Saturday, November 29, 2008
Yesterday, my husband and I went hiking with the dog. We went to Liberty Reservoir and did half of the Middle Run Trail. Only half, because the 2nd half of the trail involves crossing 3 streams on foot (removing socks and shoes and walking in the ice cold rushing water). We decided to turn back at the halfway point rather than take the dip in the water. We'll do the other half of the trail in the spring, when the water will seem a treat and not a punishment. It was gorgeous hiking, and the weather cooperated nicely, with temps in the low 50s and lots of sunshine. The dog also got to meet a horse for the first time. He seemed relieved that he wasn't expected to chase it.
This morning, I dropped my husband and the dog off at the park for a hike, and I went to the JHU library to pick up some books for my term-paper. The paper is due no later than the 15th, so I have to dig in, and fairly quickly. I got a great parking spot, and had the stacks to myself. Younger students don't get up early on Saturday mornings, so even the guard seemed stunned to see someone actually come in the doors.
When I got home, I took the child for a haircut. Since he has wildly curly hair at the moment, and tends to wear his hair over long and un-brushed, it was necessary. He loves the place we go, Sports Clips. All the stylists are cute girls in sports jerseys. They not only cut his hair, but give him a warm towel for his face and a neck and shoulder massage. Getting him to agree to a haircut has been much easier since this place opened.
We went this afternoon to see Quantum of Solace. We all agreed it was a good addition to the Bond canon. Craig is a much more menacing Bond than the previous incarnations, but it works. I was excited to see the Star Trek preview, although I was apparently alone in this opinion. The kid wants to see Angels and Demons, since he just read the book.
Tomorrow we are going to celebrate my husband's birthday with a trip to the Walters to see an exhibit of jewelry, and then to the Hamilton Tavern for onion rings and burgers.
It's been a great few days.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Nope. I flushed red as I realized what it was. Those hundreds of people I had just been pissed off at, those folks were lined up for food. It was a Thanksgiving food donation pickup. They were all hoping to get a turkey, some canned beans, instant potatoes.
On the news this evening, I saw a story about that line. Ray Lewis has a foundation that runs the food giveaway every year. This year demand was much much larger than usual. And he was there, handing out food, giving hugs, a few words of encouragement. The news then did a piece on other food banks across the country. The need is huge, but the pantries are nearly bare. A farmer in the Midwest opened up his farm to anyone who wanted to come and pick over what was left in the fields. He expected a thousand people. What he got was 40,000 people willing to spend all day digging in his fields for some potatoes, some carrots, a few onions. He hoped his idea would catch on with other farmers. I hope so too.
This time of year is hard on people. If you can spare some cash, some cans of food from your pantry, a few hours of your time at a foodbank or soup kitchen, whatever you can do, please help. It can be so little to one person, and so very much to someone else. Our office is doing a food drive, and we have adopted a single mom with six kids for Christmas. Our son's school will do a holiday food drive as well. Our local theater is doing a showing of It's a Wonderful Life with admission being a donation of food for our local food pantry. Our local grocery store has $1, $3 abd $5 food donation coupons at the register; you can just add a buck or two to your grocery tab to help buy food for others.
I all too often focus on what I haven't got. Today I got a little reminder that I have EVERYTHING. 1 in 8 people in America, 1 in 8, is going hungry today. I am not one of them. But I know I easily could be, and I know I can help those who are.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I am also impressed by his reaction to two recent screw-ups. In one, he hid a kid's camera. She was taking pictures of him, and he kept asking her to stop, and she wouldn't, so he hid her camera in the classroom. He felt bad about it. And called her to apologize.
In the other, my parents called and left a message with him. He "spaced out" and forgot to tell us. So we got a rather unhappy call this morning, asking why we hadn't returned their call... Our son heard about the call, suddenly remembered the previous call, and felt terrible. So he called them this morning, to explain that it was his fault, that he had not given us the message, and to apologize.
Kids screw up. Grown-ups screw up, and deal with the consequences. I like the way the kid is growing up. I really truly do.
