Friday, December 12, 2008

Thanksgiving '08: The Year of the Turducken

I've been slack on the updates, but with good reason: The holidays are flipping EXHAUSTING.

Case in point: This year, Tony and I hosted a small Thanksgiving get together at our place for a few of our friends. Since we couldn't nail down an official head count until the last minute, I went junk-out and made food for about 8 people. Which meant I had to start cooking early. Like, the Tuesday before early.

I woke up around 6:30am on Thanksgiving day and then got to cooking. Thankfully, my mom and sister were on mobile phone standby to answer my numerous questions about proper cooking and presentation.

From Thanksgiving 08

Tony, bless him, actually chipped in and cleaned the house after a few requests and the occasional threatening look.

About 20 hours' worth of food prep (and one burned wrist - stupid roasting rack...) later and we had PLENTY to feed the 5 people who finally sat down to dinner:

From Thanksgiving 08

The 2008 Wiley-Giarnelli Thanksgiving Menu consisted of (going clockwise from the flowers):
  1. Corn pudding (aka, corn souffle)
  2. Jalapeno macaroni and cheese (Thank you, Vonetta!)
  3. Honey roasted sweet potatoes
  4. Sage sausage stuffing
  5. Garlicky green beans (Thank you, Christa!)
  6. Cranberry walnut salad
  7. Simple gravy
  8. 7lbs of Lemon-sage brined turkey
  9. 4lbs of Turducken
  10. Cranberry relish
  11. Mashed potatoes (Thank you again, Christa!)
  12. Wild rice
  13. Pumpkin corn bread muffins
  14. Italian bread
  15. Mozzarella basil bruschetta (not pictured)
My dessert (brandied pumpkin creme brulee) was a spectacular failure, but Vonetta saved the day with her A-M-A-Z-I-N-G sweet potato pie. :)

It was fantastic. We wrapped up, watched some football, doled out left overs and said good night...and then the gals and I met up again a scant 5 hours later for some marathon (i.e., 7 hrs of) Black Friday shopping. I am the quintessential shopping queen, thus making Black Friday my high holiday. It's the one stereotype to which I happily subscribe.

Of course, the highlight of this year's event was the 3-in-1 poultry entity that people have repeatedly asked about: the Turducken. 4lbs of duck, wrapped in chicken, wrapped in turkey, with layers of corn bread stuffing in between.

From Thanksgiving 08

I know it sounds revolting, but honestly it's not a bad dish. I'm not going to make a habit of shelling out the $50 to have it delivered to the house (we couldn't find it locally and had to Internet order it from New Orleans), but it added a little something special to the meal. And it made Tony happier than a boy with a brand new puppy on Christmas Day.

Between now and the New Year I get to celebrate some birthdays, hang out with some of my closest friends in D.C. and Charleston, and visit with family in both Pittsburgh and Clemson. Assuming the Steelers beat the Ravens on Sunday, I'll peg this as one of my Top 10 Most Fantastic Ends of the Year.

Happy Holidays!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's feel-good rugby for an Obama Age

By MICHAEL FIELD - Fairfax Media | Sunday, 23 November 2008

America's All Blacks

It was a long bus trip back from a weekend camp for the two rugby teams aboard: one white, the other African-American. They stopped at a convenience store and one of the black kids looked at the newspaper rack to see a report on the murder of his best friend.
Audio: Hyde's rugby
Audio: Girl's rugby
Audio: Racism in rugby
Video: The NY Times documentary

A fat white biker came through the door.

"What the fuck are these crows doing in here?" he barked out.

Tal Bayer, teacher and rugby missionary, says he is no brawler but if somebody wanted a fight "I didn't mind finishing them."

His inclination was to head-butt the guy but Bayer had devoted his life to teaching rugby values and didn't want to suddenly losing them in front of his team because of some idiot.

The boys, he told the biker, were his team and he walked out.

"At that moment I knew I grew up."

And the boy reading the paper, that was Patrick "PJ" Komongnan and rugby was changing his troubled life.

This week the story of Hyde Leadership Public Charter School, has been on front pages as the first US all-African-American high school rugby team. Buried in the text is the extraordinary story of the New Zealand connection.

Bayer, 38, discovered rugby as a military brat when his father was posted to England. In the US he began a career in business but tossed it in to teach at Hyde, then opening on T Street, north east of Capitol Hill in Washington DC.

"Sometimes I come to class with a black eye or a split lip, and that sure gets the kids asking questions, like, ‘have you been mugged?'" Bayer said in an interview.

It was a rugby injury, he'd reply.

About all the students knew of rugby was that it was a white man's game. Bayer told them about the All Blacks. They misunderstood and Bayer admits using the confusion.

He showed them a scratchy video - "a copy of a copy of a copy" - of Jonah Lomu charging down the wing in the 1995 World Cup semi, crushing Englishmen left and right.

They were sold and Hyde is now the first US all-African-American high school rugby team.

Five years ago, as Bayer puts it, "three white guys in suits" showed up at Hyde.

