Going Bananas: German Chocolate Banana Bread

We had some people over to the house last night, with a potluck dinner, so I baked a couple of banana breads for my contribution. The German Chocolate version I came up with, adapting a recipe off allrecipes.com, came out particularly well, I thought. So:
German Chocolate Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups mashed overripe bananas
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans.

2) Toast shredded coconut. This can be done in a dry skillet on the stovetop, or in the microwave; microwave approximately 1+1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring every 15 to 20 seconds. Set aside to cool while putting everything else together.

3) Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

4) In a second large bowl, mix butter or margarine and the white and brown sugars together until smooth. Stir in bananas, eggs, nuts and coconut.

5) Pour wet ingredients into dry, and stir just until blended. Divide batter between the two loaf pans.

6) Bake 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then turn loaves onto wire rack to cool completely.


Spoke Too Soon

So just when I say that I'm taking a break from political blogging, I actually get the three-day weekend off work I'm scheduled for, decide to take a quick look online...

...and find all hell breaking loose over the news that President Bush, in violation of law, ordered the National Security Agency to conduct domestic spying operations.

People are upset. A couple of particularly notable commentaries: Hilzoy at Political Animal. Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory

But those are from the liberal/progressive blogs I tend to follow. So maybe the views I'm reading there are slanted and one-sided.

A handy website I've used in the past is congress.org, which, among other things, lets users write to their Senators and Congressmen online, and also has a "Letters To Leaders" section where letterwriters can post their letters publicly as well. My impression has been that the letters posted there tend to be a pretty fair reflection of the country's general mood.

I just spent about forty-five minutes going through recent letters there about the NSA spying, and the letters are heavily against Bush's actions. VERY heavily against, about 8-1. Even more notably, at least three-quarters of the negative letters explicitly call for Bush to be impeached over the illegal spying.

Here's my own letter to my Senators and Congressman (McCain, Kyl,and Franks):
In the last several days, it has become publically known that President Bush secretly ordered the National Security Agency to conduct domestic spying operations against American citizens.

The President has broken the laws of this nation. What will you do in response?

When President Clinton lied under oath about a personal matter, Congress prepared articles of impeachment against him. That offense pales in comparison to President Bush's apparent contempt for the rules of law, and his contempt for the Constitution and the "checks and balances" established in that founding document.

The President has broken the laws of this nation. Will you be brave enough to call for impeachment, or will you place the interests of your political party above the future of our country?

Please let me know where you intend to stand. For our country and for our laws, or to surrender the rule of law to an executive who has publically proclaimed he is above the law?

Thank you for your time and attention.

I tend to be less dutiful than I ought to about keeping my Senators and Representative apprised of my views on matters. But this one... this is scary enough to get me typing.


Still Breathing

I've been working lots (and lots) of overtime recently, and my days have been basically: work, come home, make dinner, quick check on email, and bed. Repeat. On days off, try (and fail) to catch up on all the household chores and errands that are ordinarily done on workdays.

Which is why you haven't seen many posts here lately. Things should get back to normal after Christmas.

One thing I have noticed, though, is that having to skim, or skip altogether, the political blogs I usually cruise on a daily basis is... sorta relaxing.

Before the Bush administration, I tended to largely ignore politics. Back then, if it wasn't smart to ignore politics, it generally wasn't actively dangerous to do so. Most people could coast thru their lives and figure that if their government was out to get them, it was an incidental part of the political process, rather than deliberate.

Can't do that anymore, with the Bush administration's foundation in anti-government, anti-labor, anti-rights, anti-freedoms, anti-choice, anti-citizen extremism. I've felt an obligation, especially since 9/11, to -- at the minimum -- pay attention and stay informed about what's really going on in our government and country.

But... it gets wearying after a while. (And depressing. And scary.) And I've found that taking a (involuntary) break from watchdogging the government, going back to the pre-Bush practice of not paying attention to politics, is... kinda nice.

One of the repeated complaints heard in the anti-Bush blogosphere is that the "sheeple" won't wake up and realize how much danger their rights and freedoms and lives are in from the Bush extremists.

Maybe it's just as simple as this: Paying attention, and trying to stay informed, is hard and unpleasant work. And people, as a rule, don't like hard and unpleasant work, and try to avoid it as long as possible.

So I'm on (an enforced) vacation from political blogging for a few more weeks. I think I'll go ahead and enjoy it for the duration.

(There is, of course, the nagging feeling, that if I don't personally pay attention and stay informed, everything will go to absolute hell before New Year's. I think this may be like the old worry that if I press the wrong buttons on my keyboard, I'll launch nuclear missiles and start WWIII.)


Whoo Hoo! Good News!

Got e-mail from John Scalzi yesterday, telling me he was accepting my story, "Labyrinth's Heart", for the issue of SUBTERRANEAN MAGAZINE he's guest-editing.

This is a good feeling.