Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cause of Suicide: Idiot Suffering

The students in my Death and Dying class just had to take an essay exam, and one of my students enigmatically wrote: "Buddhists believe that suicide is wrong; you should just accept life as it is now. If you kill yourself, you will just suffer more in your next life. They only permit suicide in the case of idiot suffering." Ok, the first part was true, straightforward, and definitely awarded her/him points. That last bit, though. WTF?!? At first I had no idea where the heck the student got that from, but then I remembered that the prof had babbled about how many people erroneously assume that Buddhists believe that people should endure all life's suffering, even in the case of abuse. My prof referred to this as "idiot compassion," and I think the English word "compassion" is the rough translation of "dharma," but I'm not sure.

It's amazing what students will write down. Clearly the prof was babbling. It was an aside, not meant to be written down. I love that scene in Almost Famous where the mother, an English prof, worried about her fifteen year old son, breaks down in front of a full lecture hall, and confesses that she thinks her son has been "kidnapped by rock stars." Most of the stunned class drops their pens and jaws, except for one girl, who dutifully writes down what the prof just said.

Hence, idiot suffering.

I do like that phrase; nice ring to it. Maybe I'll use it sometime, but I need to think of a good context.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Out of the Cereal Bowl and Into the Fire

Chris tells me that the weather guy on TV says that he thinks it won't rain again until the Monsoon. That would be July. Over 240 days. That's friggin' ridiculous. I decided not to go to Tulane, and I am certainly glad I chose ASU instead... but now I wonder if I've successfully avoided the waterlogging of all of my possessions only to have them consumed in a ravaging brush fire. Yes, I'm in hell.... but I'm loving it....

I had the girls over tonight for our Tuesday night dinners. Usually six of the girls in the dept get together to have dinner once a week, and this is the first time I've hosted (last semester I had a roommate). It was a lot of fun... people didn't leave until 10:15.... We had falafels. And wine. And Colleen made fudge. Mmmmmm. We love Colleen. So, yeah, just wanted to share that.

Anywho, I just found something odd on my computer. It was an old senior year AIM conversation between Ben and Jeff. It made me laugh. Read on (Me=Jeff):

me: This is God speaking
me: Stop reading that article RIGHT NOW
Ben: God, you have a lab report to do.
me: I just finished it, you unworthy peon
me: Don't make me smite you
Ben: Hmmmmm, "God is love" must have been mistranslated. It should have been "God should shut the hell up."
me: That Aramaic can be a bitch sometimes
me: HA! God catches your silly-putty attack!
Ben: You only THINK it's silly putty.
me: But I'm God... if I think it's silly putty it is...
Ben: damn
me: So, I think you're a blue chicken
Ben: moo
me: Yeah, that's right. Moo on, chicken boy.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Books You Must Read

Just a short list of (relatively) recent books that are EXCELLENT:

1. Monica Ali's Brick Lane
2. James Blinn The Aardvark Goes to War
3. Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner
4. Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible

Note: The first three books were amazing debut novels. But in order of preference, I would have to put Ali and Blinn before Hosseini in terms of just raw talent. If you like crazy military books (on the order of Slaughterhouse Five and Catch-22), you'll love Blinn... he adds some silly Po-mo stuff to it, but it's still amazing. Brick Lane, just read it. It's fantabulous. Jeff loved it too. The Poisonwood Bible should have ended sooner. The last hundred pages really diminished the awesomeness of the first four hundred pages of the book.

So, that's my short list of excellent books. I hope my standards were high enough. Of the four, I thought Hosseini's was weakest.

Now here's a list of books I intend to read that I heard were excellent:
Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake
Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex
Richard Russo's Empire Falls
Ian McEwan's Saturday
Anita Diamant's The Red Tent
Philip Roth's The Plot Against America
Christopher Wilson's Cotton

I am currently reading Amy Tan's Saving Fish From Drowning... once I finish, I'll have her entire work of fiction back under my belt. The Bonesetter's Daughter (which I hear they're making into a movie) was my favorite of all of her work.
I think I only have to read three more of Atwood's books to finish her entire fiction collection off... when I do, I put them in order of worst to best.... She just released a new book, a reworking of the Odyssey, so I have more reading to do).

Friday, July 29, 2005

Easy Recipes

I just hosted my first real dinner party, and I thought it was successful. I few of my friends want me to share my recipes, which aren't too hard. Most came from a Moosewood Home Collection Cookbook.

The easiest side dish was the broiled eggplant. I have time, so I'll post it here.

Take a medium to large eggplant (2 Asian eggplants) and slice them into half inch to one inch rounds. Sprinkle both sides of the slices with salt. Place a cooling rack over a cookie sheet, and lay the slices on the cooling rack. Let sit for 30 minutes. The purpose of the salt is to extract the bitterness of the eggplant, not to season. (Salt absorbs moisture... that's why people with high salt diets retain water... The salt will absorb the bitter juices of the eggplant, making the eggplant more palatable.... try it, it's great) You season later. After thirty minutes, you should see beads of moisture on both sides of the slices. Wipe with a paper towel.

Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil, remove the cooling rack, and place the slices on the cookie sheet.

Set your oven to broil (500 degrees F). Place the sheet in the oven, and broil the eggplant 7 to 12 minutes. Salt the eggplant. Eggplant without salt is a travesty. Add pepper if you want. It's good and oh so healthy just the way it is. The eggplant should be nicely browned (not too brown). Enjoy!!!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Water

So, I'm pretty certain my brothers will never read this blog. Once they do find it on the net, maybe they'll never read through the archives. This gives me the distinct opportunity to poke fun at the eccentricities of my seven beloved siblings. I have three older brothers--Joe, JR, and Chris--two biologicals and one step. I have four younger sisters---Mona, Mary-Lou, Cookie (Refugia is her real name), and Angel (which is her real name)-- one biological and three steps. The lovely thing about my siblings, is that they're all so wonderfully different. This affords me much material with which to work. In fact, I myself have carved out a niche in this sibling ecosystem. I am the archetype of dweeb, the goodie-goodie with the fancy college degree. I imagine they love me despite my pansiness.

So, anyway. JR (real name, George---all my brothers and sisters have aliases, I'm Dani). JR is a newly minted veteran of the second Gulf War. My Dad was a veteran of the first, but saw little action while he was over there. JR, however, was in the thick of things. He was wounded in an attack on his tank and went into shell shock. One of his compatriots didn't make it. JR's had many jobs in Iraq. He patrolled a major highway, he went on night missions to bust insurgents, he was engaged in humanitarian activities. JR saw a lot of combat.

So, fast forward to this past monday. JR is calling me from Fort Jackson, SC, where he's in school to be a recruiter. I asked him what he had done over the weekend.

"Nothing. Sat in bed all day."
"Awww. That doesn't sound fun. Were you sick?"
"No, just bored. There's nothing to do around here. I thought about going to the beach, but there's been a second shark attack."

I hadn't heard of the shark attacks, so I ask the relevent question. "Shark attacks? Where'd they happen?"
"Florida. The first one died. A fourteen year old blonde girl."

This bothered both of us in that weirdly overprotecting, paternalistic, much -older-siblings sort of way. We have a fourteen year old blonde sister, Angel.

"Man, that weirds me out. I just took Angel surfing at the beach."

The conversation then shifts to JR's surprise that Angel went surfing and then we go back to the shark attacks.

"I mean, I would have gone. I just didn't want to get killed by no shark. I mean, I went to Iraq and came back just fine. I mean, I was wounded, but not badly. But how dumb would it be to survive Iraq and get killed by a shark?"

Point taken.

But, later in the conversation, JR makes fun of potential recruits who are concerned about going over to Iraq. "They don't want to die, they say." He whines in a mocking voice. He is full of bravado. "I say, look at me. Look at me, man. I'm not dead. I went to Iraq, and I came back. You're not going to die."

Jeff Cramps My Style

So, I wanted to post something. But I rarely have any important thoughts. So, instead, I have decided to blather on about a pet peeve of mine:

Jeff's Messy Desk.

What is the opposite of ode? Because I wish to write "the opposite of an ode" (edo?) to Jeff's desk.

Oh, Desk.
How doth thou' entropy crampeth my style.
My chi doth greatly suffer from your kitschy collection of stuffs.
Why doth thou' have a giant desk?
Is it to taunt me?
Why doth it annoy me so?
It serves as a repository of bad taste and old bills.
His Christmas stocking presents--- we found them in his drawer.
I ate a Reese's peanut butter cup.
It annoyed me less that day, the desk.
Why? Why God?
Why doth he have an electronic "Rock N Roll Ernie" doll on his desk?
A ceramic turkey?
A paper airplane box calendar from last year?
I must know.
Because the zen garden of my desk must know why the harmony has been broken.
Our shared office, its energy malevolent.
Jeff thinks Feng Shui is a chinese swear word.
Feng shui to you, desk.
Feng shui to you.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Everyone Should Have A Sister

So, Angel's been visiting me for the last couple of weeks. This morning, I walked into her room to wake her up, and there she was lying on the floor in a rat nest of clothes and an aerosol can of air freshener. After nudging her, she muttered some stuff about burritos. She couldn't figure out how she ended up on the floor. "What's going on? I'm so confused."
My cactus that usually rests on the top of my guest room's TV was also lying on the ground next to her. She blames that on Quetzal the cat.
Ooh, boy. Never a dull moment.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Words I Hate

I hate the word "panty. " Future linguists, as a rule, must always be certain of which words they really despise. Jeff, for some odd reason, hates the word "therefore." He prefers "ergo." This morning, while we were lying in bed, I realized that I hate it when people throw in random latin phrases to sound important. Semper fi, et cetera, e pluribus unum. Even the freakin' dollar bill is a pretentious twat. Speaking of twat, I hate that word too. Goodnight, everybody.