Category Archives: Uncategorized

We Got Egg Roll Tickets!

First, I’ll say that I’m thrilled we were able to secure tickets to this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll. But it was pure, dumb luck. It was clicking the right link at just the right time, after I’d even given up on getting them. I always thought it was a long shot, but we lucked out.

But of course, the problems were highly publicized, as noted in this Washington Post article.  In fact, my experiences were even quoted in the article.  One of my twittering buddies works for the Washington Post and asked me to email my thoughts on the process.  Here is the whole email:

Continue reading We Got Egg Roll Tickets!

From the Kitchen: Shrimp with Leeks & Ginger

So @bittman tweets the other day:

Recipe of the Day: Leeks With Ginger and Shrimp

Now growing up, we didn’t eat many leeks. They have a rather exotic connotation for me, kinda like bok choi.  Mark, on the other hand, being of Welsh extraction (as in his mother came from Wales), is much more familiar with the scallion’s giant cousin.  Well, Mr. Bittman’s recipe sounded intriguing, so tonight I finally got the chance to try it out.

And wow, what a great recipe.  Easy to make and delicious.  I did make a couple of alterations to the recipe, however.

First off, I didn’t cook the leeks nearly as long as the recipe called for.  One minute before I started tossing them in the pan, then another three or four minutes before taking them off the heat.  I just like my vegetables a little less than completely cooked.

Secondly, I added a little chili paste (Sambal Oelek, to be exact). I can’t say exactly how much – I finished off what was left in a container.  Personally, I think I added a bit too much; it was spicy! However, Mark, being Mark, didn’t think it was spicy enough and added some chili oil to it after the fact.  I swear that man’s tongue is made out of asbestos.

The whole thing was served over a bed of jasmine rice.  Definitely a winner and a recipe we will be making again in the future.


Give D.C. a Vote

Once again, the Republicans are playing games with the residents of the District of Columbia.

There is a bill in Congress that would, at long last, grant D.C. a full voting member in the House of Representatives as well as granting an additional representative from the state of Utah.  However, Republicans, who have long since opposed any effort to enfranchise the District, have inserted distasteful amendments into the bill in an effort to derail the measure.

Why have Republicans been so against this effort for so long?  They have many arguments for this, some of which hold a hint of validity, but most of them fail on their face.  Their arguments, rebutted:

  1. Granting the District a vote in Congress would be unconstitutional because the District is not a state.
    This is the only argument which I actually agree with, but it still fails. If the District does not get representation because it is not a state, then the other provisions of the Constitution, namely the Bill of Rights, should not apply either. This means that the Second Amendment (you know the one, that one about the right to bear arms) wouldn’t apply to the District, so they should be able to pass whatever gun laws they like. However, the District’s previous ban on guns was struck down last year based on the Second Amendment argument. So Republicans need to decide: does the Constitution apply to the District or not?  (It is worth noting that in the case of the D.C. gun ban, an appeals court judge dissented on the decision to strike the ban on the grounds that the District was not a state and thus the Second Amendment did not apply.)
  2. D.C.’s population is too small to warrant a full representative vote in Congress.
    Well, then you’d better rescind Wyoming’s right to have a vote in Congress as well. While you’re at it, you’d better eliminate its senators too. That’s because the state that has more cattle than people has a human population of 532,668 (according to the 2000 census) while the District of Columbia boasts 591,833 residents.  So if the Equity State can have a voting congressman and two voting senators, then the population argument fails.
  3. The District was created as a federal area, designed to house the institutions of government and not a civilian population.
    This is simply incorrect.  When the District of Columbia was formed, the already established communities of Georgetown (which was then the port of Montgomery County, Maryland) and Alexandria (on the Virginia side of the Potomac River) were incorporated into the District. Residents of these areas, who had voting representation in Congress prior to the establishment of the District, subsequently lost this right. Alexandria, along with present-day Arlington County, were reincorporated into the commonwealth of Virginia 1846 and those residents regained their representation in Congress.  However, the portion of the District north of the Potomac River remains disenfranchised.
  4. There is no public outcry for the District to have voting rights.
    Do not confuse ignorance of the District’s plight with a lack of concern with the District’s situation. The majority of American’s believe that District residents have the same voting representation as enjoyed by other American citizens. It is understandable that Americans would only assume that the heart of American democracy would have the same democratic representation as the rest of its citizenry.

What are the real reasons that Republicans oppose District voting rights? Could it be because the residents of the District are 75% African-American and 98% Democratic? Nah, that can’t be it.

It is unfathomable that American citizens, who pay federal income taxes and who send their sons and daughters off to Afghanistan and Iraq to fight for their freedom and democracy, have no vote in the legislative body that determines how taxes are spent and where our soldiers are sent.  No other democracy in the world denies the citizens of its capital voting representation in its legislature.  It is long past time that the District of Columbia receives its due, whether through the bill currently in Congress, or through a constitutional amendment.

