Friday, February 27, 2009


My husband bought me pink lilies on Valentine's Day, and they are still going strong. I bought myself a rose-and-lily bouquet for Oscar night, and the penultimate bud opened today.

I love the smell, and I love the suggestion of spring. Today was in the 50s, and I love =that= suggestion of spring, too!

When I worked at the Harvard School of Public Health, a student walked by my desk, where a bunch of lilies were on display. "How lewd," she said.

For the record, I don't see lilies as lewd (except maybe the huge, all-white ones, with their intense fragrance and their accumulated balls of liquid at the ends of their stamens). Lilies strike me as perfect: perfect as flower, perfect as aroma, perfect as symbol. Spring is coming...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Wait, I get it now. Obama just finished speaking to us as though we were intelligent adults. And now Jindal, echoing W, is speaking to us as though we are children. His tone, his pacing—he sounds exactly like a grownup reading a book to a child.

I fervently hope that the familiarity of his condescension, from all of us having just survived eight years of it, does him NO favors.

Parochial schools are all we need? Really?


Hey, did Jindal even watch this speech? Obama did not comment on his ancestry, and there is no reason to offer up =your= ancestry, Jindal... except that you want the public to remember you! How naked.

Monday, February 23, 2009

And the winner is...

Tress, who takes the one-liner prize for the Oscars. The winning cut:
"She's the Good Witch!" (upon seeing Sarah Jessica Parker in her Glinda gown). Pic courtesy of, which has great shots of 16 dresses.

Runner-up was the muffin-tops line, which may actually have originated with a broadcaster.

I liked Taraji Henson's wrapped and Viola Davis's I-am-woman dresses very much. I liked Amy Adams's dress but thought her necklace was a miss: not the size, but the inclusion of blue. Many pale women in pale colors ghosted themselves out. Natalie Portman's dress made her look like her torso was an alien's face. More pics on the San Fran Examiner site:

Umm, did you see Hugh J on Baba Wawa? Creeeeepy.


It turns out that the "targeted, timely and temporary" line (see my post dated February 1, 2009) comes from Obama himself—though not, it seems, as an original thought. It was voiced in the past by Larry Summers, economic adviser to the new administration (and blockhead former Harvard president... I don't like him and don't trust him).

To quote the Belfer Center newsletter, summer 2008,

"Summers was one of the first economists to diagnose the current financial crisis, and his early calls to action fundamentally influenced the debate. As far back as November 25, 2007, when most were still scrambling to understand the problems, Summers was already looking toward solutions. He said then that the government needed to have a fiscal policy package "on stand-by," in case the situation worsened.

"By December 19, 2007, he was calling for fiscal stimulus that was "timely, targeted and temporary"—exactly what Congress passed nearly two months later."
-->Wait, did Congress pass a stimulus bill in February 2008?? Where was I?

Btw, Summers was on the board of the Belfer Center.

In researching the question on the Internet (having read, don't remember where, that the TTT line was Democratic in origin), I found that, oddly, the title of an October 2008 article by Robert D. Atkinson is "Timely, Targeted, Temporary and Transformative: Crafting an Innovation-based Economic Stimulus Package"...

so I'm wondering whether the 'Information Technology and Innovation Foundation' (source of the Atkinson piece) is connected to Summers and/or the Belfer Center, or if this TTT business has such a nice ring to it that it has been and will be tossed back and forth forever. (I did find a very recent piece by a Jersey Republican congressman who used the words without crediting anyone.)

Actually, I still think that the Republicans decided to use those words against the person who had last spoken them aloud. Tho' that's not exactly what I said on February 1.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


From BBC News:
"The X-Men star [Hugh Jackman] told CNN the biggest surprise was that he would be presenting the show "drunk and nude"."
Jackman is, of course, hosting (and speaking about) the Oscars tonight.



