Homemade Paella

I haven't really had a chance to try something new in the kitchen for a while. So I thought, "Hmm, who wouldn't love some paella tonight?" And there was paella.

I cooked the rice in a rice cooker; it's white rice with turmeric, because apparently saffron is unavailable in my local supermarket. I did a quick Google search in the spice aisle, and discovered turmeric is "the poor man's saffron." Good enough, I guess. It was tasty anyway.

While the rice was cooking I had two other items on the stove:

• A pan with diced onion, diced red pepper, hot sausage and bay scallops, seasoned with black pepper and dried parsley sautéing in olive oil
• A pot with littleneck clams and shrimp (I also got two cherrystones to serve as a strong visual, for presentation – that's the big clam you see on the right).

When the rice was done, I mixed in some peas. I drained the sausage/scallop mixture and added it, then the clams and shrimp and tossed the whole lot together.

We enjoyed it with this year's Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, which is probably the best vintage in a few years. I always forget how much I like this wine.

The problem of dichotomy

I made a mention of Buy Nothing Day in a tweet – for the uninitiated, that's today in the U.S. and tomorrow in the rest of the world. In the U.S., it is "celebrated" (such as it is), alongside Black Friday, the first "official" shopping day of the Christmas season.

When the person to whom the initial tweet was directed learned what Buy Nothing Day was, she said, "People come up with the stupidest things." And all I could think was, "Yeah, like lining up at 3 a.m. to buy crap they don't need and that their kids will stop playing with by February." I didn't say it, because frankly, I'm not anti-consumerist, and really my problem with Black Friday is that few things make me as uncomfortable as giant signs and throngs of people fighting over the last t-shirt or toy. My day after Thanksgiving is usually spent emptying the dishwasher's fifth load, hanging with the family, and avoiding the mall, though buying a meal or coffee or admission ticket isn't out of the question.

There's moderation in everything, isn't there? People who aren't doing the buy everything thing and who aren't doing the buy nothing thing?

It's the same dichotomy issue we're having with our (de facto) two-party system in the U.S. In 2004, Republicans won the White House and both houses of Congress. And so they spent two years making the moderate middle angry, and in 2006 Democrats took over Congress, and with a Republican in the White House, nothing got done. That changed in 2008 when a Democrat took the White House, and then earlier this month, after two years of making the moderate middle angry, Democrats lost control of the House and now nobody's talking compromise.

The past six years of U.S. politics are a tighter cycle than we're used to, but it's a cycle that we are, in fact, used to. And it's going to lead to a long cycle of government accomplishing something that annoys just over half the country for two years, then nothing for two years, then annoying just over half the country (with a different outlier composition) for two years, then nothing for another two years.

No one ever has to build a coalition. And no one gets to claim success for more than two years at a time.

Dichotomy is not the way things get done. Humans are not an either-or species; there are shades of gray, and worse (or better), we change our thinking. Unfortunately, it's easiest to express, in language, everything in an either-or fashion.

Democrat or Republican. Black Friday or Buy Nothing Day. No carbs or no meat. Writing for search engines or for humans. Paper or plastic.

When we think outside of language, we'll think outside of dichotomy. And that's when progress happens.

Dey Centennial Plaza

I got a tour recently of the Dey Centennial Plaza. It's a group of buildings at the corner of Salina and Jefferson streets in downtown Syracuse.

While the residential units are nice – hardwood floors, marble counters, lots of space, and nice appliances (stainless faucets, electric stoves and refrigerators; some of the units have wine refrigerators and all of them have washer/dryers) – residents pay a little extra for the building security and good parking (the single bedroom units run between $950 and $1200, while the two-bedroom units are in the $1600 range).

The thing I'm excited about, though, is a local market coming to downtown.

It's going to be a 12,500-square foot grocery (much bigger than C.L. Evers, its downtown competition), and all the food is going to come from within 70 miles of Syracuse. There will be garage parking with the first hour free, and the store will be open until 8 p.m., so people shopping after work will have a place to go.

The plaza is a series of five formerly vacant buildings that are quite old. The developers have a great vision for it, and seem to be excited to be helping to shape downtown (the tour was given by Paramount Realty, which closed on the building near the end of 2009).

