Monday, June 29, 2009

How to beat the heat - Part One

When the temperature dips into the 90's I try to save on the AC and cook outside. I looove my dutch oven. A few briquet's, a sturdy pot. What more do you need?

A new favorite I made at girl's camp last week that can easily be made at home too:

Chocolate Love Me Not Cherry Cobbler

1 Devil's Chocolate Cake mix (be sure to get the lumps out)
1 cube butter - divided into tablespoons
2 cans unsweetened cherries, partially drained
1 can of Coke
Pour the two cans of cherries with a little juice into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with cake mix and dot with butter. Pour the entire can of Coke over the contents. Bake with about 8 briquets on the bottom and 8 on the top. It takes about 30 minutes if you leave the lid on. Serve with ice cream or the bottled whipping cream.
Seriously, this stuff is awesome!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Want the family discount at your local water park? Better have your marriage certificate, birth certificates, SSN's, date of your last pap smear...

According to a recent article in the local rag, a lesbian couple and their three foster children were denied the family discount at Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, a few weeks ago.

Lava Hot Springs, the popular tourist attraction, is where the lesbian couple with their three foster kids were denied the advertised family price because they don't fit the definition of a family, under Idaho Law.

The Lava Foundation's Executive Director, Mark Lowe, said the state doesn't recognize gay or lesbian marriage and defines a family as one male, one female and children.

So, just a heads up people, if you're divorced, or say you have a common law marriage, even if you have children you're no longer a "family" in the eyes of Lava Hot Springs. They've made what they consider a moral decision to exclude a group of people from a benefit they provide to everyone else. One male and female must be present to get the five dollars off, even though Idaho law doesn't define "family" at all. It defines marriage, a whole other ball of wax.

It seems the last time I frequented one of these types of establishments for a scheduled day of sore, tired feet and a permanent wedgie from one too many water slides, that a slew of paper work to prove I was married was not required to get a discount. If a man and woman appear with children, do the Lava police ask if they're married? (Sorry sir, but you look like the type that won't commit...) I've never been asked before. What about the single mother? Is she too denied the discount, she who probably needs it the most?

No matter what you believe regarding the issue of marriage, families come in all shapes and sizes. Some are big, some small. Some thin, some fat. Rich, poor, whatever. Is it really up to anyone, especially the place of your planned summer activities that get your kids away from the tv and out of the house, to decide what constitutes a "family" or not? In 2009, is it possible that a place of business can legally chose whom it serves and whom it doesn't?

Now Lava Hot Springs is threatening to completely do away with family passes.

This whole issue is almost the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

When IS it OK?

In light of this weeks top stories, I had to post. First, we have the hilarious story of this man:

Oh, Governor Sanford- what a stupid, stupid man you are. Of course, it is incredibly sad that he decided to cheat on his wife when he has four sons at home to take care of- that part is a true tragedy. But, honestly, who is dumb enough to simply vanish for three days (4? 5? I forget how many) when you are the GOVERNOR, not tell anybody where you are going, and expect not to get caught? That part is hilarious to me- I think we can all safely put him out of the presidential nominee category!
Then perhaps the saddest story of all- our beloved Jon and Kate. Who could have seen this one coming? Once again, a love affair coming inbetween the most beloved of couples. Love of the camera, and the love of another woman.

Then, on the radio last night, the DJ was asking a very thoughtful and wonderful question. She asked, "When IS it ok to have an affair?" I had to stop and think. Kate is overbearing- surely that is a good enough reason to have an affair. The Argentine was hot- surely that's a good enough reason. One silly woman actually called in and said it was NEVER ok to have an affair, but that idea was (thankfully) quickly quelched by the listeners. So, I decided to come up with my own list of when it is ok to have an affair:
1. When it starts out "innocent" and "accidentally" happens
2. When your spouse is a little controlling
3. When Ben forgets to floss his teeth- totally grosss!
4. When the guy is REALLY REALLY REALLY hot (or, just a little hot)
5. When Ben comes home late from work- that gives me so much extra free time for other activities
6. When I can pretend like I am hiking and lie to the entire country- that's awesome!
7. When I just need to get away from the kids
8. When I happen to accidentally be in a singles bar and somebody hits on me and makes me feel good about myself
9. Whenever Ben makes me mad
10. Pretty much whenever I want it to be OK.
Any other reasons that it's totally OK to have an affair?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

To Cross, Or Not To Cross

I was going to write about the Palin/Letterman "controversy" but then I decided that Palin was making me angry with her feigned outcry- after Letterman has already apologized- and it is all just a publicity stunt for her and is rediculous, so I will let somebody else tackle that one!
Let me start out by saying that I am a unionist through and through- the teachers union saved my job my first year of teaching when a student plagiarized a paper, his parents threatened to sue me, and the principal asked for my resignation because I refused to back down. Because of this incident, I have been faithful to the union ever since- attending rallies, conferences, negotiations, mediations, etc. I love unions- I LOVE what they have done for our country. I love 40-hour workweeks and weekends and paid vacations- all of which came about thanks to unions. Which is why it is so strange that I am so conflicted at this time.

