Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Boston, We Have a Manager

Well, THAT's a relief. Finally, the Red Sox have a manager. I personally think no one can fill Tito's shoes, and the candidates weren't fit to shine them, but hey, no one asked me. I would have hired my forever friend Karen. She lives nearby in Braintree. Hates her day job. And love the Red Sox. She also knows baseball. She's very smart. Can you imagine? The first woman manager???

Alas, I'm dreaming. We have Bobby Valentine. We'll give him a chance because that's what true fans do. We have to. But seriously, I'm thinking the vendors need to get on board and start selling Groucho Marx glasses to the fans as they stream in from the Kenmore and Fenway T-stops. It would be so much fun. Even better than the A-Rod Blonde Masks! I feel a big opportunity here...

Barney, always Frank

After over 30 years of service to his district in Massachusetts, Barney Frank has decided to move on at age 71. His district was redrawn and would have required lots of campaigning and fundraising, which he admits he hates. I'm not even 60 yet and I get exhausted just thinking about what campaigning involves. I hope he stays active and outspoken on issues he's championed over the years, such as gay rights and tough financial regulation. His district certainly appreciated him, reelecting him time after time.

Never one to mince words, I love his comments yesterday on dealing with the current House:

"The Republican Party today in the House consists half of people who think like Michele Bachmann and half of people who are afraid of losing a primary to people who think like Michele Bachmann. And that leaves you very little ability to work things out."
Right you are, Mr. Frank. Good luck in your next endeavors, and may your district's next Representative serve them as well.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

O My

Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, it's been hard to ignore Oregon football. It's a lot like Texas that way. You know, Aggies and Longhorns hard to ignore. Here it's the Oregon U. Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers. The Ducks, with their flashy Nike uniforms, complete with duck wings on the shoulders and mallard green helmets, and push up performing mascot, were (until last night's upset by USC -I heard you cheering from here, Cami) in contention for another trip to the 'natty'. OSU, with their 'rabid beaver' mascot and Halloween color scheme, have a lot of heart and for the last couple of years, the Rodgers brothers from Richmond, TX. Until Jaquizz left for the pros and James was taken out by the knee last year. James is back, but it's definitely been a rebuilding year. Next weekend is The Civil War, when OSU goes up against the big O down in Eugene.

About the big 'O'. Fans like to make the an 'O' with their hands. Well, it turns out that most of them don't quite make a perfect 'O'. It's more like the ASL sign for 'vagina'. Many of the football players take sign language for their foreign language requirement, 29 members of the current team as a matter of fact. It's a natural choice, as they are used to signals from their coaches and teammates. Once they find out from their professor what the fans are actually 'saying', they refrain from making the 'O'.
“I did the ‘O’ once, and I never did it again,” said LaMichael James, the team’s star running back...
Which makes his teacher, Joanna Larson, very happy.
“I’m so proud of him,” she said. “We’re trying to spread the word to make the ‘O’ more of a rounded shape.”

Success Through Failure

I am happy to live in a state with two strong women as my Senators. Patty Murray has been tasked with co-chairing the task force to solve our budget woes. Mission impossible. today she told Candy Crowley on CNN's State of the Union:
“As long as we have some Republican lawmakers who feel more enthralled with a pledge they took to a Republican lobbyist than they do to a pledge to the country to solve the problems, this is going to be hard to do.”
No kidding. I liked recent op eds by EJ Dionne and Paul Krugman pointing out that failure of the so called 'super committee', doomed from the start (obvious to any of us who have been paying attention), is a good thing. Both call out the news media. Dionne notes
"... genuine compromise can’t happen because Republicans refuse to accept any significant tax increases. This is not a partisan statement. It is just a description of the facts. It is maddening that the media are so desperate to avoid being attacked as “liberal” that they cannot describe the situation as it is."
Krugman says

... let me give a special shout-out to “centrist” pundits who won’t admit that President Obama has already given them what they want. The dialogue seems to go like this. Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?” Mr. Obama: “I support a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes.” Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?”

Hey Mr. Pundit, Obama supports a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes. So do most of the American people, so REPORT THAT. An epic fail of the committee means the Bush tax cuts will expire, as will a few others. The budget cuts, to the tune of $1.2 trillion, agreed to in last summer's deal will happen. This would add up to an over $7 trillion trimming from the deficit over 10 years. I can already hear the screaming from the GOP. Then maybe sanity and reason will prevail and we'll find the way forward. With a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes. What a concept.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's Time for STEWS

I love fall. I love it when it gets cold enough to really appreciate a nice hot bowl of soup or stew. It's here. Stew Time. Here's my latest creation, a composite of several recipes. You can leave out the lamb to make it vegetarian.

Moroccan Stew
serves 6 or so

In a small bowl, combine 1 tsp each ground cinnamon, cumin, coriander and sea salt; 1/2 tsp ground ginger; 1/4 tsp each ground nutmeg, turmeric, and curry powder. Set aside.

Heat 1 T olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook 1 chopped sweet onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1 lb ground lamb, cook another 5 minutes or so. Stir in 2-4 cups finely shredded kale (I like kale so I put in at least 4 cups) and the reserved spice mixture. Cook for 2 minutes until kale begins to wilt and spices are fragrant.

Pour 6 cups of vegetable broth into the pot. Stir in 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (undrained -I still had a bunch of tomatoes from my garden so I used them), 1 Tbs honey, 4 large chopped carrots, 1 large peeled and diced sweet potato (I used a butternut squash instead which I peeled, cubed and roasted first), 2 diced potatoes (I used one red skin, one yukon gold because that's what I had on hand- you can use more potatoes, esp if you are making a vegetarian version), one can garbanzo beans (drained), 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots, 1 cup dried lentils (I used Tru Roots sprouted bean trio that I get at Costco) and 2 Tbs tomato paste. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer 30 minutes or until veggies and lentils are cooked and tender. Season with black pepper to taste.

