Monday, December 13, 2010

Fishie, fishie, fishie

Back to crochet.

I have a friend (who I don't think reads this blog...if she does, CLAIRE, STOP NOW! DON'T LOOK AT THE PICTURE! (I'M SHOUTING SO SHE'LL HEAR IT BEFORE SHE SEES THE PICTURE.) She is not a cat person but she is spending a long time (I thought it was 5 months but it turns out to be more like 10 months) caring for the cat of a friend while that friend is in another province for college. I decided poor Kittums (the cat, I kid you not that's the name her human slave gave her) needs lots of toys. Claire has made friends with the cat; they bonded over sushi. But she still needs toys.

I made this out of an unidentified furry type yarn. I am assuming it's bulky (5) weight because most such yarns are. This isn't the kind of project that requires a gauge swatch so I didn't even consider doing one. I used a size G crochet hook. If you want a large fishie, use a larger hook. Smaller, use a smaller hook. You can also adjust based on the type of yarn you use. I make no promises that your yarn will give the same results but no cat would criticize for that reason alone.

Make 2:

Chain 7
SC in second ch from hook, continue until end of row (6 stitches), ch 1, turn
SC in each stitch up to the last stitch, skip last stitch (5 stiches), ch 1, turn
Continue as above, skipping last stitch, until 2 stitches remain, ch 1, turn
SC twice in each stitch, ch 1, turn
SC twice in first stitch, SC up to last stitch, SC twice in last stitch, ch 1,. turn
Repeat until there are 8 stitches, ch 1 turn
Work one row straight (8 stitches)
SC in each stitch in each stitch up to the last stitch (7 stitches), ch 1, turn
Continue as above until 2 stitches remain
Tie off, leaving a long tail.

Put the two pieces together and sew, keeping the long tail on the outside, leaving an opening with enough room to add stuffing. Stuff to the size you desire. Finish sewing seams. Feel free to add catnip, but don't  blame me if the cat goes nuts.

I'm waiting for the paint on a wooden chopstick (*UNUSED* chopstick) to attach the fishie with the yarn left dangling, and it's a bouncy toy.



Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Getting paid to work for a it counter intuitive or not? I say not.

This is for my approximately 1.1 readers who do not also read Copperbadge's blog. He has a really good post up there today, about the how and why of non profit agencies' paying decent salaries to their Executive Directors. I urge you to go forth and read it.

I've worked for non-profit agencies, on and off, for over fifteen years. I also took a few classes in non-profit management and fundraising. I admit I'm not an expert, but I do know a few things.

At the lower echelons, many non-profit agencies pay their employees a little less than what the employees could expect to earn in the for-profit world. It is easy to take that fact and interpret it to mean that non-profit employees are there because they love the work and they are willing to make less in order to further the good works of the agency. You might be right. But you'd also be overlooking a few other facts that influence many employees' decisions about working in the non-profit world. 

To compensate for those lower salaries, the vacation and sick leave policies at most non-profits are much more liberal than the policies at comparable profit making companies. Additionally, bereavement leave, bad weather absences, and things like that are treated much more leniently. When my father died, I was given up to two weeks to fly across country, attend his memorial, and hang out with my mother and sister until we were all on an even keel. (Mind you, I didn't take all that time, but they told me I could have that much, and after that it would be coming out of my considerable accumulation of sick leave.)  Many health insurance companies give favorable rates to non-profit agencies. So for most employees of non-profit agencies, they have vastly superior insurance, at a lower cost if they pay any of it at all, than they would have had with employment in the private, for-profit, sector.

Add it up, and non-profit employees are frequently paid AT A MINIMUM on par with their for-profit counterparts. Why should the chief executive of a non-profit agency be treated any differently?

A non-profit expects its Executive Director not only to work full time for the agency, it expects hir to work between 80 and 160 hours a week for your agency. Additionally, the ED is expected to donate money to the agency AND hir spouse is frequently called upon to donate money and/or volunteer to help out with events. If there are children, they will be expected to volunteer if old enough or look cute in pictures if too young to volunteer. The return on investment on the Executive Director's salary is pretty impressive.

