Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sugar, Spice and Puppy Dog Tails

Timberlake Christian School (TCS) in western Virginia buried the lead in their letter to the guardian of eight-year-old Sunnie Kahle. The last sentence was the most true and the most telling.

"We believe that unless Sunnie as well as her family clearly understand that God has made her female and her dress and behavior need to follow suit with her God-ordained indentity, that TCS is not the best place for her future education."

No kidding, it's not the best place for Sunnie's future education.

Like, I'd pull that child out of there yesterday.

Sunnie is an eight-year-old girl, but by her own admission and her grandmother's (Sunnie's legal guardian) own acknowledgement, Sunnie likes a lot of "boy stuff"---such as autographed baseballs and hunting knives, according to CBS-TV affiliate WDBJ.

But Sunnie also digs jewelry and stuffed animals, too.

"It's fun," Sunnie says of her varied interests---some of which don't seem to fit TCS' characterization of what a little girl should be.

Hence the letter, apparently quoting school policy, sent to Sunnie's grandmother, Doris Thompson.

The letter began ominously.

"You’re probably aware that Timberlake Christian School is a religious, Bible believing institution providing education in a distinctly Christian environment," the letter started, and nothing good usually follows a sentence such as that in a letter sent home from school.

And, nothing good did.


Sunnie Kahle

Why is it, that supposedly Christian entities---organizations based on ideals that are supposed to espouse and embrace inclusion rather than exclusion---seem to be the least tolerant?

And, from an educational standpoint, what happened to encouraging children to broaden their horizons and open up their worlds a little bit?

So an eight-year-old girl is sometimes confused for being a boy, as Sunnie told WDBJ. Is that the worst thing in the world?

For their part, school administrators told ABC 27 that they have not accused Sunnie of any wrongdoing; they just want the family to follow all guidelines set for students.

Good thing that the TCS folks are educators, because they certainly think we're all pretty stupid.

"Sunnie realizes she's a female but she wants to do boy things," Thompson told WDBJ.

How ironic that TCS is discouraging that, because it seems like a pretty damn good life lesson to me---that girls can do "boy things."

I mean, heaven forbid Sunnie grows up to be a CEO or a soldier or a fireman or something.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Life Outside the Bun

I admit it. I love Taco Bell.

There are so many reasons.

I have mocked it before, but I have been secretly in admiration of how the fast food entrant can make so much with such few ingredients.

Give the folks at Taco Bell a tortilla, some sort of meat, refried beans, rice and cheese, and stand back.

And they do it all without breaking the bank.

I can walk into a Taco Bell, order food for our family of four and still get a few bucks' worth of change from a $20 bill. Try that at McDonald's, Burger King or Wendy's.

I like a good old-fashioned taco for 99 cents. A bean burrito (with extra onions) for $1.49. In fact, I'm hard-pressed to find anything on the menu for more than four bucks.

And the quality? It's not a matter of "you get what you pay for." For the price, I think the food is pretty damned good.

I know it's not everyone's cup of tea. I don 't pretend that Taco Bell is Mexican "cuisine." But I also don't experience that "I paid $3.99 for THIS?" feeling, either.



And you don't have to travel very far to find a Taco Bell, either. They are almost as ubiquitous as McDonald's.

This isn't a paid advertisement, even if it reads like one. I'm not getting a dime from the Taco Bell folks. Not that I couldn't use it.

But it occurred to me that we eat Taco Bell almost weekly. There's something devilish about walking out with sacks full of food for well under $20.

I have tried Del Taco, which is also near our house. And while I appreciate the delicious, pungent cilantro that is highly present in some of their items, it isn't Taco Bell---which I know is exactly why some people prefer Del Taco.

Bottom line: Taco Bell isn't for everyone. But it's cheap, it's filling, and it does great in a pinch.

Plus, I love chihuahuas.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

From Lion to Lamb? WHEN?

It's been a long winter, yet it's already mid-March.

Such a dichotomy.

It's been a winter that most of us would like to forget in Michigan, but it will likely be among the most memorable.

