Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Offshore Water Survival

The recent Macondo fire and blowout reminded me of the school Dresser Atlas sent me to. We were, among other things, required to jump off a 50' platform into a deep pool, wearing coveralls, (I guess we were to shed our steel-toed boots), and in the "correct" position: one hand holding the nose, legs crossed, ankles locked, one hand shielding the groin. Head straight, eyes on the horizon: looking up or down throws one off the vertical.

I had to go twice before the instructor approved. I looked down, and sure enough went in at a slight angle. Next time, as hard as it was, I kept my eyes straight forward and went in straight. Perfect. I plunged all the way to the bottom of the 10' pool, and my rear end touched the bottom before I swam up. One guy could barely swim and was scared, but he was tough and overcame his fear and finally made it.

I grew up in Florida for a while, and we swam a lot and jumped off ropes into the water, and I had been off the high dive a lot at pools but 50' seems a lot higher.

On a drilling rig, the floor is about 100' off the water, at the least. I spent a couple of years working on the offshore rigs (or on land). Looking over the railing on breaks we would contemplate the possible eventuality of jumping. Someone said if you feel the flames licking at your ass, jumping gets a lot simpler. I don't know. Anyway, that was years ago.

One of the surviving crewmen on the Deepwater Horizon jumped from the heliport deck, which is higher, maybe over 120'. I can barely imagine this. I'm not sure I want to.

The patch is mine. I saved it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World

Here's my first large multimedia piece from '91. I stole the name of it from Harlan Ellison's short story. It's about 3' x 4'. Acrylic paint, colored ink, polyurethane, glue, and fragments of Cannon color copies.

It has many, many layers and normally defies attempts to confine itself to the picture plane. Additionally, it is the first piece I ever deliberately did to accommodate glare. It looks good from any angle or lighting.

It's a bit scary. I have no ability to judge this one. It is in many ways simply atrocious. In others, it's mighty interesting work.

Why, yes, it is for sale.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Failed to Achieve Mission

January 28, 1986

I left the mobile home I lived in and got in my '76 Corolla and drove to the dealership. My plan was to shop for a new car.

On arrival at the dealership, I entered the front glass door and encountered an empty showroom. Looking around I discerned a group in a rear office with the door open, huddled before a television, intent. One guy was saying something but I didn't make it out.

I assumed some sort of sales meeting was going on, with a motivational video playing. My thought was that they ought to schedule such things so that customers aren't given short shrift. Annoyed, I spoke up. "Hey, how about some service?" or something. A man scurried out and attended to me, as I asked about various models. He seemed distracted, fretting, and I soon disengaged and left, disgusted by the lack of customer care. "What is going wrong in society?" I asked myself.

Traffic was likely bad on the way home. No doubt I encountered distracted drivers not paying attention.

I was always proud of my sound systems I installed in my cars. Good stereo and amp, with a large choice of prime rock 'n' roll, and radio was never on my menu. Radio was for squares.

I arrived home and encountered my roommate, distraught, on the verge of tears. "My god, my god, it's awful. The TV... What, you don't know? The Challenger just blew up. Oh my god..."

I turned to the TV and within seconds I ascertained the news of the awful explosion of the Challenger. I too, then, came close to tears and went into that shock of horrible emotion of the tragedy. Being a space program supporter my whole life, I felt what everyone in our community felt. Awful.

"Have you heard?" No, the man at the car dealership never asked that as he ushered me around. So I didn't know. Looking back, I'm convinced he somehow thought that I had heard the news.

I wonder how he remembers it: the day the bastard who didn't give a damn came in on Challenger disaster day.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

They Yam Still Confused

Apparently, some still confuse yams and sweet potatoes. I have tracked down most of the history that explains why.

The picture you see now is sweet potatoes.

Click on real yams for a picture of them. You can see they are not sold in most U.S. grocery stores.

Anyone can find out that the tropical yam is a completely different vegetable. African in origin, the most widely cultivated true yam is Dioscorea rotundata. There are pictures of them, but interspersed are pictures of, yes, sweet potatoes.

The sweet potato was a pre-Columbian food of both North and South America and the Carribbean, called batata. It was discovered by Europeans before the recognition of the Incan white potato, the completely different species, but that is the one which became known as the potato, because it was also called batata by the Europeans in the pidgin of the region.

The bright orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are relatively new in the U.S. Before introducing these cultivars, the sweet potato had yellowish, pale flesh. At the time of introduction, the new orange varieties were termed "yams" to indicate they were a different thing. Which they were: better tasting, creamier and smoother, and all the other benefits of modern breeding programs in which the U.S. excelled during the 20th century.

Here's a little history of the sweet potato in the U.S.

The mystery of the Polynesian sweet potato.

Here's an odd statement from this page: "The "Jersey" and related varieties having dry mealy flesh are favored in the northern states. The other type, more watery but richer in sugar and more soft and gelatinous when cooked, is favored in our southern states where they are called "yams". I'm not sure I want to try this "Jersey" thing. And it may explain why some of my Northern friends claim to despise sweet potatoes. That, and the overpoweringly sweet preparations of the basically decent orange Southern sweet potatoes -the "candied yam" - served in institutional cooking. You know what I mean. Yech.

Nine varieties of sweet potatoes grown in North Carolina. The purple one is intriguing.

The sweet potato does not have a shelf life as long as regular potatoes. I didn't realize that, although experience should have indicated that as a general rule.

I often cook sweet potatoes in the microwave. They come out best wrapped in plastic wrap. I find they need no salt, butter, or anything. I eat them as is, and I'm usually willing to jazz things up as necessary. I just don't think they need it. I just scrub them clean and poke a hole, although when I haven't, they have never exploded like regular white potatoes may.

I am going to cook some real yams soon. I have never had them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Girawolf Redux

Girawolf is half wolf, half baby giraffe, morphed with Sqirlzmorph software. I plucked him from the dim recesses of the past and gave him some new attention.
Sqirlz morph

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Chow Puppy

He was apparently abandoned on our dead-end street by a bad sort of person. He needs a good home, as my neighbor and I each already have more dogs than we can handle.

He is, incidentally, VERY sweet natured.

