I went to my first game. score. We won. against utah. I had no idea what was going on. But I cheered. and wore all blue and yellow.

Deciding to take some control over my life which seems really directionless now that I am at Berkeley, I went to the Career Center. On the brink of tears, I choked out telling the dude that I came here with set goals and now I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life. Typical situation, apparently, for someone who is so used to working according to rules or a linear plan (ie, do A, B, and C to get what you want). Life however, is not like that. And because I am the person living my life, I get to make it. Now that seems really nice, really lovely, but how can I make something that I don’t know what I want it to look like in the end? Apparently, its all about current interests and current skills and current desires that get narrowed down to a specific career later on. I figure I have nothing to lose by trying and giving this somewhat nutty career counselor a chance.

Something really odd, is that I am fed up (pun intended, yes) with food production and agriculture. I mean, I am still fascinated by the topic, but I am really over the idea of sustainability and local and organic and getting food to people who deserve it, etc. I find those reading very dull, very boring, very repetitive. Not that I don’t care, but if I have to read one more thing about poverty and food inequality…

I guess what draws me more, is food and culture. why people eat what they eat when they eat it. I mean, what did you have for dinner and why?


triple rock

Not a fan of beer, it is ironic that I really like Triple Rock Brewery. But then again, they have three types of cider, which in my book makes up for it. Went last night with my roommate, and it was pretty crowded. A few fine folk sitting round a big table which was half empty invited us to sit with them. After a failed attempt at starting a conversation [let me clarify, after they failed to respond to our conversational prompts] we moved to smaller table. A lonesome fellow was standing nearby, looking a bit lost. So, we decided to be nice, and invited him to sit with us. Struck up a conversation. It was pretty awesome. He is doing teach for america in Arizona, currently in year number 2, and he went to Duke, in North Carolina, which I thought was exciting as its not very frequently you meet someone who spent a bit of time over there. Its kind of odd, how people meet people and either get a long or don’t. And figuring out who is interesting to talk with, based on shared interest or experience, or who you just make conversations with. And hearing peoples stories, adventures, and what brought them to wherever they are.
Then I start thinking what motivates people to do what they do, and why they do it. And I get really curious about what people do when they are alone, that is on their free time, and why they do it. Is it a little strange that one of my favorite things to do when I am alone is sit and watch people and wonder about them?

We had two earthquakes yesterday. One of them was during my discussion section for my geography class. Naturally, it turned into a game of “guess the magnitude” It was a 4.2, if I recall correctly. I guessed 3.9. The second was later that evening, while I was reading about the failure of urban planning and consequences of gentrification. Amusing. And according to Yoshua (one of the famous figures of Sproul Plaza) the end of the world is today. Its really entertaining to see him there everyday, but sometimes I start thinking, If this really were my last day on earth, what would I do? and would I be content with the things I have done up until this point in time?

parental unit

on bart into SF…

Raj Patel is my new favorite person. I want his accent. And I want Michael Pollans socks. They were electric blue today.
Some quotes for your enjoyment
-in speaking of British Imperialism in India “they [Indians] said ‘no thank you’. And the British responded ‘no, no, we have guns!'”
-in speaking of Malthus and his opinion of the poor “malthus reduces the poor to insatiable genitalia. all they are doing is eating and shagging” (yes, he said shagging)
-in speaking of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development “The IAASTD, well obviously they didn’t go to acronym school”
-in speaking of the supermarket “it is the food industry’s ground zero…we cannot shop our way out”
-“diet coke plus, the food industry’s response to solve a problem of obesity” HA Just like golden rice will solve vitamin A deficiencies in poor countries. Rice. Not poverty.

I registered for 2 of my spring classes: woohoo. Soc 180C is comparative cultures: US and Europe, looking at the downfall of the American Dream. And 184, family in comparative perspectives, looking at the roles of families and relationships within them. I may switch my 180 to 130, urban inequalities, but I am not sure. I am not sure about anything school related. I have no idea what I want to do, or even what direction to take sociology in. Oddly, I am sick of food and agriculture. Maybe I had to much overload this semester. I really just enjoy people watching more than anything, and listening to what people talk about, and finding out what people do with their time, how they spend it, where they go, why they do what they do, what meaning if any they find in the things they do, etc etc. What class talks about that?

