Sunday, August 31, 2008

where Biden shows he knows his corn

Sarah Palin may be an expert on babies, guns and Jesus but Joe Biden knows corn on the cob.

And if you are looking to be really ticked off with how the right wingers are hoping the Republican VP choice will play out, i.e., if you didn't get enough of the Hillary pillorizing during the primaries, check out the New Feminism Rush Limpballs is hawking. I mean, you gotta love it. Using a most blatant and hurtful form of sexism under the guise of promoting feminism.

Friday, August 29, 2008

huh? is this really happening?

Can this be true?

McCain has chosen a woman running mate?

And does this mean the Republican party is actually hinging their presidential chances on wooing disgruntled Hillary supporters with this choice? The Hillary conservatives hate so much?

The Hillary they said shouldn't be president because Americans won't want to watch a woman age?

Will Rush question whether a former beauty pageant contestant is likely to be even more distressed by her deteriorating looks?

Election politics, if nothing else, are amusing.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

we're good, uh huh, that's right

Democratic National Convention

Great job, DNCC 08 ! What a finale!

And Barak? You ROCK! So inspiring.

That Obama's acceptance speech occurred on the anniversary of THE landmark hope inspiring speech is pure political genius.

Its a proud day to be an American (and goddess knows we're due for some proud days).

A few highlights from Denver 08'

Welcome back, Ted.

Hillary proves her opponents wrong (again) by throwing her full support toward Obama (I never had a doubt).

Wild Bill proves he's still got star power.

Michelle proves black is beautiful and brilliant ...

as well as compassionate. She speaks to Tammy Duckworth, wounded Iraq veteran and director of the Illinois Veterans' Affairs Department.

Obama proves he can hang with the homeboys.

It started here...

And will end here ...

A few of the people its all about...

To see Bill Clinton's mystery dance partner, click here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

pick a peck of prickly pear

A few months ago I experienced my first prickly pear margarita in San Antonio with a friend who was visiting from Ohio. As we sat on the riverwalk, we both savored the flavor of the best margarita this side of the Mexico border.
Afterwards, she sent me a surprise - a bottle of prickly pear syrup bought on the internets. So I've been able to enjoy, and share these marvelous margaritas with friends.

Yesterday, as on many afternoons, SAM and I went for a walk along the wooded trails behind our property. There are fields and fields of prickly pear cactus. Their fruit are turning purple. I've been hatching the idea to pick a few and take a stab at making my own prickly pear syrup.

But how? I've never even held one of those purple pods in my hand. When to pick? When is the peak ripeness of a purple prickly pear pod? How to get the pulp out without ending up with prickly fingers? How many pods do I need to make one margarita? How many pears does Peter Piper need to pick?

I don't know the answers to any of these questions. But I'm making it my (procrastination task of the day) quest. Insurance claims and therapy paychecks be damned!

At this stage I've learned that the pulp of the prickly pear is nutritious, containing lots of Vitamin C.

And that it can be used as a laxative and as a first aid salve, similar to aloe vera. But I haven't learned how to make the syrup.

Wikihow says to make a prickly pear margarita using cactus "infused" tequila. That's no help.

If you, dear reader, are a prickly pear expert who happened upon my blog, I'd be eternally grateful for any and all suggestions.

Now to remember to take my camera along on my next walk and share the view.

Update: Rachel from RachelsTinyFarm gives instruction on freezing the pear pods as a means of extracting the juice finger prick free.

just another music monday

My first experience with this singer songwriter was a driveway moment.

I heard her singing, "Rain" and I knew I had to hear more.

I sat in my driveway once I got home, hoping the announcer would give me her name or at least the name of the song. No such luck. So I wrote down the word repeated in the refrain, hoping it would help me find the song and the artist with the haunting voice.

I found it on one of those file sharing programs. I downloaded, crossed my fingers, and felt a surge of giddiness when I realized I had found the song. And a new, unknown (to me) artist.

