Archive for November, 2008

I love this holiday with its almost lack of commercialism, its focus on giving thanks instead of receiving gifts and its inherent sense of family, whether among those actually related or amongst friends.

When talking T’Day with women friends the conversation inevitably gets around to recipes used for the various traditional dishes associated with the day. As a confirmed non-cook, I generally keep quiet, and simply enjoy bringing the pre-requisite bottle of wine.

I did cook Thanksgiving once though and in Australia of all things. Taking my 11 yr-old niece, we went to visit some dear friends “downunder” around the holiday. I offered to make them our special T’Day dinner, something they don’t celebrate (for obvious reasons) and they agreed to act as guinea pigs.

Packing for the trip, I thought it best to bring the old favorites since who knew what the Aussies would have. In the suitcase went Pepridge Farm stuffing, canned pumpkin pie mix, small marshmallows and a few other sundry items. Australia is very strict about what food enters their country, so I didn’t hesitate and went immediately to customs to “declare”.

Well, one look at my food items and the customs guy broke out in laughter, calling others over to hear why some Yanks were stupid enough to think Australians don’t have “food”. My niece, fresh from a school play, ended up giving a recital of the history of Thanksgiving, much to everyone’s delight. With new found “friends” and wishes for a “Happy Thanksgiving”, off we went.

The things I didn’t know! No-one ever mentioned the amount of time it takes to defrost a big bird. Are you supposed to eat those creepy looking “innards”? What on earth is the difference between dressing and stuffing? Are yams the same thing as sweet potatoes? Good grief.

Well, we managed to pull it off, mainly with the help of several phone calls in the middle of her night to my very obliging sister-in-law, who took great pity on us (or was it for those going to eat the meal?!) and pretty much walked us through everything. I didn’t know until after the meal that my Aussie friends had flipped a coin, making the looser take the first bite of the pumpkin pie. They eat pumpkin like we eat sweet potatoes and couldn’t imagine it as a dessert with ice cream!

Of course holiday stories flew around the table as we ate and ate and ate. It turns out fruit cakes are their main cake of choice for Christmas (and weddings). It was our turn to laugh and exlplain about the ever-lasting fruit cake that is sent from one recipient to another each holiday.

Full tummies, warm friends and family — all the things best about the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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I laughed when I heard the story about Sarah Palin “pardoning the Alaskan turkey”, there are so many comments to be made here. Apparently she decided to take the opportunity to answer some media questions on the spot, something she wasn’t prone to do as VP candidate. It wasn’t what she said that’s making news here, it’s what she was standing in front of that has captured our attention.

As the camera’s rolled, what appears to be a worker at the turkey farm was actually putting a turkey to death, watching while Palin talked in front of him. . .

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This certainly is the week for emails making the rounds, this one on store closings being the most recent. 


For all of us who shop, this may not be the year to give or receive gifts cards. . . the list below are stores that informed the Security Exchange of closing plans between October 2008 and January 2009.   While it appears the list rings true, this “urban legend” link helps put things into perspective.  Bottom line, it’s still worth it to be careful.


Circuit City stores… most recent
Ann Taylor- 117 stores nationwide
Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine’s to close 150 store nationwide
Eddie Bauer to close 27 stores and more after January
Cache will close all stores
Talbots closing all stores
J. Jill closing all stores
GAP closing 85 stores
Footlocker closing 140 stores, more to close after January
Wickes Furniture closing down
Levitz closing remaining stores
Bombay closing remaining stores
Zales closing 82 stores and 105 after January.
Whitehall closing all stores
Piercing Pagoda closing all stores
Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January.
Home Depot closing 15 stores 1 in NJ (New Brunswick)
Macys to close 9 stores after January
Linens and Things closing all stores
Movie Galley Closing all stores
Pacific Sunware closing stores
Pep Boys Closing 33 stores
Sprint/Nextel closing 133 stores
JC Penney closing a number of stores after January
Ethan Allen closing 12 stores.
Wilson Leather closing all stores
Sharper Image closing all stores
K B Toys closing 356 stores
Loews to close some stores
Dillard’s to close some stores

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A humorous viewpoint of the post-Bush presidency. I don’t know who wrote this originally, but I’ve been receiving it almost daily since the election:


One sunny day in 2009 an old man approached the White House from
across Pennsylvania Avenue , where he’d been sitting on a park bench.
He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, ‘I would like to
go in and meet with President Bush.’

The Marine looked at the man and said, ‘Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer
president and no longer resides here.’
The old man said, ‘Okay’ and walked away.
The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to
the same Marine, ‘I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.’
The Marine again told the man, ‘Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is
no longer president and no longer resides here.’
The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.
The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the
very same U.S. Marine, saying ‘I would like to go in and meet with
President Bush.’
The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man
and said, ‘Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to
speak to Mr. Bush. I’ve told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no
longer resides here.  Don’t you understand?’
The old man looked at the Marine and said, ‘Oh, I understand. 
I just love hearing it.’
The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, ‘See you tomorrow.’

