Labor Day

It’s Labor Day morning. Papa is up early. He is cleaned and dressed on his own. His plaid button down is tucked into his white underpants. The elastic of the shorts and their Hanes logo visible to all above the waistline of his green pants. I don’t mention it.
If you’ve ever been around or have cared for an autistic child, that’s very much what dementia is like I some ways. Single minded. Routined. Rigid.

Papa is waiting for “the girl” . His companion comes every weekday at 9am sharp. If she’s early she waits in the driveway. She is mild mannered, quiet without very good English capabilities. But they get by.

I told him last night that it was Labor Day and she wasn’t coming.

“No, papa, you are wrong. She’ll come. She always comes “.

He comes slowly down the stairs, his heavy steps making each wood joint creak, echoing in the foyer. He stands in the kitchen where I am resting with my coffee.

“Papa, write down again the name of that store where I can find the pasta for cheap.”

I print O C E A N S T A T E J O B L O T in big capitals across a yellow post it. I don’t know why I think that will help either of them understand it better. It’s like shouting at a foreigner.

Papa takes the paper, he meanders to the front door and peers out the sidelight. He sighs and wanders back to the kitchen.

“It’s Chelsea’s birthday the 4th?”

“Yes, she turns 24.”

“Eh, what should I get her, papa? She likes shoes, I remember she told me.”

“Shoes would be nice. Or a gift card.”

“Ah, where do I get that?”

I make it simple for him. His world revolves around Stop n Shop.

“At Stop n Shop”

“Oh, ok!” He is pleased. He knows that place. It’s comfortable.

“Papa, where is the girl, she said she would be here on Monday.” He wanders to the living room window. “Maybe she will not come anymore.”

“I told you it was Labor Day. A holiday. She is not coming today.”

“No, she said she is coming. I’ll wait.”

Fifteen minutes pass with Papa humming to himself and periodically asking me “is the girl coming today? Where is she?”

I ignore each question. No response is necessary.

I remind myself that compassion is always an appropriate response with Papa. I remind myself that he is not being obstinate, he is being demented. It doesn’t help.

Finally after the twelve inquiry I say “let’s call.”

No one picks up. Papa seems satisfied that his “girl” has left him.

“I guess I’ll go take a shower then.” He turns and lumbers slowly up the stairs. I think this episode of ‘where is the girl’ is over.

At the top of the stairs he turns and yells down “When she gets here, tell her how to get to that store where you get the pasta for cheap.”

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Paleo, Passover friendly, Gluten free :)

Fourless Orange Honey Almond Cake

Flourless Orange Honey Almond Cake (paleo)

This recipe is free of: Grains, Gluten, Soy, Dairy, Peanuts, Legumes, Yeast, and Refined Sugar.

2 cups almond flour/meal. I used one cup flour, one cup meal.
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup (or equivalent) alternative sweetener of choice. (If it’s a liquid sweetener such as honey or maple syrup, reduce the other liquids accordingly).
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon orange oil. I use Simply Organics orange flavor.
3 eggs (I use soy free fed eggs).
3/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest of 1/2 an orange
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use butter or coconut spread to grease a 8 or 9 inch round cake pan.
Mix the dry ingredients and combine well. Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and add them to the dry, whisking with a fork. Stir until well combined. There’s no need for an electric mixer here.
Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center to ensure it’s cooked through.
While still warm and in pan, pour orange honey syrup over entire cake. Let sit for thirty minutes. Decorate with sliced almonds and coconut chips.

Orange honey syrup:
1/2 cup orange blossom honey
1/4 cup wrm water
Two tblspns orange juice

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Tax cuts for the wealthy.

A simple lesson in Economics 101.

This is albeit a very simple and basic lesson, there are many other factors that could be and should be included in a more sophisticated plan, but I’ve come to realize that citizens just do not understand basic economics.

Fiscal policy and tax cuts to the wealthier households. In a time of recession, what is needed is expansionary fiscal policy, that is, the government needs to run a deficit. They do this by providing tax cuts – taking in less than they spend. Tax cuts are intended to let people keep more of their money, to be used back into the economy.

A family of four earning $26,400 a year will pay no taxes because the $11,600 standard deduction plus four exemptions of $3,700 each will lower their taxable income to zero . That goes for all households earning up to about on average $100,000. In America, that is 47% of households.

If we have 47% of Americans who pay no taxes, then tax cuts have NO impact on the economy. Nothing from nothing is nothing. You can’t cut someone’s taxes who are paying none. Therefore tax cuts to the 47% do not push money back into the economy.

