Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mother Earth's Declining Fertility

I don't know if you're the type to worry about parmesan cheese daily, but did you know that its calcium content has declined by 70% compared with 1940? (Carl Pope of the Sierra Club said something similar in his lecture at Brown) or that you have to eat four carrots in 2006 to get the nutrition of a carrot in 1940? What a drag!

The SEER (Sustainable Ecological Earth Regeneration) Centre in Scotland, which undertook the first scientifically controlled field trials of soil remineralization, warned that unless vital nutrients and elements are placed back into the soil, Mother Earth is heading for an early and awful menopause. In fact, in the article, they actually refer to the soil being rendered "infertile" after chemical pesticides kill off vital algae, bacteria, fungi, etc. In fact, unusual weather (Mother Earth's having hot flashes!) is considered symptomatic of this global lurch toward infertility.

Check it out:

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Wow, Hospital Food That No Longer Makes You Sick

(MPR photo/Stephanie Hemphill)

Okay, while cruising da web (Minnesota Iron Rangespeak) for organic restaurants, I stumbled upon this article for which I am awarding

to the St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota, for employing two gourmet chefs who are ingeniusly adding organic fruits and veggies to their hospital menu.

When our won was first hospitalized for his cancer, the soylent-green + chemicals stuff they were serving at the CHILDREN's hospital was so bad (chemical smells, odd colors), I was even hauling in his water. When our son had some further treatments done at the Children's Hospital in LA, they had a McDonald's right in the hospital. Nothing like seeing a line of little kids pushing IV stands while waiting for Chicken Mc-transfat-Nuggets.

So I'm adding a hearty rating for company mojo.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I'm in Minneapolis, but is Minneapolis in me?

I need to find some organic restaurants, now that Northwest Airlines has airlifted FertilityBitchGoddess to Minneapolis for the Minnesota Book Awards. My novel (Somebody's Daughter) by the way, will be duking it out with Louise Erdrich's, Painted Drum, among others. Wonder if she will get extra points for actually living here (my novel is set in suburban Minneapolis of the 1990s, and Korea) and owning a cool bookstore. Even more interesting, I am always being mistaken for being Indian (see the awesome MobyLives blog AND don't forget to take the accompanying QUIZ and admire the great poem Adrian Louis left me), so there are a host of comic possibilities here, as well. I'm sad to be currently missing the annual PowWow at Brown, where, last year, our sweet but impulsive child ran right into the Sacred Circle even though the program expressly asked people not to. Oh well, at least he was so cute (but me, chasing after him, was probably not so cute), everyone forgave him.

More synchronicity: First Class and Lovin' it

Okay, so I do make a career out of kvetching about how the world is stacked against the average proletariat (I'll even go to petit-bourgeouis) schmo who doesn't have enough cash to buy hisself a lobbyist so he can call Bush to take care of his parking ticket or torture chamber sanitary code violations, etc., etc. , and therefore traveling by air tends to put a little more of the b*tch back into Fertilitybitchgoddess.

Anyway, I needed to get to Minneapolis for a book awards ceremony (more in next post) to see if my novel actually won this award or not. Normally, this is something the publisher takes care of, but they were nice enough to send me on a small book tour when the book first came out last year, and my publicity budget, such that it was, was dry as a well in the Gobi desert. I didn't have the cash, and I dubiously concluded I'd have to try frequent flier miles. Normally, the airlines know so many people have so many superfluous miles they have instituted byzantine restrictions and odd blackout dates plus restricted number of seats coupled with mileage-sucking "perks" such as deigning to sit in an exit row until the miles can sometimes be well nigh useless.

I of course chose the cheapest (in miles) seat, and oddly enough, on the outboard route, there must have been a first class seat they couldn't thing you know, FertilityBitchGoddess is riding first class. I was reading The Progressive Populist when my seatmate arrived He offered no verbal or even vaguely gestural greeting to acknowledge we two homo sapiens would be sitting together for the next 3 hours. Instead, he stepped over me, gave me the passive-aggressive hairy eyeball, then proceeded to open his computer with all its groovy graphs of stuff his company is selling (n.b. the guy across from the aisle kept on working even as the announcement "please turn off all electronic equipment so it won't jam our navigational equipment and cause the plane to crash" came on, both during takeoff and landing--sheesh).

