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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Here A Lie, There A Lie

"Take our politicians: they're a bunch of yo-yos. The presidency is now a cross between a popularity contest and a high school debate, with an encyclopedia of cliches the first prize."

- Saul Bellows

I am not sure which politicians Saul Bellows is referring to with that quote, but it certainly seems to fit our current choices. I guess some things never change. Sigh.
So, did you watch last night's presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain? I did. In fact, I had been looking forward to it all week, as I sat glued to the news regarding the seemingly imminent Stock Market collapse, and the failure of our economic system.

In an effort to understand things better, I have been playing a little game with myself for the last couple weeks. I chose a stock that had been struggling, and invested a nominal amount of fantasy cash, $200.00, just to learn about what it must feel like to those men and woman who are standing at the brink of financial ruin. I chose the amount, based on a percentage of what we have been able to save lately. It's a fair amount for such an exercise I think. If nothing else, the recent financial mess we found ourselves in, with the California Budget stalemate, forced us to tighten our belts, and the result was a bit of a savings in the bank.

Every day, when I logged on, I checked the opening quote and then watched the stock periodically throughout the day. Some days it didn't move much, other days it did a great deal of moving, mostly in a downward motion. I read financial articles about the stock, and what was causing it's downturn, and I watched as it held on for dear life, and then finally fall into an irreversible coma late Thursday night. Yep, you guessed it, I was watching Washington Mutual. See, I felt I kinda had a stake in it already as a depositor there. I should have know it didn't have a chance when I bought the original stock a couple weeks ago for $2.10 per share. But I saw some possible light when a week later it had risen to about $3.60. Oooh, bliss.

I had some hope at that point, maybe, just maybe, if they could hold on and ride out the storm, it would work out for the troubled savings and loan. Alas... along came nervous investors, and the market fell off sharply, and Washington Mutual didn't have a chance. It might have survived if the bailout had been implemented as soon as Bush and Paulson requested it... but wouldn't that have been a scary proposition?As I watched the whole thing unfold last week, all the twists and turns and political maneuvering, I learned a lot more then I bargained for.

I learned that you can only cry WOLF so many times, after that you are pretty much left in the woods, some very dark and creepy woods, with your own devices for finding your way home again. If you don't believe me, just ask President Bush. Actually, I learned the moral of that story in kindergarten, from the story, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, but apparently not everyone has read that book, and as a result, Bush has lived his presidency crying wolf, and now he has learning the lesson.

He has lied, and demanded and generally gone about thinking he is king of the world his entire time in office, so, last Monday he and Paulson submit a 3 page report to Washington that basically said, there is a big, snarly, farty, mangy, drooling, flea infested, cross eyed, one lipped, 7,000 lb wolf in the forest behind the red houses and blue houses, and he is going to pounce if we don't get him NOW! We got to nip him in the bud. PRONTO! Otherwise, we will all be eaten up and farted out. To which Washington, said, wait a second... not so fast... maybe we don't have to nip him in the bud, maybe we can accomplish the same thing by starving the wolf to death, as opposed to nipping him in the bud... if indeed there is really a wolf.

Now with all that in mind, along comes the first presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama. I was looking forward to finally hearing something about what kind of future we are in for. Both men were asked about what they will do about the economy, how they felt about the proposed bailout of Wall street, and how we will dig ourselves out from the brink of disaster. Neither candidate could really say, because the bailout situation hasn't been decided upon, we did however, get some idea of what areas might be cut, due to the overwhelming deficit one of them will inherit. As I sat, listening to the two sniping at each other, and the never ending condescending "I don't think he understands" from McCain, it occurred to me, that I wasn't going to make up my mind until I read the analysis from Factcheck.org, that would be in my mailbox today when I woke up.

I wish Factcheck.org had been around years ago. I like knowing who is lying to me, and who is stretching the truth. When all was said and done last night, John McCain had lied again and again, and misrepresented Obama again and again. Don't get me wrong, there were misrepresentations on both sides throughout the night, but McCain has seemed to circulate more and more negativity since the very beginning, and even when he has been called on his lies, half truths, and misrepresentations, he has dug in again and again, rather then relying on the truth to make his case for the White House.

