Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Last night, I was in a fight.
With my friend Annie and a punching mat.
Last night our Relief Society group hosted a self defense class. It was much more physical than I'd expected. We were punching, elbowing, kicking and making growling and hissing noises. Annie was my partner, and of her I'll just say that every time she wound up to deliver a blow, I wanted to run. Don't mess with her.
I don't think I worry more than the average woman about being attacked, but I do worry. Every time I walk to my car alone at night, I think about it. I feel a brief stab of fear, that could be me, every time I read about a lone woman being attacked.
I'm really proud of my bruise. I'll show you if you ask. Probably even if you don't. There was something very empowering in throwing those punches, so I threw them hard, and I liked it. It may be that I am getting old now and bruise more easily, but it also may be that I was KICKING SOME SERIOUS MAT.
Anyone know where I can find a used punching bag? I think I have some stored up aggression to get out. :-)
Sunday, February 13, 2011
I admit that I am more than a little tempted to rain on the parade and note that Mr Mubarak's departure guarantees nothing and that it is not unreasonable to fear a turn for the worse. There's a tiny, stability-loving Burke on my shoulder, and I'm afraid he's no devil. All the same, for now I'm not listening. Well, I did listen a little, but I've heard enough. It is partly due to my Burkean worries that I feel the pessimist in me should just stuff it for now. Whether or not Egypt flowers into a model democracy, whether or not Egyptians tomorrow live more freely than Egyptians today, today they threw off a tyrant. The surge of overwhelming bliss that has overtaken Egyptians is the rare beautitude of democratic will. The hot blush of liberation, a dazzled sense of infinite possibility swelling millions of happy breasts is a precious thing of terrible, unfathomable beauty, and it won't come to these people again. Whatever the future may hold, this is the happiest many people will ever feel. This is the best day of some peoples' lives. The tiny Dionysian anarchist on my other shoulder is no angel, but I cannot deny that there is something holy in this feeling, that it is one of few human experiences that justifies life—that satisfies, however briefly, our desperate craving for more intensity, for more meaning, for more life from life. Whatever the future holds, there will be disappointment, at best. But there is always disappointment. Today, there is joy.Others see this as a diplomatic masterpiece of the Obama administration:
At times I've been fairly critical of this president's handling of foreign policy, but credit must be given -- this Administration handled this situation about as deftly as possible. This was truly an American diplomatic tour de force.
From the beginning the White House was caught betwixt and between -- not wanting to be seen supporting the status quo, particularly when the winds of change seemed to be blowing in the direction of reform and yet at the same time not be seen as throwing a key ally under the bus.
And while obviously critics can point to individual mistakes ... on the whole this Administration did a really excellent job -- sending public signs that a crackdown would not be acceptable, working the military behind closed doors, trying to ensure a soft landing that wouldn't lead to violence, but still never backing down from the public position that an immediate transition to democracy (and not one in September) was the only acceptable course....
In a sense we helped throw Mubarak under the bus without directly delivering the push.
Monday, February 07, 2011
It is strange knowing that you, a mere teacher, have dictated how these students have passed their last few days of study and toil. You have determined the level of their stress, you have tried their hopes, multiplied their sorrows. Such a work and a wonder.
This weekend, however, I took the plunge and baked some bread from scratch. It was a huge success. The crust was soft, crispy, and flaky, with great flavor and a substantial crumb. It was golden brown and possessed a wonderful, meaty texture. In short, it turned out just like what you would expect from a fine artisan bakery. I did it all without any stress or rhythmic thumping. (I have several witnesses, and they are free to comment here and verify that this is all true. If they do not agree, of course, and did not like my bread, they are NOT invited to comment.)
So, after baking just one loaf, I have joined the baking elite.
I wish I could take credit for any of it. Here is the secret recipe, though, and the accompanying article. The trick has to do with time and baking procedures. To get the crispy crust, apparently all you need to do is bake the dough sealed in a big pot. The pot lid keeps the moisture in, thus keeping the crust dough wet (as everyone knows, this moisture is the key to that crispy crust that all good bread has). Also, if you let the dough rise for a long time, apparently you don't have to knead it at all.