Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Civics 101.3rd District Federal Circuit Courts

Having previously parsed out the lay of the land in the 4th Circuit of the Federal District Courts, I took my research north to the 3rd.
The 3rd circuit is comprised of six districts: Western Pennsylvania, Middle Pennsylvania, Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (District Courts sit in our territories as well as our states and the District of Columbia).  There are 62 seats in the entire circuit and at present 10 are vacant.  While judges serve for life and there are judges in the Federal circuit system still serving who were appointed as far back as the Carter administration (you will recall that in the 4th circuit one judge was appointed by Ford, and four by Reagan who still serve) this is a relatively young circuit.  The two longest serving judges were appoint by President George H.W. Bush, seven by President Clinton and the vast majority--28--by President George W. Bush.  President Obama has appointed half that number so far with 14, and of the 10 open seats, Obama has only nominated 2 judges for 2 or 7 open seats in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Looking at gender diversity in the circuit is also interesting.  
Of the 52 seats currently filled, 15 are held by women or roughly 29%.  Compared to the 4th Circuit's 26%, this is a slight improvement, if statistically insignificant.  A break down by district looks like this:

New Jersey = 35% (6 out of 17)
U.S. Virgin Islands = 33% (1 out of 3)
Western Pennsylvania = 30% (3 out of 10)
Delaware = 25% (1 out of 4)
Middle Pennsylvania = 17% (1 out of 6)
Eastern Pennsylvania = 14% (3 out of 22)

Of the two nominees for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, both are men.  Therefore, at the present time, no positive alteration of these percentages is on the horizon.

Serving judges by president:

George H. W. Bush = 50% (1 out of 2)
Bill Clinton = 43% (3 out of 7)
George W. Bush = 21% (6 out of 28)
Barack Obama = 36% (5 out of 14)--dropping to 31% if his nominees are confirmed

No More HAM!

After living with every iteration of Ham imaginable since Christmas, I would have eaten a piece of cardboard today just to not have any more ham.
 Fortunately, I had tilapia and shrimp and chips!

My favorite breading is a mix under the brand name "House Autry," it's just the perfect breading for anything!  I use it for chicken tenders, for veggies like fried yellow squash.

December Diamonds: The Mermen

 The company is called December Diamonds and I stumbled upon them innocently enough, but I just couldn't break their spell.  They are so fucking gay kitsch through and through and like some siren's call I was smitten.  On December 28th the first five arrived.  And they have names, of course!
 Meet Spark and Cajun.
Here is Tattoo, Scotch, and Aquarius!
Then on Monday, Special Delivery joined the quintet.
And today, Bruce arrived.  A hair stylist named, Bruce?  It's gotta be an homage to the play "Steel Magnolias", right?

2014 Anticipated

My 2014 Warwick University Rowing Team calendar has arrived.  All is well in the land of Randuwa...

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Reason

I went to the National Museum of Women in the Arts was to see the quilt exhibition "Workt by Hand: Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts" on loan from the Brooklyn Museum of Art.  It's a "canned" show. The BMA assembled it, printed the catalog, and farms it out to other museums for a price.  Capitalism at its finest, eh?  But it is also a fine collection of quilts and worth every penny!~
This quilt was reverse-appliqued!  I mean--holy shit!--it was nearly unfathomable in its attention to detail. 
I loved the individual attention paid to the contents of each basket.  The upper left corner was absolutely the most stunning--but for the record the image is reversed (it would be the upper right corner on the actual quilt).  I replicated it here with fidelity to the catalog.  Bad editing... 
 The craziest thing about this masterwork is the embroidery!  I've never seen finer work.  If only I could have a detail of the border--all embroidered morning glories and each one a masterpiece.
Detail below.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts

Where as in most places, museums are closed on Mondays, here in DC, they are mostly open.  So what better way to spend the last Monday of my winter break that at a museum?  I chose the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Over the years the collection has expanded and the works housed there cross a wide chronological and stylistic range.  Here are some of the paintings currently on display.

