Saturday, June 30, 2012

Devil's in the Details

It's actually SUMMER here in Boston. The one light fleece shirt I brought 'just' in case is now at the bottom of my suitcase, along with my jeans and long sleeved shirt. I got up early this morning for a walk before it hits the 90s, and to enjoy my Morning Edition on NPR.

One report caught my attention with details I hadn't heard anywhere else. Of course, only FOX news on here at the homestead, so details aren't exactly a specialty. It has to do with the student loan legislation just passed.

Sure, the interest rates will not double. This saves student borrowers about $1,000 a year. No chump change, for sure. But here's what else the bill did:
  • Interest on graduate student loans will have to be paid while still in school
  • Eliminated six month grace period to start repayment of all loans
  • Limited number of semesters needy students can get Pell Grants
  • Made it harder to qualify for the maximum award
So it appears that students will be footing about $4.6 billion towards the deficit. Some estimates are that the total cost to students will be $18-20 billion EXTRA over the next 10 years. That's quite a shell game, legislators. The kids think you did a good thing when you actually are going to cost them more. It will be interesting to see who takes a lot of credit for this one.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Baseball Books

For my big birthday this year I got several books. Mostly related to baseball, and Fenway's 100th birthday. I think Fenway turning 100 made me feel young at 60. One of the books, from my sister Mary in McMinnville, OR, is called "Trading Manny: How a Father and Son Learned to Love Baseball Again" by Jim Gullo, also of McMinnville, about his and his son Joe's love of baseball, the effect of the steroid era on their passion. This fine little book, autographed by both Jim and Joe to Fenway Fran, was taken along for the 5 hour nonstop Alaska Air flight (I love you, Alaska Air). It was so engaging, I read some more before falling asleep last night. Thanks, Mary!

Back in Boston

I rolled into Boston last night as the Fenway Faithful were filing out of the Pahk after the Sox beat Toronto 10-4, moving into a tie with Tampa Bay for 3rd in the AL East. Watching the crowds cross the Mass Pike bridge into Kenmore Sq as my brother and I cruised underneath made me smile. I've been in that crowd. Sadly, not this time, since they're heading to the west coast I just left. Timing is everything. But I will try to get in to the Bleacher Bar before I leave.

Today will be real SUMMER weather for me. I've left Junuary behind. I got in my early walk around the 'hood, visiting all the historical souls resting in neighboring Grove Hill Cemetery, and looped around my old Elementary School, built in the 1800s but now abandoned to a new regional elementary megaschool (ironically overcrowded..duh). I circled Lowell Field, scene of many a softball game, and the summer rec program that kept us kids out of my mom's hair. Then headed back up to Main St and down the shady Gilbert St to the old homestead.

Had a nice cuppa joe with the Boston Globe...ah, life is good. Got caught up on all things local, and finding out what's going on with Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren here in MA. They're debating when and where to debate, apparently. And Scott won't be speaking at the GOP Convention, though he is attending. And how Mitt is polling poorly in his 'home state'. No surprise there, to me anyway.

Then imagine my joy when I checked in at the WMDBS to find a great post about Fenway, the Red Sox, and Mitt Romney. Seems the Mittster got caught telling another whopper. From an April report but it didn't get much play outside of Boston.
Earlier this week Red Sox season-ticket holder Mitt Romney gave a national network interview at Fenway Park. This led someone to bring to my attention that Romney, who was governor at the time, was there at Fenway Park for the historic championship-clinching Game 4 of the 2004 World Series. Or at least, he told an Air Force pilot he was:
When he told me he was Massachusett’s governor, I politely asked him to leave the flight deck, declaring the cockpit off limits to all Red Sox fans. He laughed and made a few cracks my way, regarding the Yanks, and we hit it off pretty well. I asked him if he was at Fenway when the Sox finally won the World Series, and with a huge boyish grin he replied, “Yes I was.”
No, he wasn’t. I could go to a lot of trouble proving to you that Romney was actually in New Hampshire campaigning for George W. Bush that day, but it doesn’t really matter because — as every New Englander has been screaming while reading this post — Game 4 was played at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.

I guess it's second nature for him, it happens so easily these days. Thanks for guest posting, Gidget!

To top off this glorious morning, the SCOTUS decision on the Affordable Care Act came down just as Robert Reich predicted yesterday. Thank you, Chief Justice Roberts. I will be smiling all day.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Look Out Scott, Juanita Jean Has You on the Radar Screen

All y'all know I spent a little time in Texas. Twice. For a grand total of about 9 years. On my second go 'round, I had the good fortune to cross paths with Miss Juanita Jean Herownself, proprietor of the World's Most Dangerous Beauty Salon. At the time we met, her big goal in life (besides surviving longer than her doctors said she would) was to see Tom DeLay out of Congress. Well, she got to see that (and a whole lot more). And I can't wait to hang out with her in Charlotte at the Dem National Convention. We'll both be first time National Delegates, and we'll be photo crashing as much as possible. Count on it.