I posted a Note on Facebook recently in which I expanded an opportunity to list favorite songs. Here's the list that I came up with without actually studying the question:

#1 Crush - Garbage

Beautiful Day - U2
Creator - Santogold
Dance This Mess Around & Legal Tender - The B52s
Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes & Late in the Evening - Paul Simon
Draggin' the Line - Tommy James & the Shondells
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic - The Police
Fall at Your Feet & Whispers and Moans - Crowded House
Five Foot One - Iggy Pop
Flashlight - Parliament
Gett Off - Prince
Hardest Button to Button - White Stripes
Head Like a Hole - Nine Inch Nails
Hell - Squirrel Nut Zippers
Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles
Here Comes Your Man - The Pixies
I'm Not in Love - 10CC
Isobel - Bjork
King of the Road - Roger Miller
Let's Go - The Cars
Let's Stick Together - Bryan Ferry
Making Plans for Nigel - XTC
Mama Said - Lenny Kravitz
Message to My Girl - Split Enz
No Myth - Michael Penn
The Pretender - Foo Fighters
Rock On - David Essex
Somewhere Down the Crazy River - Robbie Robertson
Spirit in the Sky - Norman Greenbaum
Super Bon Bon - Soul Coughing
Suspended in Gaffa - Kate Bush
TVC15 - David Bowie
Thank You - Sly & the Family Stone
Yeah - Usher
You Haven't Done Nothin' - Stevie Wonder

I realize now that I didn't include Dream a Little Dream of Me - (Mama) Cass Elliot, and that I didn't look outside the pop/rock/alternative genres.

What would you add to this list? What would you delete?

Meeting Louisiana

David Gregory had on the program Meet the Press this morning Bobby Jindal, Republican governor of Louisiana. Gregory challenged Jindal on salient points, but left out some key context: Louisiana historically and currently ranks 50th in surveys of the states' social spending. The poor in Louisiana are desperately, chronically poor.

I could go on a rant here about Katrina and the neglect and criminality seen in local and federal governments before, during, and after the storm. Jindal was not in office at the time, of course, but the housing crisis in New Orleans, and the astonishing, frightening levels of crime (crime always increases where there is want), continue!

Jindal says he is refusing the extra, emergency unemployment dollars in Obama's stimulus package because he does not want even to suggest that he is making extended unemployment benefits permanent. The ease of inserting language about the benefits being temporary is obvious, so I think Jindal is, as was suggested on the program, already posing for 2012 campaign posters.

If the poor, unemployed, and disabled got together and filed a class action suit, maybe we could see him instead in a mug shot. Not as extreme as it sounds.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Of course, it's the Oscars tomorrow night. Every year I throw a soiree, even though I long ago stopped caring who wins.

This year, the nominees are the same five over and over: Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, Frost/Nixon, and The Reader. Sure, there are some categories that also feature The Wrestler, The Dark Knight, and Doubt. But very, very little variety in this year's nominations.

So my hope rests with the crazy dress. Which actress will imagine that she's being daring and reveal too much anatomy, or an unwarranted excess of confidence? It's a sad thing that I can work up excitement for these matters. But I can't wait.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"My" President?

"This is your money. You have a right to know where it's going and how it's being spent. Learn what steps we're taking to ensure you can track our progress every step of the way."

Hope so.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lentil Soup

0.3 to 0.5 lb thin-sliced pepperoni
1 bag lentils
(8 c water)
1 lg carrot, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tsp chicken boullion

Saute pepperoni slices in soup pot.
When ppp has produced some oil, add veggies.
Saute veg until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add 8 c water and the lentils.
Cook for half an hour, then add 2 tsp boullion.
Stir well and taste; cook a bit longer if consistency isn't right.

This made four nearly 2-cup servings. The ppp slices have no flavor in the final product; the soup carries all the flavor.

Fennel Ragout

1 fennel bulb
1 lg zucchini
12-16 oz tomatoes (or less...personally, I like roma)
2 Tb olive oil
1 Tb five-spice powder (88 cents at Ocean State)

Slice stems from fennel bulb (I kept mine for chop-salad later).
Split bulb and carve out core. Chop tomato.
Slice fennel & zucchini extremely thinly (I used a mandoline).
Add oil, all veggies, and five-spice powder to a saute pan.
Saute until soft.

I divvied this up over three nights. The ragout made a lovely bed for baked fish.

