Saturday, December 15, 2012

Don't Give Me that Bullcrap!

I learn a lot about what some people are spewing out there in this new big wide world, (in regards to excuses people make for being less than what they are capable of being) from my husband. Yesterday, on his blog, he wrote:

"Chandra, a "recovering grammar snob" who works as an English teacher, has a smashing trio of essays on Literacy Privilege -- the invisible privilege that accrues to people who have the facility to write well and clearly, and who have absorbed the "correct" conventions of English. I know I've been guilty of dismissing people because of their grammar/spelling errors."

So today it's a privilege to be able to speak and write correctly? Seriously? I didn't have all the advantages of what the youth of today have when I was growing up. My mother was a single mother with a serious illness for the first part of my life. We didn't have a big house. We lived in an apartment complex near Washington, DC. 

Growing up I was beaten almost to death by a sibling. I spent time in the hospital recovering from this.

I was put in a home to be watched by an insane woman who locked us in rooms, threw food at us like we were dogs, and pulled us down the stairs by our hair. I lived through this while my mother visited her family for one last time in Italy. 

I watched my mother struggle until the illness got the better of her. I lived through a lot, more than what I can comfortably write here at this moment. 

I was bullied in school after my mother died for not having a mother. 

So, what I didn't do was make excuses for myself. I didn't sit down and feel sorry for myself because life had been hard on me. 

I worked to become educated because having an education was important. I was not a person that felt that everything should be handed to me, not even as a child. I learned. I grew. I focused. 

I was not given video games to play. I wasn't coddled. When I lost at a sport I did it with grace and an understanding that to become better I needed to practice. If I wanted to develop a sense of pride in an ability I worked to obtain in for myself. 

At the age of ten I had developed an impressive vocabulary and took pride in being able to read and write. I worked for every grade I made in school. I read because I knew that reading was a way to gain knowledge. It was a choice. 

I studied other languages to develop a better cultural understanding of the world. I was not pompous and arrogant enough to think that it was the responsibility of everyone else to learn to speak to me in my native language. I didn't expect other countries to cater to my English while I sat back and felt superior. I am not superior to others, but I am not inferior to anyone either. I am comfortable with who I am.

Every single day we make choices in our life. English is a dying language because people are becoming lazy. They shorten even simple words to make things in their lives quicker and easier. They don't work on developing skills, and this is not my fault. 

I am not living a privileged life. I am living a life I worked to have. I put effort in being able to read well and write legibly. Just because I don't bastardize the English language doesn't make me privileged - it makes me educated. I worked to be educated, and I feel I am better for it.

So no, I don't think those that have been too lazy to work toward reading and writing legibly are to be pitied and catered to. They have had the same, if not better, opportunities to learn and excel. I will not coddle them. They have been coddled for too long by too many, which is perhaps why more and more people fall into that same trap. 

Make all the excuses you want, but the truth is this - becoming literate takes work. If you aren't willing to do the work to obtain that talent then it's your own fault. It doesn't make someone that works for it privileged, it means they are just more focused on success.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Snape Doesn't Know Everything

In Harry Potter Professor Snape tries to show how ignorant Harry is and how important it is for him to know things in order to do better magic. Of course in theory according to the books and movie, Snape is just being a good guy (cough) trying to make Harry stronger so he can defeat Voldemort in the end.

But who would have known that Snape was wrong? Hmm. Makes you think about how that pompous exterior would have reacted, had he lived, to know he had given a classroom of students misinformation.
The truth is that Monkshood and Wolsfbane are not the same. However, a lot of people think that they are.

Monkshood is known as Aconitum napellus and has blue flowers, but Wolfsbane is actually Aconitum vulparia, and has yellowish flowers. Both are, however, quite poisonous. Wolfsbane is said to deter a werewolf (probably because they don't want to be poisoned). In ancient times it was used to poison the water supply of  the enemy. The plants do serve some medicinal purposes, however, mostly topically.

There are actually 109 species of Aconitum - all of which are poisonous. You can order seeds or plants and they are beautiful flowers. Just know that if you handle these plants your hands could suffer from numbness. If you ingest them you could die. There is no antidote.

So, teaching young children about the plants - well, maybe Snape was being helpful, or maybe he was being hopeful. He didn't seem to actually like children a whole lot, after all.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Guinevere Where art thou? on SyFy's "Merlin"

I love watching new shows and especially those that have some fantasy aspect to them. Most of them don't last long on television. I guess not everyone is as excited about new worlds and possibilities like I am. But, (of course there is a but here) I haven't been able to get into Syfy's channel "Merlin."  Not because it's not entertaining. It has some fun things going on. It's not because Merlin is the same age as Arthur. I like a little diversity from the script. It's Guinevere.

Now, I read one blog that says if I don't like Angel Coulby as Guinevere I must be a "white supremist." Really? I don't dislike her in the role because I find her unattractive. She's very cute. I find that she doesn't have a chemistry with her Arthur, for one thing. She's not what I consider Gunivere material.

Besides the fact that she is not a white female actress, which I could care less about honestly, she is not delicate like Guinevere should be. In the fable Guinevere is a noble woman, in the show she is the daughter of a blacksmith. That's fine. She should still be a bit more stately and feminine, in my humble opinion, with a bit of spunk that shows she can take care of herself. In spite of the fact that most people picture the ancient queen as some blonde haired blue eyed bombshell, in reality during that time period the Welsh woman should have been brunette with maybe green eyes. That's beside the point. We can think outside the box.

Let's take a look at a few of my ethnic choices for the role. How about Vanessa Hudgens? She's young, vibrant, and has that minimal air that she could be an unwitting seductress. She has a seriously wide range of ethnicities in her background. She is also extremely talented. She could bring a sense of music to the role of Guinevere as well. I think just about any actor could have some chemistry with this adorable 23 year old actress. Forget that she is with Disney and that she dates Zach Efron. She would make a stunning Gwen. Of course there is the fact that she is not from the UK. I'm sure some people would frown on that, even though they seem to be tolerant of the race change which meant that people came to the UK long before the Vikings invaded and civilizations were travelling across waterways.

