The 2009 White House State Dinner

President Obama and first lady Michelle  hosted their first state dinner Tuesday November 24th 2009.  The guests of honor was India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife, Gursharan Kaur. Singh is an economist who was sworn in for his second term in May.

The red carpet fashion popped off with the ever classy Michelle  strutting a   strapless, floor-length, figure-flattering , champagne-colored gown with silver detail and  a light shawl by little known Indian-born designer Naeem Khan. Her hair was swept back and she  also was adorned with a bunch of churis, traditional sparkly Indian bangle bracelets. The secret service may yank me up yet, but Mrs. Obama is the portrait of sheer resplendency. Mrs.  Kaur was sporting a black sari with red and gold trim, refined class on two feet. Those entertainment award’s red carpet dog and pony shows were single handily shut down by these two ladies.  You see Hollywood, this is how you set off a formal affair. No baseball caps and slouching jeans, and garish half-naked women. No hooker high shoes, and zonked out interviews.

President Obama was swagger dapper  in a black tuxedo and his trademark beaming smile. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was holding it down Indian style in  a dark brown ‘band gala’ suit and his trademark light blue turban. Smooth, real smooth.

Every gala has the who’s who guest list and the 2009 State Dinner was loaded with a caliber or its own. The 338-person guest list was peppered with  a mix of  Washington, Hollywood A-listers, prominent figures from the Indian community in the U.S.,  Obama friends, family and campaign donors. Some notables were: Hollywood heavy hitters,  David Geffen  creator of Asylum Records, and Jeffrey Katzenberg CEO of Dreamworks entertainment. Guests with ties to India included spiritual adviser Deepak Chopra, director M. Night Shyamalan and PepsiCo chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. Katie Couric of CBS News, Brian Williams of NBC News, Robin Roberts of ABC News and CNN Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta were among the media representatives invited.  Gayle King, (Oprah Winfrey fame), Blair Underwood was also  among the elite of the night. From the Obama friend front were, Eric Whitaker and Martin Nesbitt, along with Obama’s half sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her husband, Konrad; and Marian Robinson, the first lady’s mother.

Notably among non invitees were top Republican lawmakers. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner absent; he was on  Thanksgiving break  in Ohio. Obama antagonizer,  Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, also didn’t get an invitation to the dinner.  And I don’t think it comes as shocking news to anyone that  Sen. John McCain was nowhere to be found. Probably hunting moose deep in Alaska.

Anyway what was on the menu?

Guest Chef Marcus Samuelsson and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford, corroborated on  culinary creations that  included potato and eggplant salad, arugula from the White House garden, red lentil soup and roasted potato dumplings or green curry prawns. Pumpkin pie tart and pear tatin were for dessert; the pears were poached in honey from the White House beehive. This wasn’t for carnivores as Singh is a vegertarian and The White House respectfully embraced that on this year’s State Dinner Menu..  White House Pastry Chef William Yosses and company  crafted  the sweet treats.

Let’s not play games. The Menu my dear readers, because I love you all.

Potato and Eggplant Salad
White House Arugula with Onion Seed Vinaigrette
2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Modus Operandi, Napa Valley, California
Red Lentil Soup with Fresh Cheese
2006 Riesling, Brooks “Ara”, Wilamette Valley, Oregon
Roasted Potato Dumplings with Tomato Chutney
Chick Peas and Okra
or Green Curry Prawns with caramelized salsify with smoked Collard Greens
and coconut aged basmati
2007 Granache Beckman Vineyards, Santa Ynez, California

 

Pumpkin pie tart
Pear Tatin
Whipped Cream and Caramel sauce
Sparkling Chardonnay, Thibaut Janisson Brut, Monticello, Virginia

Petits fours and Coffee
Cashew Brittle
Pecan Pralines
Passion fruit and vanilla Gelees
Chocolate dipped fruit

After the loading up on the veggie based fare it was time for the jam session . The music the dance, the up close, the personal. Frankly they missed the boat by not having my girl Melonie Fiona on the bill. Anyway while JLo was falling all over her feet at the MTV awards Kurt Elling, an eight-time Grammy nominee ad American jazz vocalist and composer was getting down at the house that talks. Along with crooner Jennifer Hudson, winner of the third season of American Idol and  Washington’s own  National Symphony Orchestra,  and the United States Marine Band.

A.R. Rahman, an Indian composer, musician and singer who wrote the  “Slumdog Millionaire” Score was also front and center.

This will go down as one of the most historical State Dinners of all time. And not because the host and guests of honor were of minority statue, but because this was a dinner of style class, and substance. Because leaders did what leaders do. lead by example and not by expectation. The Factor tips its hat to The Obama Administration for hosting what will go down as the most stellar formal event of the year.

