Daddy’s Dairy Is A Real Place

 

Daddy's Dairy ice cream

A few weeks ago, I was out and about somewhere and overheard a conversation. Two people were talking about ice cream places and one mentioned that someone told them about a place called Daddy’s Dairy. They didn’t believe it was a real place and said the name sounded fake.

I thought this was hilarious and was cracking up — in my head. Also, I was thinking about how my super extroverted brother who talks to everyone and can strike up a conversation anytime anywhere, would have definitely walked over to them and gotten into the conversation. My introverted self did not.

First, let me tell you that Daddy’s Dairy is a very real and wonderful place. Actually places. Daddy’s Dairy has five locations: Braintree, Brockton, Stoughton, Randolph and Norwood. I’ve visited the Brockton locations several times. I’ve driven by the Braintree location dozens of times, but never went inside.

I love this place! There are so many varieties of ice cream and it’s delicious! I must admit that the first time that I heard of it I thought the name sounded funny too. Maybe that’s why they picked it. Because it’s a name that you won’t forget.

A friend and I did some catching up yesterday and cooling off over some ice creams at their Brockton location. I had a regular Funfetti Cake ice cream in a cup. I forgot that they pile the ice cream high and should have gotten a kiddie size. It was a lot!

But yesterday was a scorcher, so the cool sweetness was appreciated. Summer is here finally and visiting ice cream shops, along with cafes, is on the must do list for the season!

My Korean Drama Playlist

Korean Drama Playlist

This Korean Drama playlist has changed over time and is a constant work in progress. Songs are always being added and a few were deleted too. I started watching Korean dramas when the pandemic started and I’m hooked!

Many dramas that I watched had really good music that I wanted to hear again, so I started researching the songs and created a playlist on Amazon Music. I’m not sure which song was first and my favorite songs don’t necessarily correlate with my favorite dramas. But some do!

All the titles are in English, but most of the songs are sung in Korean. The last song on the list is from a Taiwanese drama that is in Mandarin. A few of the songs are in English, so I can understand the words. The others I don’t understand the words, but can feel the emotion. Which is one of the reasons why I loved the songs so much while watching the dramas.

Like the Bruja Full Moon Magic playlist, I mostly listen to this one while I’m driving. I have other playlists, but these two are much shorter. This one is definitely a different mood! Romantic and dramatic, like a Korean Drama. Below is a list of the songs, the artists and the dramas featuring the songs. If you’re looking to watch a few, I saw all of them on Netflix and this list is a good start!

+ + +

1. So Hard For Me by Jeebanoff (Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol)

2. Sing My Song by Gu Keunbyul (Revolutionary Love)

3. Shine Your Star by 03ohn (Mr. Sunshine)

4. I’m Here by Yang Da II (Memories of the Alhambra)

5. Memories of the Alhambra by George (Memories of the Alhambra)

6. La La La by Rachael Yamagata (Something in the Rain)

7. Something in the Rain by Rachael Yamagata (Something in the Rain)

8. We Could Still Be Happy by Rachael Yamagata (One Spring Night)

9. But It’s Destiny by 10cm (Crash Landing on You)

10. Sweetest Thing by Seventeen (Chocolate)

11. Tree by Car, the Garden (Chocolate)

12. Is You by Ailee (Memories of the Alhambra)

13. Just Like A Dream by Ben (Another Miss Oh)

14. What Is Love by Park Yun Ha & Yu Seung Woo (Another Miss Oh)

15. The Song You Picked Saves Me by A-Lin [feat. J.Sheon] (Memory Love)

16. Quando, Quando, Quando by Moon (Our Blues)

Coffee Breaks & Other Food Thoughts

coffee breaks and confections

Days and events over the past month have me thinking. About food. About family. About friendship. About time. About what is normal life. About coffee breaks and cafes.

Is this now normal life? COVID numbers remain high and the pandemic continues. But government policies and the actions of most people indicate that society has moved on. I still have not worked in an office building in more than two years. Working from home is easier in many ways and cheaper. Impromptu coffee breaks with colleagues are what I miss the most. I also miss randomly stopping by coffee shops alone.

A few weeks ago, I had a chai date with a friend from law school that I hadn’t seen in about twenty years. She returned to India within a few years after we graduated, so there weren’t that many opportunities to connect in person. One of the last times that I saw her, she made me chai from scratch at her house. Of course it was delicious. One of my favorite memories of her is how we would share snacks in class too. Bonding over food and the law.

This time, we were only able to meet for a short period of time, so we had chai at a Starbucks near me. She looked the same, but had cut her hair and I remembered how she has the best laugh. It was also my first time taking my mask off in a Starbucks since before the pandemic.

