Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! Menus, please...

Hope you are having a good day however you may celebrate it (or not).

What's your Thanksgiving this year -
1. Traveling far from home to be with friends/family, cooking together.
2. Being a guest with friends/family.
3. Hosting and cooking for friends/family.
4. Going out to eat for the holiday with friends/family.
5. Some other tradition.
6. Have to work during the holiday.

On the Thanksgiving menu: leg of lamb, collard greens, mac & cheese, dressing, broccoli, sweet potato pie, apple pound cake...

Getting hungry yet? Collards on the stove (yes, there's ham in there!), cooking away. Yum. I got them at the Southern Durham Farmers Market on Tuesday in nice fresh bunches.

Here is Miranda's Apple Pound cake:

Here is the recipe:

Apple Cake
4-6 apples, Stayman Winesap (Milburn) or other apple for cooking (four lg or six med).

1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for 1½-2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.

On to the Mac and Cheese!

Pam's Mac and Cheese

16 oz Velveeta
2 7.5 oz. packs of Sargento 4 State Cheddar (Natural Sharp Wisconsin, NY State Sharp, Mild California Sharp, and Vermont Sharp) Blend.
~2.5 cups of milk (2%; I eyeball this one, so you may need a little more)
1.5 boxes of pasta (we use Rotini to get that cheese all into the pasta!)
black pepper
1 aluminum foil pan, about 3-4 in deep.

Cook the pasta until it is still a little firm; drain, rinse with cold water, drain and put into aluminum pan.

Put the Velveeta and sharp cheeses into a non-stick pot with the milk. Heat and continuously stir once cheese starts to melt until it is fully melted and is a smooth sauce consistency.

Pour the cheese over the pasta covering it well. Take a spatula to stir it over all of the pasta evenly.

Sprinkle black pepper on top of the mac and cheese.

Heat oven to 425. Place in oven on top rack and bake covered for 15 minutes, 10 minutes uncovered.

Serve and eat!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Journey donates $350K to World Food Programme for relief effort in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan

It's mass devastation in parts of the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan hit recently. In what is no surprise, CNN's Anderson Cooper, who has covered natural disasters and how on-the-ground efforts have gone in the Gulf after Katrina, in Haiti, and now here. AC 360:

  • 3,631: The official death toll, according to the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
  • 12,487: The number of people wounded.
  • At least 1,179: The number of people missing after the typhoon.
  • 9 million: The number of people affected by the storm.
  • 44: The number of provinces impacted by the typhoon.
  • 55: How many cities in the Philippines are affected by the tragedy.
  • 536: The number of municipalities in the Philippines facing destruction.
  • Nearly 2 million: The number of people displaced after the typhoon and in need of food.

With those stark numbers, Arnel Pineda, the current lead singer of my favorite band Journey, and a native of the country, along with this bandmates are donating $350,000 to the World Food Programme (donate here: "Don't Stop Believin' in the Philippines").

CNN just released the video of Anderson's interview with Arnel and the status of the relief effort so far.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Made it - Celebrated 20 years at Duke University Press...still no regrets about shutting down the Blend

Yesterday afternoon I celebrated my 20th year at Duke University Press at our annual meeting. I posted about it on Facebook on Wed, where a lot of well-wishers stopped by if you want to see the thread. As I said there...

A long, interesting journey it has been so far...and all while starting (and concluding) a political blogging/activism career that I somehow fit into a nine-year chunk of the same life timeline.

I doesn't seem like 20 years; not like I planned to be in any job for that long (though I've held 3 positions during my time at the Press, first as a production coordinator in the Journals division, then as essentially the help desk person/database developer, and later as manager of the IT department, a position I hold to this day.

I am fortunate to work with great colleagues, and to lead a kick-ass IT staff at a workplace that values diversity and has policies that gave me the freedom to be out of the closet w/o fear of being fired. And until ENDA is law, that is the state of things here in NC unless your employer specifically articulates protections. Same-sex spousal equiv benefits cannot be taken for granted, either. NC will turn itself around eventually, but the teabagger/teahadist turnover in 2010 and its fallout will take a lot of work to counter.

While this day job is all-consuming, as most readers know, I was simultaneously burning the midnight oil (and almost all of my paid time off) writing, attending speaking engagements and doing first-person reporting for Pam's House Blend -- effectively at a full-time pace.

I was never one of the fortunate political bloggers in the the LGBT world to monetize the blog enough to quit the day job, but I was smart enough to know that the day job was the only one putting a roof over my head and is far more predictable (though being in IT, that alone requires being professionally nimble in what is a volatile field) than figuring out whether people will donate enough, or enough ad revenue would come in, waiting for some rich benefactor to see the value of your work, or hope the mainstream media to snatch you up to pay you to do what you love. But that's ok. Life threw me a different loop.

Fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis were the final straws that broke me physically, and PHB had to go on my life chopping block.  Of course when I posted the pic of me holding up the toasting "chalice" celebrating my 20 years yesterday, some folks noted how healthy I look. It's the dilemma of invisible illnesses like RA that sap your energy, cause constant physical joint pain, and eventually makes its presence visible through joint deformity. Thankfully I'm still in the "just" painful stage.

But I'm under no illusions about what ahead. I do get more sleep and that helps me stay functional. Even so, I'm now reduced to 75% time at the Press and it wipes me out physically. There is no way this body/mind could continue doing PHB while holding down the FT job.

Of course, I haven't had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of death/violence threats on this job (yet!). Blogging was definitely more "entertaining" on that front.

It's only been since July of this year that I stopped blogging, and I can't tell you how many offers to write (some actually for $$, most not), and requests even pretty desperate ones, to promote work or an event or some press release even just on social media (I'm still active on Facebook, Twitter and G+). I'm not exactly sure my posts on those limited platforms alone are nearly as effective as a long-form blog post, so I'm not sure why my inbox is still constantly overflowing.

Maybe it's still denial on their part that I actually did walk away from the blog and that I'm merely vacationing from it.

I have no regrets walking away from that insane level of commitment that blogging/activism entailed, other than disappointment that no one here in NC has stepped up to fill the void and the dearth of lesbians of color (prominent or not) in the LGBT blogosphere after my nine years immersed in it. Even more distressing, where are the lesbians of color in the South to represent in the digital world of activism?

I'm not sure anyone will step up, though. Independent political blogging,  in my opinion, is on the way out as a medium. Unless one has the luxury of time, energy and the expectation it will always be a second job, it is tough going -- you have to rely on your passion for reporting, commentary and curating news alone.