Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Piggy cakes: Customers at Shinsegae Department Store in downtown Seoul, Sunday, look at cakes shaped like pigs to celebrate the Year of the Pig.
(photo and caption from The Korea Times)

새해 복 많이 받으세요* or Happy New Year!

I was a lazy expatriate and just chose to stay at home. After being part of the spirited World Cup crowd in Seoul City Hall Plaza this summer, I just wasn't in the mood to deal with jostling through crowds or making my way home after the festivities were over.

A demi- celebrity friend of mine was a part of the big New Years show at Seoul City Hall Plaza, but even with access to a nice cozy spot, I just didn't want to brave the cold and the crowds to get to the cozy spot.

Like I did when I was young with my parents, I stayed in the warmth of my home. I actually slept through the turn of midnight the way my dad always managed to do. However, my cell phone woke me up when it started rattling with Happy New Year text messages. I do love the connectivity in Korea even when it interferes with my sleep.

I wished my cat a Happy New Year. Filled her special food plate with, well, special food and went back to sleep. My cat seems to be happy. It's been a week of moist food and premium leftovers (premium salmon I bought at the department store down the road, leftover chicken (the parts I don't like), etc.) That's a great change because now that I'm actually at home, I'm eating and cooking at home. She always benefits from that.

Again, 새해 복 많이 받으세요!

Fireworks Celebrating 2007 at Seoul City Hall Plaza (found at olgabrasil's site)
*새해 복 많이 받으세요 = saehae bok mani ba deu saye yo


This is what I chose to avoid New Years Eve. Crazy, in a good way, no?


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The Home Office Lawyer

I posted this mostly for my friends and former classmates who want to hang their own shingle and get out of the lawyer rat race. I got out by default because I just decided it wasn't for me. Clearly, I've chosen to go academic.

Anyway, I figured posting it because any lawyer who is interested in working for themselves might benefit from reading this blog.

I found out about it because it's TypePad's Featured Blog for December 30th.

Here it is: Home Office Lawyer



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Friday, December 29, 2006

South Korea Report Calls North Korea A Threat

North Korean soldiers parade with the portrait of Kim Il Sung, the country's founding president, in Pyongyang to mark the 60th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party in this October 2005 photo. (AP photo and caption from MSNBC).

After years of a starry-eyed and simplistic Sunshine Policy (햇볕 정책), the South Korean government again is officially taking notice of North Korea being a threat.

:::insert eye roll here:::


Washington Post: S. Korea Report Calls N. Korea a Threat
New York Times: Countries and Territories: North Korea


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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Technology, Communication And Feeling Connected

Okay, it is a few days after Christmas, and now I've got computer game burnout. I got the new Civilization IV game and its expansion pack, Warlords, for Christmas. I am a huge fan of the previous version, Civilization III. Couple getting the new version of a computer game that I've spent way too much time playing with a whole lot of time on my hands, and, you guessed it, I've had a nightmare of very little sleep since I signed for my DHL box o' Christmas goodies.

However, I did have to leave the comfort of my apartment a few times over the past week. I got another Christmas present, a new job that I'll start in March, so that means signing a new contract and submitting paperwork so that the visa issuance process goes smoothly.

What's great is my new employer is a rarity in South Korea. The administration office is mega-organized and seems to have procedures laid out for everything from the application process to hiring. Since I hate disorganization, I was chomping at the bit when I realized that from top to bottom they appear to have their shit together. I'm hoping this is just an indicator that I made the right choice (I'll keep you posted.)

Anyway, I had to take the train to the college yesterday. It's about a 40 minute subway ride. Sleep deprived, but not wanting to risk falling asleep and missing my stop, I brought a magazine to read.

I recently subscribed to Good Magazine simply because when I heard about the concept behind it, I figured that, even if the magazine sucked, it would be worth subscribing. The concept is that they donate 100% of subscription money generated to the charity that each subscriber chooses from a list of twelve. Their goal is 50,000 subscribers at $20USD a year or $1 million. I figured $20 to the charity of my choice and potentially an interesting read would be worth it. And regarding what I've seen, so far, so good. It doesn't seem to suck at all.

