Thursday, July 30, 2009

Krystol Lite

Amazingly, Jon Stewart the other night, braved the elements to have William Krystol on his show. Krystol, best known as the orchestrator of the 1993 republican plan to kill health care reform, is now embarked on the 2009 campaign. His refrain, “what health care crisis” in 1993, coupled with Harry and Louise, managed to derail the Clinton effort before it ever left the station. Apparently, Krystol doesn’t consider 50 million people without health care to be a crisis. He also doesn’t view being denied care by a corporate bureaucracy because of a “pre-existing health issue” to be a crisis. Clearly, Krystol has never been denied anything in his precious life. He also, in his last battle, suggested that his real aim was to deny Democrats another triumph like Medicare or Social Security. The only thing that terrifies him more than a democrat for President, is another large, successful program that benefits millions of Americans. He prefers smaller, albeit more expensive programs benefiting the insider group known colloquially as multi-millionaires.
And when he isn’t decrying “Obama socialism” , his other preoccupation is boosting the stock of Sarah Palin, aka Sarah Barracuda, aka Sarah the Impaler. Now that Sarah has left the stage to begin her main focus in life, raising money from stupid people for her run for the Presidency in 2012, Krystol is behind her all the way. See, the thing is, Krystol and his right-wing gang, love stupid presidents. That way they get to control what’s done. The last thing they want apparently, is a smart republican candidate. I look at the evidence here—Ron Reagan, the two George Bush’s, John McCain, and now Sarah Palin. Together they are still a few beers short of a six-pack. But Krystol, et al, were fully in control during those Republican glory days—you remember those days—high Federal deficits due to stupid taxation policies, illegal/unnecessary wars, the collapse of the entire S&L industry (George I) and the collapse of what remained of the global financial system (George II). Yeah, those were the good old days, when people like Krystol manipulated the puppet strings behind the curtain.
So, now little Willie is setting up for the next round of battles to protect his personal fortune and those of his mega-wealthy friends.
Stewart got him to acknowledge that a Government-run health care system was the finest (that care system delivered to troops). Since those of us on Medicare Also think that the Government runs a much more efficient and more caring medical system than the private corporate goons, we can only wish him ill in his benighted effort to kill this second attempt. Unfortunately, he seems to be succeeding this time around also.
We can only hope that, as Mr. Winston Churchill once said of us, “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Camps

My wife and I are constantly amazed at the number of summer camps our grandkids are able to attend during one summer (and at the ability of our daughter and her husband to afford these camps). I remember only once growing up that my brother was scheduled to attend a summer camp. He apparently didn't want to go, so he argued with my Mother about going until she finally relented and he didn't have to go. I worked one summer at a camp, as a counselor. This was a camp that families who normally live in New York City, but moved to Spring Valley for the summer, would send their kids. They attended for the entire summer. It was a day camp, and featured games, movies, swimming, baseball, and other harmless activities, freeing the parents for the day (well, freeing the mom's, because the dad's generally had to commute into the city to continue working).
But I digress. Our grandkids attend week-long camps for basketball, soccer, gymnastics, football, and one called "running with scissors", a science camp for 6-8 year olds. This is but a small sample of their camps.
But we just completed one part of a "cooking camp" for our teensome grandson. His idea for the camp is that he wants to learn how to cook (he's a true "foodie"). And he wants his grandma to teach him some of the mysteries of her cooking arts. So, he is now enrolled. The "camp" will be run as a set of cooking classes, each devoted to a specific dinner menu, selected by him. So far, he has selected chicken curry, sour meat, and chicken paprika.
Let the games begin!!. Rev your engines, so to speak, and warm up the stove. The cooking camp has begun.
For his first camp, chicken curry was on the menu. Actually, the whole menu was chicken curry, cheese and pea curry (matar paneer), rice, and some samosas (purchased from the local Gandhi International market) and some tandoori nan.
Michael and his grandma worked for most of an afternoon, with Michael, cutting, chopping, mixing, frying, simmering, and of course tasting as he went, with GM supervising. The best part of this particuar "educational camp" is that it includes the dinner at the end of the day. Michael's siblings were away at their own "camps" in Chapel Hill, so they missed this event.
The final meal was enjoyed by Chef GM, Chef Michael, his parents, and me, the GP. As you can see, a wonderful time was had by all. Next camp may be beamed at chicken paprika. I will report the event fully.