I do not know if it is nationwide- and I apologize if it is not and you don't know what I am talking about- but our grocery union (Kroger foods) is considering going on strike because they are being asked to take cuts in benefits and pay. I am not sure of all the details. I am conflicted because never in a million years would I think to cross a picket line- but in this instance, I am at odds in my feelings towards this strike. I have two opposing thoughts:

1. We are in a recession. Many people are being asked to make cuts in their benefits and pay, and most people are grateful just to have a job. It is hard for me to sympathize with them.


2. Grocery stores are typically recession-proof. People still have to eat, and often they are eating out less and therefore buying more from stores, not less. Part of me wonders if the CEO and managers are using the recession as an excuse to make cuts, even though they don't need to- a way to force the "all powerful evil union" to give up some of their power, even though they might be making great profits (I do not know if they are or not, but I could see them using the economy as an excuse).
Of course, a more practical problem is this: I still need to buy groceries! Where will I buy them if not from a grocery store? I am ADAMENTLY opposed to shopping at Wal-Mart because of their huge anti-union stance, and I will absolutely NOT shop there, and that leaves me with very few options.

So here's the question: Cross the picket lines, or support the union?

Monday, June 8, 2009

"Rush and Newt Are Winning"

You all know my hatred of Rush, which is why I found this editorial in the Washington Post at least interesting:

A media environment that tilts to the right is obscuring what President Obama stands for and closing off political options that should be part of the public discussion.

Yes, you read that correctly: If you doubt that there is a conservative inclination in the media, consider which arguments you hear regularly and which you don't. When Rush Limbaugh sneezes or Newt Gingrich tweets, their views ricochet from the Internet to cable television and into the traditional media. It is remarkable how successful they are in setting what passes for the news agenda.
The power of the Limbaugh-Gingrich axis means that Obama is regularly cast as somewhere on the far left end of a truncated political spectrum. He's the guy who nominates a "racist" to the Supreme Court (though Gingrich retreated from the word yesterday), wants to weaken America's defenses against terrorism and is proposing a massive government takeover of the private economy. Steve Forbes, writing for his magazine, recently went so far as to compare Obama's economic policies to those of Juan Peron's Argentina.

Democrats are complicit in building up Gingrich and Limbaugh as the main spokesmen for the Republican Party, since Obama polls so much better than either of them. But the media play an independent role by regularly treating far-right views as mainstream positions and by largely ignoring critiques of Obama that come from elected officials on the left.

This was brought home at this week's annual conference of the Campaign for America's Future, a progressive group that supports Obama but worries about how close his economic advisers are to Wall Street, how long our troops will have to stay in Afghanistan and how much he will be willing to compromise to secure health-care reform.

In other words, they see Obama not as the parody created by the far right but as he actually is: a politician with progressive values but moderate instincts who has hewed to the middle of the road in dealing with the economic crisis, health care, Guantanamo and the war in Afghanistan.
While the right wing's rants get wall-to-wall airtime, you almost never hear from the sort of progressive members of Congress who were on an America's Future panel on Tuesday. Reps. Jared Polis of Colorado, Donna Edwards of Maryland and Raul Grijalva of Arizona all said warm things about the president -- they are Democrats, after all -- but also took issue with some of his policies.

All three, for example, are passionately opposed to his military approach to Afghanistan and want a serious debate over the implications of Obama's strategy. "If we don't ask these questions now," said Edwards, "we'll ask these questions 10 years from now -- I guarantee it."
Polis spoke of how Lyndon Johnson's extraordinary progressive legacy "will always be overshadowed by Vietnam" and said that progressives who were challenging the administration's foreign policy were simply trying to "protect and enhance President Obama's legacy by preventing Afghanistan and Iraq from becoming another Vietnam."

As it happens, I am closer than the progressive trio is to Obama's view on Afghanistan. But why are their voices muffled when they raise legitimate concerns, while Limbaugh's rants get amplified? Isn't Afghanistan a more important issue to debate than a single comment by Judge Sonia Sotomayor about the relative wisdom of Latinas?

Polis, Edwards and Grijalva also noted that proposals for a Canadian-style single-payer health-care system, which they support, have fallen off the political radar. Polis urged his activist audience to accept that reality for now and focus its energy on making sure that a government insurance option, known in policy circles as the "public plan," is part of the menu of choices offered by a reformed health-care system.

But Edwards noted that if the public plan, already a compromise from single-payer, is defined as the left's position in the health-care debate, the entire discussion gets skewed to the right. This makes it far more likely that any public option included in a final bill will be a pale version of the original idea.

Her point has broader application. For all the talk of a media love affair with Obama, there is a deep and largely unconscious conservative bias in the media's discussion of policy. The range of acceptable opinion runs from the moderate left to the far right and cuts off more vigorous progressive perspectives.

Democrats love to think that Limbaugh and Gingrich are weakening the conservative side. But guess what? By dragging the media to the right, Rush and Newt are winning.