pavement face

I was woken up by the deafening clunking sounds of the MRI machine. Though I felt cold and completely disoriented, it was strangely comforting to be lying there, entombed in a smooth plastic shaft with mysterious buttons and codes. Someone is taking care of me.

I had no idea how long I’d been unconscious. The last thing I remembered was soaring down the turns of the Wiggle on my bike. My head ached and my whole right side of my face throbbed. When I moved my head to touch it, a woman’s voice boomed from above, “PLEASE DON’T MOVE.”

Obeying, I closed my eyes. As I felt something drip down my cheek into my ear, I slowly realized I’d been in an accident.

okonomiyaki

When someone asks what your favorite food is, I think there are three factors that should be considered:

1) high frequency and intensity of craving for said dish
2) sentimental/memory attachments
3) strong desire to make everyone you care about eat it

So given these self-made qualifications, my favorite food is okonomiyaki.

my drawing of shrimp/corn okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki roughly translates to “cook/grill it the way you like,” and it’s pretty much a Japanese savory pancake whose basic ingredients are cabbage, flour, water, and egg, topped with various garnishes: red pickled ginger (“benishoga”), seaweed flakes (“aonori”), shaved bonito (“katsuobushi”), mayo, and okonomiyaki sauce (pretty much sweet soy sauce). These garnishes are pretty standard across Japan, but the ingredients you put inside it AND the way you cook it varies by the region. You can make it vegetarian but it’s standard to put pork, shrimp, scallops, clam, etc. in it.

You can of course search for your own recipe, but here’s my rough one below which I typed up following a potluck. I eyeball most of the ingredients and steps but I tried to describe it as best as I could.

—-

OKONOMIYAKI RECIPE

Ingredients (Serves 4)
– Cabbage, chopped into about 1 inch pieces (3 cups or about 5 leaves depending on the size of the cabbage)
– Green onions, chopped small (1/2 cup or about 4 stalks)
– Flour (1 cup)
– Baking powder (1/2 teaspoon)
– Eggs (2)
– Water, with veggie/chicken stalk stirred in (3/4 cup)
– Protein (pick 1~3)
* Grated mozzarella (1/2 cup)
* Meat: thinly sliced pork, chicken, or some other animal
* Seafood: shrimp, squid, scallops (1 in pieces)

Optional additions:
– Moyashi sprouts
– Corn (1/2 cup)
– Kimchi (1/4 cup)
– Grated mountain potato (watery slime. so adjust water input accordingly)
…the possibilities are endlesssssss

Garnishes/Sauces
– Aonori (seeweed flakes)
– Mayo (the one I like is kewpie mayo)
– Okonomiyaki sauce (If you don’t have this, you might be able to substitute with mixing ketchup and soy sauce, or Worcestershire sauce or even A1 sauce and ketchup. Never tried either of these but it could totally work.)
– Beni shoga (red ginger)
– Katsuobushi (shaved bonito flakes)

Preparation:
1) Combine chopped cabbage, chopped green onions, flour, eggs, water, and your proteins and mix.
2) Heat pan to medium. Once heated, oil pan with canola, vegetable, or some other gentle-flavored oil.
3) Scoop batter into the pan, each should be about the same size as a regular pancake.
Some people like to make bigger ones but they’re harder to flip.
4) Cook for about 5~7 min or until the underside starts to brown. While waiting, sprinkle aonori on one side.
5) Flip. Wait another 5 min or so, or until it browns on that side.
6) Serve with mayo (stripe it for cool design), okonomiyaki sauce, beni shoga, and katsuobushi on top.
7) Enjoy!

* If you have leftovers, they can be frozen and are perfect when heated up in a toaster oven.

The Science of Government (a poem)

The study of politics is the study of power
between people or nations, it doesn’t need to be dour.

Yet when the topic is broached, over dinner or tea
most tend to desire, to let that topic be.

But as someone who loves it, there’s something I’d like to mention,
so please for a moment, could I have your attention?

As an American a recent episode comes to mind…
but really I’d say, such examples aren’t hard to find.

The one that stands out for me the most clearly
is a moment last month when a Rep. said so sincerely

that a woman who is raped in a “legitimate” way
has a mechanism in her body to keep pregnancy at bay.

From what he understood from a doctor (perhaps it was a clown?)
he claimed that it will find ways to “shut that whole thing down”.