A few weeks before, I attended a rehearsal dinner and then a wedding the next day. It was the first time in more than two years that I had eaten in a restaurant and attended a truly large gathering — mostly unmasked. The dinner was delicious. The wedding was amazing. I saw family that I hadn’t seen in years. We talked and danced and laughed. My cousin was the groom and he and his wife are perfect together. I’m so happy they found each other. Our family adored her from the first time we met.

I’m fully vaccinated and double boosted. I timed my second booster with the week of the wedding, so I’d have the highest immunity for this very large gathering. It seems to have worked. Now I’m inching toward whatever this new life is. Will we ever be post-pandemic? Maybe not. So this is it. I’m still uneasy about it all. But I guess I’m starting to move on too.

Since cafe visits are no longer tied with where I’m working, I’m attaching my errands with coffee breaks. I had wanted to visit French Press Bakery & Cafe in Needham since 2019. I’m not usually in that area, but suddenly I needed to be and had a little time to relax. So I enjoyed a cold brew and an almond croissant sitting outside in the sun. I love this place! The area is adorable and full of other restaurants and shops. It’s not too far from Quincy, so I’ll definitely return.

A few days later, I needed to be in Hopkinton, so I paired the errand with a visit to Muffin House Cafe. They also had outdoor seating where I enjoyed my iced coffee and blueberry muffin. This place was jumping! At a certain point, there was a line of people waiting to get in. It’s definitely a favorite local spot!

What’s next on my food journey? Well, it’s not a cafe, but I learned recently that H Mart will soon be arriving in Quincy. I’m so excited! It’s a Korean grocery store and I’m looking forward to trying some different foods. During the pandemic, I started watching a ton of Korean dramas and following several Korean YouTubers. I’ve learned about many Korean dishes and ways of cooking, so there have been foods and ingredients that I’ve been looking for. Now I should have an easier time finding them.

Have you noticed shifts in your daily life to bring back what you’ve missed from before the pandemic or new things you’re bringing in?

Is Student Loan Cancellation In The Stars?

View of space and stars

 

“Either a) they’re going to resume repayments right before the election, which would be suicidal, or b) they’re going [sic] forgive loans right before the election, which would be brilliant.” ~ Michael Love

What’s it gonna be? I saw the tweet above and couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Going back several decades gives some clarity on how we got here with student loans. From many articles that I’ve read, it goes back to President Reagan. A “Common Dreams” piece is especially illuminating.

“Before Reagan became president, states paid 65 percent of the costs of colleges and federal aid covered another 15 or so percent, leaving students to cover the remaining 20 percent. Today the numbers are pretty much reversed.

As soon as he became president, Reagan went after federal aid to students with fervor. Devin Fergus documented for The Washington Post how, as a result, student debt first became a widespread thing across the United States during the early 80s:

‘No federal program suffered deeper cuts than student aid. Spending on higher education was slashed by some 25 percent between 1980 and 1985. … Students eligible for grant assistance freshmen year had to take out student loans to cover their second year.’

It became a mantra for conservatives, particularly in Reagan’s cabinet. Let the kids pay for their own damn ‘liberal’ educations.”

An article on President Reagan’s budget that was published by the American Association of University Professors discusses the reduction in student assistance back in the early 1980s. I was a freshman in college in 1982. I had a mixture of grants, work study and loans. However, I remember in my junior year losing a lot of grant money and having to take on more loans than anticipated. I didn’t understand what was happening and remember being shocked.

The article goes on to say, “With rare exception, every college campus would be affected by the proposed cuts beginning in academic year 1981-82. The degree of impact would vary depending on the current numbers of students utilizing federal student assistance programs and the income status of students and their families. We do not know at this time the impact on the size of the freshman classes of academic years 1981-82 and 1982-83.”

Well, I don’t know the impact on the size of the classes, but it was the beginning of a decades long student loan debt problem. President Reagan also contributed generally to consumer loan debt problems for those with middle and lower incomes. With the Tax Reform Act of 1986, credit card interest and other forms of personal interest were no longer tax deductible. We now know what the theory was really trickling down.

Credit Scores & Debt

Money itself means nothing. It’s a tool created by humans so that we can exchange goods and services in a way that is easier than bartering.

We reduce people to a credit score based on whether they are deemed “worthy” of credit.  Buying a home is supposed to be the American dream, but most people have to go into debt to get it. Credit scores are looked at by employers and can impact one’s ability to get employment. Unless you have other income, you can’t pay back debt without a job. It’s a truly vicious cycle.

