The Sechny-Schneider Thanksgiving, 2017

Some scenes from our Thanksgiving, courtesy of friend and prolific photographer Lisa Nagy Isaacson:

Some of the food:
While we mostly drank champagne/mimosas, we also test-tasted this not-at-all-bad “Covfefe” wine Our niece Emily with Wayne’s sister Judy.My brother Bobby with one of his oldest friends from the neighborhood, Saul Isaacson.Mike and Emily, slaving away in the kitchen.

Mike and his mother, Mary.

Saul and Judy perusing, as far as I recall, DIckens.

Saul and his wife (and now our family photo archivist, as I told her) Lisa.

Wayne and I melting into the couch.  Those plush ‘drumsticks’ you see in the foreground were actually Thanksgiving-themed ‘party’ headgear, which we were forced to wear for a photograph later, and which I will NOT post here (or anywhere else!)

Several (many many) Mimosas later, after some wonderful NY cheesecake over which some of us drizzled a maple/cream/pecan sauce, Wayne and I headed home to our hungry kitties.  It was an enjoyable visit that, now that we’ve gotten more used to the newer ‘family and friends’ dynamics, we’re looking forward to more and more each holiday.

I hope that all of our Zoo family and friends enjoyed just as comfortable – and tasty! – Thanksgiving.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 29, 2014: Debunking Right-Wingers Is Exhausting

Most weeks I like to check out the good people at Right Wing Watch to see what the loonies in Conservative World (where good times go to be publicly denounced as immorally anti-Christian) are up to, or down to, depending on your perspective. I have to tell you, it can be exhausting. And that’s from me, not the good people who actually delve into their world to report back to us so we may be properly warned. It just boggles my mind how distorted their view of Reality is. And thanks to a well-funded right-wing movement dedicated to ensuring their views are treated as being equally valid with more thoughtful, reality-based thinking, these people have had conferred upon them a credibility they should otherwise lack. Because they’re nuts. There’s no other explanation for it.

Take Dr. Ben Carson, for example. No, please, take him. Far away. While discussing race in America, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked Dr. Carson if things were “going to get worse” before they get better, and he responded with a true statement followed by a false one. He said, “I actually believe that things were better before this president was elected. And I think that things have gotten worse because of his unusual emphasis on race.” The first part was true in the sense that things were not as bad in 2008 as they are now, but the second part is totally off base, and an indication of how conservative minds think. The president isn’t the one who emphasizes race in everything, at least not from the comments I’ve heard him make as president. (I’ve never read his books, so I can’t speak to how much he emphasized race before 2008.) But if he gets asked about it more often than the forty-two white men who preceded him at his job, maybe it’s because he can offer a point of view his predecessors lacked. And maybe it’s because racial incidents are on the rise since our nation elected its first black president. But to ascribe these things to President Obama’s “emphasis on race” is to totally twist the reality of the situation. Carson then lied to explain how he came to that conclusion. Referencing the Henry Louis Gates incident (in which a college professor was arrested for trying to break into his own home, when he was in fact trying to open a stuck front door), Carson claims Obama said that the police “always do this kind of thing”. Actually what Obama said was that the Cambridge Police acted “stupidly.” Referencing the president’s comments about how if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin, how is that not taking a “balanced, objective look at things”? Is there some merit to the belief that if Obama had a son, he would be white? Why do conservatives feel the truth must be “balanced” with something? Like what, totally delusional thinking? Ever since the election of FDR, Conservatives have been trying to get their viewpoints treated as anything other than the selfish, greedy, me-first kind of thinking they represent. (You can read a partial transcript of Hewitt’s interview with Carson here, but then you might accidentally read my reply to some delusional Christian in the comments section.)

Now that you’ve taken Ben Carson away from me, take Representative Peter King (R-NY) with him. King, who is an ardent supporter of the Irish Republican Army (the first terrorist group I remember hearing about growing up), thinks that Officer Darren Wilson has been getting a totally bad rap just because he shot an unarmed young black man out of complete fear and didn’t even get indicted for it. So Wilson should get invited to the White House, so the president can thank him for doing his job. Yeah, Steve Benen (who wrote the article to which I linked) couldn’t believe it, either. But he has a link to video of the Congressman saying this. The problem with that suggestion, of course, is that it’s not the job of a police officer to kill unarmed people from down the street, nor is it the job of a prosecutor to find a way to prevent that cop from being charged with a crime for doing so, but that’s what happened in Missouri. I mean, it’s not as though Officer Wilson was visiting Washington, DC, and did the Secret Service’s job by stopping a White House intruder (by shooting him from down the street), so why should he be invited to the White House? In typical Conservative fashion, King wants to make heroes out of people who kill other people for no valid reason. (Face the truth. Officer Darren Wilson’s life was never in danger, he only thought it might be. And that should not be sufficient grounds to use deadly force.) Conservatives love to step up and support cops who kill people for not obeying orders, because in their warped minds, failure to obey a police officer is a capital offense, punishable by an immediate execution. IOW, do what you’re told or die.

