Monthly Archives: October 2007

My Own Personal Time Portal

When I was a kid, one of my favorites places to go with my Mom was to what was known as “The Burrito.” Her sister bought that business from her, and she would go visit and chat, and if I wasn’t in school, I went along. Almost every memory I have of my Aunt is of her sitting on one of those folding step stools, with a large tray of warm corn tortillas and another of cooked pork in front of her, dutifully rolling taquitos. Every once in a while, she would reach over and hand me a freshly rolled but un-fried taquito to eat while I watched the employees in the front serve customers. It was a busy place. Located on a busy intersection in East Los Angeles, it was widely regarded as the best Mexican food around. So, I always asked for a Red Burrito, which consisted of pork simmered in red chile sauce and refried beans. The menu there was large, but simple. Red and green burritos were the most popular items, followed by the taquitos, enchiladas, and tacos.

That restaurant thrived for 25 years. After I left the area, in fact, the State, if I was even close to Los Angeles I would make it a point to go back and eat there. Even as an adult, the smells wafting out of the kitchen were familiar and comforting. The taste never changed, not one bit. The building is not even there, anymore, sometime in the 80’s it was razed and something else went up on that location, but I can’t remember what.

Now, I have had Chile Colorado all over the U.S. and Mexico, and the closest I ever found to my Aunt’s was in Albuquerque, and I used to eat it for breakfast almost every day. Red chile with chunks of pork ladled over scrambled eggs, accompanied by fried potatoes and warm corn tortillas will start your day, and your metabolism off right. I was never healthier than when I lived in New Mexico. 325 days of sunshine, red chile every day, dry, cool climate. I was 175 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal. In fact, it was then and there that I met my life partner. I will always love New Mexico. But I digress.

Yesterday, after years of searching, I found (believe or not) a canned chile Colorado sauce that is damn close to what I ate as a child. I bought a large pork loin, and cut off around 14 chops, then I cubed the rest and placed it in a bag of flour and kosher salt, pepper, and oregano. Then I placed it all in a large fry pan of heated olive oil, infused with onions and garlic and, once it had browned thoroughly, covered it with Las Palmas Chile Colorado Sauce and put the lid on and let it simmer an hour or so. In the meantime, I made rice with chicken broth and tomato bullion. (earlier in the day I had prepared a pot of fresh pintos that was simmering as well) .

What a meal fit for an afternoon of football! My kids are used to me trying to perfect the dishes of my childhood, and they were eager to dig in. My boy, who usually eats like a bird, wolfed down a 2 pound burrito and two helpings of rice. My girl, who eats like Albert Haynesworth anyway, ate more than I did.

If you ever want to try this dish but don’t have the time or the access to fresh red chiles, go to your local grocer and look for the brand I mentioned above. Make enough for company, then invite people you love. The children of your village will sing songs about you. I promise.


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Blessed Are The Cheesemakers

One thing about time spent atop a tractor, it lends itself to all kinds of introspection. I have spent the last two days catching up on chores I wouldn’t do in the heat. It seems boring and repetitious to the casual observer, going back and forth with a disc , turning up soil to prepare for next season’s crops, and I guess it can be, but I actually look forward to that time. (bear in mind that one cannot completely go mindless when operating a tractor, they are rather top-heavy with a front end loader, and tip over from time to time) Anyway, I have much on my mind, three of my closest friends are struggling at the moment, and I am wrestling with my faith and my place in Le Grand Scheme.

Aunt B has a post up this morning about Jews, Christians, and that horrible Coulter woman, and, I’m sorry, I just don’t care. I don’t give the proverbial two shits about what that woman has to say, and I even think discussing her latest outrageous statement is playing into her little claw-like hands. She is exploiting the anger in this country to sell books. She is not emblematic of Christian ideals in the least, and I think dissecting or comparing Faiths is a monumental waste of time, particularly when prompted by something Ms. Coulter said.

