Happy New Year!

Well, I started this fabulous new year by inventing a new simple meal: Zucchini Pancakes with Tomato Soup. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Here’s what I learned.

1. Grate half a zucchini using cheese grater and add pancake mix first, before adding water (the zucchini has a lot of moisture already, so you might not need much water at all).
2. Spread batter over bottom of the pan with heated coconut oil and cook on medium-high. Flip and press down slightly on pancake to cook evenly.
3. Use Trader Joe’s creamy tomato soup to compliment.
4. If your first batch is too watery, don’t worry. Put it in the oven at 325 and cook as if they were muffins.5. Zucchini is good for you and it’s worth the wait if you have to bake. Serve with butter, if you want. I thought they tasted great without.

Watch out Rachael Ray, here I come!

As far as 2007 goes, I’d have to say I’m fairly relieved it’s over. 2007 was a year of transition and personal reinvention. 2008 will be a year of closure, I’ve decided (i.e. Graduation!!!). And 2009 I’m hoping will be a big creative something… creating something(s).

Let’s see, this past year, I finished up my 18-month tenure at the Chicago GSB Computing Services department at the end of June and walked across the street to start a new job as World Language Lab Coordinator at the Lab Schools on the first day of July. Six months later, I am still incredibly happy with my colleagues, the beautiful lab I maintain, and the big questions I get to ponder on a daily basis… questions like, “What motivates us to learn? Where does technology fit into learning? How is learning defined in the Independent School setting today and how might I redefine it, if I had the chance?” It’s all very heady, but at the same time down-and-dirty practical, since I’ve got 21 World Language teachers to remind me what is real. I regularly try new things and then wait to see what, if anything, happens… ends up being kind of like my own little lab environment and a lot of fun.

I took two translation classes at the University of Chicago Graham School this fall (Spanish>English) and learned about the industry and the skills necessary to drive a translation business. It is definitely not time to launch a translation business, but I’m glad I took the time to explore it and get a sense for what it would take to become marketable.

In September, I traveled with my parents to pick up my brother Jon up from his mission in Germany and in early November, we saw Sam off to Cuiabá, Brazil. My two sisters, Christine and Jennifer, are graduating from BYU this spring, one with a Masters in Public Health and another with a BA in Family Therapy. Christine is headed to El Salvador this summer to work with a non-profit. Jennifer and Deborah are applying to study abroad in Jerusalem. We welcomed a new nephew, Lil’ David, into the world three months ago and have another on his way to Tam and Jeff this coming April. David and Launna are moving this week to Idaho to finish his degree. The three youngest boys, Ben, Will, Joe, are all doing great, finishing Eagle projects, getting their licenses to drive, playing hard.

My “best” cousin, Shannon, married a wonderful man and moved to Santiago, Chile early this year. She just had her first baby, Lucas, and the whole family is doing great. Her husband took her to Viña del Mar this past weekend for their first surfing trip in six months. Mom totally deserves it!! I’m slightly jealous, actually, since the snow in Chicago is loosing it’s charm and I’m already dreaming of Spring.

I spent more time this year getting to know neighbors, fellow church members, roommates, and old friends, a nice change of pace from my usual nose-to-the-grindstone approach to life. Our little “Hobbit Hole” has turned into something of a social center and I’ve enjoyed some fun moments singing, playing, laughing, and cooking.

I’ve been attracting a lot of operas into my life lately. It’s made me so grateful to live so close to the Lyric. One of the big pluses of living where I do, just 15 minutes from the center of town. This fall, I’ve enjoyed Julius Ceasar, Die Frau ohne Schatten, and La bohème. Looking forward to seeing Dr. Atomic in the next few weeks.

