Deb Haaland – Secretary of the Interior

Another first here – this woman is the first Native American to serve as a cabinet member. As a 35th generation New Mexican she hails from the Laguna Pueblo Tribe where she was a tribal leader. Raised in a military family her father was a decorated war veteran, and mom a Navy veteran. She attended over 13 different schools as a military child.

She is a success story striving as a single parent living pay check to pay check then becoming a business owner of Pueblo Salsa. In the meantime, as Stephen Colbert would say, she graduated from the University of New Mexico undergrad, and then on to their law school. She is still paying for her student loans as was President Obama well into his second term..

In reviewing her credentials and background as an advocate for environmental justice and climate change, she is a perfect fit for her position as the Secretary of the Interior. In her position manages the use of public lands, protects the exploitation of natural resources, and maintains national parks and monuments.

Gina Raimondo – Secretary of Commerce

Another powerhouse here.. This gal is one to watch and would love to see her as President. On a recent trip caught her being interviewed on plane tv with a high dollar tech guy. She held her own and out shined him, however also honored his abilities and business acumen. This is a task few have, and something crucial in a woman who is working in a man’s world. That said let me convince you as well of her talents in this blog…

Gina’s grandfather immigrated to the US at 14, he learned English at the library, had a family, and lived the American dream. His granddaughter became the valedictorian of her high school, and went on to be the first in his family with a college education. She graduated as the top student in economics from Harvard, and later became a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. After that she earned her doctorate from Yale.

She worked in venture capital then was drawn to the public sector becoming the treasurer for the State of Rhode Island where she fixed the underfunded pension system. Next step.. Governor where she worked tirelessly on work force development, job training programs, and other initiatives.

At Commerce she has the following Mission:

  • Spur good paying jobs
  • Empower enterpeneurs to grow
  • Help American workers compete in business

She was one of the primary architects of the Chip and Science Act of 2022. Noting Taiwan makes 90% of the chips used in the world this bill was created and passed to ensure America’s viability and security in the world. Chip manufacture in America will increase exponentially with the passage of this legislation.

And under the American Rescue Plan, (ARP), her agency is working on careers for future young Americans in good paying jobs in construction, manufacture and other industries. She is replicating nationally what was created in Rhode Island.

Raimondo speaking at the kick-off of this initiative.

One to watch.

Go Gina!

Katherine Tai United States Trade Representative

Katherine is the first Asian-American to serve in this position. The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants this gal, who is fluent in Mandarin, has spent most of her career shaping US trade law and agreements. A graduate of Harvard and Yale she is a lawyer as well as an acclaimed public servant. Her nomination to this position received unanimous approval by the senate.

In her role as principal trade advisor, negotiator, and spokesperson on US trade policy, she is key to the strength of our country’s trade relations. Only 48 years young her skills will be available to our government for several decades. How fortunate we are.

Jennifer Granholm Secretary of Energy

This powerhouse gal is a Canadian immigrant originally from Vancouver, Canada. At 63, she was a 2 term governor of Michigan where she implemented clean energy programs, and channeled the auto industry into the emerging sectors of clean energy.

A graduate of University of California at Berkeley, and Harvard, this former governor is a lawyer, educator, and political commentator. Clean energy has always been her initiative, and she is tasked with achieving Biden’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Michigan is one of the top 5 states with clean energy patents.

According to her bio on energy.gov she is tasked with the following:

  • promoting research and development of clean energy
  • creating millions of clean energy jobs
  • leading our country, thus the world, in scientific discovery on this topic
  • remediating the environmental hazards caused by defense programs

Tom Vilsack Secretary of Agriculture

When I began researching Tom found stories of an arrest, and several nefarious activities by this 71 year old former Iowa governor who had also served in the Obama administration from 2009-20017.

After reading several accounts of this May 2022 incident, I recall this past week signing on to the internet only to find King Charles III had died after 46 days on the throne. While I respect what Charles has done for his charities, am not a fan, however read on. The accounts intrigued as it was reported he died in his sleep, peacefully. I signed off and returned 10 minutes later. Decided to check on the King’s funereal arrangements and low and behold there he was alive and kicking in full regalia at a British event. While no retraction was made know someone took a fall on that.

I digress.. and for the record Tom was not arrested.

Our Secretary of Agriculture is a New York State educated man with degrees from Hamilton College and Albany Law School. Here are some of his assigned tasks:

  • works with states on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, and nutrition
  • In nutrition issues also works closely with the Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • National Forest are under this Secretary’s purview
  • Monitors and develops plans for new farming technologies.

Antony Blinken- Secretary of State

This is my favorite cabinet member – only blogged about him in September but it bears repeating..

Who is this 60 year old New York City born man of Jewish decent who graduated from Harvard and Columbia and now takes care of business on the world stage?

The long and short of it he is Biden’s alter ego according to some sources. Our Secretary of State spent some of his early years living in Paris with his mom and step dad, a Polish born Holocaust survivor, and lawyer. While his step dad has passed his mom is alive, and involved in US-France non-profits.