They'd crossed from the glamorous side of DC: they were from the New Zealand Embassy.

They were looking for a ground to host a new rugby competition, the Ambassador's Shield pitting embassy selected expatriates against a Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union team.

John Woods was then ambassador.

"Just accidentally we discovered there was this high school in DC which had a rugby programme and a field ... a field that was pretty run down but it was a rugby field," Woods said.

"It is a tough tough environment."

Renting the ground began a relationship between Hyde "The Pride" and the Embassy that has turned into a deep friendship with the shield match raising US$10,000-$15,000 a year for the school.

The school administration liked rugby as its cheaper than gridiron and produces fewer injuries.

Some families have taken some convincing as 15-year-old scrumhalf Salim Lancaster puts it.

"They thought I was crazy when they said I was playing rugby. Their eyes got big and they said are you crazy? Now I have played it and I just can't stop....

"Rugby is a fun sport. Everyone comes together, joins as a family, that's what I like about rugby.... We all play as a team, its not a one man sport and if you play as team you win games."

At first Hyde's rugby was a bit like rugby's origins.

"It was a mess, no passing, just a lot of wrestling, mauling and mayhem as we tried not to knock ourselves out...."

Washington's Metro Area Varsity Rugby Conference involves mainly private white schools. Hyde joined.

"That first year was a rough one," Bayer says.

"We lost 12 games and must have had 800-900 points scored against us."

PJ was a really tough kid who had been tossed out of schools and once had been handcuffed and led out.

He threw broken glass on the rugby ground and when confronted he said he did not care as no one could ever tackle him.

He was made to pick up the glass and then show his skill.

"He ran over my kids, he ran through them, around them. We couldn't stop him. So at the end I said, ‘tomorrow you're going to play rugby with us.'"

Last year PJ played for the US Eagles at the Wellington Sevens and the tough kid's story isn't yet over.

Much of the school knows death up close. One of their props was shot in the head and killed. PJ's friend was murdered.

One day there was a body on the school grounds. Bayer, who says he knows a bit about life, found it hard to take. The students thought little of it.

"That was, to me, when I really began to understand how different it is here....

"I bet if I asked the question, ‘how many of you know somebody directly in your family, or a very close friend, that has been killed?' You're probably going to get 80 to 90 per cent of kids here who will raise their hands."

Hyde's rugby motto is "Step Aside for the Pride". That's pride of lions and reflects a big part of Hyde's programme of family renewal.

"We also consider our school, teams and classes families unto themselves. In addition, we are trying to instill a sense of pride into all of our students."

Hyde is an alternative to DC's troubled public school system. For some, Hyde is their last chance. Fifty percent of male African-Americans in Washington never graduate high school; 100 percent of Hyde's students go on to college.

Bayer says rugby was crucially different for its values; playing vigorously on the field and joining the opponents after to share.

"The kids used to get really wide-eyed when we'd tell them we were going to have a burger with the other team after the game."

Bayer likes the way rugby lets all the students get a run.

"All of them have an opportunity to run the ball, tackle and different things and they are not pigeon holed and stuck into being linemen in gridiron, or if they play basketball they might get cut because they are too short or fat. In rugby there is a position for every sized kid."

Two years ago a girl told Bayer they wanted rugby and he told her if she got enough signatures he'd find them a coach. Four hours later he had 45 names from a school of 110 girls.

Bayer found a coach; PJ.

"That was kind of cool, to see the alumni coming back and while he is still going through college."

Then there is that link with New Zealand, something Bayer says is "almost indescribable how important it has become to the programme."

As well as using money raised from the annual Shield game, the school has been able to meet the All Black Sevens, talk and swap shirts. They meet New Zealanders, Fijians, Samoans, Tongans and some odd Australians or two.

"It's awesome for them to learn more about the world."

It's not a one way thing. Hyde go to the Embassy's annual shield barbeque. A player's mother went with them last week and told Bayer that she was blown away by the experience.

He told her that he was proud to have taken the players there, for the impact they had on "the kiwis".

"You've got to understand how much of an impact these kids are having on the embassy folk," he said.

"These guys do much to dispel wrong notions of African-Americans."

Current Ambassador Roy Ferguson said it was a priceless opportunity for them, noting that this year Congress Democrat majority whip leader James E Clyburn and the entire board of US Rugby came along.

"(Clyburn) had never seen a game of rugby in his life but he was very impressed because he had heard through his staff what a difference this game and the discipline it had bought to the lives of these inner city guys," Ferguson said.

The congressmen spoke to the Hyde boys at the embassy.

"That was particularly moving. He basically said to these young guys, look you can be anything you want to be if you just set your mind on it in this country. ‘Look at me, I am the most senior African-American in Congress' and he has become a real friend of New Zealand."

Ferguson said it was hard to convey how tough an environment Hyde was in.

The cost of the shield function did raise questions about value for taxpayers, Ferguson said while noting the contacts and attention it was gaining.

"I think it conveys the sort of image of New Zealand that I feel comfortable with, a country that does care about other people and does want to do its bit to assist in what ever way it can."

