living her best life #46: we can help…

For those of us wishing we could help in Pat’s fight against multiple myeloma…

WE CAN.

Researching treatments for the management of MM, an incurable cancer, means adding longevity to the lives of patients with the disease. Buying time for continuing research means… 

A CURE??? 

Who knows? Stranger things have happened. No harm in dreaming…BIG.

There are a multitude of great causes, many of them deserving. Personally, I like to know where my money is going. I prefer non-generic, causes. Ones that aren’t mainstream. Well known charities tend to corner-the-market when it comes to donor dollars. Nothing wrong with that. Just not where I want to direct my few charitable ones. 

Right now, for me, The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is my charity of choice. 

Like anyone with a family member, friend, co-worker, or acquaintance who might benefit directly from a donation, I know that…giving to MMRH is akin to adding longevity to Pat’s life. 

And even if you don’t know her, you do.

Pat’s…your grandmother…your mother…your sister…your wife….your daughter…your aunt…your niece… your cousin. She’s anyone and everyone who means anything to you.

…giving to MMRH is akin to adding longevity to pat’s life…

…and to all those similarly stricken with multiple myeloma.

………hugmamma

Your contribution extends lives.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit. Your contribution is tax deductible.

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living her best life #45: a survivor…

While perusing The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation’s website, bells and whistles went off in my head when I saw the following.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) was established in 1998 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization by identical twin sisters Kathy Giusti and Karen Andrews soon after Kathy’s diagnosis of multiple myeloma. Kathy’s need was urgent. She was looking for a cure.

Finding that the current system was not optimized for speed, she changed it.

About Kathy Giusti

kathy-giusti-founder-MMRF

Kathy Giusti, a multiple myeloma patient, is the Founder of and Executive Chairwoman of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC). She also has more than two decades of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, previously holding senior positions at G.D. Searle and Merck.

Since founding the MMRF in 1998, Giusti has led the Foundation in establishing collaborative research models in the areas of tissue banking, genomics and clinical trials. These models have dramatically accelerated the pace at which lifesaving treatments are brought to patients and improved our understanding of the disease’s biological underpinnings. Today Giusti is widely recognized as a champion of open-access data sharing and a strong advocate for patient engagement, not only in their cancer care, but as part of the research and drug development process.

Giusti’s visionary leadership has earned her a number of prestigious awards and recognitions. Most recently, she was ranked #19 on Fortune Magazine’s Worlds’ 50 Greatest Leaders. In 2013, she was named an Open Science Champion of Change by the White House. In 2011, she was named to the TIME 100 List of the world’s most influential people. She has also received the American Association for Cancer Research Centennial Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award, and the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s Woman of the Year Award.

Giusti has been featured on the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, Fox News, CNN, and Bloomberg. Her efforts have also been profiled by The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, Forbes, WIRED, and Fast Company.

Giusti currently serves on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the Executive Management Committee of Stand Up to Cancer, and the Harvard Business School Healthcare Advisory Board. She has previously served on several other boards, including the National Cancer Advisory Board, the Institute of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Board, and the Board of Directors for IMS Health.

Giusti received her MBA in general management from Harvard Business School and graduated from the University of Vermont magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. She holds an honorary Doctorate from the University of Vermont.

…miracles do happen...through the power of positive action…

…and prayer.

………hugmamma.

rethinking the…good ole’ days

As with anything, there are probably advantages to joining sororities and fraternities. Unfortunately the disadvantages seem to be making front page news these days.

Such elite groups never held much allure for me since they imply a certain social standing, and/or pedigree.

I’m more of a mutt. And I’m fine with that.

It never occurred to me to “rush” a sorority. I was too preoccupied with making ends meet while in college…working 20+ hours a week at the university bookstore…while maintaining grades that would continue to qualify me for my scholarships.

Too bad I never really learned of the good rendered by these campus organizations, for now I have almost nothing to compare with all the horrible stuff being reported.

Could it be that what’s been outed by social media has been closeted as a deep, dark secret all along?

Or perhaps those not inclined towards such behavior remained silent for fear of being ousted? Or worse, thrashed to within an inch of their lives…if not physically, then verbally and mentally?

Sad.

Sad for those involved.

Sad for those not involved.

Sad for those institutions of higher education.

Sad for society.

Sad for America. 

Even more sad for those who raised these young ‘uns to denigrate others…as well as themselves.

Seems to me the folks who are clamoring to return to the days of “me and mine,” continue to hold fast to the values and prejudices of those bygone times. And worse, they still permeate the moral fiber of their kin…

for generations to come.

………hugmamma.

a complaint letter works!…hawaiian airlines

Did not expect to be back writing about Hawaiian Airlines, and my less than satisfactory experience with their inept bureaucracy. However I’m here to tell you that it pays to let those in authority know when you’re…tired of being pushed around like some invisible non-entity!

After hearing from a senior counselor in the airline’s consumer affairs department who told me that my case was closed, I decided that the President and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, Mark Dunkerley, to whom I’d addressed my complaint letter could care less that I’d been led down a merry path by his company’s front-line representatives. Then and there I resolved not to fly Hawaiian Airlines in the future.

Lo and behold, you can imagine my surprise when I received a letter from Avi Mannis, the Vice President of Marketing. He apologized for the delay in addressing my complaint letter sent some 20+ days earlier.

I am writing in response to your letter of May 2nd, addressed to Mark Dunkerley. I apologize for the time it has taken me to respond personally.

I was distressed to read of the difficulties you had in processing a fare adjustment. The communication from our representatives to you was frankly unacceptable, and inconsistent with the standards of service to which we hold ourselves. This is a matter that I take seriously, and–as in all cases in which we fail to meet the expectations of our customers–we are undertaking an investigation to understand how we can improve.

Mr. Mannis went on to explain in “plain English” what none of Hawaiian Airlines’ personnel could do during the several phone calls and emails that transpired between them and me. 

I’ll try to state our policy on fare adjustments post-purchase in plain English: If you buy a ticket from us directly, and the price subsequently goes down, we’ll issue you a travel credit (applicable to future travel) in the amount of the fare difference less a $40 service fee. The lower price has to be available on the same flights/travel dates that you purchased when you call for the adjustment.

Perhaps if I’d been speaking with local employees who were invested in Hawaiian Airlines, rather than out-sourced hired help in the Philippines, communication might have been better. Instead, it was as though the folks with whom I dealt could only speak what they’d memorized. Unfortunately, they couldn’t even get that right, in light of what Mr. Mannis was able to adequately convey in just a couple of sentences.

In concluding the matter, Mr. Mannis offered my family eTravel Credit towards future travel. I’m not certain the $300+ will convince my husband to book Hawaiian Airlines again, especially since the credit must be used for travel within the next year.

It’s not often we up and fly to Hawaii. Every few years is more our speed. It’s more than likely we’ll go back to booking whichever airline is offering the most attractive rates when we decide to make another trip home to our native islands.

Making a case to resolve what I deem as unfair treatment is something I will undertake without hesitation. There’s a thread of integrity that runs through my moral fibre which I’m unable to ignore when it begins niggling away at my conscience. Blame it on the Catholic nuns who hammered it into my psyche from day one of my schooling. Anyone who received an education from those women in black garb knows of what I speak. You don’t know brainwashing until you’ve dealt with a formidable female disciplinarian of God’s elite staff. 

When I take the time to voice my complaint, however, I make certain I have all my facts and figures at the ready.  I’m not one for blasting away without first lining up my ammunition. Chalk it up to my years as a paralegal for the now defunct Trans World Airlines.

I list dates, name names, and offer proof of conversations. Emails are God-sent, in that respect. I literally blow my unsuspecting adversary out-of-the water with facts. What the recipient of my complaint letter does with it is totally out of my hands at that point.

Voicing my dissatisfaction is what I can do as one individual. I’m not equipped to take on the world, let alone a corporation. 

Once I decide to take on Goliath however, I set about learning who it’s head is…the President and CEO. Once I even copied in the head honcho of the parent company. In this amazing age of GOOGLE, finding corporate information is easy-breezy.