Credit shouldn’t be needed to get the basics in life like housing, transportation, education, health care and literal freedom. Many if not most Americans go into debt to obtain at least a few of these. Most obtain mortgages to buy a house. People use loans to finance cars. Student loans are used for education. After receiving health care, many are often saddled with medical debt. For those unlucky enough to be arrested without sufficient monetary resources, if they cannot pay bail, they may remain incarcerated.

Library Fee Debt

There seems to be a collective recognition that the idea of debt is wrong and things can be different. Everything that we have in life materially, like cars, phones, houses, money, unless it already existed in nature like plants and water, all the systems in place in society (like debt and taxes) were created, built, and manufactured by people. It didn’t have to be like this from the beginning and we don’t have to continue down this path now. Things can change.

My local public library stopped collecting late fees for overdue books and many other libraries are doing the same. There never had to be late fees to begin with. It became a debt for borrowing a public book. How many people were not able to borrow books because they owed money? 130,000 just in San Diego according to a November 2021 article by the Public Library Association. So people were prevented from using a resource to gain knowledge because of debt. Does that seem right? The pandemic zeitgeist allowed the idea of pausing library fines and a collective shift to thinking that these fees are wrong.

A March 2022 New York Times article followed-up on the elimination of late fees across New York’s public library system. A flood of overdue items were returned to the branches and visitors increased as well. Debt cancellation has a positive effect. It gives power back to the people burdened by it.

The Rich & Debt

There’s a reason why Elon Musk and Jamie Dimon are feeling “super bad” about the economy. Maybe because broad debt cancellation would impact companies and other institutions whose sole purpose is to make money off of student loan debt. There would be a massive reshuffling of the economy. Mitt Romney, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, has proposed legislation to prevent President Biden from cancelling student loan debt. The mega rich are not happy about the prospect.

The pandemic turned life upside down in just about every way possible. As things begin shifting toward a new normal, we can observe how things will land and hopefully imagine a different and better way.

Debt is a fundamental system in our market based economy intentionally put in place in the United States to favor the rich and control those who are not. The tax system favors debt held by the wealthy, but not debt held by others.

According to the Education Data Initiative, 43.4 million people have federal student loan debt. The average balance owed is $37,014.00. If you include private student loan debt, the amount is closer to $41,000.00. In total, the federal government is owed over $1.606 trillion dollars in student loans. Research from Insight Into Diversity states that two-thirds of the people holding this student loan debt are women and most of these women are Black.

The government spends money by incurring debt all the time and forgives it too. But this country seems to fundamentally disagree with who deserves money and who doesn’t. Business need is favored over personal need. It also disagrees with whose debt should be cancelled. According to Pandemic Oversight, many PPL loans were forgiven.

“More than 11.8 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans were issued as of June 30, 2021, with 708 borrowers receiving the maximum loan amount of $10 million. Of the total number of loans, 4.1 million have been forgiven. The average dollar amount forgiven was $95,700. Of the borrowers receiving the maximum amount, 323 loans have been partially or fully forgiven.”

PPL loans were issued to businesses on the premise that the money would be used to save jobs. That these companies could not pay their workers otherwise. When I heard that Tom Brady’s health and wellness company received close to a million dollars from this program, I had thoughts. Between his wealth and Gisele’s, they couldn’t otherwise afford to pay their employees? Hmmm.

Many companies didn’t have to pay back the money. The PPL program has also been called “the biggest fraud in a generation” based on the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on luxury items and not employee paychecks.

The difference in outrage between what is shown toward PPL loan forgiveness and the idea of student loan forgiveness is stark and monumental.

Who Has Student Loan Debt?

Yet, most likely voters favor student debt cancellation. Just days ago, hundreds of organizations jointly called on President Biden to keep his campaign promise and cancel student loan debt, stating that it will “strengthen the economy, tackle racial disparities, and provide much-needed relief to help all Americans weather the pandemic and record inflation.” Recent headlines state that President Biden may forgive $10,000.00 per student borrower. However, that’s just a drop in the bucket and would do nothing for anyone with debt larger than that. Myself included. Why? Interest capitalization.

From what I see personally with my own student loans, every July, the interest capitalizes. So whatever progress was made during the year in paying towards the loan, the unpaid interest is added again and the loan keeps growing. This happens every year. So the principal keeps getting exponentially bigger. It is a never ending pit. A trap. Unless you have a lot of money and can make very large payments, the loan will never be paid off. When I took out my student loans, I understood that there was interest, but not how much the interest would be repeatedly added to the principal. This issue is very personal to me and I cannot even pretend to be neutral.