Woods started the Shield in 1996, wanting to leverage off what he calls the most successful sports team in world sport history.

"Americans appreciate that...

"It is an opportunity to promote us, promote rugby for our own national self interest and to introduce those special characteristics to the United States."

They did not get Wellington's permission: "I am not sure where we cobbled the seed money from, we will draw a veil over it."

He was hard headed as well, wanting to use rugby for New Zealand's gain.

"You are always looking out for some competitive advantage that you've got as a country in the capital of the world's only super-power to advance your interests. This in a modest way, but I think a quite effective way, is one of them."

It would not have worked without Bayer.

"Somebody who devotes himself to that kind of endeavour is a great man."

Bayer's rugby heroes include Christian Cullen and Lomu. Students are a little more up to date.

"They love Tana Umaga, I think it's a hair thing."

Salim Lancaster likes Dan Carter and admires Joe Rokocoko.

Bayer thinks deeply over this; has rugby saved lives?

"It has definitely saved some kids in terms of their decisions where their lives make take them."

Without rugby, many students would have given up.

PJ was one.

"He has often said the only thing that has kept me in this building was the game."

Life and value began to make sense, in the frame work of being in the team.

"Rugby is merely a vehicle to teach them values...."

In a first, the New York Times put a rugby scrum picture on its print front-page over the headline "A rugby scrum, knocking down barriers".

The New York Times said the school loved the international atmosphere and quoted a school senior, Mathew Brown, providing the ultimate seal of approval, saying, "Those Samoans are ballers," he said of one New Zealand player of Samoan playing the shield.

"While diplomats and representatives from USA Rugby sipped cocktails and mingled, the Hyde players escaped the formalities and gathered outside," the Times' Will Bardenwerper wrote. "One of them found a rugby ball. Before long, he was teaching youngsters how to play on the moonlit lawn."

Video: Watch Hyde school play – and visit the New Zealand Embassy - a New York Times video

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What to serve for dessert...?

So I'm in charge of making Thanksgiving dinner this year, and I'm in a bind as to what to serve for dessert.

Since I'm not so good with the decision making and I'd prefer not to short circuit my prefrontal cortex just before the holiday, I'm leaving it up to y'all:

What should I make for dessert on Thanksgiving day?

There's a poll on the right hand side of the blog; just come on over and submit your vote. You can choose more than one, although if you would be so kind as to limit your choices to two, that would be awesome.

Oh! And if you feel that none of my suggestions sound tempting, feel free to suggest an alternative. I'm open to recommendations!

Thanks for the help!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Note to self: Do not check baggage on flight home this holiday

Of course I would find this story the second after I confirm my flight home on the same airline...

Wheelchair-bound Elfride Kuemmel was on her way back home to Tampa Monday when a US Airways employee wheeled her on to the wrong connecting flight.

Tampa, Florida -- The nightmare is over for a Tampa family after a Bay area grandma got lost by the airlines.

Wheelchair-bound Elfride Kuemmel was on her way back home to Tampa Monday when a US Airways employee wheeled her on to the wrong connecting flight.

The 83-year-old wound up in Puerto Rico, where she was initially told she'd have to spend the night at the airport.

Kuemmel's daughter Vera was waiting at baggage claim in Tampa when an airport official finally discovered her mother was waiting in the wrong city.

"I was upset, and I told them there was no way they were going to leave her in the airport all night waiting to leave on a flight at 3:30 in the afternoon," said Vera Kuemmel.

US Airways eventually put Elfriede up in a hotel, paid for her dinner, and flew her back to Tampa first class.

She arrived home around 8:30 Tuesday night.

A spokeswoman for US Airways says they're still investigating what happened.

Beau Zimmer, 10 Connects News

Monday, November 17, 2008


So I was at Target yesterday when I felt something scratching my foot. I figured it was just a splinter from our wood floor, so I took off my shoe and then turned my sock inside out.

However, instead of a splinter of wood, what should fall out of my shoe but a big, gnarly spider cricket leg! (Spider crickets - which look like small weta - run rampant in our basement, which is particularly unfortunate, as that is where our bedroom happens to be located.)

To top it off, when I turned to look at my shoe...a rather dazed and slowly dying spider cricket was staring back at me.

I'd been wearing my shoes for a little over an hour at that point but somehow managed to stifle my scream.

I've been rigorously shaking out my shoes ever since.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What the hell...?

Like a way lamer/tamer Ice Cube

So, I had a flipping phenomenal day yesterday. A good day, as Ice Cube might say.

In no particular order, here are the fantabulous events of November 13, 2008:
  1. While reading the federally-funded evaluation of the NZDS (which was the subject of my Fulbright), I noticed a certain citation in the 'Documents Reviewed' section:

    Wiley A E, MSW/MID, Whakanui Oranga: Lessons on Culture and Policy from the New ZealandDisability Strategy, Massey University, New Zealand, 2007

    That would be MY paper they're talking about.

  2. I go to the Fresh Market to place a turduckin order for Thanksgiving. They didn't have any.

  3. However, they did have a big ol' barrel overflowing with my favorite confectionery treat straight out of New Zealand: RJ's Raspberry Licorice.

