SCOTUS Ruling on Campaign Finance

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In returning a 5-4 ruling concerning Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court of the United States has given life to corporate personhood and, in many ways, limited the effectiveness of the everyday person’s contributions to political campaigns.

Many who are happy with the decision feel that SCOTUS has ruled in favor of free speech.  Corporations generally speak to the public through advertisements.  Advertisements would be purchased speech, not free speech.  On top of that, corporations are not guaranteed free speech under the Constitution of the United States as they are not citizens.

With the ruling taking effect immediately, we will definitely be able to see what will come to pass during this mid-term election.  While I am not delusional enough to think that corporations did not pour money into campaigns before, there was, at least, some regulations as the money had to go through a set up PAC.  Laws and regulations had to be followed and the IRS forms filed for the PACs.  Now, that step and additional regulation is no longer necessary.

My biggest problem is that corporations and unions and other special interest groups are not citizens.  They are not guaranteed free speech.  They do not necessarily deserve a voice in our politics.  Now they have an unbridled voice with little constraints.  Which way are the scales of justice tipping?

Photos of Snow

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I have blogged before about the Photo Club I go to in Groton, New York.  The beginning of January brought the monthly meeting and a homework assignment – take pictures of snow.  Remarkably, it snowed that night.  I need to pick my favorite five so am going to let you all help me.

Vote by putting the number as the caption in your comments.

NYS Executive Budget Presentation

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Yesterday, Governor David A Paterson presented the Executive Budget for the fiscal year 2010-2011.  New York’s fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 31.  In introducing Paterson, Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravage used the word collegial twice.  This should have been a warning to all – lawmakers and others – listening and watching the presentation that hard things were to come.

Paterson opened with the usual thank yous and started with telling us of the budget gaps that have been closed in the two years he has been governor – all working with the legislature.  In the process and unlike many other states with extreme fiscal difficulties, NYS has maintained its excellent bond rating.  He ended his overview by saying that this is not a budget of choice but rather a budget of necessity.

Paterson has long been a proponent of a spending cap.  He stated that all the cuts he is proposing will be within the perimeters of a spending cap even though he is not legally required to have such a cap in place.  My problem with a spending cap has always been it cannot be put in place without mandate relief.  If a spending cap is put in place without mandate relief, the state is just pushing the costs down to municipalities.  This budget includes mandate relief.

The largest of the over 100 mandate reliefs will be repeal of the Wicks Law for municipalities and school districts outside of New York City.  The Wicks Law was enacted in 1924 and requires that services for construction, electricity, HVAC and plumbing be bid separately.  While this is a blow to organized labor or unions, it is a necessity in the world we are currently living in.

Details can be found online here.  I strongly suggest that we all look at this budget carefully.  Cuts are across the board.  Many are going to hurt areas I support but I do not see how NYS can continue the way it has been going.

Salmon Patties

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I am a huge salmon fan.  Like my fanaticism surrounding the sport of hockey, I find new and delicious ways to serve salmon all the time.  My favorite is simple and grilled on cedar planks.

I have also done salmon with lentils in a crock pot.  The lentils cook all day and the salmon goes in on top of parchment paper to steam when you get home from work for 25 minutes.  It is a wonderful recipe and tastes delicious.

This past week I wanted salmon and just couldn’t justify the current market price for fresh salmon.  I always keep a can of salmon available, just in case of power outages and such in the winter months.  So, I went in search of a salmon patty recipe that I had all the ingredients on hand.  This in itself is no easy task.

As I do with many recipes, I modified this one I found on AllRecipes.com slightly as I did not have dill weed or celery salt available.  My version is below.

Ingredients

  • 1 (14.75 ounce) can salmon, drained and flaked
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup garlic and herb seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup dry potato flakes
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix salmon, eggs, garlic and herb seasoned dry bread crumbs, dry potato flakes, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Form the mixture into 2 inch balls, and flatten into patties about 1/2 inch thick.

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. In batches, cook patties about 5 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.

And the final product

A New Beer Tried

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Saturday night I went out with a good friend from high school to hear another high school friend and the band he plays in at Number 5 restaurant.  The original plan was to go to this restaurant and listen for a while, then go to another place to hear another band.  We never left Number 5.

Straight Up, the band that was playing, had great vocals, a fantastic horn player, and the keyboardist – still amazing as he was in high school.

