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My Day

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Well, I had quite a day yesterday. My son Doug, visiting me for the last three weeks from Thailand where he lives, woke me at 1 am. We finished getting his banking set up on the internet. Wrote up the family info and took it to Kinkos to get it plastisized. Told him to give a copy to his wife in Thailand and that if anything happened to him that she was to show it to someone who reads English so we could be contacted. Got him set up with frequent flyers..and printed out his boarding pass.

I dropped him off at the curb for his flight back to Thailand, kissed him goodbye, and drove off elatedly. Free as a bird! Went to downtown Portland for a coffee. Then to shop for some clothes at Nordstroms. Everything made in China with crappy fabric and horrible prices. It was either that or high-end designer clothes with even more atrocious prices.

So I went to a movie…”The Darjeeling Limited.” Sneaky good…touching story about three brothers…set on a train in India…and their mother, played by Angelica Huston, who had become a nun in a Himalayan monastery. (This I totally understood!!!) The twenty something boys were whining about her taking off and leaving them and not even going to their father’s funeral. Ha! She finally told them to forget about it and get on with their lives. In other words, grow up. Very instructive for me, I tell you!!!

Then I bought some shoes and went to another store where I had a great conversation with an older woman who waited on me….me laughing at the prices…me telling her the cost of one piece was the price of a plane ticket to BKK…she telling me about living in Singapore when she was young and how she was so shocked by the ostentatiousness of America when she returned…we agreeing that Americans should travel to a third world country at least once in their lives. We ended up laughing about most of the women’s pants out now were low-cut… just the thing for women with poom pooey tummies!

Then I went to another movie ($8.00 tickets) called “I’m Not There,” the creatively constructed story about shape-shifter Bob Dylan amid the insanity of celebrity. Unconventional filmmaker, Todd Haynes, (who wrote the story while living in Portland BTW) cast 6 or 7 different actors (the best one a woman played by Cate Blanchette) who all played the changing personas of Dylan. The very young Dylan was played by a very young black kid (Dylan was supposed to be 11 years old) who claimed to be Woodie Guthrie. Dylan’s name was never mentioned and names were all changed but you knew who the characters were…Joan Baez played by Julianne Moore. If you are familiar with Dylan you will be intrigued by it…much of it ironic…tongue in cheek. Rolling Stone says that Dylan surprisingly gave his permission, through a third party, to use his songs both his own recordings and those performed by others. We are left with no better understanding of Dylan than we had before seeing the movie. That’s as Dylan would want it, I think…he hated being corralled…defined by others…especially by the niggard media. You’d have to see it 50 times to catch all the references of the times and then, unless you were a Dylan freak and were alive in the 60’s, you’d miss. If you are interested, musician/songwriter Peter Stone Brown chronicles the historical packaging of Dylan in a Counterpunch article.

Then I had sushi for dinner…including wonderful ice-cold Uni (sea urchin) from the California coast . Finally paid $16 to get my car out of the parking garage! I’m still in sticker shock after not living in the States for most of the last 6 years!

So that was my splurge. I am new again.

The Sad End Of Mexican Criollo Corn?

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

NAFTA and Biotech: Twin Horsemen of the Ag Apocalypse
The Last Days of Mexican Corn

Mexico City.

The single, spindly seven foot-tall cornstalk spiring up from the planter box outside a prominent downtown hotel here was filling out with new “elotes” (sweet corn) to the admiration of passer-bys, some of whom even paused to pat the swelling ears with affection. Down the centuries most of the population of this megalopolis migrated here from the countryside at one time or another over the course of the past 500 years and inside every “Chilango” (Mexico City resident) lurks an inner campesino.

But the solitary stalk, sewn by an urban coalition of farmers and ecologists under the banner of “No Hay Pais Sin Maiz” (“There Is No Country Without Corn”) in planter boxes outside the downtown hotels, museums, government palaces and other historical monuments can just as easily be seen as a signifier for the fragile state of survival of Mexican corn.

As the year ripens into deep autumn, the corn harvest is pouring in all over Mexico. Out in Santa Cruz Tanaco in the Purepecha Indian Sierra of Michoacan state, the men mow their way down the rows much as their fathers and their fathers before did, snapping off the ears and tossing them into the “tshundi” basket on their backs.

In the evenings, the families will gather around the fire and shuck the “granos” from the cobs into buckets and carry them down to the store to trade for other necessities of life. It is the way in Tanaco in this season of plenitude just as it is in the tens of thousands of tiny farming communities all over Mexico where 29 per cent of the population still lives. But it is a way of life that is fading precipitously. Some say that these indeed may be the last days of Mexican corn.
[read on]

Happy Thanksgiving From Beijing

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
Email from my son who is chef de cuisine in one of the restaurants in the Hilton Hotel in his friends and family: On Nov 19, 2007, at 5:24 PM, Ryan Goetz wrote: Happy Thanksgiving! I write this now because in two ... [Continue reading this entry]

Mexico’s Unwanted Poor

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007
One migrant advocate that has recently been deported from the U.S. has said that "Mexico could not economically or socially absorb an estimated six million Mexicans who face deportation from the US." She is probably right. More than a ... [Continue reading this entry]

Visit From Son Doug

Saturday, November 17th, 2007
My son Doug arrived in Salem from Thailand on Friday November 9th and hit the ground up the farm for the sale and tying up his loose ends in the area before he goes back to his wife on ... [Continue reading this entry]

On The Other Hand: Altruism?

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007 again by Gordy Slack: "New proof of "mirror neurons" explains why we experience the grief and joy of others, and maybe why humans are altruistic. Nov. 5, 2007 | A young woman sat on the subway and sobbed. Her ... [Continue reading this entry]

Alastair Says It For Us

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007
A 25 year old Brit, Alastair Humphreys, spent more than four years bicycling through Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, North America, and Asia. This is what he says he learned: "That the world is a good place filled with ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Devil Wore J.Crew

Monday, November 5th, 2007
There is an excellent reprint of a review in of a book published in 2005 by Martha Stout Ph.D. called "The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us." I have had at least one co-worker, and ... [Continue reading this entry]

Assigning Of Teachers In Oaxaca

Friday, November 2nd, 2007
Here's Jill Friedberg again with some insights on the teaching of indigenous children in Oaxaca: "The demand for rezonification, one of the demands by the teachers during the strike in 2006, was not about where teachers are sent to teach. The ... [Continue reading this entry]

Teacher Strike Complicated In Oaxaca

Friday, November 2nd, 2007
An email from Jill Friedberg...filmmaker and frequent visitor to Oaxaca...on some of the inner workings of the 2006 teacher strike until now: When there are plantons (encampments), marches, etc. each delegation and sector within the Seccion 22 of the teacher's union ... [Continue reading this entry]

Oaxaca Neglects Indigenous Education

Thursday, November 1st, 2007
You can read a discussion of the sad state of affairs in Oaxaca on the Yahoo Oaxaca Study Action Group discussion site: An American expat in Oaxaca reports on the failure of the government to address the needs of indigenous ... [Continue reading this entry]