Monthly Archives: May 2012

All Day Road Trip, Eternal Soapbox

By: Rachel Womek

Good News! Kiki and I have started our vaccination process! We will both need to get a few more shots in a month or two but it is nice to know that things are underway. My right arm is very sore and I’m feeling a little lethergic but otherwise O.K. While I’m not really a fan of vaccinations (and by that I mean the vaccine itself, Kiki is the one who doesn’t like needles)  Typhoid Fever doesn’t sound very fun. It was also worth the eight hours of travel to the ABQ and back if it means us getting one step closer to Cairo.

My head’s a bit groggy but I’ll attempt to write something comprehensive.

Today I am going to talk about briefly human sexuality, gender identity, and cultural perspectives on these topics. Today, in industrial western society, people are struggling to comprehend and categorize human sexuality, gender identities and gender roles. The answer is: There is no easy answer. These things are as diverse as individuals are, I would venture to say that each person has their own personal brand of sexuality and that no two are identical. In the words of Spock: “Infinite diversity, in infinite combinations”. There tend to be different categories that sexuality can fall into which can be helpful, to an extent, but of course these categories are very generalized . In Red blood, Red state, Red meat America only two forms of sexuality are recognized as acceptable: hetrosexual females who identify as females and hetrosexual males who identify as males. The rest of us recognize more although the number of varieties we recognize vary widely.

The practice of only recognizing heterosexual males and females only is actually rather new.  Many cultures today and historically have recognized different sexuality and different behaviors. Many cultures historically, and some today, recognize multiple genders, 3-5 rather than the two recognized in our western industrial society. Now gender identity and sexuality are not the same thing, although they can be interconnected, so it is important to also note that in different cultures a wide variety of sexual behaviors are accepted and practiced…what’s socially acceptable may vary.

Some places  that recognize 3 or more genders are: India, Pakistan, Thailand and Nepal. Many indigenous groups the world over also recognize  multiple genders. Historically Mayans, Egyptians, and Isrealis have also recognized gender diversity. In ancient Israel 6 genders were recognized!

Varied sexuality has also been recognized. In ancient Greece it was believed that originally there had been three sexes, each person was comprised of two individuals: either two males, two females, or one of each. Zeus grew angry because they were too prideful and punished them by splitting them in two. The two halves of one whole were forced to spend their lives searching for each other. This myth was the basic foundation of  belief regarding human sexuality.

One myth surrounding American culture is that America is built on the premise that “all ‘men’ are endowed…with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…”.  Unfortunately this myth apparently doesn’t apply to those who don’t fit into the boxes conveniently provided by conservative society.

Off the soapbox (for now).

By the way the views expressed in this blog are not journalistic in nature and should not be interpreted as such. They represent my personal opinion.

Categories: Adventure, Free Speech, GLBT, Life, Social Equity | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Facing Up To Our Inadequacies, Nerding Out and Looking To The Future, Or Why We Will Be Looking Out On The Nile Come September…

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Exciting news!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We just booked our rooms at a hostel in Cairo! So at least we have a place to stay for our first 10 days. Still have to see about an apartment. Wow! This is getting really real. A bit anxiety inducing, actually. And yet so so so exciting, fantastic and (dare I use the most annoying word ever?) awesome!

We are going to do our goals today because we may not be able to tomorrow. So here we go…

Kiki:

Sadly, I have gone back to my old ways. The only goal I accomplished this week was number 2: watch a movie. Actually, true to form, I watched several movies. I sat through Mrs. Winterbourne (saw it when it first came out in 1996 during my Brendan Fraser phase). I also rectified one of my great failures as an 80s child, which is to say I finally saw St. Elmo’s Fire. And here’s a fun SEF fact: Andrew McCarthy isn’t just love obsessed Kevin he is also a very decent travel writer. Other movies watched this week because apparently I have no life: SerenityStealth, South Pacific and The Birds.

Oh. I studied a little Arabic. I can recite the alphabet and the words “pretty” “coffee” and “hotel.”

New Goals:

1) Read a novel and a book relevant to my trip 2) Call the visa people 3) Watch a movie 4) Not Panic 5) Finish 1984 

Rachel:

I didn’t do too hot on my goals this week. Shockingly I have not read a single book this past week! Very uncharacteristic for me! Instead I watched season 4 of Enterprise (Worst season finale ever! Very unsatisfactory and I am unhappy with the outcome for one of my favorite characters) and played Skyrim. I also watched two really crappy SciFi (I refuse to spell it with Y’s) original movies: Dinocroc VS Supergator and Malibu Shark Attack. They were supposed to be B Horror but it was more like D Horror! I applied for two positions so 50% accomplishment there. Finally I have not posted new photos but I have some I need to upload so expect that for the future.

