Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Black Keys

OK, I have absolutely and completely fallen for the Black Keys. (Thanks Dylan and Caroline)

I'm SOOOOO way late to the game. These guys have been around for 10 years. But man, oh man, can they play Blues/Rock.

I am a sucker for the Blues.

Comparisons with the White Strips are inevitable, but miss the point, I think. I love the Stripes, and what Jack White does on a guitar. My hus Bill has a shot of Jack White from It Might Get Loud, as White plays one guitar string, with a coke bottle, and the string is simply attached to nails on a board. And I love him for that. He rings so much feeling from just that one string. I can enjoy technical proficiency, but I adore a musician who plays from the heart.

Yet there IS room for more than Jack White...he can't be in every band. (although he's trying)

So Dan Auerbach plays some wonderfully tasty blues licks. In the way that Jack White does, Auerbach gets that heavy, buzzy bass sound from an electric guitar. But as much as I like Auerbach's guitar playing it's the SONGS and the vocals that make this band stand out. The Black Keys play songs that you are sure must be blues standards that you just haven't heard before...

That's so catchy! Who wrote that song?

But for the most part these tunes are their own. The Keys do covers, She said, she said by the Beatles comes to mind, but it's their own songs that carry the band.

Now I know shiite about good drumming. Well that's not exactly correct, I can usually tell a good drummer from a bad one, but I can't always tell you why or how or what. But Patrick Carney brings a big and distinctive sound and you can really hear what he brings to the Keys by listening to Auerbach without Carney on his Keep It Hid solo.

Keep It Hid is what made me realize what a great singer Auerbach is. When he plays with Carney the drums really take over a lot of the music (in a good way), but on the solo gig, you get to hear Auerbach's guitar playing and blue vocal stylings with less distractions, and that's when I fell in love with the Keys, because Auerbach is a great singer as well as good strong guitar player.

Anyway, hears[sic] the Black Key's from SNL last night. (I like the additional bass and keyboard players.) I love this tune. One of those that you go, "Who originally wrote this?" Then you realize it's theirs.

and I love Auerbach's vocals on this:

***Update***I hear a lot of influence from these guys on both Carney and Auerbach

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Musical Notes

I've always loved music. As I look back I realize it's been a big part of my life.

When I was growing up both my older brothers played in bands. Some of my earliest memories are of them rehearsing out in the garage. As a kid I remember hearing the Beatles music everywhere. Of course I preferred the Monkees. Don't hold it against me; I was only 5 or 6.

Through my early teens my brother Richard would bring home music when he came back from SIU. I remember listening to Happy Jack by the Who on an old record player out in the garage. I was dancing around and singing along. It was the Who’s second album, probably 1968 or 1969. Keith Moon was still alive and their music was fresh and very cool.

I remember buying Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy by Elton John when I was in 8th grade. I walked downtown from Our Savior’s school over lunch. I was pretty crazy about him then. He was a Superstar. LOL

In the mid 70's Richard bought me Bob Dylan's new album Blood on the Tracks and I think I wore it out. Richard helped me put together a stereo and he built me some nice speakers to go along with it. My teenage girl bedroom had my stereo on the dresser and I listened to a lot of music there. One night my Dad came into my room. He told me that he and Barb (my step-mom) were going to get a divorce. It's funny how distinctly I can picture it in my head and hear the music that was playing. Dad walked out and my life changed; Dylan has always been part of that moment for me.

I listened to all the music of my era: Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young. (BTW, I'm going to miss obvious stuff that I won't even think about till after I post) I complained that Disco Sucked, but listened to the BeeGee's and Donna Summers, and my first R rated movie was Saturday Night Fever, the movie that MADE disco (and John Travolta). I was 16. It was 1977.

The 70's were a wild time. The music (and everything else) got more and more excessive. With arena rock the music was often eclipsed by light shows and spandex and glitter.

Suddenly it was the 80's and there was this huge backlash against what was seen as too commercial, sold-out rock n roll. Punk hit the mid-west at least a year after it hit everywhere else, so by the time I heard about the Sex Pistols they were no longer together as a band. But the Clash, Elvis Costello, the Boomtown Rats and Talking Heads stepped in and carried on the new sound.

The era of Rockers vs Punks had begun.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Whatever happened to the First Amendment?

From UCDavis.

I am not OK with police in riot gear spraying students with pepper spray like they are bugs. These students are on a sidewalk with lots of green space around them, so although they are blocking the sidewalk they are not keeping anyone from getting anywhere.