For more information on the District’s struggle to gain a vote in Congress, visit This site has no affiliation with and all opinions expressed in this post are my own.  — Tracy Rotton

Too Much Crap for 140 Characters

I’m a Twitterholic, but I can’t fit all the crap that’s happened in the last 3 days in just 140 characters.

First and foremost, we had the vomiting baby. It actually started Saturday night, after of all things, a meal of baby food peas. The spectacular green vomit landed all over the baby and the living room rug. But otherwise, she looked fine. We just chalked it up to new food and sitting up right after eating and didn’t think much more about it.

Even on Sunday, the baby acted fine. She took a long nap in the morning, but she’s done that at daycare before so I wasn’t particularly surprised. In the afternoon, it was Sammy’s turn for a nap, and as Mark had been sick all weekend, Sasha and I were left to entertain each other. We danced a little bit, we knocked over blocks a little bit, and generally had a good time.

But in the late afternoon, she threw up again. Now we began to get a little more worried. I cleaned her up and tried to put her to bed, giving her some Tylenol for a mild fever, but she threw up yet again. I eventually got her into bed, but obviously she was going to stay home on Monday. It was a bit of a fitful night, with her waking up at 1:00 AM, 4:00 AM, and for good at 6:30 AM.

After dropping Mark and Sammy off at the Metro, I managed to get her to nap for about an hour. I manage to get through my morning phone meetings, but the last one came just as she was waking up, and she cried throughout the meeting, as all my coworkers heard when I took my iPhone off mute.

Right after that last meeting, I noticed that she was quite warm. I took her temperature and it was a whopping 103.2. Time for some more Tylenol and a call to the doctor’s office. Seriously, while I was navigating the doctor’s voice mail, she through up again. By this point, I had learned to recognize the distinctive little coughing sound and look in her eyes that always preceded another attack of vomiting. So I swiftly carried her into the kitchen where she was free to vomit all over the vinyl floor — which she did. Yuck.

Still on the phone with the doctor, I took her in later that afternoon. This was the worst part. While she felt like she was burning up, her temperature only registered around 100. They pricked her finger to take a blood count and discovered her white cell count was very high (24,000, I learned today). So that prompted more tests: a urine sample for which they used a catheter and a more involved blood draw which took two attempts to get. And after all of that, two simultaneous injections of antibiotics in either leg. My poor baby was being treated like a pin cushion!

She managed to keep down the Tylenol she received at the doctor’s office, but an attempt later that night wasn’t as successful — more vomit. We tried to put her down at bed time, but she ended up puking instead, and again later that evening, throwing up not only the medication but also any Pedialyte and nursing that I had managed to get into her.

Since the only thing that seemed to make her happy was Mommy holding her, that’s pretty much what I did for the rest of the night. Whenever I could squeeze a few drops of Pedialyte into her, and I nursed her as little as possible so that she wouldn’t have too much in her stomach.

Not the most comfortable of nights with her sleeping on my lap and me sleeping sitting upright on the couch, my feet propped up on Sammy’s little chair. Again, she woke up every few hours, but nor more vomiting.

Today, she’s been a lot better. No more fever, and (so far) no more vomiting. Again with a nice nap in her crib in the morning, which allowed me to take a little nap in my own bed. But then, there was my iPhone…

You see, my 3 year old son loves to play with Mommy and Daddy’s iPhones. I let him play with mine for a few minutes this morning while we were getting ready to leave and he had already eaten his breakfast. At one point, and I must’ve missed all this, it fell to the ground. Whether he dropped it or whether it fell from wherever he put it, is still a matter of debate. But this appeared to be the straw after my dropping it a couple of times a few weeks ago. Now the power button in the top right corner won’t press down, or more precisely, won’t come up. It’s permanently down. I can’t power it off, and when it goes off on it’s own, it won’t come back. It just does this continuous reset loop and won’t come to the home screen unless you plug it into the computer.

So I made an appointment to go into the Apple store that’s near Sasha’s doctor. I didn’t really want to drag her to the mall, but she had another appointment today anyway and she looked like she was feeling better. Most importantly, she hadn’t thrown up at all today and wasn’t running a fever. So after her morning nap, it was off to Montgomery Mall.

The genius tried resetting it, but that didn’t fix the problem, since it was a hardware problem, not a software one. Alternatives: replace with another Edge phone for $199, or spend that same amount for a new 3G. Well, reluctantly I opt for buying a 3G, except I would’ve opted for the 16 GB model which would’ve run $299. (There was also a now-moot option of working a deal with Best Buy Mobile, but that didn’t pan out so I won’t bore you with those details.) Time was now running short to get to Sasha’s doctor’s appointment, so I start the process online in the Apple store. But instead of $199/$299 for the 3G phone, AT&T wants to charge me the full, unsubsidized price (what is it, $499/$599?)! WTF?!?