    Even at $7 a bag, it's totally worth it.

  4. I finally had a chance to see (most of) the exhibits at the Walters Art Museum. For free!

  5. Bonus: The museum was handing out bucket-fulls of Hershey's Kisses.

  6. Upon walking into the grocery store, the store's sound system starts to pipe my all-time favorite pick-me-up song: I Want You Back by the Jackson 5. I maintain that failure to smile when hearing this song is proof that you have no soul.

It was a good day indeed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Who knew?


Beatles' 'Eleanor Rigby' Mystery May Be Solved

Listen Now

Rigby (300)
BIPs/Getty Images

Legend has it that Paul McCartney made up the name "Eleanor Rigby," but a 1911 document may hold the key to a different story.

Day to Day, November 12, 2008 - There are plenty of stories about the origins of The Beatles' song "Eleanor Rigby."

Legend has it that Eleanor Rigby was a fictional character — that the two names were chosen by Paul McCartney based on an actress he knew and a liquor store in Bristol. But there may well have been a real Eleanor Rigby, and Annie Mawson says she may have proof.

Mawson runs a charity called Sunbeams Trust, which uses music to help people with physical and mental health issues.

The story goes that, nearly 20 years ago, she wrote a very emotional 11-page letter to Paul McCartney explaining, she says, "the transformative power of music, and especially how some of his songs have helped our children communicate. It was just full of stories of the children who had improved so much through music, who didn't even speak."

About nine months later, a response arrived in the mail.

"The envelope was exciting, because it was a brown envelope stamped with his Paul McCartney World Tour logo, unique to him," Mawson says. "So I was very intrigued, because I knew it had to come from him. And inside this envelope was a beautiful ancient parchment from 1911, from a hospital in Liverpool. And on the document, there were three stamps. I saw it was a roll call of names, and they'd all received their wages. And one of them was a scholarly maid, called E. Rigby. And she had received one pounds three and eleven pence. And then she had signed for her money."

Though Paul McCartney has often said that Eleanor Rigby wasn't a real person, Mawson says she believes this document is proof that there, in fact, was a real Eleanor Rigby who inspired the song.

"Why else would he send me it? That's what I don't understand if it isn't," she says. "Maybe it is just another pointer into why he did write 'Eleanor Rigby.' All I know is that he sent me this beautiful document."

The page is up for auction on Nov. 27, and Mawson says it's expected to sell for as much as 500,000 pounds. "The sooner we can get the money," she says, "the sooner we can build our center."

The auction price isn't the only benefit "Eleanor Rigby" has had on Mawson's work with Sunbeams Trust; the song is also part of the program's musical therapy.

"I actually play the harp and sing, and a lot of the songs are very poignant," Mawson says. "And I could say that we cry a lot at Sunbeams. But we also laugh a lot. And I think people need to. But I think there's a time and a place for the right music, and that's one of the songs we love."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Totally & Completely Stuffed

So I'm reading this Telegraph article that lists some little known facts about Barack Obama (thank you, Bradford) when I come across tidbit #34:

"He repaid his student loan only four years ago after signing his book deal"

That's right - the President elect just recently managed to pay off his student loans. After signing a multi-million dollar book deal.

Which means that my mid-level salaried self, which comes out of deferment in December, is tooooooooootally screwed.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hells yeah we did!

I actually intended to post photos from our Halloween party...but my sister sent this to me instead. And really, it's just too good not to share...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's a beautiful morning!!!

I lack words to describe what I'm feeling right now. Partly because it's almost 1am and I am flipping exhausted, but also because I can't find the words that fully depict what all I'm feeling. It's cheesy, but it's like a fog has been lifted and for once I am looking at the morning and the next day not only with hope and optimism, but with unbridled excitement. As President Elect (!) Obama gave his acceptance speech tonight I felt my eyes grow a little glossy and my cheeks strain to hold my now semi-permanent smile for yet another hour.

I've lived to see several moments in history - some good (fall of the Berlin Wall) and some not so good (9/11). But for once, I have an experience I'm aching to share. I cannot wait to tell my children about the day our country lived up to its potential and what a truly beautiful moment it was.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

True dat

The Final Countdown

That ridiculous ear bug courtesy of the band Europe is running nonstop in my head as I try to avoid election coverage for the day. Tony and I arrived at our polling station a half hour after it opened (7:30 am) and - awesomely - there was another half hour wait just to cast our ballots. How phenomenal is that??

I have no idea how the election will pan out today. McCain has already filed suit in Virginia to extend the deadline for overseas ballots from servicemen/women to the 14th. Rumors in Pennsylvania have people convinced that poll stations are closed when they're actually up and running. And lord knows what the bat-shizz crazy fundamentalists on either side are up to.

If anything, I will be interested in seeing what the voter turnout will be. In New Zealand, it was always a point of shame to explain how few people actually vote in the this country. But it seems the opportunity to live up to our national potential is an actual possibility today. How awesome is that??