And while you’re taking away Ben Carson and Peter king, please take away all those Conservatives who think the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the Pilgrims’ triumph over Socialism. I’ll let the author of the article explain:

The storyline goes like this: The early settlers at Plymouth at first experimented with a system of collective ownership of farmland, which, as with their compatriots at Jamestown, led to widespread famine. When they eventually abandoned this system in favor of private ownership, farmers were more productive, the harvest was bountiful, and a feast was held in celebration. Pass the stuffing!

As usual when it comes to Conservative interpretations of reality, it’s completely wrong and misses the point entirely! The first Thanksgiving celebration for a bountiful harvest was in 1621. The Pilgrims abandoned their Collective Course strategy in 1623. And they didn’t do it because of widespread famine (which contradicts the idea that their first harvest was bountiful) but because they wanted to make more money. It’s true that one reason they abandoned the Common Course was because there were bachelors who didn’t want to work for the benefit of other men’s wives and families, and there were women who objected to washing the bachelors’ clothes. This had more to do with the fact that these early settlers were not all from one town in England, but from all over the country. This was also at a time when people rarely traveled more than ten miles form their homes.

Communal farming arrangements were common in the pilgrims’ day. Many of the towns they came from in England were run according to the “open-field” system, in which the land holdings of a manor are divided into strips to be harvested by tenant farmers. As Nick Bunker writes in 2010’s Making Haste From Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World, “Open field farming was not some kind of communism. All the villagers were tenants of the landlord.”

There was no local baron in Plymouth, but it was a commercial project as much as a religious one, and the colonists still had to answer to their investors back in England. It was this, not socialist ideals, that accounted for the common course. Bunker writes, “Far from being a commune, the Mayflower was a common stock: the very words employed in the contract. All the land in the Plymouth Colony, its houses, its tools, and its trading profits (if they appeared) were to belong to a joint-stock company owned by the shareholders as a whole.”

He continues: “Under the terms of the contract … for the first seven years no individual settler could own a plot of land. To ensure that each farmer received his fair share of good or bad land, the slices were rotated each year, but this was counterproductive. Nobody had any reason to put in extra hours and effort to improve a plot if next season another family received the benefit.”

The Pilgrims’ unhappiness with this arrangement was not a rejection of Socialism, but of the corporate rules under which they had to live. You’ll never hear Conservatives talk about the early European settlers in this country that way – as anti-corporation.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss anything you wish, but preferably not right-wing distortions of reality, thank you.

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 24th, 2014: “Black Friday”

We didn’t have “Black Friday” when we were kids–hell, when I was a kid, we didn’t even have a mall in our area until I was in high school. Personally, I hate shopping on any day, let alone on a day when I would have to push my way through crowds of (shudder) “people.”

Although this article is from 2011, it’s got some interesting historical information and some tips if you’re one of the crazies folks who like going Christmas shopping on Black Friday. Here’s a few excerpts from “5 Black Friday Myths the Media Wants You to Believe”:

Actually, Black Friday wasn’t the biggest shopping day of the year until the advent of online shopping. Before that, it was rarely even in the top five…So why was the media paying so much attention to the fifth-biggest shopping day of the year? Well, partially because it’s a slow news day.”

“Black Friday finally did become the top revenue earner in 2003 by giving people who would rather stay home with their family a way to get at the deals…So the story that the media had been reporting for years that Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year finally came true, and suddenly they want to complicate it with a bunch of other days when you have to remember to wear riot gear to the mall.”

Myth #3, “Black Friday is the Day After Thanksgiving”, isn’t, as the author admits, really a “myth”, but in a sideways manner allows the author to elaborate on the history of Thanksgiving Day:

“Thanksgiving originally didn’t have a set date. George Washington proclaimed the first one on November 26, 1789, but the dates and even months changed for almost a century. Abraham Lincoln gave it a regular berth in 1863 as the last Thursday of November. It never occurred to Honest Abe that November sometimes has five Thursdays, and that this would create a problem down the road.

