Friday, October 31, 2008

National Blog Posting Month

Oh yeah, I'll be doing National Blog Posting month. This means that for 30 days straight I will post every single day on my blog. My hope is to keep the level of 'professionalism' that I've attempted to strive for on this blog. By professionalism, I basically mean I'm not going to tell you long meaningless stories about how my day was, cause really I don't care and I'm pretty sure the blogging world doesn't care. Besides, this isn't a journal (I already have one of those) and it's main aim is to share my thoughts on our culture: life, books, movies, photography, art, music, and even food when the notion so crosses my mind.

Alrighty then: I'll see you right here every day for the next 30 days! (Though my schedule means that checking this will likely have to happen at night since that is when i have the most time.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Missing Morroco...

I miss Morocco more than I ever expected I would. While it was a challenging experience (It was the first country I visited that had a native language that I could not speak), I would never have traded it for the world. The food, the colors, the people. They all hold a special place in my heart.
It is only lately that I have found a way to remember this beautiful place without just going through my pictures yet again.
An American woman named Maryam writes a blog called My Marrakesh in which she writes poetically about her life living in the city she loves. I recommend visiting her blog for some gorgeous pictures and beautiful words.
For now, here's some of my memories of Morocco:

Hope of Children


Mint tea at the Port of Tangier

I will cherish many of my experiences...

...The bright and joyful colors of Morocco...

...The cats sleeping on every corner...

...The plants that grew out of stone...
The sunsets that put everything in perspective...

...The barriers I was forced to break through...And the beauty on the other side...

...The knowledge that a simple flower can make crumbling walls beautiful.

I think I gained a part of myself I never knew I had through my Morrocan experiences. And I left a part of my heart with those friends I left behind. For more photos of my time in Morocco, see my Flickr site.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Eating pizza for breakfast..

What can I say? I'm fairly lazy these days. Even though I've vowed several times in the past few months to start making more of my own food and stop going out to eat so much, I sometimes cannot help myself.
For example, after sleeping in with the boy, we both got hungry at the same time and decided to get up (I admit it) at about 1:30 pm. After debating, we head to Cracker Barrel for an affordable yet filling breakfast and some of their always-fresh coffee. Sadly, the wait was 30+ minutes long and our stomachs could not stand the delay. Instead we headed to Silver Diner, hoping that they wouldn't have drawn so big of an after-church crowd (churches are lazy here...apparently they don't get out until late in the afternoon).
Let me just pause and explain Silver Diner. Though it is a very corporate and flashy place, they tend to have some really unique ideas on food. Case in point: The boy ordered Maryland Crabcake Benedict. He found it delicious, though almost too sweet (which can happen with crab). He pumped it up with some hot sauce and was quite satisfied. They have several twists on American diner classics (like the egg's benedict and omelettes). My best description would be: 'Classic diner fare with 21st century flavor'. Good, no?
I love the omelettes (and the biscuits are slowly improving, too) and that is where my eyes first fell. Until our waitress pointed out a monthlong special: "Blueplate '08." Does this seem oddly like a campaign slogan? Well I think that was the point. For the month of October Silver Diner, a company based only in Virginia and Maryland, offers two unique omelette variations:
"Obamalette - Inspired by the candidate's favorite hometown food, Chicago deep dish pizza, the Obamalette is filled with basil, mozzarella, tomatoes, onions and sausage. Topped with parmesan cheese and served with marinara sauce, home fries and a biscuit."
"McCainlette - Indicative of the candidate's home state of Arizona, as well as his favorite way to cook, Barbeque, the McCainlette combines sweet BBQ chicken, cilantro, onions, peppers, and jack cheddar. Served with a side of salsa, home fries and a biscuit."
The interesting part of this promotion is that Silver Diner tallies up the number of votes (orders) for each candidate (omelette) and posts them online every night. At the end of the promotion on Oct. 29, Silver Diner will make a prediction on the presidential campaign. So far Obama is leading with 1,026 votes (orders) to McCain's 485. Which did I order? Well, the temptation to eat 'pizza' for breakfast was too tempting. And I was well rewarded. While the Obamalette was not overly out of the ordinary (mozzarella is a little too bland for me), the marinara sauce was fantastic. Combining that with the omelette brought the dish to a whole new level and complemented everything perfectly.

Don't forget to read my other blogging project with Janelle for what this experience reminded me of.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

For the love of a dog...

If you have ever tried to rent a house, you know how hard it is to find one that allows you to have a pet. For me it's twice as hard. Why? Because I try to find places where I can live with the pit bulls that I dream of adopting from the SPCA (like Puddin', a hyper, brindle female, at left). The least-regulating place I could find near where I worked had only 1 exception: No pit bulls. They don't care if you have giant dogs or tiny poodles, as long as it's not that single breed, you're okay. And in my area, pit bulls are always in the news, spiking last summer with the dogfighting case against Michael Vick (The case that put pit bulls on the front page ; Loving Vick's Pits). To me, this is just wrong. It borders on discrimination, only its a dog so I guess it doesn't warrant concern.

I'm sorry, but I'm tired of telling people that my favorite dogs to work with at the SPCA are pit bulls (they are actually either Staffordshire Bull Terriers or American Staffordshire Bull Terriers) and having them stare at me like I'm crazy. I'm tired of hearing that all pit bulls should automatically be put down. It's just stupid.

I'll be the first to say that dogs can be dangerous, especially when trained to be so. Most people get dogs for all the wrong reasons, refuse to train or control their dogs, or even specifically train their dogs to kill. But you can NOT label an entire breed as demon-dogs or dangerous. What you should be doing is actually punishing those people who are the cause of these problems. Why did this Neglectful Owner who starved his 16 pit bulls into being aggressive not get charged? Why is Michael Vick only getting a few months in jail for his involvement and funding of a dogfighting ring?

The funny thing about this 'man-killing, dangerous' breed is that they were originally meant to protect humans from bulls. The muscular bodies, heavy skulls and extra-strong jaws were designed by breeders to take on huge bulls and take them down when their owners were threatened. And it's this human-protecting instinct that caused the breed to also be so eager to please their owners. Which is why they are so easily trained to become killers, unfortunately. That is the real tragedy to me. In their quest to please their owners, they were willing to do something against their nature on command.

As a volunteer with the SPCA, I've had the opportunity to work with dozens of 'pit bulls.' It's that instinct to please that I've most noticed in these misunderstood, mistreated dogs.

For example, Charlegmagne (above) is a beautiful, white and brindle female Staffordshire Bull Terrier who got sick and depressed at the shelter so I got the chance to take care of her. I nicknamed her 'Charly,' (she is a girl, after all). She is so calm and loving. Her need to please is obvious. When I got ready to open her cage and I asked her to sit and stay. She did as she was told and accepted the peanut-butter treat (I totally recommend this kind, even dogs without an appetite will eat snacks with some peanut butter in them.) and daintly ate it. Then I got ready to take her outside for a walk. She was terrified of all the yapping dogs in the quarantine room but I was able to get her to walk outside (I've had to carry a few out because they get so scared). I sat down to rest while I waited for her to go to the bathroom and the next thing I know, this big, beautiful dog was completely curled up in my lap. She slept like that for a good 20 minutes snuggling her head into the crook of my arm, her legs almost falling off my lap onto the ground, light snores coming from her big snout. It was the worst part of my day to have to wake her up and walk her back into the shelter so I could finish my work with the others.

I challenge any person to spend five minutes with almost any pit bull at the shelter I work at and not walk away a lover of the breed. And it's ridiculous that I can't take one of these wonderful animals, like Charly, out of that scary and depressing environment just because of a stupid stereotype and uneducated regulations.