So, what about going out of the box then? How about Frieda Pinto? She is a very talented and gorgeous actress. She may not have been born in the UK, but she is from India which has a strong British influence. Especially since it was part of the British Raj until 1947. Listening to her in movies you could hear what might be interpreted by some as an "English" accent. However, if we are going to insist that there was an African influence in Arthurian England then it's not too much to expect that there could have been an Indian influence as well. Frieda would bring a lot of dimension to Guinevere's character, I would think. She's not only stunning, she has that sense of sensuality that seems to be missing in the current character.I could see the Frieda Pinto Gwen seducing Lancelot.

Of course if you really wanted an actress born in the UK there is always Ashley Madekwe! Not only is Ashley stunningly beautiful and a very talented actress, she brings a sort of elfish look to the character, which is perfect for a fantasy. It could also explain a bit of her background if the series wanted to go that way. It uses a lot of magic after all. Ashley has a very fresh and intoxicating look. Not only could she seduce Arthur and Lancelot she could probably give Mordred a run for the money. I think her chemistry with co-star Bradley James would bring ratings up for the Syfy channel.

So see? I'm not adverse to ethnic actresses holding the role of Gwen in the series. I just find it very difficult to like the character portrayed by the current actress. I'm not saying that Angel Coulby is untalented or unattractive - just not well suited for this particular part. I think she'd be a lot of fun to watch on Dr. Who where she could put some spunk into a role.

Of course this is just my opinion on the matter. I won't call you a name if you disagree. It would have been nice if the other blogger, whom I would credit if I could have found it again, would have extended the same courtesy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Problem with Election Funds and Evil

I heard a lot of people say they voted for Obama because he was the "lesser of two evils." It's sad that people had to think that any of our political were evil. Growing up we were taught to have a deep respect for the President of the United States. Times were definitely different then. Certainly no one presidential candidate collected over a billion dollars. With so many people out of work you would think that the billion dollars raised could have been used in more productive ways than launching smear campaigns. The truth is that 1 billion dollars equals about the salary of 20,000 median income families (that is families that earn 50,000 per year.) Putting that in perspective - The campaign funds from Obama could have easily housed and fed the entire population of Adams County, Wisconsin.  Mitt Romney's campaign funds, by the same token, could have supported 18,000 families. He could have given 50,000 to every citizen in Jasper, IN and still had enough left over to run some ads. But neither candidate did that. Not one penny of either candidates campaign money was used to support a needy family, raise a community center, or feed the homeless.

In turn instead of having an unbiased and fair election we had the battle of the bucks. Big bucks run elections. That's why when you mention people like Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Laurie Roth, or Virgil Goode most Americans have no earthly clue who you are talking about. Most media outlets won't even talk to them or take them seriously. They have nowhere near the monetary backing that major party candidates receive.

The question is this: How many of you would have voted for the candidate that took his campaign money and used it to help a failing business? What if they took some of that campaign money and actually used it to support a wounded soldier pay off his mortgage? Perhaps they took a bit of the money and opened a community center in a troubled neighborhood? What type of media coverage would this have given them?

Of course neither candidate did that. There is supposed to be laws regarding how the campaign funds can be used. Yet there was proof that those legal issues of obtaining funds weren't exactly followed and there wasn't even a "bad boy" or a hand slap given for the offense. It was met with a simple "oops" and an "oh well."

I'm not angry over the election results. Honestly, it wouldn't matter which candidate won, though I wasn't even the least bit surprised by the results. The media does an awesome job of making the majority of people see and think what they want them to see and think. They seemed to even promote fallacies and twist facts in order to confuse and manipulate.

 My hope was that we had enough votes for one third party candidate to open up new options in our political system. That didn't happen.

The truth is that the only real change in this country can come from people actually waking up to realize that politics isn't about what is best for the country - it is about what is best for the party. Money and power run this country.

George Washington said, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." Our founding father's didn't believe in big government, and today our Federal government is growing like a wildfire out of control through each of our towns and businesses. Some of us see the scorching and realize we need to push it back before we are consumed, while others bask in the heat believing that they will never be burned. They feed the flames.

We have serious issues at home. We have high unemployment with more businesses each day cutting jobs. We have higher prices on commodities and lowering of incomes. Which brings us to remember another great insight of our first president, "Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected." We seem to have forgotten what our moral duty entails.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Being Called a Racist

When I was teaching in an urban high school in Dallas most of my students were of "color." Now I don't mind people being proud of their rich heritages at all. I think that we should all be proud of who we are and where we come from. I just don't think that being white, black, or hispanic defines us as people. There are so many more things about being us than meets the eye.

This presidential campaign isn't the first time that I have been accused of being racist. When I was teaching and a student didn't do their homework and I gave them a zero I was called racist. I was accused of failing them based on their color. It didn't seem to dawn on the student that not doing their work or having anything to grade might have affected their grade. Nope. It was all on me for not passing them for doing nothing. It also didn't matter that other students in the class, of the same color, were passing. They actually did their work. To this particular student the only reason that I should pass them was so that I wouldn't suffer under the pressure of being name called. It didn't work. I know who I am.

This presidential campaign I dared compare Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. I was called a racist. Nothing I said indicated race. I simply stated that both men were rich, both had gone to law school, and other similarities between them. Romney was being chastised for all the same things Obama was, but for some reason it seemed okay for Obama to be that way and not the other guy. Evidently pointing that out made me racist. I don't buy it.

When I meet people I don't look at their color first. I don't ask them what religion they are affiliated with. I don't check out their bank accounts or worry about how they feel about abortion or gay marriage. Those things may come out in time, but for me it's not what matters. What matters is the person themselves. How they present themselves. How they interact with me and my family. If we click on other things. Honestly I'm not looking to clone myself to make friends. It's great if someone's opinions differ from my own as long as they are respectful of how I feel too.

Do I have friends that are of a different race than myself? Yes, I do. Do I have friends that are gay? Yes, I do. Do I have friends that are Mormon, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, or Pagan? I absolutely do. They aren't my friends because of or in spite of these things. These are just part of who they are, and I guess in turn, part of what makes them special. But I don't define them on their race, religion, or lifestyle. They are my friends because personally we clicked and our personalities complimented each other. We support, respect, and love each other.