I decided I was going to have a beer when I got there and was impressed with the list of beers on tap.  I much prefer what is on tap to a bottle of beer.  I looked and looked and decided to try a beer from Great Lakes Brewing Company.  I had had their Christmas Ale in December at Chapter House and loved it!

I went with an Edmund Fitzgerald Porter for the evening.  The first sip wasamazing.  The hint of chocolate and coffee came through above the hops but the hops – I lean toward hoppy beers – taste still shone through.    This is a good beer that I cannot wait to have this summer with barbeque.

Balance, Judgment and Some Personal Thoughts

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I have spent a lot of time this new year – and yes, the first month is just barely halfway through – reading and commenting on balance, perceptions and judgment.  The problem, personally, is that I was not relating these readings or my comments to my own situation.

While balance is, and seemingly will always be, a struggle, it is a tightrope walk when it comes to how others perceive you and ultimately judge you.  I was thrown down this road when first Sarah at Momalom.com wrote “We care what people think about us.” My initial response was that I don’t really care what people think about me but that is not totally true.  Those who are close to me – friends who are close, family – I care what these people think.  Then, Deena at A Day in the Life of Me posted some of her own “Reflections,” based on her life.

This all has had me thinking about how others look at me and do they judge what they see without knowing me.

I am a single mom.  I have had people who do not know me question why I am not married.  Do they know the circumstances which led to the end of my marriage?  No.  I have told very few people this story.  Does it hurt when people say I am not doing what is best for my children by not being married – a line of thinking I have never understood?  Definitely.  Do I generally let these people see the hurt?  No.  I tend to hold it in and keep control.  Remember this as control will come back later.

I have six children.  Now before anyone can ask it, yes, they are all from the same father.  That is another question I get from people a lot – or did when the kids were younger.  Now that most of the kids are out of the house, I seldom have all six together so I do not get asked this as often.  I do not understand this question at all.  It does not hurt me.  It annoys me.  First, is it a new acquaintance’s business how many times I have been married (just one if you really want to count) or how many men fathered my children (again just one)?  Is a large family, without a television show to track its every move, that unusual in our culture?

I have become use to these questions from new acquaintances in my life and from people who do not know me.  I have never had someone close to me question these things because those who know me know I am fiercely loyal.  I would have never thought of cheating and having a child with someone other than the man who was my husband.

More recently, I have had a friend, someone who knows me extremely well, say that I was too in control.  It took a long time to look inside myself and see that maybe I project being in control.  I run a household by myself.  I do like to plan and know what is going to happen.  I like to be in control but lately there has been little control internally.  I don’t feel like I am in control although, to the outside world, it probably does look that way.

Why project the control instead of the chaos I feel?  Whether I like to admit it or not, I do worry about what people think.  I worry that my children will think that chaos is the norm.  I worry that others will think I do not have the ability to live as I do.  I worry that others will judge me.

Evidently, the worrying does come out without my knowing it.  My youngest bought me a book for Christmas about how to stop worrying.  I laughed at first but now, I see maybe it should be next on my reading list.

Do you worry about what others think of you?  Do you worry you cannot find the balance between caring what others think and being yourself?  Do you worry about how others judge you?  Do you judge others?

I am coming to see that I can tell myself I don’t care what others think but, ultimately, I do care at least a little.

What’s In Your Wallet?

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A friend of mine posed this question on his blog on Friday and I couldn’t help but bite.  I did ask permission first and am slightly scared to delve into this now as I truly have no idea what is in my wallet.  Deena also took the challenge to see what was in her purse.

Let me say, though, that I changed purses this week.  I have always tried to

Former Winter Purse

achieve the “smaller is better” look since having had to cart around a huge purse with child entertainment in it for years.  My usual, until my sister sent me a Coach purse she no longer uses, purse for winter I have had for about four years and it is rather small, purplish in color and leather.  It came with some charms on it but some have been left places, purely by accident.

Black Coach Purse

My sister sent me a black, classic Coach purse.  I could have easily just plopped the former winter purse inside it and called it good but I didn’t.  I moved all items from one to the other.  This new purse is so big I thought I had lost my cell phone last night.  I couldn’t find it in the purse until I returned home and called myself.

Now, men carry wallets and maybe a brief case.  So what is in a man’s wallet is probably different from a woman’s.  That having been said, other than my wallet and a card holder, my purse contains a barrette, hand lotion, three pens, Blistex lip balm, Burt’s Bee Lip Gloss, a Prayer Revolution tag (if you want me to pass this on to you, let me know), several receipts (Sam’s Club, SEFCU, Weis), the invitation to the jewelry party I went to last night and the receipt for the jewelry I bought (this needs to be put in a safe location).

