Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Soups-- # 10 Winter 2008/2009

The last soup that I featured--the hearty winter soup--was so popular that several of you indicated you tried it. And liked it! Great.

And I learned one blogger was inspired to post a bread recipe--it would go great with a soup to make a meal. Check it out here.

Well, that puts the pressure on me to post an equally appealing recipe. Don't know if this will do the trick or not. BUT, this soup is half of what I am making for Super Bowl Sunday--the other half is chili with beef.

Now before anyone mentions it, yes, I did post a turkey chili earlier in the season. That one featured black beans and shoepeg corn. Plus the seasonings were a little different. Anyway, making turkey chili again can't hurt.

White (Turkey) Chili

Serves 6 to 8


2 pounds ground turkey meat
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf
1 (28-ounce) can tomatillos, drained and chopped
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, drained
2 cups chicken broth
1 15- to 16-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans)
1 can black-eyed peas
Chopped cilantro (optional)
Grated Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

1. In a large heavy-bottomed pot brown turkey meat over medium high heat.

2. Drain and set aside. Add oil and reduce heat to medium.

3. Add peppers and shallots and cook until softened but not browned.

4. Add browned turkey, coriander, cumin, oregano and salt and stir well to combine.

5. Add bay leaf, tomatillos, chiles, jalapeño and broth, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 45 to 50 minutes.

6. Gently stir in beans and cook for another 30 minutes. Garnish individual bowls of chili with cilantro, cheese or sour cream, if you like.
(I just finished making it, and tasted it--YUM!)

So, now that I have posted a recipe, I can move on to the subject I really want to talk about.




Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cleaning so the cleaners can come. . .

It has been quite a few years since we had a cleaning service tend to the cleaning in our house. When I worked full-time, we employed one of the standard national branded cleaning companies. I can't say I was exactly thrilled with their work, but it sure was nice to come home to a freshly vacuumed carpet.

The irony was that I always cleaned the house before the cleaning people came. Oh, I didn't vacuum or dust. But I would red up the house. (Isn't that a grand expression--it's
Pennsylvania Dutch for tidy up.) Anything out of place was put in its place. Dishes were most certainly stored in the dishwasher. No dirty dishes in the sink. Clothes were hung up.

And then the cleaning people could come.

When we first stopped our cleaning service, I actually took great joy in cleaning the house--all except for cleaning bathrooms. I felt very righteous about the money I saved by not paying a cleaning service. I don't begrudge the women who work in such an endeavor, but reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s classic Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting by in America opened my eyes to the degree to which such women are exploited by their employers.

So, I do my own cleaning. But yesterday, I had made arrangements for a carpet cleaner to come in and rejuvenate our carpets. The first time I had a carpet cleaner come in, quite some time ago, I naively picked the carpet steam cleaning company that includes St*nley in its name. The guys who came in whizzed through the cleaning, bonking furniture as they went. At one point they moved the dining room table by dragging it--promptly breaking one of its legs. Needless to say, I did not engage them again.

I found a wonderful efficient hard-working local man who owns his own little carpet steam cleaning company. And he has been doing the job ever since.

this photo comes from this is NOT the company I used, and this is NOT my house.

But before he arrives, I have to get the house ready. I move small items sitting on any carpeted floor, so he can sail through his work. Then I vacuum the whole house. And then, after he leaves and the carpets have dried, I put everything back. Whew!

I love the end result, but the whole effort is tiring. (Oh, and the effort seems to contribute to a few back spasms!)

I have to stop getting people to help me clean the house--it is exhausting me just getting ready for them to clean.

From one first born to another. . .

Today is our son's birthday. A couple of years ago, I posted a "happy birthday" blog complete with pictures of him as a child. He sure was cute.

He has grown into a wonderful man--caring, intelligent, humorous, thoughtful. It is such a joy to have a child grow up into such a great person.

I am very glad that he and his sister have developed a great relationship, even with the 9 years that separates their ages. When we learned we were going to have our daughter, and told our son--his first words were: "Oh good, now I won't be an only child." The amazing thing about that comment was that he had NEVER expressed an opinion about being an only child.

Some of my friends used to ask me, before our daughter was born, whether I minded having a son--since they assumed I, as a feminist, would want to raise a daughter. My answer--no, I am raising our son to be a great husband for someone's daughter.

So, no embarrassing pics this time around.

Just a note (although he doesn't usually read my blog) to say "Happy Birthday, son."