Chef Michael

Chicken Curry

Matar Paneer

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lunar Happenings

We knew where we were in November 1963, but . . .
we know equally where we were on July 20, 1969.
To set the stage:
We had moved from Boston to Washington, after coming back from India. We were supposed to move into a new apartment house in Silver Spring. When we arrived at the apartment house to sign the lease, with our furniture arriving that same day by Allied Van Lines, the apartment developer told us that the apartment house was not yet finished construction and it would be some time before it was done. So, we were stuck. We put our furniture into storage, and rented temporarily, a hotel room in DC. Our friends from India, the Walkers, were with us, because they had driven one of our two cars from Boston to DC.
So, there we all sat, in a hotel room in DC, trying to decide what to do. Then our friends suggested that we all rent a cottage in Chincoteague for the summer and use the time to turn a bad happening into a fun, family vacation. Chincoteague was on the Virginia coast, across an inlet from Assateague Island. Each year, they had the annual pony swim, when they swam the wild ponies that lived on Assateague to Chincoteague.
So we all drove off to Chincoteague. I commuted on the weekends from DC, where I was working, to Chincoteague.
I was there, at Chincoteague, on July 20, 1969. We were partying a bit, drinking wine and eating Chincoteague oysters, when we turned on the little black and white TV in the living room. All of us, four adults and six kids, gathered around that little TV, watching in awe, as they landed on the moon, and man took those first steps onto the surface.
After . . . we walked outside and looked up into the sky, at the moon, shining there for all to see. We just stared at it, trying to grasp that fact--there were men up there, on that lunar surface, looking down on us. It was difficult to take our eyes off that shiny disk in the sky . . .

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Health Care Reform

I guess we have now entered the stage of health care reform where everyone expresses concern for the health care of Americans broadly (see 1993). Democrats express their concerns about the 40-50 million people who are currently uninsured.
Republicans insist that Americans have the finest health care system in the world and we wouldn’t want to trade that marvel for a system in which government bureaucrats dictate when and how you can get health care. Wouldn’t want those mindless bureaucrats telling us that we can’t have a hip replacement, now would we?
Oh, and then there’s the third group, arguably larger than the other two and way more heavily endowed with money—the health insurance industry and its lobbyists. They are busy creating the language by which health care reform will be defeated. After all, any system with a “public option” is inherently threatening to them, their profits, and especially their bonuses and stock options. This group crafted the Harry and Louise advertisements that helped to kill Clinton’s reform initiative. They are now designing the statements to be read ritually by Republican senators and Congressmen who receive large payments from them, in exchange for acting as their lackeys. They also, of course, work closely with those super patriots, the Fox News readers and their radio patriots—you know them as Rush, the fat dopehead, and his buddies.
So, as the insurance industry execs continue to fatten their bank accounts, from charging ever higher fees for less and less health care, our American electorate continues to cheer them on, and to exhort their representatives to never, ever consider that nasty old “public option.” That would be socialism, and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

54 Years Ago

So, 54 years ago, I awoke in our New City Park house on Collier Avenue, 20 miles from Manhattan, ready for a new adventure. The day began warm and continued warming throughout the day, til it burst forth into the 100 degree range, just when we were getting married. The church was small, seating a couple of hundred at most. A few family attended. Bill was the best man. The Schmidt's came from the Bronx, Gordon and Louise arrived from White Plains. Uncle Bill arrived from outer space. Everyone else was "from the bride's side".

After the ceremony, people gathered at the Foreman's in Nanuet. Poppy had set up their driveway as a reception area, with his garage/workshop as the bar. Everyone stood outside, sweating in the sultry heat of a summer's day. People laughed anyway. We posed for pictures, we cut the cake and posed some more.

Then we changed our clothes and were driven to New York City. We were staying at the LaGuardia motel, at the edge of the airport. We were dropped off and then we were alone, as a real married couple for the first time. We quickly caught a cab and traveled into Manhattan, where we dined at a nice restaurant, also for the first time as a couple. I had shrimp cocktail and shrimp creole. We laughed about that many times afterwards.

The next day, a Sunday, we wandered around New York, saw a movie, The Seven Year Itch with Marilyn Monroe (we also laughed about that over the years). We inhaled the city--it would be a while before we could return. Then we returned to the airport. Our plane, a World Airlines (no, not TWA) four engine Constellation, sat on the tarmac. Nana and Poppy arrived before our flight left . . . at midnight. We took off, on a very long flight to San Francisco (14 hours). Ruth and Niels plucked us from the airport and we began life as a married couple. Fifty Four years ago.
The years have melted away, each one filled with memories, mostly happy. We are looking forward to our next fifty four years of adventure. Life is good.