On the outside I may look a certain way to people, and people may make judgements about me when they first see me. That's okay. Some people do that. I know that there is a lot more to people than what they wear on the outside. By putting people in categories we are severely limiting our own lives and understanding of what this world has to offer. It's one thing to acknowledge that each person is different, but when you identify them simply by the color of their skin or their religion you do them a great disservice.

Besides, there is a lot more to a person than meets the eye. The only way to find out is to actually take the time to get to know them. But, just because I didn't vote for Obama on election day doesn't make me a racist. I didn't vote for him because of his policies and political stance on the economy. If I had only voted for him because he was African American then I would have been doing him a great wrong, because I'm sure that he is much more than just the first Black President in the White House. And just because I don't agree with his stance on issues such as Health Care or Economic Recovery doesn't mean that I am going to start name calling or bashing people because they like his ideas. I respect their right to their opinions differing from my own.

This country was founded on diversity. Each day I recognize and celebrate that. One day, when people stop labeling and start accepting, we may even get past the days where we look at color and start appreciating character. That is the future I hope for my children and grandchildren.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Am I Liberal or Conservative? How about neither?

First off, I hate labels. Labels indicate that you have a nice neat box that you fit into. It also tends to give people an excuse for not seeing things your way or as an argument as to why you have to be wrong. For instance, teaching in special education I was labeled as a teacher. Never mind that I had to go to school for five years instead of four or that I had to take extra classes to obtain my degree, nor did it matter that I graduated in the top of the class at my college. All that mattered to the teachers in the first school I taught was that I was in Special Education. Here is a case in fact: I was the Academic Team sponsor for the school. I took the brightest and best and readied them for competition. When one of the teachers found out that I was sponsoring this group she said, "Oh! Aren't you Special Education?" I replied, "I teach special education, I am not a student of special education." She was far from convinced. She was predisposed to the label of the word and anyone connected with that, in her mind, had mental difficulties. A total misconception for even the students in that area. People that are intelligent know that Learning Disabled is a misnomer. We should rename it to something along the lines of "Learning Differently," because the fact is they just don't seem to grasp the listen to lecture and take notes style of teaching.

So, maybe this is where my root of hating labels begins. I really don't know. What I do know is that labels are extremely limiting and cause misconceptions.

So, what is a liberal? If you look in the dictionary it is far from helpful. It defines it as: "A person of liberal views." Thank you, Merriam-Webster. So let's dig a bit deeper. Like many words the meaning has changed over time. The word actually became political in Britain during the 17th and 18th century. Then it was used to describe a liberty from government interference. They believed that government should not be involved in social services such as education or healthcare to people, and should not get involved with the citizens rights. It is rather the opposite of what "Liberals" tend to believe today. The modern liberal believes the government has a duty to provide people with services and provide social welfare. They would tend to believe that these services should be provided by more taxation on the wealthy and no fear of increased government spending because these services are needed.

A conservative on the other hand is defined as "A person who holds to traditional values and attitudes and is cautious about change." That definition seems to be a bit more clear than the previous one. So, by definition a conservative is more cautious about spending and making changes. A conservative typically does not want an increase in government interference and is more like the 17th and 18th century Liberals of the time.

So what is the big deal here? Well, if you take the definition of either and try to fit me into one of those boxes I just won't fit. First, I don't believe that we should provide social programs for everyone at the expense of our government going broke and not being able to take care of important things. I think states should have more power in taking care of their citizens and making policies, because the Federal Government already has so many duties and expectations there is no way it can meet them all effectively. I think we see this in the abuse we have in the social programs that are in place. How many times have you heard that someone that really needed help couldn't get it but someone that didn't need it was abusing the system? A lot.

With that said, I do think that we need programs. I just think that states would be better able to handle them. Why? Because it's a numbers game. Dividing the population into fifty parts and having leaders in each of those would be more feasible. Assistance from the government to those states could then be based on population and need. States could relegate offices to each county. This would also increase a need for further employment and provide a better ability to determine who is abusing the system.

Of course this is just a thought on my part, not an actual plan. It just seems to make sense to divide things up and make it less complicated. Why? Because the current system is broken. So, in that regard I am looking for change which takes away my "conservative" status and I also am looking for a reduction in aid which makes me non "liberal."

To continue I don't think government should be involved in other social issues. Why does the government care who gets married? Do they really need to involve themselves in who pro-creates and who doesn't? Don't they have other issues they need to concern themselves with, such as protecting the borders or making nice abroad? I don't think the government should be worried about marriage. Again, let the states handle their own marriage laws. If it's about taxes then make the tax frame different. If two men and a woman want to marry or two women and a man want to get married why should I care? I'm not living with them. Does it really have to be such a big deal? I don't care if two men want to marry or two women want to marry. It's really none of my business. Marriage is not a government business either. Most marriages are about religion and isn't there something about a separation of Church and State? So it's okay for the government to break it's own law?

So, according to my viewpoint here I'm probably more liberal than conservative. However, by the true definition since I don't want government involvement doesn't that go more toward conservatism? See how the label thing is kind of messed up?

What do I care about? I care about this country. I was told once that patriotism was dead. No, it's not dead. It may be nodding off and gone from some, but it's far from dead. I still believe in a strong and prosperous United States. I don't like the direction the country is currently taking. I don't like that they seem to be wanting to take away the liberties that were granted to us by our founding fathers. I don't like that they are able to sway people with lies and the media. I really don't like that so many people have become lazy and gullible believing anything put before them simply because it's easier.

I care about this country dying.

Historically as governments fail, and this one is failing, empires fall. We are falling. Our politicians are failing us. They have become more engrossed in power and politics then in the American people. We are a nation run by bankers and lawyers and not by the patriots that founded the country. Our politicians get away with negligence and lying. They have, upon more than one occasion, abused their power - such as when they give themselves secret pay raises as their constituents lose jobs and homes. They can raise millions of dollars for campaigning and run successful businesses but can't seem to control their own spending. It is not a Democratic or Republican issue, but it is an American issue because it is the American people that have to pay for this kind of abuse of power. Voting in an only two party system that controls the media, businesses, and our minds is our folly. Until we get past this we can never get to where we need to be again.

So, if you have to put me in some category to appease your mind then you just might be out of luck. I won't go and sit quietly in a box waiting to make someone else happy. I will continue to think, learn, express my opinions, and run rampant on my political journey even if I travel it alone.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What Happens When We Punish Businesses?