In the not too distant past, I had to finagle the information from a receptionist by asking to whom I could send a commendation letter. Little did she know I was intent upon blasting the company for trying to inflate an original price quoted for delivering a piece of furniture some 3,000 miles, traveling from east coast to west coast. Yes, I ended up paying the original $261. Nowhere near the $900 the local representative wanted to deliver the piece to my home.

Other battles include a bank that tried to increase the interest rate on our mortgage application because the appraiser failed to turn in his paperwork with due diligence. The bank president’s executive secretary intercepted my call to her boss, and made sure we got the rate initially promised. I guess sobbing my frustration helped, although I had no intention of breaking down. Who does?

Rather than bury your stress deep within, put it out there in the form of a complaint letter. You’ll feel better…no matter the end results. And if it gets you concrete resolution, consider it the…

…icing on the cupcake!!!

………hugmamma.Nashville 09-2010 00023

 

 

…don’t blink!

That’s what Heritage Action’s 31-year-old president Michael Needham is advising his Tea Party rookies in the House of Representatives.

Don’t blink!

In the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial “The Strategist Behind the Shutdown,” Needham is hailed as the craftsman behind the tragedy in which millions of Americans find themselves. Himself a pawn in the game of high stakes funded by the likes of billionaire brothers, David and Charles Koch, Needham vows to wreck havoc with Obamacare.

So what is the endgame–is there any exit strategy short of Mr. Obama rolling over? Mr. Needham admits that ObamaCare will never be repealed as long as Mr. Obama is president, but he still thinks it can be defunded or delayed: “Look, Democrats usually win these fights because they do a better job of not cracking. Obama says he will never blink and we believe him. They’re very good at this. We’re obviously very bad at it.”

At some point, doesn’t there have to be a compromise? That’s the way the system works, after all. Mr. Needham agrees, “at some point in this fight somebody has to blink.” His mission, he says, is to persuade “the House not to blink first.”

And so conservative wonder boy, Michael Needham, wears a broad smile in the face of the government shutdown. “Why so?” you ask. Because Needham believes “…we are in a great position right now” since he feels the Republican Party and the conservative movement will win the political battle over the shutdown.

One wonders why Needham credits the democrats with not blinking first.

Perhaps it has something to do with the Democrats’ steadfast commitment to the 98% of Americans whom Republican delegate Mitt Romney claimed not to represent during his run for the presidency.  Helping the less fortunate among us is not a game of “see who blinks first,” as Needham seems to think. 

He says the path to victory now is for the House to keep passing bills to open up popular agencies of government, such as the national parks, the National Institutes of Health and Veteran Affairs: “I don’t think that the Senate can keep refusing to open up these agencies as the shutdown drags on and on and on.”

Like his predecessor Ed Feulner, founder of Heritage Action, Needham believes that ” ‘in the war of ideas there is no room for pacifists,…” Those within his party in opposition to Needham’s ideas “denounce him as everything from cocky to a GOP wrecking ball.” Sources interviewed for this article, “both inside and outside of Heritage have complained of late that Mr. Needham’s $7 million lobbying shop has become the tail that wags the $75 million think tank.” 

Michael Needham is unconvinced that shutting the government for weeks and weeks is a bad thing for the economy. His only concern is the repeal of Obamacare. All else is of little consequence.

So it seems fair to say that Needham, Cruz, and their financial backers have the President in their sights, and are determined to…

…take the president…down…

………hugmamma.

free to be…one man’s dream

English: Carnival Place, Carnival Corporation ...

English: Carnival Place, Carnival Corporation and Carnival Cruise Line headquarters in Doral, Florida. Photographed by user Coolcaesar on January 20, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My husband works for a major player in the travel industry, Carnival. Under its corporate umbrella are not only Carnival Cruises, but also Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Seabourn, Costa, as well as others with which I’m not as familiar.

For several days, and nights, my husband has been preparing, along with others in management, to receive Carnival’s new CEO. 

I know nothing about the man except that he is…black.

Dr. Martin Luther King must be smiling down upon us from his heavenly perch. “Look at how far America has come”…he must be thinking…

…look at how far we have come…

………hugmamma.

Français : Le carnival fantasy

declining an award…

A little bit ago blogger friend, earthriderjudy, kindly designated me a recipient of The Lovely Blogger Award. In doing so, she indicated that her choice was based upon my promotion of others’ blogs. She went on to say that the posts she most enjoyed were those about myself and my family. While I delighted in her validation of hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul, my current involvement in speaking my political mind makes acceptance of the award difficult.

earthriderjudy personally refrains from promoting her political opinions in the public arena…for very good reasons. Her former career as a reporter, and current one as a teacher have influenced her position.

While I respect her stance…I do not share it.

The 2012 Presidential election is too significant for me not to involve myself personally. At least in the writing of my own opinions.

I listen 24/7 to coverage of the campaign, and read whatever comes across my laptop to do with both Presidential candidates.

My overriding concern has been Mitt Romney‘s morphing of the truth to please specific audiences. The most shocking, of course, was his telling remark to donors, behind closed doors, that he was disconnected and unconcerned about the 47% he’d written off as President Obama’s followers. He referred to them as those who felt entitled to the government’s help.

It’s a fact that these include military personnel whose salaries are tax-exempt when at war, and which, in many cases, are insufficient to sustain their families back home. Some depend upon food stamps to survive.

When my mom needed surgery for a hernia she’d had for decades, Medicaid provided the funds for that, as well as additional medical help she’d not been able to afford as a widow of many years, with a family of 9 to raise on her own.

My mom died some years ago, but she might have been one of the 47% from whom Romney would distance himself.

There are many other instances in which Romney has shown his chameleon-like ability to transform himself from “severe Conservative,” to Tea Party extremist, to the current centrist Conservative.

Which Romney will his followers be voting into the White House?

In addition to Romney’s vacillation on important issues…women’s rights to choose and equal pay for equal work…self-deportation of immigrants…specific government cuts he would  make to balance his 20% tax cuts across the board, including for the top 1%…repealing Obamacare, in toto or in part…running mate Paul Ryan‘s Medicare voucher system for those age 55 and under…I have other major reservations about Romney’s bid for the White House.

As an Independent who doesn’t tend toward the Republican Party’s platform, I hadn’t kept abreast of who rocked their world. In other words, who are the “movers and shakers” of the Republican Party.

I got more than I expected when I read The Obama Hate Machine  by Bill Press.

ALEC CROW - 21st Century Disenfranchisement

ALEC CROW – 21st Century Disenfranchisement (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

In the book I was introduced to the Koch brothers, David and Charles.

Right-wing extremists, billionaire oil-men, the Kochs support and fund the Tea Party movement, ensuring that their politicians represent the interests of Koch Industries, Inc.‘s “bottom line.” Front group, Americans for Prosperity…

… hosted a Website offering ‘Tea Party Talking Points.’ It arranged for buses to transport protestors to and from Washington, while also organizing companion rallies in Arizona, New Hampshire, Missouri, Kansas, New Jersey, and other states. It also circulated a memo with instructions on how to disrupt town hall meetings. On MSNBC, Keith Olbermann described the Koch Brothers as the grand puppeteers of the Tea Party crowd, staying out of sight but ‘telling them what to say and which causes to take on and also giving them lots of money to do it with.’

The Kochs have also more than dabbled in the environmental debate. In their own interests the brothers have contributed heavily to the Republican Congress.

January 5, 2011, was a big day for John Boehner. After twenty years of climbing up and falling down the leadership ladder in the House of Representatives, he had finally made it to the top and was about to be sworn in as Speaker of the House for the 112th Congress.

It was a big day for David Koch, too. After all, he and his brother Charles had done more than any two other fat cats to help Republicans win the House–and he was there in the chamber with his top lobbyists when Speaker Boehner took the oath of office.

Not only that: Koch was awarded a private meeting with Boehner, while his top political deputy, Tim Phillips, enjoyed a one-on-one with representative Fred Upton of Michigan, the new chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

…The Los Angeles Times reported that Koch Industries and its employees were the largest single donor to members of the panel, more generous than ExxonMobil. They shelled out $279,500 to twenty-two of the committee’s thirty-one Republicans.

