Monthly Archives: May 2008

cookies

https://i0.wp.com/www.babble.com/CS/blogs/strollerderby/chocolate_chip-cookies.jpgI just made a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I’ve been making chocolate chip cookies since I was old enough to reach the kitchen counter and use the oven safely. Now I make them at least once a week; the recipe is permanently etched in my brain.

A little estimation and the help of a calculator just told me that I’m probably coming up on my 50,000th chocolate chip cookie.

Y’know, that’s a lot of chocolate chips.

guilty pleasure

OK, I admit it: I love watching American Gladiators. A new season started last week, and I’m looking forward to my Monday night fixes.

This is just about the only TV show I watch on a regular basis. Mostly, the television is for me a vehicle for watching movies. But Gladiators is big, over-the-top, muscley fun — professional wrestling meets reality show meets hand-to-hand combat in a glitzy, highly produced format. Hulk Hogan! Ali’s daughter! Blood, sweat, and tears! Determined contestants giving their all in front of their cheering families!

I’ve figured out that one of the reasons I like the show is that the women compete in exactly the same events as the men. Even the Eliminator series of events at the end of each show is identical for both sexes, including extreme tests of both upper- and lower-body strength. Sure the female gladiators wear skimpy clothes, but hey, so do the guys.

No excuses: I love this show! 🙂

https://i0.wp.com/www.slybaldguys.com/serendipity/uploads/ag_about_gladiators.jpg

400

400: That’s how many meals I prepared this weekend, with considerable assistance from my family.

The Louisville Contra Dancers hold an annual dance weekend at O’Bannon Woods State Park, and this is the second time I’ve catered most of their meals (3 meals Saturday and all-morning brunch Sunday). The event sold out, with 100 participants coming to dance, attend workshops, and enjoy an absolutely beautiful spring weekend in the Indiana woods.

Here’s the easiest way to express how much food it takes to feed 100 people for 4 meals: 1 Saturn Vue full. The shopping took 4 hours, and at the end my car was full. As in, stacked to the roof everywhere except the driver’s seat. My husband came home at lunchtime to help me unload and locate storage places for all the food for the 2 days until the event. Fortunately my mother has an extra refrigerator in her garage; Doug emptied out all the soft drinks and filled the fridge and freezer with salad, vegetables, lunch meat, and more. Our upright freezer in the garage was full to overflowing with garlic toast. And our refrigerator brimmed with 20 pounds of butter, 4 gallons of milk, and 8 dozen eggs.

I spent much of Friday making cookies, brownies, and chocolate chip cake. Saturday morning the kids and I got up at 5:00 a.m. (an hour that I don’t normally admit exists) and headed out on the scenic 45-minute drive to the park. They both volunteered to go out early with me, rather than coming a few hours later with their dad, and I was delighted. They were a huge help, and having them there made everything more fun (and much easier!). Talk about quality time with my children: this was it.

The kitchen at O’Bannon Woods State Park’s group campground is … eclectic. For one thing, you have to bring with you absolutely everything you may need in the way of cookware, utensils, storage, and cleaning supplies. I’ve made a list for next time, because this year I forgot to take measuring cups and a whisk, and we could have used more knives. And then there’s the stove. I’m sure it’s the ultimate in unbreakable, low-maintenance appliances for high-use group facilities, but it’s a pain in the ass. It has 6 burners, 2 of which didn’t work. The burners aren’t gas, and they aren’t standard electric coils or the newer flat burners. I can’t find a picture online: Envision a metal disk about an inch thick and the diameter of a standard burner. Sounds fine, but there are two problems: 1. Any pan you place on the burner must have an absolutely flat bottom, so it makes contact with the disk at all points. If the pan is slightly curved or warped, you can’t boil water in it. 2. The disks stay hot approximately forever. I’m used to turning a burner off or to a lower setting and having it cool relatively quickly. These take a very, very long time to adjust downward.

Another exciting feature of the kitchen is the walk-in refrigerator. The light within is dim, the walls and shelves dark metal, the air frigid, the overall effect extremely creepy. The large, heavy door sticks just enough that every time you have to go in, you wonder for just a moment whether you’ll be able to get out.