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It was a kill or be killed kind of commute this morning. And it wasn’t supposed to be, Friday’s in the DC Metro area are usually lighter in traffic, even more so since the earlier rise in gas prices made people’s arguments to work from home listened to more often than not. There are times when I wish I was a government employee or contractor who mimics the feds. As a non-profit employee, we work five days a week at the office for eight hours…if not more, since “we’re in it for the cause.”

And usually I consider myself one of the lucky ones in this part of the world, I don’t have to drive the dreaded Beltway. I actually go through lovely Rock Creek Park before ending up on 16th Street a few blocks from the White House. Well, add a bit of drizzle, irate drivers, those ever-present bicyclists and a broken down truck and all politeness goes out the window. Add to the mix some newly painted street traffic indicators, in this case a new “turn left only” arrow in what thousands of commuters are used to seeing a left turn and straight arrow and you get madness and mayhem.

I’m one of those drivers who watch out for the other guy for the most part, let the cyclists have a share of the road and follow the rules. Honestly though, when you are faced with stupidity, ignorance and “those drivers” (that’s the clean version of the conversation I was having out my window), then everything gets tossed and it’s each person for themselves.

Well let’s just say my niece would be proud. As a twenty-something who takes after her dad and is an alpha driver–while texting, talking, playing music and probably reading a book, she can travel the same distance as I in half the time. We commuted together for a short while when she first came to DC and although her politeness prevented her from saying anything, her sighs could be heard since no matter what lane we were in, the one next to us was always passing. Today even she wouldn’t have complained as I was 007 and shot through the mess. Now to calm down and get ready…for the commute home!

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I’m not sure where my friend found these pictures, but they give an interesting view of the Obama family, friends, advisers and then 100,000 others as everyone waited for the election returns on Tuesday, November 4th: Behind the Scenes

It’s interesting to look at the faces to catch those frozen moments in time when a long night shows emotions ranging from boredom, to “waiting”, to excitement, to worry. As you can imagine Obama’s children showed the most boredom that turned into excitement as the results were announced and they walked with mom and dad to the stage. Obama’s outward calmness was evident, although excitement did finally show itself, I guess when you’re elected POTUS, it is an awesome moment.

I could swear though, that the burden of the job itself immediately started to flicker inbetween smiles. Maybe that’s just me as I couldn’t imagine anyone really wanting the job at the moment or even in the near future.

You could also see the bullet-proof glass around the stage. Conversation here in D.C. has been about security, starting with Inauguration Day itself. Lot’s of us want to go to the Mall to be part of history and at least see something, but we imagine security is going to be so tight it might be difficult to do so. Most of us have had folks contacting us right and left given that hotels want $1,000 a night for a minimum of a 3-4 day stay. Of course it being Jan in D.C., the weather may play it’s own hand in security and crowd control.

Good luck, Mr. O., you’ll need it.

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A recent article in TruthOut states that Sarah Palin’s “attacks on Barack Obama’s patriotism provoked a spike in death threats against the future president, Secret Service agents revealed during the final weeks of the campaign.” How frightening. The article does give Palin’s viewpoints on the criticism she has received from McCain staffers, which stated,

“She was not asked about her incendiary rhetoric against Mr. Obama. But she did deny the spending spree claims, saying the clothes in question had been returned to the Republican National Committee. “Those are the RNC’s clothes, they’re not my clothes. I asked for anything more than maybe a diet Dr Pepper once in a while. These are false allegations.”

This nugget of information was gleamed from the Newsweek  piece Hackers and Spending Sprees which gives some interesting behind-the-scene insights into both sides campaign efforts. Then of course there are the stories making the rounds, Palin thinking Africa is a country, not knowing Canada and Mexico were partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the most recent (to my reader’s eyes at least) of her appearance in a towel in front of reporters.

Hmmm… the fact that through she was able to get crowds worked up to the point of death threats to the next President speaks ill both of Palin and of the crowds. Her ignorance in domestic and world affairs? Well, let’s just say she is not the first candidate to not have the knowledge necessary and won’t be the last (a recent example that comes to mind is finishing his eight year term of office and he not only was elected, but re-elected).

The fact that Palin is a woman already made things difficult. Running as a woman is more difficult than as an African American male, points out an insightful NY Times article. The media treatment of both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin as reported many times, has had its sexist moments which have a degrading impact on all women ultimately.

We’re all trying to move forward, especially with world conditions being what they are and where they appear to be headed. Women need to be an integral part of the re-building process. Don’t make the Palin effect overshadow the value a qualified woman can bring to the table, now and as we collectively catch our breath and start looking toward 2012.

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