New Goals:

1) Read a book 2) Watch a movie 3) Upload photos for the blog 4) Blog about GLBTQ issues as per the request of a follower

Joint Goals:

1) Study Arabic 2) Get Vaccinated

Categories: Adventure, Books, Goals, Job Hunting, Life, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy And Sad News, Haiku And Two Grievances, Or Why We Are Cranky…

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

The results of the Egyptian election have come in and the results are disappointing for some. The choices are the Brotherhood’s Mursi and former PM Shafiq. The future might be bleak for Egypt. Here’s Richard Engel’s analysis of what could happen if either man is elected. He doesn’t really see much of a silver lining.

Sadly, there was another deadly attack in Syria today. Ninety-two people were killed, 32 of which were children. This is the deadliest attack since the peace plan took affect April 12, 2012. According to Al Jazeera, the Free Syrian Army will no longer abide by the ceasefire if the UN does not take “urgent steps for the protection of civilians.” Ban Ki-moon and Kofi Annan have officially condemned the attacks in “the strongest possible terms,” said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky. Here is the Al Jazeera report. And here is Engel’s report of NBC Nightly News.

In happier news my (Rachel’s) middle brother graduated from High School earlier this week! New Mexico has a shockingly bad school system: I believe the graduation rate is about 63%. The school my brother went to is the best charter school in the state with a 97% graduation rate. The school centers their learning around the arts. My brother graduated as a Culinary Artist and won an award for culinary excellence as well as an award for the biggest comeback: going from very poor behavior and grades to the top Culinary Artist in his school. Congratulations Arthur! 

 

Silver safety pins

Ornament the tassled cap.

May graduation.

 

In light of world events, the following is no doubt frivolous and silly. However, Rachel and I are sitting here in one of our local bookstores stewing in annoyance. We are annoyed for different reasons. I am annoyed at the couple with a baby. Normally, I’d be annoyed at the baby, but right now all I think is that poor kid doesn’t stand a chance. The kid is old enough to walk, but is unsteady. He’s still in diapers. Still requires a stroller. He is remarkably well behaved. The child wandered a bit, but was close enough and wary enough that he did not move beyond his parents reach. The mother told the little boy to “come here.” The child, a bit distracted by all the things around him stayed where he stood. Again, with in his mother’s easy reach. The father (I assume) stood up, picked up the child, hit him and lectured him. Now, I’m no expert, but in my, admittedly limited experience, a child that young does not understand much of what is being said to him. And he didn’t deserve to be hit. Now that man has right to raise his child as he sees fit and I’m not objecting to reasonable discipline for a wrong action. By the violence with which the man spoke to kid and the force he used to pick him up and hit him seemed way out of proportion for the situation.  I mean, I was a bit scared for the kid. The guy was obviously frustrated and upset about something, but that’s no reason to act that way. He could have easily hurt the little boy. And if he overreacts to something so small what’s to say he won’t really hurt the kid next time. The whole thing reminded me of those people who kick their dogs. The lady, though, upset me more. What was her reply? A very nice, “Thank you, baby!” Thank you? Really? Really? 

That bothers me (Rachel) too. I don’t condone any violence; especially not violence towards children or animals. 

Another thing that is bothering me is the name of one of the blended coffee drinks in the establishment we are currently patronizing. They are selling a blended coffee drink they are calling a “Spicy Buddha”. This bothers me because I know that no establishment in this country; at least not one as widespread as this one would ever dare to offend the major religion in this country and create a “Spicy Jesus” drink, but they have no such compunctions about a less mainstream religion. In my view if an establishment is going to make light of religious figures they should do so equally. Maybe a Spicy Buddha and a Funky Jesus? Or, probably the wisest course, they should steer clear of any such references. 

Categories: Elections, Free Speech, Journalism, Life, Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Egypt’s Presidential Election Matters And Other Important News, Or Why I’ve Become An Obsessive…

By Kiki Keane 

History is being made as I write. Egyptians have spent the last two days voting in their first free presidential elections. Ever. Why is this important? Well…the elections have the potential to change Egypt and the Middle East and have huge implications for the U.S. and Israel. Here is an analysis by Richard Engel of who is running and why the elections matter to us. I wish I were there to witness this historical event, but I will have to content myself with obsessive news gathering…

Here are some reports about the elections from CNN, MSNBC and Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera – latest news and has lots of links to other stories about the elections

CNN –has some interesting videos toward the bottom

MSNBC — Most of these are by Richard Engel: Egypt at a crossroads , Voters head to the pulls, Election makes history, Richard Engel’s interview with Carter, Politics is a new family affair

In other news: 

Iran nuclear talks

Vegas grocer accused of war crimes sent to Bosnia

Syria violence spreads to Lebanon

Inside Syria

Drone strike hits Mosque, kills 10 in Pakistan 

Categories: Adventure, Elections, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Promised Pictures

By: Rachel Womek

Here they are already!