UPDATE: Rocko has been adopted.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Honing In on Meaning

"Honing in." I paid attention when suddenly the expression's use was criticized. Perhaps I used it once or twice myself, in hurried conversation, trying to express something but subconsciously trying to jam two concepts into one phrase. It ends up seeming a stupid phrase; an error.

Although writers Bob Greene and George Plimpton have used it.

Because one "homes in" on targets or destinations, but one hones a knife or blade.

"Hone" seems to come from Old English, a word for "whetstone." This seems like a tautology. (What about "wet?" That is, a wet stone? Unclear, but possible.)
"Home" comes from words such as "haims" (Gothic) and "khaim" (Fris. [I guess they mean Old Frisian])

So to examine this, I got out the old scalpel of logic and went to work. Another writer mentioned it but didn't go very far into it.

Get a knife and cut the tiniest slice possible. You will be limited by two things, the sharpness of the edge and your ability to see. You can make a sharper more perfect lens if you sharpen your blade. (to make marks on your calipers). You can sharpen your blade better if you have a new more perfectly cut lens. Ad infinitum.

So "hone in on" is not completely daft. Still, its chain of logic is too obscure and the phrase is doomed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Choice

I hear people griping about things like "regulators," and "lawyers & politicians," and outrageous lawsuits and a general feeling that taxes and fees are wasted and inflated, giving the citizen too little for his tax dollar, and unnecessary things that are being done with funds the individual must fork over to either lawyers, accountants, regulators, or tax revenue collectors. It's probably even true.

I came up with a solution to end the complications of all arbitration. According to your own preference, choose one of the following:

1. Everything will be made legal. There will be zero law enforcement whatsoever; no laws; and anyone can do anything at all that they can get away with, including all theft, personal violations, savage murderous retributions at any time, economic frauds, consumer frauds (let the buyer beware), pollution, immigration, even slavery if you can handle it on your own, etc.

2. Everything will be made illegal. No more need for politicians and lawyers. Every possible human act will be considered illegal; even sitting and doing nothing. Prosecutions will be selective. Every complaint gets sent to court directly, and the judge and jury will hear each and every complaint of anyone anywhere, decide each case; not by law, but by opinion, and tax the population directly. The courts' massive growth will be offset by the shrinkage in all other mediative government and private bodies and professions.

Now this simplified example of a bi-polar populist political continuum models reality, although only very basically. Thus we can develop a simplified profile of the third decision often actually seen:

3. Purport to believe in Theory #1 to some people, and purport to believe in Theory #2 to other people, using discretionary case-by-case judgment. Cover your ass, in other words. On first glance, those who choose the third option appear to be cowardly, indecisive finaglers. until you realize, as I have, that options #1 and #2 are, in the end, exactly the same choice.

(from the archives - August 2001. Written by me, Jumper, under the byline Paavo Dekker and appearing in QZ magazine)

Today's Art Project

Trying to illustrate the last post, I just got lost. So instead, I decided to play with Rachel Maddow's interesting and pretty face. I imagine she looked somewhat like this in her twenties or so. Extra points go to anyone who identifies the background.
Sqirlz morph


I got a call this morning from the Telemarketer Who Can't Speak.

I find this deliciously ironic. I said, "Hello," and she said:

"HizthzmistDekkr?" which I sort of got, so I said, "Yes," and she gives me the spiel:


At this point I just hold the phone out in front of me like it's a mutant frog, and stare at it in amazement. I still can't believe it, even after several similar episodes in the last few years. Her job is, after all, to do one thing: talk on the telephone. I'm pretty sure it's even dialed automatically for her. Apparently there's no oversight at all, because her masters have not noticed that they have hired someone to talk who can't even speak. I gently replace the phone in its cradle, shake my head, and go on about my business, knowing that no one on the other end of the phone even knows why I really hung up.

A few minutes later, another one calls. Still cheerful from this morning's coffee, I listen to another woman, who although not speaking clearly, says she's from a "Business Advisory Group."

"What are you selling?" I ask politely.

"I'm not selling anything," she begins, and then proceeds to try to sell me some health insurance.

"Not interested," I say loudly (and clearly), hang up, and again I wonder if anyone on the other end of the line understands that the immediate reason I'm not interested is that I don't want to deal with anyone has told me a direct lie in reply to the very first question I have asked.

(from the archives - August 2001. Written by me, Jumper, under the byline Paavo Dekker and appearing in QZ magazine)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Crazy Eyes

Scott Adams of Dilbert writes a funny and interesting post on "crazy eyes."

("I have a hypothesis that you can detect in a person's eyes when they have a preference for imagination over direct observation. Let's call that look Crazy Eyes...") - Adams

I was reminded of an experience I once had:

I have been harassed for having "remembering eyes" before, however. I was once on my first forensic parts failure assignment, in a meeting, and I had to figure out why a big transformer cable had crumbled into crap. I inspected it closely and tried to think. Couldn't come up with anything. I began staring at the ceiling, musing over what to do or think. A guy in the meeting began mocking me or getting angry, demanding to know "what I was doing."

What I was doing was trying to remember what a book I had read said to do. I looked back and said "When in doubt, examine the part closely again." (I had recalled it just then.) So I took off my glasses and scrutinized it VERY closely. And the guy started mocking me again!

He forced me to explain that being nearsighted, my close-up vision without glasses was almost microscopic in its excellence. Which this dummy, although nearsighted himself, didn't get. Anyway, I found nearly invisible bits of paint on it. Someone had spilled paint on the power cable and then, furtively, cleaned it with powerful paint thinner, almost completely. A few months later the insulted insulation cracked and fell apart. No one else saw the tiny remnants of paint and wipe-marks. After I found it, they could see it, though.

This makes me wonder too about the not-all-there stare of people too vain to wear glasses or contacts. I expect in the past, before optics were invented, they were considered stupid or crazy in a different way. I suppose they could have been good tailors.