Lately she's been having a lot of fun at the expense of Scott Brown, R-MA. Today it spilled over into a new PAC run by the gang who can't spell straight. I just have to chuckle. Especially because I don't have any trouble spelling Massachusetts.

When you're done laughing at those two posts, check out this beauty 'splainin' about Brown's debate anxiety. Then send Elizabeth Warren a few bucks.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Breaking into a New Decade

Well, that wasn't so bad. I am officially 60. How did that happen?

So many good things have happened to me lately that it must be a sign that 60 will be a great year.

The first present was finding out my buddy Juanita Jean also got elected as a Delegate to the National Convention. How awesome is THAT? Thanks to my buddy Hal for taping her speech so I could hear it. And my sweet daughter Keara sent me a coveted Tshirt from the Charlotte 2012 site. Then Lloyd gave me some beautiful earrings and matching pendant.

Saturday Will and Sue were in town from CA, so we went to Cascade Locks and rode the Sternwheeler for the afternoon with Will's sister and her husband, and friends Skip and Jan. Weather not so nice, but it was still fun, and the gorge is beautiful even in shades of gray. Of course our friends had not been to Springhouse Cellar, so that was the next stop. I had the day off, so got to be a customer for a change. Carey and Carolyn had the tasting room under control, and our friends were impressed.

Now for we walked up the street to Celilo, where we had a fabulous dinner, our first visit there. Lloyd and I shared the scallop appetizer, a blue cheese and hazelnut salad, and paella. How do you top that? You head up to the heights to the Thirteen O One to catch Bob Connolly's last set. Not everyone gets a Bob Connolly Happy Birthday Song. So fun hanging out with Will and Sue and the Schwellers. Will's brother and sister in law own the bar. Sweet. The only bummer was trying to see the Celtics-Heat score on the TV while we were was better not to see it.

Sunday morning we finally saw sun. It was my birthday. I splurged and cooked some applewood smoked bacon. BACON. And a nice big fresh egg from James's hens. And a broiled tomato with parm. And a whole wheat english muffin with Dotty's blueberry jam. Ahhhhh. After the paper, did a little gardening, then we headed up to AniChe Cellars in Underwood, because we hadn't been there yet (highly recommended) then on to Lyle to pick up our wine club bottles from Domaine Pouillon. The summer guys tending the tasting room were great. Small world: one is the son of a URI-GSO alum! So we took home our wine and grilled up a ribeye, baked sweet potato, and some wilted spinach with shrooms and garlic...paired up with some Domaine Pouillon Pierre...double Ahhhh!

Lots of phone calls and text messages, and the Facebook messages were so nice. But the birthday continues...tonight my fellow Dems surprised me with a lovely chocolate birthday cake. That was the one thing I didn't have all weekend! Excellent.

It's going to be a birthday month, I think. Right up until June 30th, and the Class of 70 Turns 60 Birthday Bash at the Marriott in Newton, MA.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Look Out Charlotte!

Today I got some FANTASTIC news. As I got into the car to ride back to White Salmon from Toppenish, I got a text from my favorite Democrat in the whole world telling me she'd be joining me in Charlotte for the National Convention, as a delegate from the great State of Texas.This is just so exciting, I can hardly contain my joy. Charlotte will never be the same.

If it wasn't for Susan, I probably wouldn't be doing all that I am today. We met online. Not a dating service, wise crackers. She wrote a column for a local rag called the Fort Bend Star. I would turn to her column every week when the paper showed up on my doorstep. I started commenting on the online version. We became E-mail pals. I started showing up at Dem events.Then came the fateful day when I infiltrated a Fort Bend GOP meeting headlining Tom DeLay. She was under the weather and couldn't go herself, and was looking for someone to fill in. Since it was at my kids' high school (and I was a sub there and knew my way around) I volunteered for duty. I got myself dressed up. Put on all my cubic zirconium jewelry, blew dry my hair and actually put on make up. I wanted to blend in as a Sugar Land Republican. I had a tape recorder in my bag so I could accurately report the goings on at the meeting.

Fenway Fran was born.

So, Charlotte, I have to warn you. Trouble is coming your way. The good kind of trouble.

And speaking of the Fort Bend Star, go on over there right now and mess with them. They've got a presidential poll going on. Click on Barack Obama. A lot.

Yakama Nation Treaty Day Celebration

Today I had the great pleasure to ride up to Toppenish with my friend Ann to celebrate Treaty Days, the 157th anniversary of the signing of the treaty that formed the Yakama Nation Indian Tribe, and the 32nd anniversary of the nation’s cultural center and museum. The Yakama Nation’s Treaty, signed in 1855, combined 14 tribes and bands throughout Eastern Washington, from the Palouse going east down to the Columbia River to the south.The ACTUAL Treaty Day is tomorrow, but today was a Parade and Salmon  bake lunch. The Pow Wow starts tonight and Events run through the weekend. Tomorrow there's a Treaty Day Parade, too. Worth the trip. I had a blast, and the salmon was quite delish! Kudos to the Fish and Wildlife guys for their excellent cooking skills. For more info on Yakama history, click here!

