Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bouncing Baby Pics and Video

Jasper is contemplating putting on a little show of his latest exclamations and physical feats.

JAZ: Jasper's Autonomous Zone

Not bad for 16 weeks, right? He's about 13 pounds,
and determined to walk before he crawls. And since you can never have enough baby stuff, we're now on the market for a used "exersaucer" (lemme know if you have one).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My 7ft Tall Heirloom Tomato Plants

When the Byrd House Market first opened this spring, I bought some heirloom tomato seedlings called "Green Giant" or something equally ominous. The guy selling them said that you could tell they were heirlooms because the leaves were wide and flat. "They'll get to be 7ft tall if you can support'em," said the farmer. Well, he was right. The gifted and talented seedlings really took to the fresh dirt in my new container gardens.

The plats outgrew their cages several weeks ago and fell over in one of those rain storms. I was heartbroken. But, with a little courage, I stuck some really long poles in the ground around the plants and carefully wrapped twine around the whole mess, forcing my vertical agenda. Now, they're reaching for the sky.

The heirlooms had gotten tangled with the romas and better boys and now they're all encased in twine (towering tendrills belonging to the heirlooms). It'll be a miracle if I can even see into the throng well enough to find the ripe tomatoes. Well, this one by Jasper's foot is obvious enough, but it needs another few days, at least. And check out the size of those prehistoric "wide and flat" leaves.

If I get my act together, I'll take pictures of every variety of tomato that I've got growing. Some of them are really crazy looking.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sahara: Too Much of a Good Thing

Today, I got lunch buffet at Sahara Middle Eastern Cuisine. No time to blog about it. Will probably fill this in with comments if there's interest. Really liked the cardamom scented coffee, honey-soaked desserts, baba ganouj, ful mudammas (fava beans), and the okra and artichoke hearts were especially good. Still feeling my torso pulled taut by the cheese pies, green beans, mini falafels... the list goes on. Since I'm short on time, a quote from's Kari Peifer will have to do:

And Southside residents have plenty to be excited about too. Sahara Middle Eastern Cuisine (9550 Midlothian Tpke., (804) 272-4111) opened just over a month ago in the spot once occupied by India Garden & Grill. This new restaurant serves a wide variety of Middle Eastern dishes for lunch and dinner, but the real treat is it lunch buffet.

Every Monday through Friday, for less than $10, you can feast on dolmades, gyros, falafel, four varieties of rice dishes, baklava and much, much more. It's like your own Lebanese food festival six days a week ... with one exception. There's no wine, beer or liquor sold at Sahara and they don't plan on adding it. But really, with so much good food, who needs wine?

"We ate too much."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Best Columnist Around, IMHO

The latest from Leonard Pitts Jr. (available in Thursday's RTD Op/Ed section) is his usual brilliance. This time around, he straightens out the New Yorker mess and media hysteria in general. It's time he got a superlative from me: Best Columnist There Is. Anyone wanna second the nomination or beg to differ?

Town Hall Event Looks Beyond Obama on 7/22

It should be no surprise that Obama has already wrapped up my vote as well as most Richmonders*, for that matter. But what do we do in the meantime? How can we infuse Richmond's local politics with the inspiration and energy to change for the better en route to and after an Obama victory in November? On Tuesday, July 22nd, a gathering is set to take place to promote a "people's platform" of local issues and potential solutions. They'll be uniting under the slogan, "Yes We Can." (see press release below for details) and probably starting a blog soon as well.

I think the event is very encouraging and hope that loads of people turn out. Obama voters have many different political points of view in this city and we need to find commonality. In trying to get a little clarification, I contacted the group for a comment about the connection from the potential of Obama's campaign to civic participation here in Richmond. Here's what I got from Preddy Ray, from C-NEED:

Clearly Obama is the inspiration and the fact that hopefully thousands of people who have never participated in the political process will be turning out to vote. Their turn out will be directly related to Obama. We see this as an opportunity to have those persons see that Change must include and extend beyond Obama. That true change will happen when these new voters see the bigger picture. We also hope to be able to develop a cadre of people who we will rally together to address local issues as well as issues that will be raised as a result of the Obama Presidency.

Our premise is that Richmond needs to launch a campaign to End Poverty, all of our problems relate to the high number of people in poverty and the city's failure to address it.
Preddy D. Ray Sr., Executive Director
Center for Neighborhood Empowerment and Enterprise Development

Press Release: For Immediate Release
Contact Person: Preddy D. Ray, Center for Neighborhood Empowerment and Enterprise Development (C-NEED).
July 14, 2008 Monday

“Yes We Can” Town Hall Meeting Scheduled”

The “Yes We Can” Town Hall Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday July 22, at Ebenezer Baptist Church , 216 W. Leigh Street . The meeting which starts at 6 P.M seeks to gain input from citizens in the creation of what is being called the “Peoples Platform”. The “Peoples Platform’ will include innovative strategies to end poverty, create jobs, build truly affordable housing, develop alternatives to crime and build vibrant neighborhoods.

