29 May 2009

Constitution: Fourth Amendment

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

22 May 2009

Constitution: Third Amendment

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

15 May 2009

Constitution: Second Amendment

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

12 May 2009

Diagnoses and Cures

I'm reading a novel and got to a place that has stopped me cold.  I'm not going to name the novel or the author because I really don't think it's that great and don't want to recommend it, but an exchange between a couple of characters is yet another example of a trend I've been noticing the last six months or so and if I don't write about it, I won't be able to finish the book.  It's an okay right-before-I-turn-the-lights-out-to-go-to-sleep read, in other words, I'm not finding it completely unpleasant, but I also don't care enough about the characters that I simply must read another chapter.

One character says to another:

'You have to make allowance.  […]  She's got eight kids and a husband who spends even more time in the Mucky Duck [the local pub] than Seamus Galvin.  What we need is some decent kind of contraception … like this pill thingy.'

Those of you who know me know that I have a basic problem with the very idea of contraception, but that's not what I'm going to focus on {shocker!}.

Read it again.  This poor mom's problem is diagnosed pretty well.  Her husband isn't acting like either a husband or a father.  But look at the logical hiccup when we come to the proposed cure - more contraception and fewer kids.  Maybe this mom and her children would be better served if the local community took a two by four to her husband's head and insisted that he man-up and care for his family instead of running away from his responsibilities.  Would she really be better off with two kids and a husband who abdicated his role as husband and father?  And which kids shouldn't she have had?

I saw the same thing in Atlas Shrugged.  Ayn Rand identified certain societal problems with laser-like accuracy, but her solutions were empty and unworkable, as substantial as a cobweb.  I see the same thing going on in Washington, Phoenix, and our local city council chambers.

We must think clearly about both problems and solutions.  If we don't consider deeply and follow a problem all the way to the root, our efforts to help will merely make the situation worse.


11 May 2009

Furniture Arranging Philosophy

Since my dear daughter asked, here it is.

I'd rather that my livingroom furniture be arranged to promote conversation and intimacy than to have everything focused on the television set.  I like things somewhat balanced, too.  And I appreciate being able to see my baseboards occasionally (otherwise the room feels cluttered - can you hear my daughter laughing as she reads this?).  

Before Christmas, I came home from our history/humanities discussion group to find the furniture had been rearranged to make room for the Christmas tree {shock!}.  The chairs, couch, and settle were arranged in a way that made conversation difficult and uncomfortable.  One had to strain to see others' faces and seating was pretty spread out.  I felt unsettled when we'd try to have any kind of conversation, but the television and the tree were visible from every seat.

We recently rearranged things and I like it so much better.  Every seat looks at another seat and faces are easy to see.  We're having much better economics and logic discussions and I'm getting the urge to read another book out loud to the kidlings.  We shift the settle when we watch a movie, but that means we must be more intentional about switching the television on, so that's a benefit.  (Not that we watch a lot of broadcast television (hardly any actually), but we were tending to turn on the Roku box too often.)


08 May 2009

Constitution: First Amendment

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

06 May 2009

My Grocery Shopping Philosophy

A philosophy for grocery shopping?  Well, yeah, I think we should have a philosophy for everything - grocery shopping, furniture arranging, the way we dress - everything (whoever said caring for the home was a mindless job certainly had no idea).  

So, here's my grocery shopping philosophy.  [drum roll, please; cue the choir] 

Purchase ingredients.

Whew!  I'm glad I got that off my chest!

I'd rather have my pantry stocked with flour, oil, cocoa, sugar, vanilla, and baking soda and powder and my fridge with butter, milk, cream, eggs, and yeast than with lots of packaged mixes.  With those ingredients, I can make brownies or crépes (sweet or savory) or yellow cake with chocolate frosting or sugar cookies or pancakes or tortillas or bread or crackers or biscuits or baguettes (my newest baking challenge) or pie crust or English muffins or crumpets; you get the idea and I'm getting hungry.  Making sure that I'm stocked up with the basics gives me much more flexibility than purchasing mixes.  I can go with the flow much more easily.

So, why is this a money saver?  Well, even though I've rarely seen a coupon for a dozen eggs or a gallon of milk, ingredients still end up being cheaper than mixes.  They're also healthier.  And if you find a screamin' deal  (let me know, okay?), most can be stored without refrigeration (storage costs need to be figured in, too).  Just as it's easier to de-clutter the kitchen with multi-use tools rather than lots of space-hogging, single-use gadgets, it's easier to declutter the pantry with multi-use ingredients rather than lots of single-use packaged mixes.

Using teriyaki sauce as an example: I could purchase a bottle of teriyaki sauce.  It wouldn't take up that much space.  But it's teriyaki sauce and that's all it can ever be.  Yes, I can use it in a meat marinade (recipe coming soon) or in stir fry, but there isn't much else I can do with it.  However, if I have brown sugar, garlic (something like this), fresh minced ginger, and soy sauce on hand, well, life just got much tastier.  I can use the brown sugar for granola, on yogurt, for cinnamon/raisin bread, bread pudding, pancakes, rum sauce, etc.  (Is there anything brown sugar can't be used in?)  I can add a bit of ginger to chicken soup, cookies, bread, pudding, tea for an upset tummy, etc.  Garlic goes in just about anything and we use it all the time.  Soy sauce goes well in marinades, soups, veggies, noodles, and rice.  I can still have teriyaki anytime I want to make it, but I have lots of other options, too, because I bought separate ingredients.

Now, it's not like I didn't have the ingredients for teriyaki on hand before, well, except for the ginger - that's a new thing in my fridge (I've never been much of a fan of dried ginger and the jar in my pantry is at least 25 years old, but the fresh stuff is heavenly), but by not purchasing a bottle of teriyaki, I'm saving space.  You could argue that I simply traded a bottle of teriyaki for a jar of ginger, but I can do so much more with ginger than I could with teriyaki, that I still think I've come out ahead.  But really, how much space does a bottle of teriyaki sauce take up?  Not much, but that's where having a full-blown philosophy comes in.  If I do this over and over again, searching out recipes that use basic ingredients that I have on hand for bottles, jars, or boxes of things I might otherwise buy, the savings in both space and money begin to multiply.

I'm still looking for recipes for my husband's favorite bar-be-que sauce, our favorite bourbon chicken from the greasy spoon at the mall, and orange chicken.  Alton Brown piqued my interest in making my own mustard.  I've already conquered Drew's favorite honey-mustard salad dressing, mayonnaise, hummus, and raspberry vinaigrette (all absurdly easy).  We've found fairly simple homemade ice cream and smoothie recipes.  I don't know if I'll ever find a replacement for ketchup, onion soup mix, or for canned cream of chicken soup (used in several dishes that are family favorites), but those cans, bottles, and boxes can be used in more than one dish, so I'm philosophically okay with them, at least for now.  (I have tried a replacement for the cream of chicken soup, but it wasn't worth the time it took to cook and it wasn't really a good substitute for the concentrated soup in the can - the texture was all wrong.)


01 May 2009

Constitution: Preamble to the Bill of Rights

The Preamble to The Bill of Rights

Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.