Later, when I was reading The Nation, the one with the picture of Bush in the toilet (literally) on the cover, he (my erstwhile seatmate) sneezed, and I sweetly said, "Bless you." He didn't answer (more passive aggression).

Back to my original point, may I say, may I admit I enjoyed the extra legroom? And the salad with fresh basil, some kind of charcuterie, real (extra virgin Italian) olive oil for dressing, kalamata olives already thoughtfully pitted, and Dancing Deer cookies made with real eggs and butter and nary a transfat. Nice snack. Plus wine. The plebes were offered the option of purchasing a $3 snack box of transfatty negatively nutritive Oreos. It made me a bit mad to think again how the rich get richer and they get access to expensive, less toxic and more healthful foods often for free while the poorer people are forced to spend a larger portion of their income on health-destroying crap.

But... I did apportion some time to actually enjoy my experience--when is that ever going to happen again? Carl Pope likes his Ralph Lauren shirts; I think leading a life of complete self denial is a quick route to hemmorhoids and a permanent squinty look. Every once in a while fortune smiles and gives me a little karmic relief and I give her a nice hug back. As we landed, I squirrelled all my little goodies (especially the Dancing Deer brownie--I'm off wheat, but have to give that to someone, it's so cute) in my bag, just as my immigrant dad always did with every stray Saltine package that came with his free lunch at the hospital, thereby earning me another hairy eyeball. I'm cheap, and I'm proud, and I got to ride first class!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Goodbye, Jane Jacobs, My Hero

Jane Jacobs, whose groundbreaking 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, basically changed my life by making me see the wisdom--and fertility--in living in densely populated, densely cultured urban areas for the rest of my life (Manhattan, Seoul, Providence sound OK?).

I love that she quietly but brilliantly articulated her views, that she had the guts to take on the eminent Robert Moses for his practically religious attachment to the automobile. Or that she didn't back down when the avuncular Lewis Mumford, who first supported her and wrote her nice (what she termed "hypocritical") letters, and then later slammed her when she openly criticized his anti-city philosophy. Even worse, as was done to another quiet empiricist, Rachel Carson, Mumford (in the New Yorker, no less) went for the "what can a little woman possibly know?" fatuously dismissing her book as "Mother Jacobs...homemade poultice for the cure of cancer" (in an interview with Metropolis Magazine in 1998, Jacobs recalled, "I laughed at a lot of it. .. I didn't go into this to win popularity or admiration from celebrities."

I love that she was so pissed her taxes were supporting the war in Vietnam that she moved out of the lovely neighborhood she had fought and sacrificed so much to save, to move to Canada and become a Canadian citizen. Could I do that, to uphold my principles? I don't know.

In her memory, let's take a minute to think about her four prescriptions for urban diversity, basically a random mashing together of people so that you can't hide--and if you can't hide and are forced to interact with people who are different from you...well, it's a lot easier to hate (and bomb) from afar:

  1. A street or district must serve several primary functions.
  2. Blocks must be short.
  3. Buildings must vary in age, condition and use.
  4. Population must be dense.
Rest in Peace, Jane, you deserve it.

Read her obit in the NY Times:

Caressable European Hair Superior to Yucky Asian (and African) Hair

A number of my Korean American friends/acquaintances/students have parents in the wig business. I remember in Korea, beauty salon specialists telling me with pride how beautiful (ippun) Korean hair is, the best in the world, in characteristic Korean hyperbole. I had a friend with such strong, shiny hair that some little old white ladies would always ask if they could "touch it" as if it were a strange and wondrous alien element.

