Monthly Archives: October 2009

Happy Halloween!

Daylight Saving Time also ends at 2 am tomorrow. Set your clocks back tonight and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

My Princess, Anakin Skywalker, and Crow…


Cookie Time

I’m getting ready to make some cookies for a Halloween Party on Monday and I thought I would share my recipe for royal icing once again.

Since royal icing is made with raw egg whites and isn’t cooked, there can be an issue with food safety. This can be avoided by using pasteurized eggs. Royal icing uses only the egg whites, not the yolks, so there could be some waste if you purchase a dozen pasteurized eggs (and they’re more expensive than regular eggs too).

My solution is to buy egg whites in a carton. These are available in the egg section of the dairy case at your local grocery store, right next to the Egg Beaters and Better’n Eggs. Like the Egg Beaters and Better’n Eggs, egg whites often come in a store brand too. The egg whites are genuine pasteurized egg whites that you just measure out instead of separating eggs to get the whites.

If you like to eat your cookie dough and don’t want to worry about the health issues of raw eggs, you can substitute the Egg Beaters or Better’n Eggs in your cookie dough recipe for regular eggs. Just follow the equivalency chart on the side of the carton.

Royal Icing

1 pound powdered sugar
1/3 cup egg whites (or two egg whites)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (helps to bind the egg whites)
2 teaspoons of water

Mix it all in a mixer. You can make different consistencies. add some more powdered sugar to make it a bit firmer. If you want to cover a cookie in icing, use a round tip and draw a line around the outside, then use slightly more watery icing to fill in. The icing will spread out, but won’t go over the side because of the icing dam. A toothpick dipped into food coloring can be used to “draw” features in newly poured icing (works well with white).

Try to use gel coloring if possible (Wilton makes this) but you can use the liquid drops from the supermarket. If you do, it will thin the icing so be prepared to add a little more powdered sugar if you want firmer icing.

Royal icing can be kept in sealed plastic containers at room temperature for days. Mix different colors in different containers. If you don’t have cake decorating tools, you can still pipe icing dams using a plastic sandwich bag with a low corner just nipped off.

***I have received no compensation or consideration from Wilton or the makers of Better’n Eggs or Egg Beaters for this post. I have purchased these products with my own money to use in recipes and I am letting my readers know about their options. ***

Happy Birthday Emily!

It’s my niece’s 14th birthday today and she wanted a purple Converse All-Star*** High Top cake. So she got what she wanted:

Emily's Birthday Cake

Emily's Birthday Cake

***I received no compensation or consideration for this Converse All-Star Shoe Cake. It is what my niece wanted her cake to look like, and it’s what I provided to her. ***

Insurance Mandates

Over at The Volokh Conspiracy, Jonathan Adler brings us a story about a retired couple in Mass who are quite happy with their insurance, but they’ve been told it is unacceptable under Mass rules and they’ve been fined. Go read the post and the comments.

This is comment that I left there today at 8:27 pm

Reading the comments it seems that many people equate using the emergency room with being un/under-insured.

On Monday night I had to take my soon to be 9-year-old son to the emergency room/acute care center. He had been running in the hall at school that evening (we were there for Cub Scouts) and he ran into a door. He smashed his left middle finger (distal phalanx), and when pulling his finger out from between the door edge and the wall, cut the pad of his finger pretty deeply. He required an x-ray of his finger to ensure he hadn’t broken it and four stitches to close the wound.

We have insurance and had to go to acute care since it was obvious that it couldn’t wait until the next day when I may have been able to get an appointment with his pediatrician.

There may be a lot of people that use the E/R as a primary care facility, but that is because of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). There also seems to be a misunderstanding of what treatment is required for those that are uninsured. EMTALA requires only that the patient be stabilized.

When I was a kid, my father had catastrophic insurance through the university he worked for. Regular old doctor visits and vaccines were paid for at the visit or in a couple of payments. Insurance kicked in when my sister fell on a two by four and got a puncture wound in her thigh after running through the yard next door where they were building a house and my Dad had to take my sister to the hospital.

When my husband had a tonsillectomy as a child, his parents made payments to the hospital until the bill was paid off.

Back then we knew what we were paying for our health care. Now we pay $300 a month and a $3,000 deductible for a PPO and we don’t reach our annual deductible in regular medical costs, even with a child with chronic illnesses. We still pay for our insurance in case of a catastrophic illness or injury.