My boss, a PhD. organic chemist, agreed completely with my diagnosis and that the problem was solved. As we left the meeting, I groused about the fellow who had doubted my skills. "When he asked me what I was doing, I should have told that guy, 'Thinking. You should try it sometime.'" My boss just smiled and suggested it's probably good I didn't.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hand 'o' Fate

Inspiration from Tom Tomorrow. This even scares me, and I made it.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Anagrams for "Tea Party Republicans"
A ripe blatancy erupts.
Yep, a cabal interrupts.
A tiny caberet supplier.
A piety barnicle spurt.
Perspire, nutty cabala.
Blustery panacea trip.
Inescapable rutty rap.
Tabernacle purist yap.
Rusty incapable prate.
Yup. Scatterbrain plea.
Treatable panic syrup.
Arbitrates pep lunacy.
Nuttier spacy parable.
Rapine crypt tableaus.
Apply reactant bruise.
Inscrutable teary pap.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Volunteers of America

Butternut squash from volunteer plant. Got about eight this size from one plant. Most still on the vines.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pumpkin Pie for Grown-ups

First off, I use butternut squash instead of "pumpkin" because I like it, and I have a large crop of huge butternuts in the garden this year. (There is also a smaller crop of Orange Hubbards which sprang up, like the butternut squash plant, as volunteer from the compost.)

This recipe includes two caramelized onions, and has half the sugar of many recipes. I made a whole wheat crust. I would rather use stone ground graham whole wheat flour, more like a typical graham cracker crust, but I had none and substituted whole wheat bread flour. Not perfect, but not bad either. I tried to not overwork it; I didn't want gluten to develop.

I chopped two onions and caramelized them overnight on "low" in my crock pot, which has "high" and "low" settings only. I added a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar before beginning. They were the color of peanut butter by morning; just right.

  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled, cut up, and microwaved to softness
  • ½ cup sugar, and enough molasses to make it into "brown sugar," about 2 tablespoonfuls.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk with 1 cup of dry milk added to it
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala powder
(I modified a recipe which called for 1 cup of half-and-half plus 8 oz. cream cheese; that's why I modified the milk and added the cheese.)

I blended everything very well in the food processor except for the onions, which I then folded in by hand.

I don't like it when cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. overpower the delicate taste of the squash or pumpkin. I tried twice before I got the amount of garam masala low enough. Mine has ginger, clove, cinnamon, cardamom.

I made a crust from whole wheat flour, cold grated butter, cold water. Rested in refrigerator, rolled out, put it in buttered pie pan, and pre-cooked it for 7 minutes in a 375º F. oven. In a few minutes I then filled the crust with the filling. It was very full; a high dome of filling in the center stood an inch above the height of the edges of the crust. Afraid it would slowly flow, I put it in the oven immediately and baked it at 375º for 10 minutes, then 330º for 40 minutes. Perhaps 350º would have been better. It wasn't done in the center so I gave it another hour at 280º. Perfect top and crust.

This is a good pie for me and others who don't need overwhelming sweetness in a pie, yet want some little bit. The caramelized onion added some complex sugars too.

By the way, I roasted the reasonably large seeds in salt and butter after I cleaned the squash. A fine snack. I just chew the shells along with the seeds inside; they are tender enough. But that's just me.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Look Away

Mr. Bebbin of America visited our village and he told us. He sold us many things but they always stop working right. And his things always bound up in papers and wraps and boxes we can't use. Mr. Bebbin said no thing lives forever. We need to learn how to throw things aaway Mr. Bebbin say. Mr. Bebbin say we live in our own shit.

We act like we know what Mr. Bebbin say. "Aaway." We repeat this word "aaway" in our prayers. We think of throw "aaway" like a magic place. Mr. Bebbin said "aaway" is in the bushes a few steps from his tent. He never went there. Soon it made a big hill but then the wind and rain put it back in the village.

So Mr. Bebbin made us dig a big hole. We put the "aaway" in the new hole and covered it up. The water in the old drinking hole started to taste like "aaway." We asked who would help us because we didn't know the "aaway" would ruin our land. Mr. Bebbin said we had a "contract" and he said he didn't know we had made a mistake. Or I think he said that.

He say he would take the "aaway" away and make it gone, but we couldn't afford his price.

The Word

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him." (John 1:1-3))

That's a very provocative statement. (The Greek word "logos" is usually translated as "word," but also as: account, cause, communication, doctrine, intent, preaching, reason, saying, or tidings.) I don't believe any of them. Except "word."

"In the beginning was the word, and the word was a number and the number was One" - anon

"Before the beginning was 'The' or 'That' (no nouns or verbs, only indefinite articles) and this became a word, so the system began and the system was God." - anon

I think now we're getting somewhere. I'll cut to the chase: In the "beginning" the word for "word" finally got invented. And having a symbol meaning "symbol" changed human thought incredibly, irreversibly, and multiplied the power of speech and thought almost inconceivably. In other words, the human concept of self, and self-awareness itself, and awareness of self-awareness, perhaps all derived from having a word for "word."

This implies a historical phase once existed somewhere in between modern consciousness and nonverbal consciousness. To say that beasts had no words at all, (although certainly they have no word for "word") may not be so true. After all, animals have calls of alarm, and make noises of pain, and yips and grunts of pleasure, such as puppies and pigs; and birds singing lustily atop
a pile of hemp seeds. Perhaps the primate protohuman speech progressed somewhat above that, but not much.

What goes on in a dog's mind when he heads for the comfortable spot near the rock? I suggest there are symbols representing this spot in the dog's mind. The memory of the feel of the earth in that dug-out burrow, a memory too of the smell of the nearby plant varieties.

What goes on in a near-modern human mind using words? Here is the mystery, for pre-written languages left no clue to their structures. It's all guesswork on our part. Except for observing chimpanzees in the wild; and as far as determinable, they have gestures, but no known words for anything and no grammar at all. (Chimp communication)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Newt Olbermann

It's the glasses.
I prefer Olbermann, although there is a little bit of the ranter in each. No particular point; just goofing around.
Sqirlz morph

Monday, August 16, 2010

"We Supply it in Board-Feet"

"Not square feet."

Hardwood flooring, that is. When I had my flooring company, I ran into a few suppliers who gave me this line. Now, a board-foot is defined in the dictionary as lumber measuring one square foot one inch thick. But what it doesn't say is that's un-dried. After it is dried it shrinks, and after it shrinks it loses more volume in the milling process. Pine shrinks more than hardwood.