I'm still trying to understand where and how the First Amendment was repealed. "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

If these students were violent, if they were harming others, if they were trying to hurt the cops, then I could understand the police using non-lethal means to subdue them. But to just casually walk up and spray them directly in the face is unconscionable.

Here's the entire video. It's hard to watch.

There are calls for the UCD Chancellor to resign. She apparently authorized "Use of Force" against peacefully demonstrating protesters.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A sports interlude...

I was reading a blog last night and came across a post on Joe Frazier vs Mohammed Ali. Hearing about the death of Joe Frazier this week brought back some memories that I thought I'd share.

I grew up watching boxing: my father was a sports enthusiast, and the 1970’s with Joe Frazier, Mohammed Ali, Ken Norton and George Foreman was an exceptional era in boxing.

I was born in Jacksonville, Illinois in 1961. My father was a local physician. He loved medicine, but he would get sidetracked into these extravagant side projects, usually involving sports. He had money and an outsized personality. He owned Sprint cars and his car won the USAC Championship in 1967. All this to give you a bit of background: boxing was a short leap for my dad.

Besides that we had a personal connection.

Those of you who know boxing may have already see this coming. I said I grew up in Jacksonville, IL. Another person with that same hometown is Ken Norton.

I remember John and Ruth Norton, and their son Ken, and his son Kenny Jr. from when they started coming to our house. Ken must have been making a name for himself as a boxer, and my dad began to follow his career. I remember the huge excitement when Ken Norton beat Mohammed Ali. It was “hometown boy does good”.

In a rematch, Ali defeated Norton, and then George Foreman defeated Ali making Foreman the Champ.

In 1974 Ken Norton fought George Foreman in Caracas, Venezuela for the heavy weight title and my family traveled there for the fight. I was 12 years old. I remember the excitement, I remember the celebrities and I remember the circus atmosphere. It was a pretty remarkable time.

In the days leading up to the fight, there was a lot of talk about how Foreman was trying to psych Norton, to intimidate him. Everyone was a bit worried, because although we were sure Norton would win, this development concerned us.

Then I learned first-hand just how intimidating George Foreman was.

Caracas of that era didn’t have too many high-end hotels, so everyone was staying at the same one. I can picture in my mind walking across the hotel lobby; George Foreman and his crew were walking toward us and I suddenly came face-to-face with him. I’d seen big men. I knew Ken and I had seen him spar. Statistically they were not that different, both were 6’3” and although Foreman outweighed Norton, it was only by maybe 10 pounds. But I want to tell you that the difference in demeanor, the difference in expression, the difference in the way they carried themselves was remarkable. Go back and look at the expression on Foreman’s face when he’s in the ring with Norton and you’ll see what I mean.

I remember looking at Ken, and for the first time wondering if he would lose the fight. George Foreman looked absolutely invincible.

The night of the fight I stayed at the hotel. I don’t remember if I wanted to go or not. At that point in time, bringing a 12 year old girl to a boxing match would have been unusual. My Dad and John Norton went, and I stayed in the room to watch the fight on TV with Ken’s mother Ruth and his aunt. I remember Ruth saying she never watched Kenny’s fights. As a mother, I can understand why. But they wanted to know what was happening, so it fell to me to be the play-by-play announcer. They sat away from the TV, wanting to know what was transpiring without actually having to see it.

The first round was pretty even. I just re-watched the fight on YouTube and there’s nothing too remarkable, just two boxers testing each other without landing too many punches. Then the second round starts, and if you watch you’ll see Foreman land a single punch that obviously hurts Norton and then follows it with a series of fast, hard punches to the head and Norton falls into the ropes.

I remember yelling, “He’s down! He’s down!”

They said, “Who’s down? Foreman?”

I said, “No! Norton. Norton is down!”

Ken gets up and gets an eight count and the fight restarts, but it’s over in another 10 seconds. Foreman continues to land punches and Norton is knocked to the mat again. When he gets up his legs can barely hold him. Foreman is declared the winner.

Afterwards, all the talk was of how Ken had not been himself the night of the fight. Foreman had gotten into his head and it seemed like Norton was in a daze even before the first punch was thrown.

I don’t know if that’s true, all I can say is that if sporting competitions are decided as much by mental preparedness as by physical capabilities, then I think Foreman beat Norton before they ever stepped into the ring that night.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

So many people facing foreclosure...

Another foreclosure story. Erin has some very good, heart-breaking posts about what her family is going through.
This post about their attempts to keep everything together for the kids really resonated with me. And for my next trick....

