Monthly Archive for May, 2007

Mice Parade

Thanks to Wes, my imaginary band-mate in The World’s Fattest Twins (f/k/a Motion Picture Soundtrack), I have been turned on to Mice Parade, a fantastic real band. It has influences from all over, including atmospheric, hard-rock, electronic and flamenco. They’re absolutely brilliant. I recommend listening to the track “Steady as She Goes,” but pretty much all of their tracks are awesome. You can listen to any of their tracks on Amazon’s listing for Mice Parade. Check it out. You can thank me for dropping this musical gem on you by replying below.

The World’s Fattest Twins will likely make a showing at Mice Parade’s upcoming concert in NYC. More info here.

Why no ban on Chinese food imports?

The Pet Food Crisis. A few months ago, a scandal erupted when Americans discovered that hundreds of pet deaths in the United States were attributed to poisoned pet food manufactured in China. More than one pet food manufacturer was involved, it quickly became clear that the poisoning was intentional. More importantly though, it was clear that the substituting of one ingredient for another was intended as a cost-saving measure. In other words, it was completely profit based. Disgustingly, China denies blame out of one side of its mouth while out of the other side it takes action against the manufacturers. Wikipedia has a comprehensive summary of the pet food crisis if you want to read more.

Poisoned Toothpaste. Two days ago, the Times ran a story (free reg req’d) that toothpaste found in Panama and manufactured in China was found to have the poison diethylene glycol. That story followed on the heels of a previous instance in Panama where diethylene glycol marked as glycerin (a sweet syrup you find in all kinds of processed food), manufactured in China, was mixed into cold medicine, killing 100 people there. According to the article, deaths linked to food manufactured in China have occurred in Haiti, Bangladesh, Argentina, Nigeria and India. In fact, the same Chinese company implicated in the Haiti poisoning also shipped about 50 tons of counterfeit glycerin to the United States in 1995, to an American bulk pharmaceuticals manufacturer.

Poisoned food. In addition, hundreds of shipments containing thousands of tainted products including food products, medicines, dietary supplements, and cosmetics manufactured in China have been discovered by U.S. officials. While they stop a small percentage, a much larger percentage is making its way into American homes. Moreover, unscrupulous Chinese entrepreneurs callously ignore poultry and meat import bans to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds of tainted flesh.

So what the hell is the matter with our government? Why aren’t they trying to stop this? After all, isn’t the first function of a government to protect its people? After all, didn’t other first-world countries like Japan and the UK ban US beef after the mad cow scare?

According to the Washington Post article, the contemptible reason nothing is being done is money. Because our trade is so inextricably intertwined with China, and because Americans are so obsessed with the desire to import items in to China, we take a weak approach to exports out of China to the U.S.

The Math Ain’t Right. Fine, I get that our representatives lie prostrate in front of the Almighty Dollar. But here, even the math doesn’t make sense. According to the Post, agricultural exports to China total only $5 billion a year, while the Chinese enjoy a $232 billion annual trade surplus on the US. So where is the economic benefit? It seems to me we could kill two birds with one piece of pet food if we reduced the trade deficit with China by enforcing some REAL restrictions on the import of agricultural products. If you think that is a good idea, it takes only a quick call or email to your representative in order to let them know you care about not being poisoned by Chinese imports.

From April showers to May flowers

So the last week has been incredibly busy but I’ve got a much improved outlook on life. I was in DC for the last few days, and it was an exhausting, but very rewarding trip. Throw in a barbecue, a visit to my terrific parents, and a few accomplishments at work, and I am riding pretty high!

Washington, DC is a great town. I was there my summer after freshman year as an intern for Senator Pete Domenici (NM). I loved it so much I went back my sophomore summer, and took any old job, just so I could be back in the city! This was the second time I’ve been back since then. It has changed a lot, and I had a blast. We then took the long train ride (but not long enough that a flight is more convenient) back up to New York and had a championship barbecue. Then it was off to the races – the drinking races that is. Guess what? Everybody won!

I am very much a believer that positive and negative energy of people around me has a profound impact, and my experience yesterday reinforced that belief. Here is what happened:

It being Mother’s Day yesterday, I was in a flower shop in Chelsea’s Flower District picking out an arrangement for my Mom. Of course she was going to love it and then immediately scold me for spending any money on her, but it makes me happy too, so I do it anyway.

Back to the flower shop. Obviously it was very busy there, and I patiently waited for one of the staff to free up so I could get some help picking flowers, since its not my forte. The girl waiting in line behind me, however, was anxious and fidgety, sighing loudly and muttering under her breath as to the slow service. When I finally was up to bat, she actually interrupted the employee and me and asked “Are you the only person working here?,” to which the employee answered politely but firmly, “No, there are others working here, but we are very busy, and if you cannot wait then I am sorry.” In other words, wait your turn or leave. The customer responded by huffing and puffing, saying “You didn’t answer my question,” etc., but the message was clear. Turns out the employee wasn’t an ordinary employee, but the wife of the owner, and she wasn’t taking crap from anybody. And I don’t blame her one bit for replying like that.

But the effect was immediate. On what should have been a happy day, anxiety and stress had won out, and gloom had entered like a fog. What bothered the employees (I’m sure) was that they were working hard and it was thankless. So I opened up with the assistant handling my arrangement by joking “Slow day, huh?” It lightened her mood and the other employee next to her. I continued about how I was surprised that it was so stressful here since it was a beautiful day and we were picking out beautiful flowers – and what could be stressful about that? I was kind and helped out the owner by handing her a box when everyone else was clearly occupied. I talked flowers and showed genuine interest in the arranger and her profession. The gestures worked, and suddenly everyone was in a better mood. Even the unhappy customer, who was within earshot, was calmer and was no longer acting annoyed (or annoying). Probably because even she knew any outward exhibition of her bad attitude would be amplified by my kind one.

In any case, I believe deeply that a rising tide lifts all ships, and even more reliably, a falling tide lowers them. I’ve had incessantly negative people in my life and learned that ultimately the only way is to let them go. I even believe that even when you are depressed, if you can trick yourself long enough into believing that you aren’t, you can squeak by just long enough for things to actually change for the better. And just as often, the perception becomes reality. Positive people are absolutely essential for my well-being.

What are your thoughts?

Douchebags aplenty!

I added a new Photography section, which you can access easily from the navigation bar at the top. It’s a little rough, but it gets the job done for now.

Nice weather in New York really brings the D-bags out of the woodwork. The following two examples are true stories of real NYC douchebags that I saw in the last few weeks:

If you are a fobby Indian in a Hummer H3 (which, by the way, is the official car of the douchebag) thumping the Panjabi MC/Jay-Z song from 2003 from your car stereo, then you are a DOUCHEBAG!

If you subject everyone around you in the subway to hiphop played from your tinny-sounding cellphone, then you are a DOUCHEBAG! Of course, your cellphone is “ruggedized,” because a gangsta lifestyle means your cellphone needs to be ready in case things get “heated.”