Despite the eccentricities of the kitchen, everything went extremely well. During the course of the day Saturday, the kids and I took turns at napping in the back of the car when we had some downtime, enjoying the lovely breeze blowing in an open door. Once the pasta buffet was set up for Saturday dinner, I left to play with Guilderoy Byrne at the Blue River Cafe, and Doug and the kids cleaned things up. I got home at 11:00 p.m., and yet managed to pull myself out of bed again at 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning. Doug and I headed back out to the camp to handle brunch; our daughter drove herself and her brother to church (it’s great to have a child who can drive!). We were finished at noon after a very successful morning. At home again, I took a 3-hour nap, and after dinner I went to play at Brendan’s. (Yes, in the big scheme of things it would have been better not to have 2 band gigs the same weekend as the cooking. I’m just glad I had time to sleep.)

It was an excellent weekend all around. We got every meal ready on time; and the attendees, hungry from their dancing, were very happy with the food. I did a better job this year of estimating quantities and ended up with fewer left-overs. It was wonderful to have my family working with me; we had a lot of fun, so despite the long hours I was never stressed. And the money we earned will be a huge help toward our upcoming summer vacation. Who knew that a killer weekend could make me so happy and satisfied? 🙂

Oh — if you’re interested, here’s the menu:

Saturday

8 -10:30 a.m. Breakfast
—————————————

— Assorted cereals & milk
— Assorted Danish pastries
— Bagels, cream cheese, peanut butter, jelly
— Mixed fruit

11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Lunch
—————————————

— Assorted breads, meats, cheeses, and hummus for sandwiches
— Veggie pasta salad
— Black bean and couscous salad
— Assorted chips
— Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and snickerdoodle cookies

5:30 – 7:30 Dinner
—————————————-

— Spaghetti and rotini pasta
— Marinara, alfredo, and pesto sauces
— Meatballs
— Vegetable lasagna
— Green salad
— Garlic toast
— Chocolate chip cake
— Orange cream fruit salad

Sunday

9 a.m. – noon Brunch
—————————————-

— Biscuits with sausage gravy, jelly, honey
— Cheese grits
— Mini quiches
— Asparagus with lemon butter
— Vegetables and dip
— Mixed fruit
— Left-over sandwich supplies, salads
— Triple-chocolate brownies

I’m just speechless

Just now I was listening to a podcast of the April 27 edition of NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! One of the questions used to try to stump the panelists revealed the existence of the newest in macho, “d’ya think he’s compensating for something?” accessories for a guy’s truck or SUV. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, they’re

https://i1.wp.com/www.trucknutz.com/graphics/rearview.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/www.trucknutz.com/graphics/nutzsmall.gifTruck Nutz!

From the site:

Are you sick of looking at side steps and bug shields? Want a REAL auto accessory? Want a site that offers Hot Chicks, Bad-Ass Rides, Free stuff, and the funniest accessory in the industry? Well you have come to the right place. Come on in and see what everyone is talking about.

Truck Nutz – The Ultimate Truck Accessory™

Available in 10 colors, including, umm, flesh. 🙂 While you’re there, don’t forget to order some Bikerballz for your motorcycle!

the Clinton gang is out to get me…

So I was at the grocery store a little while ago, and when I came out, my car refused to start. It won’t even try to turn over — just makes little clicking noises. And this is a 2007 Saturn Vue, still under warranty. My husband had to leave school to come get me. Later today I have to get it towed hell and gone out to the dealership on the other side of the world.

Just before I went to the store, I cast my vote for Obama in the Indiana primary. Now my car is dead.

Coincidence? Hmmm…

if Clinton’s campaign goes with the “nuclear option,” I won’t vote for her

Tuesday I’ll be voting in the Indiana Democratic primary, and I’m thoroughly excited that my vote will actually count for something this time around. For a little while, the race was running neck and neck, but for the last few days Real Clear Politics has Clinton’s lead increasing; today she’s in front by an average of almost 6%. At the same time, Obama’s lead in North Carolina keeps shrinking: today it’s averaging 7%.