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Banks Loan Modification Scam

Trial loan modifications are the way banks stretch out the process and pretend to be helping the borrower, when in reality they are killing your credit rating.

We have been trying to get a loan modification from our lender, Citimortgage for over two years. Citi is, of course, one of the "too big to fail" banks that we bailed out, and who are now reporting $3.0 billion in profits.

We bought our house in 1999, did some work on it and refinanced in 2002. In 2003 my husband was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent an surgery and returned to work. Six months later his employer (of 10 years) laid him off. Since then he has had another surgery and although he has finally returned to work, it is a lower paying job with no health care benefits.

My job does provide health insurance, but there is no employer match, so we pay $1200 per month. Yearly expenses are minimally $1200 for a CT scan and $400 for one dr visit. (We pay the first $3500 in out-of-pocket).

So our medical expenses are pretty high, but mortgage holders are not required to take these costs into account when they figure out if you qualify for a modification. So even if they do approve us, our gross income (about US median) means a mod of $1500 per month, which is what we are currently paying.

We have tried four times over the past two years. I can't even begin to detail how insane the process is. Lost paper work, no one able to give us an answer, and now finally this week we got two letters from Citi, one said, "Sorry you've been denied." The other said, "You have been approved for a trial 3 month loan modification of $1343."

Trial loan modifications are the way banksters stretch out the process and pretend to be helping the borrower, when in reality they are killing your credit rating. Because when you go on these trail modification plans, where you pay less, they still charge you late fees for the amount you are not paying, and accrue interest and fines each month. These are reported to credit agencies. So even if we could possibly get out from under our house, our credit rating has been ruined.

We can't sell the house, because, well you try to sell in this market. We're about $20-30,000 short.

The banks have no incentive to modify your loan because they already got paid. We bailed them out, remember? They get that money and they get to resell your house.

Please spread stories like this. It's the unseen crisis, and no one wants to talk about it. Homeowners don't want to because you feel like a complete jerk if you tell people you can't make your house payment and you're going to be foreclosed on. There is a huge stigma.

But there are many, many people in our situation. And no one talks about it. We are part of the 99%

My new most-favoritest quote

"One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country. It's not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be."
                                                --Rick "Don't google me, man" Santorum
Can you say, I'm going to alienate normal, non-radical people everywhere? Why yes, I think you can, Rick.

"Contraception is dangerous?" This is obviously spoken by a member of the species who has never been pregnant.

"Counter to how things are supposed to be" On what planet??? Country, this is your abstinence-only education at work, because all the things that I can think of that are (in someone like Rick Santorum's mind) "counter to how things are supposed to be" prolly wouldn't result in pregnancy. So why is this idiot talking about contraception?

Actually, why is what Rick Santorum says, in any way something of importance in our society? The man has zero, none, no credibility, other than he's a Republican in 2011. But I repeat myself.

Elections have consequences

Elections have consequences. Your vote chooses:

A Democratic proposal of a 0.5% surtax on income above $1 million would raise enough money over the next 10 years to cover the $35 billion cost of hiring and retaining about 400,000 teachers and emergency responders next year. That means if you net $1.1 million, on a gross income of $3 million, you would pay $500 more in taxes.


A Republican proposal, the "Ryan Plan" would cut Social Security and Medicare benefits,and lower tax rates on millionaires.

We could raise taxes on those most capable of paying, and those who have gained the most from our country over the past 30 years, or tax our most vulnerable. For me it's an easy choice.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Why I support ObamaCares Pt2 (HCR Primer)

Health Care Reform is a three-legged stool: one leg is no denial of coverage, one leg is individual mandate and one leg is subsidies. Like a three-legged stool, HCR cannot stand if one of the legs is removed.

***If you're reading this via Facebook click "View Original Post" to read the entire blogpost***

In part one I shared something I wrote back in 2009. As I read through it, the common theme was, "What if we cannot get health insurance?" That was certainly our biggest issue then. Prior to Health Care Reform (HCR), because Bill has a pre-existing condition, if we lost our employer based health insurance, we may or may not have been able to get health insurance.

So let's talk about the main things HCR does:

1) Insurance companies cannot deny someone a health insurance policy ever. 

No denial for pre-existing conditions. No rescission (where they deny and stop your coverage after you get sick). Now you cannot be denied a health insurance plan. Period. This is huge for our family, and many other families like ours where someone has an illness. Knowing that you cannot be denied a health insurance plan is a giant weight off your shoulders.