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Guest peep

Bobby and Supriya Jindal
Jhumpa Lahiri and Alberto Vourvoulias
M. Night Shyamalan and wife Bhavna Shyamalan
Mayor Bloomberg and Diana Taylor
Steven Spielberg, Alfre Woodard, and Blair Underwood
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Self Checkout Woes

Will somebody out there tell me this is not me just being impatient? Will somebody out there tell me that there isn’t some alien God or force someplace just messing with me, and me only?

I swear to God, all I wanted to do was pay for a bag of chips. a pork shoulder, and some vinegar (what is HE having for dinner?) and be on my way. But no, no, no. It happened again I tell you, it happened again TODAY.

What the hell am I talking about right? What has gotten me up on my hind legs like this? Since you are polite enough to patronize my blog I’m going to tell you.

Self checkout kiosks. Well not the kiosks themselves. The people using them. I don’t know for the life of me what it is about self checkout kiosks in stores that strips people of all basic knowledge rendering them powerless to properly scan their own items, pay, and get the hell out-of-the-way.

Today it was the lady that couldn’t find the UPC code on anything she had. Scan, nothing. Flip the box of tea bags over, scan, nothing. Do this three more times…beeep! and Bingo! Aw naw, not yet. flip box back around, she has to see the upc code! Oh yeah, she’s on her cell phone!. Anyway she stumbles and bumbles through more items , finally getting to the bottom of the basket. I’m thinking I just may get home before the current President leaves office. THEN, the one item that you can lay major Vegas odds will get most newbies at the self checkout came out of her basket. Damn, just daaaaum! Produce. (What’s with the blank stares yall?)

Loose produce has no upc code. Put it on the scanner doubling as a scale press produce on the screen find the picture/ description of what you have,  press the picture and the price is  computed. Right? Not  2day people, not this lady. The apples in the picture didn’t look like her apples. Probably because the apples in the little picture aren’t real. She squints, tells the person on the other end of the phone she doesn’t see her apples, and motions for the attendant to come over and help. More squinting by the both of them. Finally the attendant swipes a card she has around her neck , beep! apples on their way down the conveyor belt.

Time to pay up. I neglected to mention that the self checkout also causes people to forget how to use credit and debit cards. Miss lady fishes a card out of her purse and begins a though rough examination of the checkout unit  in search of the card swipe. She finds it after about a minute or two and swipes the card then squints some more.

She starts to press a selection on the touch screen but stops short, squints some more, starts to touch the screen again, stops, singles time out by motioning the attendant over. They confer in  their huddle as the person in front of me exhales loudly and I am looking around for a brick to bring all of this to a quick resolution.  They break from their huddle and the  attendant points to the screen , Miss Lady follows her direction and touches the screen. The game over sound of the whirring receipt emerging from its chute was a welcome reprieve , a long  time coming.

The man in front of me moves up to ring up his things. Turns looks at  the touch screen, and…………squints. Hell to the no! Whatever sin I’d committed that subjected me to this nonsense  would have to be settled with God when I see him or her or it.

Off I went to a line with a real cashier trained in the fine art scanning and administering payment types for people who suddenly upon entering the doors of retail and grocery establishments,  lose the ability to read, and use cards for payment.

Two minutes and three people in front of me later, I was headed out the door. And you all know that I’m not going to leave you hanging. (What about the guy that was in front of you?) I hear you.

As I was walking out the door, he was talking to the attendant. Still at the kiosk.

Self checkout is not about getting out of the store faster. It can’t be when it relies on untrained cashiers (the you and the me) to  perform the duty of a person three aisles down that has been trained and is experienced in performing the task. Self checkout is about saving the establishment labor cost. And thats good, because controlled labor cost contribute to lower prices for the consumer. 

I question though,  how much are they really saving?  Take into consideration the erroneous omissions by honest customers coupled with the premeditated scan one miss one approach by the criminal minded. That along with the consumer that is going to go to the human cashier anyway. 

However if someone is not familiar with navigating a self checkout unit, I feel it would be proper etiquette to utilize a human cashier, and spare those of us that can efficiently scan our own item and pay our own bill, the frustration of waiting while they go through cashiering 101.

How have your self checkout experiences been?

Hit me back in the comment section.

What’s Good Credit Have To Do With Getting A Good Man?

She’s smart, she’s talented, she’s pretty, she’s candid, and she is undeniably the hardest working woman in credit.

She’s Regina Littles.