So, God willing, people get their collective backsides in gear and make it to the polls today. I'm not sure who will win, but the Redskins did lose yesterday (yeah, Steelers!), and according to tradition that means the incumbent party will lose the popular vote. Just saying...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


See, now THIS is why Muppets rule the universe.

The page is translated from German (thank you, Google), so the text reads a little funny. But I think the photo says it all...

Police investigated Sesame Street "Ernie"

The police in Bayreuth is asking for your help! "Ernie" from Sesame Street is a traffic "Grobien" caught going 155 km / h is the doll on the A9 on Bindlach mountain geblitzt been. Were allowed only 120 km / h.

Although the photo is somewhat older - it was created on 08.08.2008 at 11:11 clock - but Ernie is already often too fast when driving has been photographed. Because it is an English car that is the real driver right and Ernie left. Now the police searches in Bayreuth after the speeder. Threaten him 50 euros fine and 3 points in the traffic offenders register in Flensburg.

I think the Muppet in question is actually Animal, not Ernie. But who knows how those crazy Krauts roll on the other side of the pond?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

For the gift that literally keep on giving

So earlier today a good friend of mine brought a little news story to my attention. It seems that in an attempt to curb the spread of STDs and to promote sexual health in general, the nonprofit group I.S.I.S., Inc. came up with an innovative (as it were) method of communicating not-so-great health news to a partner:


Sharing is caring!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How about that?

So I recently learned - courtesy of NPR - that Dick Cheney been released from the hospital, having survived his 4th (4th!) heart attack.

I didn't realize he still had one.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen! Remember to tip your server! I'll be here all week!

Go Colin! It's your birthday!

I'm not sure why, but for some reason this makes me like the man just a little more...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What I'm Digging on Right Now

1) Eric Hutchinson and Adele

I hate that I found about these two outstanding musical artists while breezing through VH1 during an intense channel surf. C'est la vie.

Adele has an intense amount of soul, with a voice that goes seriously beyond her age. Kind of like Amy Winehouse, except exponentially more talented. And without the extra-strength crazy.

Hutchinson appeals to my guys-with-guitars-and-witty-lyrics obsession. But really, his stuff just makes me want to dance around my kitchen, which is a pretty engaging activity that I highly recommend.

2) Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen

Think of it as Good Eats sans kitsch. Christopher Kimball is the original food nerd and his magazine is where fellow kitchen geeks come to worship. I love that the articles explain what techniques and ingredients lead to (a lot of mess, that's what) and why. It even provides spot on product recommendations. Test Kitchen does the same, but with the added benefit of video and that feeling of smug satisfaction knowing that you're watching and learning from public television. With the exception of the disaster that was my attempted potato rosti, these two combined have saved me a lot of hassle in the kitchen.

3) The Venture Brothers

Adult Swim at its finest. It makes me miss other slightly warped fare, like The Tick and Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist.

Oh, and those episodes that totally spoofed Scooby-doo and portrayed a heroin-addicted Johnny Quest at age 40? Sheer BRILLIANCE.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Stupid China

You know, it was bad enough when they screwed with my nephew's Thomas the Tank Engine toy set.

Now, they've gone and f*cked up my Cabury Eggs and Oreos. THEY MUST BE STOPPED.

Cadbury: Chinese-made products questionable

September 29, 2008

HONG KONG---- British chocolate maker Cadbury said Monday that tests have ''cast doubt'' on the safety of its Chinese-made products and ordered a recall, the latest foreign company affected by China's tainted milk scandal.

Meanwhile, two U.S. food makers were investigating Indonesian claims that high traces of melamine were found in Chinese-made Oreos, M&Ms and Snickers.

Cadbury said in a statement it has recalled 11 chocolate products made at its factory in the Chinese capital Beijing, which are distributed in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia.

Tests ''cast doubt on the integrity of a range of our products manufactured in China,'' Cadbury said in the statement issued from its office in Singapore.

It was not immediately clear whether the tests revealed melamine, the industrial chemical at the center of China's recent milk scandal.

An Asia spokeswoman for Cadbury did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press.

The company said all of its dairy suppliers have been cleared by government milk testing.

China's recent food safety scandal started with the discovery of melamine in baby milk powder.

Four deaths have been blamed on the bad milk, and some 54,000 children have developed kidney stones or other illnesses after drinking the contaminated baby formula.

Authorities say suppliers might have added melamine, which is rich in nitrogen, to watered-down milk to deceive quality tests for protein.

Two U.S. food makers were investigating Indonesian claims that high traces of melamine were found in Oreos, M&Ms and Snickers, but stressed the same goods tested negative in other Asian countries.

They said they were looking into all possibilities, including counterfeiting.

The milk scandal erupted this month when the public learned that melamine, which is used to make plastics and fertilizer, had been found in milk powder and was linked to kidney stones in children. Contamination has since turned up in liquid milk, yogurt and other products made with milk.

Four deaths have been blamed on the bad milk and some 54,000 children have developed kidney stones or other illnesses after drinking tainted baby formula. Countries across Asia have removed items from shelves or banned them outright.