Friday, November 21, 2008
It's not a huge time commitment, basically 1-2 hours per week. The dog loved it. He got a walk in the evening, and we went down alleys and really dark streets, which he thought was cool. Even better -- there were also other dogs to walk with.
Other than being a visible presence, and preventing crime by just being around, I am not sure what value this all will have. But it is exercise, it is pleasant for the dog, we meet new neighbors, and we show we care about the neighborhood. All good bennies, even if we achieve nothing more tangible.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
We might end up learning the lessons previous generations learned the hard way.
Make do. There is a huge difference between "need" and "want" Put a little aside for a rainy day. If you have to buy it on credit, you can't afford it. Eat what's on your plate. Fix what's broke. Do without.
Will we start saving string? planting vegetable gardens? Canning in the summer? taking car repair lessons? Sewing our own clothes?
We have been a truly spoiled generation. We have always had vacations, and dinners out. We have always had jobs. We had insurance, and endless credit.
I think that maybe, just maybe, we are living in interesting times.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
As to the automakers, I see that we have no choice but to help them out. The US economy is hugely dependent on the businesses downstream and upstream of the auto makers that rely on them being in business, and too many jobs are on the line. I get it. I just don't like it. They have sat on their hands, built cars we didn't want, that didn't meet our needs, often with terrible quality thrown into the mix. And we responded by taking our business to foreign auto makers. And they still didn't respond with better cars, more fuel-efficient cars, more desirable cars. And now they will get bailed out for being bad at business.
I recently did some car shopping on line. I couldn't find a single american auto that met my requirements. Not one. And I wanted to. Not only didn't I find anything, but the deals aren't there either. Toyota is offering 0% financing, on cars that get great gas mileage and have superior ratings. GM is offering employee discounts, high finance rates, and cars with fairly mediocre ratings and so so gas mileage. I'd like to help out the team by buying American, but I can't afford to do it. I just can't take the repair bills, the higher monthly payments and the higher gas bills. So, while our government, and corporate management can afford to reward poor performance, I can't. I have to reward my purchase dollars to the companies that do the best job.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
There is something special about shared history. You have the same reference points. You get the same jokes. We look older, we've all been through many changes over the years. And yet, magically, two seconds after we all get together, we are somehow 20 again. Sweet.
Friday, November 14, 2008
The priest is the Reverend Jay Scott Newman. His parish is in Greenville, SC. And it seems to me that he is requiring his parishioners to disclose how they voted -- a democratic NO-NO. They will get to do so in the privacy of the confessional, but as a former Catholic, I can tell you that the priest knows the voices of his parishioners and the confessional is not that private.
He is going to deny a sacrament of the Church to people based on how they voted(!!!!) As if the only distinguishing characteristic between Obama and McCain was their position on abortion. Or that the issue of abortion was the only issue that mattered.
It makes me sick.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
It's the big stuff that gets me down. Should we keep our car? Is it time to trade it in on a new one? Which is better financially? Can we afford it? Can we afford not to do it? Should our son stay in his small private school? or go to the large public city high school? or something in the middle? What's best for him? How much should his opinion weigh in the decision?
Should I try to move into administration? get out of hands-on tech? Take 1 class this semester or two? should we get another dog to keep ours company? how long can we wait to replace the roof? shingle the house?
It's so much easier to focus on the small stuff. What to have for dinner? what to wear to work? do I want a snack? is there time for a nap? which book should I read next?
I think I'll procrastinate for now....
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I feel like we aren't getting good value for our money. And it is OUR money, let's not forget. I feel like sending the government an invoice. If the bailout is not going to be used as intended, I want my share back. In cash. Now.
I think that's fair, don't you?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
So imagine my surprise last night when I was confronted with a HUUUUGGGGEEEELLLLYYYYY fat person. I was channel surfing and caught the first episode of a show on the Style Network, called Ruby. This is a reality show (I know, yuck!) about a woman named Ruby trying to lose hundreds of pounds. Yes, hundreds. At her heaviest, Ruby weighed over 700 pounds. This woman is gorgeous. Seriously beautiful, despite hovering in the 500 pound range... And she is charming. And fun. And you can't help but want her to succeed. Amd within 15 minutes, I pretty much forgot she was fat.
