Looking Forward to December

On the surface, it appears that Health care and Afghanistan have one detail in common: money. How we pay for health care reform and the war is only one part of the equation. Who profits from these changes should be the second question. There is at least one other detail both plans share:

Both are throwing women under the bus.

Our vaunted health care reform seems to be removing federal dollars for abortion. The Afghan government has a less than stellar record for women’s rights. Neither health care reform nor the war in Afghanistan can succeed without taking into account what women need. Any attempt to secure some other goal–expanded coverage or more security–at the expense of women is not progress. It is regress.

So guess what I’m going to look into for December? Health Care and the War. Feel free to send me any links you think I need to read.


Somedays, words are pretty easy things to grab. Then there are the days where I cannot remember how to spell the word “the.” Today isn’t either one of those days. While the words aren’t easy for me to grab, I can at least spell the word that are coming to me. I figure this is something i just have to type through.

Typing through–working through–instance of difficult is what I’ve learned the most this month. NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing the best novel, its just about writing. It is more important that “aspiring writers” develop a routine than it is to generate 50k words in a month.

It’s kinda like practicing the Saxophone. I played one as a kid, you see, and I never developed a routine for practicing it. I used my asthma as an excuse. One of our band directors–a nice old man whose name I’ve forgotten–told me to “practice your finger positions when you can’t breath but its practice time.” I did it once, and i felt so stupid, I stopped. If I had shown any dedication to that instrument, I would have stuck with it. I played that instrument until the end of my freshman year. After I got my “Art Credit” I quit the band and went on to “cooler things,” like playing D&D with my buddy Bill.

I am still learning to write. I’ve given up on being ashamed of it. Now I’m just starting to appreciate the routine of writing, even when the words don’t come as quickly as they should.

Reflection Essay?

I’ve been blogging for five years, and I have no idea how to write up a goddamn reflection essay?

See, I had a nightmare about my first class at DePaul. Right now, if my math is right, I have an A. I woke up this morning believing that I forgot to turn in my Final Exam, my reflection essay and the last edit of the Conversion/Implementation Plan. Today, with my last few minutes of lunch, I’m working on my reflection essay. In short, it will say this: “Everyone did equal amounts of work, but communication was a bit difficult. It appears to have mimicked the corporate committee structure with one exception: We didn’t have the chance to have a working lunch that the company paid for.”

On Cooking: 18 Months Later

Since I started my weekly baking experiments, I remembered an old blog post that I wrote about how I want to learn to cook. It isn’t going to be about perfection. For me, cooking is turning into honoring the people I miss every day. It is not a coincidence that the first thing I try to bake is my “grandfather’s recipe” for bread. While this summer I did not do any grilling, the year wasn’t entirely wasted. I did my grandfather proud with the bread.

For those too lazy to click the link, I’ve included the entire post here.

Currently, I’m reading Heat by Bill Buford. It’s a memoir of his time in Mario Batali’s restaurant, Babbo. One of the sous-chef’s taught Bill how to, “cook with love.” He goes on to write that the success of a meal is determined by how much love is included in the preparation. Simply put, this sums up my entire families history of cooking.

What made my father’s pancakes the best pancakes in the world was not how he tweaked the recipe. It was the amount of care he put into each batch—and anyone who had ever eaten breakfast at my house can attest to that fact. My dad wanted to make sure that everyone who ate at our table knew that they loved.

My dad cooked breakfast for Tony and I from kindergarten to high school. On those rare occasions where my mom had to “fill in” she invariably got it wrong. She didn’t know what my dad called the various breakfast items (all star-wars references, of course). Also, breakfast wasn’t her thing. As much as my mom loved tony and I, breakfast wasn’t he way of showing how she cared.

With one major exception.

My mom made Crepes once the year after my dad died. If breakfast was his thing, then crepes were his specialty. Technically, this is brunch—but I don’t want to be too bogged down in minutiae. This was his Mother’s day gift to my mom. The meal was always this: Home-made crepes, home-made maple-butter, chicken livers in Madeira sauce, bacon, sausage and Mimosa’s. Tony and I were to clean the table and do the dishes. A few times, I made sure that fresh flowers were available for my mom too. It is impossible to understate how my dad prepared this meal and what it meant to my mom.

I want to say she made it on Mother’s day. I spent the night at home, Tony and Jackie came for brunch. She spent the morning attempting the recipe, trying to make the maple butter and getting the crepes perfect. I think she even did the chicken livers. The hardest part of the meal was cooking the crepes right. We had this persnickety old crepe maker, and according to my mom, only my dad knew how to use it. After she ruined the first five crepes, she threw a fit.

According to my mom, she slammed the lid of the crepe maker down and, nearly in tears yelled, “Alright Pat, I know this is your meal, but I am going to make it. Either you help me or you get the hell out of my kitchen.” Her next crepe cooked in the shape of a heart. She said it was cooked perfectly.

That is how I want to cook. I want to master all the recipes that my mom and dad had: From the grilling to crepes. This means I am going to need more people to cook for.

This also means I an going to have to buy groceries instead of a variety of beer.

Nano update

I’m at about 3000/way too many words rght now. I’m cool with being behind. I have a lot of time tomorrow to catch up and the entire last full week of November.

What is amazin about this process is I can begin to remember what my parents sounded like, before they were sick. It is comforting to know that I still remember them as healthy, middle-aged and witty people.