An actual board-foot of dried hardwood flooring which is ¾" thick, the standard, yields by the dictionary definition 1.33333 square feet of flooring. But, as I said, it is what the product is milled from initially that the supplier is defining. In this case, it is fresh moist wood blanks measuring 1" thick x 3" wide. (To become standard 2¼" strip flooring.) Which means you should measure the square feet of the room(s), figure how much you will have to scrap, (about 5% works), and then, instead of multiplying by .75, divide by it. Or to put it another way, instead of dividing by 1, multiply by it.

Confused? Who wouldn't be?

Now I'm good with a calculator, better than most, but this is about one of the most confusing things I've come across. And I even understand it. But I often had to call in my orders at the end of a very long exhausting day. One of the joys of management.

I told my regular supplier I wanted his computer-printed invoices to print square feet on them and that I would be ordering by square feet. I told him fatigue was often a factor and I was a customer so customer service demanded we would be playing my game, not his. So he did it. (Easily, by the way.)

Several other suppliers tried this with me. I told my second-most steady supplier the same, and he complied: he used to install flooring himself before he went into sales and knew exactly where I was coming from.

I tried this on a third vendor I was trying to work with, and they refused! "We supply it in board-feet."

I pulled my tape measure from my belt and said "See this? It's marked in feet and inches, and when I measure a floor, I come up with square feet. There are no board-feet on this tape." They refused to convert any orders routinely for me, so I said goodbye and left.
. . .

My theory is that many vendors benefit from this confusion, especially when selling to homeowners and innumerate carpenters and builders. Plus, guys want to be in the select fraternity of lumber guys who know what board-feet are. If they don't, they will fake it. The chances are high that they will order incorrectly, and either buy too much (plus an extra factor for scrap which the salesman, sensing blood in the water, will always remind the customer about! Usually recommending 10 -20% extra on top of that!) or, the customer will err the other way and run out of wood before the job is done, and order more, giving the salesman another chance to run his routine, and maybe do it again!

In the process, the customer, if a tradesman, runs the risk of angering the homeowner or contractor because of the delay, about which the salesmen who practice this lucrative humbuggery don't care.

Not only that, leftover hardwood usually gets stored somewhere humid, swelling it up and making it unsuitable for installation in climate-controlled homes and buildings, because it will shrink back to more stable dimensions eventually, leaving gaps between the boards. Eventually that finds its circuitous way back to the unwary contractor or homeowner, who again will suffer.

I see all this madness as an arena. An arena in which two great forces battle for the soul of American Capitalism: one side sees their way as the American way: screwing the customer, they say, is as American as apple pie. The other side, the one I'm on, says you succeed by offering the best product and service you can provide.

How's my side doing?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cooking Perfect Tortillas

When I lived in south Texas I had flour tortillas lightly toasted on occasion, but most of the time they were taken and used cold from the package, and breakfast tacos, burritos, or fajitas assembled from them. I think the local distributors baked them just a tiny bit longer than some companies do, so they wouldn't really be "raw" tasting.

Incidentally, in Texas I saw few Mexican-Americans eat corn tortillas unless it was at Taco Bell. At regular restaurants, almost everyone had flour tortillas for bread. There, as you see in many Mexican restaurants, they are served in a covered bowl, lightly steamed. Kind of pasty to my taste.

It wasn't until North Carolina acquired a larger Mexican population that I experienced corn tortillas cooked on a griddle. The first time, I stopped at a restaurant that had tongue tacos - "lengua" - and ordered a plate. Each taco was served in two corn tortillas browned on their griddle. I was hooked.

At home, I soon tried to duplicate this but didn't have much luck. The corn tortillas, almost raw in their big bagged stacks (nice and inexpensive) from the regular groceries, which had began to stock them, got hard and leathery on my frying pan. Not good. So for a while I eschewed them and either fried my corn tortillas or ate flour tortillas.

Eventually I learned the trick. Here's how:

To make four tacos, since I was impressed with the double-wrap technique using corn tortillas, place a stack of eight on the griddle. I use a big cast iron frying pan. I also brush both sides of each tortilla with a little mix of a spoonful of water and some olive oil before I start. I don't want much oil, just a tiny bit.Place the entire stack of eight in the hot pan. On medium heat, the bottom-most corn tortilla, #1, browns on one side, just right. I flip the whole stack over with my spatula, keeping the stack lined up nicely, and begin browning tortilla #8. Then with my thumb and forefinger, I flip the done side of #1 which is now on top, over, exposing the uncooked side. When side a of #8 is browned, I flip the stack, begin browning side b of #1, and when it's done, flip the stack again, and brown side b of #8. At this point, like you, my mind begins to wander and - pay attention now!

At that point, I grab tortilla #1 and #2, and flip them both over. I then flip the whole stack again. #8 on top gets flipped along with #7. Now, both #1 and #8 are headed for the center of the stack.

So on, finishing #2 and #7, and then turning the top three. Bringing in turn #3 and #6 to the top and bottom of the stack. If you are counting, that's 16 flips to get them all. Note that if you cooked them one at a time, you would still have that same amount of flipping to do. The process of dealing them into the pan will be reduced to once.

The advantage to all this, is that as the stack begins heating up, you are steaming the tortillas. The browned portions of your stack, as they are moved towards the center, lose their leathery dry texture and become quite tender.

Eventually the last, tortillas #4 and #5, are browned on both sides. You are ready to remove the whole stack and stash it in a covered bowl and assemble your tacos, or fajitas, or what-have-you. (Slices of Texas-style slow cooked brisket come to mind.)

Once you master that, you can do your flour tortillas the same way. By the way, I never use a double-tortilla if it's a flour tortilla.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Or did I imagine it?

I distinctly remember this symbol was around when I was a kid. (The æ with the ring around it. Or, I should say, the ea with the ring around it.) I would call it the "each symbol" or the "at each sign."
Or is my mind playing tricks on me? In any case, I don't think it's on the internet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Return of More Shocking Dip

omemade chili barbecue sauce is what I had in a glass jar with a metal lid, in the fridge.

A labor of love. I made it last week by cooking, after cleaning, a few different varieties of dried Southwestern-style chilies from cherry-sized to big, and onion, a trace of tomato in the form of ketchup; garlic and oregano and vinegar and mustard, with molasses. (The vinegar included some homemade vinegar I made from homemade Chilean red grape wine, which I made specifically from leftover grapes to make vinegar from.) I strained the sauce through a strainer after I pulverized it in the blender after cooking.

