Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Summer Reading List

Here is my summer reading list: (well, I'll probably finish them in a week, but anyway...)

"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. (I already started this one--very good--she and her family go live on a farm and only buy food raised in their own neighborhood or grow it themselves)

"Daughter of the Killing fields" by Theary C. Seng (about Cambodia)

"The Lost" by Daniel Mendelsohn (a geneology/holocaust story that takes place in Ukraine)

"A Woman Alone: Travel Tales From Around the Globe" (I already started this one too--makes me want to travel!!!)

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Today I went to a job talk for the geography department given by Jason VanHorn (from Ohio State University) on "Geovisualizing Terror: The Geography of Terrorism"

He used his cartographic expertise to create various GSI models of possible terrorism targets and also matched those to the perceived places of terror threat (through a survey given to Ohio residents) along with a lot of other junk I didn't really understand. What i did understand is that businesses (shopping malls to be precise) are definitely a vulnerable place, both perceived and actual in the Ohio region...

It was a whole new discourse for me (unfortunately probably not so new for our government) and I couldn't help but just laugh at the absurdity of it all throughout his entire presentation. All these mathmatical models, all this "expertise" and yet so very very much to be questioned...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The life of 'Sandra' Faoutas

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sandra Faoutas

Woman of Secrets who Shares my Name

You died this morning.
Patient mystery woman of loneliness, love, and hardship
You never knew your birth place
or your birthday
You never laughed with siblings
Your mother died when you were young
Your father disowned you
You spent most of your days in the shadows
mothering, serving, caring.

You used to always ask me what I wanted for breakfast the night before
How frustrated you made me!
You were a planner, a perfectionist.
But I loved your toast grilled in olive oil,
I loved your beautiful smile,
I loved the smell of your blue robe,
and taking long walks on the beach with you.

Your birth name was Sara, just like me.
Did you know that I am like you in many ways?
I too am secretive, mysterious, a contrarian.
Like you, I often live in the shadows.
I too eloped with the man I loved.
A man like your Teddy in many ways.
You smiled at my husband the last time I ever saw you.
We all wondered if he reminded you of your own Mediterranean love.
Who were you woman of secrets, who shares my name?

You died this morning.
Patient mystery woman of loneliness, love, and hardship.
Did God call out to you gently "Sara" or "Sandra"?
Did you recognize your mother, was your real father revealed?
Did Teddy pull up to you in a rowboat and offer you a ride to paradise?

Woman of secrets, who shares my name.
Up in heaven your identity is finally known.
Down on earth, you left us a lifetime of mysteries to explore.
Maybe, just maybe, you didn't want us to forget you.
And we won't.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Beautiful words from travelers, explorers, and wanderers

"The desert, like a powerful magnet, changes those who come within its field. Many travelers have felt it to be an almost mystical experience; others, a challenge to their humanity, to their very survivability. Some have found peace, some despair. Others have created from inner resources monuments of literature, philosophy, and religion. Perhaps the desert is no more than a magnifying lens, something that enables man to write large whatever he truly is."
William B. Polk and William J. Mares

"The world is only a tolerable place because of the empty places in it--millions of people all crowded together, fighting and struggling, but behind them, somewhere, enormous, empty places. I tell you what I think," he said, "when the world's filled up, we'll have to get hold of a star. Any star. Venus, or mars. Get hold of it and leave it empty. Man needs an empty space somewhere for his spirit to rest in."
Doris Lessing 1919

"It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful county lies in between."
Diane Ackerman 1948

"How hard it is to escape from places. However carefully one goes they hold you--you leave bits of yourself fluttering on the fences--little rags and shreds of your very life."
Katherine Mansfield 1888-1923

"....once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers...the mind can never break off from the journey."
Pat Conroy 1945

"....I think about all the different ways we leave people in the world. Cheerily waving goodbye to some airports, knowing we'll never see each other again. Leaving others on the side of the road, hoping that we will."
Amy Tan, 1952

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Places I have been..places I would like to go..

Places I have been:

Places I would like to go
South Africa
Czech Republic
Costa Rica
Galapogos Islands
New Zealand

Friday, October 13, 2006

We get the life, you get the debt

I recently watched a film by Stephanie Black called "Life and Debt." The film looks at how Jamaicans are struggling to survive due to US and other foreign economic agendas. The president of Jamaica was forced to sign the country's first IMF loan in 1977. As part of the IMF agreement, they had to lower tariffs and open up the country to foreign trade. US goods (often heavily subsidized by our government) starting flooding the Jamaican market and the local industries could not compete with the cheap US prices. The film shows a milk company that had to go out of business because it could not compete with the cheap price of powered milk coming into the country. The film also showed Free Trade Zones (usually foreign garment manufacturing companies) where employees worked 10 hour days, 5 to 6 days a week for $30.00! On NPR this morning, there was a discussion about economic problems in Africa that revolved around the same issue--the local economies in Africa can't compete with the cheap goods coming from the US and Europe.

Not only are we destroying local economies all over the world, but (in my opinion) the goods that we are flooding these countries with are inferior and unhealthy (e.g., powdered milk vs. fresh local milk, frozen chickens pumped with chemicals vs. fresh locally raised chickens, McDonalds vs. homemade mom and pop vendor food, cheap clothes made from cheap synthetic materials, vs. beautiful hand-stiched locally made clothes from 100% wool, leather, cotton), not to mention the stuff we export to these countries that we would never touch ourselves (low grade meat products).

It is depressing.