Current – Information on Iran Tensions and Soleimani

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There has been a lot of news in the past week concerning Iran. There has also been a lot of misinformation, unfortunately coming from the State Department and the White House. Contradictory stories, communication mistake with Iraq, and no notification to Congress as required by law. There was even reporting that the President expressed wanting to keep some GOP Senators happy for his impeachment trial and they wanted Soleimani taken care of. I’m not going to get into what’s true, what’s not, but after three years, and more than 15,000 lies from the President, I’m inclined to not give him the benefit of the doubt.

What I offer instead is a podcast that will help you wade through the noise, hear the facts, hear some analysis, and inform yourself of what’s going on with the tensions with Iran.

Pod Save the World is co-hosted by Tommy Vietor and Ben Rhodes. It includes news, analysis, and interviews as well as their conversations about what’s happening around the world. Both worked in the Obama Administration on foreign policy, Vietor as spokesman for President Obama and the National Security Council (2011-2013) and Rhodes as Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications (2009-2017).

Pod Save the World series

Pod Save the World – Iran retaliates to the Soleimani strike This includes a very informative interview about Iraq, Iran, and Soleimani’s death with Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL from 2015 to his resignation in 2018.

Friday Food: Super, Simple Super Bowl Snacks

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With New Year’s just past and the Super Bowl coming up in a few short weeks (Feb. 2), I thought I’d share some of my family’s easy to prepare foods. For New Year’s this past week, we actually cooked very little. Most of our food was simple, store-bought, easy to prepare, easy to clean up, and best of all, yummy.

1. Dip. We love the dill dip from Marzetti. It can be found in the refrigerated area of your grocery’s produce section. We like to pair it up with a variety of items to dip, including: pretzels, crackers, bread chunks, raw snow peas, raw green beans, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, potato chips. If you want to dress up your table, scoop out the insides of a round bread loaf and put the dip inside. Looks great, no clean up!

2. Hot dogs wrapped in crescent roll dough. You can buy these premade (we like the Hebrew National ones) or you can make them yourself. I’d recommend cutting the hot dogs in three, and cutting each crescent roll triangle in two. You get twice as many little dogs and it’s not over doughy.

3. Mini quiches or mini potato puffs. Again, you can buy these premade or make them yourself. For either of these, use a mini muffin tin. Put in a puff pastry square and add your ingredients. For quiches: eggs, cheese, onion, bacon. For potato puffs: mashed potatoes, bacon, cheese. Delicious.

4. Cheese and crackers. In addition to cheese cut in chunks, there are also cheese spreads that are very good on crackers. Add pepperoni to the platter for a little extra.

5. Dessert. Break and bake chocolate chip cookies. Brownie bites. Ice cream. Mini cheesecakes are also an excellent option. Use those mini muffin tins again. Put some crushed graham crackers in the bottom, use your favorite cheesecake recipe, add whipped cream when serving.

Supernatural Lists: Special Episodes

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This is part of an ongoing series in homage to the series finale of Supernatural, ending its run with its fifteenth season. The first of these lists was Characters Who’ve Died and Come Back. This new list include some of the more special episodes they’ve shown over the years: black and white, musical, meta. If I’ve left any out, please add them in comments and I’ll include them in a later update. Supernatural returns to The CW network on Thursday, January 16 at 8 P.M.

Continue reading

National Tea Month

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January is National Tea Month. Sometimes it’s nice to get a random reminder of the wonderfulness of tea. After the holiday season, I’m ready to get rid of the sweets and sugar-filled drinks like hot chocolate and eggnog, and even hot apple cider. I’m not a coffee drinker, so tea is my real go-to for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is taste.

It’s getting better, but in the past, I have found it somewhat difficult to find the teas I like to drink. I went through a spate of only drinking chai masala or ginger tea. Unfortunately for me most ginger teas come in lemon flavor or green tea, and I prefer black tea as my base. With this first post, I want to share some of the places you can find teas nationally.