Brew & View x 3 in December

1. What: "BREW & VIEW" 35mm Film Series/ SYRFILM and Resurrected Tattoos presents CENTURION and SHOGUN ASSASSIN.
CENTURION: 7:30pm
SHOGUN ASSASSIN: 10pm

When:

Sunday December 5th. Doors open at 7:00 pm.
First movie at 7:30pm
Double Feature only $10/$8 for students with valid student ID/ 17 and over only/ 21 + with valid ID for alcohol.

2. What: "BREW & VIEW" 35mm Film Series/ SYRFILM presents DEATH WISH 3 and VICE SQAUD.
DEATH WISH 3: 7:30pm
VICE SQAUD: 9:30pm

When:

Friday December 10th. Doors open at 7:00 pm.
First movie at 7:30pm
Double Feature only $10/$8 for students with valid student ID/ 17 and over only/ 21 + with valid ID for alcohol.

3. What: "BREW & VIEW" 35mm Film Series/ SYRFILM presents the Palace Theater Christmas Massacre and horror themed party screening PROM NIGHT and SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT.
PROM NIGHT: 7:30pm
SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT: 9:30pm

When:

Sunday December 19th. Doors open at 7:00 pm.
First movie at 7:30pm
Double Feature only $10/$8 for students with valid student ID/ 17 and over only/ 21 + with valid ID for alcohol.

Where:

The Palace Theater
2384 James Street
Syracuse, NY 13206

Bringing out the big guns

OK, still haven't donated to the Give thanks. Walk.? Watch the video, then read the standard fare below, taking appropriate action. Thanks 🙂

Jason has put a ton of effort into organizing a team for this walk, so I'm asking that you donate to his page. If for some reason you'd rather my name be on your donation, here's my page, but I promise they go the same place and Jason should get the credit for the extra work he's put in here.

Walking for Dylan

I'm going to cut the rambling and let the kids do the talking. Watch Dylan's story. It puts a face on why it's all cancer all the time on the blog this week. And now for my standard give 'graph:

Jason has put a ton of effort into organizing a team for this walk, so I'm asking that you donate to his page. If for some reason you'd rather my name be on your donation, here's my page, but I promise they go the same place and Jason should get the credit for the extra work he's put in here.

What are you thankful for?

Fight Childhood Cancer Week continues! Yesterday, we did the what cancer means to you thing. Today, we talk thankfulness. What are you thankful for?

I'm thankful for a lot. I have amazing people around me. I'm employed. I don't have cancer. I have two healthy legs. And I can afford to donate money to charity.

I will be using the healthy legs to walk on Saturday in the Give thanks. Walk. at Carousel Center. I donated $36 to Jason's page (see below). Why $36? Because in the Hebrew language, numbers are represented by letters, and the word meaning "life" represents the number 18. So $36 is a donation to help save two lives.

Jason has put a ton of effort into organizing a team for this walk, so I'm asking that you donate to his page. If for some reason you'd rather my name be on your donation, here's my page, but I promise they go the same place and Jason should get the credit for the extra work he's put in here.

What does cancer mean to you?

Yesterday, we kicked off Fight Childhood Cancer Week with a little bit about the Give thanks. Walk. Today, we're jumping right in and talking about what cancer means to you. And to me.

I've lost relatives close and distant and friends close and distant to cancer. I've seen, up-close, someone go through chemotherapy, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant, even lawsuits (more details at http://drugguardians.com/drug/taxotere/). I would never wish any of it on anyone.

About 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. every year, some getting mesothelioma diagnosis even. That number is defeatable. And once we beat cancer in children, we can better understand how to beat cancer in grownups. So start now. And leave your cancer stories in comments either before or after you donate (don't worry, when you click one of those donate links below, it will pop a new window and you won't lose this post).

Jason has put a ton of effort into organizing a team for this walk, so I'm asking that you donate to his page. If for some reason you'd rather my name be on your donation, here's my page, but I promise they go the same place and Jason should get the credit for the extra work he's put in here.