With love from your very proud mother.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Something's Going Around. . .and I caught it!

1. Do you like blue cheese? Too much. . .so I don’t keep it in the house.

2. Have you ever smoked? While I was in graduate school, I noticed that the smokers had more time to answer questions than anyone else. (You know, the whole routine, cigarette out, tap it down, light it. . .pipe smokers had the best time!) So one day, I found a cigarette, and tried smoking it. BLECCHH. I rinsed my mouth out, chewed gum, etc. That was the end of smoking—and as I result I learned to be a quick thinker.

3. Do you own a gun? There was a brief time when my husband was a guard (as a part time job) and HAD to have a gun to do work in a bank. So when he came home with it, he unloaded it, put it in a suitcase, and then put it high on a shelf in a closet. That was a LONG time ago.

4. What flavor Kool Aid is your favorite? Hmmm—been ages since I had any, but I suppose root beer.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Oh my, no.

6. What do you think of hot dogs? I think people who let their dogs get hot should be. . .What? Oh, you mean the food—I like them at a baseball game.

7. Favorite Christmas movie? Does the original Charlie Brown Christmas special count?

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? COFFEE—oh, am I shouting, sorry.

9. Can you do push-ups? Um, are you trying to make me feel inadequate?

10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? Any ring or necklace my husband gave me—because he always does that to show he loves me.

11. Favorite hobby? Reading, or blogging, or walking the dog, or knitting, or watching football, or. . .

12. Do you have A.D.D? See answer above.

13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? Oh yes, I have a pair of glasses on every level of our split-level house.

14. Middle name? Faye.

15. Name thoughts at this moment? How can I keep being humorous in answering these questions.

16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Coffee, wine, tea.

17. Current worry? That our new president will NOT have enough time to solve the country’s problems.

18. Current hate right now? Hate? Oh, I guess drivers who use cell phones while they weave. . .er, drive down the road.

19. Favorite place to be? Any place with my husband, daughter or son (and their partners).

20. How did you bring in the New Year? Back at home after an early party.

21. Where would you like to go? Let’s see—how about London.

22. Name three people who will complete this? OK—brother and sister, have you done this meme? Get cracking.

23. Do you own slippers? Oh yeah—pig slippers--you read correctly PIG not pink (a Christmas gift).

24. What color shirt are you wearing? Lime green

25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? I have no idea—never had the chance to try.

26. Can you whistle? And how—I can whistle tunes, and I can wolf-whistle with my fingers (a little something I learned in Latin class.

27. Favorite Color? Plaid.

28. What songs do you sing in the shower? The Hallelujah chorus. . .all parts. Just kidding. Actually, much as I like to sing, I don’t sing in the shower.

29. Would you be a pirate? Nope—I like my baths too much.

30. Favorite Girl's Name? Kristen

31. Favorite boy's name? Geoffrey (remember I am KG Mom)

32. What's in your pocket right now? Nothing—if I had something in my pocket, I would forget it, and only find it in the laundry.

33. Last thing that made you laugh? Listening to Gov. Blagojevich claim his impeachment trial is UNFAIR to him, WHILE he goes on TV in NYC--the very day his impeachment trial is being held.

34. What vehicle do you drive? A Mazda Protégé.

35. Worst injury you've ever had? A badly hurt shoulder when I stepped off a curb in Paris, fell, and BOUNCED back into a sitting position. It was not until AFTER I was sitting that I realized I had fallen. Whole arm turned black, then blue, then green, then yellow. Ended up seeing an orthopod to regain range of motion.

36. Do you love where you live? Yes, all except for folks being somewhat political conservative, this area is a beautiful place to live. Oh, and we don’t get enough snow.

37. How many TVs do you have in your house? 6—why do you want to know?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday Soups -- # 9 Winter, 2008/9

Soups have been on vacation! And now, soup recipes are B-A-C-K. So, for the next 4 Saturdays, I will post Saturday Soups. By the time March comes around, we will all be thinking of spring, so I will stop then, for the soup season.

This soup gives you lots of options: with meat, without meat; and the base ingredients are a dried mixture you make yourself. It could even be fun for children to help with putting the dried ingredients together.

Makes 12 servings

This soup calls for a dried mixture—you can mix your own to your liking. Use a combination of barley, brown rice, dried minced onions, green split peas, lentils and a pasta such as alphabet macaroni. If you mix together more than the 2 cups called for in the soup, you can save that in an airtight container for future soups.