Still Life of Fish and Cat, after 1620
Clara Peeters (1594-after 1657)
Virgin and Child, circa 1663
Elizabetta Sirani (1638-1665)
Bowl of Lemon and Oranges on a Box of Wood Shavings and Pomegranates, circa 1630's
Louise Moillon (1610-1696)
Sheep by the Sea, 1865
Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899)
The Cage, 1885
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
Africa, 1935
Lois Mailou Jones, (1905-1998)

Tejido Espacio-Tiempo, 1954
Remedios Varo (1908-1963)
Superwoman, 1973
Kiki Kogelnik (1939-1997)
Victoria's Secret, 1995
Robin Kahn (1961-   )

Final Ham Makeover Post: Quiche!

Quiche is easy: 6 eggs and 1.5 cups of milk. That's it. Everything else is up to you. For this one I processed some of the ham with a small onion and a little carrot I found in the veggie pantry. I also thawed a package of organic spinach and grated up half a small block each of Vermont Cheddar and Munster (left overs, again) Next I layer the ham combo, cheese mix and spinach like you would a lasagna, ending with some cheese to put on top. Pour over it the egg and milk mixture, bake at 350˚ for 55 minutes of until the egg sets and the top is a little golden. (I also added some freshly ground black pepper to the egg and milk mixture. Voila!

Ham Salad!

When you bake a ham and still have leftovers...
Chop and then food process, ham (1.5 cups?), small onion, small carrot, 2 stalks celery, .5 green bell pepper.  Combine with .25 cup sweet pickle salad cubs, and .5 cup mayonnaise.

Here I served it on toasted olive bread with munster cheese and romaine lettuce.  OMG--heaven to be sure.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Another Use of Time in an Art Museum

Is to go into a single gallery and let the painting that live there speak to you as they speak to one another.  A minor gallery can be an excellent place to do this.  Here are four small paintings from the same gallery--4 of the 11 paintings that were there.  All diminutive landscapes.
The Tomb of Cecaelia Metella, c. 1830
Léon-Françoise-Antoine Fleury
  Mount Desert Island, Maine, 1864
Jervis McEntee
 The Artist Sketching at Mount Desert, Maine, 1864-1865
Sanford Robinson Gifford
Swiss Landscape, c. 1830
Alexandre Calame

Another Acquisition

I have a friend, Rod Coysh, who is a photographer.  He makes such amazing images of his world in southern Australia.  With Rod, it's a non-stop tour de force of wonderful images.  And I was most pleased when he consented to sending me this one via CD.

It was my project to get a quality print made of it and frame it over this holiday, and I spent a good portion of today making that happen.

It now hangs in the upstairs landing above a book self adjacent to my bedroom.  Isn't it lovely?

What I'm Listening To #115

"A Romantic Revel in the Athens of the West: Kentucky Composers of the Romantic Era 1835-1875" is absolutely nothing I would have ever sought out on my own.  So the fact that the conductor is my best friend, and he sent this to me as a gift, explains how I got it.

It does not, however; completely explain why I am so captivated by it.  Why it has utterly charmed me with it's historic and melodic wiles.  Like a young woman waiting to be swept off her feet, it has placed it's powerful arm around my musical waist and whisked me off to a land of enchantment.

Pride Birthdays and Memorials for the Week ~ December 29th to January 4th

More Uses for Left Over Ham

Ham Hash browns!--with onions and green peppers.
And after a hearty breakfast, a lighter dinner:  Cauliflower, Corn & Ham Chowder.

One Way To Spend Your Time While Visiting An Art Museum

I recommend that when you visit a familiar museum, you take time to randomly select one work and spend 30 minutes with it.  Let it speak to you.  It will take you to so many places and leave you very satisfied by the journey.

