Thursday, June 28, 2012

Corporate Campaign Influence

For some time now, I have been disturbed by the Supreme Court decision (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) that made corporations "people" under the Constitution.  I fully disagree with that decision, and I am saddened by the can of worms it has opened up.  The amount of money being donated to presidential campaign funds is obscene, and the companies (and few individuals) making the donations certainly don't have our interests at heart.  How can ordinary people hope to have a voice when corporations are making their money scream so loudly?  Evening more disturbing is that some of these donations are being done anonymously with the donors hiding behind privacy rights while still wanting their free speech rights.  The things is, though, that the rest of us pretty much have to be known to exercise our free speech rights, and that is how it should be.  If you want to influence elections, you shouldn't be hiding your identity.  And while I'm the first to acknowledge that we're not really all equal, I think there should be strict limits on campaign donations to make our voices even just a little more equal.

Here is an interesting infographic showing how the influence of "Big Ag" is spread out this election cycle.  

Big Ag’s Big Money in the 2012 Elections” width=225

Footnote: The Supreme Court made a bad decision in Citizens United, but I'm so glad they upheld the Affordable Care Act today.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


My kids are still pretty young, so we haven't encountered a whole lot of teachers yet, but we met one this year that I feel the need to acknowledge.  Hummingbird's first grade teacher was just terrific.  She did her job, and more.  She did an excellent job teaching the kids, both academics and how to treat others.  She was also fabulous about communicating with parents both when our children were doing well and when there was a problem.

As the year ended, we were sad to hear that she wouldn't be here next year.  Her husband got a job out of state, and they are relocating.  The last day of school went by in a flash, and the bus kids were hurried off without much time for goodbyes.  When Hummingbird arrived home, it really hit her that she wouldn't be seeing Mrs. Anderson again.  She was teary-eyed and sad most of the evening, and finally, she asked me if we could have a play date with Mrs. Anderson.  I told her I would ask, and perhaps, we could at least visit her at school to say goodbye while she was cleaning out the classroom.  

When I received a reply email from Mrs. Anderson, Hummingbird was so excited that she had agreed to meet us at the park to play.  So, a few days ago we went to the park for a play date.  I thought we might play for 30-45 minutes, eat a picnic lunch, and then let Mrs. Anderson go.  I was wrong.  Instead, we played for two wonderful hours.  They played on the swings, the seesaw, talked through pipes, and estimated and measured distances around the park (a little learning amidst the play).  Hummingbird had so much fun, and promised to send pictures and updates from her upcoming vacation adventure.

It really is an extraordinary teacher who takes such an interest in her students to take time out of her own day, when school's out and she's packing for a big move, to share some special one-on-one time with a student.  We were very lucky to have Mrs. Anderson in our lives, and I hope we are able to keep in touch with her despite the geographic distance ahead.

Thank you, Mrs. Anderson.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

For quite some time now, I have been trying to find a great vegan blueberry muffin recipe.  I have not had much success.  I was starting to think that blueberry muffins were just one of those things than can't be made vegan and still be any good.

Just the other day, I created my own recipe and they turned out great.  They really didn't seem vegan.  I'll give you the recipe in a minute, but first, let me tell you how I got to it.  About four months ago, DH decided to cut sugar out of his diet (as much as possible).  While I and the girls aren't ready to go as far as he has, I've been trying to cut back on the sugar.  So, I've been altering the vegan pancakes that I make on fasting days.  I've cut the sugar out completely and substituted one ripe banana.  After all, banana pancakes are great anyway.  I decided to add some blueberries the other day, and the girls loved them.  They also didn't notice the banana at all.  I mashed it so well -- no chunks -- and the taste blended with everything else.

Well, since the pancakes turned out so well, I decided to try the same thing with muffins.  I have a chocolate chip banana muffin recipe that has always been a hit, so why not adapt it.  I cut out the sugar (and the salt), took away the chocolate chips, and added blueberries.  It was perfect.  The girls oohed and aahed, and asked for more.  I loved them, too.  They were soft and moist, and just the right sweet.

So, without further ado, here's the adapted recipe:

2-3 ripe bananas
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 baking soda
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup oil or tahini
4-6 oz blueberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

If you have a large Kitchen-aid mixer, you can throw everything, except the blueberries, in and mix.  If not, mash the bananas in a small bowl.  Mix the dry ingredients in another bowl.  Add the wet ingredients and bananas, and mix.  Then, gently stir in the blueberries.  Pour into 12 muffin cups, and bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes (I don't preheat).

Monday, June 11, 2012

Computer Silhouettes

So, I saw a pin on pinterest at for doing computer generated silhouettes that I thought was pretty cool.  Then, I recently got an email from Paperless Post for a competition to win "a Custom Portrait by Artist Carter Kustera."  The portrait is a silhouette with a custom caption.  When I saw it, I thought, I don't need to enter the contest. I can do that!

So, I did.  I'm thinking I can print something like this for their grandmothers for Christmas or birthdays.  These took only about 10 minutes using a digital camera and Photoshop. The link above has another link to free software that would allow you to do the same thing. What a great, inexpensive gift this could be.  Shutterfly or at home 8x10 prints, a cute frame, and a great gift.  My mother still has a construction paper silhouette that we made at school when I was in first grade.  It would also be cool to compare that to the girls', too.  Anyway, now that I know it works, I may try again with new photographs.  Probably something with their hair in pony tails to make the silhouettes neater and less "fat" looking.
Hummingbird picked what hers should say, and when I redo them, I'll let Bumble Bee pick her caption. Then, each will have a piece of art that captures not only her image through ta camera lens, but her self-image as well!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Human Crime or Punishment From God?

I recently learned that the Westboro Baptist Church plans to protest at the funeral of an Orthodox woman, who was shot at point-blank range last week by a gunman who was escaping from a coffee shop in Seattle, where he had already killed several people.  The church members are planning the protest because they believe her death was punishment for the same-sex marriage law passed in Washington. 

Let me take a cue from SNL… REALLY?!

God does not punish innocent people for the sins of society.  I did not know the woman who was shot, but I'm guessing as an Orthodox Christian, she was not a proponent of same-sex marriage.  Regardless of her stance on the issue, I would like to repeat that God does not punish individuals for the sins of society, and He hasn't since he sent the flood in the days of Noah.  The day will come when He will judge each of us, but that day is not here yet.  The horrible crimes committed in the world are committed by fallen humans with free will.  Why was this woman murdered last week?  A combination of chance, timing, and someone's free will choice to commit murder caused her death.  NOT God.  Despite how we may sometimes feel, God is not punishing us in this world.  And it is not our place to pass judgment on others and add to the misery of the world.  Our place is to work to understand each other, perhaps correcting each other in love, and to support each other in our struggle to reach salvation.
The members of the Westboro Baptist Church and all of those who wish to point a finger of judgment need to step back and examine what is in their own hearts causing such a desire to add so much pain to an already pained world.  Is God really the one urging their protests?  As much as God may hate our sins, He still loves us sinners.

If you would like to show support to the family, you can find contact information for sending cards and well wishes at The Sounding.