…And the Kochs’ generosity soon paid off. The budget bill passed by the Boehner-controlled House not only cut EPA’s funding for the 2011 fiscal year by three billion dollars; it abolished most of the agency’s authority to do its job. As decreed by House Republicans, EPA would be banned from spending any money to clean up Chesapeake Bay; from enforcing new water-quality standards in Florida; from issuing new solid-waste standards that would include coal ash from power plants as a hazardous waste; from publishing new air-quality standards for coarse particulate matter; and–biggest prize of all for Koch Industries–from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions from stationary sources.

…It was a big step toward the goal Charles Koch revealed to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore in 2006 of eliminating 90 percent of all laws and government regulations in order to strengthen the ‘culture of prosperity.’ ”

The wholesale retreat from environmental protection led to this conclusion by California’s Henry Waxman, ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee: ‘It apparently no longer matters in Congress what health experts and scientists think. All that seems to matter is what Koch Industries think.’ “

For those of you who so obviously love the world in which we live, as evidenced by the treasure trove of cherished photographs I’ve seen throughout the Word Press blog community, be very wary of the long reach of Koch Industries’ tentacles. ”

…Koch Industries has a bad record of oil spills and air and water pollution. A 2010 University of Massachusetts at Amherst study cited it as one of the top ten air polluters in the country. And it has long been the most-outspoken corporate opponent of any climate-change legislation, because any such government program would inevitably interfere with what it believes to be its right to pollute with impunity.

One of the most damning accounts of the Kochs’ role in undermining global-warming legislation came in a March 2010 study published by Greenpeace: ‘Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine.’ In its report, Greenpeace traces almost fifty million dollars in funds allocated over the course of a decade from three different Koch-controlled foundations to climate-denial front groups working to scuttle policies aimed at stopping global warming.

…from 2005 to 2008…

– Over five million dollars to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation for its ‘Hot Air Tour’ campaign, debunking climate science and opposing climate-change legislation.

– One million dollars each to the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute for ‘scientific’ studies questioning the reality of global warning.

– $800,000 to the Manhattan Institute for hosting seminars featuring climate change-denial speakers.

– $360,000 to the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy to produce its own documentary rebutting Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

– And $360,000 to the little-known Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment, or FREE.

…FREE, headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, operates way below the radar. Its target audience is comprised of federal judges and state supreme court justices, whom they pay to attend seminars where, according to their Web site, FREE’s ‘scientists’ apply ‘economics and scientific analysis to generate and explore alternative and innovative solutions to environmental problems.’ In other words, we’ll pay you to come to Montana and learn why global warming is nothing to worry about, so you can then go home and rule accordingly.

…the Koch propaganda blitz is working. In 2008, both John McCain and Barack Obama agreed that global warming was real, and man-made, and that government had to act. Most Americans agreed. Today, that situation has reversed. Obama’s still pushing for climate-change legislation, but he’s been blocked by Republicans in the House and Senate. Meanwhile, public opinion about climate change has shifted significantly.

An October 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center found that only 57 percent of Americans believed there was solid evidence that the Earth is getting warmer, down from 71 percent in April 2008. At the same time, fewer Americans saw global change as a serious priority. Van Jones, now with the Center for American Progress, credits anti-climate change ads paid for by the Koch Brothers with the dramatic decline in public support for action on global warming.

Charles Koch is a smart man. Smart enough to know that he’s “putting one over” on the American public. He admitted as much “in his remarkable op-ed in the March 1, 2011, Wall Street Journal…”

Koch himself acknowledges that American corporations today have been able to use their considerable financial clout to win too many concessions from government. It’s not good for taxpayers, and it’s not good for business, either, says the Journal, summing up Koch’s article, because ‘crony capitalism and bloated government prevent entrepeneurs from producing the products and services that make people’s lives better.’ ”

Following Koch’s own logic, it’s clear that the massive influence of big corporations on our political process must be curbed immediately. And we need to take a stand against wealthy plutocrats who would subvert the American political system to make themselves even richer. On that point, at least, it seems, we and the Brothers Koch can agree. As Charles Koch himself might say, ‘If not us, who? If not now, when?’ “

If the American Presidency is to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, shouldn’t the Brothers Koch be given consideration. They are not risk-takers. They only bet on a sure thing. And they have an empire already in place to guarantee their success. Consider the long list of organizations fully or partially funded by the Kochs.

THE ARMS OF THE KOCHTOPUS

FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity are just the tip of the Koch iceberg. Because they operate through various family foundations, and because not all organizations receiving Koch contributions are required to reveal the names of donors, no one but the Koch Brothers themselves knows how much money they have poured into their anti-Obama crusade. But it certainly adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Kochs pour their money out of three family foundations, with combined assets of over sixty million dollars: the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation (named after a close family friend who died). Again, we don’t know them all, but among those organizations…

-The Cato Institute
-Citizens for a Sound Economy
-Mercatus Center, George Mason University
-Institute for Humane Studies, George Mason University
-Heritage Foundation
-Institute for Justice
-Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment
-Reason Foundation
-Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies
-Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy
-Washington Legal Foundation
-Capital Research Center
-Competitive Enterprise Institute
-Ethics and Public Policy Center
-National Center for Policy Analysis
-Citizens for Congressional Reform Foundation
-Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
-American Legislative Exchange Council
-Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty
-Political Economy Research Center
-Media Institute
-National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship
-University of Chicago
-Defenders of Property Rights
-University of Kansas Endowment Association
-Texas Public Policy Foundation
-Center for Individual Rights
-Heartland Institute
-Texas Justice Foundation
-Institute for Policy Innovation
-Center of the American Experiment
-Atlas Economic Research Foundation
-Young America’s Foundation
-Henry Hazlitt Foundation
-Atlantic Legal Foundation
-National Taxpayers Union
-Families Against Mandatory Minimums
-Philanthropy Roundtable
-Free Enterprise Institute
-John Locke Foundation
-Hudson Institute
-Alexis de Tocqueville Institution
-National Environmental Policy Institute
-Washington University
-Pacific Legal Foundation
-American Council for Capital Formation
-Institute for Political Economy
-State Policy Network
-Fraser Institute
-Mackinac Center
-Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation
-Institute for Objectivist Studies
-Americans for Prosperity
-FreedomWorks
-Bill of Rights Institute
-Study of Political Economy and Free Enterprise
-Excellence in Economics Education

If, and hopefully it’s a BIG IF, Romney is elected President of the United States of America…he will most likely serve…as proxy for Charles and David Koch. If not directly, then indirectly…through Boehner and the Tea Party obstructionists in Congress. In unison, they will all hold Romney’s feet to the fire.

White House

White House (Photo credit: HarshLight)

Then…the purchase of America…will be…complete.

…your choice…your vote…

…IF NOT US?…WHO?…IF NOT NOW?…WHEN?

………hugmamma.

say what?…eat…what???

Offal Tacos

From time to time I’ll post an article of interest from The Wall Street Journal. Well, this is one of those times. I couldn’t regurgitate it if I tried. And believe me…I don’t want to try.

You might be more the gourmand than moi. Read on…

Smalahove

Smalahove (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Offal Tale: For This Club, Everything Is on the Menu
In New York City, ‘Innard Circle’ Samples Wide Range of Fare; ‘Always Terrific
by Spencer Jakab