And the calendar keeps flipping. It didn't always feel that way.

Back in mid-January, which both feels like an eon ago and like yesterday, with Arctic temps and snow slamming us alternately, there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Depression began to set in at the thought of a bad winter merely getting started.

As the pounding continued, with precious few moments of respite, as January turned to February, you felt like a hamster on a wheel---running but getting nowhere. The only objective at that point was survival. Just getting through it.

Then, just like that, it's mid-March. Baseball season is just around the corner, which ought to provide hope and a feeling of spring's renewal.

But it's hard to feel that with temps in the 20s and the sidewalks and parking lots filled with patches of dangerous ice.

The calendar says we should be seeing robins and tulips. Instead, we see snow drifts and icicles.



The point being, no matter how harsh and punitive this winter has seemed to be, Father Time has indeed marched on, even when we thought he was going to slow to a crawl.

Remember how hopeless the winter appeared to be, when it was just after the new year and we were staring down the barrel of 10-12 more weeks of ice, snow and sleet?

Things are still kind of rough out there, but we're just two and a half weeks away from April.

March is said to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.

So of course, the big question is, when are we finally going to see that transformation take place?

On March 31, I'm going to ask my lovely wife to make lamb chops. Maybe that will help.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Get Yer Red Hots On!

Tonight we're having hot dogs. This is a good thing.

My mom used to call it tube steak. Funny.

I love a good hot dog now and again. There's so much you can do with one.

Before I married my bride, we took a trip to Chicago for a long weekend. That's when I rediscovered my love for the Chicago Style Hot Dog.

Wendy's sold the specialty dogs in the summer of 1988, and I scarfed them up often. I was mesmerized by the combination of celery salt, mustard, pickled hot pepper, dill pickle relish and tomato that was globbed onto the tube steak, which was nestled in a poppy seed, thick bun.

Then the Wendy's promotion ended and it wasn't until our 1991 trip to the Windy City that I found a place that sold them. Chicago Style Dogs weren't plentiful on Metro Detroit menus, I came to find out. You know---our love affair with the Coney Dog and all.

The place in Chicago was called Madison Avenue Dogs, and they used their acronym to name their Chicago Style Dogs.

MAD dogs were a hit with us. Plus I loved the atmosphere in that place.

MAD was connected to a Thai Restaurant, and by the looks of things, Thais ran the hot dog joint, too.

You'd place your order---they offered many types of dogs but MAD dogs were by far their specialty---and the order taker would yell out, "TWO MAD!", "THREE MAD," etc., depending on how many you wanted.

My wife and I have dabbled with making our own MAD dogs at home. It's still a work in progress.


The Chicago Style Hot Dog

But I can go for any type of hot dog---boiled, grilled, what have you. I like the hot dog because it's one of those foods that turns into your own personal canvas. The hot dog is similar to the pizza in that regard, or a trip to the salad bar. Almost anything goes.

Diced onions, chopped up hot pepper, relish, mustard, you name it. Except for ketchup.

I don't do ketchup on hot dogs. My wife does, unashamedly. I just can't get into the flavor combo.

At old Tiger Stadium, the hot dog vendors carried with them two containers of mustard and none of ketchup. Someone once told me that was because the sugar in ketchup attracts flying insects.

Maybe it's just that mustard is the only proper condiment for a hot dog.

In the TV show "King of Queens," Kevin James' Doug Heffernan ate a hot dog with mayonnaise on it in one episode. His friend Deacon called him out on it.

"Who puts mayonnaise on a hot dog?" Deacon asks incredulously.

"I do," Doug responds. "And one day, so will everyone."

Um, no.

As far as I'm concerned, other than ketchup and mayo, you can put anything on a hot dog.

Our local Home Depot gloriously serves hot dogs for a couple bucks a pop. It's difficult to walk by the stand on your way in or out of the store and not stop for a quick tube steak.

But when we have the time and the ingredients, there's nothing like once again dabbling with the celery salt, peppers, tomatoes, mustard et al.

Isn't that MAD?