Tuesday, December 27, 2016

How to Deal With What (or Who) You Don't Endorse

For the second time this century, and for the fifth time in U.S. history, the person who captured the requisite number of Electoral College votes did not also garner the majority of the popular vote. This is legal, according to the U.S. Constitution — and yet some Americans have declared the President-Elect and Vice President-Elect are "Not My President."

Not true. The President-Elect and Vice President-Elect absolutely are yours, my dissenting comrades. Unless there is irrefutable evidence that actual ballots cast or the election results were fraudulent, this person absolutely is your president. And mine.

Elections are contests with winners and losers. No voter has to be happy about the outcome of an election. Frankly, you do not have to like anything your government does on your behalf. You do, however, have to know how this 240-year-old democratic republic works, and know what you plan to do about it.

  • Fact: Your vote guides the Electoral College. 
  • Fact: You do not individually elect the U.S. President and Vice-President.
    • Decision: You accept the process established by the U.S. Constitution and accept the vote of the Electoral College.

  • Fact: You choose the people who decide how to spend your tax dollars. 
  • Fact: You do not choose which budget line items you support with your tax dollars.
    • Decision: You communicate with your representatives to make a decision that is based, in part, on your preferences.

Want to take a step further? Create change.

If you think the Electoral College did not elect "your" president, what will you do to fix the system? Will you rework the current system, or will you advocate to change the U.S. Constitution? If you choose the latter, know it won't be easy: the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1923, and took half a century to gain any momentum (and, still, ultimately lose).

If you don't like the way your government spends your money, how will you change that practice? Will you join forces with the current elected officials, or will you choose to elect yourself or others to put in their places to support programs you want funded?

May I suggest you start local? Your city, town, parish, county, village, or borough thrives when its residents participate. It is a great opportunity to make a tangible differences while learning how government entities work together, how laws are established, and how money is spent.

Long story short, he is your President-Elect. If you are glad of that fact, use your energy for that person, rather than against an idea you do not favor. If you don't like that fact, then do something — create the change you want to see, and act in favor of your change.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Make Your Own Ranch Dressing Mix

Finding a great Ranch dressing mix is one thing.

Knowing how to assemble it is another.

I found a great dry mix for Ranch dressing, a staple ingredient in my household. However, as I mixed the ingredients together, I discovered what other, more experienced cooks already knew: not all ingredients handle the same.

First, I poured everything into a gradual, then poured that into a funnel for the bottles. Well, that was a mess.

Then I decided to funnel ingredients directly into their containers. Better, but not perfect: for example, some ingredients stuck to the funnel because parsley flakes weigh next to nothing and have a higher static level than dried chopped onions. (Don't even ask about the garlic powder. Just think, "Poof.")

An ingredient list probably is composed by master chefs for a particular reason, but it made no sense to me.

That's when I came up with the radical idea: begin with lighter ingredients, then add the heavier ingredients, then light to heavy spices. That would not only allow some ingredients to scrub others off the side of the funnel, but also make the mass easier to mix inside the cute little bottle.

I am sure there's a "right" way to list ingredients, but on my label, I am going to list them in the order I recommend they be added to the container.

I may not have been the first person to think of this, but I sure thought it clever, and I figured at least one other person would appreciate the suggestion.


P.S. Jon and Suze's onion soup mix also rocks.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Protest *For* Something to Get the Job Done

Plenty of people are getting geared up for protests around the 2017 Inauguration Day for the President and Vice President of the United States. While this isn't new, the volume of protests and protesters may exceed numbers from past years.

If you join the protests, will you be fighting for something, or against something?

This is not a trick question. State what you want, not just what you don't want.

Know what you want in relation to what you think is the reality of today. For example, if you support maintaining or increasing the number of refugees into the United States, do you know the current statistics? Can you address the objections from the other side? Do you even know what the objections are?

Presumably, many of the protests planned for 2017 Inauguration Day could be in relation to the President-Elect's (and Vice President-Elect's) assumption of office. If you are participating, what are your objections?

"I don't want [fill in the blank]" doesn't help identify issues that need to be addressed, nor does it offer solutions. Not wanting something, being contrary, isn't enough.

Be part of the solution: protest for a solution. Know what you want to happen if your protests are successful. Be part of the positive change in your community.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Polar Book Club, the 2017 Edition: Get the Book and Start Reading!

Temperatures are dropping in the Northern Hemisphere as Old Man Winter tries to settle in for a nice, long visit. (Okay, maybe it's not that long, but it feels like it.) 

You know what that means, right?

It's time to announce the selection of the 2017 Polar Book Club! 

Make sure you have enough hot beverage and snacks, nab the warmest blanket, carve out the best spot with excellent lighting, charge your e-reader, grab this year's tome and settle in for a long winter's read. 

Uber-Reader Karen has chosen the book for the 2017 Polar Book Club: The Bookman's Tale.  It sounds like a doozie!

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. 
But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.
As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.

If you want to join the club, there's only one thing you need to do: get the book and start reading! 

Okay, two things: get the book (from the library, bookstore, thrift store with a book section — or share with a friend) and email me so we can coordinate our discussion.

Let's aim to finish the book by March 5, 2017, so the conversation can begin.

Relax, this is not a book report or a school assignment. It's all about the book and reading, and sharing your ideas with your fellow readers. 

Here are a few things that may stimulate your thinking:

Consider why you liked (or didn't like) the book, and think about how you can express that to other readers to spur discussion. Did you like the characters? Was the story plausible — and if not, was it the right kind of fantastic? What would you do in the same situation? 

Remember, if you liked the book, telling others why may not be as easy as if you didn't like it, so think about specific things you liked: passages, tone, characters or points in the story.

So, are you in? Let me know!