     You’ll never be a member of the Innard Circle if the likes of brains in black butter, Uzbek boiled spleen or Fujianese pig heart make you squirm.
     Since 1999, an intrepid band of New York City foodies has been meeting about once a month to indulge their penchant for “nose to tail eating” in a city that provides great opportunity to do so. The city’s thousands of ethnic restaurants are constantly refreshed by new waves of immigrants, many of whose cultures serve animal parts that most Americans wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot fork.
     For the organ-lovers though, what really gets their goat–or pig or sheep or rabbit–is when a restaurant is out of a delicacy they traveled across town to sample.
     “I mean really, who eats bull’s penis before 7:00 p.m.? complained Bobby Ghosh at a May meeting, recounting a recent trip to a northern Chinese restaurant in Queens.
     They had to settle for the animal’s somewhat chewy testicles and a dish on the menu called “Big Buckstraps Paddywack.” The waitress, who only spoke Mandarin, pointed energetically to her diaphragm when asked what they were eating. Mr. Ghosh said. That was as close as the group got to discerning what part of the animal it was.
     It was tough but tasty, they say.
     Mr. Ghosh, originally from Bengal in northeastern India, was Time Magazine‘s Baghdad bureau chief for five years and worked in Hong Kong–both places where he sampled a wide range of food. Always seeking variety, different types of meat began to taste more or less the same to him.
     “But a camel’s eyeball is way different from a goat’s eyeball,” he said.
     Digging in to a five-course meal of organ meats specially prepared for the group by Umbrian chef Sandro Fioriti at his Upper East Side eatery Sandro’s, journalist Daniel Okrent, one of the group’s founders, tries to explain what attracts him to innards.
     “Growing up, I was a very picky eater,” he said. But his wife Becky, a food critic and a member, introduced him to what’s known as the “fifth quarter” of the animal and he’s never looked back.
     “There’s no question there’s an element of showing off, but it’s great food,” he said, between bites of brain, kidney, intestines and sweetbreads with polenta.
     Though he has had many memorable meals with the group in New York–and who wouldn’t remember the likes of “crispy colorectal,” North Korean jellied tripe or a central Asian organ melange called “geez-beez”–he says the pinnacle of his offal-eating days came in the 1990’s during a trip to Italy. An old restaurant near Rome’s stockyards served him rigatoni alla pajata–the intestines of a freshly-slaughtered nursing calf still containing the curdled milk of its mother.
     “Does that gross you out?” asked Melissa Easton, an industrial designer and the group’s unofficial “organ”-izer.
     A shrug brings a nod of approval, as if having passed a squeamishness test. Many haven’t.
     “We’ve had people join us for a single meal and never come back, without explanation,” Ms. Easton said. “There’s a certain kind of discomfort that registers on their face when they realize what they’ve gotten into.”
     No wonder the late Calvin Schwabe’s 1979 book on Americans’ disdain for foods that he called “cheap, nutritious and good to eat” is titled

Cover of

Cover of Unmentionable Cuisine

Unmentionable Cuisine.” He chalked it up to “prejudice or ignorance.”
     It is no accident that the Innard Circle, which has about a dozen steady members, isn’t only a well-traveled group but, with journalists, authors and a book publisher, a well-read one too. After all, the most famous organ-eater of all time is the character Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s  novel Ulysses. Bloom “ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods’ roes.”
     Ms. Easton, like most members, struggles to come up with the oddest thing she has eatern because it all seems normal to her and usually delicious. The best thing she has had is seared calf liver sashimi at a Japanese place in the West Village.
     Jeannette Seaver, a publisher and author of four cookbooks, joined the group a decade ago because of her love for her native French food.
     “Our cuisine offers many succulent dishes made of innards, so it seemed right for me to be part of the group,” she says. “The food is daring, challenging at times, but always terrific.”
     The group, which is also known as Organ Grinders, finds plenty of humor in the foods. Fond of puns, the word “offal” is particularly ripe for abuse. The word’s English etymology speaks volumes about Anglo-Saxon disdain for organs. With origins in the 14th century, it is thought to refer to the “off-fall” from the butcher’s block, meaning the less desirable parts.
     Some members’ attraction to offal stems from their disdain for Western squeamishness and wastefulness.
     “This isn’t weird–it’s perfectly normal for lots of people around the world,” said criminologist Leonid Lantsman between mouthfuls of spicy duck tongue and braised goose intestine at a June meeting of the club at Chinatown eatery Rong Hang. “If more people ate entrails and offal then we wouldn’t waste so much food.”
     The seven-course meal began with duck kidney, before moving on to more hard-core offerings: beef large intestine in Fujianese red wine paste and pig stomach. The somewhat lighter frog’s legs and pig skin hot and sour soup followed and then gave way to a couple of exotic but non-organ offerings.
     “Watch out everyone–there’s no offal in this one!” joked Robert Sietsema, a food critic at the Village Voice, as a seafood dish was placed on the table.
     The one organ the group has yet to sample, despite it being a delicacy for some ethnic groups, is uterus.
     “I guess it’s more of a home-cooked thing,” said Ms. Easton.
     But she would eat it in a heartbeat.
     “Am I missing some part of my brain–the part that screams revulsion? Perhaps. In fact, very likely.”

 

Roast Pork and offal on rice AUD11.50 - City B...

Roast Pork and offal on rice AUD11.50 – City BBQ 鸿运 (Photo credit: avlxyz)

Now I ask you…aren’t you just going to rush right out and get yourself…some innards?

Growing up on the island of Maui, and being of Hawaiian descent, I did partake of ancestral foods at festive celebrations known as…luaus. At the time I was so caught up in the deliciousness of things our family did not regularly eat, largely owing to our near-impoverished status.  A greenish, pea soup looking dish was pretty tasty, until I learned it was made from pig’s intestines. Blood sausage…was just that. I never cottoned to it.

My mom, a native Hawaiian, drooled  over tripe stew, pig’s feet, turtle soup, taro patch snails, sea urchin…and who knows what else. I’m certain my father, of Chinese ancestry, had his peculiar tastes as well. Somehow their taste buds never made it down to me…their 9th child together.

…can’t say i’m sorry…that i feel i missed out or something…   😦

………hugmamma.

swedish hospital…a 5-star resort?

Hubby and I had a date Saturday…touring the brand, spanking new Swedish Hospital in the Issaquah Highlands. We thought we’d make a quick stop, check it out, and be on our way to our real destination…Molbak’s Nursery, gift shop and cafe in Woodinville. Well, we never made it to see the flowers, plants and knick-knacks, or lunch among the lush foliage. Instead we wandered around the new hospital with thousands of other curious tourists to what seemed like a resort, not a place where the sick and maimed go to be cured and put back together again. I’m sure I wandered around, my mouth agape the whole time. We were all like children in a new candy shop, sampling everything with our eyes. I wasn’t the only one who was bug-eyed either.

Walking through glass doors which parted without hesitation, I immediately saw a Starbuck’s to my right…already with a line of people. No small wonder there. Tucked in the corner between the cafe and the front door was the restaurant. Visiting it later, I saw that it was on the caliber of any good dining destination in the community at large. Viewing the grandeur of the Pacific Northwest through the surrounding glass walls would also be a treat…a very calming one for sure.

Wandering further inside through what felt like a grand foyer, a reception desk sat to the left, and next to it a staircase leading to the second floor. Straight ahead was the bank of elevators, and to the right, past Starbuck’s was a gift shop. Rather, I should say, a mall of shops. After touring the floors above, I spent some time wandering in and out of the several stores. This is probably when I most felt like I was not in a hospital.

What appeared to be the main gift shop was lit up with a beautifully handrafted chandelier made by a local artist. Directly beneath was a table also crafted by another homegrown talent. In fact, most of the items in the shop were made here in the Pacific Northwest according to the shop’s lovely manager. She spent a few moments of her time talking with me, smiling all the while. A definite asset to what could be an intimidating environment for some. After all, this was still a hospital.

Walking through an oversized open doorway into the next shop, I delighted in seeing all manner of gifts for newborns and toddlers. Some items I’d never seen elsewhere. Across the way was another, very large, retailer selling exercise clothes, lingerie, and if I’m not mistaken, some maternity items for expectant mothers. One fun gift for you or someone else was a “snap” watch for around $16. The salesclerk kindly showed me how it operated. She stretched out the watchband, snapped it across her wrist, and “voile!” the watchband wrapped itself securely in place. What don’t people invent these days?!?

Down the hallway, next door to the shop with baby gifts, was a small studio for yoga classes. The nice volunteer offered information on how I could sign up for classes. Of course, it involved the internet. What doesn’t these days? Evidently I can check out the schedule for times and styles of yoga on the Swedish Hospital website. I might have to do that. I’ve always wanted to take a yoga class on a regular basis. Good for the body…and mind.

There were doctors, nurses, and technicians milling about to answer any questions. It was amazing to see so many of the staff smiling and relaxed. I’ve usually only seen them hurrying off to tend to patients. And I mean hurrying! Hopefully they’ll continue to smile once they get back to business as usual. I like smiling medical staff. They calm my nerves. Wouldn’t they make you feel more comfortable? They would me.

