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Drinking in the inauguration

The new season of television that kicked off earlier this month has ushered in a new level of aggravation in my life.

Near the top of ABC's line-up is The Bachelor, led this season by former Bachelorette contender Jason Mesnick.

And therein lies the problem: There's a bevy of desperate beauties vying for the bachelor's attention. That means that several times a show, I have to hear "JAAAAASSSSOOOOONNNNNN!!!" And those are in addition to my wife's beckoning calls.

If Dante were writing, it would certainly be enough to add a couple of extra levels to Hades.

As the inauguration of America's 44th president passed last week, I was amazed at how the hope of many people had come true: Barack Obama has already started turning around our economy. Just look at the "entrepreneurs" lining up to make a buck off the new prez.

I've seen commemorative plates and commemorative coins, t-shirts and buttons, even an Obama comic book. Heck, some keepsake newspapers were selling at nearly $20 each on eBay, just hours after they'd sold for less than $1 on the street. Some enterprising seller had listed on eBay a piece of artwork completed by the three-year-old president to be. At one point, bidding on the item was above $1 million. (And don't even get me started on the web address speculators who were asking more than $20 million for sites like and

But my favorite slice of Obamamania came from an e-mail I got right in the middle of the inauguration ceremony last Tuesday. It touted Obama bottled water, complete with The President's face on the label, as a great fundraiser for churches or civic organizations.

And here I thought Democrats had no use for trickle down economics.

Last Saturday, I got the opportunity to do something I think I'm pretty good at: eating.

The Dearing Dream Team's chili, soup and stew cook-off has become an annual fundraiser for the local Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society. For the last several years, I've helped judge the competition.

This year, I was on stew duty - a category won by Maggie Biernatzki's bean stew. And I'm already looking forward to next year's event (and any other cook-off where a judge with an "experienced palate" is needed).

What thrills me so much about the Dearing event - beyond the delicious food - is that it is a testament to community cooperation. From Rev. Todd Upchurch, who lines up judges and ushers the competition along, to Beverly McCorkle, who heads up Dearing's Relay for Life efforts, there are dozens of volunteers who come together to make the event work. And that doesn't count the 20 or so cooks who enter their concoctions into the competition.

All in all, it's hard to come up with a better way to raise money: good food, good fellowship and great community combine to make the perfect recipe.

Web posted on Thursday, January 29, 2009

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