Soup meat (optional)--either beef or chicken, already cooked
2 cups dried mixture (See note above)
10 cups beef broth
28 oz. canned chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
dash of pepper
2 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
Cabbage chopped or other leafy vegetable such as kale

1) Cook dried mixture, beef broth, tomatoes slowly in a pot for about 1-1/2 hours.

2) Add parsley, bay leaves and pepper. Cook another 1 hour.

3) Add all vegetables and cook 15 to 30 additional minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4) If you wish, add cooked poultry or beef toward the end of the cooking time.
Serve with a hearty bread, and you have a complete meal.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I have seen this date for a number of months, now. One of the cars of a fellow faculty at my community college has this date on the bumper.

I have been waiting. Counting down.

And praying.

Prayer has become quite the subject of late. President Obama (oooo--the first time I have typed that!) had asked several people to offer prayers--controversially, Rick Warren; Joseph Lowery; and on Sunday at the "We are One" concert--Bishop Gene Robinson.

An Internet discussion group that I read had a lively exchange on whether or not Rick Warren "would invoke the name of Jesus." Some on this discussion group opined that he had better--almost with a teeth gritting tone. Others weren't so sure. The discussion went back and forth. If you watched the inauguration, you know that Rick Warren said "in the name of the one who changed my life."

I did not see any flurry of controversy about Reverend Joseph Lowery's benediction prayer--but I actually found it to be one of the most authentic moments of the inauguration (that is, if you don't count Chief Justice Roberts' flubbing of the oath of office).

On Sunday, when the celebratory concert of "We are One" was held, Bishop Gene Robinson prayed the invocation, not that anyone watching HBO saw it. Big mix-up.

I find Gene Robinson to be one of the most delightful, good-humored, gentle souls. Upon his being asked to pray, he began studying inaugural prayers. He was stunned, he said, at how militantly Christian he found them. In light of the "invoke the name" discussion surrounding Rick Warren's prayer, Gene Robinson said he planned to pray to the God of his understanding. Then, he explained that during his recovery from alcoholism, he learned that in AA one of the phrases is to invoke "the God of my understanding."

I was so touched by that admission on Bishop Robinson's part.

Thanks to the quick thinking of Sarah Pulliam of Christianity Today, we have the text of Robinson's prayer. Apparently, she taped it with her cell phone and then transcribed it. You can read about her here.

And here is Bishop Robinson's prayer:

“O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with
tears -- tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a
dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting
an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and

Bless this nation with anger -- anger at discrimination, at home and
abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian,
bisexual, and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort at the easy, simplistic answers we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a
nation must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine
respect and warm embrace of our differences.

Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable.

And God, we give you thanks for your child, Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln’s
reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best
efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for all people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady, calm captain.

Give him stirring words; We will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his
leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that
experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those
who are still its victims.

Give him strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking far too much of this one. We implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand, that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity, and peace. Amen."

AMEN and amen.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Moved To Tears

So, I was driving along an expressway today, taking my car to the garage for a routine maintenance. I had NPR on the radio, and as I listened to the top news stories on "All Things Considered" I felt my eyes filling with tears.

The story--Eric Holder's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Never mind that MY senator, Arlen Specter, makes a spectacle of himself "grilling" Holder about his advising President Clinton on pardoning Marc Rich. I do not recall Specter being so vociferous questioning Alberto Gonzalez. But that's not why I was moved to tears.

(photo from

No, the interchange that filled my eyes with tears was between Senator Leahy, who chairs the committee, and Eric Holder.

Question: Is waterboarding torture.

Answer: Waterboarding is torture. It was so defined under the Spanish Inquisition and when used by the Japanese in World War II, and it remains so today.

There--that was it. I felt a catch in my throat. My eyes began to fill with tears--and I thought: finally. A prospective attorney general for our country who has the courage to say waterboarding is torture.

It gets better.

Question: Does the president have the power to immunize people against criminal charges if they use waterboarding.

Answer: No one is above the law.

And you could almost hear the tremendous crack as the shell of taint that has surrounded our country and robbed us of moral authority in the world begins to shatter.

Of course, there will be someone who uses the ticking time bomb test. It goes like this: suppose you grab a terrorist who you know has placed a bomb somewhere (say in the middle of Times Square or some other place populated with loads of people). Isn't it justified to torture that person to get him to tell you where the bomb is. So, you take one life--but you save thousands.