In October I’ll be having a colonoscopy and endoscopy done by Dr. David Patterson, Medical Director of Gastroenterology at Swedish. I met up with him again at the open house, after having talked with him a month or so ago at our initial consultation. Originally from New Zealand, he retains very little of his accent. Having lived here in the States for 35 years, I can understand why. Dr. Patterson’s ready smile and easy “bedside” manner goes far in steadying my nerves for the impending procedures. Knowing he sees many people in the course of his practice, and having met me only once, I was amazed that he could recall who I was as throngs of people were milling all around us. The key to unlocking his memory about me was that my daughter was a ballerina. We’d discussed it at our first meeting when he asked if I had children. Of course, ask a mom about her offspring…and you’ve got a friend for life. Well, let’s see what I think after the doc goes to work on me in the Fall. I’ll let you know then…

Meanwhile I’ve only good things to say about the new Swedish Hospital and their staff. They’ve served me well for more than a decade, the doctors and nurses, that is. Oh, and the ER team at the old facility. Between my husband and me, we’ve seen them a few times over the years, for various and sundry minor crises, which seemed somewhat major at the time…episodes of asthma, pains mimicking a heart attack. You know, the usual.

The new Emergency Room check-in looked like that in any 5-star hotel. But that’s as far as we went. I’m hoping we won’t have to see the rest of the ER anytime soon. Unfortunately we didn’t do any of the tours offered. The one to see the surgical facility had a line of people the length of the hallway. Since hubby and I were on a “date,” and we’d already spent a couple of hours sightseeing, we decided we’d seen enough to convince us that the hospital was pretty much just what the hype was all about.

it’s what the doctor ordered…and it’s just fine by me…hugmamma.

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details…little known facts

Secret Service agents in response at the assas...

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In summing up what I’ve learned about President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan from reading I Love You, Ronnie, a couple of details came to light which I’d not known before. And according to Mrs. Reagan, only those close to what occurred at the time, knew. The first dealt with the assassination attempt on the President’s life 3 months after he took office. The second was an incident that probably caused the premature onset of his Alzheimer’s. Only a handful, it seems, were privvy to both occurrences.

Waiting for news, Nancy Reagan sat with Sarah Brady, whose husband Jim had also been shot in the attempt on the President’s life.

As we waited, I looked out the window and saw how, in the buildings all around the hospital, people had thrown sheets out the window saying things like GET WELL, MR. PRESIDENT and WE LOVE YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. Every now and then, a nurse would come and report to me on Ronnie’s progress. At first, the doctors were having trouble finding the bullet, which was a devastator bullet, the kind that explodes inside. One time, the nurse came and said, “We just can’t seem to get it out. We may just have to leave it in.” Well, that didn’t sound so good to me. And then another time, she said, “They’ve found it, but the doctor is having a hard time removing it–it keeps slipping from his fingers.” Finally, she came back and told me that the doctor had gotten it out, but I almost lost him then. The bullet had been lodged an inch from Ronnie’s heart.

We were lucky–we didn’t realize how lucky, in fact–because when Ronnie had arrived, all the doctors were in the hospital for a meeting. No one had to be called in. Everyone Ronnie needed was right on hand, and there was no waiting. …

I wanted to stay there all night, but the feeling was that it would be better for the country if I left and went back to sleep at the White House. Otherwise, people would have assumed the worst and there would have been panic. As it was, Ronnie’s aides had to do all they could to calm the country down. The briefings made to the press were partial, to say the least. The assassination attempt was really a much closer call than people were led to believe at the time. Everyone was trying not to frighten the people in the country, but the fact was, Ronnie almost died. It was a miracle that he didn’t. And I knew all along how serious things really were. …

Needless to say, I was terrified. After the shooting, every time Ronnie walked out the door to make a public appearance, my heart would stop–and it wouldn’t start again until he came back home safely. Ronnie knew how scared I was. But if he was frightened too, he never let me know it. As always, he was cheerful and optimistic. God had spared him, he believed; there had to be a reason why. By making jokes…he tried to take the edge off my fear.

The Reagans wave from the White House after Pr...

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Who could fault the First Lady’s hovering over the President thereafter? No wonder her seeming control of his life, personal and public, for which the media liked to criticize her. I know because they had me convinced she was running the country with her husband, an unofficial cabinet member, as was constantly written and spoken of in the news. How the spinmeisters love to slant the facts. Readers, beware!

Fast forward to July 1989, after the Reagans had left the White House. Visiting with friends Betty and Bill Wilson at their ranch in Mexico, the President went riding. An accident occurred.

Ronnie had been thrown off his horse. He was riding with some other men, going up an incline, when one of the ranch hands had hit something that made a loud noise and spooked Ronnie’s horse.

The horse reared once, and Ronnie stayed on. It reared a second time, and Ronnie stayed on again. Two Secret Service men tried to move in and calm the horse, but they couldn’t do it. The horse reared a third time, bucking so hard that Ronnie fell off and hit his head on the ground, miraculously missing the jagged rocks all around.

President Ronald Reagan

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We got him on a plane and immediately took him to a hospital in Tucson, Arizona. He should really have stayed there, but it was my birthday and the Wilsons had planned a celebration, and Ronnie was determined to go back to the ranch. We went back–but at my insistence, we took a doctor with me.

The day after…we flew home. I was very uneasy and kept at Ronnie until he agreed to get his head X-rayed. We went to the Mayo Clinic, where we’d gone every year for checkups. It turned out that Ronnie had a concussion and a subdural hematoma. He needed to be operated on right away. It all happened so quickly that I think, once again, I was in shock. …

I’ve always had the feeling that the severe blow to his head in 1989 hastened the onset of Ronnie’s Alzheimer’s. The doctors think so, too. In the years leading up to the diagnosis of the disease, in August 1994, he had not shown symptoms of the illness. I didn’t suspect that Ronnie was ill when we went back to the Mayo Clinic that summer for our regular checkup. When the doctors told us they’d found symptoms of Alzheimer’s, I was dumbfounded. Ronnie’s fall from the horse had worried me terribly, of course, and I’d had to urge him to take time out to recover after his operation. But I had seen no signs of anything else.

There’s no telling if President Reagan would have enjoyed more years of retirement, free from the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer’s. How fragile the brain, with only the skull as protection from the hazards of everyday life…like horse back riding. Spared from the assassin’s bullet, Reagan succumbed to no less a devastating end. As his devoted wife, and true witness to her husband’s last 50 years on earth, Nancy Reagan suffered Alzheimer’s alongside him.

Senator Corker greets former First Lady Nancy ...

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…First of all, there is a feeling of loneliness when you’re in this situation. Not that your friends aren’t supportive of you; they are. But no one can really know what it’s like unless they’ve traveled this path–and there are many right now traveling the same path I am. You know that it’s a progressive disease and that there’s no place to go but down, no light at the end of the tunnel. You get tired and frustrated, because you have no control and you feel helpless. We’ve had an extraordinary life, and I’ve been blessed to have been married for almost fifty years to a man I deeply love–but the other side of the coin is that it makes it harder. There are so many memories that I can no longer share, which makes it very difficult. When it comes right down to it, you’re in it alone. Each day is different, and you get up, put one foot in front of the other, and go–and love; just love.

I try to remember Ronnie telling me so many times that God has a plan for us which we don’t understand now but one day will, or my mother saying that you play the hand that’s dealt you. It’s hard, but even now there are moments Ronnie has given me that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Alzheimer’s is a truly long, long good-bye. But it’s the living out of love.

Photograph of Newlyweds Ronald Reagan and Nanc...

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…blest by true love…even in the face of adversity…hugmamma. 

 

like flies buzzing around…inside my brain

A proud mother watches from afar as Prince Wil...

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One more thought before I finally end all discussion about Sarah Bradford’s Diana – Finally, The Complete Story. It centers upon her devotion to her sons, William and Harry. Not that there ever were any doubts. But first-hand testimony of a heretofore, unheard from source, only strengthens the universally held belief that the Princess of Wales excelled at mothering. 

According to Meredith Etherington-Smith, then marketing director of Christie’s Worldwide, who from September 1996 to July 1997 helped Diana prepare for the sale of her gowns to aid her favorite charities:

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

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The British Royal Family in 1880.

