Say what you will about the slow pace of Congress. Lawmakers were really cooking yesterday. Yes, the Minnesota delegation held its Third Annual Hotdish Competition. Nine lawmakers entered but only one could take the official golden casserole dish trophy home. Representative Tim Walz won handily with an artery-clogging recipe, a casserole made of Kraft cheese, tater tots and bratwurst, all seasoned with a bottle of beer.
Christian Wiman has "a cancer that is as rare as it is unpredictable." A poet and the former editor of Poetry, Wiman has found himself, when overwhelmed by the painful disease and pain-inducing treatments, praying not to God or for language to express his condition, but to the pain itself: "That it ease up ever so little, that it let me breathe. That it not — but I know it will — get worse."
Maria Colmenares lives in a concrete-block house on a mountainside overlooking the presidential palace in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. Her story says much about the oil-rich and turbulent Latin American nation.
In the days before elevators, there was no such thing as a penthouse on the top floor. The highest floors of a building had cheaper rents because the stairs were hard to climb.
Caracas, Venezuela, is organized roughly the same way, with many poor neighborhoods climbing up the sides of a mountain valley. Some of the poorest homes are among the most remote, accessible not by any road but by alleyways and long flights of stairs.