Sunday, December 21, 2008

Great Holiday Recipe [Bryan]

I'm not usually a recipe blogger, but we made a Christmas ham for our progressive dinner party that was really yummy (or at least I thought so). The key was the cranberry relish we made that goes went with it. Here is the recipe:

1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries

1 (6 oz) bag dried apricots (chopped)

2 cups orange juice

1 ¼ cup sugar

½ cup water

Heat all the above to a boil and then simmer 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

Many thanks to my Mom and my aunt Darlene for passing this along.

Friday, December 19, 2008

He's an acquisitive youngster [Bryan]

Scene: Ellie and Andrew (2 years old) and driving along in our car.  

Andrew: Mom, what do you want for Christmas?

Ellie: Um, I would really like chocolate for Christmas.

Andrew: You can't have chocolate for Christmas. You ask for toys for Christmas. 

Ellie: No, you can ask for anything for Christmas.  It is okay to ask for chocolate.

Andrew thinks for a minute.

Andrew (excitedly): I want toys AND chocolate

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Eliza Bennet on Facebook [Bryan]

Hilarious. So, what would have happened had the characters of Pride and Prejudice had facebook? Now we know: Here is the whole thing.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Andrew's Shopping List [Bryan]

Our little Andrew was watching Ellie make her grocery shopping list today. He said he wanted to make his own list. Here is what he put:

1. Eggnog
2. Marshmallows
3. Orange Juice
4. Fire

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Obama Transition [Bryan]

Many people have asked me what I think about the Obama transition. The answer: So far, I couldn't be any happier. Just like during the campaign, he has been a model of maturity and professionalism. Once again, he has been the grownup in the room, surrounded by children, howling critics, and worry warts (like me). While some of my friends on the Left feel let down (too centrist!), I ask them: What did you expect? Obama promised to reach out to those who disagreed with him, and he has done exactly that. He promised to bring the country together, and already he is taking steps toward that. He promised to be a pragmatist, not driven by ideology, and it seems he intends to do that.

Consider the following examples:

1. Joe Lieberman. While many Democrats were screaming blood after his despicable behavior during the campaign, Obama went out of his way to keep Lieberman as part of the caucus. Any personal vendettas, if there were any, took a back seat to Obama's larger goals (the same thing occurred to a lesser extent with the Hillary Clinton pick).

2. The recent Governor's convention. The governors "were taken with Obama's openness, policy depth and just that he showed up to engage in a real back-and-forth, a move none could recall on the part of a newly elected president." One governor called it "unprecedented."

3. Bob Gates. In order to unify the country behind his foreign policy, Obama decided to keep Gates on at Defense. Whatever his party affiliation, almost everybody agrees that Gates has done a good job in the tough, post-Rumsfeld situation. Obama recognized that achievement, looked beyond party, and kept him.

4. Economic team. With the economy really bad, and Bush not showing any leadership, Obama put together an experienced and (by most accounts) brilliant economic team. It has, in fact, had something of a soothing effect on markets. He seems to be filling the leadership vacuum as best he can.

5. Cabinet Appointments. Obama has put many smart, experienced people on his cabinet. These people will have strong opinions and also big egos. Obama is showing that he does not want yes-men (or yes-women); he wants real dialogue. He has the intellectual confidence to tolerate disagreement -- the contrast with Bush could not be sharper.

6. Policy statements. Obama has continued to vow to vigorously pursue health care reform, end torture, close Guantanamo, and renew American diplomacy. He has shown that he understands basic counter-cyclical economics and the need for deficit spending during recession. He has also continued to emphasize that such spending should be aimed at rebuilding infrastructure -- the best sort of economic stimulus there is. On a policy front, then, he is still making all of the right noises.

We will see if this continues. Right now, though, he is off to a good start.

Obama's impressive performance at the Governor's convention -- including a glowing assessment by Utah Governor Huntsman.
People on both sides of the aisle are impressed with the transition.
David Brooks -- "He’s off to a start that nearly justifies the hype."
Obama's foreign policy team and renewal of American diplomacy

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Report Card Blues, Part 2 [Ellie]

Short Version:
I overreacted.

(Since when is this news?)

Slightly Longer Version:
When I went to Nora's Parent-Teacher Conference (armed, I admit, with evidence of Nora's brilliance from home) I was quickly reassured that none of my documentation was necessary. The grades we had been shocked by were simply "placeholders"--put there if a) that subject hadn't really been studied, or b) the teacher didn't actually know how Nora was doing in that department (our surmise, not actually admitted). When I explained how the grading system made it sound to us like Nora was somehow behind where she should be, the teacher assured me that Nora was above average in most things and "far above" in some others, and that we would see better grades in the following quarters. The report card is designed to show progress, so the highest grades are not given out at all until the end of the year. While I don't agree with this as a grading policy, I am placated. So, either the report card meant nothing or Nora's teacher gets an A+ for telling me what I wanted to hear. :-)