surgeon General's report on smoking in 1964=bombshell

I've been wondering about whether the loss of Lucky Strike in fact means the end of SCDP, and decided to look up when the Surgeon General started warning about smoking.

A document from the National Institutes of Health says:

"[Surgeon General Luther T.] Terry issued the commission's report on January 11, 1964, choosing a Saturday to minimize the effect on the stock market and to maximize coverage in the Sunday papers. As Terry remembered the event, two decades later, the report "hit the country like a bombshell. It was front page news and a lead story on every radio and television station in the United States and many abroad."

Could this be just the news SCDP needs to bounce back (or at least to level the playing field with competitors)?

Admittedly, none of this is the true focus of last Sunday's episode, "Chinese Wall." I'm just looking ahead. Because if I have to linger on "Chinese Wall," then I'll get increasingly uncomfy.  I was cringing throughout this episode.

- The obvious one: Megan hitting on Don. Don going along with it. Secretary and boss, potential mentee and mentor. Shudder factor=6/10.

- Stan hitting on Peggy. Locking the door really creeped me out. Shudder factor=8/10.

- Jane lounging in her yellow silk robe, snuggling up to Roger soon after we see Roger with Joan, and Joan in her plain cotton nightdress (but looking more beautiful than ever). Shudder factor=4/10.

- Faye snuggling up to Don in the same way. What is she giving up? What is she getting? Shudder factor=4/10.

- Peggy's lipstick on the teeth. I kept wanting to rub it off for her.  But it also reminded me of her heady "here's your basket of kisses" days, when she first began to emerge as a creative talent for the agency. Shudder factor=5/10.

- Sniffing out work leads at a funeral. Shudder factor=7/10.

- Trudy having to be alone during labor and delivery, like almost everyone else back then. Everyone should have the support they want and need at that time! But everyone else kept making the decision to keep her and Pete apart, even when they wanted to see each other. Shudder factor=6/10.

- Cooper's beard. Shudder factor=7/10.

There were many more-- everything from the way the camera retreats from Don, giving the impression of falling, to the discomfort of seeing Don compromised yet again in yet another way, to the title of the episode itself.  It will be interesting to see how the next two episodes develop the conflicts and set us up for Season 3.

* You can find a nice recap on each week's episode at the Huffington Post here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

intrigued by the kale chips idea? some tips

Tip #1. Probably best to try it with actual kale and not rainbow chard like I did.

Tip #2. But if you do find and use a chard recipe (also like I did), probably best to follow it more closely than I did. That is-- don't fear the oil!!

The chard was a little too wet/watery to crisp up nicely. I think I should have doused the whole thing liberally in oil and basically done a pan fry and dry. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sea salt and those things would probably disappear.

I'm pretty sure it's true, because I tried giving my almost 4 and almost 2 year old girls some seaweed snack today. Roasted in sesame oil, with sea salt and a pinch of sugar, this Korean snack is $1.89 at Whole Foods and it was SO GOOD. And they ATE it. I was amazed but they finished nearly the whole damn package.

Not to mention that this whole kale chip/chard chip thing has gotten so trendy, Whole Foods jumped on the bandwagon with a bag of chard chips and parmesan for...$6.99.  It mystifies me how they can charge that much for so very very litte, but they don't call it Whole Paycheck for nothing.

So if more leafy greens come our way through our fabulous CSA Terra Bella Family Farm, they're getting the oven fried treatment.

Monday, October 04, 2010

update on lead in bouncy houses

After reading about the high lead levels in bouncy houses for kids, I wrote emails to two kid play spaces in the East Bay asking about lead levels in their inflatable slides and bounce houses.

Here's the email response I got from Pump It Up in Concord:

Hello Anita,

We are working closely with California’s Attorney General and the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) to ensure the safest environment for our customers and we’ll be pro-active on implementing their future recommendations. As the Attorney General and CEH develop new regulations for the manufacturers of inflatable equipment, we are ready to support the new policies and to help verify that vendors are
adhering to the legal standards.