My monthly premium is lower because of the relatively high deductible. It seems that Mass wouldn’t allow me that choice. How much of an increase would there be in my premiums for a lower deductible? How much of a tax fine? Up above some people seem to be saying that the tax fine that the Williams must pay amounts to “only” $80 a month. But that’s if the Commonwealth of Mass will take monthly payments. I’d not be surprised if the tax fine was due, in full, last week or face interest charges…

Being forced to pay for coverage that I don’t want or need is another story. That’s like going to the store for milk and eggs and being told you must also purchase and pay for oatmeal, salmon fillets, and fresh asparagus and beets. Oh, and by the way, that whole milk you wanted to buy? So sorry, it’s skim for you.

Gold Medals

Ah, if only the dates had been reversed. Maybe if the Nobel Peace Prize had been awarded on October 2nd, Chicago might have been awarded the Olympics in 2016 today…

But maybe not. Had the dates been reversed, the IOC could have decided that Obama had enough with the Peace Prize.

And maybe the Peace Prize is a consolation prize for losing the Olympics in the very first round.

We could go in circles all day.

Rather on Cavuto


Cavuto: Dan ain’t done. Only days after a court dismissed his case against CBS Dan Rather says he ain’t done by a Texas longhorn rancher’s whiskers with CBS. Rather telling me in his first chat since the decision that this decision isn’t the final decision. He is appealing and he sticks by his claim that CBS defrauded him and made him the scapegoat for that 2004 President Bush Texas Air National Guard story. Moments ago, Rather telling me exclusively about his next move.

Cavuto: What are your odds of getting them to even take the case? What do your lawyers say?

Rather: Well, I don’t play any odds, this I know, it’s one and one. We won in the lower court, the trial court. The case was proceeding toward a trial. They won in the appellate court. So, we won one place, they won the next place and the way the system works we go right now to the New York Court of Appeals if they’ll take the case and hopefully they will, and I think they will.

Cavuto: If they don’t it’s game over, right?

Rather: Well, if they don’t, it would be. But if they do, it opens up the possibility of continuing what we started. My mission in this lawsuit is there are other issues involved but the most important principle, the basic reason I’m in it, is what kind of news are we going to have? We have very large corporate interests working with powerful political interests to manipulate the news and the people who report the news. Whatever their political persuasion, I don’t think the American people want that, and what I have been seeking to do in this trial is to bring out the facts. We have, thanks to discovery, it’s already on record in court, some of it we can’t talk about because it’s not yet been filed as a motion, but we have strong documented evidence that what you’ve had, had here, this, you’ve had a large corporation, Viacom CBS, that basically buried an important news story in order to curry favor with, and protect, political interests who regulate them in Washington. And I just ask people….

Cavuto: But they did let the story run. Right? I mean wasn’t the issue with the quality of the documents that would support your story.

Rather: That was an issue. But the basic issue was whether we reported the truth. Was the story true.

Cavuto: And you stand by the story to this day that it was accurate, that former President Bush tried to skirt around Vietnam military service.

Rather: I stand by the story as we reported it as accurate. But here’s the important thing…

Cavuto: By the way, to that end then, the documents that seemed to, by some expert’s reckoning, to have been forged or fake, you say no.

Rather: I do. What I’m saying – and this is very important – to me, and I think to any reasonable person who’s trying to be fair about this – and that is, that no one to this day, although you read that the documents were quote forged, that they were a fraud quote unquote, no one has proven that. Now it’s true that there are people who say, well you didn’t do enough to prove that they were true, and that’s an argument. But I want to drive home – because it’s on the internet and you find it almost everywhere – quote forged quotes untrue. But getting back to the court cases, which I want to, I want to make clear. You know me Neil. I’m not a lot of things that perhaps I should be. But I’m a fighter. And I got into this knowing it was a  long, hard, difficult, against-the-odds pull. It’s still a live case. This isn’t over until and unless the New York Court of  Appeals says it’s over. Not CBS lawyers. The CBS lawyers are trying to say…

Cavuto: Yeah, the CBS lawyers are saying just that Dan, it is game over. “The lawsuit is now effectively over. As the court unanimously concluded, ‘We find that the complaint must now be dismissed in it’s entirety.'”