Her name is Patty Griffin and she occupies more memory bytes on my mp3 player than any other artist.

As I was searching for links for this post, I came across this bit of news. Patty Griffin and many other musicians will be aboard a "songwriter's cruise" that leaves Miami and heads for the Virgin Islands in early 2009. Check out the lineup. Anyone heard of, or better yet, been on one? I don't know much about it except that my neighbor has gone to one for Texas songwriters. I'll have to ask her more about it. But it sounds like my dream cruise.

Here's what the website says:

Get away from your everyday life on this Journey Through Song, which will explore folk, blues, Americana, and the best singer-songwriters around. Join Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin, Buddy Miller and more artists ... as we set sail from Miami... We'll be making stops in Samana, St. Thomas, Tortola, and Great Stirrup Cay, a private island where you can relax on pristine beaches and swim in clear blue water.

And for those of you in California, she's touring there now:

Saratoga, CA
Mtn. Winery
info »

Santa Barbara, CA
Lobero Theater
info »

Solana Beach, CA
Belly Up
info »

Camp Mather, CA
Strawberry Fest
info »

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

a thought on hump day

So many of my clients in the corporate world complain about cold, uncaring, rigid and unfeeling managers and supervisors. Meetings designed to motivate only induce feelings of anxiety, depression and helplessness. As I listen, I too feel helpless. People cannot simply up and quit. They have bills to pay and kids to feed. Replacement job searches promise pay cuts and fewer vacation days.

So when I ran across a post on E is for Empathy about a study measuring people's ability to empathize with another person's pain, I immediately thought about cold hearted managers.

Could this needle prick test become a precursor to a corporate management fitness screening device? The smaller the wince the higher the fit?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

toe fugh

How many of you have bought a package of tofu with the grand scheme of finding the recipe that will turn you onto this health food staple? That you, too, will become a card carrying member of the tofu nation?

A recipe that will produce something appetizing like this, for example:

Or this.


Where was this delicious looking dish when I was recipe hunting?

Instead of mouth watering, healthful morsels created in your happy kitchen, you find, months later, a yellowing, fuzzy, brick of brain matter dieing in your fridge.

Oh wait. That was a prepared meal.

This is the decaying glob of plant gelatin:

new study suggests maybe it was our all knowing unconscious guiding us. It found that tofu in the diet is linked to dementia. Take (that) heed all you health food (nuts) lovers !

If you're like me, you won't care about the details of the research. When it comes to advising against foods like toefugh, headlines are all I care to read.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

moody tuesday

Top Ten Ways to Raise Your Mood*
*From Moodraiser, an excellent blog that gives tips for good mental health.

1. Respond to good news enthusiastically. It's called "capitalizing." If your spouse tells you some good news, how do you respond?

Four possible ways to respond are:
a) enthusiastically,
b) negatively,
c) positively but subdued, or
d) uninterested.

Studies show when you respond enthusiastically, as opposed to any of the other ways, it makes a big difference in how satisfied your spouse is in your marriage, how committed s/he is, and how in love s/he is with you. And, of course, if your spouse is more satisfied with your marriage, is more committed to you, and more in love with you, that will really raise your mood, too.

2. Look at personal photos. Listening to music and eating chocolate (what?!?)didn't really change experimental subjects' moods very much. Alcohol and TV each gave people a 1% rise in their happiness score. But the clear winner was looking at personal photos. It gave people, on average, an 11% rise in their mood.

3. Experiment with your posture. Someone who feels down tends to slump. Someone who is happy tends to sit up straighter, walk more upright with the head held up, looking ahead instead of down. If you have been paying attention, you know this already. Posture tends to be a reflection of mood.
What you might not have realized is that it goes the other way too: You can change your posture and it will influence your mood. Experiment with your posture while you're walking or sitting. Do more of what makes you feel better, and less of what doesn't.