I’ve made slow but steady progress on my MA thesis, especially since November, when I was blessed with a separate office space where I can finally contain all the craziness—away from my home. That simple adjustment has made a *huge* difference in the quality of my life. Here’s my working abstract, sure to change substantially in the next few weeks:

We assign a value to any particular cultural product equal to the perceived cost of the social problem it is trying to solve. So while we might hypothesize that the social “problem of problems” is how to go about accruing influence, identity, and status in our lives relative to those that surround us, the exact nature of this quest can change in surprising and dramatic ways. Indeed, it always does, according to Malcom Gladwell in his book, “The Tipping Point.” And when it does, he argues, it is due to three variables: first, the overall context for the cultural product and the corresponding problem it attempts to define and solve; second, the exceptional and overtly social people–evangelists might be the word–who appear to have solved the problem and are “carrying” the product; and third, the particular environment in which the cultural product is circulated. When one or more of these variables reach a critical point of influence, the cost of the problem and the value of social products that purport to solve it rise dramatically. The “problem of problems” is dressed up in yet another costume and demand for the product as obvious solution skyrockets. A cultural market is born.

This is a particularly useful way of viewing national identity, because it suggests that only certain socio-historical contexts combined with certain people with social capital combined with certain local environments were capable of producing a demand for and supply of national cultural products.

This paper briefly covers the context of nationalism in Argentina, highlights the exceptional people who “carried” these national cultural products, and attempts to characterize the environments in which they were carried. I argue how certain images, elements of story, and the subjective authority of poetic voice were critical to the production and consumption of nation products. In particular, I show how the songs of Julián Aguirre, some of the first national musical products to circulate amongst the Argentine elite, might have contributed to the final small push that was necessary to create a “Tipping Point” in Argentine cultural history, sparking a brief, though vibrant, period of musical nationalism.

Other then that, I’m still volunteering to help improve music instruction for the children at church, giving myself the time I need to exercise (one of my big goals for 2008), reading, and picking away at the huge project that is laasa.org. I just started developing a ning network for LAASA members that should be really helpful in leveraging the power of the group, even though I know we all have limited time. mindjerky.com is also moving along and getting good exposure online. I take clients here and there, as they come.

All in all, 2007 has been a good round, a fine catch of 365 days to be fondly remembered and then forgotten, as 2008 takes its place at the center stage of my mind. I want to thank all of the good friends out there that have remembered me in the course of their busy lives. I have received multiple unexpected phone calls, cards, gifts, letters, and emails and I appreciate them all so much. Thank you, thank you.

Here’s to a great 2008 and your first batch of Zucchini Pancakes!

5 thoughts

  1. Well, good to see you again, Allison! Always managing to drive your writing with poetic license. I’m not far from you…I live in Minneapolis 🙂

    2007 was also a year of years for me. I don’t know if I’ll ever try zucchini in my life (it’s in my no-nos list, heheh) but I applaud the sharing you do.

    Snow in the Twin Cities is also losing its charm thanks to the January Thaw. At least, it’s not Iowa…or the Iowa caucuses, heheh.

    Since you are interested in translation, check out my blog at translatoreducator.blogspot.com.

    — Mario

  2. Hello Allison,
    It is wonderful to hear of your happenings this past year. I am now living in Issaquah with my hubby, Julian. When you are back in Washington someday I hope you know you are so welcome here. I wish you a beautiful year ahead, Allison.
    Much love,

  3. Por fin!!! Alison! Te encontre, in such a miraculous way. This is your companion que te mato en Huequen, Angol, la Hna Herrera.
    I cant even tell you what a wonderful miracle this is to hear you sing the primary songs I was looking for in spanish, you cant even imagine how over joyed, and gratful I am to have found that someone recorded these songs and then I looked at the name of the artist and I just about fell off my chair!!! Please write back soon!!! I’ve been wondering and thinking about you and your life for years!
    love MInerva Herrera

  4. Hello old friend! Remember me?

    How very interesting to see where life has taken you. I decided to check an old email address and found your New Year greeting. Happy February/almost March now.

    I recently moved back to Salt Lake with my husband and 3 kids. Life has been good to us too.
    Good luck with all your adventures.

    Jodie (Bushman) Cundick

  5. Pingback: Welcome 2009! « allison weiss, creactive

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