What happens when we overtax businesses?

First, think of a business like you would your household. This might help. You have things you can afford and then you have necessities. The only thing is when your taxes and incidentals go up you can't fire yourself, your spouse, and/or your children. 

Rent or Mortgage – a must have
Taxes – can’t get away from them
Utilities – another must have, such as phone service, electricity, internet or intranet, water, gas.
Incidentals - Furniture, air conditioning, heating.
Insurance – required by law, but businesses require a lot of insurance. Health insurance, property insurance, unemployment insurance, liability insurance, disability insurance, workmen’s compensation insurance.
Business supplies including products needed to sell or for production.

Now these are just the basics they have to meet to stay open. They can all be quite expensive. On top of these expenses they have to hire employees. So, as the economy in the US goes down sales go down. As sales go down profit goes down. What does not go down? That would be rent and/or mortgage, most likely, taxes, because they are on the increase, and insurance premiums. They also, since the economy is going down will most likely have to start paying more for supplies since cost of materials are rising.

Now, salaries have to be paid to employees because not one business I know of has people that go to work just for fun and say, “Nah, please don’t pay me. Just working here is reward enough.”

If demand for products or services is on a decline and taxes and other incidentals are going up what can a business cut from the budget to stay afloat? It can’t cut out the mortgage payments. It has to pay the taxes. Utilities can be reduced, maybe, but they can’t be cut. Insurance is required by law, so they can’t cut that out either. The only thing they can cut out is the amount of employees that they hire. On top of this they may even have to cut out rewards programs that employees were receiving before taxes were increased because profits are declining.

With the layoffs we also increase the unemployment status in the US, which is high already. Yes, the unemployment status went down slightly recently, but that is because some businesses are hiring for the holiday season. Look for the numbers to go right back up again after the holidays.

The bottom line is that businesses will not and cannot stay open without making a profit, just like a household cannot go on without an income. A profitable business will hire more people making the unemployment rates go down instead of up. More people will be able to keep their homes and food on their tables.
It’s sad when you hear that a business laid off people to rehire only part-time employees just so they don’t have to pay the added taxes set down by the government or the required increase in insurance benefits from the present administration. What happens to these employees besides just a cut in pay? They have to make sacrifices in their homes and make cuts as well, such as not spending as much and increasing the decline in American business. They also will now be required to find affordable insurance or pay a tax. Why? We have overtaxed our businesses, who are also the employers in this nation.

It’s nice to think that no matter what we do we can be rewarded, but that’s not even realistic. Realism comes when you stop to consider that without viable, healthy businesses this country is screwed. We only add to our increasing debt problems.

So, hate those that are touting giving breaks to businesses, but stop and think for just a minute about why it’s necessary, because right now small to moderate businesses are suffering over the increased taxes and requirements being set down by our government. If this continues you will be seeing a lot more empty buildings and a lot more people pounding the pavement hoping that somewhere there is work so that they can have a roof over their head and food in their bellies. Believe me, with the increased level of debt that this country is accruing daily welfare that we so easily take for granted may not be revamped or revised but just out and out broken because even our government won’t be able to pay and provide for the needy.

Building businesses in the country will build the economy in this country. Taxation is not the answer – it is actually one of the problems. The only cure to our increasing debt is to quit unnecessary spending.

This is why so many people are voting Republican, because when Obama gets back into office we can expect further decline in our economy, a lot more layoffs, and a lot more people needing government assistance. I don't want to vote Republican, but I live in Wisconsin, a swing state. I wanted to vote for Gary Johnson and for my principles. I don't feel I have a choice, because realistically I have to vote for one of two parties instead. This has become the American way. So, here is another vote for Romney/Ryan.

Oh, and that cheap insurance you think you'll have? Just wait, because I think you are going to find it costs a lot more than what you were promised. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Little Something Sweet

My finished version of Tiramisu di Pasty
I know money has been tight for everyone. It's been especially tight for us since I have not been able to work for going on two years now. So, since we have limited income and severe expenses we have to start cutting corners. One thing we can't afford to do is go out to eat - so we have to learn to be creative in the kitchen.
I was missing Tiramisu. It is one dessert that I really love. I don't know if it's the coffee or the filling or the entire thing together. I do know that if you go out to a restaurant and you are lucky enough to find it on the menu it will cost you over $5 usually. Way out of my budget right now.
Making this dish isn't cheap either. It has ladyfingers, which run about $5 or more at the store, more if you shop online and have to have them shipped. You can't always find them in the grocery store. Marscarpone cheese is another ingredient that isn't cheap either. If you are lucky you can find 8 ounces for about $8 or so, depending on where you live. Again, it isn't found in all stores. Regardless, the dessert was out of budget. So, what do you do?
Well, first you can become creative! I decided to see if I could find a substitute for the Marscarpone. I did. Here it is:
1 8 oz package of cream cheese (regular not the low fat)
1/4 c whipping cream
3 TBS sour cream (I used light to cut down on calories)

I then had a brilliant idea for the lady fingers. First, I didn't want a lot of calories. Second I wanted something inexpensive. So, I found a loaf angel food cake for only $1.98.

So, these two ingredients that would have cost me about $13 is now less than $5. But, I didn't want to get too excited. I still had to figure out the best way for me to make this low cost and lower in calorie. The original recipe called for a lot of eggs - which means a lot of cholesterol. Not good for me.

So, I put the cream cheese, whipping cream, and sour cream in the bowl and started whipping. I let it sit for a bit. Then I read the recipe for Tiramisu and decided to go ahead and add the liquor. We have a bit that has been around her for ages. I found an orange liquor left over from last Christmas. I decided to use it in place of cognac or rum. Now I figured that if I really wanted I could even put in a vanilla extract, coffee extract, or even a rum extract if I wanted. I started whipping and then realized that I probably wanted to add some sugar. I added about 3/4 cup of sugar to the mix (give or take because I just sprinkled it in until I liked the flavor.) I realized that it was getting fluffy without the egg. Brava!

I had sliced the angel food cake into three long pieces. I then started dipping them in some strong decaf coffee - strong so that it would hold a coffee flavor and because the original recipe calls for espresso. I noticed that the angel food didn't absorb the coffee like the lady fingers. No worries. I just dipped them and turned them, and then I sprinkled a little more on top and let them sit for a bit.