For a while I was the volunteer development officer of a start up non-profit. It went to pieces because the founder and executive director was a flake. But he put his heart and soul into that agency. He put almost all of his own money into it. None of the staff got pay I would eventually find just the right grant opportunity, the right words to write, and the right eyes to see those words, that we would be funded to pay a decent wage to all of us. Including the flaky ED.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Recipe: Chili Spiced Squash Soup for One

I wrote this post last night, but fell asleep before I could post it. Lack of leftovers is making me frown, although leftover Cristianos y Moros made for a lovely lunch.

I had a half a roasted delicata squash left from the weekend. It’s particularly chilly today and as I keep my heat as low as I can tolerate without pain, the thought of soup was appealing. 

I’ve seen countless recipes for curried squash soup, but I was having Nadia G’s recipe for Curried Chicken Pot Pie for lunch, I didn’t want to make a curried soup.  I like curry just fine but too much of a good thing is too much no matter how good it is.

Delicata squash has a number of nicknames and one of those is sweet potato squash. This is because the squash can be used as a substitute for sweet potato in a lot of recipes.  It tastes a bit like a sweet potato, and it has a similar consistency.  Sweet potato goes well with chili. Thus was born this soup, which I prepared in the slow cooker. 

This recipe serves one. If you want to make more than one serving, double, triple, gazzilionle, the recipe. It’s an easy, easy recipe and I’m almost embarrassed calling it one, but I really want to share the yumminess.

Chili Spiced Squash Soup for One

½ delicata squash, roasted and peeled
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (I used vegetarian chicken flavored broth)
½ cup coconut milk*
2 tablespoons chili powder (I used Penzeys Arizona Dreaming, but your favorite chili powder will do) divided
I do not add salt to anything, and don't think this needed black pepper. You'll have to taste test for your own salt and black pepper decision.

Combine the squash, broth, coconut milk, and 1 tablespoon of chili powder in the slow cooker, and mix really well. Turn the cooker to low, cover, and cook ½ hour. Stir in remaining chili powder and recover. Cook for an additional ¼ hour, then check that it is completely blended. You can use a whisk, an immersion blender, or (if you’re brave) pour it into a blender. Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat later. You may need to add a little more broth or water when you reheat it.

*I used coconut milk because I had some leftover from the aforementioned curry dish. It lent a very sweet layer to the flavor. If you don’t care for your chili to contrast sweet and spicy, you can use dairy milk or soy or almond milk instead. 

If you wish to, sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, tortilla chips, or other appropriate topping. I briefly considered throwing in some salsa, but didn’t and I think that was the right decision. It would have been a jarring texture and the flavors wouldn’t have gone well.

I am adding a note because I know two people allergic to capsicum and thus they can't use most commercially prepared chili powders. I'm all with you on the lack of Mexican style seasoning without the nightshade family included. For you I found the following 

1 c minced dried onion
2/3 c beef bouillon
1/3 c chili powder
2 tb cumin
4 ts ground peppers
4 ts oregano
2 ts garlic powder
and I suggest the ground peppers be considered ground black peppers. If that is also a problem, substitute some horseradish or just accept that you're not going to get the heat. Sorry. 

Today I have a half portion of homemade spiced cranberry sauce going (I use 6 ounces of cranberries from a 12 ounce bag, add a half cup water, a third cup sugar, and a bouquet garni with cinnamon stick, allspice berries, cardamom pods, and mace pieces, all bruised and tied up in cheesecloth. (YES they're all from Penzeys! I buy almost all my spices from there, except my curry powder because I have yet to find any curry powder as good as what I get in my favorite Indian restaurants.) I'm going to make homemade green bean casserole with fresh mushrooms (frozen green beans, though) and canned fried onions from Trader Joe's. Once all that is done, I think I'll start sewing or knitting. I have a ton of holiday presents going  but can't show or discuss them until after the recipients get them. Which is a shame because some of them are just wonderful.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Newly Updated: My Little Slow Cooker (Experiment: Cristianos y Moros)

I have two slow cookers. One is a 1 1/2 quart, and the other a 3 quart. As you might imagine, I use the 1 1/2 quart more than I do the 3 quart.