Tax cuts for those 53% of Americans who do pay taxes – those in the income bracket of $100,000 and above – will most certainly do what taxing the 47% cannot: Pump money into a dried up economy. The more income you have, the more the tax cut benefits all of us. Give a household, earning $250,000, a 2% tax cut (arbitrary) and that’s $5,000 remaining in their pocket. That is invested into bank accounts, where banks can then use it to make more loans, and is increased through the money multiplier effect. Of course that also depends on monetary policy which is another post. Or its spent in the marketplace, duplicating through the multiplier effect overtime. The bottom line is, to get money INTO the economy and duplicating, we have to give it to the people who are earning it and are ALREADY being refused its use through tax impingement.  In America that’s the 53%, those earning over $100,000.

So denying tax cuts to those making more than $100,000 is cutting our own throats. If our public can move beyond the middle school jealousies and petty rivalry and just understand simple math, we might just be able to work our way out of this mess.

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The Democratic Platform reviewed

In fairness, and because I need to be informed, I finished reading the Democratic Platform. First off it was hard to recognize. On the website, it is listed as a platform, but reads as a political ad and attack, with Romney and Ryan specifically mentioned numerous times, starting in the preamble. It also spends a significant amount of ink and white space on justifying much of what Obama did (or didn’t do)in the last four years.

It’s light on details of what will change, which is what I expected and had hoped I would be wrong. Justification for what didn’t happen in the last four years, and supporting language of what would be different and what would happen in the next four years might be expected, from the party putting forward a candidate that stated unequivocally “if I can’t get this done in three years, it will be a one term presidency.” However, they don’t go so far as to say what will change specifically. So we are left to question, If he didn’t know how difficult it would be when he started, if the judgement was flawed, then what is to lead us to believe his judgement has improved. The party falls on their own sword with this defense, unfortunately and they miss the opportunity to clarify or amend this flaw.

I was also surprised how divisive it is, compared to the Republican Platform. No, really, I was surprised. The tone of the platform is little, disenfranchised people fighting…who else…business. But again, beyond the rhetoric of phrases like this “For too long, we’ve had a financial system that stacked the deck against ordinary Americans.” (Words without substance to support that claim) there is little in detail on how the democratic platform will change the outcomes.

Then there are the flights of fancy, the breaks with reality, the delusions and attempts to re-write history…such as this doozy “Without strong enough regulations, families were enticed, and sometimes tricked, into buying homes they couldn’t afford.”, which is comical in that it indicts the very people writing this platform. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd were leading Fanny Mae, the govt entity charged with governmental homeownership regulations, mandates and progress. This tone and framework continues throughout the document. The formula seems to be thus: Grand, rhetorical and inflammatory mistrust statement, followed by why it is evil, followed by statement of justification on what Obama did, followed by scary futuristic claim of Republican demonic vision, followed by a Vote Obama he’ll protect you feel good utopian picture. Missing? Substance, details and outcomes.

It also masters the art of straw man arguments. It inserts as record of fact, fallacies born out of fear tactics developed by the party, stating throughout things like “We reject the argument that says for the economy to grow, we have to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies, or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, or laws that prevent the health insurance industry from shortchanging patients.” The implication in these straw man arguments is that, these things we reject are all what Republicans want for you! Any blue bleeding democrat would love to believe this, were it true. But sadly it isn’t and so the platform wastes precious space and readers time swirling fantasy and horrorgasmic scenarios of brutal Republican regime, rather than putting forth and defending their intentions and tactics.

It holds a hard line on social issues, starting with abortion, addressed in the third section, just before foreign policy, which is given as a kind of after thought as the last section of the platform. Their line on abortion is unequivocal. Abortion at any time, for any purpose, for anyone, without any regulations. I may be pro choice, pray for pro life, but have a clear moral compass and line when it comes to late term abortions. I cannot allow anyone to birth a 37 week old child and stab it in the neck to kill it. The Democratic platform has no problem with that.

It’s not all shallow and depressing though. Under the section “21st Century Government”, they promise to continue to allow for transparency and accountability in government. They point to the website Data.gov as evidence of this transparency. The goal of Data.gov is to improve access to Federal data and expand creative use of those data beyond the walls of government by encouraging innovative ideas (e.g., web applications). Data.gov strives to make government more transparent and is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. The openness derived from Data.gov will strengthen our Nation’s democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government. Finally something I can agree with, getting the details out of government into the public and private sector to help lead innovative solutions.

The most revealing difference comes in the very beginning of the document. It highlights for me the platforms wide discrepancy vision of what government is intended to be and do, and what America’s future will be for our society. I give you below excerpts from the Democratic and the Republican preamble, and let you decide:

“We Democrats offer America the opportunity to move our country forward by creating an economy built to last and built from the middle out. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party have a drastically different vision. They still believe the best way to grow the economy is from the top down—the same approach that benefited the wealthy few but crashed the economy and crushed the middle class.”