In my Christmas box o' goodies there were two issues of Good. I started reading with the Jan/Feb 2007 issue. In it an article by Peter Alsop, Sleeping with Strangers, caught my eye. It's about a website,, that connects travelers with people who have no problem allowing a stranger to travel to their town or city and sleep on their couch. That was an interesting concept to me because I've done it. Not crash but I have let someone I met on the net, who wanted to travel, sleep on my couch. I was just happy to see that others are as unconventionally crazy or more prone to taking risks as I am, so it was the first article I read. I know there is a risk, but I really do believe that most people mean well and are good people. At least, so far, that's been the case in my life.

This passage from the article struck a chord with me.

In June of 2006, just as MySpace neared 80 million users and Facebook approached 8 million, an article, "Social Isolation in America," appeared in the American Sociological Review. The work of sociologists at Duke and the University of Arizona, it examined two national surveys of the American public, one in 1985 and the other in 2004. Their research found that the average number of people with whom Americans discuss important issues has dropped by nearly a third, from about three to two. Even more startling is that one-quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom to discuss their most important matters—twice as many as in 1984. This would suggest that in the same 20 years that saw the rise and triumph of communication technologies—the proliferation of email, cell phones, BlackBerries, and MySpace—our circle of close friends and confidants has shrunk by a significant margin. We are somehow more connected than we once were, and more isolated than ever before.
I agree completely. I'm not suffering from a lack of friends, but I have noticed that I'm not making close ones at the same rate I did before I got access to the net. It seems that this is the case for other people too. I'm not implying a direct correlation, but I'm just noticing that with the increase in connectivity, ironically, I'm feeling less connected to other human beings. What that report indicates is I'm not the only one.

When I got my first laptop, an Apple Mac PowerBook 540, I immediately plugged into AOL. I had visions of networking, meeting interesting people and fostering fruitful friendships and social networks, as well as keeping up with those I'd left behind when I moved from L.A. to San Francisco. However, it was insane and I felt a lot like I'd wandered into a place that mimics what the world might be like if there were no law enforcement and people threw their social norms out of the window.

Years later the net has developed and more people are online, but, honestly, not that much has changed. I'm a member of MySpace, Facebook and a participant on a few online forums. After one breakup, I decided not to mope around, so I joined a dating site and started dating immediately which was a lot fun. Some online interactions have fostered friendships that have developed into friendships that I would consider real, but most are no different from making small talk with the stranger next to you on a bus or plane.

It very well might be fun and interesting, but usually you go your way and they go theirs. Also, a lot of groups on online communities are just as clickish and immature, if not more so because anonymity can make even a weakling very brave, as they were in high school. Add to that the specter of creepy and downright dangerous people hiding behind the anonymity that the net provides and, it seems, you merely have a more technologically advanced way to keep in contact with friends and family. There is nothing wrong with that, and maybe the grand vision of deeply linked virtual communities worth a damn was unrealistic to begin with.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the net at all. As the Sleeping with Strangers article also notes,
Some sociologists argue that sites like MySpace might not promote strong ties between people, but they do greatly enable weak ones. And these connections lead to jobs, apartments, and partners (for some people, Craigslist alone has provided all three).
I owe credit to the Internet for many things like the great apartment my roommate and I found when I first moved to San Francisco. BTW, I met that roommate via an Internet roommate matching service. It was a great match. We are both insulin dependent diabetics and, since I'd just lost my parents, I really needed to live with someone I didn't have to explain the intricacies of diabetes management to. She also accepted that I'll always be in need of a housekeeper, and I kept my piggy tendencies under control because I liked her. She and I are still pretty close friends. Also, the Internet has provided job leads. I had a job last year that I did all from home. As I came here with the goal of travel, travel information as well as cheap tickets are plentiful. The Internet is simply an awesome place to find people like like needs and a place to find information.

