Saturday, June 06, 2009

Les Miserables vs Less Miserable

We are back from a wedding and watching Les Miserables. The version with Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman and Claire Danes. Looking at the box, the pairing of Neeson and Rush was critically acclaimed. Not a word about ole Uma And Claire. Were they deadbeats in this movie, not pulling their own weight? We'll find out. Believe it or not, neither of us has seen the story.

On the "Less Miserable" front...I declared today my emancipation from the boys laundry. This came about as a result of having my note requesting that they do a couple of loads yesterday go ignored. As a result, I counted up something like 8 loads of laundry that needs to be done this weekend.

You might think I just snapped. But to be honest, my body is sore and, after bending down into the dryer to get article after article out and fold it, all of Nate's or Taylor's, I decided I'd just not fold it anymore. They never put it away anyway. I fold it and put it on their couches. They just pick stuff off there and put them on.

That morphed into "why not just have them do their own?" And so that is what I'll do.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Mensa Boy's Resolution Passes SC UM Annual Conference

Today the South Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church affirmed a resolution regarding human trafficking. Mensa Boy has been on the Board of Church and Society for the past year and asked the board to consider this issue.

Here is the text of the resolution:

Whereas, Human trafficking is defined as a modern-day form of slavery, in which victims are subjected to force,
fraud, or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
“Human Trafficking Fact Sheet”); and
Whereas, Human trafficking generates $9.5 billion annually and is the fastest-growing type of criminal activity in
the world today (U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; The Polaris Project);
Whereas, As many as 27 million people in the world today are victims of human trafficking (Sociologist Kevin
Bales, “Disposable People”); and
Whereas, Some 600,000 to 800,000 victims are trafficked annually across international borders worldwide, with
about 14,500 to 17,500 of those trafficked into the United States (U.S. Department of State); and
Whereas, An estimated 200,000 American children are at high risk for trafficking into the sex industry each year
(The Polaris Project); and
Whereas, All people are created by God and in the image of God (Genesis 1:27); and
Whereas, God is a God of justice (Isaiah 61:8), who calls on His people to work for justice and to defend the
oppressed(Isaiah 1:17), and blesses those who work for justice (Psalm 106:3); and
Whereas, God hears the cries of the oppressed(Psalm 10:17-18); and
Whereas, Jesus Christ defined His mission as ministering to the poor, the captive, the ill and the oppressed(Luke
4:18-19); and
Whereas, The General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church has studied the issue of
human trafficking while participating in the U.N. Commission on the Status and Role of Women; and has endorsed
and promoted the “Rescue and Restore” initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and has
publicized the Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline: 1-888-3737-888; and
Whereas, The United Methodist Church’s 2008 Book of Resolutions calls us to educate ourselves about this issue
and work for its eradication; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the South Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church encourage its members
and churches to join in fighting against all forms of human trafficking, in working to rescue and restore its victims, in
promoting vigorous laws and prosecution of perpetrators, and in working to reduce the demand for trafficked persons.
And be it further
Resolved, That the following action steps are suggested:
• Educate yourself and others. Resources include the following:
U.S. State Dept. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons:
U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services:
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women:
The Polaris Project: ECPAT International:
Not For Sale:
• Pray for victims to be freed and restored, for demand to be reduced, and for perpetrators to stop
their evil deeds.
• Work with other churches and denominations in supporting the provision of safe houses for
victims of human trafficking.
• Call on all people to recognize their particular responsibility to raise awareness of the issues
involved in human trafficking.
• Observe the “National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness” on the Sunday before January 11
each year.
• Identify advocacy groups and consider contributing financially to the work of freeing victims of
human trafficking.
• Determine what services are available locally for runaway teens (who are particularly vulnerable
to traffickers) and how you can support these services.
Submitted by The Board of Church and Society
Mary Lynn Polk, Chairperson

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Steak Sandwiches

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Simple enough. The recipe was in Cooking Light. Fresh fennel, dried fennel, cumin, 4 4-oz beef tenderloin steaks, ciabatta bread, arugula, homemade mayo. Serves 4

I ended up with two 9-oz angus tenderloin steaks, fennel, baby arugula. I bought the pasteurized eggs to make the mayo and when I put them in the fridge at home I found I had 3 jars of store-bought mayo in there already. I decided not to buy ciabatta, since I always have bread dough on hand anyway. I baked up half a batch in a loaf pan when I got home so I'd have nice, uniform slices for the sandwiches. I took the two thick steaks and sliced them in half height-wise to get 4 steaks. I was relieved to see that you slice the cooked steak to put on the sandwiches, because the recipe serves 4, but I was feeding 5. I was counting on the hearty bread to fill up my guys.

You mix together the dried ground fennel, cumin, salt and pepper and toss in a pan with thinly sliced fresh fennel and saute until it starts to brown. BUT if you don't have cumin ... there you are. I also didn't have ground fennel, but fennel seed, so I toasted that for a bit and ground it in my herb grinder.

There really is no substitute for cumin. So I decided to just go with an entirely different flavor profile. I tossed in garlic powder instead and sauteed thinly sliced onion with the fennel.

Mensa Boy sliced the bread and toasted it lightly.

I took the fennel/onion mixture out of the skillet and set it aside. Then I sprinkled the garlic/salt/pepper/ground fennel on the steaks, heated the skillet back up, and cooked them about 6 minutes on each side. Removed them from the pan.

While the steaks rested I spread mayo on the bread, doled out the fennel/onion mixture, and laid arugula across the whole thing. Then I sliced the steak thinly and doled that out among the 5 sandwiches.

I sprinkled fresh lime juice on mine.

The sandwiches were a big hit, but the guys felt cheated because we made them have salads too. They felt the measly bit of arugula on the sandwiches should have counted as the veggies.

Taylor also said that he'd like me to make this again when Nate and Erin go to school this fall so that he can have a second sandwich. So there you go!

Indian Land High Class of 2009

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I took this photo of our graduating class last Friday after awards day. We have 118 seniors, so it wasn't too hard to capture them all in the photo. I'd say we probably have right around 100 here.

This photo really demonstrates the miracle of modern technology. I shot this in the gym at ISO 1000. The students were standing on the floor of the gym and I was up on the top of the folded-up bleachers looking down at them. Behind them you can see the gym floor, a folded-back tarp, chairs and a speaker stand.

What? You can't see any of that? Can you see the kid over there on the right about a third of the way up that doesn't have his robe on? You can't see him either?

Yes folks. That's Photoshop. And I have no idea how to do all that. But my friend Robin Champion had her husband take out all the background stuff and put a robe on goofy guy. Then he sharpened and de-noised and we ended up with a pretty nice photo. I can do the sharpening ok, and I can filter noise and adjust lighting and color. But taking out all the background and stuff is just beyond my capabilities at this point. That's what I really need to spend my time doing this summer.

Anyway, I'm excited about this photo. I have the white background one on the school website. We are having 4x6 prints done at the drug store and we'll put them in their diploma covers for a gift. That's what I'm excited about.

They are adorable, aren't they?

Many thanks to Tim Champion for photo editing. You can see his photos here.