In fact, I use the hell out of that 1 1/2 quart slow cooker. When my first one quit working (after eight years faithful service) I bought a new one and now I have two inserts, meaning I can use it twice as often.

Sometimes, I don't even know what I'm going to make when I first fire it up. And sometimes I end up with something I wouldn't even feed to the dog. But I'm never sorry I tried something.

At the moment, I have onion, garlic, and celery heating in a little olive oil in my slow cooker. Up until ten minutes ago, I didn't know what I was going to make. Then I decided I needed cheap protein. There is one can of black beans left in my cupboard. I have some frozen V-8 juice (more on that later.) I have some dehydrated green peppers that are taking up useful space on my spice rack. I have vinegar and rice.

Here's what I'm doing so far:

Heat up onions, garlic, and celery in slow cooker on high until it's all very fragrant. Add a cube of frozen V-8 juice (approx 3 tablespoons) and the dehydrated peppers (about 1/4 tablespoon.) Leave that to rehydrate and combine well. That should take about 7 or 8 minutes.

Turn it down to low. Add the can of black beans after rinsing really well. Then add 1/2 or so cup of broth or stock or (okay, I have powdered broth. I confess. Not good for me but convenient and the one I have isn't too, too salty.) Add a dash or so of unseasoned rice or white vinegar.

In about an hour, add cumin, oregano, a bay leaf, maybe a little chili powder. Five minutes or so after that, add 3 cups of water or broth, and a cup and a half of rice (I'm mixing brown and white.) Leave for at least an hour and a half, or put it on high and after a half hour turn it to low for a half hour. I'd rather have the time.

Now, traditionally, you'd make the rice separately and just mix in the beans after it's all done for more authentic Moros y Cristianos. But I'm lazy and don't want to have to hand wash my rice cooker. And I've found lots of recipe writers seem to feel the same way. So what if the rice takes on a slightly colorful hue? It's all good.

I'll let you know how it turns out.
(Important note: This is NOT a picture of my experiment. I'll post a picture when it's done, though.)


This isn't the best picture but it turned out excellent. It's tasty, the texture is perfect, and it's filling without being grossly so. I'm going to take some Greek yogurt and add some frozen fruit for dessert and act like I'm eating healthy today. (Forget the giant cinnamon raisin roll from Tulip Pastry I had for breakfast.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Gypsy and the Very Healthy Cookies

I wanted cookies today. I looked around for ingredients and made a sad, sad, discovery. I had only one egg left. And it's raining. Not the usual always misty and occasional shower raining. This is downpour from hell raining. There was no way I was going to leave the house. Even Faraday doesn't want to go outside, and he loves to go outside to bark at the neighbors' cats and anyone he might hear passing by.

While looking through my pantry cupboard I found a small container of strained carrots. I think I bought that to make a carrot cake because I was too lazy to shred carrots, and then ended up making something entirely different.

I poked around a bit trying to find a carrot cookies recipe that didn't use eggs. The best I could find was vegan cookie recipes that use commercial egg replacers. And I haven't got any of those on hand, either.

What I do have, and in abundance, is flax meal (ground flax seed.) Flax meal is said to be a good substitute for egg. I took a chance and started throwing ingredients into a bowl until the consistency looked right.

The result is yummy. Once you read the recipe you'll realize how healthy this is. But do try these. They're very tender and won't ship well but they're worth having on hand.

Good For You Carrot Cookies
Makes 1 dozen

1 Tb flax meal
1/3 to 1/2 C water
3 TB neutral flavor oil
small (I'm thinking this was 2 oz) container strained carrot baby food
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 C each unbleached white and whole wheat flour
1/4 C wheat or oat bran
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
dash salt
1 Tb ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 C raisins

Combine flax meal and water and allow to stand a few minutes. Add the oil, the carrots, the sugar, and the vanilla extract and mix well. Sift together the flours and the baking powder. (Okay, you caught me. I don't do that. But it's what you're supposed to say in recipes) and add to the wet ingredients. Stir in all the dry ingredients except raisins. Adjust water or flour as needed to get a soft but stiff dough. Fold in raisins.

Drop by tablespoonful on greased baking sheet, or on a foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until baked through. They won't brown much due to low fat and sugar content. Allow to cool at least 5 minutes before tasting.

