Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Unscheduled Feast

Your reporter eating a samosa.

OK. It was scheduled. And had been for weeks.

But I had planned to be disciplined, or at least moderate. In the end I rationalized that I had had no February Feast. I was, until last evening, one feast short on my 12 Feasts a Year schedule!

When Nancy joined our faculty last year I enjoyed talking with her about her heritage. She's from New Jersey and she is a Sikh. Her husband is from India. I wanted to know about her traditionally arranged marriage. The results of that practice seems to add credence to my oft-cited principles of love. Certainly the obvious love of this young couple does.

Jagdeep, Avi, Nancy.

Why are there so many Sikhs named Singh? Does she know anyone who practices that strange (to non-Sikhs) tradition of wearing a dagger, for heaven's sake? One of our students, a Sikh, wears a turban of sorts. I wanted to know about that custom.

But, being me, I was most interested in the food!

I had discovered Punjabi food in 1968-69. My Asbury College (now Asbury University) roommate, Solomon Lasoi, was a Kenyan. Through him I became acquainted with a Sikh couple from Kenya who were studying at the University of Kentucky in nearby Lexington. And they invited Solomon and me to dinner with them at their home.

Terrell, Solomon, and Mr. Singh, May 1969.

I am always delighted to discover new culinary delights and was not disappointed. The curried chicken and rice and attendant dishes were delicious. I wish I had been keeping a journal at that time so that I could remember the meal in more detail. Ever since then I have been interesed in having another Indian meal.

So I found occasional opportunities to suggest that Nancy should bring a Punjabi dish to the next faculty pot luck. She replied that instead she and Jagdeep planned to have Sheila and me as their guests for a real Indian meal at their house.

The occasion of the first birthday of their son, Avi, served as the occasion for a big celebration for a host of their friends, relatives, and co-workers, including us, last night.

What a feast!

My absolute favorite, but an item that may have included my usual alloted Weight Watcher points for an entire day, were the appetizers. They are called samosas. It is a large triangular deep-fried stuffed pastry. The crunchy crust is fairly bursting with a spicy concoction of potatoes and spices and onions and who-knows-what. Yum!

Soaking up this audacious sauce are chunks of chicken breast.

The main dish was Butter Chicken -- small chunks of chicken breast swimming in a spicy reddish-orange sauce, served over basmati rice. This dish seemed very similar to what I had eaten in Lexington FORTY years ago.

I think the chicken should have been served over the rice. Since I am dieting I went light on the rice.

Side dishes included spicy creamed spinach dotted with small cubes of cheese...

I really liked the creamed spinach. (My mother will be proud.)

and, yes, spicy chickpeas.

Chickpea dish.

A thin tasty yogurt sauce was available to top any or all of these dishes, perhaps to moderate the bite of the hot spices. Quartered flatbread, itself spinkled with spices, provided a way to sop the soupy residue of deliciousness when the fork had done all it could.


What a wonderful treat.

Avi enjoying his birthday cake. I couldn't resist posting this. How well I remember those days with my toddlers!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


After all these years of hard work, we have, finally, universal health care in America. Hallelujah!

I predict poll numbers will change dramatically and positively for Democrats as Americans see that this bill actually does those things that they supported in the elections of 2006 and 2008, and not the crazy things -- death panels, government takeovers, etc. -- that the Republicans and the insurance and other special interest groups tried to convince us of through their ads and speeches.

Barack Obama has lived up to this major campaign promise. He was masterful in negotiating pragmatic compromises. He went into the Republican lions' den and faced them down. He invited them in to negotiate with him. The final bill includes 200 Republican amendments, but garnered not a single vote from the party led by two political terriers who decided to make this issue the President's "Waterloo". The President refused to give up when the stonewalling Republicans seemed to be turning public opinion against the program they had supported in the election.

Hurray for Speaker Pelosi. Hurray for Senator Reid. Hurray for President Obama.

Thanks to these wonderful, courageous leaders, who refused to flinch in the face of falsehoods and hyperbole:
Every American will be covered under the toughest patient protections in history. Arbitrary premium hikes, insurance cancellations, and discrimination against pre-existing conditions will now be gone forever.

And we'll finally start reducing the cost of care -- creating millions of jobs, preventing families and businesses from plunging into bankruptcy, and removing over a trillion dollars of debt from the backs of our children.

But the victory that matters most tonight goes beyond the laws and far past the numbers.

It is the peace of mind enjoyed by every American, no longer one injury or illness away from catastrophe.

It is the workers and entrepreneurs who are now freed to pursue their slice of the American dream without fear of losing coverage or facing a crippling bill.

And it is the immeasurable joy of families in every part of this great nation, living happier, healthier lives together because they can finally receive the vital care they need.
- President Barack Obama

But most of all, hurray for America.
The special interests lost.
The American people won.

This is our moment!

The day has come. This is our moment.

Today is the day promised over and over during the campaign in 2008. Even the opposition talked of passing something very similar to this (despite all the silly over-the-top words of those folks in the last few weeks). It is not all of what I wanted but it is a big step. Hallelujah! After all these years, finally we will pass universal (or nearly so) health care for Americans. We are taking our rights back from big pharma and big insurance. Insurance companies will no longer make medical decisions for me or my family. Our doctors and we will.

Provided 216 Democratic Congressmen are brave enough to vote their consciences, I will have my birthday present for this year. Nothing further is needed or desired.