1. The Fresh Market has a wide variety of teas from your basic Lipton to imported from the United Kingdom, India, and China. They have nearly every flavor that you might want to try or add to your repertory of tea selections.

2. Adagio is a mail order tea company that has a fandom section. I’ve enjoyed teas from them in themes of Harry Potter, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and more. They also have the opportunity to blend your own although I haven’t made use of that yet. They also offer reasonably priced sample tins so you can try something new.

3. PGTips is quintessentially British tea. Best taken with milk added first in a hot cup. Find Douglas Adams’s guide for making the perfect cup of tea. It is worth the Google.

4. Twinings has a wide variety. My favorites are the British and Irish breakfast and afternoon teas: English breakfast, Irish breakfast, Scottish afternoon, Prince of Wales, Earl Grey, Lady Grey among others. Afternoon teas tend to have less caffeine so less chance to keep you up at night.

5. Stash is the only place that I was able to get my Ginger Black Breakfast Tea that I originally and randomly found one box of in an overstock store.

Check your local directories for small tea shops or tea blenders and sellers. They are more and more popping up in localities around my neighborhood, and also probably yours as well.

NEW SERIES: Election Connection

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Beginning today, each Tuesday, I will have a post related to the upcoming election. It will focus primarily on the Presidential race, but will also include important local and state races. As we saw in 2018 and 2019, all elections have consequences. We saw in 2016 what complacency and disinformation can do, not to mention foreign interference. We have forty-three (43) weeks until Election Day. It’s a lot less time than it feels right now. As I write this, we are on the cusp of another unnecessary war by an unfit and incompetent President. We cannot let him be re-elected. He does not represent the values that we espouse as Americans and the values we try to raise our children with. Everything he claims to be is a lie, and we need to continue to call out those lies; not just his directly, but all of his surrogates, supporters, and enablers. Voters may still like him and want him as President, and that’s their decision to make and to live with, but we can’t let them continue to lie and to gaslight the rest of us. As a journalist on Twitter reminded me the other day, there are more of us; we are the majority.

You’re probably wondering what you can do in the next 43 weeks?

I hope to share some ideas and advice with you between now and November 3rd.

First, are you registered? If you’re answer is ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know,’ find out and get registered. Right now. I’ll wait.

Second, visit Stacey Abrams organization, Fair Fight 2020 and find a way that you can help ensure that everyone who is entitled to vote will be able to vote and that their votes will not be suppressed. In all likelihood, Stacey Abrams would be governor of Georgia right now if not for the Republican candidate’s voter suppression efforts. He was the Secretary of State for Georgia and made the election rules including where and when polling places would be open, what kind of identification is acceptable, and whether or not and when to certify the election. He is now the Governor. Election fraud and voter suppression hurts everyone.

If you have any ideas to share for voter protection, please put them in the comments.

Inspire. January.

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New Computer. New Calendar. New Creativity. (c)2020

What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.

– Ralph Marston

Getting Through the Holiday Letdown

Nothing in our lives is perfect; nor should it be. No matter how wonderful the holidays are, I feel as though there is still some underlying disappointment. Since Halloween, we’ve been rush-rush-rushing to get everything done: Thanksgiving travel and dinner, cleaning our houses to some perceived perfection for house guests or just answering the door to the mail carrier, who I just realized I never gave a Christmas gift to. *facepalm* We’re shopping, wrapping presents, trying not to eat out too much but not having time to cook, putting up the tree, finding (or not finding) the boxes of ornaments, planning the menu, remembering what times the religious services are, finding the mismatched candles for the menorah and like every other Jewish family across the world, laying down a strip of aluminum foil to catch the wax drippings. When Christmas dinner is over and the dishes are put away, we barely have time to breathe before the year ends, and a new one begins. Will there be parties? Work? Sleep? There will be food, but what kind and how much effort? Or is that just me?

Did I mention that my daughter’s birthday is at the end of the week?