The following was calculated at, where I substituted cooked carrot slices for the baby food because, for some reason, this site doesn't consider baby food an ingredient.

Nutrition Facts

User Entered Recipe

12 Servings

Amount Per Serving
Calories 84.2
Total Fat 3.9 g
Saturated Fat 0.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 78.8 mg
Potassium 87.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 13.2 g
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
Sugars 10.0 g
Protein 0.6 g

Vitamin A 22.4 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 2.2 %
Vitamin C 1.0 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 4.2 %
Calcium 4.8 %
Copper 1.9 %
Folate 0.6 %
Iron 3.4 %
Magnesium 2.8 %
Manganese 13.5 %
Niacin 1.4 %
Pantothenic Acid 0.4 %
Phosphorus 3.4 %
Riboflavin 1.1 %
Selenium 1.5 %
Thiamin 1.5 %
Zinc 0.9 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

If you try the recipe, please let me know how you liked it.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cooking for Two. Or Fewer.

I have a friend who is trying to work out cooking for fewer people than she has been accustomed to doing. I've been cooking for just me for nine or so years and have come up with some tricks and shortcuts that don't involve frozen entrees. But I can't think of them all at one sitting so I'm going to periodically post my thoughts and suggestions on this subject.

The most useful advice I can give, which was also shared by several of my single friends when I surveyed them, was to cook what you're used to cooking, and freeze the rest. That is a good idea but isn't always practical. Plus, some days you just want something freshly made.

I've found that, being single, I can afford to buy better cuts of meat since I'm buying less than I would for a couple or a family. Always have something special on hand. In my case, that can be either a hanger steak or skirt steak, or a rib eye (although even when feeding only one person that can be way pricey.) I also like to keep lamb around, either chops or shank. When you live alone, there are going to be times when you're feeling a little lonely. When that happens, spoil yourself.

A trick I use, and it's one I recommend for everyone, not just for people cooking for one, is to set aside a time each week to do some of your prep for cooking. I chop an onion, usually on Sunday. I store it in a plastic container, and use only the amount I need for each thing I'm making. That usually means I chop a very large onion, and that leaves me in tears. This is sometimes therapeutic. If I have celery and/or bell pepper handy I'll chop those, too. Don't try to do this for longer than a week; the onion will lose flavor and other vegetables will soften if you do it too far ahead.

I'm not too proud to buy stew meat already cubed but if you don't want to do that, you can cube chuck or round steak for stews when you are chopping your onions and other aromatics.

By the way, you shouldn't count on chopping garlic ahead of time. It will lost flavor lots faster than onion will, provided the onion is in a well sealed container and refrigerated. I don't know if that's a scientifically provable fact or just my experience, but that's what I'm suggesting.

I'm going to share more thoughts, suggestions, and recipes on this topic as I'm inspired to and as I think of things. I would appreciate being linked to anyone else's suggestions and/or recipes for one.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Skirt of leftovers

I have some time to spend crafting thanks to the economy (and the failing health of the owner of the company I was working for.) So I can finally do some of my less pressing but still good projects. This skirt is made of strips from two COMPLETELY different fabrics from my unused extras pile. The print was for an appliance cover (not used since I decided to store the food processor in the cabinet) and is an upholstery weight cotton and acrylic (not to be confused with polyester) blend of some sort. The solid is cotton flannel leftover from my successful handkerchiefs project. Neither is going to fight wrinkles at all and washing this will be A Pain. But I love how it looks, both on the hanger and on me. So I'll find a way to make it work. Now I have to go find the crochet hook I dropped behind the bed last night. You should see the stash busting I'm doing!
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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Name the recipe?