The “Yes We Can” meeting is non partisan and not connected to the Obama Campaign. It however fully endorses the concept of “Change” and is a response to concerns that many important issues are not being addressed in the platforms of candidates. According to Lillie A. Estes, a planning committee member, “Change begins at home”. Through the People’s Platform, for the first time citizens will have a chance to direct what the “Changes” for Richmond should be. Candidates for mayor, school board and city council will be invited to attend however, unlike “meet the candidates’ forums” they will not be allowed to use the meeting to make campaign speeches.

It is the hope of the planning team that the “Peoples Platform” will be a document that will guide political candidates and serve as a tool to hold them accountable after they are elected. The meeting is sponsored by the Center for Neighborhood Empowerment and Enterprise Development (C-NEED). For more information call 648-4800 or email

*City of Richmond residents have voted democrat at a rate of 70% each of the last two elections.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bad Thai Food Play-by-Play

We just had Thai food delivered and we're both having awful stomach cramps. What should we do? The order got here by 7pm, less than 30 minutes after I called. It's almost 8pm now and we're not feeling so hot. Do I call the place and tell them that their food made us sick? What would be the point? A refund? We paid in cash, so I woudn't expect my $20 back.

It was vegetable curry, thai summer rolls, and Karen had some curry chicken puff appetizer. I didn't eat the chicken (but Karen said it was like a Thai-spiced samosa and heavenly), so it had to be the curry or the rolls or maybe one of the dipping sauces. What bad food causes a reaction that quick? Could it be the shrimp in the summer roll? That'd be seriously bad news, huh?

Anyhow, I'm not keen on posting the name of the place, because I'd rather resolve the situation than simply talk a bunch of shit online (so don't guess in the comments, please). I'll be updating this post with developments (without too many gastro-intestinal details), especially make a suggestion that I wanna pursue.

9:22: Still loads of tummy trouble. Mostly a dull ache, nausea, temptation to... well, you know. Feels like this thing wants to run its course. Took a couple antacids. Haven't called the restaurant. Guess that's where this blog post would get exciting. Hmmm... Public health and public amusement, or suffer and save myself some embarrassment. Thoughts?

" Just spit-up and you'll feel better." (notice authoritative drool )

10:15: Queezy, but Karen feels better. Trying not to think about salmonella. Not interested in complaining. Watching Sigur Ros: Helma movie, adding to weird feeling. Ate some ice cream. Guess that means I'm not gonna die. Drinking peppermint tea. Maybe I should go to bed early. Sorry no Muy Thai throwdown over funky curry.

Sleeping it off...

The next day: Well, I did not snuff it. My stomach is a little tentative. May try some Wheaties and soy milk in a bit. Threw out the leftover curry in the fridge (rather than send it to the lab for analysis). Shoulda called the restaurant, but didn't. Really not sure how to deal with the awkwardness of these situations. It's really too bad, because I like their "drunken noodle jae" (w/tofu). I wish there was Vietnamese delivery around here. Maybe one of those places on Grace Street...

Saturday night: I've had a headache all day. Being prone to migraines, I didn't think anything of it, but just thought I'd document it. Ya know, in case I need to record a sworn affidavit. Ate collard greens from the garden for lunch and dinner. Then I ripped the plants out of the ground as they'd gone to seed and weren't producing anymore. Maybe I'd grow my own cilantro and serrano peppers until the salmonella scare is over. Got tomatoes out the wazzoo though. If I grow my own food, what will I complain about on my blog?

Sunday AM: No headache (yet). Slept in. Drank an enormous smoothie filled with everything under the sun (including fresh collard greens and grapefruit and hemp protein powder) and some honey to make it go down "smooth." Leaving doors open to my house. Dogs laying about, MMA fights on the tele, toiling over my research paper. Did I mention that Jasper and Karen are out of town? This is how I'm spending my solitude (w/o Thai food).

Sunday PM: I know the opportune time to take action is probably passed, but readers are welcome to respond to the hypothetical situation of a tummy-ache caused by bad food. Surely it's happend to you at least once. Do you just let it slide? Complain? Boycott? Blog about it? Devulge the name of the restaurant? Approximately 48hrs later, my stomach is hurting some more. It hadn't healed up enough to handle strong coffee. Hate that feeling. What to do? Next Food Network Star, anyone?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Health Care for VIRGINIA Now. Event REPORT BACK


If Virginia is going to be a battleground state, then WE need to decide the terms of that battle. What issues are important for Virginians? Don't sit around waiting for the two parties to frame the debate based on your fears, rather than your hopes. That kind of regressive politics has hasn't served anyone accept to further disempower voters. I would argue that healthcare needs to be an important part of both candidate's platform. Right now, there is a nationwide movement to make that the case, even right here in Virginia. You can get involved through a number of organizations, including the Virginia Organizing Project. The press release follows:


Health Care For America Now

Media Advisory
Monday, July 7, 2008

CONTACT: Ben Greenberg, VOP Legislative Director (804) 467-8212

WHO: Leaders of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, Virginia Poverty Law Center, Virginia Organizing Project

WHAT: Launch of the $40 million Health Care for America Now campaign

WHEN: Tuesday, July 8, 2008 -- 11:00 a.m.

