Wednesday, July 20, 2011


What did I do tonight after getting home from a long day at work? I worked for another three hours on an etsy site. Looking at the finished product, I think it was worth it.

Wooden Mushroom
Message in a bottle Earrings

Tesseract Poster
Tiny Feather Earrings

If you felt kind enough to humor me, I'd really love it if you dropped by and told me what you thought. Disclaimer: I didn't make everything on it, but I did take all the pictures and make over half of it. So that counts for something, right?


The Lion-fighter

One of my friends showed me this article and I thought it was worth sharing - nay, a crime not to share!

El-Essawy 2
Photo taken from article page.

Here's the premise, as in the article:
Given the current state of the economy, it comes as no surprise that many Egyptians are doing all that they can to revive international interest in their country. What is surprising, though, is that one man has somehow managed to convince himself - and a few others - that he can single-handedly “boost tourism in Egypt” by fighting a full-grown African lion in direct hand-to-paw combat, in front of the Pyramids at Giza.
Did you...? Yes. You read correctly. The article goes on to provide a thorough explanation of the lion-fighter's technique and philosophy. Here are some highlights:

I discovered my incredible strength at the age of 13, and, almost immediately afterwards, promised myself that, one of these days, I would fight a lion.
 Animal right concerns:
God made me, and he made the lion, and he put us both on the same planet, which means the lion is fair game. Ethically, there should be no problem.
It consists of a series of combination moves. I will start off with the slaps, but, you should know, my slaps are unlike any other.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Will it revive the tourism industry? Is it different from bullfighting in Spain? Or cockfighting?

Read it here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Is this, or is this not, the most photogenic family you have ever encountered? Just sayin'.

These celebs were kind enough to let me take these myself.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pathologies of Power: Book Review Part I

First things first: kudos to my Americorps supervisors who accepted Pathologies of Power as an approved "civic engagement" book. It gave me a fantastic reason to once again start over and finally finish this intellectually dense but rewarding book.

Pathologies of Power by Paul Farmer (subject of the much-loved Mountains Beyond Mountains) describes in great, scholarly and personal detail, structural violence, liberation theology, and affecting positive change against all odds. He, besides making plain the current state of our world due to many things (but very noticeably politics and pharmaceuticals), also makes the take-home message cuttingly personal in saying that the same world that makes the poor poor is the world in which likely you, and also I, are living quite comfortably. It is unlikely, I would say, that the plight of all poor is solely our fault, but we are enabling behaviors such as corporate exploitation of poorer populations by supporting organizations and businesses with little or no social responsibility.

Another point that Farmer hit on was slightly harder for me in which to envision my role: that if health care was a basic human right (as in the UN's Declaration on Human Rights), there ought to be a preferential treatment option for the poor. My gut reaction to this statement is agreement, but many questions quickly follow. What of the cost of medical care (to which Farmer would point, at least in part, to arbitrary pharmaceutical pricing)? Who will bear it? How do we convince physicians, and, harder, hospital and office administrators, that this is the case? Should this be a private- or public-sector endeavor?

One thing is obvious: Farmer asserts that it should be an endeavor. From Mountains Beyond Mountains and implied in Pathologies of Power, we learn that Farmer consistently skips dwelling on the impossibility of treatment for such supposedly "cost-ineffective" treatment for the poor and instead moves directly into making the ideal a reality. This is certainly and encouragement, inspiration, and model to be followed in Public Health work. Too often we get caught up in the barriers, lose energy, and give up before even giving an honest attempt at solving difficult problems such as providing an adequate supply of appropriate MDR-TB drugs or providing anti-retroviral drugs to those who so desperately need them.

While I been deeply touched by the kindness and generosity of the providers in CHC's network, I have
also been saddened by where we couldn't help people. I am left wondering how to produce the kind of premium healthcare mandated by Human Rights and Farmer if such a fantastic organization and so many generous volunteer doctors and dentists falls short of what Farmer would call a "preferential treatment option" for the poor. How, aside from (as Farmer has had) wealthy investors in the cause, can we produce such a system? Farmer argues that this would be a governmental responsibility.