I found a recipe in an old (1984) British cookbook I've been idly paging through for a few weeks. The recipe was called Lentil Rice and it sounded pretty good. I started picking through my pantry and discovered I was short a few ingredients. My substitutions made it even better than I expected it to be. Now I need to name the recipe and I'm fresh out of creativity. Here's the recipe. I'm taking suggestions for names. (Once I have a name I might have to share this with Bob's Red Mill.)

water for soaking
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix
1/4 cup brown rice
Oil for sauteeing
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seed
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (I'd rather have used cumin seed but couldn't find any)
pinch or two of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups water

Soak soup mix and rice in water to cover for a half hour to an hour. No longer or it'll turn mushy. Heat oil in saucepan. When the oil is shimmering hot, add onions and garlic and saute until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add spices and continue to saute up to 2 minutes until it's really fragrant. Drain soup mix and rice well, and add to the saucepan. Saute a minute or minute and a half but no longer. Add 2 cups water, stir well to loosen what's gotten stuck to the bottom of the saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Let cook without removing the cover for 20 minutes, then check for doneness. Continue to simmer, covered, until it's done. If it is too watery for your tastes, simmer uncovered 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Serves 2 (meaning I have enough leftovers for another lunch.)

So, anyone care to suggest a name? I'd hate to have to send this off to Bob's just titled Vegi Soup Mix and Rice.

My $3 Craft Challenge Project

I never uploaded the tutorial pictures but I have the final product to show you. I'm not sure the tutorial is necessary. It's fairly obvious what I did. But if someone wants details, I'll be happy to explain what I did. (BTW, I do not ever again want to work with tis kind of fabric again unless it's to piece together finished napkins. Fake satin IS the Satan of fabrics!)

It is, unfortunately, too small for my head. I cut it the right size, but used wider seams than I'd meant to. This is my interpretation of a pillbox hat. I used a strip of posterboard that I had in my paper collection to stiffen the brim, but other than that it's all stuff I got at the Dollar Tree. Well, and thread. I didn't have any thread to match the napkins so I used the closest color I had (brown.) It was really easy to make but I don't think I'll make another one. I'm not a pillbox hat kind of a girl. But if I were, I'd want one in that color.

Have any of you finished your projects yet? I'm thinking of trying another of these for the fall, but will wait until I hear back no how others fared in this challenge.

Monday, July 26, 2010


I have decided to instigate a non-specifically periodic craft challenge. I'm calling it the ??? Dollar Craft Challenge. Every once in a while I will go down to my dollar store and pick up a certain number of things that I will challenge my readers (if there still are any) to do something creative with. There is no prize. There is no time frame. But if you want to participate (and I'll pimp the hell out of this, on the off chance complete strangers are interested) post your results in comments, with instructions if you feel they are necessary. Link to a photo (I'm not sure you can put one directly into comments) if you have one. And bask in the knowledge that you are showing off your creativity.

Here are the rules

1. You have to use all of the items.
2. You may substitute for something SIMILAR if your dollar store doesn't have the same exact components. (String or yarn for the hemp cord in this one, for example.)
3. You may use what you have on hand only if you are using things you have on hand for many or all projects. Paints are okay, for example, as is thread and small amounts of stabilizing fabric. But you cannot pull fabric from your stash and use the components as minor parts of a larger project.
4. You can pull the components apart (the fake flowers in this one, for instance) and even alter them, so long as we can tell that you used the components.

If there is a good enough response, in the future I might even do these for prizes.

Here are the components for this first challenge, a Three Dollar Craft Challenge:

A pair of polyester (or cotton if your dollar store has more class than mine) dinner napkins
A fake (they ain't silk at the dollar store) flower
Hemp cord

Here's a picture of the components I picked up over the weekend:


Good luck, and let's have a whole heap o'fun with this!

Grousing Because I Can

The law prohibiting texting while driving is one of those “duh” laws that ought not to require a law. Really, how stupid do you have to be to do something that requires you to use both hands while you are driving a car, which also requires BOTH HANDS? (No, not just if it’s a stick shift. You need a hand free for emergencies like if you start to drift, or if you need to signal a turn or a slowdown, or just if you need to use the steering wheel. A couple of seconds with one hand off the wheel to change the radio station is probably not a big deal but to text? Seriously? Wow, some folks really do have far too high an opinion of their own abilities than they ought.