So maybe I am making progress. If I beat this bias, I only have one real major one left -- ignorant people. But I doubt that's gonna go away anytime soon.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
10. Baba ghanoush
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips
65. Durian -
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
79. Lapsang souchong
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam -
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Friday, November 07, 2008
We will have weeks with little to do, and then these convergence dates, where we are struggling to decide the relative weights of all the things scheduled for that date....
Perhaps it's that I want to do everything, and that's just not possible. Or that it's part and parcel of city living, because stuff is always going on. I don't know. I just know I hate having to choose, because as soon as I do, I'm missing something....
Thursday, November 06, 2008
And no, I didn't come up with this scenario myself. Rachel Maddow discussed it on her show, and said the tactic had been used once before -- in 1939.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
YES, WE CAN and YES, WE DID!!!!!! I woke up this morning, still amazed. Against all odds, Barack Obama is the president-elect of these United States. I just watched his victory speech. I cried. Literally. I was so moved by his words, by his vision, by his inspiration, that I sat at my desk and I cried. I am so proud of our country, so proud of my fellow Americans for ignoring the attacks, the distractions, for choosing hope over fear. And for the first time in a very long time, I feel connected to the process, connected to the other voters.
For years I have felt like an outsider. My values were not the values of our leaders. I was not a "real" American. I was disloyal, unpatriotic, a traitor. Pick a perjorative. I did not think in lock-step with the conservative tide, and so was less a citizen than they were.
But now, I feel a renewed sense of purpose, and a renewed sense of hope. There is unity and peace within our grasp. We really are the United States of America.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
What I found were hundreds of people, patiently waiting in line. It felt like a celebration. People taking photos of the line, asking others to take pictures of themselves in line. A few people got discouraged and tried to leave, but we clapped and shouted encouragement until they got back in line. At one point, an elderly gentleman, who could barely walk stood looking at the line, with a discouraged look on his face. A good samaritan near the head of the line offered the man his spot; he would go to the back of the line in his place. The crowd wouldn't let the good samaratin give up his place, we just said let the older man in line. And that's what happened. No one grumbled, no one said no. We would all wait together.
I made some good friends today (Vernice, Allan and Victor, it was a pleasure!). We talked, laughed, encouraged each other, and shared our hopes for the future. Later, after we voted, we shared hugs and well wishes. Allan took a picture of his ballot in the booth. And he asked the polling judge to take a picture of him voting. She happily did.
They even had certificates of participation for those who wanted to commemorate the event.
So this is the REAL America. Where people were excited to vote, where people were united by a common desire. The REAL America is better than the last 8 years, and it wants the world to know it.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Perhaps tomorrow, some will begin to come true. I am hoping that we become a nation that other nations can look to as a model for how a country should behave. I hope we respect the Constitution again; civil liberties are not optional, they are fundamental. I hope we learn to use diplomacy instead of war. That the children of America get a first class education, regardless of their parent's education or economic standing. That no one in this country is starving, or homeless, or hopeless. That basic medical care is available to all.
I dream that the American Dream, the idea that each generation can improve on the one before it, is renewed, not just for some Americans, but for ALL Americans.
So today, I wish, I hope, I dream, I pray, that Barack Obama is elected tomorrow. And that this country can regain it's dignity and spirit, so we ALL might move forward together.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
It's a very full day, but I like the way it's home centered. And I love the feeling of setting up the coming week: clean clothes, lunches, breakfasts.
this week's oatmeal: steel-cut oats, with cinnamon and raisins. I'll add almonds right before I eat it, so they stay crunchy.
this week's tuna salad: tuna, hard boiled eggs(no yolks), diced pickle, celery, green pepper, shredded carrot, mustard, mayo
dinners this week: roasted chicken with rice and string beans, chicken tamale pie, red beans and rice with chicken, baked ziti with turkey sausage, carryout pizza