Friday, March 25, 2011

Cesar Chavez day

I don't remember celebrating Cesar Chavez day in California when I was an undergrad a decade ago. I don't know if that's because it's a holiday that was more recently adopted, or because it's just not a holiday that was celebrated at 'tech. They do celebrate at UCSD, which I suppose is unsurprising given it's a state school.

I didn't mind the day off, and I don't think it was a bad thing for Derrick either, given he's been a little under the weather and resistant to taking a day off to recuperate (funny thing about people who truly love what they do--it's hard to get them to take a day off, even when they should!). Yesterday Derrick was explaining the upcoming holiday to his parents, and then complained a bit about it. His complaint (which I sort of agree with) is that it's silly to have a bunch of holidays celebrating different civil rights leaders.

I completely agree that we should have a day set aside to celebrate all the different civil rights movements that have done so much to benefit all the non-white, male, propertied people in the country. But having a day dedicated to Martin Luther King ignores all the other people who worked toward black civil rights in the '60s and ignores the other civil rights movements that have shaped this country. It ignores the emancipation of blacks, which was arguably a more important rectification of the mismatch between the ideals of the constitution and the actual practice of law. When asked to speak on the 4th of July, Frederick Douglass said,

I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine.

The founding fathers were visionary men, who recognized the existence of inalienable rights, granted not by virtue of the whim of a ruler, but as natural rights all men deserved. Unfortunately, their definition of men extended only to white men who owned property. Blacks, native Americans, women, and members of basically any other group were denied this "inalienable rights." The battle--and it was a battle--to extend the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights was long-fought and had to be re-fought for every separate group in some way. Many, many people sacrificed time, money, and effort working to convince those who enjoyed the privilege of the Bill of Rights to extend those rights to others.

From that standpoint, it seems silly to privilege the civil rights efforts of the '60s, and even more silly to recognize only one or two of the men (and none of the women) who worked so long and so hard for the ideals of freedom. It also seems a worthwhile exercise to consider how different the rights provided by the Bill of Rights were in the early 1800's compared to our interpretation of them today.

So, Derrick mentioned Cesar Chavez day to his parents, and was a bit dismissive of it, basically because he thinks it silly to have a day for each civil rights movement. Really, if we were to memorialize each one, or each leader, with a holiday, our calendar would be littered with days commemorating civil rights. His parents agreed--a little overmuch. His dad said something like, "I don't see why we have any civil rights holidays."

To which I responded, "That's because you're a white male. You've never had to worry about civil rights."

That may be one of my best conversation-enders yet.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Potty time II (REALLY maybe)

Friday one of Sylvia's teachers mentioned Sylvia is very interested in going to the bathroom with her classmates. We had a conversation in front of her in which we agreed that Sylvia isn't really ready for potty training.

So of course, when we got home, Sylvia went to the bathroom, all by herself. While Derrick and I were getting dinner ready, Sylvia disappeared and, a few minutes later, we heard her giggling in the bathroom. We made a big deal out of how wonderful it was and gave her panties to wear. She peed on the floor a little--we figured she'd pulled off her diaper and not gotten on the toilet quite quickly enough.

The next morning Sylvia peed in the potty successfully again, though again there were also some wet spots on the floor. A couple of hours later I discovered why. It turns out my daughter doesn't so much pee *in* the toilet is pee *from* the toilet. While I watched, she launched her pee across the bathroom, hitting everything from the floor in front of her to the open door opposite her. When I tried to tell her to pee down, she just shifted such that instead of hitting the linoleum, she was peeing toward the carpeted hallway--and my foot. I was so horrified, and yet trying so hard not to laugh I couldn't move for fear of peeing my own pants.

I think potty training is going to take a while.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I've heard a couple of stories on NPR claiming people in the US are worried radiation from Japan is going to make it over here. The strange thing to me is that the couple of scientists I've heard respond haven't laughed in the faces of those who are worried. Perhaps I'm just mean, but if someone seriously suggested radiation from JAPAN was going to harm me here in CALIFORNIA, I'd probably question their knowledge of geography. There is an entire ocean, and not a small one, separating the two countries. Knowledgeable people tell us radiation isn't likely to be a serious hazard for most of Japan, never mind the US.

The self-centeredness of the worry too--the workers at the nuclear plant are legitimately risking their health and possibly their lives, there are more than a billion people who are much, much closer to Japan than we are, and we're worried about our risk?