I assume that these shifts are due in large part to the knee-capping operation undertaken last week by the Rev. Jeremiah “Throw Barack Under the Bus” Wright. They make me nervous, because they seem to herald a continuation of the race for the nomination. I’d been among those fervently hoping that a strong show in Indiana and a blow-out in North Carolina would seal things up for Obama.

And then this morning, I saw this on the Huffington Post:

http://cnycircus.files.wordpress.com/2007/03/hillary-clinton.jpgHillary Clinton’s campaign has a secret weapon to build its delegate count, but her top strategists say privately that any attempt to deploy it would require a sharp (and by no means inevitable) shift in the political climate within Democratic circles by the end of this month.

With at least 50 percent of the Democratic Party’s 30-member Rules and Bylaws Committee committed to Clinton, her backers could — when the committee meets at the end of this month — try to ram through a decision to seat the disputed 210-member Florida and 156-member Michigan delegations. Such a decision would give Clinton an estimated 55 or more delegates than Obama, according to Clinton campaign operatives.

Sure, there’s that fact that making such an attempt “would require a sharp (and by no means inevitable) shift in the political climate.” But when my husband and I were on a walk during this beautiful spring evening, I realized that I have no doubt at all that if such a shift occurred, perhaps following unexpectedly strong Clinton showings in the next several primaries, Hillary and Co. would absolutely undertake their “nuclear option” to force through a convention decision on her behalf. I think they’d do whatever it took to get her the candidacy.

And here’s the next thought that came to me, very unexpectedly, on my walk: if Clinton and her people pull this kind of stunt, I won’t vote for her in the general election.

My husband’s immediate response to my saying so was, “But any Democrat is better than McCain.” I agree with him. But if she does this, then she’ll demonstrate something I’ve thought all along, and which has influenced my decision to vote for Obama: when it comes right down to it, I believe that Clinton’s campaign is 100% All About Her. If she shows that she’s willing to do anything and everything to get the nomination, including stomp all over the process and ignore the wishes of Democratic voters, then she’ll show me that she’s no better a person than the worst Republican. I won’t vote for someone like that.

It’s the first glimmer I’ve had into understanding why people vote for Ralph Nader; they see such fundamental flaws in the candidates of the two major parties that they refuse to vote for either of them. I hope that Clinton won’t cause me — and, potentially, a lot of other people — to leave the President box empty on my ballot in November.

Update

This morning, the Huffington Post says the Clinton campaign is absolutely planning to push for seating of the Florida and Michigan delegates at the May 31 meeting of the Rules and Bylaws committee. One response:

Political analyst Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia said: “Wow. The nuclear option will yield nuclear winter for the Democratic Party.”

Unbelievable. Clinton apparently has no concern for what this action will do to her party and the country.

go see Iron Man RIGHT NOW

https://i2.wp.com/www.scifimoviepage.com/upcoming/photos/ironman1.jpgWhatever else you have planned this evening or this weekend, drop it and go see Iron Man. Now. Yeah, I know, if you live near me there’s that little thing called the Kentucky Derby going on tomorrow; but guess what? This movie is way better than watching a horse race, no matter how big a deal it is.

Robert Downey, Jr. is amazing. So is the entire cast. The humor; the suits; the special effects; you name it. I like it as much as Batman Begins, and that’s saying something.

Oh, yeah — stay through the credits.

Maybe I’ll ditch my Derby guests and go to another matinee tomorrow…

the age of accountability

Tim has written an excellent, thought-provoking essay about the FLDS sect and their indoctrination of woman and children into the belief that it’s OK for a middle-aged man to “marry” and have sex with multiple underage “wives.” He points out that many religions offer their own indoctrinations of one sort or another, and he points out that in many Christian churches, very young children are encouraged to get up and proclaim their own personal relationship with Jesus. He ends his essay as follows:

Perhaps the members of the FLDS Church are afraid that if the girls were older, that they might choose to not marry 49 year-old men. Perhaps they might not choose to engage in that kind of lifestyle at all. Perhaps they would choose to think for themselves, instead of just falling mindlessly into behaviors that are so easily encouraged when a child is so young.

Perhaps Christians (like myself) are guilty of the same thing with spiritual issues.