Pump It Up has set the bar for safety standards in the industry, including promoting legislation to create consistent safety regulations for both indoor and outdoor
inflatable play environments, and we have always had our inflatables independently tested. The national franchise, with more than 160 locations, holds the most stringent
safety standards in the inflatable party industry. The company’s nationally recognized insurance carrier recently completed an independent audit of all open facilities, in which Pump It Up received an A+ rating with a total scoring average of 99 out of a possible 100 per facility.

We have historically kept our facility and inflatables clean and for any concerned parents we will also be offering the opportunity to have the kids clean their hands after playing in the inflatables as an additional measure.

Please feel free to contact Jamie Jefferson at the Attorney General’s office at (510) 622-2254 to answer any other questions you may have about the suit against the inflatable manufacturers.

Thanks for being a loyal Pump it Up customer.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Restrict restaurant toys- Yes!

I remember a blogpost about this at, with the director of Center for Science in the Public Interest writing on this very topic- limiting Happy Meal toys.  Most of the comments embraced the "it's the parents' decision" side.

I am definitely for strong parenting. Clear and consistent decision-making in the best interests of the child, every time.  I'm for it-- do I *do* it? The angels above know how much better at it I could be! This is one reason I don't feel like this is over-legislating. It's aimed at the corporations that don't have my family's best interest in mind anyway. People tend to excuse almost anything a corporation does for its bottom line, but I think really good companies might also have quality as a goal. (Hello?) Behemoth corporations that offer toys might not really care about competition to enhance quality (the basic free market argument), so that's one place where legislation comes in. Though I can see how it's not a legislative priority this year in cities where stimulating the economy is Job#1, I still think the conversations it should stimulate are important to advancing public health.  Besides, I don't see the point of stimulating the economy with products that depress our health and well-being, and that of our kids. Maybe especially that of our kids.  Short term stimulus don't seem to always lead to long term health and growth. Why should we give in to the race to the bottom?

Also, I used to be a volunteer labor coach for low income pregnant women. Many of them would have kids carrying McD's bags into the clinic. NOT because McD's was cheaper than fresh fruit- it's not. Because it was the only available option.  The only option on their bus line, the only place that was safe, the only place the kids would go to, where their friends went.  There are a million more systemic issues to unpack there, yes? Transportation equity, urban planning, public health, prevention, and at least five or six other biggies.

Taking socioeconomics into the picture, it strikes me that this isn't about more or less consumer choice as it is about the quality of choices. That to me is what's important.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Jump in... the water's fine!

It's 4:50am and I'm awake - combination of 3am nursing, a few too many cokes at dinner (fancy night out!), and too damn much on the mind.  What better time to jump in!  My very first blog post.  Somehow I had imagined it differently.  Some women dream about their weddings (yawn), I dreamed of my first real blog post.  It would be witty, intelligent, on-point.  It would be offer a completely groundbreaking perspective on an issue that was being otherwise bandied about by the various vapid talking heads who pass as our politicians/pundits these days (Jon Stewart - you will always be the exception!).  It would be - in one word - brilliant.

But... alas, this dream post only exists in my head in the woozy minutes of nighttime nursing.  Once the harsh glare of the monitor is on it escapes my limited capabilities and instead I waste an hour on Facebook.  That is, until I signed in to WordyDoodles and remembered exactly why: 1) we are twins, and 2) why we wanted to blog in the  first place.  Your posts capture the kinetic energy of becoming in the crazy assemblage of belongings we find ourselves in the middle of.  This is the ethical space of conversation, of the work of constructing an affective community.  And polished, hyper-critical(ly aware) writing does not lend itself to conversation, to the moment, in the same way as just putting your thoughts out there.  That being said, you inspire me (as you always have) with your brilliance!

Thanks for letting me set up my necessarily slipshod camp here in this incredible space.  Next up: anti-colonizing the mind of Dinesh D'Souza!