Here's an article (by the manufacturer itself) on why you should pay more for European hair. interesting undertones on the diseased Asian body versus the clean and sanitary West (with wigs of "Asian hair of European quality" almost okay, but not quite):

Tuesday, April 25, 2006



Pretty happy day. A friend feng shui'ed my writing office and told me I needed a crystal to counteract the slope in the wall that was deflecting my creative energy. I became immediately obsessed with obtaining one and rushed to the local bead store (this is a college town, after all) only to have the sales lady try to sell me some expensive Swavorski (sp?) "crystals."

After that, I decided I needed clear quartz (my Korean name, FYI, means Clear Crystal) and wouldn't you know it, there was some hippy type guy peddling crystals mounted for necklaces right out on the street, as if I'd conjured him out of my mind.

And the best part, when I found one I liked, he inexplicably let me have it for free, with his blessings. Great karma...hope it continues.

If Malaria Is Big Money, Think about Fertility...

Our investigations suggest that the bank wasted money and lives on ineffective medicines --Amir Attaran

I used to be the kind of person who felt that with drugs, food--anything given to you to put on/in your body, that you just have to trust them. Them being the manufacturers, the government safety agencies, the pharma companies. Of course they would never do anything that would be harmful--we depend on them fully, and they know that.

Unfortunately, this dependence is known and too often exploited for profit. The BBC recently ran an article on how the World Bank (now headed by Paul Wolfowitz, one of the original bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb-Iraq Bush-hawks, see Utne Reader's Wolfowitz Admits Iraq War Planned 2 days After 9-11) basically knowingly used its funds for obsolete and inappropriate treatments for malaria, then manipulated their own secret data to boast that

" reduced deaths from malaria in the Indian states of Gujarat by 58%, Maharashtra by 98% and Rajasthan by 79%."

The authors of a study in the Lancet were suspicious of such seemingly-miraculous numbers, especially when the wrong kind of drug was used, and they thus requested--and were denied--access to the original data. They were forced to consult to official sources, and found a more appropriate and SAD result:

...According to India's Directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, deaths from malaria rose [emphasis mine] in all three states in the 2002-3 period in question.

The Lancet investigation went on to accuse the World Bank "of supplying India with an anti-malarial drug, called chloroquine, at a cost of $1.8m, which it says is unsuitable for the type of malaria seen there and against World Health Organisation guidelines [emphasis mine]."

And concluded that "The bank wasted money and lives on ineffective medicines."

Basically, the World Bank was killing people with useless treatments, hiding data, then manipulating, distorting, and waaaayyyy over-hyping the false data they did release. And then the the best the WB could come up with to defend itself was the usual poopy pseudo-economic mealy-mouthspeak that India got "good value for [the] money."

Now, on to fertility: A doctor friend who works with infertile patients (many successful regaining fertility) often after they've been kicked out by their reproductive endocrinologists as hopeless cases, told me privately that, when doing pay-per-shot procedures such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF), that the docs can discern "good" eggs versus the "rotten" ones as they harvest, and it's not uncommon for them to purposely take out rotten ones for the first 1-2-3 cycles, then get the good one in time to not screw up their success numbers.

Consider this as you shove another non-food item of unknown provenance but labeled Chicken McNugget in your mouth as you think, Of course they would never do anything that would be harmful--we depend on them fully, and they know that. Then get the little "nutritional facts" booklet and see what's actually inside those buggers. Seems unthinkable--just like the Iraq War, that the World Bank would basically knowingly let people die.

Think of the doc harvesting the egg. A good doc takes out the good egg, a somewhat evil one could (I'm not saying will) take out a lousy one just to bring you in for another $10,000 procedure (hey, he's human, he's got kids in college!)...and there's no way to know. Unfortunately, this is human nature. It's a powerful position to be in, where someone else is kept in the dark...

Full text of the story:

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Original Name idea: FertilityBitch?

Going to school in Bob Dylan's home town of Hibbing, Minnesota, by high school I developed a pretty ferocious potty mouth. My friends and I considered ourselves burnouts and therefore the "f-bomb" and other expletives needed to be sprinkled, mostly as adjectives, liberally into any conversation, including that of library books or the relative merits of Snickers vs. KitKats.