For more parade pictures, visit my Facebook page.

I'm loving learning more about the people of my State.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Speechless in Seattle

It was a weekend full of listening, talking, and meeting friends old and new. And drinking LOTS of coffee. When the votes were tallied, coffee beat wine by a 4 to 1 margin.

Bright and early Friday morning (well, not so bright at 5 am) my friend Shelley and I left White Salmon, bound for Seattle via Vancouver's new Salmon Creek Park and Ride. We left the Subaru there and Roz slowed down long enough in her Prius to pick us up for the rest of the drive to the Washington Democratic Party State Convention. We arrived in time to catch most of the first workshops. I started my weekend off with the ever entertaining Dwight Pelz, our Party Chair, speak about protecting the middle class. During the lunch break, I met up with the LD14 gang to plan some LD-wide events this summer. And refueled with a double Americano to get me through the afternoon.

The options for the afternoon workshops were difficult, but I felt I chose well as I listened to former Clinton speech writer and Deputy Domestic Policy Advisor Eric Liu's "Tending the Garden of Democracy" session. He even gave away copies of his two short books, The True Patriot and The Gardens of Democracy- A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government, both coauthored with Nick Hanauer.

There was a welcome reception, where we got to be welcomed, and took a photo op.

We also had the opportunity to buy $8 glasses of wine that probably cost that much retail for a bottle. So I ensured my good health for the busy Saturday ahead by having one and done. Yes, I drank water at the Gala Banquet. We were entertained by short speeches from Sen. Maria Cantwell and Jay Inslee before Newark Mayor Cory Booker took the stage. He did not stop talking for almost an hour. His appearance had caused some controversy, but the room was full nonetheless, and he was quite the story teller. I would have liked him even better if he'd finished up in 45 minutes. I had a nice bottle of merlot waiting for me in my room. Just kidding...sort of...

At Conventions and State Committee Meetings, the Hospitality Suites are usually great for meeting people after hours. Shelley and I got to the Presidential Suite on the 47th floor of the Westin where Inslee for Governor was. There were so many people in there we had to work hard to get over to the windows so we could take in the spectacular view. The noise level was high, and the line long, so we left. I stopped a few floors down at the Pridemore for Auditor, a little less crowded but by then the early rise time caught up with me and I headed to bed down on the 16th floor of the North Tower. The Westin has two towers, the floors are round. It's like the Jetson's apartment building. Without the flying cars. I missed all the excited of the 'storm troopers', a platoon of hotel security guys who shut down the socializing at 11:30 pm. Poor teetotaler George Fearing was threatened with being blacklisted from the Westin if they got one more call about his suite. And his was a fairly quiet one!

After the Congressional Breakfast at 7:30 am, it was time for business. Our seats were way in back so photography wasn't optimal. See what I mean? Our delegation is so small, we were combined with Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania nd Wahkiakum Counties in our little section in the very rear.

We had more speeches: King County Executive Dow Constantine, Keynote address by Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR). I got to march in the parade escorting Maria Cantwell to the stage for her speech (you can't see me in pictures, there are signs in my face, but I guarantee you, I was there-got the T-shirt to prove it!). We met her backstage beforehand. Very cool. Ann got to march in the Inslee escort parade, complete with drum corps. Nominations went well, all the people in contested races that I was rooting for won theirs. We had a very awkward CD 3 Sub-caucus, where our only filed candidate won his nomination 38-37 within the caucus. At the full convention, the vote was a lopsided NO nomination. But that's another story. The platform and resolution adoptions went along fairly smoothly, and we were back at the hotel a little after 6, thereby missing happy hour. I spent the evening with my merry band of Klickitat Delegates in the hotel bar and grill, and two short stops in the South Tower before getting to bed about midnight. Had to make sure George didn't get blacklisted, and sing Happy Birthday to Tandy before retiring for the night.

Everyone left Sat night and Sunday morning except LD State Committee folk, National Delegate candidates, and already elected National Delegates (including moi). The Party Leader delegates (PLEOs) were elected in the morning session. I checked out of the Westin after a leisurely morning with coffee and my computer, wandered over in time for the break, then spent the afternoon listening to several hundred 1 minute speeches. Am I ever glad that the only speech I had to give on my pathway to National Delegate was at the Congressional District Caucus on May 20th! How LUCKY was I! The last delegates were chosen, votes tallied...and the WA National Delegation was formed. We got our pictures taken, did a big group photo, and left with some instructions. We headed out of Seattle well after 7 pm, stopped for some food and coffee in Tacoma, and arrived in Vancouver after midnight. I was lucky to find a nice bed to crash into at my new delegate friend Liz's house. There was no way I could drive another 80 minutes.

Good thing I went home with car battery was dead when they dropped me at the Park & Ride. That would NOT have been good at 1230 am.

For more GOOD pictures, see the WA Dems Facebook Page.