“This platform affirms that America has always been a place of grand dreams and even grander realities; and so it will be again, if we return government to its proper role, making it smaller and smarter. If we restructure government’s most important domestic programs to avoid their fiscal collapse. If we keep taxation, litigation, and regulation to a minimum. If we celebrate success, entrepreneurship, and innovation. If we lift up the middle class. If we hand over to the next generation a legacy of growth and prosperity, rather than entitlements and indebtedness.”

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Checked my reality.

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My young male nail tech, at the little salon I go to, actually talked to me today. No, it’s not a stereotype, I’ve rarely spent more than two minutes in conversation with any of the wonderful staff there, they just don’t converse.

But today was different.

Eddy (possibly not his real name, but I am grateful for his consideration of my lack of Korean language skills), started chatting warmly in his halting, fractured English. He began to share his background in agriculture (a student of 6 years), his two years mandatory service in the Korean Army (every child has to serve for two years), and the six years he will have to work for the government when he returns home, to pay back his education: “everything is no money” he extolled “studies, food, even clothes are given you. Then after you graduate, you work 6 years for govt in retuwn.”

He told me one sister works in the salon and another in a salon in another town. They taught him to do nails six years ago. He mentioned LA and a trip he took while in school to tour California’s Agriculture. He will specialize in rice farming on his return to Korea “my country eats a lot of rice”, he shared.

By now, he had warmed up, and his English was becoming more clear…or I was tuning into korenglish. Either way, I was enjoying the exchange.

He spoke of going to Manhattan last week- tiny city, too many people. Then he said “in my country, Seoul is major city. 10 million people in Seoul. New York is little city to Seoul.” Indeed.

Did he see the sights in New York, I queried?
“no, i sign up for school, for engrish course”
You signed up in New York for English? Will you move there?
“oh no” he exclaimed with a smirk “I travel, not everyday, not long, maybe, um, two tree times”.
A month, I asked?
“no,no, a…um, I don’t know word…”
A week, I asked?
“yes, a week” he exclaimed and smiled.

I finally asked him when he came here. “Fo months ago” he grinned. He continued ” I come here to practice my engrish.” All the way from Korea to practice english? “oh, yes. In my country, engrish very, very important. Everyone study engrish, even from preschool.” he said “I like to talk to customer, but sometime does not because they cannot understand, my engrish not so good”.
I thought it was great.

“In my country” he said ” engrish teacher very special. Very important. They make lots of money.”
“I live here fo years, then I go back, work on farm, and teach engrish.”

Eddy is clearly a man with a plan.

This young boy, traveled over 6830 miles, through 13 time zones, to practice is engrish for fo years. It was that important.

And then my reality checked. When was the last time any of us have gone to such lengths, with such a simple but powerful vision, to reach something better than we had.

America. We are truly the land of opportunity. In Eddy’s honor, the man with the plan, I’ll be searching for my 6830 mile opportunity to be better than I am today.

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Do Epic Shit

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Banananananananana’s!!!

This happened today 🙂

Brought them to a friends pool party lunch. Should have made more :(. Recipe below 🙂

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Banana Foster Cupcakes with Buttercream-cheese Caramel Frosting

For the Bananas Foster:

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 firm but ripe bananas, sliced
4 tablespoons rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cupcakes:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons rum
3/4 cup sour cream

For the frosting:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup caramel sauce
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6-7 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk

For the Bananas Foster:

1. In a saute pan over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cook until butter melts and sugar is dissolved (4 to 5 minutes).

2. Add the banana slices and cook until tender, turning once for 1 to 2 minutes per side.

3. Stir together rum and vanilla. Turn off the burner and add the rum mixture to the pan. Using a long match, light the alcohol by placing the flame just in the outer edge of the pan. Stand as far back as possible. The flame should extinguish in a few seconds. Gently shake the pan from side to side to coat the bananas with the sauce. Spoon the bananas into a bowl and set aside.

For the cupcakes:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, rum and banana mixture. Mix well.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

4. Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream; blend thoroughly but do not overmix.

5. Pour into prepared cupcake pans.

6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 3 minutes in pan on rack. Remove and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter and cream cheese together until fluffy; add the caramel sauce and cinnamon and beat until fully incorporated.

2. Slowly add powdered sugar into the bowl, 1/2 cup at a time and beating after each addition. Continue adding the sugar until you have a thick frosting of your preferred consistency. If the frosting becomes too thick, add a tablespoon or more of milk to thin out.

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