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One thing she did take seriously was her role first as mother to the boys and second, as Meredith put it, as the Queen Mother of the twenty-first century. ‘Her relationship with the boys was patently a wonderful one…She was a very good mother. I expected them to be more protective of her than they were, and they weren’t, they weren’t mewling and puking and clustering round her. They didn’t have a neurotic relationship. It seemed to me to be perfectly healthy and normal and nice and a great tribute of all to Diana and secondly to Charles.’ ‘Constitutional plans–well, she felt her long-distance role was to be the Queen Mother of the twenty-first century, that the influence the Queen Mother had had on her grandchildren in a way, she felt that was the kind of role which in a curious way she had been chosen for and one did feel that there was a bit of divine right entering into this, a little bit of fate. And she felt that William should be a democratic King, that the boys needed to have friends, that they needed to know their generation, they needed to know politicians, not just Tory ones, that they needed to know the Blair children. They needed to be part of contemporary English life, not an English life that was really out of date by the end of the war–and I’m paraphrasing some quite long conversations about this. And her job was to make sure they were released from the glass cage, and that when he did come to the throne, a lot of people would know him, and he wouldn’t be a mystery, wouldn’t be a royal freak, that he would be a person. I think that she very much thought she would be a power behind the throne…Diana emphasized her desire that William should be a ‘very English King‘: she felt that her Spencer blood had a lot to contribute. ‘She felt that because of the spider’s web of marital alliances and blood they (the Royal Family) weren’t English. “I come from an English family,” she had said proudly, and “we (the Spencers) are a lot older than they are.” She was very proud of the Duke of Marlborough, for instance.

The Prince Willam Cup. The trophy that is cont...

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Who is hotter? Prince Harry or Prince William?

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Diana was very anxious that her boys should not become isolated as the previous royal generation had been, as indeed their father had been. That was why she had wanted the boys, and William in particular, to go to Eton because they would have proper friends there and not sycophants, ‘Diana said, “There’s no messing around at Eton about someone being the heir to the throne. If you’re not popular, charming, intelligent, or good at games, you’re not going to rate, are you?” And so William knows a lot of people. And the interesting thing about that she said, “I think they’ll be protection, those friends too. They’ve grown up together and they’ll be protective.” And they are. You don’t see grab shots of William that often, and why? Because his friends don’t utter. She’d thought all this through. That’s what I mean by being smart.’ ‘They had money which they carried and spent and they went shopping. In other words she was trying to provide as normal a life as possible–they could come out from behind the glass window, and that was her great legacy.’

Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta in t...

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Princess Diana

 Why would Princess Diana be so forthcoming with Etherington-Smith, you ask? Probably because she was older, very much like her other confidantes, Lady Annabel Goldsmith and Margueritte Littman. “Meredith surmised that Diana was very comfortable in the company of older women. ‘I think possibly, without being too psychotherapeutic about it, because of the lack of a mother…most of her confidantes apart from Rosa Monckton, were actually older women…and I think she felt very comfortable, they weren’t competition, they were fun and she could become slightly girly with them without the baggage of “I’m the most beautiful person in the world”…’ “

Another random, final, or maybe not so final, thought occurred as I lay awake last night, reading I Love You, Ronnie. President Reagan had a very human, extremely sentimental side. Apart from his family and a few close friends of the couple, I’m sure no one suspected what a great romantic he was, and how he could wax so poetic. At the same time, however, his vulnerability as a human being comes through. To know that the man who could dial up a third world war lay bare his soul in love letters to his wife, is hugely touching. I find myself remembering Ronald Reagan as President, but trying to imagine this newly revealed man behind the strong facade. What I picture is someone like my husband, my father-in-law, friends in high corporate positions. Not only them, but husbands and fathers the world over who, to the best of their abilities, care for their families.

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan aboard an Ameri...

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The following letter was from a man to his wife, his best friend. It’s a letter any man could’ve written, in fact. This one just happened to be from a President to his First Lady, although at the time he was a working stiff, and she was a housewife.

Ronald Reagan
Pacific Palisades
Thurs. (May 24, 1963)

My darling
     Last night we had our double telephone call and all day (I didn’t work) I’ve been re-writing the story of my life as done by Richard Hubler. Tomorrow I’ll do my last day of location and then I’ll call you and I’ll tell you I love you and I’ll mean it but somehow because of the inhibitions we all have I won’t feel that I’ve expressed all that you really mean to me.
     Whether Mike helps buy his first car or spends the money on sports coats isn’t really important. We both want to get him started on a road that will lead to his being able to provide for himself. In x number of years we’ll face the same problem with The Skipper and somehow we’ll probably find right answers. (Patti is another kind of problem and we’ll do all we can to make that one right, too.) But what is really important is that having fulfilled our responsibilities to our offspring we haven’t been careless with the treasure that is ours–namely what we are to each other.
     Do you know that when you sleep you curl your fists up under your chin and many mornings when it is barely dawn I lie facing you and looking at you until finally I have to touch you ever so lightly so you won’t wake up–but touch you I must or I’ll burst?

Cropped screenshot of Ann Blyth from the trail...

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     Just think: I’ve discovered I can be fond of Ann Blyth because she and her Dr. seem to have something of what we have. Of course it can’t really be as wonderful for them because she isn’t you but still it helps to know there are others who might just possibly know a little about what it’s like to love someone so much that it seems as if I have my hand stretched clear across the mountains and desert until it’s holding your hand there in our room in front of the fireplace.
     Probably this letter will reach you only a few hours before I arrive myself, but not really because right now as I try to say what is in my heart I think my thoughts must be reaching you without waiting for paper and ink and stamps and such. If I ache, it’s because we are apart and yet that can’t be because you are inside and a part of me, so we aren’t really apart at all. Yet I ache but wouldn’t be without the ache, because that would mean being without you and that I can’t be because I love you.

Your Husband

Queen Mother Rose

Image by OctogenEm via Flickr

…would that all men could, and would, …..bare their souls
…..without flinching ….. at the thought ….. hugmamma.

this generation…”the voice”

If, like me, you feel totally disconnected from ” whassup?” with this generation, I highly recommend you start watching the latest, reality talent phenom, The Voice. It airs Tuesday nights on NBC. The first in the series ended last night with one of four challengers being hailed as “the voice,” in addition to walking away with $100,000 and a recording contract.

Trust me when I say, I knew very few, if any, of the songs that were sung throughout the course of the competition. Every once-in-awhile I recognized a piece of something from having heard it on my car radio, as I ran errands. Fortunately I love music with a beat, or tunes that have heart. I can be-bop to almost anything. I love singing; I love dancing.

Christina Aguilera performing during the Sanre...

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Of the 4 judges, who also coached the challengers, I’d only heard of Christina Aguilera. And it was only recently when I saw her starring with Cher in a film, that I became a huge fan of the blonde songstress. She is one amazing vocalist! But as I tuned in faithfully to watch The Voice each week, I became a huge fan of Blake Shelton, country crooner, and Adam Levine, pop rocker, who served on the panel with Aguilera. I’m still not familiar with Shelton’s songs, can only recognize a couple by Levine, and am well acquainted with only one by Aguilera, Beautiful.” Knowing who they are now, still doesn’t give me entree… into this generation. But at least I can step up to the peep hole and be a “peeping tom” into what makes the young folk tick.

Adam Levine from Maroon 5

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Adding to my credibility as an honorary member of this generation, is the fact that I’m the one who got my 25-year-old, professional dancer daughter hooked on The Voice. Like me she really wasn’t committed to watching any of the other talent shows. But The Voice definitely persuaded us to delay our phone conversations until we’d both watched it in our own time zones. Now that’s saying something!

I heartily encourage seniors and anyone wanting to “get with it” to watch the next season of The Voice. By the way, the talent crosses all generations. One of the TV audience favorites was a 42-year-old, bald, Lesbian, with tatoos, who got the studio audience on their feet, moving to her powerhouse vocals. Beverly McLellan could belt it out with the best of them. She was one of my favorites.

Blake Shelton - 1

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While I liked many of the singers, my favorite was Dia Frampton. Coached by Blake Shelton, she succeeded in coming into her own as a performer, right before our eyes. Though still shy and exceedingly humble, Dia showed her creative genius for songwriting, versatility at playing the piano and guitar, and exquisitely different tonal quality which ranged from barely audible and raspy, to scintillatingly explosive. It didn’t hurt that she was Miss U.S.A. caliber either. While she wasn’t voted the winner by America, Dia wasn’t far behind. Only 2% separated her from Javier Colon, the guy who already had “the voice,” even before he joined the show.