So many people are caught in the student loan debt trap. It’s very difficult to make large payments unless you accumulate a certain amount of wealth or someone helps you. President Obama and Kerry Washington were both unable to pay off their student loans until they started making the kind of money that comes from fame.

Things do seem to be changing. Over the past few months on Twitter, I’ve noticed people exclaiming that their student loans were forgiven. Mostly through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF). Over the years, graduates sought to have the loans forgiven, but virtually nobody was ever eligible. The Biden Administration has been taking another look at the programs to see the flaws in the system. Actually those flaws seem intentional. Keeping people in debt seems to be a thing with this country. Debt is as American as mass shootings.

However, the momentum shift by the federal government seems to be only for piecemeal cancellation. Forgiveness for students who attended certain for-profit schools is part of that trend.

Broken Student Loan System

Most recently I’ve read that President Biden is forgiving loans for 28,000 student borrowers who attended for-profit Marinello Schools of Beauty and 560,000 student borrowers of for-profit Corinthian Colleges.

If in the past you tried to get your loans forgiven through PSLF, try again. It’s now working for some people. Hundreds of thousands of people could be eligible to have those loans forgiven. The Twitter celebrations of newfound freedom from student loan debt are beautiful. Maybe the tide is changing.

President Biden extended the pause on federal student loan payments for the 7th time since the pauses began in March 2020. This time the pause is through August 31, 2022. The student loan system is broken and exactly how broken is becoming more clear.

A recent NPR investigation reveals that the federal student loan system has been badly mismanaged. Those tasked with managing the loans have not always kept track of payments made on those loans. Often student loans are eligible for cancellation after a certain number of years or payments. But those servicing the loans don’t always have systems in place to let borrowers know when they have reached eligibility. The system is a mess and the burden of endless years of debt falls on those who can least afford it. Revelations in the article are stunning, including the portion below.

Before the days of multiple loan servicers, there was simply one. From 1992 to 2009, ACS Education Services managed the entire federal student loan portfolio.

But when the federal government ended its contract with ACS and the company began transferring borrowers’ profiles to other servicers, it became clear that ACS had made a dizzying number of errors — more than 5 million according to a 2020 report.

ACS has also faced allegations of mismanaging IDR, misleading borrowers and of taking months, even years in some cases, to correct and update borrowers’ records.

Nearly every borrower who could be eligible for cancellation under IDR in the next few years was serviced by ACS at some point. That means their current records, including the count of their progress toward cancellation, could be built on the sand of erroneous data.

This matters now more than ever, after several servicers have ended their federal contracts and more than a quarter of all borrowers have been — or soon will be — transferred to new servicers.

Broad Student Loan Cancellation?

But will President Biden’s willingness to cancel student loans ever extend to a broader group of people? Millions are bogged down with student loan debt. Not just young people, middle aged and elderly as well. And yes, still me. Some people even lose their social security benefits because of it. An AARP article detailed the problem.

“In fiscal year 2015 alone, almost 114,000 borrowers age 50 and older had Social Security benefits seized to repay defaulted federal student loans, according to a 2016 Government Accountability Office report. Half of those were receiving Social Security disability payments.”

People give money here and there to patch up problems for the moment or maybe a season. But not a lifetime. The Debt Collective, which is the nation’s first debtors’ union, recently “purchased purchased $1.7M of unpaid tuition bills that Black women previously owed to Bennett College — and canceled it all.” That’s a private organization trying to patch up the holes in a bigger system.

A Washington Post article examined how the student loan pause has greatly helped Black women especially, because we as a group, hold a disproportionate share of student loan debt. The pause has allowed some to purchase homes, accumulate savings and catch up on bills. For me, I’ve been able to catch my breath for a bit. But I’m still waiting for the full exhale.

Systemic change is necessary to change a person’s lifetime — not just a moment in time. Full student debt cancellation would change the system and right wrongs impacting generations. It would begin a fundamental shift in the underpinning of American society.

The Current Astrology

I’m certainly not an astrologer, but I believe there is something to astrology. For thousands of years, humans have looked to the sky for guidance. After all, many believe that three wise men followed a star to find a special newborn baby. I follow a few astrologers on social media and have noticed some trends.

Mercury just stationed direct yesterday and generally what was hidden from sight may now be revealed. So the time may be right for getting answers on the big picture with student loan cancellation. According to a podcast by Chani Nicholas, “Mercury retrogrades point out what has never worked. What has been broken for awhile or what is completely unsustainable.” Mercury helps us to realize exactly how problematic things are.