I had no idea that children made “professions of faith” at age 5 or 7. But here’s the thing: kids that age also make “professions of faith” in Santa Claus. They’re raised in an environment where the adults around them tell tales of a big guy in a red suit who arrives by night with a sleigh full of toys; and sure enough, on Christmas morning, the toys are there. So of course they believe in Santa: the proof is under the tree, plus their parents told them this was The Truth. They’ll continue to believe until reason and common sense (or friends in the know) convince them otherwise.

Now I’ll use Christianity as an example, although I don’t mean to single it out. Take a small child who’s being raised in a Christian environment. The child’s parents tell them about the big guy in heaven and his son, and about all the wonders that befall those who Believe. It’s clear that having a “personal relationship with Jesus” is a Very Big Deal to the child’s family and friends. And sure enough, the child sees that when people get up in church on Sunday and talk about their relationship with Jesus, those folks get a lot of positive attention. The child knows that their parents expect them to announce their belief at some point. Maybe one of their friends has already made the trip to the altar and been subsequently showered with praise. So of course the child will do the same thing: all the evidence is that they’ll be rewarded for doing so, and their parents have told them that this is The Truth. They’ll continue to believe — how long? In some cases, forever. In other cases, until new people, new situations, or their own contemplation, convinces them to change their minds.

I go to a Unitarian Universalist church. We don’t have a specific creed or dogma; each member is free to determine their own spiritual path and individual belief structure. Our Sunday School classes teach the basics of all the major world religions, familiarizing our children with the history, major figures, and beliefs of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Humanism, and more. We stress to the kids that it will be up to them to determine what they believe.

But despite that broad education, the fact is that our kids also have a natural tendency to believe in the same things their parents do. My own children have grown up with a Humanist/Atheist mother and a Humanist father who has a vague sense of god as the life force that binds the world together. We’re very liberal Democrats. And surprise, surprise, our teenage kids have liberal beliefs about social issues, they’re Obama supporters, and my daughter is a professed Atheist.

My daughter is 16. I believe she’s mature enough to make a statement about her belief (or lack thereof). My son is 13; he’s still sorting out his thoughts, and I wouldn’t ask him to make a firm statement about where he stands on religion. I wouldn’t begin to ask a 5 or 7 year old for a real, permanent statement of their faith — just as they’ll say they believe in Santa, if you ask them about religion you’ll get a recitation of what they know their parents want to hear and whatever will get them the most positive attention.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Along similar lines, I expect this is why nationally, laws indicate that kids under 16 can’t legally consent to have sex; having raised a child to that age, I’ve definitely seen this age as a defining point in her growth and maturity. My almost-13 year old son is by no means anywhere close to being ready for the emotional or physical toll of a sexual relationship.

I consider it unconscionable for the FLDS sect to “marry” girls that age to men so much older; girls of 13 or 14 aren’t ready to give informed consent to sex with anyone, let alone a 40 or 50 year old man. I absolutely believe that those women and children go along with the program because domineering older men have embedded those thoughts in their heads from infancy on; and in their sequestered environment, they don’t know any other way. As Tim suggests, if the sect waited until the girls were mature enough to make their own choice, they would almost certainly resist the idea of a union with a vastly older partner they have no affection for.

If we all waited until our children were 16 before we mentioned our religious beliefs (or political stands, or any other strongly held opinions), then I think many people would be surprised and perhaps shocked at the outcome. If I presented the notion of Santa Claus to my daughter out of the blue today, she’d be very unlikely to believe. If a 16 year old who had never heard stories of any supernatural origin of the earth or been told of a supreme being were given an outline of Christianity’s fundamental tenets, including the 7-day creation, the virgin birth, the rising of the dead man, and so on, I think they’d be very unlikely to believe that, either.

But we all want our children to be like us, and to believe what we believe. I am a parent; thus I indoctrinate. The important difference between me (or my Christian friends) and people like those in the FLDS sect is that we’re trying to give our children positive, constructive beliefs that we think will help them lead good lives and be good people. The FLDS parents (and others in similar cults) are giving their children negative beliefs that encourage them to participate in harmful, destructive, even illegal behavior. As far as I’m concerned, their right to teach their children about their faith ends when child abuse begins.