And my answer is--no, it is not justified. If we do that--we are no better than the people we presume to oppose.

So, thank you, Eric Holder--my eyes cleared, and I continued safely to the garage. But, I felt a little better about where my country is headed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It Takes a Village.. . .

This post reflects my thoughts on the degree to which blogging creates a kind of community. Oh, I know that blogging should not take the place of being in contact with friends day to day. And, of course, blogging should not take the place of face to face conversation, just as email should not take the place of personal contact.

But, let's be honest, cyber communication has changed the way we communicate. When was the last time you sat down and wrote a LETTER? OK--Christmas letters don't count. Email has made written communication a daily thing, but a very different thing than a century ago.

Even telephoning has changed. True--most of us have cell phones, but depending on your age, you aren't using that phone to make CALLS--please--you are using it to text your friend. Oh, make that--txt ur bff.

(No wonder it is getting more difficult to teach students to write.)

Anyway, what got me cogitating upon the nature of community is that I find blogging has created a cyber community. No, I am claiming no cutting edge observation here--no doubt sociologists are already written doctoral dissertations on how people connect even in a wired way.

First, we have our cyber friends--I, like many people who blog, try to check up on my cyber friends periodically. As we read about their lives and observations, we begin to care about them.

Second, we become invested in their lives. Over this past year, I have worried about the health of cyber friends--Pam, and Cathy. I have mourned when Mary lost a family member. I have thrilled with good news from Delia.

I have gone hunting with Ruthie, traveled with Julie and Ginnie, watched AC play with his first grandchild, smiled at Laura's stories of Luka's antics.

I have been inspired by the gentle words of Nina, by the great work Beth does, by Tom's inspirational teaching of youth, and by Jean's loving devotion.

I could go on. . .there are many other blogging friends who I have not mentioned who are no less interesting, inspiring, adventurous, courageous, and caring. Some of them are along the sidebar of my blog.

And now I am worrying about Philip--usually a loquacious poster, he has been silent for nearly two weeks. I find myself checking his blog every day, even though I have signed up as "following" him, so I get notices if he posts. His silence is uncharacteristic. I hope all is well.

So, it takes a village--a cyber village, sometimes, as well as a literal village.

John Donne captured it is his famous meditation XVII--

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

We are all part of the main.

Friday, January 09, 2009

No U-Haul behind a Hearse

(photo from the Internet--I don't really think someone tried to "take it with him"!)

The title of this post may make you scratch your head a bit--but I looked around for an appropriate quote to get at the idea of possessions, and every one I found just seemed lame.

So I recalled this old expression--no idea who might have first said it, but it conveys something that speaks to my heart. Of course, the gospel statement of "what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?" says it so much better.

So, why this rumination of possessions? Because my husband and I have just given away our dining room table and chairs. Now, mind, we are not going without such a table. We found a new one that is on its way, so I put the old table and chairs on Freecycle (yes, my friendly Internet give-away site).

It was the responses that just blew me away. I really struggled making a decision about whom I should select to give the tables and chairs.

(photo from Internet--this is NOT our old table and chairs!)

Here are some of the things people wrote in response to my offering the furniture (with no corrections as to how they expressed their need):

--Hello I Am Very Intrested In This Dining Set, I Am A Single Parent And
Just Moved In Area And I Have A Person From My Daughter's Nursing Hospice Care That Would Be Glad To Pick Up For Me, I Can Really Use This For My Family

--We're interested in the table and chairs. We 'inherited' an older table
from my wife's deceased grandmother a few years ago. It had been around for
quite a time - and was in storage for a few years before we acquired it. It has
never been in good condition since we got it - and most of the chairs are
broken. We've been holding out to find/purchase a newer set - but haven't
done so yet as there are always other pressing needs.

--I would be very interested in yoru dining table and chairs. We
moved here a couple of years ago, with nothing, from CO. Due to health
reasons we moved here to be near family. We have accumulated quite a few
items, but are still in need of a dining table and chairs. Since moving
here, we also moved my daughter and her two children in with us. I believe
it is so important for families to eat together as a family and discuss their
day. Any way, I would be very interested in your dining table and
chairs. Please consider my request. Thank you and God Bless

--We would love to take the table off your hands. We are a family
of five and haven't been able to sit at the table together for about two years
now. I would love to be able to eat as a whole family again. We
could pick up by sat. for you. It would be Friday I think my husband has a
meeting for scouts Thursday night. We could pick up tonight, but I see you
want to wait for 24 hours. I understand that. Let us know if we are
the ones chosen and I will make sure he has the trailer here at our house
waiting to come get it.