2) The individual mandate: Because insurance providers now cannot discriminate based on your health, all US citizens must purchase health insurance.

If you think about it, you cannot have 1) No denial for pre-existing conditions, without 2) mandating that people buy insurance. Otherwise everyone would wait until they got sick and then buy insurance. It's like saying you can buy car insurance after you've had an accident. Insurance companies would go out of business. Insurance is predicated on the fact that some people will not need the insurance they are paying for and so their premiums pay for the people who get sick. It's a classic statistical "pool," get enough people in and everything evens out.

3) If you cannot afford health insurance, the government will help subsidize you premiums.

This is the most difficult part of HCR. Some people simply can't afford to buy health insurance. What we do now is that we let them. We let them go without health insurance, saying "It's their choice." (It's not really a choice. No one goes without health insurance by choice, it's always by necessity.) The problem is what happens when they get sick? (Because they will. Everyone of us, will, at some point in our lives, get sick. We will get sick and die. This is a basic fact of human existence) If we have allowed them to "choose" to go without health insurance, who pays for their care?  

I ask again, when someone without health insurance gets sick, who pays for their care?

The answer is we do. The costs of uninsured care are built in to the system and passed on to the rest of us via higher premiums, and higher doctor/hospital bills. So even if you don't want to subsidize someone else's health care expenses, you are already doing so. Right now those costs are "hidden," meaning we pay them in various ways that we aren't even aware of.

HCR puts those costs out in the open. It may not be pleasant. You may not want to help pay for some else's health care, but you are doing it already. We might as well get the costs out in the open so we can see what those costs are, and maybe, maybe get a handle on them so we can begin to lower them. It's like bank fees. You might pay any number of fees, but if you're not aware of them, or what they are for, you have no way of reducing them. So HCR says the government (meaning all of us) will subsidize health insurance premiums for people who cannot afford to buy them.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why I Support ObamaCares (pt1)

I'm having a conversation on twitter about health care. Now twitter is many things, but nuanced is not one of them. So I'm going to post a more thought out, reasoned, nuanced take here. If you've never had a major illness then you have no clue how badly the American healthcare system is broken. 

And just for the record I don't post what's going on with our family for sympathy or because I think we're special. I post because I know our case is NOT special. I think that people need to hear the stories of health care failures of US system.

This blogpost is part 1, written before ObamaCares. I'll post what that law means to our family in part 2.

This is what I wrote about our journey through the healthcare system in 2009, before the ACA (ObamaCares) bill was passed and signed into law:


In 2003 my husband was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent an expensive surgery ($80,000) and returned to work. Six months later his employer (of 10 years) laid him off. Whether this was a coincidence or a premeditated act to get him off their insurance rolls is something we will never know, however there is great pressure on employers to keep health insurance costs down, and one way to do that is to make sure you don't employ people who need insurance.

At the time, I was a stay at home mom, not working, so we went on Cobra, paying $800 per month until our savings ran out, then we went on Minnesota Care. We qualified only because we made almost nothing.

I needed to go back to work. During my job hunt, I had to worry about what to put down on the insurance forms if I got hired: when you know you will increase your employers premiums just by signing on it's a REAL dilemma. You can't lie. But then when you tell the truth, the job could disappear. This happened to me. A company offered me a job, but when I inquired about health benefits suddenly the job offer was rescinded.

I eventually found work. At first we were afraid to put my husband on the work insurance plan, because if he had a claim they might lay me off, but we had to do it because we couldn’t keep him on MNCare. I talked to my very understanding employer and she agreed to put him on our plan in 2004. Because we went on three different plans during that time we ended up with over $10,000 in out-of-pocket expenses as we moved from one plan to another, even though all were “Medica”.

In 2007 his cancer reoccurred. He had another operation. This one was more expensive because he came down with a MRSA staph infection which required even more hospital time.

The past two years our insurance premiums have gone up 22% and 23% respectively. Each time it’s resulted in a pay cut for me as my salary does not increase, but our health care costs do. This year I will take a $200 per month “pay cut” so we can have health insurance. Additionally we pay a $1500 out-of-pocket and a $3500 deductible. My husband's latest CAT scan cost us $1240, and the doctor visit was $357, and he will need to do it again in 3-4 months because it looks like there may be re-growth of his cancer and we have to decide on whether to start Chemo. I don't even want to think about how much that medication is going to cost us. At that point we will pay 20% of every bill (outside of the few things covered at 100% like office visits) because our plan is 80/20.