Pluto Return Of The United States

Nations have astrological birth charts just like people. At different times, planets travel to the same places they were located when someone was born. Some planets travel faster or slower than others. The moon travels through every astrological sign within a month. The sun travels through every sign over a year. Instead of wishing people “Happy Birthday!,” some say “Happy Solar Return!” Which is the day and time each year when the sun is in the same spot as it was when you were born.

There are other planetary returns too. Cycles are different for each. If we live to be 84 years old, we could experience a Uranus return. Many people talk about our first Saturn return at around 29 years of age. Depending on how long we live, we could have two or three Saturn returns.

Now Pluto is another story. A Pluto return is 248 years. No human will experience a Pluto return. But a nation can. And the buzz about the Pluto return of the United States has been ever increasing over the last few years.

Astrologer Chani Nicholas was interviewed on a podcast about this important time that we’re living through. Her interview starts around 21 minutes into the show. She says that the Pluto return started in 2008 and makes us reckon with everything. It all gets exposed and we have to heal from the past.

According to what Pluto impacts, it was no coincidence that during 2008, we were in a financial crisis and that we elected President Obama as the first Black president. The unsustainable housing market was exposed for what it was. Shaky at best. Racism that has always been a part of this country became louder and uglier.

Nicholas says that Pluto asks what we have learned about our resources and what are we going to do about it. It’s a reckoning point.

An article by Astrologer Whitney Will also states that the impacts of the Pluto return started in 2008 and that there are “three exact hits” that happen in 2022.

“At the time of the signing of the Declaration, Pluto was toward the end of Capricorn at 27 degrees, falling in the part of the chart that relates to resources, how they are acquired and how one manages finances. In this position, Pluto describes a fixation or complex that the United States will and does have with economics, and a difficulty in relating to this topic with any kind of moderation. When it comes to money, the United States as an entity is likely to relate in compulsive ways and with a great deal of psychological shadow involved. When Pluto comes back around, we will have to reconcile with the darker parts of our history.”

The Hoodwitch refers to the Pluto return of the United States as a “historic event that will rock the country and change our lives.” She continues.

“The foundation of the U.S. has many cracks in it, which is why we can expect to see it being rebuilt in a better way in which the people hold the power. The government has to be accountable and responsible for the wrong doings of its past — particularly the racist and misogynistic roots that the country was founded on. The time and reckoning has come for the country to make reparations and redefine the culture that its founders built. A restoration is necessary.”

It’s no revelation to most that Nancy Reagan had an astrologer that she often consulted. A PBS article about the death of the astrologer, Joan Quigley, says that neither President Reagan nor his wife ever admitted to using astrology to make policies or decisions. However, Quigley denied that. In the end, we’ll never know.

Astrology doesn’t give definite answers or predict the future. But it can help with the timing of things that we are trying to accomplish and guide us in other ways. Wouldn’t it be quite cinematic, if the astrology for this country could help undo the decades of damage done by America’s first actor president?

+ + +
Image Credit: ESA/NASA

16 Years Blogging

jars of spices for 16 years blogging

Today is 16 years blogging! Sweet Sixteen!

Sixteen years isn’t just a milestone for the number of years. It also represents a dividing line. I blogged for eight years and a few months on my old blog, when it was Anali’s First Amendment. Now the number of years on this domain, Anali’s Next Amendment, is also eight years.

April 29th is not only my blogging anniversary, it’s also the day I choose my word for the year.

When thinking about this new word, what first came to mind was that people enter our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. It’s up to us to figure out the difference. That discernment is part of our life’s work.

I started thinking about how a season is really quite short — just three months. But each season repeats in an endless cycle of seasons. I think this deep noticing of seasons comes with age. Because after living through so many cycles of seasons, we notice them more. That might be a reason why I was drawn to reflect on the seasons with the year long Collection of Moments project.

Life is all about the seasons of it. Like that Frank Sinatra song, “It Was A Very Good Year.” He reflects on being 17, 21, 35, and then the autumn of his years. It’s such a beautiful song — his sharing memories of these four seasons of his life. And yet season can take on other meanings.

I grew up learning to well season my food. Using spices and herbs to season our food improves taste and increases our enjoyment. Baking oil onto a cast iron pan, seasoning, prevents rusting and preserves it.

After thinking about the word season, I thought that I might have already used it as a word of the year. It seemed so obvious. But after looking back, I had not. So, I guess the word hadn’t been right before. It is now. ‘Tis the SEASON.

+ + +

Links to posts for past years are below. Thank you for being here!