That said, what is less self-evident is that you shouldn’t text while walking. Case in point: This morning a man who was absorbed in typing who-knows-what walked past me on Oak, jostling my arm and not noticing it. That didn’t bother me although it did make me stare at him in some amazement that he hadn’t noticed. I’m not microscopic. I’m not even svelte. But, anyway, I then saw him walk out into traffic because whatever he was typing was apparently more important than noticing if there was a Max train barreling down on him. It wasn’t barreling so close that I got to witness the gore of a Max-ident up close, but the train tooted at him from a half a block away. He didn’t look up. But the car that was closer and had to slam on its brakes to avoid him got his attention. He sort of handwaved an apology and returned to his texting. I lost sight of him after that but am keeping my ears open for news of Darwin at work in Portland.

And lest anyone think I am all curmudgeon all the time, let me sing the praises of my little air conditioner. While it is true that the mild climate we enjoy in Portland seems to make an air conditioner wasteful and completely unnecessary, I have to say it’s made me uncommonly happy on days when the temperature goes over 90. It might be cooling the smallest room in the house, but that room is really comfortable. There’s just one oddity. You know how a window air conditioner drips condensation? Usually that goes out the window and either evaporates before it hits the ground or it waters a little tiny patch of pavement. Well, there are bars on my window. That made it really easy to install the unit, because I have a piece of furniture JUST the right height to fit it into the window frame up to the screen. But guess where that condensation is now dripping? I finally figure out that I needed to put a pail under the unit. But that is a minor inconvenience next to the lovely cool afternoon I had Sunday!

Now if only my neighbors weren’t setting off fireworks every night I’d be happy. WTF, people? The Fourth of July was on the FOURTH! Today is the twenty-sixth. Did you really buy enough fireworks to last twenty two EXTRA days? (Probably thirty extra once all is said and done.) I just don’t understand it.

Monday, February 08, 2010

I'm Not Racist. I Just Have Allergies.

This evening as I rode the Max home, I was nursing the beginning of a sinus headache. I’m allergic to mold, so I’m not sure what caused the headache but there it was.
At Lloyd Center (which, coincidentally or maybe not so coincidentally) a man got on the train with a big bunch of incense sticks in his hand. He was selling them, he explained, on behalf of some anti-gang ministry. He was a very pleasant man. He was polite and friendly and chatted with all the people who turned him down.
His incense sticks smelled so strongly they turned the beginning of a sinus headache into a full blown migraine. I don’t get migraines. I just get sinus headaches that mimic them. So to block the scent from getting to me any further, I stuck my head deeply into the magazine I was reading. When that didn’t help I held my nose and breathed through my mouth. My eyes watered but it helped.

The guy was very nice about it. He saw that I was suffering and he moved away from me. He even said, “Oh, you can’t have any of this, can you? I’m sorry, Miss, I’ll move away. God bless you.” Which I thought was delightful and I smiled.

The woman sitting across the aisle from me bought a lot of his incense. Sigh!

After he had gone to the front of the train car (leaving the godsawful scent behind) the woman across the aisle turned to me and said, “Was it really necessary for you to be so rude to him?”

I said, “I’m sorry I couldn’t buy anything from him but I get the worst headaches from that kind of incense.”

“Because he's a man of color?” she asked, all pompous and self-righteous. “Would it have been a problem if he'd been white? And clean cut? And middle class? I think not!" (She may not have sounded so speechified but at the time it felt that way.)

I was lucky because there were other people sitting nearby who had my back. One guy, an old guy with one of those "you stinking kids get off my lawn" looks on his face, said, “Lady, that’s pretty damn strong incense. I gave the guy a buck but I’m not going to buy his incense. Some of us don’t like it and some actually are allergic to it.”
The self-righteous woman said, “Whatever!” and moved to another part of the train. The woman sitting behind me offered a couple of aspirins (I had nothing to take them with, sadly.)

I’m in a fragile enough mood because of this stinking headache. The headache that started before any of this took place. I really did not need someone accusing me of racism because I had a headache. I was on the verge of tears. But I maintained because a guy I misjudged turned out to be so nice.

There, I’ve bitched and now I feel better. Hope your day went better.

Monday, January 11, 2010

It explains a few things

Fox Snooze - er - News has an undeniable right-wing bias. There is, in particular, a vitriol in the network's treatment of Democrats, both candidates and elected officials. It makes them money, for sure, and even if overall owner Rupert Murdoch may not always agree with this bias, he won't mess with such a lucrative strategy.