I used to have some respect for John McCain, but it has eroded greatly. As for Obama, while I haven't always believed he could deliver what he has promised, I do think he is more in touch with what's happening right now. By all accounts, when he attended the meeting at the White House this week regarding the bailout, he at least asked a series of questions about the package, and it's consequences for America. By some reports, McCain did little for the process, and indeed may have been more of hindrance, then any real help. Obama showed some strength and leadership to me.

So, while I am looking forward to upcoming debates, especially the Sarah Palin/Joe Biden face off next week, I think it will be more of an exercise in amusement, rather then anything that will affect my decision making come November. In truth, I have already decided how I will be voting. See, I will be voting for the candidate that lies to me less. It's just that simple. Go Read FactCheck.org's,Whoppers of 2008, and make up your own mind.

-OndineMonet
"Decision 2008"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Carly's Chicken Bella Gusto

"One of the very nicest things about life, is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating."

-Luciano Pavarotti & William Wright
Pavarotti, My Own Story

On my sidebar it says that, among other joys in my life, cooking is a passion for me, and Italian cooking is a specialty of mine. I like cooking, and concocting my own recipes is my favorite way to enjoy food. More so then even eating the food, I enjoy making the food. Taking all those fresh ingredients, and putting them into something delicious makes me feel like a success. Hey, I will take my successes where I can get them! LOL. Last night, in an effort to chase the blues away, I decided to make a new chicken recipe. I wasn't sure what I wanted to call it, but after I tasted it I chose simply... Carly's Chicken Bella Gusto, which means, Chicken Beautiful Taste. There are similar recipes out there, I am sure, but I put a few specific touches to it that makes it uniquely mine. :)

Carly's Chicken Bella Gusto

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (trimmed of fat)
1 jar Classico Cabernet Marinara sauce
3-4 cups, frozen chopped spinach
2 cups marinated, julienned cut sun dried tomatoes
2 cups chopped French Feta cheese
1 0z. shredded Mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 375. Spray a medium sized baking dish with cooking spray. On a cutting board, lay open chicken breasts, and pound out to 1/14 inch thickness, and brush lightly with butter. Divide the spinach among the 4 chicken breasts, followed by the sun dried tomatoes and the feta cheese. Secure with tooth picks, and bake for 35 minutes in the oven. After 35 minutes, check the temperature of the chicken with a meat thermometer. If it registers at least 140 degrees. Pour the sauce over the chicken, and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese, return to oven and cook and additional 35 minutes, or when the temperature reaches 185 degrees and is no longer pink inside. Oven cooking times vary, so watch it carefully to avoid overcooking. Chicken is done when it reaches 185 degrees.

Enjoy.

-OndineMonet
Carly's Chicken Bella Gusto
Berkeley, California
September 25th, 2008
Evening

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lazy Days

"When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago."

-Friedrich Nietsche

Autumn always heals me. Along with it's cool mornings, and warm afternoons, comes my peace of mind. I have never been able to figure out what it is about this season that allows me to think so much clearer, and sleep so much sounder, and live so much better, but somehow it does. Have you stepped outside yet, for the sole purpose of looking at the how the autumn sun plays with the color of leaves and flowers, and of course the sunset? Here on the west coast, we are all about the sunsets, but I think next month, I will try for at least one sunrise. I think Alan and I will get up really early, or perhaps not got to bed at all, and head across the bay to San Francisco, to watch the sun rise over the bay. Maybe the view from Twin Peaks would be the best place to be, as the sun lights up all those amazing tall buildings. The view from up there is magnificent.

I haven't done as many photos this year as I have wanted to. There have been a ton of reasons. The price of gasoline, my diagnosis of degenerative arthritis, Elvis's cancer, the drama with the state budget. I get sad when I think about it all at one time, so I won't dwell on all the reasons, I will just say that sometimes life gets busy, and sometimes I have the energy of a toddler, and sometimes, not so much. That's just life... right? It just is what it is. The last few days I have been somewhere in the middle, but today I am really tired, and it is not even noon yet. I feel quiet, and a little bit unfocused. Not really uninspired, just maybe, well, little inside.

