Archive | January 2011

The Facts of a Digital Life

Enjoy this brilliant article from McSweeney’s! Peace, Mari

A 12-Year-Old Explains the Information Age’s Facts of Life to Her Mother

BY Julia Young AND Zachary Smilovitz

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Mom, it’s gonna be a long ride to Grandma’s, and while we have some time alone together, I think it’d be good for us to talk about some things. I’m getting older, and I’m not always gonna be around the house to explain stuff to you. I know you have a lot of questions, and I want us to be open with each other. So, I think it’s time you learned where blogs and tweets come from.

I don’t know what kind of stories you’ve heard from your friends or the ladies in your book club. Sometimes, old people will spread around what they’ve heard from other old people. This can make things even more confusing and scary. That’s why it’s important you get the straight facts from me.

The Internet is a very beautiful thing if used properly.

When a person loves a funny video very much, he or she may want to share it with someone special to them. This is called linking and if done properly, it can bring people together in a very special union of love: usually the love of sneezing animals, or bed intruders, or Bill O’Reilly having a temper tantrum. But it’s important to be sparing when you send your links. You don’t want to become the neighborhood outbox, constantly forwarding yourself around. Nobody wants that kind of reputation. Trust me, you do not want to be known as a “spammer.”

Now when someone has a lot of things they want to say, they may want to try blogging. Blogging is a kind of social intercourse, and should only be tried after years of experience with the Internet. Think of a blog as a newspaper that people actually read. It’s a very personal thing, and you need healthy boundaries. For example, you can’t go around blogging about the time I peed my pants when we went to see Ice Age like you told that woman in line at TJ Maxx yesterday. You need to be cautious before you move on to something more serious, like a tweet.

A tweet is a powerful yet brief experience that you share with thousands of people, sometimes even famous ones. Don’t feel bad if you don’t tweet! A lot people never tweet, and they live perfectly happy lives. Yes, you’ll read a lot of bad tweets before you find the right ones. But once you do find that perfect feed, you’ll spend the whole day wanting to refresh on it. And whatever you do, don’t follow @aplusk.

You should try Facebook, though. Everyone tries Facebook at least once in their life. It usually starts in college. It may seem like harmless fun at first, but I know a lot of people who once they started Facebooking, couldn’t stop. They’d waste their whole day updating their status, commenting on colleagues’ vacation photos, and, tragically, poking almost complete strangers. It can become very unhealthy, so I want you to be careful. And listen; I don’t want you ever writing on my Wall; even if it’s my birthday. That’s just not appropriate for a mother and daughter.

I hope this wasn’t too embarrassing for you. We’ll talk about what a meme is when we get to Grandma’s. I don’t want to have to explain it twice.

Top 10 of 2010

As the first month of 2011 comes to a close I’ve decided to take a look back at some of my favorite images from 2010. I took these photographs both close to home in Brooklyn and also while traveling to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, South Africa, Massachusetts, and Virginia. Enjoy! Mari

1.

Best Nature

2.

Best Pattern

3.

Best Abstract

4.

Best Brooklyn Moment

5.

Best Shadow *Tie

Best Shadow *Tie

6.

Best Vacation Postcard *Tie

Best Vacation Postcard *Tie

7.

Best Underwater

8.

Best Worst Moment

9.

Best Framing

10.

Best Rust *Tie

Best Rust *Tie


Be the Change

Thanks to Lucca Leadership for sharing this video! Enjoy, Mari

The Interrupters

This film, premiering at Sundance, profiles the incredible work of Cease Fire a Chicago-based nonprofit organization helping to end gun violence. Cease Fire takes a strategic public health approach to violence prevention, an approach pioneered by the agency’s founder Dr. Gary Slutkin. An epidemiologist, Dr. Slutkin founded Cease Fire in 1995 after working globally in areas such as Uganda helping to turn the tide on the AIDS epidemic in that country. He brings a scientific approach to social issues that is creating real change.

I met Dr. Slutkin and some of the incredible changemakers at Cease Fire during the Transatlantic Network 2020’s Chicago conference in July 2010. I was one of the lucky participants who spent a few days learning from the Cease Fire staff. I was especially impressed with the work of the interrupters, who are the first line of defense in the war against gun violence.

The Interrupters movie portrays the incredible work that these folks do on the front lines. I highly recommend seeing this movie or donating to this worthy cause.

Keep it up Cease Fire! Mari

Henry George

I am attending a weekly class at the Henry George School of Social Science in political economy. The text book for this class is one of Henry George’s own tomes: Progress and Poverty (see above cover – there is also an abridged version).

A late 19th century writer, would-be politician, and political economist, Henry George espoused many ideas that we would consider “progressive” today although his ideas have been adopted by members of both the dominant parties in the US. He inspired the “Georgist” school of economic thought and has influenced people from the left: Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich, as well as from the right: William F. Buckley, Jr. and Rand Paul (son of Ron Paul).