I don’t want to debate over conception or abortion,
or even to comment on the fellow’s mental distortion.

The bigger issue at hand, that I see at least,
is that distrust of science has only increased.

It’s easier to see this at the level of one man,
but let’s take it a bit further, to a further view span…

When you think of a policy, whether by law or decree
we have an assumption, of a simple guarantee

that the rules in question is designed for a purpose
that the policies aren’t there, just to be worthless.

Beside all the rules that warrant thoughtful debate
there’s still so many more that we tend to tolerate.

They were put there for various nonsensical reasons,
or actions by leaders we’d all deem to be malfeasance.

So my underlying point, one I’ve been thinking through
is there’s an odd disconnection in the way that we view

the necessity for analyzing the legitimacy of facts,
between science and laws that a nation enacts.

It must surely be feasible to create a certain system,
that builds upon decades of all kinds of new wisdom

to analyze the impact of a policy in place
and determine if it’s a rule we should truly embrace.

Whether it’s laws governing our trade, traffic, or taxes,
the logic behind them shouldn’t be an abstraction.

Instead what we’re left with is the current arrangement,
that relies on a certain level of flawed disengagement

on the part of those persons who legislate our rules
(even if they are not otherwise a dolt or a fool).

Public officials, petitions, or (in the US) the judges
whole policies can be built on some personal grudges.

Since laws are now bought through payments and lobbies
isn’t it time we acknowledge and embody,

the values of science into the political edifice
their purpose and objective as the highest requisite?

I myself don’t have the answer as to how that would look
but I think the first step that must be undertook,

is to undo many people’s embellished attachment
to a system of government where corruption is rampant.

Based upon people’s disgusted reactions,
to Rep. Akin’s odd comments which gained such attraction,

it’s clear that many value the factual truth,
yet they may also find it purely uncouth

to question the foundation of our political structure
because challenging that would just make them shudder.

So we must become comfortable to be loud and outspoken
and say to our peers that “Yes, our democracy is broken.

It’s okay to question, criticize, and proffer
that it should be upgraded since the Founding Fathers

built it up as such, so many years ago.”
and make this idea grow more apropos.

Political discussion can be less about a candidate
or a new legislation, which only does aggravate.

It can be a creative endeavor, for us to imagine
new ways to design government in a functional fashion.

I stress it won’t be easy to find the solutions
to how we should fix our public institutions.

Just remember to discuss, challenge, and surmise
new doors will be opened, once we let ourselves hypothesize.

 

 

 

 

~

Note:

When I heard the news about his death last month, I finally got around to reading his work. David Rakoff was a regular contributor to This American Life, and when I first listened to one of his segments I, as many others, became an immediate fan.

He’s one of those writers that knew so well how to use language to dance with your emotions. His writing is intimate, lyrical, and always extremely clever. You can tell that he deeply respected composition and obsessed over his words.

I wrote this piece as a sort of homage to him. I think he single-handedly resuscitated couplet poetry from being a childish, dismissible writing form usually associated with Dr. Seuss, to an elegant, expressive one, capable of delivering complex feeling in a sweet melodic way.

This is the piece that I first heard from him: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace by David Rakoff

Shortly before his death, he performed for the This American Life stage show this summer. It’s a beautiful, sad piece about living with cancer. It’s really worth watching until the end: “Stiff as a Board, Light as a Feather” by David Rakoff

 

Goin' to Leesburg

I need to wake up in 5 hours to go to Leesburg, VA for the 14th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) negotiations. These last two weeks have been insanity, as my partner in crime, Carolina Rossini, and I have been crankin out blog posts, press calls, resources, etc. to make sure everything was in line for this weekend. I’m only there Saturday til early Tuesday morning but we’re hoping we’ll make was leeway this time. The “Direct Stakeholder” events are on Sunday, as well as large rallies that are busing folks in from DC.

I did this interview on the Corbett Report. I thought it went well but I have a serious “um” problem throughout the discussion:

http://www.corbettreport.com/eff-vs-tpp-battle-for-the-internet-video

On a different note, apparently my migration to NearlyFreeSpeech is not yet complete, so I’m having issues uploading photos here. I have a bunch of good ones from last/this this week and would like to use a new way of posting them here but alas, they’ll have to wait until the TPP madness is over…

Anyways, wish me luck in Leesburg. I’m sleepy as alllll helllllll.