Rather: That tells me how afraid they are that we may succeed in the Court of Appeals.

Cavuto: How much have you spent of your own money on this? I’ve heard reports at a minimum two million? Maybe more? What?

Rather: Well, I’m not in it for the money as I’ve said from the beginning. If there’s any money…

Cavuto: But you’ve spent a lot of money.

Rather: Well I’d just like to leave it at that. Yes, it’s been expensive. Which I think speaks to how strongly I feel  about the core issue of not letting these large corporations and political powers manipulate the news and the people who gather it.

Cavuto: But you were with them for almost fifty years.

Rather: I was there forty-four years.

Cavuto: Okay. So, is that to say that you only became aware of this manipulation in the last year? In the last couple of years? That you were getting paid so much money that you put up with it? You know what I mean?

Rather: No. That wasn’t the case at fir.. put up with it. First of all, this has been coming for a long time because increasing corporate ownership, ever larger, happened over the years beginning really in the 1980’s at CBS and it went through three or four different ownerships. I am saying that this case, and in some instances I didn’t know about it until I got out of CBS, because I continued, I said this is a good story here. But what happened, what really happened in this case, and what CBS and others want the public believes to happen. So that’s what took me to the court case of saying, listen, we don’t have the power of subpoena, we don’t have the possible pain of perjury, we get in court and that’s what happened, we got into discovery. We learned all kinds of things in discovery and depositions that I didn’t know before. And if we can get the facts in front of people, I’m asking, all I’m asking is, let’s take it to a jury. Let’s get it in open court. And let’s have Mr. Moonves and Mr. Redstone those who…

Cavuto: Leslie Moonves and Sumner Redstone. Now they have been kind of dismissive of this whole legal action of yours and some even in the broadcast community, Dan, have almost looked at you with pity. And they’re saying here’s this seventy-seven-year-old giant in the industry who is, is fighting a losing legal battle and it’s a sad comment on what should be a great career. What do you say?

Rather: Well that’s basically the CBS corporate position. And I understand…

Cavuto: Well a lot of it is your colleagues and friends too.

Rather: Well, they haven’t said it to me. But the people are entitled to their opinion. I know who I am, I know what I am, and I know what I stand for. And I’m a lifetime journalist. And I believe in a journalism that is not afraid to speak truth to power and to speak up – forcefully when necessary – to the powerful and not be intimidated by them. And again, you know, we have a fractionalized country, politicized country. Liberals, conservatives, progressives, reactionaries, what have you. But I think most Americans agree with the idea we want the new straight up.

Cavuto: Wasn’t that the argument here Dan? That you weren’t giving this news straight up. That you had… the charge then, as now, is that you entered with an agenda and that you were rushing, in this case, an agenda in a 2004 heated campaign with John Kerry and President Bush and that this was your effort to stick it to President Bush and that you rushed this without checking everything out.

Rather: Well that’s a long list of accusations and charges. And listen, I’m not perfect. I didn’t have an agenda. I don’t have an agenda.

Cavuto: Did you rush it?

Rather: No. I didn’t.

Cavuto: Looking back do you think you should have slowed down?

Rather: If it was rushed, it was rushed by those who had the responsibility for putting the broadcasts on the air. I didn’t have the power to put the broadcast on the air. If it was rushed…

Cavuto: But did anyone ever say we have to get this on before election day or not?

Rather: No. I never said that. I never heard anybody say that. But if that was the case, it happened at a level well above me in the news division. But I want to get back to whatever one thinks about this you’ve got properly asked me about people integrating well you know whatever you said, the old man, that I’m still active as a reporter and I spend most of my time, especially in investigative pieces, that I’m a long way from being done yet. If I have God’s graces in my health. And this court case is a long, hard, fight and has always been an odds-against fight. The two important points despite what CBS and the lawyers would have you believe, it is not over. The New York Court of Appeals gets to decide. And they decide. Not CBS and its lawyers. And their promotion and publicity team. Number two, that we won in the lower court and we’re going ahead toward trial. We won there, they won in appellate court and now we go, with their permission, to the New York Court of Appeals. That’s point one. Point two. Believe what you want about the story and how it was handled. But we have learned so much in the process of being able to get into court, about what happened, what really happened.

Cavuto: What was the most egregious thing you learned?

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