I'm not sure I should even link this for fear of spreading misinformation. Lest you wonder, initially I thought this report on Faux news was a parody. While one of my professors in college taught us it was possible some animals, especially those living underground, might be able to sense imminent earthquakes a few minutes out, there's no credible reason to think we can seriously predict an earthquake days in the future based on animal behavior. That geologist is crazy--I want to see his statistics on the whale beaching-earthquake connection, though apparently the anecdotal info is good enough for the Fox newscaster.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Boy, oh boy

Sylvia's getting a brother for her birthday.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Far Foster's

Yesterday was the Alumi baseball game at 'tech, and since we're finally relatively close, Derrick took the opportunity to go play. Since we headed north during strawberry season, we also took time to pick up some donuts at the Donut man (which, for some reason, we called Far Foster's while at 'tech). Those donuts were one of the best things about spring during college. Of course, we had to introduce our daughter to the wonder and grace of the strawberry donut.

We got to campus about an hour and a half before Derrick needed to get ready, so we wandered around some, visiting the DNA pool (which Sylvia wanted to swim in) and Millikan (which Sylvia also wanted to swim in), and Throop (which Sylvia might have wanted to swim in, but was getting used to my telling her no, so she didn't really try. She did, however, want to investigate the turtles and fish).

We headed over to the game around noon. Derrick warmed up while I entertained Sylvia. We eventually got hungry, and Sylvia was tired, so we wandered to Trader Joe's, where Sylvia napped and I bought snacks, and then came back and watched the game. Or parts of it, anyway. Sylvia mostly wanted to see her dad, and wanted to go out on the field with him (not the safest thing with fast-moving balls and sticks around). We did see a couple of his at bats, and a few fun plays. I'm sure the team usually beats the alums, but these guys seemed like a good bunch of baseball players--kinda more serious than the ones I remember at 'tech.

After the game we went out to Burger Continental with the alums and coaches, where Sylvia socialized quite a bit, pretty well monopolizing the time of one guy in particular, who I think she kind of had a crush on. It was pretty cute.

The donuts were still awesome this morning :)

Friday, March 11, 2011


Apparently I'm missing out on a tsunami this morning. Derrick might get to see part of the aftermath, but since he biked in to work, he probably missed the majority of it as well. It's not likely to be very large--the highest measured heights so far are in the less than 2-m range, and that's much closer to the epicenter in Japan. Japan, however, is a different story entirely. Around here I'm guessing it'll be more like 1 m or less. So, a very high tide that might impact some of the houses that are close to the beaches, but anything up on the cliffs (like Scripps) is going to be just fine.

On a completely different note, this morning Sylvia looked at me while I was getting dressed and called me "big butt." Derrick laughed (the stinker) so for the next five minutes I heard a lot about my big butt.

I don't think it looks THAT big.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Potty time! (maybe)

I've sporadically worked with Sylvia on going potty in the toilet basically since we got to San Diego. I admit, I haven't worked all that hard on it because, well, I just don't care enough. I don't feel like making my life miserable just to teach my kid how to go in the toilet. While I'm jealous of women whose children are already potty trained, I figure my kid will figure it out in due time.

Anyway, one of the kids (a boy) at Sylvia's daycare is potty training, and apparently today she went into the boy's bathroom while the other potty-trained girls were being helped by the teacher, took off her pants and diaper, and peed in the "froggy potty." She even told me about it when I came to get her, and was justifiably proud of her accomplishment. Maybe we just need a toilet she thinks is cool and she can use on her own.

I can dream, anyway.

Friday, March 4, 2011


One of the things about California that seems craziest to me is that people pay so very much for housing. Sure, people make more, but they then spend WAAAY more on everything, especially housing. I don't remember where I saw it unfortunately, but here in SD something like 53% of households spend more than 30% of their income on housing. I'm not surprised, though. We spend just about 30%, and we're in about the cheapest place we could find. We also make pretty close to the median income, which means half of households in SD earn less than us. If we're just about where we should be, but living in one of the cheapest places around, it's not surprising the half of San Diegoans earning less than us can't find housing that consumes less than 30% of their income.

I really wish this info was broken up geographically, but here's an article showing how housing prices have changed, adjusted for inflation, since 1890. The depression shows up nicely, as does the post WWII boom, but the interesting thing is, the long-term average hasn't changed much. Like I said, it'd be nice to see this broken down regionally, but the take-home message is this: home prices are pretty well set by income. The bad part of that is housing prices are still 15-20% too high.