I often wonder if there is some label for people like me, who, while avoiding church like an I.R.S. audit, still feel that there is value and importance to keeping connected to a Higher Power. I don’t worship. I don’t feel for a second that God needs affirmation or accolades. That would make her needy, and theres that whole Higher Power thingy and all. So, what, then, is it that I expect of myself and my relationship with the H.P.? (I’m going to employ initials from here on out, I trust no one will think I’m talking about Hewlitt Packard)

One thing I never placed any value in when I was young was the comfort and reassurance of tradition. Catholics certainly depend on it, as do Jews. I clearly see that in troubled times, having some structure and rituals in place could keep a person grounded enough to see their way on through. I do sometimes wish I was attached to tradition a little, that feeling part of a large tribe with a long history should indeed bring about a feeling of peacefulness. But I don’t.

Which leaves me with only the Bible to use as a reference to what the H.P. might expect from me. Or does it? Growing up in the United States, I have had zero exposure to any other Scripture, and I think that is most people’s experience, unless they are Theology students. So, off and on for around 40 years, I have read through the Old Testament, (skipping over a boatload of “begats”, I’ll admit) and I have come to feel that it is a lot like a game of “telephone”, only centuries in the making. Please don’t feel like I am trivializing what it means to millions of people, I am speaking only of my experience with it.

That leaves me with the New Testament, which again, to me, tells the story of a great teacher who invoked the name of a H.P. and in doing so, gave credibility to his message of peace, forgiveness, and love. It strikes me as more than a little odd that since that time, anyone else who has attempted to do this has been at best derided, and at worst suffered slow, painful death as a result. Has no one else been deemed fit to deliver a more, say, timely message from On High? A few years ago, I read a series of books by Neal Donald Walsh called “Conversations With God” and I have to say, the exchanges in those books resonated with me more than ANYTHING I ever read in the Bible. I’m not here to debate the premise or the content of those books, but, rather, I’m wondering if we could ever allow ourselves to accept new teachings from someone who claimed to be delivering it from God himself?

I think I would. I have long taken issue with the idea that life is just something to get through to earn your way to a better place. The idea of being fearful of the One that created me is just so foreign to me that I am instantly irritated by the thought. Also, the idea that I am somehow flawed, or lacking in any way strikes me as preposterous, and is rooted in the need to control. I subscribe to neither of those views. Rather, I feel that I am representative of all that is God, and as she evolves, I evolve. It is simultaneously comforting and terrifying.

Ok, so here’s my question for those of you that study Religion or have advanced mathematical degrees:

Is there some name, some label, for someone like me, that feels the H.P. knows that the ultimate experience is the process of becoming more God-like every day? That there is no end-game, that the real beauty lies in the fact that the life process is somewhat circular, and constant, and that he rejoices when we “advance” no matter how quickly or slowly? I may find out that I am Buddhist, perhaps, or Wiccan, possibly, I really don’t know. I should add that I really don’t care that much, except to say that I could at least cling to the notion that I am not such an odd duck. (Though I really hope heaven is like the one on “Defending Your Life”, I mean, all the food you want and no chance of gaining weight? Forget the virgins, I’m getting to the point I’d rather have a great meal anyway…)


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McStrip Search Award

I remember seeing this on television. I watched the hour long segment the entire time with my jaw on the floor. Here it is, in a nutshell:

Anonymous person calls restaurant, posing as a police officer, and informs manager on duty that one of her employees may have stolen from a customer.

Caller instructs manager to bring suspected employee into office and interrogate her, then instructs her to strip search the suspected employee, and finally, instructs her and her boyfriend to have the suspected employee perform sexual acts.

They do all of this.

Its not until another older employee rejects the instructions of the caller that the ordeal stops.

Manager is fired, her boyfriend goes to prison for five years. Poor employee sues and is awarded big bucks.

But then, so is the manager. She gets a jury awarded 1 million or so.

