Sunday, March 03, 2024

Okay, There's One Item Done

      The gate was an ugly job, but it's done, it swings and it locks.  Managed to get the old fence next to it back up, too.  And all by myself, thanks to an old cat "tree" type perch and some scraps of lumber to prop it up while I lag-screwed the hinges in place.

Saturday, March 02, 2024

Free Range

      Pretty much the opposite of fences.  In this case, for chickens.

     Tam picked up some free range eggs earlier in the week and the yolks are -- as you can see -- screamin' orange.  I don't know what the little dinosaurs are finding to eat, big bugs or mice or buttercups, but whatever it is, it's working out.  The eggs are tasty and went well in breakfast hash, with a little crumbled bacon, a snipped-up Piparra pepper and some spices.

Friday, March 01, 2024

Border Fence Issues

      The border of my back yard, that is.  There's a nice double gate, where the previous owner kept his fishing boat in the back yard, with heavy 6x6 posts holding each half of the gate.

     At least one of them -- and the 4x4 two feet from it that helps hold up a little stretch of privacy fence -- was not quite as pest-proof as could have been hoped.  Last winter (or would it be winter before last?), that half of the gate fell over, and I propped it back up.  I spent most of last summer trying, off and on, to find a fence company who would replace it for less than the price of a well-used car, and had no success.

     It broke again in the storms a few days ago, and took the 4x4 post with it.  I'm about halfway through putting in a replacement that should do for a few months, and I'll just have to see what I can do or hire done from there.

     So, let's see, that's a large gate and a little fence, plus a bad post or two in the neighbor's fence that they're not going to fix (it's a rental now), a dead dishwasher, a lousy garbage disposal and a very worn kitchen range.  Yeah, I'm doing great at home ownership.  And it's time and past for a new coat of paint.

     A massive advance on an uncompleted novel being unlikely, I'm probably going to have to dip into savings.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

No, You Are Not

     United States junior Senator from Indiana Mike Braun is running for Governor.  Like just about everyone else, but okay, fine, he's a career politician, running for office is what he does.

     His ads proudly proclaim he's an "outsider!"

     Yesirree, the U. S. Senate, they're a bunch of....outsiders?

     If the Senate was like any other workplace, the day those ads started airing, Senator Braun would have arrived to find his historic Senatorial desk had been relocated to the steps outside the building.*  As it is, the Senators have got too much gravitas and not nearly enough endurance for the exertion, and the desks themselves are too precious for horseplay.  But stop tryin' to buffalo me, buster -- if a Senator is on the outside, there's no inside left.
* Fond memories of working as a cable TV line tech, in telephone poles and in muddy ditches.  We all carried hammers, to bash in the hardware that held our stuff to the poles and reseat loose climbing pegs, and if your co-workers noticed you "choked up" on the hammer handle, why, they'd helpfully saw off the portion you didn't use.  And the next time you pulled that hammer out of your tool pouch and decided you needed more leverage without looking closely, it'd escape your grasp and plummet down.  If you were lucky, you'd only need to put in for a new hammer.  If you'd parked your truck too close to the pole, a fair-sized ball peen hammer leaves quite a dent in the hood -- or hole in the windshield.
     Yes, this is immature BS, bordering on hazing, but the Senate could probably use a little of it.  It'll keep you aware of your limitations.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Spanish Fried Rice

     I needed to make some brunch and a check of the larder turned up a couple of versions of microwaveable rice, a small can of mild green chilis, a little bacon and some of the most amazing eggs--

     The eggs rate their own paragraph.  I usually buy the house brand from the local supermarket.  They've nearly always got free range extra-large on the shelf, typically with brown shells, priced within fifty cents of the "factory" white eggs. They've got strong shells and good dark-yellow yolks, signs that the chickens are probably eating a healthy diet.  Tamara's more adventuresome.  She has a knack for arriving when the grocery has run out of their own brand and she's liable to pick up unusual kinds.  She bought the last batch of eggs, which are free-range, cage-free and possibly running their own little chicken civilization somewhere, red in beak and claw, a terror to weeds, bugs and millet.  The "extra large" batch was a little assorted in size, one red-brown and eleven in various shades of blue-green, the latter probably from Araucana chickens or a related breed.  The shells are sturdy and the yolks, well.  About those yolks: They are a deep red-orange, some of the darkest egg yolks I've ever seen.  The eggs scramble up sunset orange instead of sunny yellow, and they taste great.  (By the way, the color of a hen's earlobes often predict what color eggs she will lay, though I don't know how that works for Easter egger chickens.)