There is a zippered pocket in the purse.  I have, since I cannot find the holder I use to have for them, zippered my business cards in there.  You never know when you will need to give one to someone so must always have them on hand.

In my card holder, I have my driver’s license.  The picture is horrible and ten years old.  I will get a new picture taken this year I think, maybe.  The license is stuck in the card holder.  I cannot get it out.  In the interior part are the following items:  a tax exempt card for NYS Science Olympiad (I am a regional coordinator), the parking ticket from a November trip to Ithaca and use of one of their parking garages, a fortune cookie fortune (Your mind can make your body rich.), two airline frequent flier cards, three hotel frequent stayer cards, ticket stubs ( 2 movies, 1 Dallas Brass concert, 2 high school sporting events, 1 Binghamton Senators game, 1 NCAA hockey regionals, 1 college soccer conference tournament), 2 frequent buyer cards (1 from a jewelry store in New Paltz, NY and 1 from a local gas station for soda of all things), PTSA membership card, 5 business cards (including a bead shop in Corning, NY that I will get back to this spring), and a key tag for my Sephora Beauty Insider account.

Then, comes my wallet.  Now to start with, a woman’s wallet is nothing like a man’s wallet.  A woman may actually have several items in her purse that function as a wallet – a change purse, a card holder, a wallet, a checkbook holder.

I have seven dollars in my wallet, six of it in change and a one dollar bill.  I seldom have cash on me.  Tucked in one part of the wallet is a Cornell hockey ticket, a grocery receipt, a jewelry store receipt and a Dick’s coupon that expires at the end of the month.  Laying out in the wallet is the receipt from last weekend’s dinner with the girls and a grocery receipt.  Then in the card area that you can see here are health insurance cards (family is so big I need two), ScoreCard from Dick’s, Hollywood Video card, CVS ExtraCare card and my Sam’s Club membership card.  Behind the receipts shown are more cards:  a debit/credit card (just one as that is all I ever use), Starbucks card (duly registered with the Starbucks.com as I get free stuff that way – like soy in my lattes), two grocery store cards, a Broome County prescription plan card (all county residents got one), and a credit union access card.

In the back, where my cash should be, is more stuff.  Two ugly Starbucks cards – I don’t know why I keep these except they have a combined $0.27 on them and that can come in handy some days.  I have a thank you card from a child who was running in the 2009 Team in Training half marathon and raising money.  There is a 2009 Binghamton University basketball ticket – one of the last things my father gave me before his death last year.   I have three business cards with that ticket – all from people I saw at the funeral.  There are three expired coupons and two parking tags from visits to a local college (I think I kept thinking I could just use the old one if I kept it).  There is a credit card receipt from The Galley dated 12/29 and the last thing is a business card for Freevillemusic.com that I was given in December.

Parents and Parenting

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What would you do for your children?  Friday I turned on BravoTV at 8 am to take a break from reality.  I have watched news clips almost continually since seeing the Haitian earthquake first hit the news while I was in line at the grocery.  I tend to see a lot of news on those little televisions over the cash register line.

BravoTV was showing the end of season four of The West Wing which is where President Barlett’s youngest daughter Zoey is kidnapped.  In the same episode, Toby Ziegler’s ex-wife gives birth to twins and he is the father.  The juxtapositioning of a father in pain over the well-being of his daughter and a father questioning if he will be a good parent has never failed to amaze me.  The writers of this episode were/are amazing!

Below is some of the script from this episode.  I am particularly struck by Will saying:  “Of the President temporarily handing over power to his political enemy?

I think it’s a fairly stunning act of patriotism. And a fairly ordinary

act of fatherhood.”

We all know about those ordinary acts of parenting – the call to pick up a sick child at school or university, the request to pick up a child from a party where things are getting out of hand, the request to help a child out with expenses until they find a job, the search for the perfect preschool or school.

Then, Toby – fresh from a visit to his newborn twins at the hospital – puts it all in perspective.  What you may ask does he put in perspective?  He puts words to that live changing moment when you become a parent.  He does so by saying, “And if somebody was hurting them, I’d drop napalm on Yellowstone to get

them to stop. Letting some prisoners out of jail wouldn’t be nothing and

I’ve known my kids for about forty-five minutes.”