Also, it's made my life easier. I can't imagine how difficult banking and other things would be as an expatriate living in South Korea prior to the Internet. Lastly, I'm really happy to discover the world of blogging. It's fun to surf around and read what others have to say as well as having my own blog which makes me think through issues and throw my two cents into the well. So, for what it's worth, I see the value of the technology.

It just seems that with all this connectivity people should be feeling more connected and not less. It just seems that instead of the number of people you can confide in decreasing, it should be increasing. That's what bittersweet about all of this technological progress.

Okay, time for me to disconnect and get back to conquering the world.


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Monday, December 25, 2006

James Brown, Rest in Peace

I was hoping to get through Christmas with posting only happy blogs. However, I just got the news that James Brown, the Godfather of Seoul, died today.

There isn't much to say, as I don't like long orations after someone has passed away. I still have trauma from my own parent's deaths and the whole lot of talk that I heard that didn't ease the pain at all. As a result, I will just keep it short.

Folks are posting comments on his MySpace page.

James Brown, Rest in Peace. You've left us all with some great music.



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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Reveal Your Blog Crush

I'm TOTALLY late in the game here. I think that's because during the due date of this I was committed to doing nothing, reading nothing and thinking about nothing.

I've recovered. I know my grades (two As, bitches - can you believe I want one to be adjusted up? I'm such a perfectionist). I'm ready to carry on with life. So while delaying my departure to a Christmas day potluck gathering, I found this:

Reveal Your Blog Crush: Dec. 15th

I've heard the rumble regarding this fabulous brainchild Sandra and I had last week. Ok, so you want to REVEAL YOUR BLOG CRUSH but you've got questions. Hey, we're here to make your reveal the least like a junior high flashback, ok? Let's proceed. . .

So, I've been asked what technically IS a Blog Crush? It'd likely include some, if not all, of the following:
A) You can't wait to read what they post next.
B) You want to be friends with them.
C) You think they are the cat's meow. Meow!
D) You might find them attractive- physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, whatever floats your boat.
E) If you met them in person, blushing might occur.

If you have to really think hard about who your blog crush is, you probably don't have one.

1) You can have more than one crush (but please refrain from naming your entire blogroll in an effort to keep everyone happy).
2) You must reveal it on December 15, 2006 on your own blog.
3) Boys can crush on boys. Girls can crush on girls. Boys can crush on girls. Girls can crush on boys. This has little to do with our sexuality and more to do with being bloggeriffic.

We'd love to know if you are participating so leave Sandra or I a comment on our blogs.

I don't quite get the point of the deadline, but I'm so late in the game that by definition I've broken the deadline rule, so it doesn't matter anyway.

I've chosen a four of blogcrushes simply because I think these guys are so cute in their own special ways.
  1. John Mayer - Not the blog on his website but the one on It's funny, but shows his watch and electronic gadget dork side, and that's very cute. I've always had a weakness for technical and more cerebral than physical guys.
    • Plus, he always seems to have photos of black people on his blog! People like David Ryan Harris who is an amazing musician who toured with John on his fall tour. BTW, I met and talked with David briefly in Tokyo. He's a nice fellow.
      • John also has a blog about his trainer's holiday brunch. The picture is him, Harley (his trainer), Alicia Keys, and a few other of my people. He's also blogged about the weird, but very funny, Tracy Morgan. There are other pictures, but it would be beyond lame to account for every single one. It's just nice to see. That's all.
    • He's got a new puppy and the dog has made it to the blog a couple of times too. That's just cute.
    • Also, since is a website based in Japan, it's on GMT +9 time which is also Seoul's time zone. It's fun to see that he was blogging just as I was rolling out of bed or something equally uneventful and boring.
  2. The Anonymous Coworker - He's hilarious. When I first started reading his blog subtitle was "Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch?" That's from the Dave Chappelle Show, Season Two, in the episode where Wayne Brady takes over the show. (From the skit that spoofs Wanye Brady's clean cut image). This crush reveals another weakness: a guy that has me guffawing laughing and this blog does it very well.
  3. Citizen of the Month - Neil is a another hilarious blogger and he's blogging from home sweet home, Southern California. When I read his blog I can't help but burst out laughing. I also usually leave a comment or two (I've not done so lately because I've been busy and brain dead.) One of the funniest blogs I read was about mommy bloggers.
  4. Anderson Cooper's 360 blog - Honestly, he doesn't seem to contribute much to this blog, but who cares? I mean he's a busy, award-winning reporter! The rest of the CNN reporters and staff can write for him! I've had a crush on Anderson Cooper since his World News Now days. I was in law school, and staying up late was something that was pretty much required if you wanted to keep up with all the reading. World News Now was a funny late night news show on that mad me laugh, so I was a regular viewer. This is only a continuation of that TV crush.
Okay, those are four of my blog crushes. I actually have more but I have to stop because I've successfully procrastinated and now I'm really late!

