Thursday, December 01, 2022

You Call That Cold?

      It was 19°F when I woke up this morning, and I do call that cold.  Today's high is predicted to be 38° -- which is not really a high.  It's a low wearing a fedora and a stick-on mustache, pretending to be a high.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Not Actually Cooking

      Last night, I wanted something warming and easy for dinner, and resolved to see what was in the hot deli case at our neighborhood grocery.

      Got there a little after seven last night.  The parking lot was full and the deli case--  Was not.  Four little chickens with various seasoning profiles and no hot side dishes.  Plenty of nice cold sides, including my favorite vinegar-pepper coleslaw.

      So: One butter-garlic roasted chicken, two cans of Amy's low fat* Barley Vegetable soup and one can of their Southwestern Vegetable soup.  When I got home, after getting the groceries put away, I poured one can of Barley Vegetable and one of Southwestern Vegetable  into a large pot, and proceeded to disassemble the roasted chicken, skin and all, adding everything but the bone and gristle to the pot.  Almost everything -- Tam is fond of drumsticks, so I saved one back for her.  The meat fell right off the bone of the other drumstick!  In it all went, making a very thick stew.  I had saved the third can of soup back in case it needed more liquid, but it didn't.  A little dehydrated onion for luck along with parsley, sage, rosemary and za'atar (I know the thyme is somewhere on the shelf but the other spice showed up first), put the lid on and set a timer for ten minutes.

      Ten minutes later, chicken stew!  Is it as good as a slow-roasted chicken with fresh vegetables, simmered for hours in chicken stock?  Nope.  But it's pretty darned good, pretty darned fast and very little work.  I'll take it.  Especially with slaw on the side.
* Look, there's all kinds of chicken skin and bits of fat going into this.  You'll never miss the soup fat.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Caveman Food!

      It appears that Neanderthals and early modern humans cooked up similar meals, back when chipped flint was high technology --- and it wasn't always great hunks of roasted meat.  Nope, it looks like lentils and beans with some herbs were on the menu and, for the Neanderthals at least, mustard greens as well.

      Picture me less than surprised.  The natural world, even "wild" lands, has plenty of things to eat besides critters and hominids are great opportunists.  In particular, humans appear to have an eye (or a palate) for flavorful combinations and a knack for figuring out interesting things we can do with food and fire.  We were harvesting green (and red, purple, etc.) growing things long before we were planting them and may even have been casually tending natural patches of edible growth well ahead of the emergence of large-scale agriculture.  Our teeth tell the story: we're omnivores.  Having evolved to eat whatever we could find, we still eat whatever's good.  In fact, I'll just park this recipe here for future reference.

Monday, November 28, 2022

"What Is This Job For?"

      So, Red China's being rocked by protests over their draconian "Zero Covid" policy.  Vaccination rates haven't been great in the country and their own COVID vaccines aren't among the most effective, so they're still doing actual lockdowns -- lock-ins -- over outbreaks that would barely rate mention in most of the rest of the world.  These aren't polite requests to avoid social gatherings and shut down non-essential businesses, either; it's fences and cops and people getting hauled off to quarantine for trying to get around them.

      The Chinese people seem to have become fed up with it after two and a half years.  The story made the front page of the big newspapers here (and people I know who make a point of never reading the New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, etc. have been asking "Why isn't the MSM covering this?" which looks pretty silly).

      One place you might go look for coverage of these protests is Twitter.  What you'll find instead is nonsense spam and porn links.  Red China has long had a policy of trying to bend social media their way.  They've used bot farms and half-renminbi-a-post workers (the "Fifty-Cent Army") for years, and they've been, well, flooding the zone with crap over their COVID-policy unrest.  So fat chance trying to find any coverage of the protests on Twitter -- MSM or otherwise.

      You see, Twitter's staff has been cut to the bone and somewhere in all that "nonessential" and even "woke" staff were the people whose jobs it was to yank the rug out from under Communist China's clumsy efforts to control information when they acted up.  Oops.

      In the early days of broadcast television, "Madman" Muntz built the most affordable TVs around, in part by a design process that was said to consist of removing components until the the prototype stopped working, then putting that final part back, and removing parts elsewhere in the circuit until it conked out again.  A critical step was backing up and reinstalling the removed part when the TV set stopped working.  Eventually, they'd get to the bare minimum needed to still have a functional device.

      I sure hope Elon Musk doesn't skip that step.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Lazy Day

      Pretty much all I did was laundry and a little writing.  Working a long Friday around people tired me out.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Off To Work

      The day after Thanksgiving isn't an official day off for me, and it never has been.  A few times, it's been an unofficial day off, but that ended as my peers quit or retired.  Now it's a workday with a few extra hours.  So off I go.  It's not the most fun I have, but the extra pay helps.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

What I'm Thankful For

      I'm thankful for a lot, but most of all, I'm thankful things haven't been any worse.

      I'm thankful Russia hasn't managed to start World War Three, at least not yet.