I am not taking my mood lightly. I am going to fight back. Later today I am going to ask Alan out on a date to Starbucks for a Venti/Shaken/Ice Tea/Lemonade/with Passion tea. YUM. If you haven't tried it yet... go get one now. It will hit the spot, trust me on that! (Insert BIG smile here). And for dinner tonight I am planning on whipping up a new recipe for stuffed chicken breast. Autumn always seems to inspire my cooking as well. But for now, however, I am going to bow to my mood, and be lazy for the next few hours. Cream of Tomato soup, and a toasted cheese sandwich for lunch, my Elvis by my side, a wonderful warm cropped sweater around my shoulders, and a good book in my hand. Lazy in the afternoon.

Lazy Days
By Robbie Williams

Lazy days calling to you
Come out to play
The future lies with you
Now you can be sure love is the cure
What we're searching for
Is to have a jolly good time

Crazy days, but you'll get me through
And here I'll stay, holding on to you
Now you can be sure
Our thoughts unpure
Will unlock the door
And we'll have a jolly good time

It can happen in any season
We don't need any reason
To sit around and wait
The world can change in a second so
I find the sunshine beckons me
To open up the gate
And dream and dream

Lazy days don't let the get you down
Where your smile
I don't to see you frown
Don't let them get you down

It can happen in any season
We don't need any reason
To sit around and wait
The world can change in a second so
I find the sunshine beckons me
To open up the gate
And dream and dream

The we will have... a jolly good time.

-OndineMonet
"Yellow Reflections"
Cull Canyon Park
Castro Valley, California
September, 2007

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fall Back

"The ancient Romans had a tradition: whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible... he stood under the arch.

-Michael Armstrong

Lately, I have had an old saying on my mind. "Spring Forward... Fall back." As a small child, I thought it was nifty, just nifty. What a cool way to remember that the earth, at least here in the northern hemisphere, will soon be sinking into shorter, darker days. I guess I have had that quip on my mind lately, because of all the turmoil in the Stock Market. It is a perfect metaphor for the current situation. Think about it. The Bush administration has insisted for years that the very foundations of our economy were sound. We were a resourceful people, and therefore we would come out on top. We would survive. Well, I suppose everything does look much more alive in the spring... doesn't it? I suppose when we all closed our eyes, and tried to believe it, we were smack dab in the middle of our springtime mentality, but now the leaves are falling, and so is the economy.

The fact that the Bush administration has been given a free ride, in terms of accountability, has disturbed me for years. I am sure you have read my rantings over the years I have been blogging, but at every turn, Bush and company, have been written a blank check, and therefore we have found ourselves in yet another mess, and it will be you and I who clean it up. Bush will leave office, without taking responsibility for whatever damage is caused by the latest blunder... namely... the failed economy and his plan to save it. Not only is there no concrete guarantee that it will work, but if it indeed fails, we will be in roughly the same boat we are in now, and no one will have to answer for it.

When Nancy Pelosi sits down with the Bush administration to iron out the details of the current ""Bailout" proposal, she will ask for perhaps a second stimulus package, and food stamps, and caps on the retirement packages for the executives of the major banking institutions that allowed this situation to build into the catastrophe that is taking place before our eyes, but if she stops there, she will have let us all down once again. She needs to demand that the question of accountability for what happens next, not be a question at all. The Bush administration needs to finally have the buck stop with them. They need to be held responsible for what they have done, and will do in the coming weeks and months. I think it's about time the free ride stops. Demanding that accountability be written into the proposal must not be negotiable. It must become a fact of life. When all is said and done, I wonder who will actually take responsibility for this mess?

Winter 2008...

"I hope you're confident about our economy. I am. We've got some short-term issues to deal with. Fourth quarter growth slowed to .6 percent. In other words, there are signs that our economy are slowing."

-George W. Bush, January 30th, 2008, speaking at the Robinson Helicopter Co. in Torrance, California.

Spring 2008...

"In the long run, we can be confident that our economy will continue to grow, but in the short run, it is clear that growth has slowed."

-George W. Bush, March 15th. 2008 weekly radio address.