After this I went ahead and layered the dessert like the original recipe. Angelfood on the bottom, cheese mixture, angelfood, cheese mixture, until the cheese layer was on the top. I didn't have the chocolate bar to make the nice pretty curls on the regular recipe so I improvised.

I sprinkled the top with cinnamon instead of coacoa powder, and then I just used some of the kid's chocolate syrup to make a squiggle. I decided to do this because as yummy as it sounded I still wanted it to be a family friendly dessert.

I let my youngest, who is skeptical about all foods that aren't pizza, have a small taste before chilling (which I recommend doing for at least an hour before serving.) He liked it!

So, not only was I able to make an affordable nice dessert, but I also managed to cut on calories and fat. I'm feeling pretty darn good about that right now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

At 4:44 What is the universe saying?

I was stark awake this morning before the sun rose. I looked over at the clock and it was 4:44 am. It seemed odd to me to wake up with three fours. When I had my heart attack a few years ago it was around 4 am. I wasn't able to go back to sleep right away. I rolled one way. Then I rolled another. I woke my husband who asked, "Do you need me to move?" I told him, "No. I'm fine."

Finally I picked up my laptop and wrote out a will. It's not that I'm rich and have a lot to give, but it just seemed like the right thing to do. Afterward I drifted back off.

I didn't die. 

I think it's important here to make reference to the fact that in spite of my husband making a very good living we are having a very rough time getting ends to meet. We aren't alone. He works very hard. Most weeks he works over 40 hours per week and doesn't get overtime. Still we struggle. We have two boys at home going through school. Our mortgage is about the only bill we have been able to pay to keep a roof over our heads. We have medical insurance, but it doesn't pay all the hospital and doctor bills. The utility bills have increased the last couple of years by about 40%. Food bills have increased by 45%. Everyone knows how high gasoline prices have increased. Unfortunately wages haven't gone up with the increase in costs. Government is killing us with tax increases and all the free programs they want to give out that only those working families pay for and don't receive any benefit from. So, it's no wonder that the first thought in my mind when I thought I may be having another heart attack my thought was, "Oh, Brian can use the insurance money to help alleviate our debt!" 

I did mention this to him, but his response was, "I'd rather be totally broke without anything than lose you."

Anyway, I looked up 4:44. Interestingly enough the first hit on google was a movie starring William Dafoe about the end of the world. Okay. A little farther down we have a reference for John 4:44 which reads, "Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country." Prophet? I never thought of myself as such, however, I love my country. I just hate what the government is doing to it. But enough to make me wake up at that hour for no reason? So, I took out the colon. Here is what I found.

Spiritual meaning of 444: "The spiritual meaning of 444 is one of many repeating numbers designed to get your attention and serve as a wake up call from your spiritual guides.

444 is a very powerful number. It means that your angels are by your side and want the very best for you. They are asking that you pay attention very carefully to the signs that you see around you."

That is a much more comforting thought. It was definitely a wake up call. There are a lot of changes that have to be made. So, whatever the universe is trying to say, just know, I'm listening.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

America Can Prosper - Let's Make that Difference!

Americans voted for change, and instead got ripped off. Let's see about making a change that will really make a difference. Let's finally show some intelligence and get rid of the two party system guaranteed only to make politicians prosper. Let the American people prosper for a change!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Things ARE NOT Getting Better

I do not know about anyone else, but we are much worse off now than we were four years ago.. even two years ago. Groceries have risen about 60% over the last four years. Insurance rates increased. They took all the old cars and destroyed them instead of recycling which made car repair go up. Utilities have risen by 40%. Gasoline prices have seriously increased. Income taxes increased. Homeowner taxes increased. Cost of health care is outrageous even with insurance and companies paying up to 90% of the bill. After my surgery and Aidan's illness we still owe tens of thousands of dollars AFTER insurance. I am unable to hold a full time job due to my condition, yet I have to fight to get benefits and have been denied. Wages have not risen with the price of inflation, and yet they say not to worry because things are becoming stable? Seriously? We may have to sell our home - if we can due to the housing market - or lose it altogether. This is how we know the government is lying to us. They can afford fancy parties, $500 per plate dinners, and designer clothes while we scrounge to keep food on the table. In spite of this people still keep looking with blinders on going in the same direction like sheep. I'm not asking for a hand out. I miss the days when we could pay our bills and have a chance. All this because we have a middle class income? We aren't even doing as well as the lower class who get free money for being poor while we struggle to just survive.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gentlemen, Don't be Lame- A Gift Guide for Men

I have been inspired to help guys buy gifts for their ladies. Now, I'm sure not all men out there are lame gift givers, but we do have a few that have trouble remembering and getting gifts for their women. Now, sometimes it is because you are just plain forgetful, some of you may not really care, others may be super cheap or broke, while others may actually just be plain clueless.

Men should know that a lot of women are thinking about what to get you for your anniversary on the first date. Yes, it is kind of creepy, but women are just built differently. If you click they generally have hope. If you end up being a scum bag loser - well, depending on who you hurt you might want to disappear for a few years. Just so you know, women have long long memories. While women have more than likely purchased gifts for men months ahead of time, most men procrastinate until the very last minute.

Idea 1: Get a Clue
If a woman is looking at something and says, "Oh, that's nice." Or if she shows you something and says, "Don't you think that would look good on me?" Those are pretty much anvil on the head hints. Take note. Don't just nod as you think about the women in the short skirt walking by or on television, or just grunt as you play your video game. Let that little light bulb turn on above your head and take a note. You may have just given yourself kudos for the next year that could possibly get you out of being nagged for at least three weeks. That's practically a mind vacation. Take advantage of it.

My suggestion: Buy it right away so you don't forget. Hide it when it comes in. If it is in super early, don't worry. Even if you forgot you purchased it once she says, "You didn't get me anything?" You may actually remember and be able to say, "I did! I've had it for a while." Then you can go get it and have an evening of mind boggling sex. (Sex is not guaranteed here. It's just something that I assume may happen. I claim no responsibility in your mate's willingness to comply.)

You don't have money? No worries. The next steps will help you with free to practically free gift ideas.