     I fried the bacon, set it on paper toweling to drain and poured off the grease before sauteing the already-microwaved Spanish rice and then pushing it to the sides, adding the can of chilis and cooking them down a little before stirring the whole thing together and adding some dried white onion, parsley and cilantro.*  Once I was happy with it, I pushed it back to the sides and scrambled three eggs in the middle over high heat, mixed it all together, turned the heat down and snipped in the bacon.

     I had chopped Havarti cheese on mine.  Tam had hers plain.  It was good stuff.
* The usual warning applies: If you have never had cilantro, don't experiment in a meal.  Have a taste of the stuff by itself.  It tastes "soapy" to a significant percentage of people and pleasant to most others.  The difference is genetic.  It's not like olives; it's not an acquired taste.  It's either palatable to you or it isn't and that's not going to change.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024


     You may be relieved to know that although he could make a strong case for the throne, the most-likely candidate to be King of Hawaii instead had a decent run in state politics as a Republican, though he hasn't held elective office for quite some time.

     I'm pretty sure there won't be a Royal restoration in that state any time soon.

Monday, February 26, 2024

All Chevron, No Rocker

     The Chevron case is looking to be the next former U. S. Supreme Court decision to feel the present Court's axe.  Woo-hoo, some folks are thrilled: it's the end of the regulatory state! 

     Maybe.  The general thrust and effect of Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council was to let the government's subject matter experts interpret the laws Congress passed and make regulations about those subjects on which they were experts.  The courts were generally expected to defer to their expertise, barring some grave injustice.  Pull 'em out, and what you've got left are the politicians in Congress (mostly lawyers) and sitting judges (all lawyers) interpreting the laws and regulations, and what the majority of them are experts in, other than Law and Schmoozing, is Golf, with a sideline in Press Conferences.  What they don't know about, say, the health effects of tetraethyl lead in gasoline would (and did) fill a jail.

     While leaded gasoline is unlikely to come back -- and my MGB didn't much mind the lack -- the end of Roe v. Wade may (or may not) have a similar effect.  Given that our present Congress can't even manage to keep the government funded for more than a few months at a time, even at the cost of failing to contain Russian aggression, I'm not entirely sure that they can be counted on to do any better a job regulating artificial intelligence, private space travel or food safety; I'd rather Congress addressed the big ideas and left the details to the people who think about that stuff all day long.

     The United States Supreme Court might not agree with me.  Pundits are saying they probably don't.  Then we'll run the experiment at full scale in the real world, and see how that works out.  What could go wrong?

     Ineptitude is not a virtue.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Fancy Brunch?

     No, it's not fancy.  But it's darned good.  I have always kept a little canned meat in the panty, and from early in the pandemic, I made a point of maintaining several cans of chicken, tuna, corned beef and Spam®  on the shelf.

     They last a long time, but not forever.  You have to rotate the stock.  I've got more Spam® than anything and I've been thinking about what it might go with.  "Breakfast hash" with potatoes, eggs and diced canned meat is always good, but this morning I realized I'm down to one (1) egg.

     What I did have -- and I've been pondering it for a while -- was a microwavable pouch of "Tasty Bite"* brand Bombay potatoes.  This is good old ordinary diced potatoes in a mildly-spicy tomato sauce, with interesting chickpeas for good measure. The flavor palette is somewhere not quite between regular (mild) chili and Cincinnati chili, and I thought it would play well with Spam®.

     I diced and browned the canned meat, with a dash of McCormick* curry powder so it could learn the role, microwaved the Bombay potatoes, and mixed them in the skillet, using a tablespoonful of water to rinse out the bag.

     It smelled wonderful.  I scooped some into a bowl and had a taste: even better!  I invited Tam to have some "experimental brunch," and she arrived in the kitchen wondering.
     "What's in it?"
     "Spam, potatoes, tomato sauce..."
     "Any beans?"
     Those green chickpeas are impossible to deny. "Some chickpeas."
     "I'll have a little."
     She took her bowl and wandered off.  I added more to my bowl, covered the skillet and followed her to the office.  "So, is that stuff any good?"
     "It's tasty!  Is there any more?"
     There was, and between us, we nearly polished it off.