The shots of birds were taken with a Canon Powershot SD1400 IS.

 

 

 

 

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Scott Bakula, Productivity, Something That Rhymes With Bob, Goals, Or Why We May Go Crazy This Week…

By: Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

We are back! Like genital warts, you just can’t get rid of us! What have we been up to? I (Rachel) have been applying for a new rhymes with “bob”, watching shows about food and fantasizing about Scott Bakula. (What’s this Scott Bakula? You’ve brought me bacon flavored ice cream? My hero!). And I (Kiki) have been feverishly reading, watching TV, sleeping and eating my weight in popcorn (with lots of butter and parmesan cheese). I was, however, somewhat productive trip wise. I made an appointment to get our shots for the upcoming trip. We will have to drive about 4 hours to get to the clinic, but I guess that’s the price one pays to get inoculated against yellow fever and typhoid. Rachel is apprehensive about getting such shots, but I (Kiki) would rather get shot up with the vaccine than die that terrible death. I (Rachel) am apprehensive about getting several vaccinations at once, but I’ll suck it and just die a terrible death from vaccine reaction instead of a terrible death in Egypt. Is one death worse than another? I suppose it’s preference. For example, Kiki would much rather die by gunfire than drown.

It is also goal day!

Kiki:

What did I accomplish? Far more than I usually do, I am happy to report. I finished two books, though neither of them were trip relevant. However, I have started two trip relevant books, so that makes up for it, right? Right? I watched three movies, all of which I am embarrassed to admit that I’ve watched (Leap YearHead Over HeelsLook Who’s Talking). I also called the vaccine place and made an appointment. So, I guess I rocked this week! I have, however, panicked more than once and forgot to call about the visas.

New Goals:

1) Finish a fictional book and a book relevant to my trip 2) Watch a movie 3) Call the visa people 4) Not panic 5) Finish 1984

Rachel:

I did moderately well on my own goals. I read Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore and One Good Dog by Susan Wilson. No more sappy dog based fiction for me! I took some pictures for the blog. I’ll get them up tomorrow. I put up Haiku on the blog. I have been slacking a little on Kiora’s trick but she has had several good sessions last week. I applyed for two postions today. Hurray! It wasn’t one of my goals but I also watched one film this week: Inception. It was very good, I should have watched it sooner.

New Goals: 1) Read two more books 3) Watch one movie 4)Apply for 4 positions 5) Post lots of photos on the blog

Joint Goals:

We studied Arabic! Maybe not as much as we should have, but certainly more than we have in the past.

New Goals:

1) Study Arabic Rigorously

Categories: Adventure, Books, Goals, Job Hunting, Life, Nerd, Photography, Uncategorized, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Uncooperative Roadrunner, Technical Difficulties And What We’re Thinking About, Or Rachel’s Little Rain Cloud…

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

We are writing this blog at my Kiki’s house for the very first time. Normally we head to a bookstore or coffee shop, but today Kiki’s family is out of town and so we can write in peace. Currently, however, Rachel is preoccupied with trying to take a picture of an uncooperative Roadrunner. Yes, I was chasing that little brat around the backyard. He wouldn’t leave but he kept hiding behind things so that I could not get a good shot of him. I could almost here him say: “Meep, Meep!”

And out she runs again! The elusive Roadrunner has flown into the tree. If it had branches, Rachel would be climbing it. She wound-up getting a few shots. Maybe she’ll post them later.

I (Rachel) seem to recall promising such a thing; that is posting a few pictures for you, Constant Readers.

We seem to be experiencing a bit of technical difficulties on the link between the blog and Kiki’s facebook account, which is unfortunate. Computer wizards we are not.

We’ve decided to blog about the things we have been thinking about when we are not consumed with our day-to-day living. Kiki will go first.

Kiki:

I was reading The Marriage Plot today, which to me seems a lot like Frazen’s Freedom, which is to say that it is a big book that tries very hard to say something and ends up saying nothing at all. Anyway, there is one character, Mitchell, I think, who seems to have very little going for him. He is graduating during a recession, he has a dubious degree (religious studies) and has just messed things up (again!) with his crush. The only thing he has to look forward to is his trip to India with his friend. My immediate thought was, OMG! That’s me! (except for the crush part and also the fact that his professor is willing to help him get into a good grad school…). My second thought was, Why can’t I just be excited with my impending trip? Why do have to have cheapen the adventure with thoughts of failure and terrible images of me coming back to this stifling pit of hell with my proverbial tail between my legs. So that’s what I’ve been thinking about all day. Well, that and why the heck wasn’t I born rich?