Idea 2: Flower Power
Flowers for women have been the old standard. Men have used cut flowers for years to impress their dates, whether they marry them or not. Along with them sometimes came a box of chocolate. Now, if you have been married for a long period of time just the flower may be enough. But be warned. DO NOT GIVE FLOWERS IF YOU HAVE BEEN GIVING THEM AS GUILT GIFTS. Never give a guilt gift as a regular gift. She will be wondering all night long and those stares will not be stares of appreciation. They could be stares of concentration on how to commit the perfect murder. Believe me, women can be dangerous.

Now for the cheapskates out there that don't have $50 or more to spend on the wife you can always get a small bouquet at grocery stores. These range around $5 - $15. For most women size doesn't matter - when it comes to flowers. It's the thought. And for those that usually don't have anything to show for them except a smile and an expectation that you're allowing her to have your body for the evening is enough - believe me, she'll be shocked and thrilled.

For those that are not willing to or just have no desire to even fork out that little bit of money (and I'm not judging - much,) you still have floral options. Check in the dumpsters behind your local flower shops or stop along the road and take advantage of mother nature. Just a small hint from someone on the receiving end of such a gift - look out for bugs. You may need to wash them first.

Idea 3: The Power of Poetry

Now here I am assuming that your lady has seen something in you at some point and time. Perhaps you have convinced her that you do indeed have at least one romantic bone in your body - and the "boner" does not count here, gentlemen. Poetic and pornographic are not synonyms.

Write her a little verse of poetry. If you have to resort to the "Roses or Red" version, perhaps you should go back to Idea number 2 or refer to the Idea number 4. Now, poetry does not have to rhyme. You just put down a few thoughts and feelings. This is a very romantic gift for a woman, and something she will treasure.

Perhaps poetry is a bit out of your league. Writing her a letter is just as good. It's something she can refer back to when she has those moments of time when she wonders why she is with you in the first place. Just remember to make it heartfelt and avoid words such as burp, fart, and any words that substitute for other bodily functions. Keep it heart felt.

Still at a loss for words, try this site: It has a form where you can fill in the blanks. You may not even need a spell checker this way.

Idea 4: Women Love Coupons

Women love saving money, buying things on sale, and saving time. Make a coupon book for her. My husband made one for me one Christmas and I cried. It showed that he actually took time out and thought of me. For me that was the greatest gift ever!

Now what to put in the coupon book is the question. Do not put anything in there that she has to do for you. Avoid things like, "This coupon requires me to come home an hour early from the bar," or "This coupon means that you will make me breakfast on just Sunday instead of Saturday and Sunday." Be a bit more thoughtful. Try things such as, "This coupon entitle you breakfast in bed." The expectation here is, of course, that you will bring it for her and not that she can make it and eat it in bed.

Avoid putting down things that you have no intention of doing. It won't be as thoughtful a gift if you just wrote it out to make her happy for that night. Follow through is actually expected.

The plus side of this gift is that it shows her that you care, that you are willing to help out, and it's free. Who doesn't love a bargain?

Okay, now that you have the gift ideas in place just remember the date! You will want gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas at the very least. If you can remember Valentine's Day that is a bonus. (And you can actually just buy some of those corny candy hearts and she'll be thrilled.)

Put a message on your phone, on your computer, and perhaps even have a friend or relative call you with a reminder. Don't procrastinate and wait until the last minute because you may be empty handed yet again and find your name permanently above the dog house door.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

To Be Gay or Not to Be Gay - Is that the Question?

I was reading an article on MSNBC about an underground and anonymous gay group at Biola University who want to be heard but not seen. They would like to debate being Christian and Gay and look to change the college's ideas about homosexuality. In one sentence they say that they love the university and support it, while on the other hand they place flyers and launch a website stating: "We want to bring to light the presence of the LGBTQ community at Biola. Despite what some may assume, there are Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, and Queers at Biola. We are Biola's students, alumni, employees, and fellow followers of Christ. We want to be treated with equality and respected as another facet of Biola's diversity."

Now, with that said, I am not God and therefore cannot declare if a person is Christian or not Christian. It is not my place to judge someone. I do well to keep my own affairs in order. In my personal opinion we should support one another even if we do not agree with one another. I honestly don't think we fall in love with a sex - we fall in love with a person (except those few people that fall in love with appliances, furniture, and shoes, but that's something I may never understand anyway.) But in the same regard, I respect a private organizations right to have their own doctrine and belief system. For instance, if a Church does not like the fact that I have  foresight into people and am "psychic" and feel that it comes from Satan and not God I am pretty sure that Church is not for me. I'm not going to launch a campaign in order to get them to change their doctrine. I have better things to do than be emotionally crucified by people. I also do not want to shake the faith of someone gaining some type of comfort in this life. It is not my place.

On this same token these people fear that they will be expelled if they come out of the Biola closet. Honestly, I don't know how they can enjoy time there, being Christian, and living a lie. How is that loving where they are when they have to hide who they are? I find that heart rendering. Surely there are places that would accept them.

Many years ago when I lived in Tulsa, OK, still very much in the Bible Belt, and long before all the news attention of today - there was a Gay and Lesbian Christian Church. These insightful people lived as Christians and were out of the closet. Now this was even when coming out was not as socially acceptable, and yet they did. They welcomed everyone into their Church to worship with them. It didn't matter what color you were, what your sexual orientation was, or even if you had holes where God didn't expect people to ever want a hole. The idea here was to just worship and love one another. 

I understand wanting equal rights politically and for the government to stay out of the business of marriage. It is, after all, a religious union more than anything. Therefore, if a Church or religion will support a union that is all that should be necessary. But, expecting a church or organization to change their entire doctrine is not the same thing. Forcing someone to swallow what they have believed all their lives will only cause them to dig in their heels and stand firm leaving a bad taste in their mouths and knocking a cause further down. 

In my humble opinion, which is worth about ten cents with today's inflation, these Biola students should stand together. They should unite and not be afraid. They entered a school they knew would not accept them with the expectation that the school should change to suit them. That isn't the way things work. Hiding and causing discord isn't showing respect and love. 