So that's what I dipped the tilapia in before breading it in half self-rising flour, half cornbread mix. With black pepper and some salt. And fried them golden brown in canola oil in the iron skillet.

On the side to fill the tacos with is a mix of fine slivered iceberg lettuce with an equal amount of fine slivered cabbage. With red vinegar and lime juice squirted on it, lightly salted right before adding it to the fresh Mr. Stripey tomato picked a few hours ago, washed, chopped lightly, and lightly salted. And a pile of similar sized avocado chunks, with salt and lime juice. And the chopped jalapeño.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bruiser Bites Off More Than He Can Manage

The horror. Went to lot of trouble making bread; weighed the ingredients vs measuring (the first time I'd done this), used sponge letting it get feisty all yesterday afternoon, assembled and kneaded by hand for full 6 minutes by timer, let dough go overnight, turned out and made two French-style loaves, and set them out on the breezeway to final rise in the afternoon heat. A mere twenty minutes later, ready to bake them, I went out and - no loaves in sight. Examining my dog, and chastising her for this theft, I nevertheless knocked on my neighbor's door to see if her dog Bruiser had done the deed. Apparently not. Neighbor said so, and I didn't see him around either before or after.

My dog , I assumed, toppled the tabletop and ate both raw loaves. I hoped she would know why she would be getting a very bad stomach ache soon. But I was concerned, too, that she might burst.

I soon began to doubt it was my dog; her belly was quite trim. I even suspected a shockingly bold coyote, or more likely the red, foxy chow from up the street who regularly comes by, the temptress, to lure away her pal Bruiser, the boxer next door. But it wasn't her.

It was Bruiser. His window of opportunity had been narrow - very narrow. But he took advantage of it, seemingly inhaling the loaves of dough in mere seconds before returning to his owner's side. A heist worthy of Simon Templar.

He later, I was finally told, expelled a quite monstrous mass - his owner, alerted previously but theretofore having no knowledge that it was him, described it as a "large perfect loaf of dough" - although it was two - (I thought then) - from his mouth. That seems to have solved any remaining problem of mine. His owner had a different problem. But that problem too had been already dealt with by the time I learned the whole story.
All's well that ends well. I even shopped for more King Arthur's flour - it's made from hard red summer wheat - and made two more new loaves in time for dinner. For the record, I let the loaves do their final rise in the cab of my truck with the windows up. Dinner, by the way, was slow cooked pork roast with a paprika bark, sweet potato, corn on the cob, and the hot bread.
I gave my dog a bit of the pork as an apology.

As it turned out, however, Bruiser had not expelled the first loaf he ate. In the middle of the night, he became quite ill. Vomiting and diarrhea. Staggering and whimpering with pain.

Update, many months later: It seems the fermentation of the bread dough in his guts was making him dangerously drunk; alcohol poisoning sufficient to endanger his life. His owner had to make an emergency trip to the veterinarian in the wee hours. They had to put him on I.V. life support. It was bad.

I wrote the majority of this the evening before when the sequence of events was unclear and all we foresaw was a stomach ache for the poor fellow.)

I feel the bread dough arising.
I feel burping on the way.
I feel stomach aches disquietin'.
I feel bad bloats today.

Don't come near tonight,
It's bound to be a fright,
There's a dog with a sad surprise.
(Thanks to Talitha for the song!)

Bruiser survived with not more than a bad hangover. He and I are now good buddies.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Value of Retrograde Motion

As a chess player, I learned it is good to be able to return to earlier lines of thought. One studies the board, comes up with some lines of play, but continues study: I will get back to that other good move and use it, if there is nothing fruitful in my further ruminations. So before the clock runs out it's best to keep organized.

I noticed also, long ago, how conversations seem to take side-detours. Whether a conversation is a delightful one has little to do with its final map, of course; it usually depends on the quality of the company. As an experiment, I cultivated an ability to backtrack in conversation. To be the guy with the most skill in bringing back what was set aside or even lost; to return the thread to its place. All the while, surely, being tongue-in-cheek about the often unimportance of actually doing so. But often this satisfies both me and my partners in conversation. In the cases of more utilitarian conversations, it's even more useful to return to the main track until it concludes, I think. Even there excursions are useful and do happen, of course.

When I first got a good internet connection, after a hiatus in the '90s, nearly some 12 years ago, about the time Google came along, I was like an untrained chess strategist or conversationalist.

Oh, I wheeled and soared and swung and chased the shouting wind along, through footless halls of data.

I would explore and take twists and turns, and test the equipment, and revel in it all. I just never seemed to get anything done during these fanciful explorations. Sure, my productivity expanded with email and word-processing and amassing actual useful files, and organizing my life. And organizing my ephemera.

But the actual surfing was wild and distracting. Used this way, nothing holds the attention for long. But I finally learned how to track back and then keep going from there. When I needed to, which was often enough.

This is what I think is affecting those current writers of the thesis - you've read it - that computers and the internet are making us unfocused. I don't think so. No, I think we are witnessing newbies, newcomers to the internet, getting lost. Who are they? Why are they late? We have all dealt with them, I think. Especially in general business management, and the newspaper business, in particular, who scoffed at the internet for years. Technophobes, or some who got burned from a lack of skill at separating wheat from chaff. The usual suspects.

I expect they will get over it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Giant Squash

Here are some huge volunteer squash plants, likely offspring of butternut squash, which arose from the composted kitchen scraps. The leaves, however, I have only seen associated with pumpkin varieties, on the internet. I have not had much luck in the past with winter squashes, as they tend to sprout early and reach maturity far earlier than the recommended October harvest time. I don't see how varmints won't find these monsters before then.

What I have read says when the stem dies, then it's time to pick. Also they reportedly need a few weeks of aging after picking to reach maximum flavor. I can do that this time.

See some earlier posts on squash and pumpkins.