We had this Thursday night for dinner. I'm looking forward to a repeat tonight. I just might throw in the rest of that bag of kale I got at Trader Joe's the other day....

Occupy the Gorge

Everyone has heard about the big Occupy Portland camp, but today's Oregonian let everyone know about probably the smallest Occupy camp in the country, in Mosier, OR (pop. 433). Unlike its big cousin in the city, Occupy Mosier had a plan for seven days of protest against corporate power, income inequality and big money politics. They set up last Friday, and yesterday, they moved out as promised. (Oregonian photo)

Mosier sits along the Columbia River, about halfway between Hood River and The Dalles. When you take the exit for Mosier, you pass a park and ride where about a dozen tents were pitched, and as you head into town, a school, then the local business area. Mosier is home to local favorites Ten Speed Coffee East, and my personal favorite, The Thirsty Woman Pub .

My friend Jamel was inspired, and decided to Occupy Wall Street Husum. Yes, there is a Wall Street in Husum, WA (pop. 6,327). I doubt the Wall family would be thrilled to have a full encampment.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Now Obama's Killing Christmas

Yep. He's really stepped over the line now, taxing Christmas trees. Not to worry, FOX News is all over this one like white on rice. Except, as usual, they miss the point and get twisted up in the details. Can you imagine? In these trying times, that's some nerve, adding a 15 cent tax per live tree to support an Ag Dept program to promote live trees at Christmas. From the Federal Register:
The initial assessment rate will be $0.15 per Christmas tree domestically produced or imported into the United States and could be increased up to $0.20 per Christmas tree. The purpose of the program will be to strengthen the position of fresh cut Christmas trees in the marketplace and maintain and expand markets for Christmas trees within the United States.
Except that the GROWERS want it. See, there are people who grow, cut, transport and sell trees every Christmas season. They're seasonal, but they are JOBS. They need help because I guess too many people are buying cheap fake Made in China trees....And oh, by the way, this has been in the works since 2008, BEFORE Obama was president.

Michael Doyle, McClatchy Newspapers, reports more honestly.

By taxing themselves, growers will raise $2 million a year for ads promoting the merits of real, live trees. Or, at least, trees that once were living, as opposed to the artificial kind that have seized an increasing share of the holiday market.

"As demographics and buying habits have changed we have watched the market for real trees shrink drastically, requiring us to spend much more time and money on promotion," said Don Cameron, past president of the California Christmas Tree Association.

Kind of like "Pork, the other white meat" or "Milk, it does a body good", or "Where's the Beef?"

Where's the Beef, indeed.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Spent Election Night with some candidate friends at a house party. It wasn't hard waiting, we had pies: pecan, pumpkin praline, chocolate fudge, and good old shoefly pie (but no apple pandowdy). We had brownies. We had whipped cream. Lots of whipped cream.

We had wine. Lots of wine. You can see my refillable growlier of Springhouse Cellars Ruins Red in the middle of the pack.

We kept refreshing the computer set to the County Auditor's web page, waiting for the first tally post 8 pm. The photo is Jane Poucher, waiting patiently.

FINALLY, at 8:17, the screen changed. Mayor Poucher pretty much sealed his reelection with 71% of the vote in so far vs City Councilor Mark Peppel. Whew! Our friend Bill Werst came in with 66% for his City Council seat vs position 3 incumbent Adrian Bradford, who decided to switch to postition 1 at the last minute to try and defeat Bill. Strategy Failure. Our host for the evening, George Rao, given little chance of unseating Bob Landgren, a town name incumbent, was ONE VOTE shy so stay tuned for the late tallies. I believe a message was being sent.

Newcomers to the school board looked good. The tech industry has brought us good folks who know how to help our kids reach for the stars.

To balance the successes, we had our Port Commission candidate Cheryl Park fall short. She will be a player in improving our economic situation none the less. I have no doubt. Mark my words.

And then there were the state items. The Eyman Initiative was way too close for comfort, but it looks good to go down to defeat. Are there really so many gullible voters in this state? Costco bought its way to victory. Sadly, this probably means we'll have another empty storefront in town when the state liquor store/fishing/hunting shop goes out of business because the grocery store and probably the pharmacy will be able to sell alcohol along with all their other goods.

I have taken a bit of flack for supporting Mayor Poucher, an independent, rather than Mr. Peppel, a DINO. Mr. Peppel's votes and attitudes are much more allied with the tea party than he will admit. I'm glad in a way I did not have a dog in this hunt, being outside the city limits, but as the county dem chair, it would have been awkward to say the least. Officially, it was a non partisan race. I was rooting for the guy with the good heart and the honest soul. Not the one who said he was all of the above but whose actions said otherwise.

I wonder sometimes about party politics. I used to think being independent was good, but really, when it came down to it, voting independent meant wasting a vote, or worse, letting the other guys win. The name John Anderson comes to mind....I've voted for moderate R's in New England in my previous life. Good people who did good work. But in this day and age, they would be Ds. No doubt. There is no room in the GOP for moderates any more.

So, off to bed. This was a light weight election night. As we say in the Red Sox Nation: WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR!

UPDATE: Mayor Poucher's lead held at 72.5% after the 11/10 ballot count, taking 402 ballots to Peppel's 152. Bill's held at 66.5% with 376 to 189 for his opponent. George was holding his own, up to 51.94%, leading 281 votes to 260, upsetting incumbent Langren. School board leads held. The Eyman Initiative passed in our crazy county but King County saved us sending it to defeat. The final count will be Nov. 29th, and the election will then be certified.