Category Archives: CT Exploration

Taking a Little Sample

I came home last night with takeout from the new Ambassador of India Cafe in West Hartford Center. It’s a vegetarian restaurant that boasts Jain Cuisine. This strikes me as odd — like saying something like Catholic Cuisine. But my very smart husband said it is probably sans garlic and onions — roots you’d have to kill in order to harvest. The first words out of Sujal’s mouth were, “Oh boy — Govind is gonna be mad at you.”

Well, he has no need to worry. As if it were not enough that his location is WAY more convenient, the food cannot compete. I ordered the saag paneer (palak paneer), and it was very salty. I think Sujal and I will give Ambassador a second try, but it simply cannot beat our favorite, India Oven.

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NYT article on Iraq High School Play

I wanted to write this articled a while ago, but here are some interesting links about a play that a high school tried to put up about the Iraq War. It was even in a Connecticut high school. I think it’s an interesting story.

NYT article

text of the play

India Oven

We go there all the time, so I figured it is time to write a review. We love India Oven, an indian restaurant in West Hartford, CT on Park Rd. It’s very close to our house, so we go there often, and sometimes in the summer we walk there for a date. The owners are very nice. I’m the one who usually picks up the food, and Govin always asks how Sujal is. It’s kind of fun to be a regular. When we first moved here, it was tough to find a place we liked. We don’t like the Taste of India in West Hartford — far too oily. We liked New India, a place in Simsbury, but it’s a drive for us. I really liked Kashmir in Hartford. The take-out at Cosmos International is also good, but India Oven is our clear favorite.

We highly recommend the paneer shahi korma. It is SO good! Their saag paneer is also good, as is their chana masala. I’m also a fan of the dal makhani. The interior is small, but the dining room is nicely decorated. The Hartford Advocate has a review, albeit by someone who’d never been to an indian restaurant. I can’t say I love the review itself, but the writer does a nice job of describing the owners. Here’s a slightly better review. Anyway, we love the place. I’m about to go pick up our dinner now.

The Snow Predictor

Chris Kasprak has a new blog. He’s a weather guru, and he’s my co-worker’s (Meg’s) son! The new blog is The Snow Predictor. My favorite part is the disclaimer.

Park Road Parade

Last Saturday I went to thePark Road Parade in West Hartford. I try to do some activities here and there that are community oriented. I loved being there. Historically, I am not a fan of parades.

Here’s the thing: I was scared of the fire truck sirens as a child. Ergo, I don’t like parades. But this parade had no loud sirens. The West Hartford Fire Department was indeed there but sans sirens. It was my dream come true.

Okay, so as an adult, I’ve always thought parades we too schmaltzy or tacky. I guess in reality, they are meant to be. What I loved about this one was the crowd. I stood near this group of people — a married couple and a father with his daughter and dog. The dg was a golden retriever puppy. If I ever got a dog — I think it might be a golden retriever or perhaps an italian greyhound, because they are so adorable. I love dogs, alomost as much as cats, but what I really love is petting dogs on the street rather than owning them. But I digress.

So this “family” — the married couple, father, daughter, and dog — were really funny. They were the smartass type, poking fun at some people in the parade. And there were some people that were pretty funny. There were several parade members that were just some random schmoes advertising for their business. Part of the Park Road Parade is for Park Rd businesses to have floats. But these people we like from Bristol, and they would just drive in a car with a sign attached saying “Creative Innovations” or some such random business. Don’t get me wrong. Small business is a necessary part of our economy. Each of my parents is a small business owner, competitors, in fact, but they don’t go out to the West Hartford parade.

One of the guys kept trying to scare the daughter by pointing out the lone clowns that were in the parade, saying that it’s okay if a bunch of clowns get out of a car, but a clown by itself is usually one of those scary murderous ones. The girl was probably about middle school age, old enough to hold her own. Basically, these people had me laughing through almost the entire parade. I can’t say they had the kindest sense of humor, but that had the kind of sense of humor that I grew up on, and the kind I still treasure.

Then the highlight came. Scott Neilson walked Ernest and Lilly in the Pug portion of the parade. Ernest and Lily are pugs, hence being part of the pug parade. When Scott saw me, he left the parade to chit chat with me, and immediately about 25 kids surrounded Ernest and Lily. I’ll have to get some pics of them on my blog.

The other really cool part was that four K-O students were marching with the Citizens for Peace and Justice. As I watched the parade, I thought it was a bit sad that we didn’t have K-O representation. We don’t have a marching band like the other area schools, but it would be nice to get some involvement.