One of those Novembers with five Thursdays happened in 1939, when the United States was recovering from the Great Depression. At that time, waiting until after Thanksgiving to start the holiday shopping season was seen as almost holy, but Thanksgiving fell on the very last day of the month. A short number of Christmas shopping days, starting on December 1, could hurt the recovering economy. That’s why President Franklin Roosevelt had to put Turkey Day in its place.

A presidential proclamation was issued moving Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday of November. Thirty-two states went along with FDR and issued the same proclamation, while the other 16 states said “fuck that.” For two years, a third of the U.S. celebrated Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, while the other two-thirds of the country celebrated it on the second-to-last Thursday. For family members living in opposing states, this was a very short, lethargic version of the Civil War.”

Enjoy reading the rest of the article, particularly the captions under the photos. Heh.

This is our daily open thread, so go ahead and talk about anything.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, October 23, 2013: NOW WHAT???

Walker Mole, The Zoo's deep underground reporter.

Walker Mole, The Zoo’s deep underground reporter.

The Zoo’s underground reporter recently dug up the dirt on the Tea Party’s next objective: Shut Down Thanksgiving.

Frustrated that the deal to shut down the shutdown of the federal government kicked the shutdown can down the road until after Christmas, the rebels in the Tea Party seized on the closest national holiday as their new cause du jour.

“Thanksgiving has long been thought of as an American Holiday” said one anonymous spokesperson, “but it’s not. It’s nothing more than a liberal plot to get real Americans celebrating alongside with them savage Indians.”

The spokesperson continued, “We won the war against the Indians. We drove them off the land by giving them smallpox, and bullets. And if that didn’t work, we conned them into one treaty after another. We took this continent away from them, fair and square.”

“So to celebrate, we should be calling this Holiday “Thanks-Taking”, cuz that’s the American way!”

Tea Party activists have circulated petitions, seeking to have major retailers change their advertising to “Thanks-Taking Day” sales. Macy’s, sponsor of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, adamently refused to change its stance. So far, only the NRA is on board. A spokesperson put it succinctly, “What better way to say “Thanks-Taking” than with a Smith and Wesson”?


Thanksgiving, Rockwell Style

When one thinks about Thanksgiving, what image is the first conjured up in one’s mind? Obviously, Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting, which we think of nostalgically as a representation of Americana from almost-bygone times. But in an article from this morning’s Berkshire Eagle, writer Chris Newbound says:

“Norman Rockwell characterized his own work as an idealized version of American life. He and others would often say that his images represented the way he wanted life to be, not necessarily the way life was.”

Mr. Newbound goes on to describe the “Thanksgiving” painting:

“The “Freedom of Want” painting was originally part of a quartet of works inspired by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech (his State of the Union address) in January 1941. This particular painting is the Paul McCartney of the group: the sunniest, and arguably the most popular of the foursome. The other three works — “Freedom of Speech,” “Freedom of Fear” and “Freedom to Worship” — are decidedly more somber, more Lennon than McCartney.”

With the way that Republicans have talked about “taking our country back” one would think that the “Four Freedoms” as embodied in Rockwell’s paintings would be etched on a plank of the Republican’s platform. But that would require agreeing that every American has a right to “Freedom from Want” and “Freedom from Fear”, which we liberals believe in. In conservative lexicon, “Freedom” simply means “you’re on your own”, leaving those Four Freedoms “Ours To Fight For.”

Happy Thanksgiving to all Critters and Zoosters, great and small.

This is our Open Thread. What’s everyone up to today?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, November 21, 2012: A Thanksgiving Tale

Once Upon A Time, in a Land Far, Far Away (for that is how all fairy tales are supposed to begin) a King sent out a proclamation declaring that for one day out of three hundred and sixty five, all of his subjects are to stop work and give thanks to God for having blessed them with the abundance that the King has given them.

And so it came to be that throughout the Kingdom, for one day a year, people stopped work and gathered together in their villages to give their thanks to God for everything the King blessed them to have. But time, it seems, changes everything, and so, too, did this sacred day of giving thanks. As villages grew larger, families stopped coming to the communal meal and celebrated on their own, with their own. Soon, it became almost an unwritten contest, to see which families could pile the most food on one table. Even the King was swept up, and always had to provide the greatest banquet of all.

But for the poor, who once dined at the communal meal, the day became a day to remind them even more poignantly of the things they did not enjoy – having enough to eat being chief among them. As the richest fed their table scraps to their dogs, children of the poor still cried themselves to sleep with an empty stomach.