4. Compare your situation to something worse. Think of something you are unhappy about. Now notice that the reason it makes you unhappy is that you are comparing your situation to something better. You're comparing your situation to something more ideal.

But try this: Think of someone in this world who would take your situation over theirs in a heartbeat. Or imagine your own situation was much worse than it is. Whatever you are unhappy about, you can easily find a worse situation to compare it to. And from that perspective, you are lucky to have the problem you have, even though it is obviously not ideal. Who says the ideal is a legitimate thing to use as a comparison anyway? Something worse is at least as legitimate, and has a benefit too: You feel better.

5. Pretend the universe is in a conspiracy to make you happy. When something bad happens, pretend the universe is in a conspiracy to make you happy and it gave you this bad thing as the perfect way for you to learn something — a lesson that will ultimately make you happy. This way of reframing a setback will improve your mood in the moment, and will raise your mood in the long run. It'll help you learn and improve what you do in the future. It will help you make the most of whatever happens. What unpleasant situation do you have? Is it teaching you something valuable? Could it, if you looked at it that way? Your ongoing mood has a lot to do with how things look to you. And how things look to you has a lot to do with how you look at things. Use this to your advantage by using this reframe.

6. Think of something you're grateful for. It is surprisingly easy to think of something you're grateful for. It only takes a few moments. And as soon as you think of something, you feel noticeably better. If the first thing you think of doesn't raise your mood enough, ask yourself what else you're grateful for. We naturally have our attention on our goals and what we'd like to attain in the future, and the mind naturally compares what we have with what we want to have. That's motivating sometimes, but it can also make you feel demoralized or frustrated. It is equally legitimate — and ought to get equal billing — to think about what you have (compared to others or compared to your past), or what you have gained, or what you are just plain glad about. Try it the next time you feel discouraged or frustrated. Ask yourself, "What am I grateful for?"

7. Take some time and sit still quietly. Simply sitting and thinking can raise your mood consistently. All you have to do is sit still without doing anything. How often do you do that? You always have lots to do, and if you're not doing something, you're watching a movie or listening to music. Your mind is almost continually engaged. When you sit still, after about fifteen minutes, your mind seems to go into a defrag mode. Unresolved issues bubble up and get resolved. Your mind seems to naturally sort itself out. It feels almost as if you had things you needed to think about that were pushed to the back of your mind, waiting for an opportunity. Sit still and let your mind think for a half-hour to an hour. I think you'll be surprised at how clear-headed and peaceful you become.

8. Do some exercise. Exercise beats depression, but even if you're not depressed, a little exercise usually raises your mood. It's an all-purpose mood-raiser that just about anyone can use. If you haven't exercised in the last couple days and you're not feeling as good as you would like, try doing some exercise today and see if that helps. It probably will.

9. Get a little done on a purpose you care about. Think of one small goal you really want. And it's really important you think of something you want. You could do things you should do all day long, completing task after task, but if there's no juice in it, all that accomplishment won't raise your mood.

For real enjoyment, you need:
a) something you want to accomplish, that
b) you enjoy accomplishing.

Do a little of your joyful purpose today, or if the day is almost done, then start tomorrow. Think of something you really want to do that you really like to do, and get a little of it done.

10. Reframe a circumstance that makes you feel bad. "Reframing" means interpreting the situation differently. When something happens, you interpret it a certain way, and your mind usually does it automatically. The situation just seems a certain way to you, and you have feelings appropriate to the way you look at it. When you reframe a circumstance that makes you feel bad, you won't feel bad any more. Nothing has changed except how you're looking at it, but that's enough to change your feelings.

To reframe something, all you have to do is:

a) notice some circumstance is bringing you down, and

b) ask yourself if there is some other way to look at it than the way you automatically look at it.

What's on your top 10 list for lifting your mood?