I have been surprised in the past several years that there has not been an increase but a decrease in funding for both public health efforts and social services. Medicaid dental coverage was cut years ago for non-pregnant adults and in at least the case of one of my patients (who asked me to reference his case should I ever get a chance to plead the cause), has resulted in astronomically rising costs from medical conditions worsened or directly caused by dental problems. The human body cannot be sectioned off into areas unrelated to each other in health, just as society cannot be sectioned off into areas unrelated to each other in community.

I have had occasion over the past few months to discuss many different government and economic systems in the world, and one concern that I have with the extremest forms of small government now currently proposed in the political landscape is the people who even now hang by a thread to urgently needed and increasingly underfunded and insufficient social services. Maybe you agree that government shouldn't perform social services, and that things like medical services for the low-income, uninsured population should be taken over by the private- or third-sector. My question is what happens to the people while society "adjusts" to this new order? The answer I receive usually involves a concession that a period of adjustment would likely produce a number of casualties. Numbers are people. At times before, and definitely since my ten months with Community Health Connect, these people have names and faces. Stories that would make even the most fiscally conservative scramble to make official provisions for them. What of these people?

Farmer also speaks of the fact that scientific research continues to make significant contributions to solving many health problems, and yet these gains so often fail to reach the population that so desperately needs them. While Farmer presents many case studies and success stories, I still have quite a bit of reflecting and working to do in order to determine my role in attempting "pragmatic solidarity" with the poor. Nearing the end of my term, I do feel grateful for the opportunity that Americorps has offered me to better empathize with people in need in my own community. Having experienced a 100% federal and 50% state reduction in funding for my Americorps program (Americorps and the Medically Underserved of Utah), I feel a growing concern for the people that we work with through our different placements.

I don't know that I have an answer yet, but I agree with Farmer that it is my responsibility to keep looking.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Saturday Mornings

Saturday mornings have recently become less restful and more productive. As I mentioned in my last post, the owner of Rowley Press and I have been selling together under the name The Foundry. He is selling paper wares of the letterpress and giclee persuasion (to this point exclusive to the Farmer's Market) and I have been selling earrings made of antique buttons, wood,and feathers (among other things). I have also been dabbling in the arts of solid perfume and reusable dryer bags... with mixed success.

We were making the dryer bags on my beautiful antique anker sewing machine out of vintage cotton fabric, but after some R&D conducted while actually usig such bags, we found that the reusability was, in fact, debatable. Namely, on the bag tested, there was approximately 5% of the filling left after one use. Sorry, people we sold to! Twas an honest mistake. It looks as though the problem is that the weave of the fabrics wasn't quite tight enough, but any insight on the matter would be welcome. For the time being, we have lots of deliciously scented deodorizer bags.

The solid perfumes are another interesting side project. I'll just say that so far I have a near perfect ability to predict who will and will not like my scents. You could probably do it with little training. Ask yourself if the person sniffing them appears to be a hippie. If yes, odds are in our favor. If no, they might like the floral scent but will likely be perplexed as to why anyone would ever want to smell like any of them. Ah, well. It's a work in progress. Come find us sometime! We are there most weeks.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hello again.

Lots of time has passed. Quite a bit of it in fact. And many things have changed. For one, I started a new blog. Which I also subsequently neglected. I think part of that was not being able to reconcile myself with certain cheesiness involved, and also doing less of sitting inside on a computer in my free time.

This was correlated with me having less free time. I went back to Provo for a job interview that seemed promising, and I was told was promising, and ended up not being very promising. Having moved from Provo to Seattle to DC and then back to Provo, I gave up the moving for a little while. Got a job back at the pediatrics office I used to work at. Got a job at Sunflower. Got an Americorps position with a local nonprofit, which I love. You can read more about Community Health Connect here. It is a lot of work, but well worth it. I am the care coordinator in charge of the entire dental program. I spend about 80% of my day speaking in Spanish. Well, probably about 50-80%, depending on the day.

My term ends at the end of September. I am currently gathering my thoughts about my next step. It will probably involve entering doulahood and/or doing prerequisites for a graduate degree in midwifery.

I started selling at the Farmer's Market with the owner of Rowley Press. We started making money two weeks ago. We'd probably do it even if we didn't make money. Foundrygoods is our Etsy shop, but we are really, really bad at adding new items. It just takes a long time.

My goals for this month:
  • start posting on my photo blog again
  • be gutsy enough to send this blog public again
  • send two packages to people I love
Keep me honest.