I would suggest that if you are Christian, Gay, and Proud (yes, I deliberately capitalized those words,) you should go somewhere you can be supported and be happy. This website might help you

Not that anyone asked, but I believe each of our spiritual lives and paths are very personal. I would prefer to be somewhere I was accepted. If you believe in the basic fact of "God is Love" you should also realize that love is not discord. Plus, showing that you can live happily without being smitten, struck by a bolt of lightening, or otherwise possessed by demons might be the perfect way to prove your point.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Teenagers are our future... Really?

We all grew up thinking about teenage angst. We may have even done some rather stupid and crazy things growing up. Shhh...we don't want to talk about that - that was so long ago.
Honestly, I was  a really good kid growing up. However, I wasn't perfect. One time my parents were out and I had a few friends over. We hit the liquor cabinet. In order that they wouldn't know we took anything I made a mixture of different liquors and placed them in our soda of choice - easy choice really since we only had one soda available - rootbeer. What came out was something between castor oil and cough syrup. It was not at all good. Nonetheless we drank it. It was potent. It was so potent I threw up.
My friends went home. One mother found out he had been drinking and gave him the third degree. He told her the truth. She called him a liar. After all, I was a the good child. I would never do anything wrong.
Okay, so mixing liquor today seems rather mild. A lot of kids drink. A lot of kids do more than just drink. If, when I was a teenager, it was unheard of to have my nose or my nipple pierced. I would never have wanted to do that anyway. But it's not what you do with your body or how you look that really defines a person. What defines us as people, even teenagers, is how we do things and how we react to things. Looking around at today's teenagers can be very scary. They are our future?
Today I got a call from a teenage girl. She had driven about 120 miles in a car to take a friend to meet a boy that just got out of prison. Her car was not running well. Half the time they were afraid she wouldn't be able to make it across town. She has no job. She has no money. Her father gives her an allowance on a prepaid credit card. The girl she was taking didn't care if the car was running. She didn't offer any money to help her pay for the trip. Between the two of them they literally had $5 and a broken car.
Here is how the conversation went:
"Pasty, my mom gave me your number. I'm in trouble and I need help," says the girl. "I'm stuck in Milwaukee. My car broke down. I think it overheated."
"Did you put fluid in it and try to start it?" I asked.
"Yes," she said, but it wouldn't start.
"What is it doing?" I ask.
"I don't know," she answered. "It's 27 miles from me right now. I left it on the highway. I hitchhiked to where I am now."
"You hitchhiked and left your car?" I asked, thinking to myself that she shouldn't have just left her car on the highway. There are things that could have been done if she had stayed with the vehicle. But okay. That's not an option now. Let's move on.
"I need you to come and get me," she said.
"I don't have a car to come and get you," I answer. "My car is in the shop."
"What about your other car?" She asks.
"I don't have a car."
"Where is your car?"
"Okay, listen, I don't have a car to come and get you. How much money do you have?" I ask.
"I don't have any money. I brought a friend down here."
"How much money does your friend have?" I ask.
"I don't know. Let me put her on the phone," she responds.
"Hi. I was just asking how much money you have so that we can see what you guys can do to get home," I say.
"I have $5," she responds.
"You guys went to Milwaukee with an iffy car and only took $5?" I start laughing.
"Hey, I don't know who you are, but I don't need you laughing at me!" She hands the phone back to the teenage girl.
"You went to Milwaukee in your car that you knew wasn't running well and you only had $5 between you?" I asked her.
"Yeah. She said. Can you get a friend of yours to come and get us?" she asks.
"I don't know of a friend that wants to drive 100 miles or more to pick up two people they have never met for only $5," I say.
"What about your car?" she asks again.
"I don't have a car." I respond.
"Hold on." I hear a shuffle. Then some man gets on the phone.
"Hello?" he starts. "You should come down here and pick us up."
I'm laughing. This is getting ridiculous. "I don't have a car," I say. "It's in the shop."
Now I'm thinking, two of these people I don't even know. Have never met them before in my life. They think that because I know the girl that took them there I'm obligated somehow. Nice.
"Well," he says, "Go take it out of the shop and come down here."
I'm laughing harder now. I can't help myself.
"Wait a minute," I respond. "First off, even if I did take my car out of the shop it wouldn't make it down there, and if, by some miracle, it did all you would have is another person stranded with you. So, no. I won't do that."
"Okay," he says. "What do you want us to do?"
Now this is my problem? Seriously?
"You are telling me that you had those two girls come down there in a car that they knew didn't run well with only $5 between them and now you expect someone else to run down there and rescue all of you? Well, I don't have a car. I don't know anyone that would come down and pick up three strangers for only $5 to drive them more than 120 miles. I'm sorry."
"Well, yeah," he says, "Okay."
I call the girls mother and find out they had been there since last night. The teenage girl's father knew already.  He didn't go get her. None of her relatives had gone to get her. Now, being the type of person I am I priced a Greyhound ticket. It would cost them each less than $20 to get back to Green Bay.
A few things dawned on me about this particular incident:
1.  A real friend wouldn't ask you to drive in a breaking car to go and meet a guy with no consideration or plan.
2. An intelligent plan was not thought out. After all, she could have called and sold the car for some cash - $100-$300 depending - and asked for a ride to the bus station. Now her car was probably towed by the city having been left for hours on the highway. Instead she will get a $350 towing and storage bill.
3. She had no ideas of her own or any viable way to help herself. She wanted to be rescued, and her friends were not coming up with any relatives, friends, or plans of their own. They were expecting her to fix it since she drove.
Not all teenagers are like this. I know for a fact that my teenage son would never have agreed to drive down there with a bad car and no money. He wouldn't be afraid to tell a friend no, and if that friend got hateful he would have the sense enough to realize this wasn't a true friend. My son is very secure in himself.
Many teenagers are not so self-assured. They think that being liked and popular is the most important thing in life. If they don't have a social life they don't have a life. This is so untrue and unfair to them. Simple facts of relationships have been lost on today's youth.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Crazy Woman's Idea Recipe

Redneck Turtle Burgers raw.
Red Neck Turtle Burgers cooked.
Red Neck Turtle Burgers Recipe.

Now this recipe idea is not mine. No, a friend of mine on Facebook found it on the internet. There are a lot of dangerous things you can find on the internet these days. Recipes that your cardiologist would cringe at are just one of them.

