Lauren In Tokyo

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Avocado: Split widens, root lengthens

This weekend was the worst two days of pollen this year. I was knocked out all weekend. Some of that may have been the allergy medicine, but most of it was just exhaustion from sneezing and blowing my nose all day long.

This week the avocado split a little wider and the root grew about 5cm. The weather has warmed up a lot and the average temperature inside the house is getting higher. This is leading to more growth from the seed than earlier when it was very cold in the evenings.

The split in the avocado seed is getting wider. The stem is becoming visible. It looks like a little green nub on the base of the root. Once the stem comes out of the seed, I'll transplant it into a pot.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Turned the Wright issue into the right issue

A couple days ago I talked about how I felt that Obama's reaction and distancing himself from Pastor Wright was done clumsily and would be a net negative for him. I felt that he needed to not feign ignorance of the issue, but to tackle it head on by turning the negatives of Wright into a platform to bring the "two Americas" together.

I said:
I wonder if he couldn't have embraced this man as a strong supporter of the Chicago African American community which faces unique challenges in its unique way, and also personally distanced himself from the specific words that do not reflect his beliefs

Today, Obama did just that. Here is the speech from the Youtubes.

A lot of people are claiming this speech as one of the seminal speeches of this generation, and while I share that enthusiasm, I believe that the proof of that will be when we open and continue the conversation of race without pointing fingers and looking for chances to derail the progress made. Racial problems are a major dividing force in American culture today, but in the grand scheme of things it is a problem that will eventually work itself out. The first step is to speak honestly and respectfully about the problem and not try to sweep differences under the carpet. This speech opens the door very wide to anyone willing to be part of the conversation.

But there are other issues that we need to overcome. The root of these issues is the definition of who we are, and who we want to be. What kind of country do we want to be? How shall we conduct foreign policy with regards to our friendly neighbors, our neutral neighbors, and our hostile neighbors? What level of societal support do we want to provide to the least able among us? These are the big questions. Race is a small issue made big by people who wring the issue for political gain. I hope we can focus on the big issues while tackling the difficult little issues as well.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Avocado: Taproot emerges

Today I am down with a cold or something. I'm feeling pretty terrible, so I am staying home in the morning hoping that I can get better and head off to work later today.

Today I noticed that my avocado has grown a taproot in the past week. A taproot is the large root that grows straight down and will anchor the seed as it grows in the first stages of its life. Later. the root system will grow sideways and provide a wide area which the avocado will use to absorb rainwater. Right now, it's sitting in water, so it's happy as a clam.

In the last week, the root has gone from a little nub in the middle of the seed to an easily recognizable root feature almost 4cm in total length. The root extends past the seed about 1 centimeter. In a few more weeks, the root will grow even longer with more root fibers.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Obama stumbles on Pastor Wright issue

On Anderson Cooper 360 this evening, I saw Obama's response to Pastor Wright's inflammatory remarks and was disappointed in his inability to take control of the issue and turn it to his advantage. He seemed a bit evasive when confronted with the issue, and his denunciation of Wright was unfortunately not strong enough to truly distance himself from the controversial preacher.

What strikes me, though, is that the segments that I have seen of Wright's sermons is run of the mill black empowerment speech. While there is perhaps a slight tinge of reverse-racism that insinuates that white people are somehow less attuned to "real" American life because they are not subject to the humiliations and hurdles that blacks face, I don't see it as technically incorrect nor do I detect true racist overtones in Wright's words.

Obama wants to run a clean campaign, but I wonder if he couldn't have embraced this man as a strong supporter of the Chicago African American community which faces unique challenges in its unique way, and also personally distanced himself from the specific words that do not reflect his beliefs. He seemed to try to do just this, but his hemming and hawing wasn't the same strikingly clear orator that we saw in New Hampshire. Which is a shame, since I think that his answer was very human.

Did anyone else notice that his ears were very red?

Update: David Gergen just mentioned what I just said. Namely that the conversation that has been going on in the Black community for the past few decades has been strikingly different from the conversation that has been going on in the White community. The shock that people now hearing this type of inflammatory speech is due to ignorance of the boiling undercurrent in the black community.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Avocado: Getting started

I've been growing an avocado tree at the house for a while, and it's grown up a lot. It started from a seed which I dug out of a fruit destined for guacamole. I meant to post about it with pictures, but I really didn't get the urge to do it until it was already sprouted and growing in the pot.

So I started a new one. Hopefully I can track it here with pictures every week or so.

It's easy to grow an avocado! All you need is a jar, 3 toothpicks, and an avocado.

1) Eat the delicious avocado. Take care not to cut too deeply into the seed. Save the seed.
2) Rinse the seed off to clean off any remaining meat
3) Put the seed in the jar and fill it with water. Leave for 2 weeks. This will prime the seed for sprouting.
... time passses ...
4) Identify the "bottom" of the seed. The fat side of the seed is the bottom. If the shape of the seed isn't immediately obvious, you may have a defective seed. If this is the case, return to step 1.
5) The toothpicks are going to be used to stabilize the seed around the mouth of the jar. Stick the 3 toothpicks into the avocado seed about a third or quarter the length of the seed.
6) Set the avocado on the rim of the jar and fill it with water.
7) Refill the water when it drops too far.

Today, I checked the water level and I found that the seed had begun to sprout. The seed has split and a root is forming in the gap. From the time I started the seed until now has been about a month. I've read that it usually progresses faster, but 1 month from start until first split is my experience.


Friday, March 07, 2008

DHS 5th anniversary

It's been 5 years since the Department of Homeland security was formed. Bush is on CNN right now talking about how scary terrorists are trying to take away our freedom and liberty and implement tyrrany. How ironic.

I don't have anything against the concept of a DHS, per se. We had the FBI, we had FEMA, we had INS. These were all in somewhat working order before DHS was formed. There was a significant lack of communication between the various agencies, and that was the vulnerability which led to the 9/11 attacks. The Patriot Act, at its core, comes from a desire to knock down the walls between government agencies and share crucial information which can help prevent acts of terrorism.

It's unfortunate that the result is a huge over-arching bureacracy which does nothing but impose itself in the daily lives of many Americans and foreigners passing through the US. It's unfortunate that our freedom and liberty is curtailed to protect us from terrorists who seek to curtail our freedom and liberty.

Though it we are a far cry from a tyrranical government, the amount of power given to departments like TSA and USCIS has simply gotten to a point where the work they are doing is counter-productive. The problem isn't immigrants and citizens. My hope is that we see the dismantling of the DHS into its constituent parts in the next Presidential term.

Security is a noble goal, but it's not worth the price we are paying.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

John McCain gets Bush's endorsement

I don't know if this is George's typical MO, but McCain can't possibly be comfortable standing behind this guy. Every question is fielded by Bush and answered in the worst possible way.

OMG, he just said that he'll be for McCain if it helps him, and he'll be against him if it helps. This is absolutely ridiculous...

Maybe Bush is drunk... He does seem a bit loose.

McCain can't get a word in edgewise!

Alright, I can't even breathe now. I'm laughing too hard.

Here's a link to a video: This is a prelude
Here's a link to the actual "endorsement": link
Here's a longer Youtube link: link

Unfortunately I can't seem to find the last 10 minutes of the endorsement where George seems to lose his mind and starts sabotaging McCain's campaign. I'll try to look for it some more.