Myanmar added its name to the list Monday, saying dairy items from China would be barred from entering its military-ruled country. The Philippines, meanwhile, warned exporters they would be locked out of the market if they did not fully disclose the origins of their products.

''Of course it's always good to have evidence rather than just speculate, but we will have to shift the burden of proof to them because our duty is to protect public health,'' said Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in laying out the new regulations.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oh, it cuts way more than carrots...

It's been a slow week at work, so I headed home a little early yesterday to get a head start on dinner. Since Tony and I are making a feeble attempt to eat healthier meals, last night's menus consisted of sauteed zucchini with chicken andouille sausage.

To saute zucchini, I first needed to carve the vegetable into even 1/4'' inch slices. Not a problem. I just pulled out our handy dandy OXO Mandolin that Tony gave me last Christmas. And by" gave", I mean he used the remainder of our Williams-Sonoma gift card to make up for an argument he'd started earlier that day.

Just for clarification: When I say that I used a mandolin to carve the zucchini, I'm referring to this:

As opposed to this:

In any event, as it turns out the blade on the mandolin is mad-sharp. Like, ginsu knife sharp. If you recall the original commercials, a ginsu blade can carve through brick and still make perfectly thin slices of heirloom tomato.

So you can imagine my dismay when, in a moment of poorly timed neglect, I failed to notice that I had reached the end of the zucchini and proceeded to take off a not-so-healthy portion of the finger.

From Drop Box

The pad of your thumb holds a surprising amount of blood. And, it turns out I'm not so good at seeing blood pour out of my digits. I started seeing spots and had to lie down for a little while. Twice. (The 2nd time after Tony redressed the wound.)

The zucchini still turned out well. And Tony took me out for chocolate peanut butter blitz pie to help me feel better, which totally worked.

In future, I'll remember to keep an eye on my hands and fingers in the kitchen. Lest I end up like THIS guy...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Go Grandma!

One of the unexpected perks of marrying into my husband's family is the family vacation. We were unable to make last year's trip to Cancun - what with the wedding and all. Next year's May trip originally included a Caribbean cruise on the high seas.

I'm sure most people love the idea of a cruise (particularly a near-free one, as Grandma G is treating). Thoughts of sun decks and all-can-eat-buffets spring to mind.

Not me. Adding to my list of personal quirks is the fact that I really have no desire to go on a cruise. Ever. I'm damn near anti-cruise to be quite honest. While other people think of sun and fun, I'm haunted by fears of norovirus outbreaks, tsunamis, and giant squid. (Thank you very much, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.)

Still, I sucked it up for the sake of love and family. Plus, I figured I could, if nothing else, pass the time consuming mass amounts of drinks served in tall glasses stacked with fruit and miniature umbrellas.

But then tragedy fiscal and familial struck when Grandma G had to have heart surgery and the cruise budget began to mirror her medical bills. So in the end the cruise was scrapped. (*tear)

But from the sunken vacation wreckage, a new vacation plan has emerged. Now, we're not taking a cruise - we're renting private villas. In the Dominican Republic. And Grandma G is STILL treating.

HOW PIMP IS THAT?!? Go Grandma!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Surreal moments with alcohol

So after a failed attempt to check out an apt listing, Tony and I decided to go to our favorite bar for burgers and beer. Or rather bison burger (me) and hot gravy-covered turkey sandwich (Tony) and beer (both). Fraizer's on the Avenue is an odd little half hole-in-the-wall/half restaurant in Hampden. It's like a bar you'd find in Lawrenceville, but without the pretension.

Anyway, we walk into the bar and low and behold, what is everyone watching one of the TVs? Discovery's How it's made? Nope. (Although that was on one of the television sets.)

Instead, the majority of patrons were raptly engaged in an episode of A&E TV's Intervention. Two episodes, in fact. Better yet, both shows centered on individuals who were steadily drinking themselves to death: one a returned Afghanistan army vet with a yen for vodka and the other an obviously manic depressive former body builder who eats his own cigarettes while washing them down with bottles of Southern Comfort.

The SoCo/Marlboro snack mix nearly killed my appetite.

It's a completely surreal experience to be indulging in alcohol and fries while watching a person physically and mentally deteriorate on nationally syndicated TV. You start to wonder where that line is where you go from casual drinker to functional alcoholic to not-so-functional addict.

It's a bit of a downer, really.

A slightly more surreal moment is when the show wraps up (both show subjects went to rehab; one stayed sober) and the bartender turns to the few of us at the bar, decrees that we will NEVER watch an episode of the show during bar hours again, and then shouts:

"Intervention special! $1 SoCo shots for everyone!"

I love this place.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This is easily some of the best waste of Web time ever invented (Thank you, Suz!)

Tired of the ethnic non-Judeo Christian bent of your moniker? Curious about what your name would be if it was picked by all-American heart throb Sarah Palin?

Then YOU need to check out the...

Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator!

Just head over to the web site and plug in your name. The SPBNG will give you the opportunity to identify and embrace your new identity in a Palin-dominated universe.

