A blog about food and wine… and controversy?

Why not?  If you can’t discuss controversial themes while sharing a glass of wine and some appetizers, well then will you just talk about the weather?

Who has the right to keep information confidential?

Edward Snowden – love him or hate him?  While you might expect me, a hopeless leftie college professor liberal-leaning individual, to approve of what Edward Snowden did, it turns out that I really dislike this dude.  He happens to look like a smug, know-it-all contractor I had the displeasure of working with.  I have not been able to untangle those gut reactions from the issue of whether or not our government has the right to listen to my phone calls and read my emails and text messages.  As my husband and I negotiate the dubious “pleasure” of parenting teenagers, there are many text messages between us that belong, really, only between us.  We can vent to each other, so that then we can turn around and stay calm in the face of teenage chaos and turmoil.  While those text messages do not rise to the level of national security, once we breach this wall, who is to say the government won’t read parents’ (neighbors’, friends’) text messages, in the hopes of saving one abducted child or one abused child?

How much of my information is truly confidential?  How much needs to be protected?

Bringing the issue to a personal level, I discovered several years ago that once a child reaches 12 years of age, the parent can no longer call the insurance company with questions or concerns about their medications or their medical issues.  Until that middle school child fills out the appropriate HIPPA forms.

Twelve years old???  Twelve years old!!!  My kids at twelve weren’t even making their own lunches.  My kids at twelve still needed to be reminded to brush their teeth every night.  We are giving them control over their medical procedures and medications????

I spent about an hour on the phone with my insurance company, trying to get forms filled out, faxed over, approved… it wasn’t until one person on the other line took the time to explain to me some of the motivation behind this seemingly ridiculous law.  Apparently it is in place mostly to protect children 12 and older concerning issues related to sexual behavior – diseases and pregnancy.  The insurance rep said “Imagine a 13 year old girl who is pregnant, and her dad finds out, flips out and kills her.”

Okay.  I’d prefer not to believe that 13 year olds are sexually active, and end up pregnant, but obviously it does happen.

Bringing the issue to a local level, I work at The College of Saint Rose, where just 10 days ago we were shocked to learn that our president was no longer our president.  Personal reasons were cited for this hasty and somewhat unplanned departure.  Assurances were made off the record that medical issues were not behind the resignation.  Confidentiality dictates that our community now sit in a well of silence and confusion.  An Office of the Presidency has been set up, with three highly qualified administrators at the helm:  not just one competent voice – we now have the benefit of three tried-and-true, long-term Saint Rose employees.

Make no mistake:  we lost a true leader 10 days ago.  As Provost, Dave Szczerbacki managed the near impossible task of establishing trust between faculty and administration.  We were totally behind him.  We believed unwaveringly in him.  We might engage him in some vigorous conversation, but in the end, you always knew that Dave had listened, had read your proposal, had considered it thoughtfully and thoroughly.  I’m not saying he could make us all drink funny-tasting Kool-Aid, but we were all seeing forward motion for the College, in exciting ways that would continue to allow us to grow individually and as a community.

Make no mistake:  community is what will get us through.  There is a reason that The College of Saint Rose is consistently, and through outlets both local and nationwide, cited as A Great Place to Work.  We are a committed group of individuals who have never lost the sense of the larger goals we have in sight: providing quality education to students of all walks of life.  We have newly established leaders to walk us through the transitional phase ahead.  The initial shock has worn off.  It would be great to understand better what happened, but confidentiality…


Confidentiality today will be paired with that delicious Churchill’s White Port wine that I wrote about before (click here).  It is the perfect white for these hot days of summer.  To compliment my wine:  tapas, of course!  Grilled sausage with roasted reds and burrata cheese, fresh mixed greens from my CSA farm share, and roasted almonds.



About Claire Ziamandanis

Claire Ziamandanis is Professor of Spanish at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Over her 20 years at the college, she has been a champion for study abroad, establishing the first affiliation for Spanish students, and then working with the Study Abroad office to open the doors to students from other majors. Claire loves travel, food, wine and Spanish but not necessarily in that order!


  1. OK- This is like 4 posts in one….
    – I also find myself not fond of Snowden, mostly because the “patriot” who loves his country so much showed that by giving China info on exactly what we were doing to their computers (just before they met with Obama), then to Russia, hmmmmm……. That doesn’t sound patriotic to me…. If you are gonna tell everyone you did it, do it like a man from Cleveland or somewhere similar and face the charges head on…. He would have had MUCH more support (granted he would already be in a cell….)
    – seems like the law could/should be amended to keep reproductive issues private but good luck getting that through Congress….
    – Sorry to hear about the controversy at St Rose… Any chance Jimmy Fallon will take over?

    • Claire Ziamandanis

      Paul – So agree with how Snowden has conducted this public “outing” of our government’s eavesdropping! So agree that anything regarding reproductive rights will go nowhere in Congress. Saint Rose – we’ll get through it, and well. We have an amazing collection of deeply committed individuals with very diverse areas of expertise. In the Office of the President alone the cards are stacked in our favor. The way it was handled respected confidentiality, but not necessarily those of us who will march forward with the College.

      Jimmy Fallon for President of SR!!! I like!

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