Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Links to Enjoy

Here are a few more miscellaneous online places to go:

Vintage Images
"Vintage" (that is, old stuff) is all the rage right now. This site has free images from loooong ago for you to download for use in scrapbooking and paper arts, but I think the photos and ephemera are fascinating to just look at for their own sakes.

Neighborhood Profiles
Type in your zip code and learn all kinds of statistics about your town, from air quality index to income level.

Degree Confluence Project
"The goal of the project is to visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location. The pictures, and stories about the visits, will then be posted here." Cool pictures of places no one else would ever have thought to document.

Mr. Picasso Head
Like the "vintage" toy of Mr. Potato Head (I had one of those, incidentally, as a child), you take pre-made parts and put them together to make a head. Unlike the old game, however, this is online, and the parts are Picasso-esque.

Collage Machine
Another fun art-toy thingy. Use this application to create an online collage.

Japanese Emoticons
Spice up your e-mail messages. These are lots more elaborate than just the classice sidewise smile :-) .

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Remembering the Earthquake

Twenty-one years ago today an earthquake that measured 8.1 on the Richter scale shook Mexico City and other parts of the country, causing immeasurable damage. The following morning, an aftershock measuring 7.6 furthered the destruction. Official figures put the number of dead at "only" about ten thousand, but we will probably never know how many really died -- maybe three times that many?

(For more information read a brief Wikipedia article about the quake. See photos of the destruction at the National Geophysical Data Center site.)

I was living here in Mexico City when it happened, and although the whole thing was scary, I got off pretty easily. I was without power for about a week and without phone service for quite a bit longer, but I didn't personally know anyone who died, nor did I directly witness any dramatic events or consequences. Only one building in my neighborhood was seriously damaged -- and it wasn't mine. I think my parents --in the U.S.A. -- had it worse than I did, wondering if I were all right. After all, the news reports in the United States talked about how "the city had been destroyed," which was an exaggeration.

However, I do remember the event every year on September 19th ... which not everyone does. Those who experienced the earthquake say, "Oh, yeah, it's the anniversary ..." when I mention it. We then briefly exchange stories of where we were when it happened, and then the subject gets changed to something else. I'd say it has become a pretty dim memory for many, if not most, people.

But a lot of folks that I come in daily contact with do not remember the event. The vast majority of my students were either infants at the time or had not even been born yet. The '85 quake is not even a dim memory for them; it's ancient history. That is so weird. Why, everybody knows that for ancient history you have to go back at least to the 1950's! (I was born in 1964.)

Thousands died in this disaster (many of whose bodies were never recovered) and many thousands more were injured and left homeless. While not as dramatic in many ways as Sept. 11, 2001 was for New York, the earthquake left behind a somewhat similar feeling in that it marked a Before and After for Mexico City. Economic and political crises had become frequent in the years leading up to 1985, but it wasn't until the quake, El Temblor del '85, that a lot of people realized that the sunny 70's -- in many ways a heydey for this corner of the world -- were over.

Twenty-one years later, there are still people living in the "temporary" camps set up for those who lost their homes. Not all the collapsed buildings have had their ruins towed away yet, either, though parks and other lovely spaces have sprung up on some destruction sites. You'd think these daily reminders would keep the public saddened when they think about the disaster. I'm sure many people are bitter and have a right to be; however, among the folks of my acquaintance the things most remembered about the quake -- or at least the ones most reminisced about -- are the hopeful aspects of it all:

-- The amazing discovery and rescue, days and even a week after the earthquake, of several newborn babies who survived in the maternity ward of the completely destroyed Hospital Juárez. (Those kids turned 21 in the last day or two.)

--The sight of Spanish opera tenor Placido Domingo staying on for days to search for survivors in the populous and hard-hit Tlatelolco neighborhood, where he had had relatives; his plea for help for the area brought out thousands of volunteers.

--The way friends and neighbors and strangers came together in solidarity, if for only a brief time, until the emergency had passed.

--The outpouring of practical assistance from nations all over the world, despite the authorities' initial statements that "the Mexican government has everything necessary to face this disaster."

I think we humans hope instinctively. I think there is a "hope device" somewhere in our spirit that, unless somehow completely and tragically destroyed, continues to pump out a hormone-like stream of impulses into our lives until the day we die. So strong is this tendency that we even project hope onto the past, remembering the good things more than the bad.

It's quite amazing, actually, when you think about it.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


One year ago today...

Happy Anniversary, Honey!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Olive Nut Sandwich

This is a great change-of-pace sandwich that I recently discovered. I originally got the idea from, though I've made some changes. For example, the recipe there called for parsley, which I changed to lettuce because I like the texture that lettuce adds -- and because I don´t usually keep parsley on hand!

Olive Nut Sandwich

2 slices whole-wheat, rye, or pumpernickel bread
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
6 pimento stuffed olives, sliced
2 tablespoons pecan or walnut halves, chopped
1/3 cup lettuce, very finely chopped

Lightly toast the bread. Spread on the cream cheese, then top with olive slices, chopped nuts, and lettuce chopped as finely as you can get it. Cut in two from corner to corner, and serve.

See a few more of my recipes.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Allow me to share a few miscellaneous web pages I have stumbled across recently. I don't know that there is a common thread running through them; if you find one, please leave a comment and let me know.

Sock Monkey Dress
The last few years have seen a resurgence of sock monkeys, I assume because of the nostalgia/vintage craze. I never had one of these growing up -- and I think I am grateful for that, as they seem quite sinister to me (kind of like clowns do). This link takes you to a dress made of sock monkeys faces. I sincerely admire the ingenious idea and wonderful craftsmanship used in this. Wearing such a dress, however, would surely cause me nightmares or worse. Now maybe if it were a Cookie Monster dress ...

Lost Ring Recovered
People nowadays are rude, insensitive, uncaring, self-centered ... But not everyone, and not always. Some still make a great effort to do a nice thing! I love to hear good news like this.

Write a message, stick it into a virtual bottle, and set it afloat on the electronic sea. You can also pick up bottled messages that others have sent. Be sure to have your speakers on.

DeBrand Chocolates
Some family members of mine toured this chocolate factory in Fort Wayne, Indiana, recently, then sent me the web site. The chocolates are beautiful and delicious-looking. It's a good thing just looking isn't fattening. Hey, and on the site they let you enter for a free monthly drawing, too.

Middle East Map
How many countries in the Middle East and northern Africa can you identify on a map? It seems like we ought to make an effort to know the basic stuff about this hot spot of (former and current) world history ...

Much more amazing than your average pictures of flowers. The artist sells prints of his photographs, but fortunately looking at them online is free. Food for the soul.