Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Monday, December 30, 2013
Saturday, December 28, 2013
This week marked the 45th anniversary of the historic Apollo 8 flight which was the first time humans had orbited the moon. "Earthrise" is an iconic photo that was shot during that moon mission. NASA has a fascinating seven-minute video on YouTube commemorating that event and explaining how it was an accidental sighting and how the photo might otherwise never have been taken. I took the occasion of the anniversary of "Earthrise" to write this week's haiku. Typically, a haiku draws inspiration from nature. This one is indeed a natural setting, although a view not ordinarily seen.
Friday, December 27, 2013
Mississippi Native Sons
Monday, December 23, 2013
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Moon and stars at night
Photo: "This view shows the thin crescent Moon setting over ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. As well as the bright crescent the rest of the disc of the Moon can be faintly seen. This phenomenon is called earthshine. It is due to sunlight reflecting off the Earth and illuminating the lunar surface. By observing earthshine astronomers can study the properties of light reflected from Earth as if it were an exoplanet and search for signs of life. This picture was taken on 27 October 2011 and also records the planets Mercury and Venus." (European Southern Observatory)
Credit: Babak Tafreshi at http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1210a/
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Monday, December 16, 2013
The song is from the Chieftains' 2012 album, Voice of Ages.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Beauty – stealth – danger.
Photo: Red-tailed hawk
Credit: Mark Bohn of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
It is often difficult to have a rational conversation these days about healthcare. People often speak in near-doctrinal terms when expressing their views on healthcare delivery. To question their views may bring on a plethora of accusations about one’s loyalty, faith, or patriotism. Here are seven brief reasons why I think that the provision of healthcare should not be left to the realm of employee benefits provided in the work place.
- Employers, especially large companies recently, have shown a reluctance to grant employee benefits by shifting to the use part time employees. Moreover, some companies now claim that they cannot do more job creation as long as healthcare coverage is required.
- Small companies (with fewer than 50 employees) are not required to offer health coverage at all.
- When healthcare is linked to employment, the unemployed have very limited healthcare options. I know a case in which a man became ill and was diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately, he had decent health insurance. Unfortunately, when he became too sick to work he was terminated from his job. With his termination from his employment, he lost healthcare coverage while he was in the midst of fighting his illness.
- In the global economy, U.S. companies are competing with companies in other countries where employee healthcare is not part of the employer's operating budget, making it more difficult for the U.S. to stay competitive. This makes it more likely that U.S. jobs will continue to dwindle, increasing unemployment rolls. (See The Wall Street Journal's break down of employer's benefit costs here)
- Employees’ income is often at the whim of employers and at risk in times of recession and corporate cost-cutting measures. At the very least, their healthcare should not be at the whim of employment circumstances.
- A healthy workforce is good for business, therefore good for the economy. It stands to reason that access to healthcare should be available to all potential workers as well as all current workers.
- Part of the government’s role is to foster an environment conducive to enterprise. Roadways, bridges, water supply, postal service, and education are a few examples of what the government does to foster a productive community. Providing access to healthcare is another important factor in insuring an adequate workforce and fostering a healthy environment for business and industry.
A Society that Works
Monday, December 9, 2013
Vaughn Williams may have been an agnostic, but that was surely reflective of the times that he was born into and the world in which we live today. He had a compassionate, humanitarian spirit and an ear for beauty and harmony. Kingsfold, set to the text by Horatius Bonar, 19th century Scottish poet and churchman, beautifully and transcendently declares our discovery of "this dark world's light."
(For further reading: Why Ralph Vaughan Williams should he as revered as William Shakespeare, by Simon Heffer, The Telegraph.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 45 min
Cook Time: 1 hr
Serves: 10 to 12 servings
- 12 to 14 cups 1-inch cubes day-old white bread, such as French or Italian
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 cups whole milk
- 6 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 4 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Confectioners' sugar, for garnish
- 1 recipe Whiskey Sauce, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the bread in a large bowl. Grease a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish with the remaining tablespoon of butter and set aside.
Combine the heavy cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and raisins in a large bowl. Whisk to mix. Pour the cream mixture over the bread, and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.
Transfer the bread mixture to the casserole dish and bake until the center of the bread pudding is set, 50 to 60 minutes.
Garnish the bread pudding with confectioners' sugar and serve warm with warm Whiskey Sauce.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3/4 cup bourbon or other whiskey
- Pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Monday, December 2, 2013
The beautiful choral work, "If Ye Love Me" is presented here with a mesmerizing visual borrowed from Disney's Fantasia.