Saturday, April 18, 2009

springing forth

Friends! Spring has been here just a few short weeks...and I couldn't be happier. Some snapshots of what spring in East Asia looks like...

The poor trees! The spring wind blew them so far sideways. Our city is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, so it's like living in a constant wind tunnel. Yay?

This picture is pretty blurry, but at the same time it's just so quintessentially Jena...

Umbrellas upon umbrellas after an unexpected late March snowfall!

Happy Gerber daisies outside of my favorite coffee shop in the main square.

Friends really enjoy dressing alike. I personally am enjoying their coordinating high top pink Converses! Who wants to go in with me on matching Converses?!

A couple weeks ago, we visited a different city, and my friend ordered us these. Snails. Ummm...right. I've done scorpions and countless other questionable looking food products, but these things were GROSS. Nothing even close to that elegant French escargot ish. You're supposed to jab the exposed interior part with a toothpick, then slowly pull out the little darling. All twisty and intestinal looking, probably because it's actually a digestive tract of sorts. No pictures of that because everyone's hands were covered in snail guts. Yum...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


The vast majority of the time, I really like it here. I love walking down the street and blending in, wind blowing through my hair, staring at the setting sun because the endless layers of pollution make it possible. I love the food--tonight Aubrey and I had "ribs 'n rice" (literally, 3 huge pork ribs in a bowl with your choice of potato, cabbage, carrot, etc and unlimited rice. Genius!) for dinner. But when I wander upon something like this, I find myself hunting for the fastest plane ticket home so I can chomp on one of those. Scanwiches! Brilliant.

One of my favorite questions to ask a person is "What is your ideal sandwich?" So much potential discourse here. Mine has been a long time coming because really, you can't rush this kind of thing. Stephanie's ideal sandwich has turkey, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, bacon, avocado on some sort of lightly toasted bun thing. A close second would be anything to do with salami/sopressata/prosciutto--pork is a wonderful thing. That said...would I drop everything for a smoky BBQ'd pulled pork or a Philly cheesesteak? Are you kidding me? (Oh, I miss sandwiches. Not as much as Jena, but I do.)

(The "best" sandwich in Saigon! They wrap them in cute dot matrix printer paper.)

Your turn (and truly, I want to know, so please be serious and give it some careful consideration): What's your ideal sandwich?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

a drop of golden sun

Thanks Dboots for the amazing link. A-freakin-dorable!!!

There is just something to be said about dancing in public. (I've done it quite a bit this year myself.) Such inexplicable joy!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

with liberty and malaria for all

So I am almost 2 months late on this topic, but for those of us who didn't see it, I thought it was worth sharing:

He keeps a really light tone during his "who let the mosquitoes out?" talk, but the reality of this disease is that
  • 250 million cases occur worldwide per year
  • almost 1 million die of malaria per year
  • every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria
  • incidence has increased in Africa over the past 3 decades (and eliminated almost everywhere else in the world) because of increased drug resistance and inadequate health care
  • entire countries are incapacitated because of the prevalence of the disease--their economies are floundering due to the health burden
  • it is preventable and treatable. (from
It just doesn't make a ton of sense why malaria is still around (and flourishing, for that matter). What if all the balding people gave up all their anti-balding products for a year and gave that money to preventive malaria measures (mosquito nets, insecticide spraying) or even treatment options (anti-malarial drugs, vaccine development)? You know, because it's pretty inevitable and all (balding, that is).

Today Kristin introduced something I'll call an "emotional needs" chart. It is based on the idea that our emotions happen for a reason, and that to be in an emotionally healthy relationship these emotions need to be shared, not bottled up inside. (Pretty intuitive so far.) Furthermore, if the emotions you feel have needed responses from others. Example: if you are sad, you need comfort; if you feel shameful about something you did, that necessitates a friend affirming your inherent value as a person, etc. The most interesting one on there was anger--it requires change.

After watching that video and subsequently researching what I could on the state of malaria in the world today, I was angry. I was angry because it seemingly does not affect rich countries, therefore many are rather indifferent toward it. I was angry because halfhearted attempts to help have only worsened the disease-carrying mosquitoes are more resistant than ever to anti-malarial drugs. I was angry because a $10 insecticide-treated bed net will protect a family of 4 from malaria for 4 years, and we are all too wrapped up in lattes and movie tickets and iPhones to care. I was angry because every year the number of people afflicted by malaria equals the populations of Canada, the US, and Mexico combined, and you'd better believe that if the actual populations of these three countries were collectively struck by some terrible, life-threatening disease, the entire world would sit up and take notice. And yet...

So I've got this anger, and according to the chart change is needed. But where? While I can rant that as a world we are so irresponsible with the resources so graciously granted to us, as a global community so blind to members so desperately in need, and it could go on forever...the cold, hard truth: I am irresponsible with the resources so graciously granted to me. I am so blind to people so desperately in need. I am also impressively quick to point the finger of blame, and so this first needs change. I first need change.