So the recipe that she had was very basic. Take hamburger, form it into a patties, cover with cheddar, basket weave bacon around it, stick in some hot dogs for a head, tail, and feet, cook, eat.

Of course I had to add a few modifications to make this a bit healthier. And I never would just slab hamburger meat together and call it a burger. That's just wrong. Might as well eat it raw.

So, for the burgers I added: garlic, worchestershire, pepper, onion powder, no salt seasoning, and a dash of barbecue sauce. Mixed it all together and made my patties.
I also used low-sodium bacon, and Hebrew National hotdogs.  I checked the sodium and fat count on these to make sure they were okay. I also used reduced fat cheese.

Once you get these puppies together you bake them in the oven on 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes. Now, a neat trick I learned from my insane Facebook friend is that if you want the bacon a bit brown turn on the broiler for a few minutes.

Scarily enough there were several of us that made these yesterday. It was like a mini fad going on. Each of us varied our recipes and took pictures. Involved countries included Canada, USA, and the Netherlands. Hillbilly cooking is not just for the Southern States any longer. My daddy was a hillbilly from Tennessee. I remember him making cornbread and a big pot of beans that smelled the entire house to high heaven. I would sneak out the window to avoid that scent. But Southern cooking is not staying put, evidently. They now have a following all over the world. Be afraid, people, they are expanding, and as they do so will your caloric intake.

I only made two of them, because even with the modifications to the recipe it just seemed so darn hard to justify eating them. However, my 17 year old son was in heaven. I think the word "Meat!" was all he had to say when he saw them and "Delicious!" came out of his mouth before he trudged off to his hermit cave we fondly call his room.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Continuing On with Excitement

Okay, so I missed about a week of treatments at True Essence. It was Easter week, after all, and everyone has different schedules and places to go. However, I did go back on Sunday and had an amazing experience once again. This time I took my daughter with me because after having a child she really wanted to see if it would help her get rid of some of her baby weight. She was amazed. She burned off over 400 calories in one sitting. She had a totally different experience than I did because she did the weight loss program in the capsule which is red and orange and I did the body wrap option which is blue and red.

Even after cheating on myself (yes, when you go off your plan and don't do what you say you are going to do you are cheating yourself) I still not only managed t maintain my inch loss but I lost more! I was shocked. My tummy still went down another half inch from where I had left off. Now I did gain some back before I went into the capsule, but that is because I had been a very bad girl. (Don't beat me.) But being able to see that I can return and be good to my body was awesome!

I think what really makes a difference for me is my husband saying, "Wow, honey. I can really see and feel a difference!" Now that makes it all worth while. I just need to have the fortitude to continue on and not cheat myself.

One of the best things about this, I do believe, is the energized feeling when you get done with your treatment.

Now one of the things I love here is that color therapy has been used for generations. We use color therapy when we go to paint a room and consider how it is going to make us feel in the long run. So I was curious and wanted to know what the difference in the colors of the capsule were helping obtain.

For my daughter, Sarah Knoke, who is also a nursing mother:

"Healing properties: Orange is warm, cheering, non-constricting. Orange has a freeing action upon the body and mind, relieving repressions. Orange shows new possibilities and other options in life. Stimulates creative thinking and enthusiasm, and helps assimilate new ideas.It is also helpful in dealing with excess sexual expression.
Orange stimulates the lungs, the respiration and the digestion. Increases the activity of the thyroid. Reliefs muscle cramps and spasms. Increases the amount of mother milk.

Healing properties: Yellow helps strengthen the nerves and the mind. It helps awaken mental inspiration and stimulates higher mentality. Thus, it is an excellent color for nervous or nerve-related conditions or ailments. It also energizes the muscles. Dark yellow soothes pains in the nerves (shooting pains)
Yellow can be used for conditions of the stomach, liver, and intestines. Speeds up the digestion and assimilation, and the stool.
It helps the pores of the skin and aids scarred tissue in healing itself.
Yellow links with and stimulates the solar plexus, or psychic center. It can be used for psychic burnout or other psychic-related conditions or ailments. Activates and cheers up depressed and melancholic people. Gives lust for life."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Adventure recipes 2

Low fat cheese cake
Pay no attention to the blue swirls.
My husband was feeling creative and
used some food coloring to be festive.
Today's recipe is for cheesecake! Yum. Okay, the thing about cheesecake is that it teaches you patience. It has to chill for a while before eating. This cheese cake recipe calls for a spring form pan. Since cheesecake is about the only thing that you bake in a spring form pan most people might not have one. That's okay. What I did was take an 8 or 9 inch graham cracker crust and used that. If you do that you will not have just one cheese cake but two! Now how cool is that?

So, here it is. Low-fat cheesecake that doesn't taste low-fat. This recipe was also found from Good Housekeeping. Now remember, if you use the pre-made crust or press your own graham crackers then you can make two pies! Also, for a little zing, you can put in a tad of fresh lemon juice. If you are trying to cut back on sugar you can also use a sugar substitute or natural sugar.

3 4 cup(s) graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoon(s) trans-fat free vegetable oil spread, melted
3 package(s) (8-ounce) reduced-fat cream cheese
1 cup(s) sugar
1 tablespoon(s) cornstarch
1 1 2 pint(s) fat-free sour cream
1 1/4 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In 9-inch springform pan, stir
crumbs with spread until moistened. With hand, firmly press
mixture onto bottom of pan. Bake crust 15 minutes or until deep
golden. Cool 5 minutes on wire rack.
2. Meanwhile, in large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat
cream cheese until smooth. Combine sugar and cornstarch. Slowly
beat sugar mixture into cream cheese. On low speed, beat in sour
cream and vanilla. Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, until
3. Pour batter over crust in pan. Bake cheesecake 1 hour. Edge will be
set, but center will still jiggle. Turn oven off; let cheesecake remain
in oven 1 hour. Transfer to wire rack. Run thin knife around edge of
cheesecake to prevent cracking during cooling. Cool in pan, about 2
hours. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Remove side of
pan to serve.

Total Fat13g
Saturated Fat7g
Total Carbohydrate26g
Dietary Fiber0
Calcium           0

** Note ** Next dessert recipe to share will be Key Lime pie. It will be made in an effort to help convince Mother Nature that we need warmer weather.