The central question of Progress and Poverty is one that I have pondered for some time. Why does poverty persist despite progress? Why do some people go hungry when others’ plates are overflowing? Why does the gap between the haves and the have nots continue to increase? In Progress and Poverty George describes the conditions in the mid- to late-19th century. He writes,

It is as though an immense wedge were being forced, not underneath society, but through society. Those who are above the point of separation are elevated, but those who are below are crushed down. (p. 9)

Sound familiar? We still struggle with the same issues that George was grappling with in the 1800s. He continues,

This association of poverty with progress is the great enigma of our times…So long as all the increased wealth which modern progress brings goes but to build up great fortunes, to increase luxury and make sharper the contrast between House of Have and House of Want, progress is not real and cannot be permanent. (p. 10)

These thoughts have been shared by other change agents of our times including Martin Luther King, Jr. who quoted George in his book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?

Other praise for George and his theories came from such luminaries as Leo Tolstoy: “People do not argue with the teaching of George, they simply do not know it. And it is impossible to do otherwise with his teaching, for he who becomes acquainted with it cannot but agree.”

John Dewey: “No man, no graduate of higher educational institution, has a right to regard himself as an educated man in social thought unless he has some first-hand acquaintance with the theoretical contribution of this great American thinker.”

Albert Einstein: “Men like Henry George are rare, unfortunately. One cannot imagine a more beautiful combination of intellectual keenness, artistic form, and fervent love of justice.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt: “I believe that Henry George was one of the really great thinkers produced by our country.”

So, if this man was so popular in his day and made such a contribution to social thought why had I never heard of Henry George before my class?

It baffles the mind but my best guess is that George hit upon truths concerning our society – about capitalism – about the current value system in place – that are too radical, too disturbing, too uncomfortable to the powers that be.

I’m not saying I swallow all of his theories whole – I haven’t even finished one of his books yet – but I understand his core beliefs. He’s essentially saying that the system is rigged against the little guy, the cards are stacked in favor of the rich getting richer. We all know this to be the truth but we don’t want to hear it because that would mean making some tough changes that would affect the most powerful among us.

We can’t have that happen, now, can we?

I suggest you read his books and decide for yourself.

Peace and Justice, Mari


Gaga for Google

Despite being a part of the Fortune 500, I appreciate the innovation over at a little company called Google. In addition to the Doodle 4 Google contest, Google is challenging users (and celebrities alike) to create innovative video demos of its products.

Check out the Google Demo Slam site and watch some of my favorites below. As an added bonus, I’ve included a related video that **Lily** sent me.

Thanks for sharing the creativity! Mari


 

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Quotable Quotes

Start your week off right with a little inspiration! Sometimes it’s already been said (and said better) by someone else. Enjoy, Mari

ON BEING YOURSELF:

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the… blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”—Jack Kerouc (1922 – 1969)

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.—Anais Nin (1903-1977)

To laugh often and love much;
to win the respect of intelligent persons
and the affection of children;
to earn the approbation of honest citizens
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
to have played and laughed with enthusiasm
and sung with exultation;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived
this is to have succeeded.
—Contested Attribution

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
—e.e. cummings (1894 – 1962)

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.—Edith Wharton (1862 – 1937)

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. —Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.—Anais Nin (1903-1977)

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. —Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922)

You’ve gotta’ dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.
(And speak from the heart to be heard.)

—William W. Purkey

ON TAKING ACTION:

It is well to be prepared for life as it is, but it is better to be prepared to make life better than it is.—Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. (1915-2011)

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.—Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC)

The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers.  But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.—Sarah Ban Breathnach

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.—Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)

There is nothing like a dream to create the future.—Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885)

Do not follow where the path may lead.  Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

People who give will never be poor.
—Anne Frank (1929 – 1945)

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.—Rumi (1207 – 1273)

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.—Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)

The only genuine elite is the elite of those men and women who gave their lives to justice and charity.—Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. (1915-2011)

We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power.  Then will our world know the blessings of peace.
—William Ewart Gladstone (1809 – 1898)

ON PERSEVERING:

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.—Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)

Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.
—Goethe (1749 -1832)

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.—Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age.—Anais Nin (1903-1977)

Patience is also a form of action.
—Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.—Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)

That Was Then, This is Now

Enjoy this recent Peace Corps PSA! Mari & Paul

1960 Peace Corps Video

How times have changed…

Can you count the number of female volunteers featured in the above video? How about people of color? I especially love the training camp footage where volunteers are scaling walls, rappelling, and coasting down ziplines – reminds me of going to camp and running the ropes course as a counselor!

Regardless of how dated this video appears now, it demonstrates the enormous undertaking that was and continues to be the Peace Corps. Further, the video shows Sargent Shriver’s enormous commitment to the organization and demonstrates how he followed through by being the change he wanted to see in the world.