My name, for the record:
Bash Budweiser Palin

Oh Yeah...

Monday, September 15, 2008

I need to bring a camera to these things...

This weekend marked the last of our out-of-town trips of the summer. Hallelujah!

This week it was a 9 1/2 hour road trip to Louisville, KY for the marriage of David (Tony's best friend) and Patty. The ride wasn't too bad: West Virginia is still green and loaded with hillside views (and a subsequent number of vehicles which have rolled down the sides of those hills, blocking the roadside).

Oh, it's also just loaded with all sorts of Christinsanity (my word for the extra-strength crazy common among fundamentalist types). I'm talking billboards that read things like, "Become an organ donor. Give Jesus your heart." And "Abortion is forever," accompanied by a family portrait with one blank outline where one of the kids has been photoshopped out of the picture. Nice touch.

The kicker, however, was the road-side construction project by God's Ark of Safety. For those of you who prefer your Christinsanity in super-sized doses, this group is currently busy reconstructing a life-size version of Noah's Ark. I shizz you not. I didn't have our camera ready in time to snap a photo of the mayhem, but not to worry! God's Ark has a Web site:

I'm actually more impressed than anything else. Nothing like a literal interpretation of the Bible to prepare one for a wedding ceremony were a dog is escorting the ring bearer. The weekend was a treat overall. Several of Tony's childhood friends were together for the event. While I love seeing all of them together, it's a wonder they all survived their childhood. Honestly - the shizz they tried to pull as kids...

Louisville - minus the constant humidity - is a beautiful city. It reminds me of Baltimore in some ways. The ceremony took place on the roof of the Glass Works, which is quite stunning.

It's also windy as hell. So I apologize to whomever I inadvertently flashed that evening.

The wedding itself was gorgeous. Patty wore a beautiful sky blue gown. Our buddy Scott got himself ordained online and officiated the ceremony. The maid of honor, Aubry, hand-made all the pottery glasses and centerpieces for the reception.

The highlight of the evening, however, came when Tony stood to do his part of the ceremony readings. Tony was responsible for the "Passion" portion of the readings.

Did I mention that by "reading," I actually meant "singing?"

Oh yes - the congregation (as it were) was treated to the dulcet tones of my husband crooning an a capella version of Elvis Presley's "Love me tender." Just to address your questions early on: Yes, he knew for months he had a part in the wedding. And, yes, the groom specifically requested that Tony sing.

I'm not sure how many of you have heard Tony break into song. While he does a killer Louis Armstrong impersonation (it's rather eerily accurate), his regular singing voice is a cross between Miss Piggy and that pimply teenage side character on the Simpsons. Tony is well aware of this, but sang his heart out anyway. I could not have been more proud.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

If you can't live on a $100K paycheck then you, my friend, are doing something SERIOUSLY wrong

Living Paycheck to Paycheck on $100,000


By Joseph Pisani, News Associate,

| 11 Sep 2008 | 09:49 AM ET

If you are counting the days until the next payday comes around, you’re not alone.

And we're not talking Jane and Joe Six Pack here.

Some 21 percent of those with salaries of $100,000 or more say they are living paycheck to paycheck, according to a recent survey conducted by

While experts are quick to acknowledge that high gasoline prices, the slumping housing market and a generally weak economy are weighing on consumers' finances, they also agree that the general difficulty in making ends meet is also the result of persistently bad spending and saving habits that are now catching up with the spendthrift American.

"Unquestionably, more people are living paycheck to paycheck now than 12 months ago,” says Ken Goldstein an economist at the Conference Board. "Americans have never been big savers under any economic circumstance or condition."

The amount of money Americans save has been declining for decades. Most recently, the personal savings rate was 1.2 percent of after-tax income, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. A couple years ago, the rate was actually negative, meaning consumers were dipping into savings to cover expenses. One-in-ten workers making more than $100,000 say they put no money in a savings account each month, according to the CareerBuilder survey.

While recessions and inflation are inevitable, your personal balance sheet need not be perpetually red. "The one thing you can control for a more secure long-term financial future is your savings and spending rate,” said Alyce Zollman, a financial consultant at Charles Schwab.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Man's abandoned best friend

Consider this my request for philanthropy (courtesty of my buddy, Stephanie):


Hi Everyone,

As some of you may know, this past weekend I took in a stray dog that my boss found in her neighborhood. I've been meaning to do foster work for a long time, and found that this was the perfect opportunity to do so. I'm working with the rescue Recycled Love in order to get the stray, named Amber, medical attention and a good home.

On Monday I dropped Amber off at the vet's for a series of tests. I got the results back yesterday. For the most part she is good, however, the vets found that she has a grade 3 heart murmur (out of 6). They said that due to her age (she is 6yrs old), she should see a cardiologist in order to determine how serious the heart murmur is and what can be done for her.