I don’t think there was a doubt in anyone’s mind that Javier should’ve walked away with
the grand prize. Evidently he’d had a couple of non-starters at a musical career. With the unfailing love and support of his wife and 2 young daughters, as well as other family members, Javier continued to search for his breakthrough moment. Luckily for him, and for music afficionados, he found his way to The Voice, and a win he very much deserved.

Dia Frampton

Following YouTube videos are of Dia Frampton singing “Heartless,” Dia and Blake Shelton singing I Won’t Back Down,” and Javier Colon singing “Stitch by Stitch.” Hopefully these videos will convince you to tune into season two of “The Voice.”

…celebrating the voices…of this generation…hugmamma.

 

a little of this…a little of that…

Haven’t shared trivia with you in sometime. Thought you might be interested in the following regurgitated facts from experts in the field.

…from www.fsis.usda.gov: I was surprised to learn that what I thought would cause food poisoning insofar as perishable items are concerned, was incorrect. Mayonnaise may not be the culprit, but protein sources might. 

best egg salad sandwich ever, flying star, Alb...

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Can mayonnaise in egg salad make you sick when it’s warm out? Karen ( the virtual food safety rep) says people often think mayo is the cause of foodborne illness from chilled foods such as chicken, tuna and egg salad or on deli-styled sandwiches. But since mayonnaise is made with acid (vinegar or lemon juice), it tends to prevent bacterial growth. Usually it’s the meat, poultry, fish or eggs in a sandwich left unrefrigerated for more than two hours that becomes the medium for bacteria to grow.

What about leftover fried chicken? According to Karen, food left out of the fridge for more than two hours may not be safe to eat. At temperatures above 90 F, food shouldn’t be left out for more than an hour. If you have any doubts, throw it out.

When you’ll be in the great outdoors and a cooler chest isn’t an option, Karen suggests packing such items as fruits, vegetables, hard cheeses, dried meats, dried cereal, bread, peanut butter, crackers and bottled drinks. 

…from Jackie Keller (nutrition expert/licensed and certified wellness coach: Debunks popular myths.

My Weight Loss Coach

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Myth: Detox diets jump-start weight loss. I advise against detox diets, as they can cause the body to go into starvation mode and slow down the metabolism. If you want to cleanse your body, eliminate bad-for-you, processed foods and replace them with nutrient-dense foods.

Myth: Cutting carbs will help the pounds come off. The weight loss that low-carb dieters achieve in the first two weeks of carbohhydrate deprivation is measurable and not surprising. Carb-cutting will cause the body to shed water weight, as carbohydrates are stored in the body with water. That water weight will come right back on, and such a yo-yo weight loss is counterproductive and bad for overall metabolism.

Myth: Fat is the enemy. Research shows that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats–which are found in foods such as fish, olive oil, avocados and walnuts–can actually improve levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce the risk of heart disease. These healthy fats can aid in weight loss and even delay hunger pangs when consumed in appropriate amounts.

…from David Horowitz (leading consumer advocate) @ www.fightback.com: Warns against scams. In my February 27, 2011 post, “ever have one of those years…?” I talked about the first one. So trust me! It can happen to you.

McAfee
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A message flashes on your computer screen: “Warning! Your system requires immediate anti-virus scan.” A free scan is offered. What do you do?
This incredibly common scam is almost guaranteed to occur as you use your PC. Upon first look, it would appear that clicking “No thanks” would be the right solution. Wrong. Clicking anywhere in the on-screen alert can open the program further or direct you to a website you have no interest in going to. Worse, clicking anywhere in the on-screen alert can instantly infect your computer with a virus that can be difficult or even impossible to remove. (It cost me $199 to have Tech Pros remove it.)

The solution is to hold down the Control and Alt keys and hit “Delete.” Once the application tab pops up, select “End Task,” then do a full scan of your computer with the anti-virus software you already have. (That’s exactly what the expert at Tech Pros told me…after I paid the $199.)

You are in financial trouble, and as a result your credit is suffering. You have been approached by a variety of services offering to repair your credit. What do you do?
Although many companies offer to repair damaged credit, it can be difficult to tell which are legitimate. The most common scam involves a company advising you to stop paying your creditors and deposit money into a special account instead. In reality, the debt-settlement company withdraws fees from your account for “services,” long before it negotiates with your creditors, if it negotiates at all.

If these companies send you an unsolicited email or advertise on the radio touting a stellar track record, it may be a scam. Stick with a legitimate nonprofit counseling outlet with an established track record, and always try to negotiate directly with your creditors first.

Ebay Explained 2006 (KLCC)

Image by liewcf via Flickr

You have made an online purchase and the item never arrives, or the item is not what you thought you were buying. What do you do? 
If you made the purchase from a reliable company, review the return policy and keep all receipts once you ship the items back. …However, if you made the purchase through a third-party entity on a website such as craigslist or eBay, the solution can be  bit more complicated.

Eiko's credit card

Image by eikootje via Flickr

Look for telltale signs of a scam before charging your credit card. For example, buying tickets can be risky, as scammers often change one digit in the theater address or the ticket number, tricking you into buying tickets you think are real, only to be told they are fake once you try to enter an event.

Beware of merchants who provide you with only a cellphone number; they do this because cellphones can’t always be tracked. Look out for sellers who ask you to wire money, retail websites that don’t list an address or a phone number, and companies that don’t have much of a presence or any reviews online. These likely are scams.

…more than enough…to contemplate…hugmamma.

where were you…

…when Diana, the Princess of Wales died? I can only think of one other person for whom that question has been asked…John F. Kennedy, our President. I know I was in school when he died, because classes were suspended. Instead we all walked to church to pray for him. In Diana’s case I think I was asleep, and learned with disbelief, about her death early the next morning.

Unlike President Kennedy‘s death of which so much has been written, documented, and analyzed in books and on TV shows, Diana’s death has been treated more gingerly it seems, at least here in the U.S. Either that, or I didn’t bother to read about it in the tabloid magazines because of their tendency to sensationalize the facts to make a profit. I didn’t set out to learn about them even now, they just fell into my lap, by way of Sarah Bradford’s Diana – Finally, The Complete Story

I chose to share this with you because as in life, in death Diana’s beauty remained intact. Her serene appearance belied the inner damage that resulted from the horrific car accident.

It took almost an hour to free Diana from the wrecked car. She appeared to her rescuers to be the least injured of the four: only a slight trickle of blood from mouth and nose indicated that anything was wrong. Yet her internal injuries were life- threatening. After the initial impact the Mercedes had spun away, rotating at high speed before crashing into the tunnel wall on the right. At the first impact Dodi and Diana had been thrown violently forward against the backs of the front seats (not having worn their seat belts), then the rotation of the car had flung them around against the interior. When the Mercedes finally stopped, pointing back towards the mouth of the tunnel, Diana was slumped on the floor, against the back of Rees-Jones‘s seat, facing down the tunnel. Her legs were twisted, one under her, the other on the seat. With her eyes closed and her face undamaged apart from a cut on her forehead, she looked beautiful and as if she were asleep. But the shock of the impact and deceleration on her body had displaced her heart from the left to the right side, severing the pulmonary vein and rupturing the pericardium (the protective sac round the heart), flooding her chest cavity with blood. …

Photo of the Chapel at the Pitié-Salpêtrière H...

Image via Wikipedia

Yet to the first doctor on the scene, Frederic Mailliez, who had been driving through the tunnel in the opposite direction, she ‘looked pretty fine…I thought this woman had a chance.’ He put an oxygen mask over her face while attempting to clear her air passages. When the ambulance arrived, Dr. Jan-Marc Martino, a surgical anesthetist and resuscitation specialist, worked on Diana. Before they could transfer her to the ambulance, she suffered a heart attack. She was given cardiac massage and a respiratory tube was inserted into her mouth. Then she was lifted on to a stretcher and placed in the ambulance which crawled its way with a police escort to La Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, stopping once on the way as Diana’s blood pressure dropped to a dangerous level. She was put on a ventilator. ‘She was unconscious and under artificial respiration. Her arterial blood pressure was very low but her heart was still beating. X-rays revealed the horrific state of her internal injuries and afterwards she suffered a second heart attack. An incision in her chest revealed that bleeding was coming through a hole in the membrane round her heart and later that her superior left pulmonary vein was torn. Adrenalin was administered and cardiac massage kept her heart going but only just; there was no independent rhythm. Diana was to all intents and purposes already beyond help. Electric-shock therapy was administered, to no effect. At 4 a.m. (3 a.m. British time) on the morning of 31 August, she was pronounced dead.