"One thing is for certain... we are in challenging times. But another thing is for certain... that we've taken strong and decisive action."

-George W. Bush, March 17th, 2008, after meeting with economic advisers.


So tell me, what do you think will happen? Will we avoid a full on financial depression, or will we fall completely? How much faith do you have in the Bush administration plan to bail out Wall Street? What is the biggest struggle your family is facing right now? How closely are you watching developments in the Stock Market? Will you be shopping more, or less, this upcoming holiday season?What was your "Back To School" shopping like?


Share your thoughts with me.

-OndineMonet
"Falling Leaves"
Oakland, California
September 21, 2008
Afternoon

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #4: Welcome To Autumn!


"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree."

-Emily Bronte

This Photo Shoot Is Now Closed! :)

Autumn begins today, at 8:44 AM Pacific time, let's show it a good time, shall we?

EMPS #4: Welcome To Autumn!
I love autumn, simply love it, so, lets have a little fun with the earliest moments and days of my favorite season. Grab your cameras, and treat me to what the first few days of autumn look like in your neighborhood. The leaves, the sky, the autumn light, folks wearing sweaters, or still enjoying picnics outside among the falling leaves. If you customarily have warm autumns... show me that! If you are beginning to feel the chill... then show me that! In other words... show me what signs of autumn you are seeing this week in particular!

**You don't have to post your EMPS entry only on Monday! As always, you have until the following Sunday evening, at 9:00 PM Eastern time to submit an entry.

**After you post your entry, comeback here and leave me the complete link. Not a general link to your blog or journal. Please check your link carefully.

Linking List For EMPS #3: Cheese Please! 9/15/2008

NOW CLOSED!

Karen, shares a Monty Python cheese shop sketch, and her puppies bark "YES" to BabyBel Cheese!

Wammy, and her family, love cheese. In fact, they recently took some cheese along on a family adventure. Read all about it here.

Martha makes four different kinds of pizza, all delicious looking, and all featuring cheese. YUM!

Thanks everyone!

Ok, you know what to do! GO BE PHOTOGRAPHERS, and GO GET THE PICTURE! See you back here in one week, with your links, and a brand new EMPS assignment!

-Carly

Photo Tip #4: Use The Sun.
Photograph your subjects with the sun to your back, so that the full light illuminates your subject, and you avoid washing out the picture with too much direct light.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Night Safari For Two

"I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does."

-Jorge Luis Borges

Alan and I went on another date the other night, we decided to visit the Conservatory of Flowers in the evening, rather in the daytime when we usually do. The conservatory introduced something new this year, that goes along with it's display of butterflies. The Night Safari. For the same admission price, you come to the conservatory on the first and third Thursday of the month, with flashlight in hand, to view the large Luna, and Cecropia moths, which usually reside in the rafters.

The Night Safari's have been running since last April when the exhibit opened, but this was the first chance we had to get over to the city on a night. It was the second to last night safari that they have scheduled, so there wasn't many of the big moths to be seen, but it was also rather fun to hunt the usual suspects of Monarchs, Buckeye, Gulf Fritillary, and Crimson Longwing butterflies.

I wasn't too disappointed that there wasn't a glowing Luna moth fluttering about, and neither was Alan, we have just resigned ourselves to be more on top of things if the conservatory decides to bring the night safari's back. Hopefully they will stick to the schedule, of offering this exhibit every two years. My fingers are crossed! It was a delightful way to spend an evening, and wandering around in the conservatory at night was both spooky, and romantic at the same time! Alan is a fun date.

Afterwards we drove across town to Ghiradelli Square, for an ice cream. We took it to go, and ate it outside under the big Ghiradelli sign. Vanilla with warm caramel sauce for me, Java chip, with hot fudge for Alan. I don't indulge in ice cream very often, so it was a nice little treat. Somehow ice cream just tastes better when you haven't had it for a while. Still, I think we will be going back there soon. It was just too good to stay away! And besides, how many really good dates can you have for under $20.00!? :)




Buckeye



Crimson Longwing



Yellow Orchid




-OndineMonet
Conservatory of Flowers
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, California
September 18th 2008
Evening