Today, at the National Gallery of Art here in DC, I did this with "Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still upon Gibeon," 1816, by artist John Martin (1789-1854).  I was first aware of this artist during a visit to the National Gallery in London back in 2002.  He paints dramatic, energetic, monumental canvases with Biblical themes.  He is very imaginative.

We live in a world over stimulated by images.  I think that 1816 was probably a simpler time in general to the point that it would be difficult for me to even imagine.  So the first thing I think is that this guy had one mother fucking amazing imagination.  I'm 52 and I've never seen a sky like that.  Have you?  He was only 27 when he painted this canvas.

Look at how he encapsulates his ideas.  It's a Biblical theme through the lens of 19th century enlightenment.  He divides the canvas in two--the darkness on the right, and light on the left.
 Here is the shining city, build upon the ruins of antiquity.  You see images of medieval castles, the acropolis, even a pyramid.  All are just foundations for the ultimate city awash in the light of heaven and the blessings of God.

 Streaming from the gates of civilization is an army most ordered and uniform.  The army is the epitome of discipline, yet expressing a confidence and an excitement for the battle to come and the victory most assured.  Note also that the battle with evil requires the brave army to travel down into the valley--the valley of death for some.

Don't you also just love the detail given to the lone knight on the white steed?  A soldier even points him out to us, just in case we fail to discover him in the midst of the monumental painting.  Was John Martin trying to say, "Hey, check this out!  I'm a pretty damn good painter!"?
When I was a kid, I loved to doodle; ergo, the lower right corner of the painting and the battle makes me think that John Martin did, too.  What patience it must have taken to create the image of this battle with it's thousands and thousands of combatants.   We have the luxury of Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy...what did 27-year-old John Martin in 1816 have?  An amazing imagination!

The Dying Gaul

 Also at the National Gallery is the sculpture, the Dying Gaul (c. 1st-2nd century CE).

 It's on loan from Italy, the first time ever (the only other time it left Rome was in 1797 thanks to Napoleon, but that bad boy had to return in 1816, and it was hardly a "loan"!) It's just shy of 2,000 years old, and arguably the finest work of art from the Roman Antiquity (Okay, there is David in Florence...) It's on display on the north edge of the grand rotunda in the west building. It is magnificent.

You'll find it on the north end of the grand rotunda...surrounded by visitors.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

Van Gogh Painting @ The National Gallery of Art

There is a new Van Gogh in town.  "Green Wheat Fields, Auvers," 1890, is a newly displayed acquisition at the National Gallery of Art here in DC.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

So I Baked A Ham...

So I baked a ham on Christmas!  An 8.19 lb ham to be exact.  I glazed it with a spicy mustard/brown sugar mixture and scored the fat layer and poked in a couple of dozen Cloves, too.  Then baked it for the better part of 120 minutes @ 325˚--result?  Perfectly, juicy, sweet & savory baked ham!

And then I ate all of two modest slices...

So now the work begins.  What to do with the rest?  Most will be frozen, but along the way it will be used to enhance other dishes, right?  First, iteration?
Three Cheese Mac & Cheese with Green Pepper, Onion, and Ham.  It's the only way I make Mac & Cheese, and once you do, you'll realized that you have entered an entirely new world of taste reality!

The recipe is fairly simple and all starts with a roux.  Melt 1 stick of butter on a low heat.  Whisk in .5 Cup of sifted flower.  Whisk until just bubbling (you may have to increase the heat slowly as you go.)  Add to this, slowly--with the whisk--2.5 cups of milk.  Stir to keep creamy consistency.

Combine this with 1 box of Rotini Pasta (cooked), .75 cups each of finely diced Onion, chopped Green Pepper, cubed Baked Ham AND 5 oz. each (half a standard 10 oz. block) of  3 cheeses of your choice, shredded.  I used Vermont Sharp Cheddar, Munster, and Monterrey Jack with salsa.  Once everything is thoroughly mixed, bake it @ 325˚ for about 45 mintes until it's all bubbling nicely!  Let cool for 15 minutes and serve.