Many politicians were also out campaigning, and I saw Beth Bye out there. She didn’t seem to be campaigning, but more attending and being part of the day. She is a mother, afterall. It was nice to see her enjoying the day, as I’m sure campaigning is pretty exhausting. I missed Jodi Rell, and frankly (sadly?) I don’t know what she looks like. This is the problem of getting one’s news on the radio. I’ll never forget seeing Tony Blair for the first time after listening to him on the radio. I was picturing some very handsome British dude. Let’s just say he had not lived up the my mental image.

All in all, it was a fun time, and I look forward to next year’s parade. Perhaps I am a reformed parade poo-poo-er.

Beth Bye Interview: Part I

I interviewed Beth bye on April 23, 2006. I wrote this after the interview:

I just got back from meeting with Beth Bye. Our chat lasted for a bit more than an hour, and I got to get a better sense of who she is as a parent, education professional, West Hartfordite, school board member, Connecticutian, and candidate for state representative. I had the good fortune of being able to stroll over to her home from school in the cool April drizzle. Let me make this clear to you, as I did to Bye, I am not a reporter. I have not done an interview since high school. While I know a few techniques, I am no professional. I am a teacher, and a creative writing teacher at that. I am all about embellishing, but I will try to be true to the chat.

When I asked Bye why she was initially interested in running for the school board, she had a detailed and impassioned history explaining why. She began by alluding to something Jodi Rell may have said about women getting into politics, that they get into politics because they feel something is at stake, particularly for their child. When her daughter was an infant in a daycare center, a daycare center that Bye ran, Bye was saddened by the turnover rate of her staff, thus affecting the quality of care her daughter was receiving. Quality care, Bye explains, is affected by how permanent the staff is. She became involved with Worthy Wages Campaign which calls for higher wages to child care employees so employees will be less likely to leave the profession and be more likely to be more effective.

It began with an editorial she wrote. She felt strongly about magnet schools, and her daughter was currently attending one. She began watching board meetings on TV, and soon she began attending them. Being situated close to the school, Bye hosted Mothers’ coffees, where concerned mothers gathered to talk about the issues facing their children’s schools, and thus she decided to run to make a difference. She was also exasperated by the disarray of the board at the time, citing Joe DeLucco’s ability to silence many parents trying to raise concerns. Being an education professional and a mother, Bye certainly had kids’ interest at the forefront.

And now she is running for state representative. This does not seem an uncommon route, as Bye herself explains that she can actually do something about budget allotment for school districts if she is a member of the assembly. Since we are working with an outdated formula for state funding of schools, she hopes to work on this issue.

In her work on the school board, it sounds like she is a pragmatist. In our chat she spoke about research and evidence over and over, making it sound like her every decision is based in empirical evidence. She also said she listens to all sorts of people involved: students, parents, community members. Since I am a teacher, we also chatted shop. I asked her about her views on tracking. She said she needed to be upfront with me, that she has done a large quantity of research in the field on heterogeneous grouping of kids. We seemed to see eye to eye on this issue. I recalled how I read about the regular vs. honors. vs AP discussion in the West Hartford News. I was so annoyed at this article, and Sujal and I had a discussion on it ourselves. Sujal would rather err on the side of tracking. Bye said her first stance was that there should not be an honors biology track. But parents convinced her, again, bringing in evidence from a variety of sources. Bye touts one of her strengths as being a reasonable person and having an open mind in terms of listening to people she does not necessarily agree with. Clearly constituents can talk to her, can approach her, and she will listen.

She talked about being a responsive person, that in her time on the board, people will ask her questions because they know that she will investigate and address these questions. That sounds like real representation to me.

As you can tell, I support her. I encourage anyone who has interest to become involved in her campaign. Let’s get her elected! More of the interview to come…

Goats!

Sujal and I had a lovely weekend, well, especially a lovely Saturday morning. We got up very early and we walked into town for breakfast. I love petting dogs on the street. It makes me very happy to do that. I got to pet a golden retriever, two beagles, and best of all, two baby goats! As we went to the grocery store, they were setting up two baby goats to promote goat milk soap. Weird, eh? They were just a few days old, and they were surprisingly big. Very cute.

Pure Interest, Dreams, Masks, and Reality

Anyone who knows me well, knows I think excessively. It is nearly impossibly for me to turn my brain off. Try meditation, thanks, sure, I will. So as I’ve been blogging in the past, I’ve been intrigued by Beth Bye, Vice Chair of the WH School Board and candidate for state representative. And as I’ve mentioned before, I am the second entry on a “Beth Bye” Google search. So I contacted her and asked her if I could interview her for me blog, and she accepted. This was last Sunday. I know I should have written it up by now, but I had a mini-crisis in between interviewing her and finishing writing the interview up. See, it has long been a dream of mine to be an NPR correspondent. While I asked Bye if I could interview her mainly because I was very curious to know more about her, I also wanted to support her and help give her some more exposure, because frankly, I believe in her. She strikes me as a clear, compassionate, well-spoken, thoughtful, and engaged citizen: the makings for a great representative.

