Sunday, February 7, 2016

My 1%

Bernie Sanders (my choice for President) has received donations from about 689,000 people.

My first thought was – is that all?

But then I did some research.  In a typical presidential election, the total number of donors to any political candidate is 1% of the US Population. 

Clinton’s campaign has about 400,000 donors.  

Trump has received about $74,000 dollars.  Since the average political donor has donated 5 times at this point in the campaign, that’s about 15,000 donors.

The other candidates aren’t publicizing their number of donors – only the names of their biggest donors, as required by law. 

Still, it’s amazing to find myself part of the 1% – the 1% that shouldn’t exist.  

I think electoral campaigns should be financed by taxes, so that no candidates can be bought by their biggest donors.  To be clear – no individual donations, no PACs.  No TV ads. Just debates in which the candidates get equal time – no bonus minutes for being good at rhetoric, or for being entertaining.

Now, if the other 1% were as ready to abdicate as I am, we’d be on our way to clean politics.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Jalapeno Yogurt


My niece was staying with us for the weekend. This always means cooking.  She had her vegetarian magazine with some new Mexican recipes.  Of course they called for fresh jalapeno peppers. I have canned ones on the shelf, but fresh is fresh.  

I called my local grocery.  They had some.  The recipe also called for sweet potatoes.  They had yams.  My niece said that was fine.  So we walked Roar to the store.  My niece walked him outside while I did the honors.  Yams were in an open bin.  I took two. The jalapenos were in packages of 4.  The recipe called for one.  I bought one package.

At home I was also making yogurt.  My niece asked if we could make jalapeno yogurt.  I chopped up some jalapeno and placed it in a blender proof jar. I poured some of the warmed milk with yogurt starter (previous batch) into the jar, whirred it in the blender, and placed it with all the plain yogurt jars into the space blanket to grow.

As you can see in the photo, there’s a reason you never see jalapeno yogurt at the grocery.  The top half is jalapeno yogurt with a surprisingly frothy texture. The bottom half is jalapeno whey.  Clearly this is a product for home use. 




Saturday, January 16, 2016

Dreaming of Drumming Delights

Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lòpez



Drawing dreams has always fascinated me.  This story treats dreams on two levels: first in the “I have a dream” sense and second in the sleep-time dream sense.  Here the artist is called upon to render both. Rafael Lòpez’s interpretation is beautiful. It adds color and charm beyond the text.  And that’s saying a lot.  The text is poetic.

On an island of music
in a city of drumbeats
the drum dream girl
dreamed
of pounding tall congo drums
tapping small bongo drums
and boom boom booming
with long, loud sticks
on big round, silvery
moon-bright timbales.

This story of a girl in a sexist society who wants to do what only boys are allowed to do treats the sexism in a modern way. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the girl is allowed to prove herself worthy of training.

The joy and pleasure of this tale come from the combination of rhythmic language and interpretive art.  The combo make this story a treat as a read-aloud.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Defending My Sister When She's Wrong

My sister called my mother.  She told my mother that her younger daughter was upstairs packing for a trip to South America.  My mother asked if she could wish her granddaughter a good trip, and say good-bye to her.  My sister refused to interrupt her daughter’s packing.

In my opinion, my sister was wrong. As a child, I’d have been thrilled to hear my mother say my sister was wrong about anything.  “Why can’t you be good, like your little sister?”  But, I know from her emails that my sister was having a rotten day. And I know that saying No to our mother has been a hard won battle for my sister. So, while this was upsetting for my mother, and probably for her younger daughter, if she finds out about it, I’d rather my mother practice forgiveness than indulge her in a grouch-fest.

I’d have enjoyed agreeing with my mother that my sister was wrong. But the price was too high.

So, I defended my sister. Told my mom about my sister’s bad day. Asked my mom to try to understand. And felt guilty the whole time because my mother is the one who taught us about right and wrong. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Raising Ourselves

My sister emailed upset with herself because she raised her voice to our mother.

They disagreed. My sister did what she wanted to do. My mother told her she had wasted money. My sister blew her top.  My mother is 93. My sister is 65.  They’ve had this dynamic for as long as I can remember.

Except that my mother used to be in the power position. And it used to be my mother who raised her voice – which still makes no sense – because why would somebody in the power position raise her voice.  She has already won.  There is nobody to impress.

But this is the dynamic we were raised with.

Our father used to insult people he disagreed with. Particularly his family.  I remember trying to do the same, as a teen.  It didn’t work. It just got my father madder, and he would slap my face.

Again, he already had the power. And he had the money. The decision was already his.  So why the raised voice? Why the hitting?  So he didn’t like it that I disagreed with him.  My opinion had no influence on any decisions.

And now, my mother’s opinion has no influence on my sister’s decisions.

What’s really crazy is that this dynamic of anger, after one has already won.

We didn’t like it as children.  But it is the way we were raised.  It seems like the expected behavior, even though it hurts.  Cancelling our childhood training is probably the hardest thing we ever need to accomplish.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fixing a Printer via TeamViewer

A neighbor called – her computer was refusing to print, and she wanted me to fix her printer via TeamViewer.

Knowing this neighbor is poor at diagnostics, I agreed to try TeamViewer. I opened her Devices and Printers, right clicked her default printer, chose Printer Properties and Print Test Page.  It printed.

I opened WordPad, typed: This is a Test, File, Print.  It printed. Nothing wrong with the printer.

So, I asked what doesn’t print?  Her email didn’t print.  I opened her email and tried to print.  The only choice was printing to the cloud.  She checks her email via browser.  I tried printing another browser page.  Again – cloud.  I tried a different browser.  Cloud.

So, I asked if things were working a week ago.  Yes, they were.  I tried System Restore.  System Restore failed. I tried two other dates. Both failed. The error message suggested I try chkdsk /r   At this point, I was thankful for any ideas.  I ran chkdsk from the Tools tab on drive C.  This involved a reboot, but TeamViewer reconnected us when it was done.

I tried printing her email.  Ta da!  Chkdsk to the rescue!

Now my neighbor thinks I can fix printers via TeamViewer.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Do the Good Guys Always Win?

Yesterday I talked with a 5-year-old about Hannukah.

He asked me, “Do the good guys always win?”

I know he’s 5, but I had to tell him the truth.

“ Both sides in any war believe that their side is good. But the winners get to write the history books.”

He gave me a blank look.  So I told him the story of the Dreidel Deception.  When Xerxes was in power, it was illegal to teach about Judaism.  So, the rabbis took the children up into the mountains and taught them the dreidel gambling game.  Each side of the dreidel is marked with a letter. Players spun the dreidel and when the dreidel fell, the rabbi started a story with whatever letter landed on top.  When the soldiers came by and found these children playing and talking, they asked, “Any teaching going on here?” 

The rabbi answered, “No. No teaching. Just nice clean gambling.”

The 5-year-old seemed to like this story better.