Friday, October 01, 2010

UPDATE: With this fall's fashion, designers are saying "we're all effed"

There's an old bit of folk knowledge that says hemlines reflect the state of the economy (lower hemline=worse economy, higher=better).  And if clothing design generally somehow reflects our national mood, I think the designers are telling us we're depressed. Really, really depressed. What other conclusion could there be when you see pieces like I saw at Banana Republic and the Gap?

It is ugly. There's no other way to put it. It's like they're saying "Wear ugly crap.  No one cares. We're all going down the crapper anyway." There are tshirts with random dumb ruffles; cropped skinny acid wash jeans; shapeless, colorless dresses. A woven pocket T for $54.  I bet the copywriters who had to conjure up something nice to say about these pieces were tearing out their hair. Or maybe not. Maybe they were like, who cares.

It's true that the economy isn't necessarily at its rosiest.  But does that have to mean we have to look like crap too? I think not.

The selection in person was no better than online. We decided to quickly swing by BR a couple weekends ago. I normally don't shop there, benefiting from the generosity of my sister's closet turnover, from this area's fabulous selection of consignment stores, and from a dedication to excellent etsy stores.

It was awful and terrible, as bad as the online selection.  Colors were drab, and did I mention all the weird and random ruffles?  I am not against ruffles per se, but these looked like someone took a t-shirt and sewed a ruffle on. It made no sense. It had no context, like Donny wandering like a child in the forest (or whatever that awesome Walter quote from Big Lebowski is. God I love Walter from the Big Lebowski. Also Christina Ricci's character in Pecker-- I think they have very similar extreme personalities. Another post, another day.).

Happily, the news for spring seems to be much better. This SF Chron article says we can look forward to "fancy feminine and/or minimalist" for spring.  The article says:
"Designers are well aware that the recession has not ended, but they are cautiously optimistic. 
"Fashion responds to the economic climate by providing a way to lift a woman's spirits," Catherine Malandrino said. The theme song at Michael Kors' show was "Here Comes the Sun." 
"Indeed, designers made a special effort to be sure their collections were irresistible and actually wearable (not always the case in the past). They aimed to restore consumer confidence - and they are succeeding."

Read more:
They are succeeding? Well, I guess after you hit the bottom with stuff that looks, feels and wears like something from the back of my mom's closet in 1982 (not a compliment-- sorry, Mom), there's nowhere to go but up.


One trend identified by the SF Chron style section is "the carrot pant," aka THE MC HAMMER PANT. Dearlord, I think I hear the four horsemen of the Shopacolypse!  (p.s. I love Rev Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping)

Thank goodness for independent artists with style from whom we can buy. Case in point: not only is the dress from this lovely designer/seamstress at etsy fantastic, but her philosophy is great too. Clothes based on origami! So fabulous! So intentional. Not a random ruffle on a jersey t-shirt in sight.  Maybe some random cutouts. But anyway, browse etsy, dodge disappointment. (and do a cross check with regretsy)

UPDATE! @WomensWearDaily is our voice of reason and sanity in an off-the-rack world beruffled with mediocrity.  Check out the photos from Dior and Galliano, which make SUCH a better case for the beauty of ruffles.

I'm killing myself trying to overedit this personal blog

And I've decided I have to post *something* and start (over) *somewhere* or else this blog will turn into the land of Drafts.  And we all know what kind of purgatory that is.  Crappy, crappy purgatory.  You can only research a post so long before it gets past its prime, stops hitting the sweet spot, stops speaking to readers. Hell, it stops speaking to me and I forget why I even began the darn thing.  I've got so many drafts of posts, ideas for posts, inspiring books and quotes and links.  But it seems so daunting to hit publish.  So I am going meta on you all and writing a post about writing posts.  Because that's easier.

Bloggy friends, I say, don't let the edits be the enemy of the published.  It's a blog, not a research paper.  Yes, I know that blogs are becoming a primary source for many, but this blog isn't that kind of blog. It's a conversational kind of blog (or, it will be when my fabulous co-author comes on board).  Anyone else get in and out of this rut? I totally want to hear from you. xox