Again, Merry Christmas!


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It's A Wonderful Life

For friends who got my Christmas greeting and didn't get the bell reference, here is the movie.

Often referred to as one of the best films ever made, this holiday classic is out of copyright and is available for everyone to enjoy again and again.

Plot: George Bailey spends his entire life giving up his big dreams for the good of his town, Bedford Falls, as we see in flashback. But in the present, on Christmas Eve, he is broken and suicidal over the misplacing of a loan and the machinations of the evil millionaire, Mr. Potter. His guardian angel, Clarence, falls to Earth, literally, and shows him how his town, family, and friends would turn out if he had never been born. ~Tommy Peter(IMDB)

It's a Wonderful Life

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!


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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Time Magazine's Person of the Year 2006

Time's Person of the Year: You

In 2006, the World Wide Web became a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter.
So does this mean we all get a free copy of this issue of Time?

More Links:

Washington Post

A Search for Ourselves - User-Generated Content Dominates Google's 2006 Hot List
John Doe blogger named Person of the Year


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Natural African Hair Banned in the Baltimore Police Department

The Baltimore Police Dept and City Council has effectively banned the wearing of natural African hair. This new policy effective January 1st will require women with locs to cut their hair off and those with natural styles straighten their hair in order to "conform." To view more about this policy and voice your outrage, please go to this link:

As noted on the sidebar of this blog, I'm a member of The purpose of that website is to promote the natural texture of African hair. is your resource for the style and beauty of Natural Black Hair. We are dedicated to all the women in the diaspora who proudly wear their highly textured hair naturally.
For too long blacks have been raised to be ashamed of their hair. For those of us who have chosen to embrace the natural texture of our hair some have been regulated to being "fadish" and others have been told their hair is unprofessional or they "need to get their hair done." Because it's something that has been internalized into black culture, it's even more insidius.

However, it must stop because it's just as bad as any other form of discrimination. You'd never tell Heidi to change the texture of the hair that grows out of her head, so don't tell me to change mine.

If you agree with my sentiments, please go to this petition and sign it. Also, if you're moved to do so, follow-up with a letter or email.

Here is a link to Baltimore PD's Policy document (an .rtf file that you can open in MS Word): Professional Appearance Standards

Furthermore, write your representatives because this is truly a serious issue. Here is the link to find your representative if you are a US citizen (if you're not international outrage sways policy too):

Also, here is the link to write the Congressional Black Caucus:

Letters can also be sent to:
Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm
Baltimore Police Department
242 West 29th Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21211-2908
Email to:

It's so important to fight racial stereotypes. One that is deeply ingrained in society is that African hair in its natural state is unattractive and unprofessional.

The beginning paragraph and online petition can also be found at

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill's blog on this issue
Update, January 2, 2007:

The policy has been rescinded. However, I've yet to get my hands on a press release or link verifying that. Once I get something, anything, I'll link it.

Thanks to all that signed the petition and/or took other action.


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Friday, December 15, 2006

Okay, Something Good About Korea

After running around this afternoon taking care of last minute things before my friend's wedding tomorrow (I'm a bridesmade), I went to my Friday night watering hole for one pint of British beer. I left with a nice buzz (I'm a lightweight these days) and got on the bus to go home.

Even though it was around 8:45pm on Friday night people were still getting out of work and commuting home, so the bus was crowded.