UPDATE: August 27 2010 They have all turned the delicate cream color they are supposed to be. I have eaten one, mostly, but still have pie remaining from it. The big one in the picture I harvested a few days ago, and it's hardening up in the kitchen.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Sqirlz morph

Sunday, June 27, 2010

More Shocking Dip

For some frozen boneless tilapia fillets I made a standard sort of breading: half cornbread mix and half self-rising flour, augmented with salt, pepper, and some onion powder, and a healthy teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

Where I broke ranks with tradition is the dip I concocted to wet each fillet prior to applying the breading. I put 3 TBS. of yellow mustard, 2 TBS. of brown mustard, and a splash of beer - Sierra Nevada brand - into a bowl and whisked it up. It was a tad runny so I adjusted it with some sprinkles of the breading mix, whisking, until it was thick enough but not a "batter" by any means. Dipped, then breaded the fillets.

I heated an inch of canola oil in my cast iron dutch oven I use for a fryer, and fried the fillets to light brown perfection. Served with a squirt of lime juice on each. (On the side I had some sweet potato I skinned, baked in the microwave, and then thick sliced and browned each side in a skillet with butter. Also some baked beans from a can. What the heck.)

The fish is one of the best things I have had in a long, long time. Highly recommended.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Unintended Spill

A high ranking State Department official today revealed in a private press conference that a simultaneous hacking attack at Google, Facebook and several other internet companies' central databanks has been carried out by unknown foreign operators. "The entire databases of several corporations were downloaded over a period of weeks without detection," the source said. This includes large and diverse databases such as every book scanned by Google and all saved data on repeat users, as well as all Facebook's social network information including names, email addresses, saved history, contacts networks, interests, etc., and includes dates of birth, and various other indicators such as hometowns where listed, product loyalties, social preferences, racial makeup, etc.

Now, not only do large corporations and U.S. surveillance agencies have an entire list of almost everyone in the Western world's most revealing data, Al Qaeda or another unfriendly or criminal organization inevitably does also. This includes easily identifiable data on political views and identifications.

Officials of Google and Facebook we reached expressed outrage over the spill, and both claimed in nearly identical language that it was "unavoidable" and "unfortunate." The Facebook representative also stated it was "unforeseen." "We expect the hackers to be denied access shortly, and to curtail more file downloading soon."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Wash the 1/2 lb. of cherries. Pull the stems out, cut the cherries in half, and remove the stones. Add cherries and a bottle of Malta Goya (coke or pepsi if you have none of this, which you probably don't) and a teaspoon of sugar to a sauce pan and begin simmering. Add a bit of salt. Black pepper. Cut up a dry red New Mexico pepper, discard the seeds, and add pepper pieces to the sauce. Once it's all cooked down, simmering about 25 minutes at low heat, remove and drape the pieces of pepper over the pork loin. Pour the sauce and cooked cherries over pork loin and cook it all wrapped in foil as close to sous vide temperatures (140° F.) as your oven will go. Mine runs as low as 170° F. which I thought was too high for this but I cooked the loins for 8 hours.

Then early next morning I poured off the liquid, brought it back to a simmer, added some red wine vinegar - maybe a quarter cup - and the pieces of pepper, the cherry pieces, some onion powder, dash of cayenne powder, some minced garlic, a bit more salt, and finally a tablespoon of blackberry jam. And a tablespoon of some brown mustard. After simmering and some reduction again, I let it cool, pulverized the sauce in a blender, and ran it through a sieve, discarding what little remained after mashing it through with a a spatula, vigorously, back into the pan.

Before serving, brush some sauce on, brown the outsides of the already cooked pork loin, either on a very hot grill or on a hot skillet, then remove, slice, and pour a dollop of the remaining sauce over it.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What it is.(conspiracy theatre)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What it is.(conspiracy theatre)

It looks like forces hostile to the U.S. switched from terrorism to the deliberate attempt to bankrupt the country. Using bribery, the strategy is similar to the old Soviet concept that America will sell them the rope they use to hang us. Meanwhile, the fascist forces have been fantasizing about Ayn Rand, and, seeing themselves as modern day John Galts, have joined forces with the Bin Ladens of the world to drive us to our doom.

Using fundamentalism here in the U.S. similarly to the way the Saudis and the Bushes and Cheney use Al Qaeda, certain forces are put into play using people such as Murdoch, etc. The rise of teaparty idiocracy gums up the works, allowing certain acts of corporate terrorism to occur: deliberate crashing of the markets by corrupt financial leveragers after skimming vast amounts of money placed in offshore accounts.

Angertainment. Hateriotism. Rageaholics. I bet you can find Saudi money funding the Tea Party "movement."

From an anonymous post on the web: (If by some chance the author sees it, tell me what to do.)
'Oil rolls gently in the sea merely 20 miles from the Florida Keys. The Louisiana coastline is now a garish reminder of the greed of a corporate mindset with only one goal: Do it now and do it cheap. Your unborn children and grandchildren will not know the joys of coastal fishing villages. You will never again enjoy the sea bounty of the Gulf of Mexico. But, wait and listen and on the wind you will the mindless platter of idiots singing on the wind, “drill baby drill.”
If you do not feel a sense of frustration at this moment of the short-sightness of the milling humanity of the greatest nation on earth and their inability to comprehend that the wrong set of rules is governing the process by which we consume resources, then you are dead—or will be soon.
Not only do the Gulf’s oil resources serve as the ultimate reservoir for the fossil fuel required by the military of PAX Americana, the latest world empire, that same Gulf coast houses fellow countrymen of our great nation who saw their livelihood totally collapse and, today, their hopes for resurrection of that way of life vanish.
Why we live this way is no longer a question. The race for energy at all costs to fuel our desire for more consumption of things we do not need has a rationale. It is implanted in the minds of all who salute a way of life has no regard for the ultimate cost of satisfying every whim. That rationale is called stupidity. It is also disguised as “liberty” and “freedom” on this holy day of memorial for those who have given the ultimate in our country’s wars over the years. It is a way of life that must change. Many regarded Timothy McVeigh as a terrorist of the first order, particularly when he referred to the deaths of innocent children and others in the Oklahoma City bombing as “collateral damage”.
There is little difference between the McVeighs of this world and leaders of a societal system that create a corporate structure that simply views the death of the Gulf of Mexico as “collateral damage” in the ever elusive pursuit of profits. Make no mistake about it; such is the view of those corporations that seek to continue to provide fossil fuel energy regardless of the impossible to total cost in lives and life styles for the folks and environmental resources that are sacrificed.
The answer is, per the popular song, my friend is “blowing on the wind.” The question remains: “When will they ever learn?”' - anonymous

BP did it on purpose. Plot: spend one or two billion on rigged spill in Gulf; politics leads to opening Alaska's previously protected zones (Anwar) to drilling, resulting in up to a half-trillion dollars in oil. LIKELIHOOD: slim

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Looks Like

It looks like forces hostile to the U.S. switched from terrorism to the deliberate attempt to bankrupt the country. Using bribery, the strategy is similar to the old Soviet concept that America will sell them the rope they use to hang us. Meanwhile, the fascist forces have been fantasizing about Ayn Rand, and, seeing themselves as modern day John Galts, have joined forces with the Bin Ladens of the world to drive us to our doom.

