Seven Degrees from Normal

Two people, eighteen years of marriage, seven college degrees.

Friday, November 25, 2005

They say 90% of all small businesses fail in the first year

Ex-FEMA Head Starts Disaster Planning Firm
The Associated Press
Friday, November 25, 2005

DENVER -- Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.

"If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses--because that goes straight to the bottom line _ then I hope I can help the country in some way," Brown told the Rocky Mountain News for its Thursday editions.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Robert Jensen has an essay up at AlterNet about Thanksgiving's inherently imperialist nature, which I mostly agree with, but in the spirit of not wanting to spend the rest of my life pouring dirt on my head and wailing, I prefer to think of the holiday as a remembrance of the very brief period of time before things went horribly wrong.

Yes, shortly after the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims industriously set about exterminating the Americans who lived here first, and yes the Founding Fathers did it too, and yes we're all complicit. But at that first one, Indians were welcome. At that first one, at least there was a chance that it might have turned out differently. I wish it had; I don't know what this country would look like now in that case but at least we'd have one less genocide on our collective conscience.

On that note, here is a recipe for Three Sisters Soup which I put together with a little Internet research after reading yesterday's piece on native foods in the New York Times (if you do any gardening, or are interested in cultural preservation or just cool projects, be sure to check out the Native Seeds program mentioned in the article). The Three Sisters are corn, beans, and squash, which the Indians interplanted. We had this last night, and even the two-year old liked it:

2-3 T peanut oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1 onion, sliced thin
1 butternut squash, halved and seeded, baked in a shallow pan of water at 350 for about an hour, then cooled, peeled, and cut in chunks (I was making a pumpkin pie at the time, so I just threw this in the oven with it--you could microwave it for 5-10 minutes instead.)
2 cups corn (I used frozen organic, because I am better than you.)
1 can each kidney, pinto and black beans, drained
1 4 oz. can chopped green chiles
1 can chicken broth (you could use vegetable)
cumin--I think I used between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon. Depends on how much you like it and how strong yours is.
Salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt--as one Indian poster noted in his Web recipe, "We didn't use salt much before the invasion."

Brown the onions and garlic in the oil, add the squash and the corn. Cook for a few minutes. Add everything else and let it stew for maybe an hour--it should get pretty stew-like but the squash should not dissolve.

You can make cornmeal dumplings to go with it--they're fun!

1/2 c. cornmeal
1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. dill (I think this has to mean fresh--I just used about 1/4 t. dried).
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
2 T. water
1-1/2 t. olive oil
1 egg

Mix the dry stuff, and mix the wet stuff separately. Then put them together and stir with a fork until combined. With wet hands, form about 16 balls 1" in diameter. Bring a large-ish pot of water to a boil, then turn down to a bare simmer and gently place the dumplings in the water (don't crowd them--they'll swell. Do two batches if you need to). Cover the pot and steam for 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and put them in each bowl of soup as you serve it. Eat and be thankful there are still some Indians left.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

No I was not eaten by bears

Yes, I know it's time for them to fatten up and settle down to hibernating, and Yes I know I did not post for a month, which was Very Bad. I am sorry if you worried. But sometimes I read Fafblog and see no need to blog myself. Things like When Muslims Attack! or the continuing series So You're STILL Being Tortured to Death in an American Military Prison!

Although I can't be that funny and creative, I do keep busy, what with this year's Halloween display, and various catastrophes at work, like the catering order for thirty that didn't show up, or the survey form for hundreds of instructors that was printed with a flawed point scale. These are not the kinds of things I thought I got my PhD. to deal with, but, mysterious ways, etc., etc.

In other news, Texas is now even safer than before from the scourge of gay marriage (shh . . . click on the link very quietly. The people in the picture are praying). Our school system is still unfunded, and hundreds of thousands of children are without health insurance and going to bed hungry most nights, but at least they're safe from gay marriage. Which is a good thing, since they are probably too hungry, sick, and illiterate to deal with the confusion of Billy having two daddies.

Back in the real world, things look more rational, with President pouts-a-lot plummeting to new lows in the polls, and 57% of Americans now dimly grasping the fact that the man does not tell the truth. Add to this the various GOP scandals that are now going off like a string of well-timed explosive charges laid to bring down a large, derelict building: the Libby indictment, the Miers withdrawal, continuing ripples in the Abramoff investigation, the ominous election results and succeeding panic.

Should be an entertaining holiday season, though I'd rather have a peaceful one.