May 22, 2009

Dear Dr. President

Picture Stolen from the Associated Press

You may have heard that President Obama was invited to give the commencement address at Notre Dame, and also to receive an honourary degree. Some felt that his pro-choice voting record was in such stark violation of the Catholic Character that he should not be invited to speak at the school, and should certainly not receive a degree.

This reminded me of President Bush's speech at Notre Dame. His action's were serious violations of the Vatican's anti-death penalty and anti-war stances. So why were pictures of slain Iraqi civilians or electrocuted Texans not flown overhead in the run up to his speech? Are we allowed to cherry-pick our favourite morality issues? Is is because President Obama is a democrat? Is it, dare I suggest, a race issue? Nope. It's remarkably something even more pathetic. It turns out that the big ring leader in the recent protests was none other than Alan Keyes, famed for losing the senatorial race to President Obama back in 2004. So, congratulations to my fellow Notre Dame students. You allowed yourself to be pawns in what can be boiled down to "Mommy, Obama took my seat and he won't give it back!"

I missed the chance to meet President Obama. The reason I missed my graduation ceremony is that I had promised to go see my fiancé's graduation prior to the date and commencement speaker being announced. I had at that point already moved away from South Bend, and I had no intention of returning to Notre Dame for reasons I will not go into here. I just wanted to make it clear that my absence was not some act of one-issue-fanatical boycotting, like this idiot. In fact, missing the chance to be in the same room as a man that I both love and admire will go down as one my biggest regrets in life. Hopefully, I will get my US citizenship in time to vote for his second presidential term, which would be some small consolation to me.

I did, however, learn something interesting at my fiancé's graduation ceremony at the University of Arkansas Medical School. The awarding of degrees occurs in ascending order of importance. The first diplomas are handed out to certificate earners, then to the associate degree candidates and so on. What was of interest to me is that the very last, and therefore most esteemed, group to collect their diplomas are the PhD candidates. Even the dentists, pharmacologists and medical doctors are lower down the list. To really drive home the point that the PhD is the apex of academia, the PhD candidates are the only ones to be hooded on stage.

I am making this point because of my issue with the Associate Press's arbitrary title usage decisions. Yes, I am still on that! It really struck me when I was watching a broadcast of a certain right-leaning 24-hour news station* recently. In the piece, they referred to President Obama as either "Mr. Obama" or "the President", but were careful to avoid using the phrase "President Obama". I am not, by even the loosest definition, a regular viewer of this channel, though I do have specific memories of President Bush being referred to as "President Bush" during his term. I wondered if this was a mistake, or if it were a more sinister effort on the part of the news channel to refuse to identify "Mr. Obama" as the president. My mind wandered further, and it occurred to me that President Obama taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago once upon a time, and was therefore likely to hold a professional doctorate. One trip to Wikipedia later, and yup, he does. So, if the journalists at this news station refuse to refer to him as "President Obama", should they not at least be calling him "Dr. Obama"?

* I can't find the piece in question, so the news channel will remain nameless.

May 10, 2009

Tofini... marinofu... Okay, name to come!

As much as I love the Food Network website, it lacks somewhat in the area of pasta with tofu recipes. As I am in faux-vegan mode until I get married, the ever-succinctly named "meat sauce" is out. In truth, the phrase "meat sauce" has always been enough to make me skip dinner. Yuck! Anyway, I resorted to making it up a tofu-based recipe myself. I have been working on this one for a while, and I have it to a point where I am happy with it. Comments welcome!

4 tbsp olive oil
1 lg onion finely diced
4-5 good-sized garlic cloves, minced
2-3 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 zucchini (courgette) sliced
[Other vegetables by preference]
2 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
1/2 tbsp thyme
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon (not kidding!)
7oz jar whole mantilla olives, drained (only 1/2 jar if you don't love salty foods, and omit black olives)
2.25oz can sliced black olives, drained
1 tub extra firm tofu, frozen overnight, thawed, drained & cubed
24oz crushed tomatoes
1 box whole wheat rotini

On medium heat, warm oil. Add onion and garlic and saute for 3 mins. Add mushrooms, zucchini and sauté for a further 3 mins. Add herbs, as well as olives and tofu and continue to sauté for 10 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and reduce heat to low, reducing sauce for 20 minutes, then season to taste. In meantime cook rotini according to instructions. Serve!

May 1, 2009

Done!

T.G.I. Over! I finally finished the Ben sweater. What an ordeal! I'll spare you the majority of the gripes I had on this one, but suffice it to say, it took ages, everything that could have gone wrong did, I hated every moment of it and I the only person who will like the end product less than me is its intended recipient.


As this sweater took over a year to complete, I decided to do the finishing in a way that wouldn't make it look like I was inebriated for that length of time. So, I returned to the scene of the crime (berroco.com) and found that they have some really neat videos for how to finish your knitting projects. Here are the ones I used, and man, was I off-base before. I think the lesson learned here is that half-reading finishing instructions and wandering off, assuming you know it all, doesn't work so well. Shocking, I know!

Picking up stitches:


Seaming Shoulders:


And my personal favourite, the finishing feature I was so badly hamfisting my way through, I can only assume I invented my own wrong stitch;

The Mattress Stitch



May 4th, 2009: I just found out that the sweater design I used is famous!!! Eveidently, Mo Rocca of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me fame commented that he didn't like knitted sweaters. This mobilized a group of Ravelry knitters to make him a sweater. They chose the Ben pattern and presented it to him!


10 Things in 1000 days

I decided to rationalize my impulse purchasing of knitting books by setting myself a personal challenge.
Here's how long I have left:

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This Day in History

Is There Anybody Out There?

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