      We had a horrible global pandemic and a lot of people reacted to the whole thing in suboptimal ways, but it could have been a lot worse.  I'm thankful we were as lucky, clever and occasionally wise as we all averaged out to be -- and luck was certainly not the smallest element in that.

      Despite a period of national-level political conflict not seen since the Civil War, we managed to not start another one, in the face of very strong emotions and considerable physical conflict.  It wasn't good, but it could have been a lot worse.

      So here's to not screwing things up past the point of recovery.  Let's aim higher in the future, while being grateful we've got a future at all. 

      I'm grateful for good friends and good food, too.
      Here's the traditional Roseholme Cottage Thanksgiving feast, turducken roll, mashed potatoes (from scratch), bacon gravy and roasted vegetables.  Not shown, apple compote: half a large tart apple, diced, with a little sugar, butter, cinnamon and cloves, plus a handful of unsalted fancy mixed nuts, put in a covered grill pan and allowed to simmer for over an hour while the turducken and vegetables were cooking.

Quick Post

      I'll work on something longer and more suited to the day later.  For now, I'm thankful to have gotten past 20,100 words on my NaNoWriMo project.

      Speaking of women and writing, here's a lady author whose work was used in schoolbooks (well, clay tablets) for centuries and now hardly gets any credit.  (If that sparks your interest, you might enjoy this British Museum piece, which includes a video with a scholar who appears to be on loan from Discworld's Unseen University.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Nature Of The Problem

      There have been a couple of headline-grabbing mass shootings over the last few days.  These are always tragic, dominate the news cycle to an unhealthy extent and they result in the old familiar tropes being trotted out by the usual players, opinion pieces on "America's Gun Problem," "America's Mental Health Problem" and others, plus a degree of victim-blaming from whichever side sees advantage in that.  The far Right's been all over the Colorado Springs mass shooting, as if that kind of horror is something any group of law-abiding citizens deserves.

      Well, they don't.  Even if you find the LGBT (etc.) community personally loathsome or an offense against your religious beliefs, they're no less citizens than yourself, no less human, and have the same reasonable expectations of being left alone as, say, a church group or people inside a big-box store.

      Guns and access to mental health treatment, "Red Flag" laws and their enforcement, involuntary commitment orders: every bit of it is political hot-button stuff, over which we shout past one another in debate mostly composed of bumper-sticker slogans and carefully-sifted statistics.  At heart, our opinions about these things are emotional beliefs and rarely susceptible to any amount of rational argument.

      But when it comes down to it, one of the big contributors to this kind of stochastic violence, which is nearly always caused  by someone with a history of troubling incidents and/or mental health challenges, the actual big problem that we have is a "It's not my job to watch my disturbing relative or neighbor" problem; we have a "It's someone else's job" problem.

      The dithering police officers in Uvalde had a "It's someone else's job" problem.  The retired Army officer who and patrons who took down the killer in Colorado Springs did not.  But other people in that person's life had, and probably over and over.

      The majority of people with mental health problems are harmless.  So are most gun owners.  Most of the people around you, from a pew full of deacons to the people at a nightclub, from duck hunters to people who compose angry Letters To The Editor or post on social media, are harmless and well-intentioned.  But they're uninterested in being their brother's keeper if it is in any way messy or inconvenient -- and that occasionally results in messes that are much larger and deadly. 

       Afterward, watch for interviews with people who knew the perpetrator.  See how many of them found him (very rarely her or, most recently, singular them) worrisome -- and kept it to themselves until afterward. 

       In a country of over 330 million people, one-in-a-million bad outcomes aren't that uncommon.  And opportunities to head off bad outcomes before they occur are even more common.

      Maybe we'd be better off with a little less overheated debate, online and elsewhere, and a little more personal involvement with those immediately around us.  Yes, yes, they're messy and awkward and oh, heavens, their opinions on issues of the day might not be in lockstep agreement with your own!  But there they are, real human beings, as vulnerable and as dangerous as anyone.  They're not caricatures inside your phone or computer or on your TV.  Get to know them.  You might be able to do some small-scale good -- and prevent large-scale harm.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022


      A little over 18,500 words as of last night.  I won't reach 50 k by the end of the month, but I'm making progress. 

Hooray! The New Calendar Is Here!

     Calendars frustrate me these days.  Not the ones on my phone or computer, the paper ones.  The modern trend is for teeny-weeny numbers, in wispy fonts that vanish at any distance -- especially for my 64 year old eyes.

     I have shopped and shopped, without much success.  I've made my own, which is fun and not as much work as you might think.  But I'd just as soon buy one.

     Several months into last year, I found a calendar that suited me fine.  It's an import from Japan but labelled in English, and it's just what I've been after: 
     They did a 2023 edition and I ordered mine last week,  It arrived last night, in just the same style.  (Yes, the holiday's on the wrong date and has an odd name; I'll take that to be able to read the numbers from across the room.). The nice folks at Hightide Store DTLA stock them -- it's not inexpensive, but you get what you pay for.