Jerk Chicken

This recipe was discovered and shared by John & Sue. (Thanks, John & Sue.) It requires at least 4 hours marinating time.

whole chicken or chicken parts, up to 5 lb (I cut the following recipe in half for 1.3 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
2 Tb olive oil
1/4 c soy sauce
1 tsp gravy browning
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 Tb ginger root, grated (buy a small piece; it'll be under 50 cents)
1.5 tsp five-spice powder (88 cents at Ocean State*)

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
4 habanero peppers (I used one x-lg jalapeno, which didn't bring enough heat, but 4 habaneros are VERY hot, like EXTREME heat...use judgment)

Put =everything= except chicken into a food processor and pulverize.
Pour into non-reactive pan and cook until it thickens a bit. Let cool.
Combine chicken (break into parts if whole) and sauce in zip-lock bag.
Marinate in fridge at least 4 hours (I keep it overnight).
Preheat oven to 450.
Pour bag out into oven-safe roasting pan of some sort. Cover with foil.
Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, then turn heat down.
At 275, cook another hour.

Note that I tried this in a slow cooker and added water. The combination of the less-hot jalapeno and the water caused it to lose significant yumminess points. But if you follow the recipe pretty much word for word, as I have in the past, it is incredible--seriously, the best chicken I've ever eaten.

*This is a Food Stamps modification. In the original recipe, it's 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp allspice & 1/2 tsp cinnamon.

Mini Turkey Meatloaves

Is the plural of meatloaf 'meatloaves' or 'meatloafs'? In any case:

16-oz pkg ground turkey (I used a 20-oz pkg)
1 whisked egg
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
~2.5 tsp - 1 Tb curry powder (88 cents at Ocean State)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Turn on broiler.
Mix all ingredients together well with your hands.
Roll 1.5- to 2-inch footballs. Place on cookie sheet.
Put sheet under broiler. Leave for 5 minutes.
Pull out to flip loafs over.
Broil another 5 minutes.
Done. (Got three meals out of this, with salad.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Food Stamps

I have spent the past five or six days (six if you count today) on a Food Stamps budget. It's an assignment for my class. I've been mostly silent this week because of the massive changes that SNAP (Food Stamps are now called SNAP) brought into my home.

The first recommendation people typically make, once they know you'll be 'on Food Stamps,' is: carbs, carbs, carbs. Pasta, rice and beans, bagged dry beans, etc. Unfortunately, I don't do carbs. I went to Rosebud in Malden for their wholesale-priced produce.

I then went to Market Basket for my protein. There is no Market Basket (yet) in Gloucester, my hometown. I found some great sales on chicken, pork tenderloin, and ground turkey. I bought regular-price frozen tilapia filets because they're such a deal, and less than half a pound of very thinly sliced pepperoni because I remember with love a recipe from the 1980s.

Today, my boss asked me how the Food Stamps diet was going. I said fine; I had needed to stretch my lentils and my chicken farther than I expected, but it wasn't a great hardship. She said, "And what do you have for lunch today? Is it totally boring?" It wasn't. What I had for lunch today was jerk-marinated chicken in an onion sauce over riced cauliflower, with sliced raw radishes and a tangelo.

Four recipes from the week, now ending, that I would heartily recommend:
Mini Turkey Meatloaves
Jerk Chicken
Sarah's Fennel Ragout
Sarah's Lentil Soup

I'll post each in separate instalments soon.

Space Junk

Well, it happened. Two communications satellites have crashed in orbit, and the debris jeopardizes any object in orbit or hoping to move through, manned or unmanned.

Again, did y'all see Wall-E?

We may have trapped ourselves in isolation from the Universe. Really and truly.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Space Food

I am unbelievably excited. I just flipped through a few pages of the Vermont Country Store catalog before recycling it (I typically don't even look inside if it's not the holidays). And I found the one edible product that I have been craving since middle school:


I can remember driving with my dad to Ypsilanti for a math competition. The car crossed the Flint River, and I noticed and started talking about a beaver's activity on the water. While I talked, I held a Space Food Stick. The anticipation...

I can picture the cabinet from which I took it, in our Milbourne Ave kitchen (house above). My favorite ones were peanut butter, but I also liked the chocolate ones, and mom, as I recall, would buy both.