I had a bag with shoes I had made for tomorrow and new accessories (because give me a reason to accessorize and I will.) I also had my backpack because I have diabetes supplies I always carry with me.

In Asia it's common that if you're on the bus with tons of bags a person sitting down will offer to hold them for you. This isn't so common in Korea with younger people and because they're just a bit more rough around the edges, but in Japan it happens all the time when I'm there. Anyway, tonight an older gentlemen offered to hold my extra bags, and knowing it was a custom, I let him.

He started asking me questions and was happy to see that I could talk to him on a basic level. Turns out we live in the same area, so we walked and talked a bit after we got off the bus en route to our homes until we parted ways.

It was a nice moment to just talk to someone. While it was happening I was comparing how I would react back home versus here.

First, I'd never get on a bus with a buzz back home. I'd take a taxi. Second, I'd never let a stranger hold a bag full of new merchandise I'd just bought and my backpack. Third, I'd never divulge personal information to a stranger.

However, in Korea it's pretty common that all of these things happen fairly frequently with no negative consequences. Whereas, back home, I probably would have ended up chasing Mr. Yoo trying to get my bags back.

It's nice being able to have my defenses set to low here. Sadly, the only time my defenses get elevated is when I'm around other foreigners.


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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Okay, the Bad Side of Korea: "It's not racist; it's a joke!"

Are you kidding me? --------->

I've been in a hovel regarding current events. However, there is a controversy in Korea right now regarding a show that featured "foreign beauty" and lapsed into offensive tomfoolery and stereotyping.

Korean media tries to get away with this from time to time claiming that it was just "a joke." Well, it's nothing more than buffonery and distaste at the expense of the image of another race of people.

I'm sure Koreans would scream bloody murder if it was the other way around with somoene making fun of them. In fact, I know they have in the past. When Jay Leno made a joke about dog meat, Koreans freaked out. So when it happens to them, it's bad. But they're free to do it to others. It's nothing more than hypocrisy.

Here is a link to the video on YouTube: Minyeodeuli Suda - Korean TV clip showing racist parody

Here are some links explaining what happened:

또 깜둥이 대접! - A blog from the Metropolitician discussing what the show is about and what happened.

(Seriously Stupid Department) KBS ‘foreign beauty’ program slammed for racism - The Marmot's Hole weighs in on the issue.

Lastly, and most important, a petition on the Metropolitician's blog.

Other links:

Men's News Daily: Dog Meat
ResellerRatings Store Ratings, Shopping, Deals, and Bargains: So. Korean Firm Plans Lawsuit Against Jay Leno
BongoNet (spoof news): Jay Leno Under Fire Over Joke About Koreans and Dog Meat


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The Art of Elysium

This is a great cause and I just want to spread the word about what they're doing.

The name of the organization is called The Art of Elysium. What they do is bring artists to work with and inspire children who are hospitalized with serious illnesses.

Here is how they describe the work they do:’ a place or condition of ideal happiness

Mission: The Art of Elysium, a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization founded in 1997, encourages working actors, artists and musicians to voluntarily dedicate their time and talent to children who are battling serious medical conditions. We provide artistic workshops in the following disciplines: acting, art, comedy, fashion, music, radio, songwriting and creative writing.
Here is a video link featuring a few artists, including Jordan Lawhead, doing their thing through the Art of Elysium. It's nice to see artists giving back in ways that involve more than writing a check or going to a party. More should try it.

I was blessed as a kid with pretty good health. As I got older, I've been hospitalized a couple of times. Even though I put on a brave face and cracked a lot of jokes, it's terrifying. I can't imagine what it's like to experience that as a child.

These folks are doing some great work! It seems to be L.A. based now, but it would be nice to see it expand.

I heard about this non-profit from a member at MySpace. Thanks Lori!


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Friday, December 8, 2006

I'm Done!

This is an uncharacteristically short post (and one I've found months after the fact, but decided to publish because it really captures how I felt.)


I'm exhausted! I turned in my last paper today and I also gave my last set of final tests today too.