Friday, August 08, 2008

short note

I am away visiting the nation's capitol, the state of maryland's capitol, and now, my hometown, a little further north. At the moment I'm waiting for two carloads of my kids' cousins. Some haven't seen each other in two years. My sister is bringing her garden fresh bounty: corn on the cob, tomatoes, lima beans, and cantalope. Plus my sister in law is baking brownies. An elderly neighbor has generously volunteered her swimming pool. She has no idea what she is getting herself into.
I currently owe my internet connection to the fine technology of a state of the art toshiba laptop plus dial up modem. V.....e.....r......r......y.........S.....l......o........w. I'm wanting to check in on my favorite blog sites but it seems to average five minutes per round trip. So I'm giving notice that I will not be stopping by as often as I'd like. Instead I'll just have to make due with the some of the best company I can ask for while munching on some of the best produce the garden state has to offer.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

cornyn or cornball, you decide

I suppose everyone lives in a state with a certain nauseating schtick associated with it. California has the gold rush and Hollywood. Florida has sunshine and oranges. Maryland has crabs.

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that goes double for the schtick. Cowboy schtick. Now, I like cowboys. Maybe not as much as Jennifer at Thursday Drive, but I do find the whole image appealing. I like the idea of them and the look of them. Definately the look. But when political ads and cowboy schtick get plastered together, look away.

Just a for instance. This is the junior U.S. Senator from Texas, John Cornyn. He is up for re-election this fall after his first term. And this is how he has chosen (paid big bucks) to promote himself. Cowboy schtick at its finest (most revolting).

And I do believe Johnny Cash would roll in his grave if he knew his singing schtick was being used to sell this brand of politics.

Monday, August 04, 2008

just another music monday

You know how some singers' voices are so there THERE for you? You hear it and your mind and body just cave, "yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhh."

Jimmy Lafave is the there THERE for me. I can't hear him sing without my knees buckling. Pillow talk into my soul.

Lafave was born in Texas. Spent his teen years in Oklahoma. He knew Garth Brooks when the only thing people said about him was, "What kind of name is Garth?"
Lafave came back to Texas to further his singing career and has stayed here ever since.
There are two cover songs he does that kill me: Springsteen's Valentine's Day (Trail, Disc 2) and Dylan's Buckets of Rain (Road Novel).
Here's one of the most well known songs written by LaFave, Never Is A Moment (aka, Beautiful Divine).

I saw him at this venue. I think I was in the audience. I would be the one on my knees.

Oh, and sorry about the poor quality of the recording.

Friday, August 01, 2008

the race card? really?

It wasn't a matter of if, it was a matter of when the McCain camp would accuse Obama of using the race card.

The when became more and more inevitable with McCain's sinking poll numbers.

From the LA Times article:


The exchange, which elevated tensions in a contest grown increasingly testy, arose from comments made by Illinois Sen. Obama at a stop Wednesday in rural Missouri. The Democrat said Republicans would try to scare voters by questioning his patriotism and "funny name" and by pointing out he doesn't "look like those other presidents on those dollar bills" -- all of them white and, except for Ulysses S. Grant, older than Obama when elected to the White House. In response, Rick Davis, the manager of McCain's campaign, issued this statement Thursday: "Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It's divisive, negative, shameful and wrong."

Speaking to reporters after an appearance in Wisconsin, Arizona Sen. McCain said he agreed with Davis' statement, adding, "I'm disappointed that Obama would say the things he's saying."


That's negative and shameful?
And yet, McCain's earlier remarks are not? Such as stating that Obama "would rather lose a war" in order to win the election?
No. I suppose not. Not when you're John "I make up the rules as I go" McCain.

It's not shameful, of course, because he's not questioning Obama's "patriotism." See McCain's interview with George Stephanopoulous at Professor J's Place.

And one more point of incredulity. During that interview, 4.18mins in, in reference to the Iraq war McCain actually said, "We were greeted as liberators."

Huh? Which war is he getting his updates on?

stumped on the stump

Bestest campaign moment of the month:

What he's really thinking is, "Think MAN, think! Do my contributors cover birth control? I KNOW they cover Viagra!"