His father was an investment banker and former US Ambassador to Hungary, with step mom an interior designer.

While always interested in the arts and passionate about music, (he’s quite a guitarist), he was encouraged to join the State Department by family. Working with the Clinton administration he credits meeting his wife through the 40 million voters who voted for Clinton. She is Irish Catholic, and the duo have been together for 20 years.

Check out the above web site for an uplifting read on this fascinating man.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Pete Buttigieg Secretary of Transportation

This is another very talented individual who also ran for the Presidency. Prior to that he was the Mayor of Sound Bend, Indiana, where he received accolades, and rewards for changing the streetscape of this City. He is now charged with dolling out millions of dollars from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.

In this initiative he has set 5 goals in leading the world in transportation – safety, jobs, equity, climate, and innovation. This Harvard graduate, and Oxford Rhodes Scholar is on track to accomplish these goals. Only 40 years young he has much on his list of accomplishments. His list of accomplishments are so diverse, and wide reaching it was difficult to pick which to write of.

Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Buttigieg

And also worth mentioning – he spent 7 years in the US Naval Reserve with a deployment in 2014 in Afghanistan.

What a rising star!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Biden Cabinet

As promised will be writing the next 3 weeks on the members of the Biden Cabinet of which there are over 20 members. In these blogs will write who these individuals are, where they hailed from, and a bit of their background. They are a diverse group.

As one of the internet sources states these individuals sit with the President around a mahogany table, and for those old enough to recall this is the same table which First Lady Betty Ford danced upon at the conclusion of her husband’s tumultuous term, (but aren’t they all?). While seating charts may change all who sit at the table hold a unique skill set with great powers.

Let’s start at the head of the table..

Ron Klain – Chief of Staff

As a political consultant, and former lobbyist Ron Klain has served 2 Vice Presidents, Al Gore 1995-1999, and Joe Biden 2009-2011. Born in Indianapolis, this 61 year old is Georgetown University educated with his law degree from Harvard.

As with many of these individuals they have been with or associated with Joe Biden for decades. Klain as well as several other cabinet members are rumored to be departing once mid-terms are completed as while the job is fascinating it is a 24/7 responsibility, and extremely stressful.

The commitment made by these members is for duty, as the salary is a pittance as to what could be acquired in the private sector.

Cecilia E. Rouse – Chair of the Counsel of Economic Advisors

This 58 year old hails from California, is Harvard educated (Ph.D.), and served since March 2021 as the 30th Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. She formerly was Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. A labor economist her focus is the economics of education and is the author of a myriad of papers on this topic.

And on the opposite end of the table..

Avril Haines – Director of National Intelligence

This American intelligence official, “spy,” lawyer, and first woman to serve in this capacity has a fascinating back story. A 53 year old from New York City, she was educated at the University of Chicago and Georgetown for her law degree.

She oversees 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, has a judo brown belt, and is an airplane enthusiast with an unsuccessful attempt to cross the Atlantic. WHEW! She has a vast interest in drones and for more on her background:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/26/avril-haines-director-of-national-intelligence, read it as her life is one of strength and courage.

Always in the room with President Obama, and now President Biden, she’s made controversial decisions, and remains a vital advisor and voice at the table.

Dr. Arati Prabhakar – Director of the Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) Policy

This woman immigrated from India at 3 to Chicago, then Lubbock, Texas, where she earned an electrical engineer degree at Texas Tech. She then studied at California Institute of Technology earning a Masters in Electrical Engineering, then a Ph.D. in applied physics.

She has led 2 federal research and development agencies, and worked in the private, educational, and non-profit arenas. She spent 15 years working in Silicon Valley. Her accolades and list of accomplishments are notable and endless.

Wow! This is the first blog and what a learning experience. Can’t wait to research more of these amazing folks who guide the President in his decisions.

Stay tuned..

St. Augustine, Florida ?First Thanksgiving

Mural showing life in first European settlement in St. Augustine in 1565 for Government House Museum in St. Augustine, Florida by Michael Rosato. Acrylic on canvas.

Recently received an email from the St. John’s (County) Cultural Council stating the first Thanksgiving occurred in St. Augustine, Florida in 1569. Here’s the email, I stand corrected. Read on, it is a fascinating account.

The First Real Thanksgiving: St. Augustine in 1565

Nov 24, 2020 SJCADMIN/

St. Augustine, Florida is the longest continuously inhabited European-founded city in the United States, and many historians have identified the meal following a celebratory mass in September 1565 as America’s first Thanksgiving feast.  


When Spanish Admiral Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles came ashore with 800 settlers, he asked that a meal of celebration was served from food provisions on the ship (yes, leftovers!) — cocido, a stew made from salted pork, garlic, and garbanzo beans, accompanied by hard sea biscuits and red wine. He invited the native Americans, the Timucua, from their Seloy village (located where the Fountain of Youth now stands). They would have contributed to the meal from their own food stores — wild turkey, alligator, venison, gopher tortoise, oysters, mullet, drum, sea catfish, maize (corn), beans, and squash. 