WHERE: House Briefing Room, First Floor, General Assembly Building, Richmond, Virginia

$40 Million Health Care Campaign to Launch in Virginia and Nationwide

Community Leaders Push for Quality, Affordable Health Care for Every American

Health Care for America Now, an unprecedented coalition of major organizations including labor unions, large community-based membership groups, women's groups, doctors, nurses, small businesses, and leading netroots activists, will launch a new $40 million campaign to push for quality, affordable health care for every American.

The coalition will hold a media conference on Tuesday, July 8 at 11:00 a.m. in the House Briefing Room, First Floor of the General Assembly Building in Richmond to outline the mission of the campaign and how it will affect people here in Virginia.

Along with the event in Richmond, the campaign will be hosting launch events in 52 cities (including 37 state capitals) across the country. Between now and election day, the group plans to spend $25 million in paid media and have 100 organizers in 45 states.

The campaign's national coalition includes ACORN, AFSCME, American Academy of Pediatricians, American Nurses Association, Americans United for Change, Campaign for America's Future, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Center for Community Change, MoveOn, National Alliance on Mental Illness, NEA, National Women's Law Center, Planned Parenthood, SEIU, UFCW, and USAction.


Health Care for America Now
Media Contact: Ben Greenberg, Legislative Director, Virginia Organizing Project (804) 467-8212


$40 Million Health Care Campaign Launched in Virginia and Nationwide

Community Leaders in Virginia Join Together to Push for Quality, Affordable Health Care for Every American

Today, in Richmond and in 52 other cities across the country, including 37 state capitals, a new national campaign is bringing together millions of Americans to demand quality, affordable health care for all. Health Care for America Now (HCAN) is being launched by 95 national and local groups that represent labor, community organizations, doctors, nurses, women, small businesses, faith-based organizations, people of color, netroots activists, and think tanks. Health Care for America Now is organizing to assure that the first order of business of the next President and Congress is to pass legislation in 2009 that guarantees quality, affordable health care for all.

Health Care for America Now is an unprecedented coalition including ACORN, AFSCME, American Academy of Pediatricians, American Nurses Association, Americans United for Change, Campaign for America's Future, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Center for Community Change, MoveOn, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Education Association, National Women's Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, SEIU, United Food and Commercial Workers, and USAction.

"In 2009, we will either have a guarantee of quality, affordable health care we all can count on or we will continue to be at the mercy of the private health insurance industry that is charging us more, giving us less and putting company profits before our health," said Ladelle McWhorter, secretary of the Virginia Organizing Project. "Here in Virginia and in communities all across the country, we're asking one question, 'Which side are you on?' Are you on the side of quality, affordable health care? Or are you on the side of being left alone to fend for yourself in a complicated, bureaucratic insurance market?"

Starting today, the campaign is spending an initial $1.5 million on national television, print, and online advertising and is sending out e-mails to more than 5 million people. Over the next five months, Health Care for America Now plans to spend $25 million in paid media and have 100 organizers in 45 states.

According to Jill Hanken, staff attorney at the Virginia Poverty Law Center, "This national problem is very apparent in Virginia, where there are one million uninsured people and an extremely restrictive Medicaid program that fails to cover thousands of very poor adults whose families live on less than $10,000 a year."

Hanken added, "People with health insurance are also affected by escalating premiums and larger co-pays that are now piling on top of higher food and gas prices. There are 25 million adults in the U.S. who can't afford their health care costs even though they have insurance. A national solution is critical."

"America has a proud tradition of individual responsibility and hard work, but we also have a proud tradition of coming together to overcome common challenges," said Ali Faruk, policy analyst with the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. "Caring for the sick and needy is God's work and health care for all is just the kind of challenge that can and will bring out the best in Americans when we unite for it."

Health Care for America Now started with a financial commitment of at least $500,000 from each of the 13 steering committee members and a $10 million grant from NY-based Atlantic Philanthropies.

Health Care for America Now ("HCAN"), a section 501(c)(4) issue advocacy organization, is a broad coalition of nonprofit and political organizations that are working to promote quality, affordable health care for all Americans. HCAN and each of its members conduct and fund only activities appropriate to its tax and election law status.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Jingoism Makes Me Spit Up

UofR professor and neighbor of mine, Thad Williamson, has a piece published at It's a reflection on the Declaration of Independence and the meaning of the 4th of July. Since Thad's awesome political blog is on hiatus, I'm glad to see that he's still writing. He takes the words right outta my mouth about this holiday (that is, if I were as learned as he).

Yesterday, I had my "No War" shirt on all day, trying to reclaim a piece of the day's symbolic meaning. Jasper was wearing a peace sign onezie. It was Karen's intention to get a picture of us together, but too many spit-ups kinda put a damper on those plans.

We also intended to grill veggies and play in the baby pool (which used to be for our pug), but the scattered showers, nursing, and napping kinda took precedent. Luckily, yesterday was not Saturday. Today is! So, after we take care of the injured woodpecker that Karen found outside her office, we're gonna exercise some free-will one way or another and have some fun.

Wish us luck.