Let's all send one more e-mail or phone call to our Representative. 216 will be wonderful, but let's pass it with a cushion!

Rep. Steny Hoyer had this to say yesterday:

“... America is watching us. Some would say this is a partisan effort. They’re wrong. This is an effort on behalf of all Americans.

“George W. Bush, in 2002, said and I quote, ‘All Americans should be able to choose a health care plan that meets their needs at affordable prices.’

“Bill Clinton said, ‘The time has come to pull together and work in a bipartisan manner to deliver guaranteed health care coverage to all Americans.’

“[Jimmy Carter, in 1979,] said, ‘A universal, comprehensive, national health insurance program is one of the major unfinished items on America’s social agenda. The American people,’ he said in 1992, ‘have waited too long.’

“Gerald Ford, in 1974, said, ‘Let us affirm that this national legislation is only the beginning of our effort to upgrade and perpetuate this part of our total health care system so no individual in this country,’ said President Ford, ‘will lack help whenever or wherever he needs it.’

“John F. Kennedy said, in 1962, ‘Whenever the miracles of modern medicine are beyond the reach of any group of Americans, for whatever reason--economic, geographic, occupational or other--we must find a way to meet their needs and fulfill their hopes.’

“Dwight David Eisenhower, in 1955, said, ‘Clearly our nation must do more to reduce the impact of accident and disease. Two fundamental problems confront us: first, high and ever-rising costs of health services; second, serious gaps and shortages in these services.’ So said Dwight Eisenhower in 1955.

“And in 1945, Harry Truman said, ‘Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health …. The time,’ he said, ‘has arrived for action to help them attain that opportunity and that protection.’

“And then another President said this: ‘Comprehensive health insurance is an idea whose time has come in America. There has long been a need to assure every American financial access to high quality health care. As medical costs go up, that need grows more pressing. Now, for the first time,’ this President said, ‘we have not just the need, but the will to get this job done.’ He went on to say, ‘There is widespread support in the Congress and in the Nation for some form of comprehensive health insurance…. [L]et us act sensibly. And let us act now--in 1974--to assure all Americans financial access to high quality medical care.’

“Our President talks about the fact that Theodore Roosevelt put this on America's agenda over a century ago. Barack Obama went to the people of this country and reached out to them and said, ‘If you elect me President of the United States, this is what I will do.’ There were no illusions of what he would do. There was no trying to hide it. It was transparent, and indeed, in the debate in October of 2008, he said exactly what he was going to do. And John McCain stood on that same stage and said, yes, I believe every American ought to have access to affordable health care. All of the presidents I just quoted tried to get something done, and it was not done. On Sunday, tomorrow, we will do it. Led by our President, who said to the American public, this is our moment..."
Happy birthday to me ... and all Americans.

If you'd like to hear Rep. Hoyer, here's it is:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Congressman Phil Gingrey

It is very disappointing that our Congressman, Phil Gingrey of Cobb County, has taken such a narrowly partisan approach to the current health care reform effort.

Yesterday I received a campaign -style “robocall” from the Congressman asking me to stay on the line to participate in a “live town hall” discussion of health care issues. “OK!” I thought, I’ll listen, maybe he is serious about hearing from the people". I put the phone on speaker and my wife and I listened, waiting our turn to speak or participate in the feedback promised. I listened as a couple of poorly informed local folk ranted about “government takeover” and such eliciting pompous agreement by our Congressman. Rep. Gingrey then interrupted the “town hall” to offer an opportunity for his constituents to let him know where they stand on the issue!

“Great!” I may be outvoted, I thought, but at least I can let the Congressman know that some Northwest Georgians want reform.

No. Instead the Congressman, again in a tone that can only be described as condescending, offered his constituents four choices: “What concerns you MOST about this legislation?” The first three “concerns” were blatant push-polling questions that could have been written by Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. And the fourth choice? “All of the above”. To paraphrase: “Are you most concerned about this bill because of this scary issue (press one), that terrible expense (press two), or the other disastrous possible outcome (press three), or all three abominable things this awful measure would force on our nation? (press four)”

Classic propaganda.

One must grant him the assumption of reasonable intelligence. He managed to obtain a medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia. He knew exactly what he was doing last night.

There was no opportunity to express approval of the reform. If you disagree with Congressman Gingrey he has no interest in hearing from you.

To treat the voters in this way has become standard operating procedure during campaigns. I have received push-poll calls from politicians from State Representative candidates to Presidential candidates during election campaigns. That is insulting to voters. It shows an incredible disrespect of democracy. For a Congressman to do this under the guise of a “town hall” -- that great tradition of American political life where, supposedly, all viewpoints can be aired -- takes crass partisanship to another level. I do not know to what extent my taxes helped pay for this travesty.

Shame on you, Congressman Gingrey.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

PTSW - The Lamp

I read a Sara Teasdale poem tonight, and, naturally, thought of this one. Sheila recited this for me at our wedding on August 8, 1971.

The Lamp

If I can bear your love like a lamp before me,
When I go down the long steep Road of Darkness,
I shall not fear the everlasting shadows,
Nor cry in terror.

If I can find out God, then I shall find Him,
If none can find Him, then I shall sleep soundly,
Knowing how well on earth your love sufficed me,
A lamp in darkness.

~Sara Teasdale
I am a fortunate man.

Click on PTSW below to see other posts about poetry