     Next time, I might soak and rinse the canned meat or use the low-sodium version.  I might also scramble a couple of eggs and mix them in.  It's plenty good made as described -- and given that the usual microwave pouch and can of meat have "best by" dates a year or more in the future, it'll keep for a rainy day treat.

     If you want it hotter, you could try the Hot & Spicy Spam® variant, or use hot curry powder.  You can even serve it over rice, rice and potatoes being a pretty common encounter in Indian food.
* Why the brand names?  Spam's sui generis.  India's a big place, and has an amazing variety of cuisines. Indian foods sold in the U. S. are often adjusted to American preferences.  "Curry powder" in particular is highly variable from one brand to another, and pretty much an invention mimicking the mix of spices a skilled Indian cook might choose.  So here are the specific kinds I used, and you may find something else that suits you better.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Supper For A Snowy Day

     There's a chuck roast simmering under all those vegetables.  It came out tender and flavorful.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Stop Giving Them Air

     Just because some highly mockable edgelord type says something mockably antithetical to the norms of a free society, or looks like an idiot, or -- as is so often the case -- both, this does not oblige you to make a big deal of mocking it, with a link back to their original brain-dropping.

     If it's something that has to be seen to be believed -- and snickered at for awfulness -- then do a quick screen capture, share it, laugh and move on.  Don't feed 'em links.  Don't feed their quiveringly-needy egos.  Not even if they send you a nice statue for your city park.

     P.S.: "Psyop?"  If you haven't read Sefton Delmer's accounts of his WW II propaganda-war efforts (accounts sadly limited by the Official Secrets Act), then don't try to tell me what is and isn't a "psyop."  But here's a hint: all those TV and online news/opinion hosts don't know, either.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Falling For The Heroic Narrative

     For some politicians, it's all kayfabe: facade.  After years of attacking John McCain, Arizona's Kari Lake made conciliatory remarks towards Meghan McCain, who's not having any of it.

     The contrast here is between someone who thinks it's "just politics" and someone who takes it seriously.

     We're constantly treated to the spectacle of Ivy League scholars in office and running for office who claim to be "just plain folks" and assure us of their disdain for "elites."  Yeah, no.  Most of 'em are the sons and daughters of millionaires, "self-made" successes who had only a little of the family money or an inside track at a top law firm to jump-start their careers.

     I was thinking about how reading Robert A. Heinlein novels made me a bit of a sucker for the rags-to-riches narrative when it occurred to me: with very few exceptions, even his plucky heroes are living pretty well or better.  Max in Starman Jones is dirt-poor, the Lermers in Farmer In The Sky aren't much better off, and from there it's a string of middle-class types (Rod Walker in Tunnel in the Sky, Johnny Rico of Starship Troopers, Don Harvey in Between Planets, all three kids in Rocket Ship Galileo) -- Podkayne and Clarke's parents are pillars of their community, Clifford Russell's father is some kind of retired diplomat/spy/polysci prof "married to his best student" and "Thorby" of Citizen Of The Galaxy is a misplaced gazillionaire.  None of them are frauds or fakes,* and I suppose J. Random "just folks" Politicians really do like barbecues, cheap beer and hanging out with the likes of you and me -- but not, perhaps, nearly as much as they let on.

     Those books were inspiring.  The politicians, not so much.  RAH was out to entertain you first and foremost and if he gave you some positive notions in the process, well and good, but it was a bonus.  Politics might be "show business for ugly people," but it's not supposed to be primarily entertainment.  The stakes are real.  The kayfabe isn't.

     We fall for it at our peril.
* Okay, Max Jones kind of is, but he also kind of isn't, since he's the real deal when it comes to knowing his trade.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

George Remus

     I was looking up some information on Cincinnati, Ohio's interesting Eden Park when I stumbled across George Remus: pharmacist, attorney, bootlegger.  You know those over-the-top films about the lurid adventures of organized criminals, double-crossing spouses and crooked law enforcement during Prohibition?  Here's the real deal.

     If you made up his life for a book, you'd be accused of straining credulity.

     P.S., Eden Park has a copy of Rome's Capitoline Wolf statue -- stolen in 2022, replaced in 2023.  The old one was a gift in 1931 from, of all people, Benito Mussolini.  The new one was funded by a group of Italian-Americans.  Heck of a place, that park.