The genius suggests I go to the AT&T store and try to work out a deal there. So I go. But no deal. The guy won’t give me the subsidized price (apparently since we used our 1 Edge phone upgrade option when Mark upgraded his phone). He keeps offering alternatives, each one more ludicrous than the last. I finally leave, almost in tears, to wolf down a quick McDonald’s lunch and get Sasha to her appointment.

The appointment goes much better today than yesterday. Only one pin prick to measure a closer-to-normal white blood cell count. The urine culture ruled out a UTI, and the blood work is still pending. Sasha cried nearly the whole time, more from the memory of yesterday, I think, than of discomfort.

After a quick side trip to pick up some prescribed antibiotics (which I think are totally unnecessary, BTW), we’re home, where she’s laughing and rolling, and knocking down more blocks.

But I’m still iPhone-less.

Baby Sasha, feeling better this afternoon.
Baby Sasha, feeling better this afternoon.

What Happens in Vegas… Comes to BWI?

So, fellow Marylanders.  Still don’t believe in the slippery slope?  Try this one then:

Del. Eric M. Bromwell (D-Baltimore County) has introduced legislation that would allow 3,000 slot machines inside the secure gate areas at Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall airport. I suppose the idea is the same as the recently voter-approved legislation that is allowing slot machines to be installed in five locations around the state: tax people who can’t do math and can likely least afford it. But this one has a wrinkle: by placing slots in the airport, you’re targeting travelers who presumably have money to burn (and frankly, who doesn’t these days?) and are likely from out of state or even out of the country.

Let’s hope that on the off chance this passes, they’ll have better success in implementing it. So far with the previous slots approval, two of the six bidders for the five slot licenses have failed to provide the $22.5 million in fees, and the total number of slots requested has only totalled 6,550, far fewer than the 15,000 allowed under the law.

Slot machines were a bad idea last November, and they’re a bad idea now.

Hey, I’ll admit it. I like going to Las Vegas to gamble and have done so on occassion. But when I board my plane at McCarran, that’s the last I expect to see a slot machine until I go back next time.

Christmas Lights

So, we go to the mall last night to pick up a few things, and don’t get home until 9:30. Then it’s the nightly fun of putting the kids to bed.  Hooray!

So what do I do afterwards? Why, finish putting Christmas lights on the cherry tree out front, of course!

I only did this last night because it was 60 bloody degrees outside, and a cold front was going to be moving in overnight. So it was either do it late at night in the drizzling rain, or some other night this week in the cold. I chose late but warm.

They’re on a timer, so hopefully they’ll be lit when we get home tonight. Sammy should like that. He gets really excited seeing any house with Christmas lights and will point out each and every one!

(I’ll try and get a better picture up this weekend.)

Sammy vs. Santa

I’ll spare the gory details of the entire weekend, only that we’re in the midst of holiday cheer.

However, I will relate the story of Sammy vs. Santa Claus. For weeks I’ve been telling Sammy that we need to go see Santa Claus so that he can tell him what he wants for Christmas. We even wrote a letter Sammy could give him detailing his preferences. And finally the day came, Sunday, when we were off to Lakeforest Mall with, I believe, one of the best Santa layouts in Suburban Maryland.

Sammy was reasonably good in the long line, as was Sasha who didn’t get fussy until we were approaching. A little nosh (yes, while standing in line) seemed to appease her. As for Sammy, I let him play with my iPhone for a little while, which backfired when it was our turn and I had to yank it out of his hand when he refused to give it back to me.

Sasha, who has been plagued with both separation anxiety and stranger anxiety lately, was a perfect angel. She gave Santa her biggest toothless smile and did everything she was supposed to do. Then there was Sammy.

I tried placing Sammy on Santa’s lap. His response was to start crying and then hop off. I gave Sammy the letter he had written, which he then threw at Santa and tried to run off.  Finally, after coaxing from the photographer and from me, he stood sort of next to Santa clutching a tiny basketball squeaky toy, and then finally sat on my knee as I kneeled down next to Santa.

At one point, he gave the photographer one of his “I’m in pain!” smiles. I tried to tell her that that was his smile and that she should get the shot off quickly, but I don’t think she quite believed me.

We managed to get off a few passable pictures which we got in prints and on a USB key (a cool l feature that I think is a smart way to go), we were done, much to Sammy’s relief.

Sasha doesnt look that happy, but Sammy cooperated for this picture.
Sasha doesn't look that happy, but Sammy cooperated for this picture.