Thus I developed a bad habit of needing to compensate--badly--whenever I was in a situation where using foul language was either forbidden or severely frowned upon (e.g., you should hear me talk after church). For instance, I wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, "We Koreans Need an Al Sharpton," which was about the fact that no Koreans publicly decried Ice Cube's racist "Black Korea" rap song. However, after basing my essay on quotations from the song (I even went out to Tower Records to get the album, to make sure I was accurate), I was told that the Times didn't allow for profanity and therefore I had to excise all those parts. I can't remember the next essay I did, but it was full of #_)($## and )(*#$)_#$s.

In any event, after my stint at, for which us writers were told repeatedly that it was a family site and to treat it as such, most basically, no profanity. Thus in sort of a cheeky backlash, I thought of continuing my column as FertilityBitch. But that seemed a little too aggressive considering my green life philosophy. Then I thought perhaps FertilityBitchGoddess (see above for statue of Demeter, Greek fertility goddess) might have that right mix. GreenFertility seems a bit nerdy, if not (Ralph) Nadery. But I guess I'll stick with it, for now.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Earth Day Lecture

The day before yesterday, I put on my Earth Shoes and attended a lecture by Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra Club. This being Brown, despite the heartbreakingly stunning and evanscent beautiful spring weather (in the 30s last week) the lecture hall was filled.

Of course he was more or less preaching to the converted. When he asked "How many people drove to this lecture in an SUV?" Nary a hand went up. Part of the reason also might be that everything in campus is within walking distance. In fact, in the classroom where I teach, a building that is a ten-minute walk away instead of a five-minute walk, people are always complaining (sigh, sigh!) about the DISTANCE.

The useful part of the talk was Mr. Pope's likening global warming to a bottomless pit in which a village has been throwing all its trash. Unfortunately, as the village has gotten wealthier and has been producing more trash, faster, a strange smell and the evidence of flies has appeared, which would seem to suggest that the pit, in fact, is NOT bottomless. However, the main polluters of the village have hired some kind of expert witnesses who work hard to convince people that they yet had no proof that the pit was not NOT bottomless, either. Until all the villagers were totally confused and paralyzed into inaction. Sound familiar?

Interestingly, although Mr. Pope radiated preppiness (Ralph Lauren oxford shirt, etc.), he was attended by two comely and very young women in seemingly identical short little black dresses with not much room to pin on their Sierra Club badges.

We retired to the Environmental Studies dept. for the reception, which was, er, SHRIMP, something that's ruining the environment all over southern Asia. I subtly tried to make a bit of a stink about it, but all I was assured was, "Try it, they're very good." I did not, but I did enjoy the sight of undergrads stuffing the tender pink commas into their mouths as fast as they would go. Then I went home to chuck some more stuff (egg shells, avocado skins) on the compost heap, which is still kind of half-frozen so, thank goodness, it has not yet started to smell.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Yoicks, and Away...Here goes the former Fertility Blog

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow... (T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland)

Starting last January, I was kept warm and fed by writing the Fertility Blog for I had a nice little beat going, promoting health and wellness, writing product and book reviews, and the occasional celebrity (Brangelina, anyone?)-cum-snarky rant. The people were very nice, and besides needing to do about three posts a day, I had absolutely no complaints.

Unfortunately, a friend/colleague at tipped me off to a slight problem of actively discriminating against gays and singles who want to adopt, and there was even a court case going on. Eeek!

I will note I had posted blogs vehemently in favor of gays and singles adopting, and no one from the company gave me any grief about it. However, I felt that if institutional discrimination was going on, I couldn't be a part of it. I quit and "I" was erased, but my stuff's still on the site (I heard it was pretty popular, actually). So here I am, feeling free. Welcome!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Thanks for your patience

Hi All,

It's going to take the Green Fertility blog a bit to get up and running. Please come back soon.