the parental unit

So my parentals and my seester (edit: sister) drove up to Berkeley Friday night. It been…about two months since I had seen them last, so its been a fun little visit. I miss them and all, and as much fun as I am having with them, I can now realize how my levels of stress slightly increase in their proximity. But they are my parents, and I really think thats part of the job description. And its amazing having them buy me stuff. Of course thats not the only reason I am glad to see them…Something quite amusing, is that my sister and I were matching on Friday, without planning or seeing each other (for two months) Flowery high wasted flow-y shorts, a black tank top, black tights, and boots. wow…

Yesterday was a pretty intense day of walking walking walking through Berkeley. Oh, and going to the Northface outlet so I could be prepared for winter, which I now am. (2 jackets! woo!) Meandering through telegraph, onto campus, watching the Cal vs USC quidditch game, into downtown Berkeley, and back to south side. I felt like I was in elementary school again, when its open house and you get to show your parents where all your classes are. Except, there is no artwork or writing assignments with gold starts on the wall which you get to proudly point to and your parents get to ogle at and praise you. I showed them my readers and books instead, but for some reason, it was not as impressive.

Later that night we barted into SF for litcrawl in the mission district. Super loads of fun seeing a friend read and later hanging out and drinking/eating/talking at a restaurant/bar/gallery. And getting my copy of his book signed of course!!!!

Today shall be a rather epic day: block party. I remember these things from my childhood, when we would come visit the bay area every year around this time to see our friends. Street closes, running around, playing neighborly games of frisbee and relay races. Epic amounts of food, falafel more specifically, with pita bread brought directly from israel via suitcase. Booze.

Speaking of booze, another place has been explored. Triple Rock Brewery in North Berkeley. A pub, with an attached brewery that rotates beers, and has local and seasonal offerings, and three types of cider! yay cider! It was rather amusing working our way through two glasses and then heading to chabad for dinner in the Sukkah (Sukkot=Jewish holiday). But so delicious and worth it and made the night rather fun.

I have hardly done any homework this weekend. Luckily, I have no exams, so its just reading, however it tends to pile up quite fast when its neglected. Heck, even if its not neglected!!! But my goal is to get some done today before and after the party of blocks aka block party.

I also have received my first paycheck! woohoo!

midtermz down!

to date, I have had 3 exams, one in class midterm, and one ten page take home midterm. I still have 4 more exams, 2 projects, a take home final, and an in class final. oi. I have only gotten one grade back…on the first exam I took, and it was a 98%. bam! do I feel like I learned anything or retained information? mmmm….nooottreeaalllly.

I had a test today on one of the worst books I have possibly ever read. It seemed that the poor structure and arguments within the book rubbed off on the professor and GSIs as they were writing the exam because it was poorly written as well. Just to illustrate the brilliance of this book, here is my favorite line (ahem) “and the views of those who are drawn to politics are shaped partly by the fact that they are drawn to politics”
What is the title of this awful book might you ask? Listen carefully, so you do not ever find it in your hands. Black Pride and Black Prejudice, by Paul Sniderman and Thomas Piazza. The topic itself seems interesting: via a survey study they sought to find out how being black in America influences your perception and relation to american ideals, anti-semitism, personal identity, and other assorted variables. But its terrible. I learned nothing. They kept switching questions, variables, experiments, to many commas, to many interjections, to many errors. OK, I am done ranting, mainly because I never want to think about that book again. But it sucked to spend so much time studying something so…ridiculously bad.
Well, I must admit having a random dance party and learning how to dougie after a study session was quite fun.
As was this:

As was drinking at 11:15 AM after the exam and going to my next class buzzed where we finished watching Food, Inc. Even under the influence of alcohol, however, the food system in America does not look better.
Another AMAZING discovery of the day, a bag of bread ends (baked daily honey wheat) costs only 25 cents because they are rejects by the secret place that sells them!!!!
I also applied for “Alternative Breaks” a weeklong service project over spring break. Crossing my fingers that I get placed into a project!

art murmur

friday eve=downtown oakland=art murmur=art walk=awesomeness. Standard drill, lots of funky galleries, bars, booze, and meandering through the streets.
That was probably the most exciting part of my weekend seeing as the rest of it consists of an 8-10 page take home midterm and reading and a reading response question. Its intense.