This dual life was a challenge. I have to admit I'm so focused on doing well in the program that I'm in that there were times it was hard to motivate for work. However, I've been around long enough to know that even if I felt a certain way that I needed to push myself and do my best.

I know I would feel so hurt if my students had the impression that I didn't care because I do. I think it's just the nature of how it goes when you've got multiple demands pulling at you and you have find time to do them all.

But, somehow, I managed. Yeah!


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Thursday, December 7, 2006

Congratulations y'all!!!

Oh boy! I'm up late working on project and they announced the nominees for the 49th Annual Grammy Awards about an hour ago.

I'm so excited because some of my favorite artists got Grammy nods!

    1. Mary J. Blige got eight.
    2. The Red Hot Chili Peppers got six.
    3. John Mayer got five (three for his new solo album Continuum, one for "Try" with the John Mayer Trio and one for Route 66 from the "Cars" Soundtrack.)
    4. Corrine Bailey Rae got three
    5. John Legend got three (I's almost 3am here.)
      Congratulations, bitches!Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

      Mary J. Blige leads Grammy nominees
      LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - R&B singer Mary J. Blige led the contenders for the Grammy Awards, picking up eight nominations, organizers said on Thursday.

      Los Angeles rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers landed six nominations, while English singer/songwriter James Blunt, country trio the Dixie Chicks, pop singer John Mayer, funk veteran Prince, producer Rick Rubin, Black Eyed Peas singer and classical composer John Williams earned five each.

      The 49th annual Grammy Awards, considered the music industry's most prestigious, will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 11.
      Okay, either it's bedtime or I need to get back to work.

      More links:

      NYTimes: Blige Leads Grammy Nominations With 8
      The Envelope by the LATimes: Grammy nominations unveiled
      BBC News: Mary J Blige leads Grammys list
      John Mayer's Blog: Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm Partying


      Oh, update. I got info from Eric at the MOG website.

      They have a contest to go see the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Sydney. The show will be sometime in mid-April 2007.

      Check it out. It seems really cool.


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      Wednesday, December 6, 2006

      In Memoriam: James Kim

      This is a sad ending to a story I've been following from back home: James Kim found deceased

      James Kim, an editor for CNET, was found dead after being missing for eleven days. His wife, Kati, and two daughters, Penelope and Sabine, had been found earlier this week on Monday.

      James had left his family to search for help, but never returned. I was praying he'd be found alive too. It's never easy loosing a loved one.

      My deep condolences to James' wife, daughters, family and friends.

      Rest in peace James.

      More on this sad story from the San Francisco Chronicle @ SFGate:


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      Cool Story: The World's Oldest Student?

      Eighty-six-year-old Kimani Nganga Maruge, seated in front, attending school in a tiny village just outside El Doret, in western Kenyain Kenya. Maruge surprised school officials when he showed up at the school asking to take advantage of a government program that promises free education for all citizens. (ActionAid International) Photo and caption from

      Even though I'm suffering through finals and have due dates for research papers looming close, I definitely recognize how lucky I am to have had access to high quality education my whole life. That access has enabled me to live abroad and travel. Now I'm getting more education, and whenever I think about that I do realize how lucky I am.

      That leads me to why I'm posting a link to this news story from ABCNews. After putting the finishing touches on a final project this morning, I decided to scan the news headlines and saw this story: The World's Oldest Student?

      It's about, Kimani Nganga Maruge, an 86 year old man in Kenya who is taking advantage of the new program that guarantees free primary school education for all.

      Enjoy! It's a great story.


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      Saturday, December 2, 2006

      Go Bruins! Ahahahahahahaha!

      In the annual UCLA v. USC game, my team finally took it! (It's been seven years.)

      UCLA - 13, Number 2 ranked USC (boo hiss) - 9!

      Go Bruins!

      More links:

      UCLA's Official Athletic Site: Bruins End Trojans National Championship Hopes with 13-9 Victory
      Washington Post: UCLA Pulls Off Shocker Against No. 2 USC
      New York Times: U.C.L.A. Brings Down U.S.C., and Opens Door to Title Game


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