Our total medical costs per year are around $10,000, making health care almost 20% of our gross wages each year (2009).

If there is no public option and I lose my health insurance or the small business I work for goes under what insurance plan would we be able to afford and who would insure us? I know that if we do not let our insurance lapse they can't turn us down, but our reserves are gone, and keeping up on insurance premiums without an employer's help would be almost impossible now. If we lose our health care insurance because we can't pay for it any more, waiting times to see a doctor are the LEAST of our worries. My husband won't be able to get the care he needs because we won't be able to afford it.

If I lose my job, then our only option at this time is Cobra. That cost us $800 per month in 2004, now it’s more likely to be $1200 per month. Since we already burned through our 401k to pay medical expenses not covered by insurance from 2004 to today, then that option (Cobra) is a magic pony as far as we are concerned. So then what? We can qualify for MinnesotaCare if we don't make any more than $15,000 per year (family of 4), so if we are completely destitute we can get coverage.

I think the answer is to pool everyone. You can't cull out health care "abusers" the way you can refuse to insure, or raise the rates on bad drivers, because health issues (much of the time, though certainly not all the time) aren't a result of bad choices. My husband got cancer. He didn't DO anything that caused it, it just happened.

When you have health care predicated on PROFIT then they will maximize their profits by refusing to insure or raising the rates, or rescinding people's policies.

Capitalism works well in many cases. It's just that the profit motive won't work for health care. If you have a public plan that only enrolls the people that NEED it, it will fail. So you have to cover everyone.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

This is your country without regulations

From James Fallows, a view of what our country could look like without those big bad government regulations. It's not a pretty picture.
This isn't an image from turn-of-the-century America, this is a current picture from China.

And here is a picture of a worker without OSHA or a union:
Think about these images the next time someone rails on about government regulations, and how we need to gut the EPA.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Memories on 9/11/11

Perhaps the last thing the world needs is another reflection on 911. I haven't turned on the TV, because I didn't really know how I felt today, and I didn't wanted the media telling me how I should feel. But I did have a strong urge to acknowledge this anniversary. There are so many conflicting emotions that it brings up, and I am raising two children who are at an age where they can engage in a conversations about the world and learn. And finally, I follow Jake Tapper on twitter and he was posting about the memorial service so I clicked a few links, and the memories began flooding back.
I showed Liam (my 13 yo) Paul Simon singing, "Sounds of Silence" and he and I talked about the memorial service. One of Liam's earliest memories is of the memorial service we attended on the 1st anniversary in 2002. Liam was one week from turning three. To a three year old boy, there are few things greater in life than firefighters and police officers. As we stood on the grass, they began to show images from 911, and of course many of these images were of firefighters. He was excited and asking questions. I explained gently that there had been a terrible tragedy and we were remembering the people who lost their lives. I told him that many firefighters had gone into buildings to rescue people, but before they’d been able to get them out, the buildings had collapsed, and everyone in them had died, so we were at a memorial service to honor and remember their lives and sacrifice.
As a parent, it’s hard to know for sure how various events in life and the words you say will shape your child’s memories. But over the years, Liam has never forgotten that service. When we would say 911 or memorial he would always talk about how he remembered the images of firefighters and how they had died trying to save people.
Today I talked to Liam as a young adult; he is learning how the world works and this certainly felt like a moment to share a more grown up perspective on that day and the events that have transpired since 9/11/2001.
Tapper posted a link to a short clip that ABC put together to try and capture some of the incredulity and helplessness that we all felt as events spiraled around and around out of our control. Liam watched with me, and while I know he’s heard about the events and knows in general what happened, I don’t think he’s ever seen a retrospective of the day’s events as they happened.
The newscast showed the burning first tower and the announcer was talking about the event when suddenly there was the second plane diving into the other tower. The emotional impact on the newscasters conveyed the absolute horror of that moment. I don’t believe Liam had ever seen this footage, and I know I haven’t watched it for many years. As the video progressed they showed the Pentagon in flames and the aircraft down in Pennsylvania.
How do you put an event like this into perspective for a growing person? Harder still, how do I explain to him everything that happened AFTER 911? How do you reconcile the immense sense of coming together we all felt in the hours and days after 911 with the almost equal sense of betrayal so many of us felt in the years after, when politicians blared their patriotism with images of the burning towers, but questioned mine when I didn’t agree with their policies. How do I tell him they said, “You’re either with us or against us” and if you questioned the government your patriotism was put in doubt?
How do I do that when I can hardly even coming to grips with it myself?
I can’t forget the selling of the Iraq war ("From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August" -- Andy Card) and the merging in people’s minds of Osama Bin Laden with Saddam Hussein. At anti-war vigils I attended people would shout, “How can you forget 911?!” as if the invasion of Iraq had everything to do with that terrible event and I was an awful person for not supporting the war.
One day, Liam and I were driving, he must have been 6 or 7, and he asked me why we were fighting in Iraq. He knew that I opposed the war. (I even have a picture of him with me at a rally in downtown Cannon Falls) I reminded him of the firefighters, and for the first time connected the events of 9/11 to the idea that the buildings had been intentionally targeted by a group attacking our country. I will NEVER forget his response. He said, “But Mom, then I don’t agree with you. If they attacked us, then we were right to fight back.” So I had to tell him Iraq didn’t attack us on 911, none of the hijackers were Iraqi’s, and there were no Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq prior to 911.
How do you explain this stuff to a child, when you cannot even understand it yourself?
I want to honor and remember what our country lost. I want to stand with the families who lost so much and support them. I even want a moment to feel my own pain and grief around that day, but everything is tempered. The meaning of 911 was taken away by every invocation of 911 as a talisman to do things that were anathema to the ideals of our country: things like torture, the revocation of Habeas Corpus, Abu Grebe and Guantanamo.
All amplified by politicians questioning our patriotism.
So I salute the firefighters who have given so much, I salute the families who lost loved ones, and I remember what we all lost on that day. And for today I refuse to let what has transpired over the past 10 years take away my memories and feelings of that day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