--if you still have the table and chairs please let me know i have been
looking for one for a girl at church and her kids they had to start over so i
took it apon myself to try to help her out by trying to find her some furniture
please let me know if you still have this thanks and blessings to you and

--If you would consider us for the table and chairs, we would be very
greatful. We are a family of 8 and we have to eat in shifts. We only have 4
chairs and a small table. If you would consider us, then we would have enough
room for everyone and could freecycle what we have the table and 2 chairs,
because we would need to keep 2 to go with the table and 6 chairs that you have.
Thank you for at least considering us.

Well, I almost went out and bought another table and chairs just so I could pick TWO families to get a place to sit to eat. It touches the heart.

I finally contacted the family of 8, and today the father came by with his pick-up truck. Together, he and I loaded the 6 chairs, two extension pieces, and table onto his truck. I hope that tonight that family ate together, perhaps even saying a prayer, and thinking how they can help another family.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Read The Headlines

I have written here a bit about my 8 year stint in state government. But with the political news of late being dominated by tales of venality and corruption, I am reminded of the little bit of advice I would give people who asked about being in government.

The short version of advice is: READ THE HEADLINES.

The long version really isn't much more complicated--whatever the action, the behavior--I would advise my immediate subordinates--read the headlines. Take whatever it is you are planning to do (or not do) and then write an article, mentally--of course--and write the headline. Then read it. Do you like what it says? Would you be proud to have that headline splashed all over the front page? Yes? Fine. No? Then why do whatever.

So, Rod Blagojevich--you want to "sell" the Senate seat held by now President-elect Obama? Write the headline. Do you like it? Then don't pursue your venal plan.

Bernie Madoff--planning to set up a Ponzi scheme and bilk thousands of people out of billions of dollars, and eventually cause the death of several people. Don't like the headlines? Then skip the phony money scheme.

Then there is the bizarre case of
Marc Dreier. He is a prominent NY attorney who tried to impersonate someone (while in Toronto) and then tried to sell phony bonds. I know. . .it is too bizarre. So read the headlines. Don't like the sound? Then skip all the craziness.

I had one other piece of advice to offer. Occasionally, someone would ask me what he or she needed to know before taking a position in state government. My answer? Decide in advance what issue you will fall on your sword for.

What do I mean by that? In state government, there are always pressures--I was a deputy secretary in our state health department. Under me was all quality assurance which included hospital and nursing home licensing, as well as approvals to open health facilities.

So, the governor's office might pressure me to speed up an approval. Or a legislator would tell a constituent that he, the legislator, could get those "do-nothings" in the health department to move things along. And then I would get a call. I would (gently) remind the legislator that the law prohibited such contacts while an application was pending, and did he want me to make a note of this ex parte contact? (The significance of that is that such contacts are discoverable were there ever to be a law suit.) Oh, no, no--the legislator would say--I am not trying to force you to do anything. Right.

So, early on, I decided what issue I could not engage in--had I been ordered to do so, I would have "fallen on my sword."

There you have it--my two pithy pieces of advice: read the headlines, then decide if your action would bear public scrutiny. And know what line you cannot and will not cross.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

More or Less. . .

The house is quiet now--our adult children and their wonderful partners have returned to their homes. Our son and his wife were only here a couple of days--a sweet Christmas treat.

Our daughter and her fiance were here a bit longer--visiting two sets of parents, us in PA, and his in NJ. And also doing a bit of wedding planning. But they have their work to return to--so off they flew to London.

The house is undecorated, mostly--just a few more things to put away.

So, now what?

One more week before classes resume at my community college. Must. finish. my. syllabus. . .tomorrow.

What else?

Hmmm, tap, tap, tap finger against my lips? OH YES! Resolutions.

So, some years I make resolutions; some years, I resolve NOT to make resolutions. I have thought about the whole exercise of making resolutions--and have concluded they tend to boil down to MORE or LESS.

This year, I want to weigh LESS, and eat MORE health foods.

This year, I want to exercise MORE (see above related items).

This year, I want to waste LESS time, and read MORE.

This year, I want to cherish family MORE.

Will I keep my resolutions?
More or less!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Stay Tuned

Herewith a series of exchanges between me and our local Fox News channel. I do NOT watch the national Fox News--just can't stand it--but the local news comes on at 10 o'clock. Their catchy little promo for themselves is "At 10 it's news, at 11 it's history."