Then, one day, the unthinkable was thought of. The Prince who was not heir to the throne (for he was second born) asked a question at the banquet of Giving Thanks held by the King himself. There, in front of his brothers and sisters and cousins and wives and all the nobles and all their families (for it was a very large banquet indeed) stood up and asked,

“Father, why are we Giving Thanks this day?” The room grew suddenly quiet, for no one ever dared to speak to the King without having first been spoken to.

The King stopped, mouth open, a fork-full of roast goose suspended midway between the plate and his palate. He set the fork down and slowly raised a glass of his finest wine and took a long draught. Setting the goblet down, the King looked up at the ceiling and spoke,

“Why, to give thanks to God for the abundance I have given to each of you.” Everyone applauded and murmured in approval.

“But Father,” and this was unthinkable, for no one ever challenged the King once He made a pronouncement. “But Father,” the Prince continued, “you have given us nothing.”
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Sunday Roast: Missing the Sylvia Beach Hotel this year…

Photo by Zooey

For the first time in five years, I’m not spending Thanksgiving week at the Sylvia Beach Hotel.  Right now, I’m supposed to be sitting in the parlor on the third floor in front of a crackling fire, reading my book, and waiting for the hot spiced wine to arrive.

But because a job remains elusive, it was not to be this year.  I’m listening to the wind howl outside my window, trying to pretend it’s a storm at the beach.

So instead, I’m planning a low budget Thanksgiving dinner with Zoo Jr — he’s bringing the turkey — and am truly thankful that my son and I will have the whole weekend to hang out together.

This is our daily open thread — What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

Open Thread – Thanksgiving

A year ago, most of the country, and the free world, was elated over the election of Barak Obama.

We’ve now had a year-long reality check. Republicans are not interested in cooperating with anyone but one of their own. Obama really ran as a moderate – but compared to McCain/Palin, he appeared very left-wing.

The fact of the matter is, there are not enough progressives in Congress to move forward with an agenda that puts people over profits. I believe Obama is doing the best he can with the hand that was dealt him, on all fronts.
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What are YOU thankful for?

Today, Thanksgiving, has always been one of my favorite holidays of the year (along with the New Year), because, for me, Thanksgiving is about remembering all of the things that we have to be thankful for.

Today, I give thanks to the friends and family I have. I give thanks that I have a job, a home, and the best dog in the world.  I am enormously thankful that I have yet to have to worry about where my next meal comes from.

I am thankful that we dodged the Palin bullet and are on our way to being respected around the world again.

And, today, I give thanks for my association with each of you, whether I am blessed  with working with you at this blog, or reading your wonderful comments.

For all of these things, I am enormously thankful.

So, I ask you…what are YOU thankful for?

Belated Thanks-giving..

Yikes! I am mortified! I just realized in my list of “What I am thankful for, and what I am NOT..“, I forgot two VERY important people who I am VERY thankful for and just had to include.

Keith Olbermann of Countdown on MSNBC, and Jon Stewart from The Daily Show.

Keith Olbermann has given me a sense of hope, and makes me feel like someone is actually paying attention to what is happening with our administration and our government with all his segments with such people as Jonathon Turley (Constitutional Scholar), Bruce Fein, John Dean, and Rachel Maddow (to name just a few). I am especially thankful for his Special Comments. They have reduced me to tears on more than one occasion. He speaks for me and for million of Americans who feel that nobody is listening. He says what I am thinking and feeling. We as a family never miss Countdown.

Jon Stewart, even though a host of a “fake” news show, has challenged “mainstream news” to its core with his biting satire and pointing out the absurdity that is at the heart of our government, our administration and our foreign policies. He lays the truth bare for people to see that makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. And, frankly, he has some of the best interviews on his show that I have seen. He is one of my heroes.

What I am thankful for, and what I am NOT..

Each year on Thanksgiving it’s a tradition for friends and family to gather together and give thanks for all we are blessed with. At least, that’s the tradition I grew up with.

This year it’s harder for me to think of things to be thankful for, and I think many people in this country join me in that feeling. There is so much anger in our country, and so much stress and worry about the future.

But, I will give it a shot…

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Share Your Thanksgiving Traditions and Favorite Foods.


Several of us at the Zoo thought it would be fun to learn about our friends’ favorite Thanksgiving foods and traditions.

  • What foods do you most look forward to at Thanksgiving?
  • Is there a game you always play?
  • Does everyone just sleep in front of the football games?
  • What’s the one thing which, if it just wasn’t there, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving?

Hey, if you’ve got ’em, cough up the recipes. 😉

Photo by delgaudm. Used with permission.