I wondered where the idea had come from. For a long time, I blamed Murdoch. But I realized a long time ago that Murdoch, while a brilliant businessman, wasn't this creative. Then I read this article which appeared in the New York Times this past weekend.

The bit that caught my attention was this:

Mr. Ailes majored in radio and television at Ohio University and worked for “The Mike Douglas Show,” where at age 27 he met then-presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon in 1968.

“The camera doesn’t like you,” he told Mr. Nixon, according to “Crazy Like a Fox,” a book by Scott Collins about Fox News.

“It’s a shame a man has to use gimmicks like this to get elected,” Mr. Nixon said.

“Television is not a gimmick, and if you think it is, you’ll lose again,” Mr. Ailes said. The Nixon campaign hired him a few days later.

Once again, it all comes back to Nixon. I sometimes think the right wing of the Republican Party is still trying to get its revenge for 1960, when John F Kennedy defeated Nixon by 84 electoral votes but less than 1 percent of the popular vote. (As a point of interest, Nixon carried the entire west coast while Kennedy carried nearly all of the southern states. Things have changed a bit since those days.)

Once Nixon finally got into the White House in 1969, machinations by people like Ailes continued, with the apparent goal of making the Republican Party the most powerful and only important political party in the United States.

It took some seriously brilliant public relations to keep the party afloat after both Nixon and his Vice President Spiro Agnew were forced to resign due to allegations (in Nixon's case) and sustainable charges (in Agnew's case) of criminal misconduct of one sort or another.

Part of that credit has to be laid in Gerald Ford's lap. His preemptive pardoning Nixon for any criminal activities he may have participated in with regards to the Watergate incident may not have sat well with many people, but the inevitability of it could not be denied. And Ford was charming, so much so that more people noticed that than noticed how much of a Republican Party loyalist he was.

I cannot accept that no one in the Republican Party foresaw Ford's defeat in the next election. (Well, I know that the party saw it coming because there was an attempt to run someone other than Ford (e,.g,, Ronald Reagan) in that election. Yet I believe there are Republican party faithful who were angered by this defeat.

You'd think that, with Reagan's election, that anger and hatred would die back to a minor huff every once in a while. After all, not only was Reagan elected, but after eight years he was succeeded by his Vice President, the original George (HW) Bush.

I'm not going to comment on the damage done to the nation by Reagan. And I'm not going to dwell on the fact that I think HW Bush was a strong party loyalist and as corrupt a politician as they come but that he wasn't THAT bad of a President. But the story tells itself. The economic situation Reagan had left the country in left HW Bush with no option but to raise taxes. And that is one thing a Republican must never do. It was one thing HW Bush had, himself, sworn not to do.

And thus, Bill Clinton, an affable Democrat but no less a politician than any other (and much more so than most) became President after HW Bush's single term.

I think Ailes and others of his ilk saw this as a recurrence of the Nixon defeat in 1960. They determined that they needed to redouble their efforts to place the Republican party as the permanent ruling party in the United States. (I use the phrasing deliberately. If you think I'm making them sound Communist, remember that what the Soviets and Chinese call Communism is what most people call totalitarianism, a system in opposition to what pure communism really is.) One thing they decided they needed (possibly because CNN, newly powerful thanks to HW Bush's war in the Middle East, had shown a slight prejudice in favor of Democrats) their own news network.

There's obviously more to the story, but this was the birth of Fox News. It seems clear to me (and to others, some of whom are related to me, and he would be mortified if he knew about this citation, but I digress...) that it exists solely for revenge against upstart (my term for how I suspect they're viewed by this group) Democrats who would dare run against a Republican.

This is of no consequence, in the long run. I could tell fans of Faux News about this for days and they'd tell me I'm being unduly influenced by the left wing media. The trouble is, the left wing media is not as powerful as the right wing media (a) thinks it is and (b) is working towards becoming, itself. I don't deny the existence of some left wing media outlets. So I wish the right wing media would stop denying that it exists.

And I wish Roger Ailes could forgive people for being as good at their jobs as he is at his. But I'm a dreamer.