And nowhere in this whole scenario is anyone talking about the fact that there are people preparing food in this country that would submit to acts of humiliation like this, or that would perform illegal and humiliating acts like this, on behalf of a policeman on the phone?!!! Have we become such sheep that any authoritative figure, disembodied or not, is to be obeyed without question?

I haven’t figured out how to tie this to Dubya yet, but give me time…


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Gutsy Stance On The War On Drugs

Ok, maybe not all that gutsy, since he IS mayor of San Francisco, after all, but I’m glad he said it and I’m glad he called out The Democratic Party for not speaking more openly about this expensive and dangerous war on drugs.

I have more than a little experience on both sides of this issue. I think anyone that does will tell you in a hot minute that lumping Marijuana in with other recreational drugs like Cocaine and Heroin is just plain stupid. I realize that there are problems associated with out-right legalization of drugs, all one has to do is look at the rampant alcohol abuse in our society to see that the prohibition to legalization approach may need some transitional strategies applied. But again, alcohol, for the most part, affects users way differently than pot. Its probably cliche’ to say that “I’ve never encountered a violent stoner”, but it is also probably true. My Mom used to say cliche’s become cliche’s for a reason.

The statistics cited in the article are frightening. 60-75 percent of people locked up are there for minor drug offenses? I wonder how many are there for mere possession of pot? Weeding them out (pun intended) seems to me to be a no brainer.

I’m of the opinion that law enforcement is against this because any approach other than punitive will take away precious dollars from their budgets. The war on drugs is a huge law enforcement cash cow. Police departments are addicted to the cash as much as dealers, so the stakes are quite high indeed.

If I had more time today, I’d like to see what happened to Oregon State prisons after that State decriminalized it long ago.

Anyway, I wish there was more realistic conversations about this taking place.


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Easy Liberalism?

To me, Liberalism is like homosexuality. I cannot recall ever choosing to be one. (Liberal, that is) Truly, I don’t think most Liberals ever consciously made that choice. When complex issues of the day get reduced to red/blue, I think most of us rely on what feels right. Lets not confuse this with “what feels good.” Anyway, this post isn’t really about Liberal vs Conservative, because I really think those two paths intersect quite frequently, and I am trying to eschew labels all I can.

I am currently taking inventory on what it is I spend time and attention with that occurs outside of my home. People that know me will tell you that I am of course involved with Democratic Party politics, and that I have advocated on behalf of undocumented workers, Gay/Lesbian rights, worker’s rights, and to a much smaller degree, environmental protection. The first three of those strike me as basic human rights issues, and I will never waiver in my positions on them. I believe that I have a great deal to learn about what I and my family can do WRT the environment. Its daunting. I will say that since we are attempting this together, it has been fun doing this as a family.

If I say then, that basic human rights is the foundation for the bulk of my positions on any given issue, why have I been so lax about certain issues where basic human rights violations are part and parcel? The death penalty comes to mind. Access to affordable health care. Unfair application of the criminal justice system. I’m sure there are others. Even trade, which is about as boring to me as opera, is rife with some of the worst human rights violations in recent history.

What to do? Like I said, I frequently take inventory. Until recently, I owned two gas-guzzling 4 wheel drive vehicles, one of which I loved like a pet. I was determined to change my driving habits, and my consumption of fossil fuels, so I sold them both, and replaced them with vehicles that will do the job and use far less gasoline. Check.

I shop at Walmart. There, I said it. I gave myself a pass on this because I am a busy person, and everything I needed was under one big ugly roof. I even used to say to myself, “Thank God for WalMart, where else would some of these people work?” I mean, how ugly is that? But I know I’ve said it, if not out loud, at least to myself, and I’m not proud of it. I think it was easier to justify when my kids were small, and toys and bikes and diapers and groceries were all there in one convenient location. For the most part, we’ve stopped buying useless widgets we don’t need, and likewise we have altered our food buying habits by learning to cook more, with less. Eventually, we hope to raise our own meat, and at least supplement what we buy with what we grow. Even if we don’t succeed at this, I just can’t in good conscience continue to hand them my money. I do not intend to judge others that do shop there, but once I became aware of certain things, and seen the damage WalMart does to communities, I just cannot personally contribute to it. Check.