Now we here at The C-Factor steer clear of endorsements and we really try to straddle the fence when it comes to businesses and products, leaving those decisions to our readers. Oh we will  compliment  businesses for delivering on their promises and blast them  for wrong practices.  We will also highlight products for exceeding their purpose and doing extremely well, neither to be misconstrued as an endorsement.  We will also call a screw up a screw up and a flop a flop. All components of being a honest blogger I feel.

So we’re blasting Regina in a positive shout for being so relentless at sharing her message, and information on one of the most important topics in our lives today. Credit.

She’s written books, produced videos, given lectures, and has one of the most active Facebook Pages of the day.

So if you want to get the lowdown on Credit from A to Z stop by her Facebook  page that has links to all she does.


Discover Why You Are Here

As we encroach upon another year I would like to challenge all my readers to implement an alternative mode of reflecting back, and focusing forward.

Amidst the winds of the oncoming New Year, there are the customary self-help, self motivating snippets, quotes, resolutions; commitments abound in our planned winds of change.

There are the tools, websites, and gurus, all endorsing sure-fire success for a breakout break through year. And at some point some or all of us devour some portion of it as a hungry lion does her fresh kill, only to find ourselves two months  later in the same predicament as the lion, hungry and unfulfilled, hunting again. Right back where we started.

The reason these vices take us nowhere, is they only suggest how to get where we are going. We have to know where we are going in order to get there. And to understand where you are going, you have to know and appreciate why you are here.

The solution to truly finding out where we are going is to deeply appraise our personal components and discern and embrace our true significance for being here, who and what we are.

We all have a significant role that plays an integral part in the entire puzzle we often refer to as life.

First we have to absorb the fact that we were not put here to be someone else. You are here to be you, here to contribute to this world using your own significant gift or talent. To understand and embrace this empowers one by detaching you from the baggage of living as a character instead of a human being.

A huge reason behind stagnant progress in one’s life is they try to be something or someone other than who they were blessed to be. I can never be you, and you can never be me. And shouldn’t want to be. You can do things I can only dream of doing, and vice versa. That’s true with each and every one of us.

The significance factor becomes huge when we accept this.

There is dignity in everyone’s significance. Mainstream media, and entertainment venues have promoted and glitzed the significance of some, casting a despondently dark shadow on the remaining mass, convincing some the glitz and glamour of the digital and print media is the gateway to significance. Espousing this deceptive representation of size results in some thinking they are irrelevant, and they conform to modeling their character after someone else.

Bright lights and flash does not define who’s a star. Janitorial stars, teaching stars, writing stars, and stay at home mom stars, devoted dad stars, the fast food line worker star, are just as significant in all our lives as that film, recording, and athletic star that has access to the cameras that made them icons. Key word “made”, because no one is born a star or icon.

If it has been willed to you to be a bus driver, be the best damn bus driver you can, If it has been bestowed upon you to be a dog catcher, be the very best one you can everyday you do it. If your significant skills have led you to be a carpenter, use those skills to their fullest to be the best. Whatever you have identified as your calling, your significant purpose for being here, be a star at it by leaving your own unique stamp on it. Remember, strive to be #1.

In this milestone era of change, make your personal contribution by insuring yourself that you are being true to you. Empower yourself through your contributions and invest yourself entirely in the effort.

To conclude, let me share a  revelation I experienced as a teenage fast food employee at an establishment many of us passed through to earn our teen income.

I always thought my role was insignificant and the only one that mattered was the one with the money, the owner. I kind of just sauntered through my position oblivious to just how important I was until one day I asked the manager how many customers came in during the course of  my shift. Her response was around 1000. Suddenly I didn’t feel so unimportant anymore. That’s 1000 people depending upon me to be the best I could be in the role I played in their dining experience. Add in the people who worked with me depending upon me to be my best, and then I thought whoa! The owner’s depending upon me and my skills. It was at that moment that I realized, no matter where my destination took me in life, I would always matter  and be rewarded if I was doing the best I could at what I was doing.

Look around you and inventory the people who are depending on you. And ask yourself, are you giving them your best. Are you giving yourself the best? If not, the reason maybe you are in the wrong arena , especially if your life is unfulfilled. Give it some deep profound thought.

See you on your next visit to The Contingency Factor

What You Need To Know About Angus Beef

Black Angus beef-486815_640

You all have seen it when shopping in the meat section of the grocery store. Angus Beef. Hailed as the premier beef of beefs. Always pristinely packaged with its own distinct labels claiming its superiority over your run of the mill regular beef. Always demanding a higher price per pound as well.

We’ve also been bombarded with  in fast food restaurants and bragging backyard grill men.

Well don’t just take their word for it I say, let’s educate ourselves on this premier beef and be in the know

How about let’s get the lowdown on Angus beef? Continue reading “What You Need To Know About Angus Beef”