So tell me about that pivotal moment when you realized that being a parent had changed everything in your life – the way you look at snow, the roads outside, the neighborhood bully, your spouse or significant other.So tell me about that pivotal moment when you realized that being a parent had changed everything in your life – the way you look at snow, the roads outside, the neighborhood bully, your spouse or significant other.

And, just to put it in perspective, I did try to find the clip of this on YouTube but couldn’t find it.  If someone sees it, let me know and I will put the video clip up.  Instead, I have included the piece of the script below.  The script is the property of NBC, not me.



LEO
He's invoking the 25th Amendment. He's invoking twenty-five.

JOSH
Really?

LEO
Yes.

C.J.
Is his mind made up?

LEO
He's with the Cabinet now. Where did everyone come down?

C.J.
Josh and I were on the fence. We don't know what Will thinks?

WILL
Of the President temporarily handing over power to his political enemy? I
think it's a fairly stunning act of patriotism. And a fairly ordinary act of
fatherhood.

LEO
Yeah, I do too.

TOBY
(approaching) Hey! (panting) The President's gotta get out of the West Wing.
I don't know what we've been thinking�

LEO
Why are you out of breath?

TOBY
I ran here very fast and there were some obstacles.

LEO
The babies are okay?

TOBY
Yeah, they're great. And if somebody was hurting them, I'd drop napalm on
Yellowstone to get them to stop. Letting some prisoners out of jail wouldn't
be nothing and I've known my kids for about forty-five minutes.

HELP

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Help is a four letter word.  When a natural disaster strikes, four letter words abound.  Most of them are such that we should not repeat them in public but we may swear.  We may cry and sob – three letter words that relieve stress and sometimes cause additional, different stress.

I would like to suggest a six letter word that will work with HELP - ACTION!

Take some action to help Haiti.

I want to encourage you to find out all you can about various relief efforts.  I have put some links below that will give you a start on ways to help.  And, while I do not have a lot of money, I will donate between 50 cents and $1.00 for each comment made here to Catholic Relief Services.  The head of the Catholic Relief Services effort in Haiti is from the area I live in.

I will count comments from now until noon on Monday, January 18th.  I would love to donate more but I have to be responsible.  The total amount I will donate will not exceed $100.00 as that is all I can manage at this point in time.

Please see if you can either blog about relief efforts for Haiti.  See if you can email friends about the relief efforts.  See if you can HELP!

Partners in Health

Doctors Without Borders

Catholic Relief Services

American Red Cross

Another Day, Another Drama

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The drama started back on Wednesday.  I just always figure it will work itself out so I let it go.  Unfortunately, #5 seems to be getting a lot of press lately – at least here on my blog.

#5 is a diver.  While he has only hit the diving board a hand full of times, there are accidents and injuries that come with the jarring of the diving board on your body, your legs.  He has had these injuries, including a small tear of the meniscus a couple of years ago.  Strangely enough, that came as a result of swimming, not diving.

Photo Courtesy of the International Swimming Hall of Fame

Lately, he has been complaining of knee pain.  #5 spent Florida’s coldest week this year in Fort Lauderdale at the Merriweather Resort and diving at the Hall of Fame pool.  Two days, it was too cold to dive.  Diving is different than swimming as you will find yourself out of the water for a lengthy period of time while awaiting your next turn on the board.

On Wednesday, I received a text message.  Parents, take heed!  When a 19year old texts you asking for a favor, it is most likely going to be something you wish to not do.  I was figuring money, a text book he had found online and didn’t have the money for or something along those lines.  I was wrong.  The team would land in the Albany area about 10:30 pm that night and he had off until noon today.  Could I get him a doctor’s appointment and pick him up on Thursday morning?

I hemmed and hawed.  Wouldn’t it be better to see a doctor up there?  The orthopedist, who is the doctor he should really see, is booked solid.  It will be at least Tuesday before he could see #5.  The good news is that we have three cars and three licensed drivers so I managed to convince #3 to pick up #5 on Thursday morning while I was at a weekly breakfast with friends.  I got an appointment with his primary care physician for yesterday afternoon and the plan was set in motion.

So, on short notice, #5 has managed to see his doctor, get an x-ray of his knee and, in just a few short minutes, head to the hospital for an MRI.  He has a doctor’s excuse to not dive this weekend which really sucks for both him and his team.  Hopefully, it is just pain.  Some of us live with it daily.  Hopefully, he can get cleared and finish out his season.  Hopefully, the drama ends soon.

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