Now I’m tired. Maybe its my age. It takes energy to remain outraged for extended periods of time. Then I get pissed at other people for not sharing my outrage, and get all outraged again, then I get tired, and the cycle repeats all over.

But I think that after I conduct my inventory, I should at the very least prioritize my advocacy. A friend of mine has recently called my attention to an inmate sitting on Death Row that she feels shouldn’t be there. I will read up on it, and if I agree with her I’ll help her launch her petition, because she asked, and it feels right to do it. A man’s life is at stake, it seems worth the ten minutes of my life to read about it.

Really, y’all, I’m not sure what prompted this post, other than the fact that I hate it when Liberalism gets reduced to “doing what feels good” and nothing else. I have to tell ya, it would feel a hell of a lot better to just drive my damn truck, throw my Whopper wrappers out of the window in the WalMart parking lot, and then go in and buy my kids Halo 3.


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She’s gone. She has been a part of my life for over 5 years, a rock steady companion that never once let me down. I loved her from the minute we met, there was that immediate bonding that takes place between owner and truck. I actually took 200 dollars less for her than I would have if she had been bought by somebody here. I don’t want to see someone else riding in her. I’m going back to bed, this is too hard….left-truck-1.JPG


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Before Beale Writes This

Triple digit oil prices.  Record number of futures bought that guarantee the 100 dollar a barrel price.  Instability in the Middle East, Mexico producing a million less barrels a day than this time last year. 

Personally, I find those facts alarming.  This country is NOT AT ALL prepared to deal with 5-6 dollar a gallon gasoline.  When it comes, and it will, prices go up on virtually everything.  Again, personally, I think this might be a good thing.  Food prices concern me, but perhaps a shift will occur and more farmers can market their products close to home.

Here’s what really scares the holy hell out of me.  So far, in just a few months, I have read statements from at least three local bloggers that they have no problem with the U.S. waging war for oil.   Well, the fastest growing economies right now are China and India, and that is naturally where the biggest demand for oil comes from.  Is it O.K. for them to be making war plans to insure they have a steady supply of affordable oil?  What about Russia?  Logic tells me a dwindling supply means that at some point, large countries with large armies and nuclear weapons will be waging war for their very survival.  Nothing about that is comforting.

Call me old school, but I believe that the only possible reason to go to war is to respond to a direct attack by an invading army.  That doesn’t mean that a country shouldn’t contribute to say…an effort to stop genocide somewhere, or as global peace-keepers when there is a potential for it, but protecting an economy by waging war is against every belief I have.

So, this makes me curious.  Apparently, the stuff inside our cell phone batteries is mined in Africa.  Africa produces more than 60 metal and mineral products and is a major producer of several of the world’s most important minerals and metals including Gold, PGE’s, Diamonds, Uranium, Manganese, Chromium, Nickel, Bauxite and Cobalt. It is interesting to note that Africa’s contribution to the world’s major metals (copper, lead and zinc) is less than 7%. As a result silver production is low (less than 3% of the world’s production) due to the fact that most silver is produced as a by product of lead – zinc and copper mining. Although under explored, Africa hosts about 30% of the planet’s mineral reserves, including 40% of gold, 60% cobalt and 90% of the world’s PGM reserves – making it a truly strategic producer of these precious metals.

Lets say that China and India and Russia all cut better deals with the Africans, (as much as you can in an area chock full of civil war) than we do, and suddenly, we are paying far more for some of those exports if we can get them at all.  This, too, could  catastrophically affect our economy…  Does the same rationale apply?

I guess I’m asking this:  What part of your daily existence would you pay much more for, or give up, if it meant we didn’t wage war somewhere on the planet?


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