I hope we can do the same!

Peace, Mari & Paul

Food, Glorious Food!

I’m proud to say that we’ve kept our New Year’s Resolution to cook at least one meal every single day. So far, so good (in fact we’re making two meals per day on average). This may sound strange to people who have always cooked their meals at home but being so busy and living in NYC it has become second nature to order food for delivery, to pick up prepared meals on the way home, or to eat at a restaurant. We know we need to make the transition, especially for Peace Corps, so Paul is even bringing his lunch to work, which is a big step in the right direction.

I thought I’d share some of the recipes I have used lately as well as a great tip for how to save on groceries. If you live in an area where Fresh Direct delivers they have a great selection of all foods you would find in your average grocery store plus extra features like recipes and chef prepared foods. More recipes for some of our favorites including Tortilla Española, Turkey Meat Sauce, Chocolate Molten Cakes, and Salmon coming soon!

Coupon Code

Until January 31st, 2011 you can use the following coupon code for Fresh DirectHOLIDAY60 to get $30 off each of your first two orders of $99 or more.  I’m not getting anything from Fresh Direct for sharing this with you – I simply found the coupon code online and thought I’d share.

Recipes

PAD THAI from The New York Times

4 ounces fettuccine-width rice stick noodles
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 to 4 tablespoons tamarind paste
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 garlic clove, minced
2 eggs
1 small head Napa cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/2 pound peeled shrimp, pressed tofu or a combination
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, quartered.

Put noodles in a large bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let sit until noodles are just tender; check every 5 minutes or so to make sure they do not get too soft. Drain, drizzle with one tablespoon peanut oil to keep from sticking and set aside. Meanwhile, put tamarind paste, fish sauce, honey and vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and bring just to a simmer. Stir in red pepper flakes and set aside.

Put remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; when oil shimmers, add scallions and garlic and cook for about a minute. Add eggs to pan; once they begin to set, scramble them until just done. Add cabbage and bean sprouts and continue to cook until cabbage begins to wilt, then add shrimp or tofu (or both).

When shrimp begin to turn pink and tofu begins to brown, add drained noodles to pan along with sauce. Toss everything together to coat with tamarind sauce and combine well. When noodles are warmed through, serve, sprinkling each dish with peanuts and garnishing with cilantro and lime wedges.

Yield: 4 servings

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BANANA BREAD from Bon Appétit

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan or use cooking spray on 2 12-cup metal muffin tins. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Combine chocolate chips and walnuts in small bowl; add 1 tablespoon flour mixture and toss to coat.

Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in mashed bananas, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat in flour mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of nut mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter over. Sprinkle with remaining nut mixture. Cover with remaining batter. For loaf pan – run knife through batter in zigzag pattern.

Bake bread or muffins until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes for loaf pan, 20 minutes for muffins. Turn out onto rack and cool.

Yield: 9-inch loaf or 24 muffins

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TRIANGLES from the Wilson Family

1 package (2 sheets) of puff pastry dough (usually comes frozen)
1/2 cup chopped spinach (can be fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup grated cheese (you can use Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or even Pecorino Romano)
8 oz. of cream cheese
1 large onion, diced
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon paprika
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out puff pastry sheets on a flat, floured surface (defrost to room temperature if necessary or transfer frozen sheets to refrigerator the night before preparing). Using a sharp knife, cut the puff pastry into squares – each sheet should make 9 small squares or 4 large ones. Mix the spinach, cream cheese, grated cheese, onions, lemon/lime juice, paprika, and salt & pepper in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Prepare an ungreased baking sheet, a small bowl of water, and a fork. Spoon about 1-2 Tablespoons of spinach and cream cheese mixture into the middle of each square (do not overfill – it’s ok to have some of the mixture leftover). Fold over into a triangle shape, wetting two of the inside edges with water from the dish. Use your fork to crimp the triangle edges, pushing hard enough to secure the edges but not so hard your fork pierces all the way through the dough. Use your sharp knife to create a half-inch slit on the top of each triangle and carefully transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat until all triangles are on the baking sheets.

Bake in oven until tops are golden brown, approximately 15 minutes.

Yield: 18 small triangles or 8 large ones

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PAN SEARED LEMON SOLE from Real Simple

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 sole fillets
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lemon, ends trimmed (can substitute lime)
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

Place the flour on a plate. Season the sole with the salt. Lightly coat each fillet in the flour, shaking off any excess. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Slice the lemon into 12 thin circles and add them to the skillet. Cook until the lemon is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Push the lemon to the side of the skillet and add the sole. (You may need to cook it in batches.) Cook until the sole is the same color throughout and flakes easily, about 2 minutes per side. Add the remaining butter and the capers to the skillet. Remove from heat and tilt the skillet to swirl until the butter melts. Transfer the sole and lemon to individual plates and spoon the capers and butter over the top.

Yield: 4 servings

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