I have been thinking for years that someone should bring them back. Now, oh my gosh, they are here. Soft candy-like rolls of heaven. I need to place an order.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kale chips

Preheat the oven to 250. Get a bunch of kale. (Rosebud in Malden has them for $0.89 a pound.) Wash, then cut the leaves lengthwise, down the stem.

Cut away the stems (don't leave any bits o' stem; they don't crisp properly). In a large bowl, toss the kale with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper. Try to coat all well.

On 2 cookie sheets, spread the leaves in a single layer. Salt again. Cook for 30 minutes (33 minutes if the leaves are very curly).

Vic and I just tried this recipe, and we both became instant kale converts with the first bite. But don't try to breathe in while you're eating them.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I think that the next time I get a discount coupon for a phone (I get one every two years, so that I'll decide to stick with Verizon), I'm going to choose the phone that has the most functions.

In the past, I have expressed a distinct preference for very simple phones. But I'm starting to feel left behind. Yesterday, my niece played a brand-new game with us. She said early on, "I'm going to win, you know." I thought that she was kidding. And she did enough texting during the game that I was sure her split focus would do her in. Plus she was sick. But win she did.

Is it not true that the next generation has so much overcapacity that each member will, inevitably, burn out?

On a news program this morning, the demise of the newspaper was a topic. The reporter held a phone that displayed the newspaper, the web, a movie, a GPS, TV shows, email, pictures (which of course it can also take, =and= it can store and play music)... oh, for the days when a hand-held scheduler rocked!


"Timely, targeted, and temporary" is the new Republican talking point. The NYT link that I provided earlier counters this argument, but TTT sure has a 'ring' to it, doesn't it?

I believe that the past eight years have proved bankrupt the tax-cut approach to stimulating the economy. As to criticisms that the Democrats are pushing too many of their long-preferred (but not widely favored) projects and huge "social spending" initiatives, I agree with John Kerry on Meet the Press this morning: "We've been pressing for years to get high-speed rail, to fix community schools... [these] dovetail with the [stimulus]... and all of this will be debated on the Senate floor, not kept in secret"--the latter in response to a charge that the Democrats are doing exactly what the Republicans did in the wake of 9/11.

One of the minority-party complaints is that we have to address the financial industry's reluctance to issue credit. IMHO this is the public face of a push to make taxpayers cover the losses of the financial markets. Banks need to own their losses to their shareholders--and when I think about who the major shareholders are, I am even =more= convinced that government absolutely should not get in the middle of private profit-and-loss matters. If banks feel reluctant to give credit, even when they are receiving massive bailout dollars, then let new institutions arise. Credit is by definition a =risk=, so don't buy it if you hear people lamenting the poor banks taking 'hits' if they issue loans!

Another complaint is about the provision of Head Start funding. This has, of course, direct bearing on my employment situation, so that's my caveat. I was not necessarily in favor of seeing Head Start funding in this package, but only because the package is a onetime award, and Head Start needs to be recurrently funded over the long term.

The preschoolers who benefit directly from Head Start will not be earning in the near future, and I think that's the point that prompts the criticism: where is the 'urgency' that justifies providing those dollars immediately? But any caregiver, especially a single caregiver, who hopes to hold a job, especially a new job, needs full-day Head Start and after-school care (for grade school children) to be available =now=.


I do seem to be posting a lot of links lately. But here's another anyway:

Now more than ever, I wish that folks who protest the way a thing is done could be required to come up with a better idea.

Change (Red)

A friend (Lani, with whom I went to Seattle one year ago this month) sent me this:
I love the Stand By Me clip.

I was glad to see the (Red) designation. A buddy to people living with HIV for seven years (1988-1995), I still feel that AIDS issues largely fall under our radar.

This is probably the only moment when I will praise Bush, but I praise Bush for his prioritization of fighting AIDS in Africa (even if, in practice, the effort was essentially stymied by internal conflicts, due to Bush's caveats). I was struck dumb when W announced this priority, years ago. And, sadly for all of you, I am not often struck dumb!