But once I got that “yes”, (and this is where this post turns to be solely about me and my own narcissistic ways) I began to fret about it. What do I ask her? I’ve never done an interview before, at least not one since high school. I began to think about journalistic approaches, because now I was going to be part of the news media. And I think that’s about when I began to connect the dots to being an NPR correspondent. “Well, if this interview goes well, NPR will certainly start recruiting me.” I planned carefully, and I drew up questions. I did my homework and tried to read what there was already printed about her on the web.

When I went to do the interview, I fully disclosed the fact that I am a teacher, not a journalist, and that I had not done an interview since high school. At one point, she referred to me as a reporter. And frankly, I behaved like a reporter. The interview did go very well, and I was very glad to have had the opportunity to get to know her better and to get a better understanding on where she stands on issues. Like I said, I was initially driven by curiosity to know more about her.

As I left, I began to feel young, like a child, like someone pretending to be someone she is not. I went to my office at school and took out my notes and began writing a formal news article/interview. I continued my research. i wanted to be able to link to all of the references she named. I wanted to gain a better understanding of the equation that determines how much money the state contributes towards a town’s education budget. Boy, had I bitten off more than I could chew. I sat there writing, thinking to myself, why am I trying to write in this manner? This isn’t me.

Truth be told, I never really wanted to be a real NPR correspondent. I just wanted to be Bob Edwards, well, Bob Edwards when he hosted Morning Edition. Then I was feeling compelled to report the bulk of my notes, because “the people have a right to know.” What monster had I turned into? So I stopped writing and started grading.

Now with a week under my belt, I think I have a much better idea of the directions I’d like to take. I say directionS, because I plan to do multiple posts. And, since I am not a reporter, this won’t be straight reporting, since I’ve always hated trying to write objectively, because I do not believe for a moment there is such a thing as objective writing, period. So stay tuned for a few posts.

While I may not be a journalist or even a hardcore blogger, I do enjoy writing, and I’ll do just that.

Beth Bye, part II

I almost forgot, when Sujal told me that he saw the Beth Bye was running for state rep, he said she’s running against Bob Farr. Beth, if you’re reading, i have some advice. Shortly before the election, Farr rang our doorbell. As I ran down the stairs and opened the door, he was already walking away, but he turned around and hastily handed a pad of paper with is name printed on the sheets and quickly turned and ran away, adding, “I’m running for re-election. Thought you might like some paper.” I swear, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone as afraid of me before. Granted I am an imposing short, still somewhat thin woman. I do inspire fear in the hearts of door-to-doot campaigners. So Beth, my advice to you is don’t be afraid of your constituents. We’re not out to scare you.

Our Gal, Beth Bye

Ben pointed out in a comment that Beth Bye is running for State Rep — Congrats to hear. This led me to check it out, and I found this useful document about the state candidates. While I have not yet finished a thorough check, I was happy to see that we have a Green candidate, Cliff Thornton. As I’ve mentioned before, I feel new to local politics (and yes, I guess I’m even calling governor local…). Since I’ve moved from state to state, I haven’t set down those local politics kids of roots.

Hopefully in the near future I’ll post more on the book I’m reading, Absolute Conviction. But in the meantime, as it applies to this post, I am from Buffalo, NY orignially — well, a ‘burb. And I recall hearing a lot about Mayor Jimmy Griffin, as he was somewhat controversial. What stands out in my mind most is that I have this fairly vague memory of him funding an artist to create a sculpture along I-90 as people come into the city of Buffalo. The artist built his sculpture, which apparently did not go through any approval phases, because it was (I swear this is true) a neon green dancing penis with a cane and top hat. It was almost immediately removed. Nonetheless, in reading this book, I am finding out that I had no idea just how socially conservative he was/is. He was vehemently against New York State allowing abortion procedures, and he rallied against Roe v. Wade. So often my roots shock the heck out of me. I remember that he ran as a “man of the people” type, a democrat, though I seem to recall he often an republic leanings. My family really liked him. I’m not sure if my die-hard republican grandfather (worked for the sanitation department of Cheektowaga) liked him or not. Griffin was Catholic, which may have been enough for my grandfather. This link to Wikipedia on Griffin won’t work for me at the moment, but hopefully it is just temporarily down. This is all to say, I sadly have not following local politics well in the past, well, long time.

So read up, I must! And good luck to Beth Bye!