A cardiologist is expensive, so Recycled Love and I are going to try to raise the money in order to get Amber the medical attention she deserves. So, I am asking all of you that if you can contribute, please do so (even $5 will help!). Recycled Love will be posting information for donations on their website in the near future. But until then, I'll be collecting what I can. If you can contribute anything I know that Amber will be most appreciative (attached is her picture). Also, please spread the word around.

I know that many of you know how special pets are and would do anything for your own. Please help me out with Amber as she is a good dog and deserves a great life! Thank you!


So if you can buck up and help out, just head to donate whatever you can.


Adj, Steph, & Amber

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lesson of the (yester)day

When sitting for one's follow-up tattoo appointment, one must be exceptionally diligent about one's blood sugar before the ink starts a-flowin', lest one become light-headed and fainty during the event.

Several mini-Milky Way bars and 60 thank-the-lord-that's-over minutes later, I finally have my completed tattoo. Two sittings and roughly 5 hours total. I think that enough for this year...

I'll post a photo of the post-bandaged artwork after the weekend, promise.

Q: So how does a major retail chain handle a PR snafu that could have killed a child in their parking lot?

A: Why, by throwing the store's manager under the bus, of course!

Linens retailer says manager erred to not help
September 09, 2008 07:25 EDT

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- A Fayette County official said he is researching whether a retail chain could be charged after one it its managers failed to help when a child was found in a hot car.

The Lexington Herald Leader quoted First Assistant County Attorney Brian Mattone as saying he is reviewing state statute on whether Bed Bath & Beyond could be charged.

Police said a manager refused a Danville couple's request for the store to call 911 after they discovered 3-year-old Ryan Patel in a locked van in the store parking lot, saying it was the company's policy not to become involved in parking lot incidents.

In a written statement from its corporate headquarters in New Jersey, Bed Bath & Beyond said the manager misunderstood its policy and the company would retrain employees.

The couple called for help and the child was rescued on Saturday.

Tanuja R. Patel, the boy's mother, was arraigned Monday in Fayette District Court, pleading not guilty to first-degree wanton endangerment.

Monday, September 8, 2008

3rd time's a charm

So, it seemed like it was time to move my random postings and brain lint from their original home on MySpace and Facebook (home to the original "Windy Welly" postings) to something more broadly accessible. Now everyone can read my musings without having to sign up for a social networking service.

Lucky people, right??

Anywho, I haven't quite mapped out which direction this little project of mine is headed. It's probably best to start at the beginning. However, I'm at work and don't really have time to sketch out a mini-bio, so I'm subbing in one of the hundreds of fill-this-out-personal-details forwards my friends have a tendency to repeatedly send me. (You know who you are, people. And I still love you - even if you're still asking me to list my favorite smells for the eighth time.)

So, in a nutshell:

I have...

(X) Gone on a blind date

(X) Skipped school (If we're counting college classes)

( ) Watched someone die

(X) Been to Canada

(X) Been to Mexico

(X) Been to Florida

(X) Been on a plane

(X) Been lost

(X) Been on the opposite side of the country

(X) Gone to Washington, D.C

(X) Swam in the ocean

(X) Cried yourself to sleep

( ) Played cops and robber

( ) Recently colored with crayons

(X) Sang Karaoke (To the people who had to sit through that audible mess - I sincerely apologize)

( ) Paid for a meal with coins only

(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't

(X) Made prank phone calls

( ) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose

(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue

(X) Danced in the rain

(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus

( ) Been kissed under the mistletoe

(X) Watched the sunrise with someone you care about

(X) Blown bubbles

(X) Gone ice -skating

( ) Been skinny dipping outdoors

(X) Gone to the movies

1. Any nickname? Adj; Adjers

2. Mothers name? No way I'm posting that, dude!

3. Favorite drink? Tea, coffee, soda water, Champagne

4. Tattoo? Several

5. Body Piercing? Ears (one twice); belly button; once upon a time I had a tongue ring...

6. How much do you love your job? I normally love it but it's slow and a bit boring this week

7. Birth place? Just outside Chicago, Ill

8. Ever been to Africa? Not yet

9. Favorite vacation spot? Wellington, NZ or Charleston, SC

10. Ever eaten cookies for dinner? Multiple times

11. Ever been on TV? Not that I'm aware of

12. Ever steal a traffic sign? no, though I have been given one

13. Ever been in a car accident? Yes

14. Drive: Kia Spectra

15. Favorite salad dressing? Blue Cheese

16. Favorite pie? Apple

17. Favorite number? 3

18. Favorite Movie? Oh man....My Left Foot, anything by Pixar, Chocolat

19. Favorite dessert? green tea ice cream; fried bananas; cake

20. Favorite food? all of it (particularly fried chicken and shashimi)

21. Favorite day of the week? Pajama Sunday

22. Favorite brand of body wash: I like the sugar scrub I have from Lavage

23. Toothpaste? Dude, seriously?

24. Favorite smell? clean laundry, fresh bread

25. How do you exercise? walk around a bit, otherwise it's yoga

26. What do you do to relax? read or hang out with my husband/friends


So that's about it. I'd post more, but I've got to run - I've got a tattoo appointment to keep.

Peace out,