Well, I just go nuts at their choice of stories. So occasionally, I pop off an email to them. This one is from a couple of months back--hence the reference to stories no longer in the news cycle.


To: News Director, Local Fox Network
Subject: News Choice

Mr. News Director—

I am writing to protest the choice of news at WPMT.

Two nights ago, I watched your newscast at 10 p.m. One of the stories that aired was footage from somewhere in India, where people dropped babies from a height on to mattresses below. The explanation of this salacious story gave no indication why on earth it was of ANY interest anywhere, especially central Pennsylvania.

I was appalled--first, why that story? Second, how many dumb people seeing it might decide to do just that. And third, there are genuine stories that could be covered. For example, the story of Sergeant German, a young soldier who was injured in Iraq--burned over 90 % of his body. He recently died. That story has all the human interest you could possibly hope for, and actually has some merit for an audience anywhere.

For a long time, I have been disgusted at the news stories you air that are from outside this area. Most seem to be chosen because they are sensational. I will stop watching your news at 10 as long as this type of stories is your standard fare.


Dear KGMom,

First I want to thank you for writing FOX LOCAL NEWS about your concerns over our story coverage of the babies in India being dropped from the building.

I also read the story on the internet this weekend about the marine who died from his burns. That story most likely will be moving on our news services in the next day or two.

The baby story also came to us from both our FOX News Service and CNN, where we also have a news service contract. It also aired on the FOX News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, BBC World, and the other local television stations in our area.

In our 10 pm newscast, we try to present a broad view of the events taking place not only in our communities and the United States, but across the globe. Our objective is to provide to our viewers the information that comes to us on a daily basis. By offering an hour of evening news we can provide more stories. We do not expect everyone to agree with every story we place in a newscast.

But we feel, it is better to inform our viewers this is going on somewhere in the world than to ignore the cultural differences outside of our lives.

I do believe that our viewers are intelligent enough to understand that this ritual should not duplicated in our society, nor would it be tolerated.

Thank you for your thoughts.


Mr. News Director


Mr. New Director:

Your comment that what Fox Local News tries to do is "present a broad view of the event taking place not only in our communities and the United States, but across the globe" is almost ludicrous on its face.

If the baby story had been aired with a context of here's what the cultural norms are in India, here's how some Indians view their children, here's what Hindus believe on a given subject, and THEN showed the dropping babies story, I might be convinced.

But, the typical approach of Fox Local News is to give 4 teasers about an upcoming story, and then finally air the story for 30 seconds. No context is given, no greater understanding of the world. In fact, what you do is the exact opposite of what you claim: you really show video that has shock appeal and give almost NO understanding of why what is shown on the video might be happening. So people in central Pennsylvania can walk away from the news shaking their heads and saying what crazy people those folks in India are.

I have not looked up the other news sources you cited (CNN or BBC) to see if and how they presented this story, but I will.

I appreciate the answer, but I do find it unsatisfying to my primary concern--video shown simply because of its shock value.



Yes, to all my astute readers who mutter--hasn't she had this battle before? I have written about it, here and here in relation to weather forecasting. Yes, it's a perennial itch of mine that I just can't get scratched! Thanks for listening. . .stay tuned!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Making Merry and Being Happy

Sorry for the absence, folks. But the children have been here--our daughter and her fiance from London, and our son and his wife for a couple of days. So, I simply absented myself from the world of blogging.

Everyone is gone now, so the house is most quiet.

Christmas was merry. My
brother wrote about his recollections of a Christmas trip that sounded like some my husband and I made many years ago. My parents lived in northern Indiana when our son was a little boy. We would make a trip sometime over Christmas, frequently leaving at night and driving all night to get to Nappanee. My husband and I would switch off driving. When we would arrive at my parents' house, my mother would take over caring for our son--her first grandchild--while my husband and I would sleep. I can still recall the dotted white line coming at me, as I closed my eyes.

By the time our daughter was born, Christmases shifted to central Pennsylvania. My parents had moved, and so we split our celebrations between my husband's family and mine.

Now, it is our children who do the traveling--at least that was true this year. We have occasionally traveled at Christmas--last year to London, several years ago to Spain.

Whatever the place, however the means of family gathering--we make merry. And with the new year--we are mindful of how fortunate we are.

My wish for all with the dawn of this new year--that better times are ahead. What else is there to say?