What are some ways that you deal with the holiday letdown and prepare for the excitement and anticipation of the new year? Comment with your best advice. Here are a few of my own:

1. Breathe. I know I said it last week, but it’s true. Breathing is essential. Slowing down, counting to ten (or twenty or one hundred) and breathe. In through your nose; out through your mouth. You can do it; I know you can.

2. Journal. Even if you’re not typically a journal keeper, get a cheap notebook for the next couple of weeks, and write it down. Write down your feelings. Write down a list of what you need to do. For me, if it’s not on a list, it won’t be remembered.

3. Doodle. If you’re not a journaler, doodle in the margins like you did in school. Stick figures. Hearts. Circles, squares, triangles, and more circles. Trees and flowers. Mindless doodling.

4. Water. Have a tall, cool glass of water. It will make your whole body feel better.

5. Music. Listen to something you love. My two go-to’s for getting lost in the sound are the Patrick Doyle’s Henry V soundtrack from the 1989 movie and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. Equally engrossing at loud or soft volume. It pulls me in and keeps me there.

6. Read. Read something new. Read something you love. If I haven’t already, I’ll share my 2019 books to offer what I read and what I recommend.

7. Relax. I do not mean this in that condescending way that people often advise you. I speak from where you are because I’m there right now and have been there before. Take a minute. Most of what we’re worrying and stressing about aren’t as big as we think they are. Step back, relax, and the keep moving forward.

Happy New Year!

2019 Books

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Just in time for the weekend! What follows is the list of all the books I’ve read in 2019, followed by two graphics describing President Obama’s 2019 reading list. Please add your own recommendations in the comments. I’m always looking for a new book to enjoy!

January

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling (on the 1st)
Women of the Bible: A One Year Devotional Study – Ann Spangler and Jean E. Syswerda

The President is Missing – A Novel by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

The Last Good Heist: The Inside Story of the Single Biggest Payday in the Criminal History of the Northeast – Tim White, Randall Richard, and Wayne Worcester

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction – Neil Gaiman

February

The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero – Timothy Egan

March

The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump – Andrew G. McCabe

Believe Me: a memoir of love, death, and jazz chickens – Eddie Izzard
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance – Barack Obama

April
A Holy Mosaic: Love, Diversity, and the Family: Inspiration from a Pope Francis – Michael O’Neill Mcgrath OSFS

Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law – Preet Bharara

Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus – James Martin, SJ
Not by Bread Alone: Daily Reflections for Lent 2019 – Mary DeTurris Poust

Lenten Reflections – Bishop Robert Barron
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain – Bill Bryson
The Truths We Hold: An American Journey – Kamala D. Harris

Gaudete et Exsultate – Pope Francis

June
In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons from 29 Heroines who Dared to Break the Rules – Karen Karbo
Daily Reflections for Easter: Rejoice and Be Glad 2019 – Various Authors
Enemies: A History off the FBI – Tim Weiner
Cronkite – Douglas Brinkley

The Lost Gutenberg: The Astounding Story of One Book’s Five-Hundred-Year Odyssey – Margaret Leslie Davis

July
Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for the Future – Pete Buttigeig

No Dream is Too High: Life Lessons from a Man Who Walked on the Moon – Buzz Aldrin with Ken Abraham
The Library Book – Susan Orlean

August

Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense: The Courtroom Battle to Save His Legacy – Dan Abrams and David Fisher

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl – Timothy Egan
September
Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America – Jared Cohen

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars – Paul Collins

Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream – Carson Vaughn

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II – Robert Matzen
October
Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her – Melanie Rehak

Your Fourth Day – National Cursillo Movement
City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York – Tyler Anbinder
November
Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators – Ronan Farrow
December
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir – Samantha Power
Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump – Neal Katyal & Sam Koppelman
Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style – Benjamin Dreyer
A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals – Thomas Merton

Our Father: Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer – Pope Francis

President Barack Obama’s 2019 Book Reads and Recommendations:

Both graphics, President Barack Obama. (c)2020