President Obama Visits Cannon Falls, MN 8/15/11

Here's some links to my footage of Obama's visit. I posted on facebook, but that isn't public.

We met Jake Tapper, ABC Senior White House correspondent. He tweeted a pic of us outside the bakery.

I posted two videos on Youtube. When we "saw" him getting into the bus and a compilation of pics from the day.

I made it onto an interview reel at the StarTribune.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pork Chili Verde w/Black beans

I made a really interesting chili last weekend. I've been experimenting with chili made with pork and tomatillos. This is my third attempt and while they've all been pretty good, this one was worth writing down and posting.

I had country style pork ribs in the freezer. I was going to slice them into large bite-sized pieces and brown them in a skillet, but when I'd thawed them I realized they weren't boneless. So I browned the entire rib on both sides and then put them into my crock pot. Into the same skillet I put chopped onion and garlic, and sauteed it with chilpotle chili powder (careful, it's a bit hot), cumin and regular chili powder. Depending on how hot you want your chili use more or less chilpotle. If you don't want it hot at all you can recreate the smokey flavor of chilpotle by using a bit of liquid smoke.

While that was cooking I put about a dozen tomatillos into boiling water and cooked them until soft (about 5-8 minutes). Then I drained the water and cooled them a bit under running cold water. Then I pureed them in the blender. I added this to the onion/spices mixture and brought it to a momentary simmer. This deglazed the bottom of the skillet getting all the good flavor from the cooked meat and spices. I poured this over the meat in the crockpot. It didn't quite cover all the meat, so I stirred it occasionally. I let this cook on low most of the day, testing the meat for tenderness off and on after 4-6 hours. When the meat was mostly tender, but not falling apart I turn off the crock pot and removed the meat. I put the meat and the sauce in the crock pot into the fridge over night.

I put 2 cups of dry black beans in water to soak over night. 

The next day I removed the layer of fat from the top of the sauce and put it back on the heat. I added a cup or two of beef broth to the sauce and added the drained black beans and a can of chopped tomatoes. Toward the end I added a chopped green pepper. You don't want to add it in too soon or it will disintegrate into the sauce.

I separated the meat from the ribs and chopped it into bite sized pieces and added it to the chili when the beans were almost cooked and let it cook another 30 minutes or so. Then it was time to adjust the seasoning. I added one more can of chopped tomatoes because the other can had pretty much disappeared into the sauce, more chili powder, salt, and 3 tablespoons or so of peach jelly (just to sweeten it a touch). You could use sugar instead, or not all all.

Anyway, it was good that day, but I put most of it in the fridge for a few days. We had some last night and it was wonderful. I like to serve it with southern style cornbread made in a preheated iron skillet. I'll put the recipe I used some other time.

This could be really simplified by using boneless pork that is more tender than country ribs and canned black beans. With more tender meat you could omit the crock pot, but the long slow cooking seemed to give it a much richer taste.