Archive for May, 2010

Do what state governments are doing less of: Fund classrooms

| May 31, 2010

DonorsChoose.org is a simple way for us to help our nation’s teachers. During a time when our state governments are “prioritizing” state monies away from our schools, it’s more important for us to step up and support our teachers as they teach our kids, little brothers, little sisters, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

How does DonorsChoose.org work? Teachers submit a project to DonorsChoose.org, explaining what they need for their class and why they need it. We find a project to support and donate any amount we can to that project. You can donate to one project, or spread the generosity over several projects. Once the goal is reached for the project, DonorsChoose.org delivers the materials to the class.

One of the great things about DonorsChoose.org (in addition to its mission, of course) is their commitment to making the donation process transparent and, in doing so, helping donors see how they are making an impact. For example, you can see exactly how much has been requested by a teacher for their project and how much more the project needs to reach it’s goal.

How do I donate? It’s really easy. You can sort projects based on a category (eg. urgency or cost), or filter it by state, city, and/or school so you can have direct impact on the schools in your area. Check out my little video demo to see how to find a classroom in need in your region:

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A Balboa Park foodie event on May 30th? Yes, please.

If you haven’t got any one thing special planned for this 3-day weekend, then consider this: Balboa Park’s House of Pacific Relations International Cottages is hosting an “Ethnic Food Fair” tomorrow, Sunday, May 30th.

From 10AM-5AM, doors to all 21 cottages will be open for you to wander in and out of and, for a nominal fee per dish, sample food from the country each cottage represents.

Wandering through the event is FREE, as is staying to watch the performances offered in the center of the village.

Strategy? Basically, I’ll take the same one I keep for December Nights since this event is going to take a similar layout:

  • Two Andrew Jacksons in my clutch. $40 will be more than enough to guarantee that I get to sample what I REALLY want and still have something left over to sample anything I might be hesitant to try (which is a short list.)
  • Don’t do it alone. Similar to my plan of attack for the Taste of Hillcrest, the husband and I will usually buy two different dishes from a country if that country is offering a menu of options. If it isn’t, but we can see that they’re serving up a portion size that can feed a family of four, then we’ll buy just one dish from that country to split. After all, my goal at these kinds of events is to sample as much as I can. I love learning about cultures via their ways of sustenance!
  • Hit your favorites first. Guarantee your satisfaction at the beginning and hit up your favorite Houses early on so that you get the best of what they have to serve: House of Germany’s Brats and Kraut, House of Philippines’ Leche Flan (and, I dare their flan to be as good as mom’s), House of Poland, House of Sweden, and House of India.
  • Try what you can’t pronounce. I seek these dishes out at the countries whose cuisine I’m admittedly unfamiliar with because it gives the day a sense of adventure. I mean, really, it’s the other point of this event – to try what you’ve never had before.
  • Learn from the volunteers. Much of what is cooked is either cooked by the aunties, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, mamas and papas that volunteer their time to help maintain awareness of theirs or their families’ country of origin. If they didn’t cook it, then they know of a little mom-and-pop in San Diego that can, order enough food from that vendor, and sell it at this event. Either way, they’ll likely know where to go in San Diego to get more of the cuisine you’d just sampled so you can have it on a regular basis.
  • Beware of having carbs at the start. C’mon. Did I teach you nothing in the Taste of Hillcrest post? Proteins before carbs! Otherwise, you’re just begging to get full before you even see what every other House has to offer.
  • Watch while you eat. As at December nights, a stage will be set-up in the open grass area in the center of the village. While you munch on some grub, you’ll be able to watch Naruwan Taiko Drummers, the House of India Dancers, and other great performances from first, second, and third generation hyphenated Americans, sharing their love of their ancestors’ culture with us. If you’ve never seen Taiko drumming live, you’re missing out. A sampling of what you’ll witness and feel is given in the video below.

In the end, you’ll literally be stuffed with culture and you’ll have helped support a classic and important program at Balboa Park.

Let’s do this.

(Thank you to the husband for the idea!)


(Courtesy of RedBlueBlurr on youtube.)

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Silent Sundays at Alchemy aren’t so ’silent’ for good reason

| May 22, 2010

On the first Sunday of each month, Alchemy hosts a night of silent films, jazz, and prohibition age cocktails from 8PM-12AM.

In theory, the title of the monthly event suggests that the films take center stage. In practice, it’s more like the films set the stage for their current jazz vocalist, Melly Frances (it’s only during her breaks that the silent films and their accompanying music take sole prominence.)

That said, it’s all mirth.

Alchemy recently purchased Citizen Video’s stock of silent films. So, some time in the future, we can expect to see a ‘feature list’ of silent films up on their blog before each Silent Sunday.

Come Sunday, June 6th, serve me up a poutine in the morning and an East Side Rickey in the evening! I’m there.

SILENT-SUNDAYS
Flyer from Alchemy’s website

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Learn and laugh with the Top Gear mums

| May 04, 2010

I never thought I’d be so interested in a car show.

I first caught Top Gear in Scotland two years ago, when the 3 hosts – Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May – went on a car trip that challenged them to cross the Kenyan desert in old, beat-up cars. When Richard Hammond named his Opal “Olivia,” I was stuck.

The mix of wit and nerd in this show is brilliant, particularly from Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond. James May is more like the Professor on Gilligan’s Island — he tends to over-explain and you can tell he’s trying really hard to be funny.

Here is one classic example just in time for Mother’s day: A segment of an old episode in which they had their moms test drive and review 3 compact cars. Their reactions to and commentary of their moms’ reactions and commentary are priceless, proving that, yes, you can even ask your mom about cars.

NOTE: In part 2 of this segment, the boys laugh at Mrs. Hammond ‘indicating’ to turn right. Translation? ‘Signalling.’

I can watch these over and over.

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