A note from the President

Lovely article in the Washington Post today: For a look outside presidential bubble, Obama reads 10 personal letters each day.

Cline remembered the letter she had written to Obama three weeks earlier, and her hands started to shake. She carried the notecard into the kitchen and held it under the light: cursive handwriting, a grammatical error and small smudges of black ink. Was it real? She thought so. She started to laugh, then scream.

While the prose gets a little old, I like the back-and-forth between polished White House procedure and the life of Jennifer Cline, the article’s subject. Also: awesome handwriting, Mr. President.

This article also appeals to me because I’ve been trying to make more of an effort at writing notes–thank-you notes, thinking-of-you notes, etc. It’s inspiring to see that the President feels the same way about their emotional oomph.


March 31, 2010 at 9:48 am Leave a comment

Holiday perspective thanks to our eye in the sky

Now that the holidays are officially all up in our collective face, be sure to take some time to have a slice of humble pie with the Boston Globe’s Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar. SPACE!!!

When you’ve heard the Beach Boys croon “Little Saint Nick” one too many times (i.e. my seasonal job at Restoration Hardware in 2004), your credit card debt is percolating in the jittery part of your chest, and you can’t seem to find just the right gift for your younger sibling, think back to this caption:

This composite color infrared image of the center of our Milky Way galaxy reveals a new population of massive stars and new details in complex structures in the hot ionized gas swirling around the central 300 light-years. This view combines the sharp imaging of the Hubble Space Telescope’s Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) with color imagery from a previous Spitzer Space Telescope survey to make the sharpest infrared picture ever made of the Galactic core. The core is obscured in visible light by intervening dust clouds, but infrared light penetrates the dust. At this distance – 26,000 light-years away – Hubble reveals details in objects as small as 20 times the size of our own solar system.

We are tiny. That’s good to know sometimes.

Additional recommended viewing, if you don’t mind a little melodrama (and who does, really, when it comes to SPACE?!):

December 2, 2009 at 9:24 am Leave a comment

Recession Delusion Disorder

Ideas I have entertained after two weeks’ unemployment: substitute teaching, working at a pop-up Halloween store, getting my PhD, going to the Aveda Institute, working at LUSH, being a brand ambassador for Keurig coffee makers, bartending, rereading the Aeneid, joining Americorps, applying to law school, nannying, working at a call center, and learning to knit (again).

September 24, 2009 at 3:48 pm Leave a comment

Lazy August internet essentials

Is this going to be a monthly thing? Probably. Let’s just go with it. Here are some things on the internet that I think are pretty great:

  • 61 Exceptionally Creative Wine Label Designs, via WebUrbanist. I’m huge a sucker for labels when it comes to picking out my grapes–my palate is still at that point where a box of Franzia sounds like a great idea, so I pick my standards where I can get them. I don’t think label design is a bad place to start.

  • This guy, being awesome at a health care rally in New Hampshire.

  • And this 15-second onslaught of manic Japanese advertising. CH-CH-CH-CH-CH

August 17, 2009 at 8:32 pm Leave a comment

Some required reading during the Obamacare debate

Entertain as many opinions as you may during this time, but let no one tell you that the free market cures all ills. Paul Krugman drops some theoretical bombs on that nonsense in a manner that’s easy to convert to dinner-table chit-chat:

Health care can’t be sold like bread. It must be largely paid for by some kind of insurance. And this in turn means that someone other than the patient ends up making decisions about what to buy. Consumer choice is nonsense when it comes to health care. And you can’t just trust insurance companies either — they’re not in business for their health, or yours…
The second thing about health care is that it’s complicated, and you can’t rely on experience or comparison shopping. (”I hear they’ve got a real deal on stents over at St. Mary’s!”)

Krugman can be a bit shrill sometimes (which is unfair to say, because who isn’t shrill on the internet), but by and large I love his plain-talk approach to big scary economic issues on his blog, Conscience of a Liberal.

July 26, 2009 at 5:59 pm Leave a comment

The gathering storm in 2010

I got (very appropriately) called out a few days ago for never updating this thing, and honestly, it’s not like I have an excuse. I’m deeply ashamed of myself. After graduating on May 16, I’ve spent the last almost-two weeks pursuing job leads for about two hours every day and then sitting around watching Intervention on demand for the rest of the afternoon. I’ve made remarkable strides in my Super Mario Galaxy game. Walter and I have become pals. And, yeah, I’m on the internet quite a bit.

Sorry to admit this, but Twittering is a lot easier–I can do it on the go, and it appeals to my 140-character attention span. I can also conveniently stalk Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rainn Wilson of The Office, local master of glib James Lileks, and Shaq. And finally, as I said, nothing going on in my life right now is worth more than a Tweet. If you’re a fellow Twit, follow me here: http://twitter.com/nina_h

In local news, medical marijuana advocates are pushing for a ballot item in 2010. After considerable narrowing of the legislation that went through Minnesota’s House and Senate, giving access to terminally ill patients only, then a prompt and entirely predictable veto from Governor Pawlenty, the next option would be to ask the voters directly. Referendums like these are tricky, since a no-vote counts as a “no”–a group needs lots of boots on the ground to get people to not only vote “yes,” but to vote in the first place. Luckily, the national group Marijuana Policy Project seems to have the cash:

Since 2005, the group has spent nearly $900,000 lobbying the Minnesota Legislature with money raised at events like its recent fourth annual Playboy Mansion fundraiser. “While nobody’s drawn up a budget yet, our basic approach is we would spend what’s needed,” said Bruce Mirken, a spokesman for the group.

The Pioneer Press brings up an interesting secondary dimension of the situation in 2010, drawing parallels between Ventura’s gubernatorial win in 1998 and a constitutional amendment (Article XIII, Sec 12) to ease restrictions on hunting and fishing. Libertarian-minded voters flocked to the polls to keep the government out of their treestands and ended up throwing in for the libertarian-minded candidate. The amendment passed with 72% of the vote–and we got The Body.

It’s an interesting carrot-and-stick theory of voter behavior. Voters may find it a lot easier to go in for one, relatively simple issue rather than attempt to judge and choose gubernatorial candidates baed on a variety of often-complicated issues. But once they’re in the booth, they’re there–why not?

The opposite happened to me when I voted in Ohio in November. I went in to vote for Obama and checked off a couple of referendums along the way. So I suppose it goes both ways.

It’ll be interesting to see whether marriage equality activists apply this thinking to their own actions in Minnesota–and whether their opponents will, too. With our friendly neighbor to the south legalizing gay marriage and Tim Pawlenty making it pretty clear that he’ll strike down any gay-friendly legislative action here at home, I won’t be surprised if activists begin to beat the drums in earnest for a referendum of some sorts in 2010. Of course, a major move on gay marriage will provoke a swift and well-financed opposition campaign.

I guess all we’ll have to do is wait and see how things pan out. Either way, I predict 2010 will be an aggressive political year for Minnesotans.

May 28, 2009 at 9:58 am Leave a comment


Hey, Happy Easter, everyone. As Holy Week wraps up, please check out this lovely interview with Rowan LeCompte, the man behind the stained glass windows at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. A notable quote:

I believe in kindness and love. And there are those who say that those are God. I don’t know, but I respect and love kindness and love, and worship them. And if I’m worshipping God, I’m delighted.

Wise words. Enjoy your Sunday.

April 12, 2009 at 7:13 pm Leave a comment

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