Rachel:

I don’t have too much to say. I am tired and not in the most joyous of moods. I am having one of those rain cloud types of days, like in the cartoons where the little cloud hangs over their heads. Suffice it to say that something that rhymes with “bob” sucks. Perhaps I will embark on a brand new career opportunity as a Rock Engineer or Rock Cleaning Champion.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Life, Nerd, Photography, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Book, Some Minor Accomplishments and Some News, Or Why I Prefer Social Media (It Involves Pajamas)…

By Kiki Keane

Finally got my new Arabic book. I’m hoping the CD is better than the other one and that in combo with my Rosetta Stone I will be speaking like a pro soon (haha!). At the very least, I hope I can have a basic conversation.

Feeling a bit accomplished today. I finished two books (FINALLY!) and started another. The new one is called The Berlin-Baghdad Express by Sean McMeekin. I’m hoping I’ll get it done by this time next week along with the Abbott, Stark bio and du Maurier’s Echoes of the Macabre.

In an effort to remedy my sad, sad neglect of the news, I have spent hours reading and watching the news. Here are a few bits from Al Jazeera that I’ve found interesting:

DRC

Saudi Arabia and Iran

US House approves use of force as Iran option

Head of UN mission in Syria “pessimistic”

Can’t remember if I posted this before or not, but what the heck… Here is a piece from The Atlantic from last year about the uprisings in China after the Arab Spring.

Here is a story from this months Atlantic, which asks if social-media is making us lonely. I disagree except for the narcissism part, but who am I to say? I’ve never been a particularly social creature and would much rather interact via computer/phone screen than in person. It’s less taxing and I can stay in my pjs…

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A Few Haiku

By: Rachel Womek

 

“God bless you” they say

As I sneeze repeatedly.

Allergy season.

 

Crickets and frogs sing

A discordant melody.

Warm evening breeze.

 

Blazing Summer Sun.

The ebony Basenji

Steals every gold ray.

 

 

Categories: Life, Nerd | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Books, Pakistan and Mr. Cooper, Or I Can’t Think Of Anything To Write So You’re Stuck With This…

By Kiki Keane

So. It’s my turn to blog… I wish I had something to blog about, but I’m afraid my days have been filled with nothing more than CSI and a couple of books, which I have not finished.

Books. Now that’s an exciting topic! Unless you’re not in to that sort of thing, in which case this blog post will be very boring.

The Snow Child is my book clubs pick of the month. I don’t hate it, but I’m not overly fond of it. I loved the story as a kid and the opera is pretty bad ass, too, if I remember right. But I’ve never understood the desire to procreate (I get the act of procreation, but not actually wanting to spawn another living thing), which is a major part of the plot for both the fairytale and the novel. An older couple wants but can’t have child. One night they build one out of snow and the next day there she is–the snow child. Anyway, since I don’t really get the major desire of the leading characters I don’t really get or care about what follows and I don’t really care about them. Maybe to harsh. I haven’t finished so maybe I’ll change my mind…

Getting Off by Lawrence Block (as Jill Emerson) is a racy contemporary noir published by Hard Case Crime. It’s about a young woman who murders all the men she sleeps with. It’s an easy read and little bit twisted.

Passionate Nomad is a biography about Freya Stark who was an intrepid, intelligent adventurer/traveller/explorer and a pretty good writer, too. She is one of my heros and I hope to be a fraction of the woman she was.

Queenpin by Megan Abbot is a hardboiled story of relationships between grifters. I really enjoyed one of Abbot’s other books Die A Little. Queenpin is promising so far.

I haven’t really been keeping a close on the news this week. Don’t really know why. I think it’s just to hot here in the desert to turn the TV/computer/phone on. Who needs the extra heat? Promise to rectify that, though, if only for my own benefit.

Richard Engel was on Rachel Maddow tonight. I didn’t get to see it at the time, but I have a clip! It’s about a new deal from Pakistan to re-open supply routes for NATO to Afghanistan. Pretty interesting stuff.

Rachel blogged about pet peeves yesterday. I have a lot of them, but my current one is this: people who comment on something someone says without actually hearing what they are saying. Case in point: Anderson Cooper recently did a piece that calls into question one specific instance of the “War On Women.” There were a number of people who seem to think that he said that there is no war on women. He never said that. He’s simply questioning this single incident.

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