Despite this summer’s unseasonably-cold weather, I’ve been trying to visit a variety of places recently, or revisit those I haven’t been to in a very long time before school starts, and the mania begins. Here are 3 recent  reasons why I love California!

1. Kayaking at Valley Ford

0811101522-00  A lovely, quiet place to kayak through miles of marshways and waterways that eventually lead to the ocean at Estero. Easy current and a sense of privacy, since not many non-local people know about it. 20100811174038

2. Hiking at Sugar Loaf State Park

cLots of trails –some challenging, some definitely not – that wind up into Sonoma County. FYI: The “Hillside” trail can feel like a bit more than walking up a hill (it burns), but there are thousands of ripe blackberries to snack on, which helps. There’s also a really powerful telescope in the park that opens during certain nights for deep space viewing (think faraway planets etc.) It cost $8 to get in, where there’s lots of bathrooms and picnic areas, and camping as well. 13

3. Beaches along Pacific Coast Highway 1, above Half Moon Bay

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Seriously spectacular fields of flowers. Definitely worth a stop along the highway. I can’t remember the name of this beach, but it has gorgeous yellow sand. 0725101734-01

Happy Saturday!

Sometimes I wish there was a better way to protest things.

Tomorrow, for example, there is a rally on my campus called “Walk out for education!” where everyone is going to leave their classes and congregate on the quad to make a fuss (I will be there, of course, I have to – as a grad student and college teacher I’m meeting both ends of the sharp stick). BUt it seems odd to me, to protest our dwindling education system by missing class-time. Granted, we can’t protest on Fridays, because the campus is technically “closed,” another lovely effect of the budget crisis, so any other day is going to have scheduled classes.

So come on everyone, let’s protest our watered-down classes by cutting down on our own class-time!

But it’s not as if all forms of social protest are nearly counter-productive. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, and people held sit-ins, camping out in all sorts of establishments. These are great examples of non-violent protest that gets the point across effectively. Walking out of class to protest lack of classes is akin to African Americans refusing to ride the bus at all , or visit certain restaurants because they didn’t have equal rights. They wanted to right to be treated equally on buses, so they forced society to do so.

But I suppose we can’t protest budget cuts by holding a sit-in on campus, right?

My generation is, in many ways, in a bit of a tough spot. We don’t have the furvour of the 60s, yet we many of our issues are a great a threat to our future. My mom , a protester of the 60s, is always saying that we need to band together and protest things so that the authorities are forced to listen. But is our situation really solvable in that way? One might suggest that the problem of global warming can’t be solved as easily as stopping the Vietnam war. Can you compare the major issues of time periods, or are they apples and oranges?

I wonder if our generation needs some of that old blood, or to have some threat to our very existence thrown in our face. Will 20-somethings march on Washington if someone threatens their access to TV, iPods, or the blogosphere? Will “going green” become a lifestyle rather than a state of mind? Will California’s economy return the sparkle to the golden state?

I’ll be at the protest tomorrow, but whether it is the correct form of action is still yet to be seen.

 

(p.s. many many bonus point if you can figure out what movie the title comes from)

I think people are forgetting what ‘religious freedom’ actually means.

Simple: It means that everyone is free to believe what they want to believe, and practice accordingly, as long as it does not infringe on anyone else’s rights or break any laws. And yet, here we are, with a proposition on the ballot that is designed to, in short, walk (or something less PC) all over the US Constitution. Now, as an English grad student, I will be the first to tell you that this document can be interpreted in many different ways. However – the phrase where it declares that all men are created equal is not a gray area. Or is it?

It seems that this country is determined to test these words in every way possible. People said that slaves were not men, therefore did not need to be equal. Then blacks were clearly not men, and legally invisible. They also claimed that since women were not men, they also did not need the same rights as others. Stop me if you already know how these debates ended…

And now we are, again, trying to stretch these simple words to suggest that EVEN MEN are not all equal. However, while it was obvious who was black and who was a woman, one can’t always tell who is gay and who is not. Thus this kind of prejudice is somehow less visible, and more acceptable. And even on both sides.  I always hate it when people tell stories about how they know a gay couple who is fantastic and kind and has a great relationship. Or maybe they have a great gay cousin, etc. Why is there a need to rationalize their character because they have a different sexuality?! I know plenty of straight people who are angels and some who are jerks, but they all have rights because they are PEOPLE. Their character is not on trial in order to have equality under the law. Marriage is a concept, not a mathmatical equation. Any two combination of variables can be put together. The success of this union depends on the people themselves. Not what they do on Saturday nights.

Does this country need a group to set aside and discriminate against? Our constitution would say No, but it everything around me begs a Yes.  To put a law into our constitution that fully admits to discrimination sickens me. What will come next? Who will we rationalize into inequality?

When America was founded people sought refuge from a religion-dominated government. Separation of church and state is fundamental. Everyone must be able to carry their own personal beliefs, to not allow the government into their bedrooms to decide what legal rights they get. It’s not about God, or church. It is recognizing that we have injustice all around us and in our blood, and knowing that it does not mean we can’t turn around and try to fix it.

Wouldn’t it be nice, for a change, to decide that American doesn’t need to discriminate any group, whether they be of different race, gender, or orientation? This is not about marriage, or kids, or schools. It’s about common human decency, and our ability to look beyond any personal beliefs in order to make the right choice.

Be a true American, follow our constitution, and Vote NO on Prop 8.