“It was the first community act of religion and thanksgiving in the first permanent settlement in the land,” wrote University of Florida professor emeritus of history Michael Gannon in his book, The Cross in the Sand.

According to the memoirs of Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, who celebrated the Catholic mass, once “the feast day (was) observed … after mass, ‘the Adelantado (Menendez) had the Indians fed and dined himself.” 

This feast of Thanksgiving held on September 8, 1565, in St. Augustine, 56 years before the pilgrims of Plymouth enjoyed a meal together in gratitude of their first harvest.

Some historians argue that while America’s first Thanksgiving indeed took place in Florida, it actually occurred 40 miles further north and one year earlier than the one in St. Augustine when French Huguenots — Calvinists like the Pilgrims — held a service of thanksgiving and feasted with the Timucuans to celebrate the June 1564 establishment of Fort Caroline along the St. Johns River in present-day Jacksonville. “We sang a psalm of Thanksgiving unto God, beseeching him that it would please his Grace to continue His accustomed goodness toward us,” French explorer Rene Goulaine de Laudonnière wrote in his journal.


Other first Thanksgiving claims? A historical marker erected by the Texas Society of the Daughters of the American Colonists outside Canyon, Texas, states that Father Juan de Padilla conducted a thanksgiving service there in May 1541 for an army of 1,500 accompanying Spanish conquistador Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. Virginia and Maine have also put themselves forward as hosts of the nation’s first Thanksgiving in the years before the arrival of the Mayflower.

America’s Thanksgiving holiday was actually first recognized in 1843 by President Abraham Lincoln during the bitter struggle of the Civil War — on the last Thursday in November as a National Day of Thanksgiving, making it a national holiday. The President called on the “whole American people,” wherever they lived to unite “with one heart and one voice” in observing a special day of thanksgiving, and to “implore the interposition of the almighty to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it … to full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 and it was approved by U.S. Congress in 1941. 

See recipes below from Jonathan Millen’s A Taste of St. Augustine: Recipes of the Ancient City for coquina clam broth, alligator pilau, and swamp cabbage.

COQUINA BROTH

This delicate broth is a gift of the sea. The tiny coquina clams burrow into the sand as the tide washes them ashore during the summer months. Once scooped from the sand, rinse the coquinas and place them in a pot with enough water to cover. Cook over medium heat until shells pop open (usually about 5 minutes). Strain broth and discard shells. Add a little butter and light cream to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley or chives to add color. No quantities are given, as the amounts are determined by the success of the coquina collector.



ALLIGATOR PILAU

After 53 years of protection, the alligator has made a remarkable comeback and alligator meat is available again. Since the body meat is too tough, only the tail meat is used. The best way to prepare alligator tail is to slice the meat across the grain into 1/4- to ½-inch strips. While alligator tail is delicious lightly breaded and fried, try this dish that includes the datil pepper for a little kick of heat.

2lb. alligator tail, sliced or cubed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 bay leaves
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups chicken stock
½ fresh datil pepper or 1 tsp pepper sauce
½ tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme


Saute alligator meat in a small amount of olive oil until tender, and set aside. In a Dutch oven, cook onions, bell pepper and garlic in remaining oil until soft. Add tomatoes, bay leaves, datil pepper or sauce and seasonings and simmer over low heat for five minutes. Add chicken stock and well-rinsed rice and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the alligator meat, stir well, taste, and adjust seasonings. Simmer an additional five minutes to combine flavors.



PLAIN OLD SWAMP CABBAGE


If ever the opportunity of a fresh-cut cabbage palm presents itself, here is a recipe for fixin’ it. For most folks, getting to the heart is more trouble than it’s worth. For old-timers and Seminole Indians, it was a way of life. If you want a true Florida adventure, try making it yourself.

Remove boots from the palm and peel down to the heart. Break heart into bite-size chunks and soak in cold water until ready to cook. Chop some onions. Fry ½ lb. salt pork, cut into small pieces, in a skillet. Add a handful of onions and some butter and cook until onions are soft. In a Dutch oven melt a stick of butter. Add a generous amount of cabbage and a fourth as much onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more cabbage and onion in the same proportion until the pot is half full. Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring to keep cabbage from burning. Serve when cabbage is tender.

To preserve our trees, please cut cabbages from palms that are growing in dense clusters, or from construction sites where they are to be removed. The best cabbage comes from trees that are from eight to twelve feet tall.

SOURCES

Black Friday

Black Friday didn’t originate as a retail term.

The term Black Friday first began with a financial crisis initiated by Wall Street tycoons, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk. These scoundrels worked in unison buying up as much of the nation’s gold as they could. By doing this they were hoping to sell and acquire enormous profit.

On Friday, September 24, 1869, the gold market crashed the stock market causing free-fall and bankruptcy for everyone from farmers to financial moguls.

So, how did this term get coined into the retail environment?

Nowadays stores which are in the red go into the black on this day after Thanksgiving due to shopper mania. Thus the use of the term.

Happy shopping to all!