Charles, Prince of Wales outside the White Hou...

Image via Wikipedia

And while it was rumored at the time that Diana allegedly spoke a few words to Prince Charles, that was obviously not the case. “When Prince Charles and Diana’s sisters arrived in Paris, they found Diana looking serene and composed in death, wearing Lady Jay’s black cocktail dress and shoes, her hair freshly blow-dried, the rosary which Mother Teresa had given her in her hand. After Charles and her sisters had spent time alone with her, she was placed in a coffin for the return journey.” 

According to those who accompanied the hearse through the streets of Paris, there was an outpouring of support for the People’s Princess.

‘They do it differently in Paris–they applaud. With the coffin, Prince Charles, the President, millions of police by now,…and the vicar (the Rev. Martin Draper), the whole of Paris was applauding…

Sadly Diana’s body was not received with the same honor bestowed upon it by the Parisians and the British masses, when it came to rest in the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace. Good friend, and the woman thought to have been most like a mother to the princess, Lucia Flecha de Lima flew from the U.S., where she lived, to London, upon learning of Diana’s death. To her amazement the coffin lay “…in lonely state, without flowers.”

Flowers for Princess Diana's Funeral

Image by Maxwell Hamilton via Flickr

‘The first day when I arrived at the chapel there was not one single flower on her coffin. Then I said to the chaplain that if he didn’t allow flowers in, I would throw open the doors of the chapel so everyone could see her there without a single flower and all the flowers outside that people had brought. I said, “Tomorrow I’ll come back with my flowers for her.” And I came every day. And from then on I brought flowers, not only mine but from friends and people who knew her. And I went to a flower van outside the Michelin restaurant (Bibendum in the Fulham Road) and he said: “What are they for?” And I told him, and every day after that he insisted I take flowers to her for nothing…’ ‘And they (the flowers) were around her, over her coffin representing the flowers of the world, and I said to Prince Charles, “These flowers represent the people, thousands and millions of flowers all around the world that people want to give to Princess Diana.” I’ve never felt like that in my life. I have experienced personal loss…but the public’s reaction was extraordinary…’

 One other item mentioned in Bradford’s book caught my attention. While Queen Elizabeth seemingly struggled with her decision to recognize Diana’s death with the pomp and circumstance demanded by the people, personally she too had to deal with the passing of her former daughter-in-law, the mother of the queen’s beloved grand-children. Bradford wrote of Dickie Arbiter, the most experienced of royal officers who had worked for the Waleses before their divorce,

The coffin passing through one of the streets.

Image via Wikipedia

Contrary to public perception, the Queen was, Arbiter said, ‘very grief-stricken’ by Diana’s death. ‘On the day of the funeral when the Royal Family came out of Buckingham Palace as the gun carriage carrying Diana’s coffin passed, the Queen bowed. And the only other time that the Queen bows is at the Cenotaph.’

…there are the rumors…there are the myths…and then there’s…the truth…hugmamma.

Rose, Diana Princess of Wales

Image by nekonomania via Flickr

…princess diana…england’s rose…

 

Diana, Princess of Wales, at the Cannes film f...

Image via Wikipedia

 

air…give me air…although…

That seems to be my dog Mocha’s daily plea. Wish there was a spot of yard for her to roam unattended, like she does when visiting with our friends Sylvia and Jim and their dachschund, Gretchen. Living in a retirement community, they have a charming, enclosed backyard where the dogs can relax on the patio, luxuriating in the outdoors unchaperoned. When they’re indoors and want to “go potty,” all they need is a helping hand to open and close the door.

I must admit when I exited our yard a short while ago, heading out into the neighborhood, Mocha pulling ahead on her leash, it felt good to breathe in the great outdoors. Viewing the lush foliage everywhere as a result of our area’s penchant for rain, Mother Nature never fails to overwhelm me with wondrous awe. Towering evergreens, hence Washington’s other name, The Evergreen State, dwarf the homes that peak out from verdant landscapes, some neat and orderly, others wild and overgrown. Mine is somewhere in-between. I’ve been going for the English garden look, not always with success.

Mocha pays no heed to anything above ground level, maintaining her focus at what’s at the end of her nose or under her paw. None of which satsfies my aesthetics, except that whatever makes Mocha happy, makes me happy. Well…not everything.

I’m definitely against her desire to chase down dogs taller and heftier than her, or small ones with teeth as sharp as razors. I’ve had to pick Mocha up once or twice, transporting her, and me, away from the snarling grins of unleashed dogs who looked ready for their next meal. In such situations my heart is pounding looking to escape its confines, while my brain is willing me not to move a muscle for fear that I’ll become mincemeat in seconds. More often than not, a yell emanates from deep within, finally tumbling forth from my mouth with a venomous “Get away! Shoo! Get out of here!” As if our transgressor could care less, staring me down without so much as flinching a muscle.

Scared? Me, scared? You bet your life I’m petrified of untethered dogs wandering about. I can’t tell whether they’re friendly or not. Nor is it obvious whether or not they’ll start something with Mocha. Just as I don’t want her torn to shreds, I don’t want to get caught up in the milieu either. A year or so ago, when I was out running errands, a neighbor who regularly walks his dog, came under attack by 2 dogs living in the house above mine. His dog was badly injured, requiring surgery that cost $1,000. He had a commendable attitude, saying that “dogs will be dogs.” Of course the owner of the attacking dogs expressed great remorse and paid the vet bill.

A German Shepherd Dog.

Image via Wikipedia

There is a leash law in our city, but not everyone heeds it. The Center for The Preservation of Wildlife has also erected a sign in our neighborhood, and elsewhere, stating that dogs should be kept on leashes so that they don’t attack the wildlife. There are hiking trails at the end of our road. The warning sign stands at that juncture, and so do 3 houses whose owners allow their dogs to wander freely pretty regularly. One of them looks like those I’ve seen on the Discovery Channel, that live in the African wild. Its owners were present once when their dog confronted Mocha. I told them how I felt, which seemed to upset them. They didn’t smile back at me when I saw them later. I understand people don’t like criticism, but when it involves my safety, and my dog’s, well…so be it.

Port-a-Potty on My Land

Image by joanna8555 via Flickr

My next door neighbors have always allowed their labradors to run freely through the neighborhood, even when they use to walk them. I didn’t appreciate the dogs making my yard their personal “honey pot.” Still don’t. Fortunately, the fence we erected, and the hedge that grows between our side yards have kept their pets from trespassing. But recently when the owners were combing the neighborhood in their car in search of one of their dogs, I advised them that it had wandered through my yard and then scared Mocha and me as we went around a bend. Standing taller than my waistline, the labrador, growling,  circled Mocha, nudged my backside with its nose, pushing me forward, before it wandered off. That was a first for me. That was one nervy dog, I thought, before I collected my wits, and Mocha her’s, and moved on.

I love pets, cats and dogs, of which I have 3 felines, Sunkist, Sitka and Juneau, and my Mocha. But there’s no telling what will set an animal off, domesticated or not. They’re not human, and no amount of wishing will make them one of us. So when they act out of character, I have to hold the owners accountable when an innocent bystander, or a restrained pet, is injured. I don’t really put a lot of stock in the words “But he’s such a sweet dog. He wouldn’t hurt anyone.” My thought is, there’s always a first time. So why take a chance…

Dobermann Dog

Image via Wikipedia

I think my fear began when a Doberman Pinscher raced across its yard, as I walked by pushing my daughter’s stroller. Gnashing teeth within inches of us, it’s owner finally heard my yells and came to the front door to save my toddler and me from being mauled. That feeling of dread remains embedded in my subconscience. But I try my best to suppress it, when Mocha wants…  

…a breath of fresh air…hugmamma.