1. “Soil fertility is a historical artifact.” Discuss. Be sure to address these questions: (a) What are the major factors (both human and non‐human) that affect soil fertility? (b) Why does this matter in relation to the theories of Malthus and Marx? (c) How has synthetic fertilizer affected the way food is produced in the US, and how might Marx and Malthus explain these effects?
2. How did Malthus, Smith and Marx understand the role of food—its production and/or its price—in determining human population growth and wellbeing? How did each author account for the existence of poverty? How did urbanization in 19th century Europe challenge or support these theories? How might each author explain current global trends of “suburbanization” and declining household size?
If anyone knows the answers please let me know.

Until the end of the semester I have 1 “thing” be it project, paper or exam per week to focus on, in addition to balancing all the other “normal” work from my classes. Goodbye life, I will see you in December.
I had another exam this past tuesday, and I had a midterm in my Urban Sociology class on Friday, which I think went rather well. 1 hour to answer 4 out of 5 questions related to the theories or articles we have been reading.
I feel like I am getting a bit sick, sore throat and all. I felt like this last week too, but managed to make it go away somehow by ignoring it, I hope that technique will work again. No time to be ill, and no time to rest!

I rode my bike to a starbucks way in north Berkeley yesterday because we wanted to study away from campus, and North Berkeley is beautiful. I kinda took a scenic route (aka got a little lost) which was awesome in the windy none linear roads of north Berkeley. Why starbucks? Uhhhh…the free refill thing does come in handy when you study for 5, 6, 7 hour chunks. Ohmygoodnessiamturningintooneofthosecustomers! But that was my first time at a store since leaving LA and it made me a bit nostalgic for the good ol’ starbucks days. sigh…but I wont cry.

i should really be studying

i hate that feeling of anxiety and anxiousness that is constantly in mind…that tiny little voice always telling me i should be studying or reading even if its the last thing on earth that i want to do, which is often the case. I think having so much to do really douses my motivation because it feels like it never ends. someone please remind me why I am in school…

On the brighter side of life, the non school related side, I saw DeVotchka at the hardly strictly bluegrass festival which was loads of fun. It was my first time heading into San Francisco since moving here, the weather was lovely, as was the company. And DeVotchka was fierce, as usual. We also saw Bela Fleck play with Edgar Mayer and Zakir Hussain, which was intricate, neoclassical, somewhat mid-east influenced sounds of musical delight. Ending the day with hummus was not a bad call either.

Monday was my first time biking in the rain, and I arrived home looking as though I had jumped out of a swimming pool. Not fun. I am crossing my fingers that the rain will stop and hold off until december when I can move closer to campus. *pleasepleaseplease*

Tuesday night Jack Sinclair came to lecture and engage in a discussion with M. Pollan. Jack Sinclair is the Vice President of Food Distribution at wal mart. Wal mart, the company everybody hates, who bases their business model on low price for the people, making things affordable to all, while simultaneously not paying their workers enough to afford…anything. Including the healthy food they are now offering and endorsing after teaming up with Michelle Obama (food politics, anyone?) Wal Mart is also pursuing more sustainable food sourcing practices, and supposedly paying fair wages to farmers, reducing its carbon footprint, and aiming to be 100% energy efficient by…2013 i think?

Of course there are pros and cons to this massive corporation taking on such changes. First, they have the power to actually make changes. Wal mart is the largest food purchaser in the US, supplying food to 1/3 (the most economically disadvantaged) of the population. Any changes they make can drastically alter food ways, and energy consumption. Also, it brings attention to the current environmental problems the US currently has to deal with. But I wonder what the real reason is for doing it. Because as a corporation, the main goal is growth. Sustainability for the sake of growth seems like an oxymoron to me.

Jack Sinclair was a cute little scottish man, who seemed a bit nervous as he spoke. But I must give him mad props for coming to Berkeley, and sit down with M. Pollan to engage in some question and answer sessions. No one threw anything at him. Well, except for dirty looks possibly as he kept saying the customer comes first and wal mart needs to satisfy the customer with low prices. He didn’t know how to respond when asked “what about increasing wages, so prices do not always have to be so low?” hmmm…

And now its time to be productive, when all I truly want to do is…ride my bike, get a GOOD book, go to a cafe, and read. Then come home and possibly bake something because its really cold, and I could fill the house with autumn scents. And then ponder the meaning of life, and try to figure out mine.

Speaking of which, I have a midterm in my Urban Sociology class on Friday. And some of the themes of city living and moving and adjusting and being alone and anonymous and having only secondary and tertiary relationships correlate so much to my experience that I would even consider doing a research thesis on something related to solitary experiences in the city.