Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Activism: Making a difference

Jack Weinstein (L) from Facing History and Ourselves and Mark Hanis (R) founder of Genocide Intervention NetworkRecently we attended a Community Conversations program presented by Facing History and Ourselves and Allstate Foundation. The speaker was amazing young man, Mark Hanis. He is one of several students at Swarthmore College that founded the Genocide Invention Network (GI-Net) in the fall of 2004. Today, GI-Net educates and empowers individuals and communities with the tools to prevent and stop genocide. GI-Net has created effective tools to lobby elected officials and to fund raise directly for civilian protection. They are a non-profit member-based organization that advocates for civilian protection in areas where genocide and mass atrocities are occurring.
Genocide Intervention Network
It is very easy to start taking action against genocide. Doing nothing helps the oppressor and encourages the tormentor. The world's leaders need support and pressure from us in order to act — below are some actions you can do right now and have a hand in stopping genocide.
1) Join the Genocide Intervention Network: GI-Net provides the necessary tools to transform concern into effective action.
2) If you are a student or otherwise connected to a college/university or high school, start a STAND chapter. Even if you are unable to start a chapter, sign up on the website for STAND news, local events, advocacy talking points, and more. STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition is the student arm of the Genocide Intervention Network. There are more than 800 chapters at schools around the United States and a growing number of international chapters.
3) Contribute to the Genocide Intervention Network: Support the peacekeeping mission in Darfur through donations. More than half of your contribution will go directly to support civilian protection. The remaining amount will fund programs, advocacy efforts and provide membership support for the network.
4) Join the Rapid Response Network: There are instances when we need members to take immediate action. You will receive GI-Net action alerts in real time, ensuring that your action makes the maximum impact.

Enjoying the Ecumenical Hunger Program crab feedOn a different note but still impactful on a local level, we attend a crab feast benefit fundraiser for Ecumenical Hunger Program (EHP). This 34 year old, non-profit, community-based organization located in East Palo Alto provides emergency food, clothing, case management, and household essentials to families in need in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto. We ate pounds of fresh crabOur neighbor hosted us as her guest. We had a great time eating and bidding on silent auction items. All the proceeds benefited EHP programs. EHP is always looking for community volunteers. Several of E’s boys have volunteered there in the past.

Immigration EqualityAn important GLBT issue working it way through congress in Washington is the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). This significant piece of legislation would “right a gross unfairness,” according to the Washington Post, by “[allowing] gay and lesbian Americans and permanent residents to sponsor their foreign-born partners for legal residency in the United States.” Click here to let Congress know that Immigration Reform will not be comprehensive unless all families are part of it – including gay and lesbian families. More information at Immigration Equality.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Many of our gay friends ask when we are going to get a dog. My reply is to answer with a lame joke that we don’t have pets, we have kids instead.
We have talked about what breed of dog we would like someday. But it is not practical for us to own one at this time. We are not home enough and we often travel on extended vacations where bringing pets are prohibited. There is also the issue that I am allergic to animal fur, everything from hamsters to horses.
However, several of our kids are pet owners. It is a joy to see them engaged with their pets.
Did you know that March is Adopt-a-Rescued-Guinea-Pig Month? Let’s celebrate with daughter SH and her guinea pig named Francis.
Francis the Guinea PigFrancis & Shannon

Son JN recently adapted a baby kitten called Cruzer.
Cruzer & JonCat Wii

Son EL is the proud owner of Biggin, a pit bull mix.
California Grown Biggin with EliBiggin and eBob

Our friend SC is raising two golden lab puppies. We took our two youngest kids over for a visit. They don't have pets of their own yet.
Kids with Mac & ColbyScott with Mac & Colby

Monday, March 09, 2009

Purim Fest!

Hamentachen for Purim
Purim is a joyous and festive Jewish holiday. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination. The story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther. It is also a holiday where everything is upside-down. According to the Talmud, a person is obligated to become inebriated on Purim until they don't know the difference between "cursed is Haman" and "blessed is Mordechai."
Purim Fest 1963
I celebrated my first Purim in nursery school in 1963. I suspect we washed down our hamentachen cookies with only sweet apple juice. Although my parents were Protestant, they sent me to the nursery school at the Jewish Community Center in Binghamton, New York. It was to be a 40-plus years before I converted to Reform Judaism.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Google Dinner

10 guys waiting for a 10 course meal at GoogleAlmost a year ago we attended a benefit dinner for a local non- profit, Outlet. Outlet is an organization that supports and empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth ages 13-20 living on the Peninsula and South Bay. Outlet's mission is to increase youth confidence, build personal assets, and create healthier communities through a range of support services, leadership training, community education and advocacy.

We had the winning bid on an auction item to entertain ten friends for a ten course gourmet meal at Google. The meal would be prepared by one of the gourmet executive chefs at one of the Google cafeterias.

Recently we collected on the dinner with 10 friends. Executive chef, Olivia Wu prepared us an amazing Asian meal of seafood and vegetarian dishes with wine parings. We requested no beef or pork.

We started off with a Caviar Nest and Quinoa Maki-Your-Own Rolls (no picture).
Green Tea Shrimp (left), Curry-Seared Scallops (center) and Cucumber Fupi Rolls (right)
Green Tea Shrimp (left), Curry-Seared Scallops (center) and Cucumber Fupi Rolls (right)

Intermezzo: “Cocktail Grapefruit” Sorbet

Chef Olivia’s 'Shrooms and Shoots (top) and Three-Egg Chawan Mushi (egg custard) (bottom)
Chef Olivia’s 'Shrooms and Shoots (top) and Three-Egg Chawan Mushi (egg custard) (bottom)

Tea Braised Duck (top), Stir Fried New Year's Cake with Imported Winter Bamboo (bottom)
Tea Braised Duck (left), Stir Fried New Year's Cake with Imported Winter Bamboo (right)

Coconut Crème Caramel with Coconut Tuile Date Smiles with Kumquat Flambé.
Dessert: Coconut Crème Caramel with Coconut Tuile and Date Smiles with Kumquat Flambé.

The dinner was served with two kinds of sparking wine, two Rieslings, a Pinto Noir and a Merlot.

Outlet's benefit this year is Thursday, May 7, 2009 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.
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