Using fundamentalism here in the U.S. similarly to the way the Saudis and the Bushes and Cheney use Al Qaeda, certain forces are put into play using people such as Murdoch, etc. The rise of teaparty idiocracy gums up the works, allowing certain acts of corporate terrorism to occur: deliberate crashing of the markets by corrupt financial leveragers after skimming vast amounts of money placed in offshore accounts,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fragments from the Past

I remember the one that almost got away from us one night. Down near the Mexican border. At around midnight. It started kicking and I told the hands to "get ready to shut her in." On orders from the engineer, they didn't try to kill it until the "mud kicked up to the crown" (top of the rig) - that was his order before he turned over and went back to sleep - and when it did, I told the hands to shut her in AND THEY HAD NOT GOTTEN READY. They had to charge up a big compressed-air tank to power the rams. I never spent a longer 15 minutes as it kicked several more times. Meanwhile they were adding weight to the mud, and I was afraid some higher zones would succumb to the added weight, so I made them add lost-circulation material too. It was the right thing to do. And they shut it in (finally!) and began circulating under pressure and all was well.


The students, myself among them, were given a cheap edition of a book. The book was printed on poor quality paper, and had both instructions for the exam and the coded text, which was in normal English yet seemed like normal course material. It was not. In the text were placed occasional plastic three-dimensional pieces affixed to the pages, with inscrutable colored stripes and squares on each piece, which were of various sizes akin to the "houses" and "hotels" one sees in the board game Monopoly. I was reminded of the color codes of electronics components such as resistors, capacitors, etc., a code I have never learned.

Several blocks of text were repeated in a different font. This was part of the code, too. The book instructed that the final analysis should contain sufficient footnotes. It contained numerous footnotes itself, all inscrutable.

Included was a list of various flavors of ice cream the students were instructed to buy and taste. This too was part of the coded clues to decipher. The code seemed monstrously complicated and difficult.

There was a long line to get the ice cream, and I fretted that I had wasted time waiting. While in line, I reviewed some general University policies, and saw in a footnote: "¹ Students should be aware that some courses are not required for graduation despite being listed as required courses." I thought some government policy had forced them to reveal this. After I acquired my ice cream samples, I saw I could have saved much time by simply walking around to the back of the purchasing area, a mere extra block by sidewalk.

I fretted about all the footnotes required on the final exam to a friend, who chided me that professionals are expected to use footnotes and that students are expected to become professionals. I ate the ice cream and identified the flavors without enjoyment. I had no idea how to decipher the code but had to hope that I could make some progress later.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More More Malt

Recently made some chili, as I noted in a previous post. Having one of those bottles of Malta Goya on hand, and being familiar with the practice of using beer as the added liquid in some chili recipes, and also being familiar with a bit of sugar in some recipes to balance the bitterness of large amounts of hot chilies, which I do love, I decided to use the malty sweet barley drink as base of that particular batch. All I can say is, it was perfect.

More posts about malt in cooking.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Trip to Lemuria

Sqirlz morph

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chimp Man

(Here's part of a letter I wrote to Jeremy Jones, an associate of Xiberpix, the maker of the fine program Sqirlz Morph, which I use in making some of my art.)

Thanks for your comments. You are not the first to claim the images unsettling, including other artists, so I thought I would explain (it is past time to do so, I see!)

My impression is that actual animal-human hybrids are impossible by the nature of DNA, and even if possible, unethical for many reasons, at least until some future transformation of ourselves into a far kinder and gentler and knowledgeable human race. If the pictures merely suggest some future human body-modification fad for aesthetic reasons, what will be will be, and I suppose some will be shocked, likely for similar reasons I'll outline:

If you will notice, many of the pictures involve threatened species. My goal is to suggest we extend our sympathy and protection to these creatures to a further extent which many withhold at present, seeing a boundary of compassion beyond which they will not extend their identifications.

I would love to show elephants, for example, as more co-equal to us. I can't figure out how to deal with the trunk, unless I get into 3-D which I have not done. See this article on elephant intelligence, for example.

If I'm successful, this disturbing feeling will prompt some to ponder their obligations towards other life here on our planet. That's what I hope. As an artist I don't want to simply shock, although plenty of people do like to be shocked and astounded simply for the sake of excitement, so I can't complain.

Also, some of the pictures seem so far fetched I regard them as merely possible beings from other planets. I am a science fiction reader.

A few are just for fun. The "cat wolf" pleased me because I think he's beautiful.

Thanks for prompting me to write this.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Why Love Wikipedia?

My love affair with Wikipedia grows more with time. I suppose everyone is familiar with the problems of Wikipedia: the vandalism, the impossibility of seriously citing it as an authoritative source, the risk of well-intentioned - or otherwise - misinformation presented as truth.

In the 1970s my parents bought Encyclopedia Britannica. I was on my own then, but I did move back in with them a couple of times during the '70s and like my father had discovered, I could lose myself for hours at a time reading almost randomly in the volumes. I suspect my mother, no intellectual slouch (quite the contrary), was more focused, and would go to them with more specific goals in mind.

Such an investment was out of my reach. And it was out of the reach of about every one of my peers. I never met anyone my age who had a set that I knew of. We mostly went to college and had information coming out of our ears; too much to idly seek general knowledge very often. And of course I was a reader of fiction. Wonderful fiction.

For a long time also I've been aware of a sort of textbook mafia. In college one is of course appalled at the price of textbooks, and one reads of the big companies that seem to control the public school textbook market too. (No doubt private schools buy from the same sources as well.)
Lobbyists, state boards, salespeople: all jacking up the prices for books. And the university-oriented periodicals: $50 - $100 a year for a single subscription to any advanced journal in any field.

Until Wikipedia, there was only one alternative: a drive to the closest university library. Which I did on occasion when my profession indicated. Later came the interlibrary loan system, in which the community libraries promised to get me any book I desired. I confess I never took much advantage of this, for several reasons: a reference book is not much use when one has only a month or so to peruse it. And I tend to be hard on books. I read while eating, while at the beach, where dogs and children jump on me, even in the tub. It's not responsible citizenship to ruin a public book.

And the news archives. Looking up something that I saw in the newspaper years before required another drive to the public library and getting comfortable with the microfilm reader machine. I did that some, too. Even just for idle curiosity; if something nagged at my mind enough and I knew I could find out by viewing the archives, I'd go down there and look.

Wikipedia also appeals to my understanding of the circumstances of people in the wider world. Textbooks are even more expensive, relative to poverty, for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Wikipedia, for all its flaws, is revolutionary: nowadays, for the cost one tenth of a single set of encyclopedias, (a small reader) offers access to far more general knowledge than ever before.

The same philosophy also leads me to support the "$100 laptop," the Kindle, and all the various lower cost clones of these.

My own pleasure in simply finding stuff out is, of course, why I started my other website More Best of Wikipedia.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Other Website

My new website has temporarily taken some of my motivation away from this one. I apologize to my regular readers. Most will sympathize with the fascination I have found on at least some of these other topics, whether chosen by me or by the (former?) author of Best of Wikipedia which I linked on a sidebar of my own new site, More Best of Wikipedia. Hey, I think I'll link to them from here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Let Them Eat Snakes

The Food Network has decided to broadcast "competitive cooking" for much of its entire programming day. This is colossally stupid.

Competitive cooking was fun, new, and freakish the first few times because it was rare. But doing it all the time is wrong on several levels.

Cooking is peaceful, intelligent, sentimental, delicious, interesting, primal, and fun. Often honest. Not a competition. Competitive cooking is almost a parody of what the stereotypical "moronic male" would do to a cooking channel: ruin it.

And then there are the cakes. I can't stand the shows about these cakes. These horrible, horrible cakes, made out of sugar and industrial foodlike substances. Every cake is a monument to the systematic denial of food to a starving child somewhere overseas. True abomination.

So to Hell with the Food Network, and I mean that literally.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Nic Cage as Flo the Progressive Insurance Girl

Of course this is a submission to the strange site "Nic Cage as Everyone."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Posole - Corny Story Part II

When I first made hominy and then masa dough for tamales out of the hominy (see Corny Story), I had fun and it was delicious. Not wanting to trek around in strangers' cornfields, this time I sought a source of dried field corn for sale close to home.

I made a few calls and couldn't find any wholesale yellow corn for sale. Finally I recalled that a local outfit sold corn stoves, and I called them and they said they had 50 lb. bags of corn for fuel. I meant to go by there and get some.

But the other day at the hardware store, the real old one that has outlasted the pressures imposed by the Home Depot and Lowes, I was getting my purchases together and noticed a man inquiring about the "deer corn" they sold. So I said I'd get a 50 lb. bag of it. The price was $10. Note that comes out to 20 cents per pound, which is a whole lot less than a pound of corn flakes, for instance, and a lot less than a pound of masa meal. And then I heard the other customer gripe that he didn't want a whole fifty pounds. "I'll split it with you," I offered and he quickly agreed. We asked for a bag and got a trash bag from the proprietor, and I had a stronger bag in my truck. Jay (we shook hands and introduced ourselves) and I split it up in front of the hardware store. He said he lived down in South Carolina and wanted it for luring deer so his family could bag some venison.

Back home, I called the company in Georgia that wholesaled it, and told a lady I was a writer doing an experiment making hominy and if it was safe to eat (I figured it was, but there are overturned trucks on the interstate, and salvage operations, or resales after freak contamination events and things like that, and I wanted to be sure.) She was interested and called me back after telling her bosses about my request, telling me they assured her it was safe to eat, it being just corn.

I took about a half gallon and rinsed it well, and began soaking it. I changed the water a couple of times and let it soak about 28 hours. Then I made hominy. And like last time, it took longer than the internet sources I read said it would. Simmered in lime water, then another soak overnight in it, and next morning it was still tough so I began simmering it again. I had to add water two more times; it kept swelling above the waterline in my big stainless steel pot. Finally I had to transfer it to the Big Pot, my new four-gallon stainless steel baby. After another two or three hours simmering it was done. Then I rinsed it and rinsed it, removing the limewater.

I have to note that my hominy still had the skins attached. There was one article that said you could cut the little cob end off each grain by hand and they'd come off easier. Yeah, right! But I didn't take them off last time and it was still good then.

Then, following this recipe at one of my favorite food sites, Homesick Texan, I made posole, a Mexican pork and hominy soup. I used bacon and pork loin cubes instead of pork shoulder and ham hock. Everything else was the same. Delicious! The soup was so flavorful I added more hominy than she did and it was just right. I served it with julienned scallions and cilantro.

Here's the leftover hominy, soon to be ground into masa dough for tamales in a few days. It should keep in the refrigerator for a week. It's hard to tell but each of these grains is about twice as wide as it originally was.

Update 5-5-10 The chewyness of the unseparated corn hulls finally got to me, as I froze several servings separately and reheated later. However, this has led me to re-introduce myself to several brands of store-bought hominy such as Bush's, and theirs is very good. I'll save the homemade for when the Apocalypse comes around, or find a correct corn variety (more likely, as the first time I made hominy it was better.) In any case, I liquefied the last batch of thawed-out posole in my blender and made a fine chili out of it, adding in the extra ingredients along with ground beef. Sure made a great chili.

Update 2: August 2010 I haven't made it clear, but the first time I did this using the field corn I picked myself, I had a better result. The deer corn was of lower quality overall. This taught me the difference between low- and high-quality dried corn, anyway. Next time, I'll go for some field corn from a local guy who has agreed to hook me up with some of his own he grows.