Saturday, August 18, 2012

Who Killed Cock Robin?

The Swiftboat SEALs for Truth or whatever, got me thinking. Those egotists have it wrong: 'tweren't the SEALs, it was the people who made their weapons that did in old bin Laden. The SEALs just pulled the trigger. (All this will ignore that the SEALs apparently were so scared of bogeyman Osama that one of them wet his pants and pulled the trigger just by coming face-to-face with the unarmed old fart, thereby losing the chance to interrogate one excellent source of intel for the actual War on Terra itself.)

So shortly after we cede credit to the assault weapon maker - assembler Madge, a temp making $13.50 in Mississippi, we will realize that actually Madge had nothing to do with it either: it was the one who made the bullets who is actually responsible. After some effort we will discover it was Madge's cousin Billy, in a small Pensacola company, who runs the automated bullet-making machine - a robot, actually; Billy just sort of watches it work - but which will lead us all to realize that it was really the robot that killed bin Laden.

Or to be more exact, the owners of the Singapore-based robot-making factory - Bain Capital Management.

(Who did kill Cock Robin?)

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I think it is simplistic to view a country as a monolithic entity with a national ego. And since we are Americans one might think we would avoid this cognitive pitfall easier, as we generally according to our creed support respect for people as individuals and not as vast Marxist tidal epiphenomena.

I assume this viewpoint, while possibly being arcane to the political domestic publicity narrative, is well understood at basic preliminary levels of diplomatic work. So I view Pakistan as a country like many others, that has a sort of percentage of support for me and my nation's interests. The things where win-win situations apply, or are acquirable. There are negative views of the U.S.; we just wish them to be small percentages of real sentiment.

It is apparent that we have common interests with some responsible people in Pakistan, and I for one appreciate them and that we can work together.

I will continue to point out that public poseurs suggesting treating another country like a fantasy entity are foolish and should not be countenanced.

I am equally certain that no one will really take note of this pathetic fallacy, and we will be subjected to a never-ending  assortment of "Moscow thinks," "China wants," even "IBM feels," etc., for as long as the wind blows.

Nut Too Bad

My first shot at homemade peanut butter was sort of comedic: I set aside half the so-called "roasted" in-the-shell peanuts I bought, and shelled half, then convinced myself somehow that I had finished the whole bag. "Huh" I thought, "not many peanuts once I've shelled them!" So since I did not think they had been roasted enough before I bought them,  I roasted the shelled nuts once more in a little oil (have no idea if this helped or hurt) and they were not all that good, but passable. I salted them a bit when they got out of the toaster oven. So I added too much canola oil but made passable peanut butter (gave the old blender a real workout, so I got the texture right) and then cheated by adding exactly an equal amount of regular peanut butter from a jar. The advantage is it's now half as sweet, which is good. I had a spoonful at breakfast, plain on the spoon. Good.
I guess I will shell the rest of the peanuts and see what else happens.

And so I did. My peanut-shelling technique took some development, and includes four separate bowls and an oblong pan to work with. The shells go for compost, of course. All the red skins had to go, too. I was left with a pan of mostly half-nuts. I wished it was a windy day to winnow them but it was not.

This time I heated an iron skillet on the stove, let it stabilize in a 375 degree F. oven, and toasted the peanuts checking often and opening the oven and stirring with a wooden spoon.

Nuts are strange things when toasted, I swear they exotherm and generate their own heat: that they are undergoing  a sort of low-temperature combustion. Most writers note that nuts continue to roast even when they are removed from the oven or toasting. True. In any case, once I determined they were done, I began aggressively cooling them three or four minutes after I took them out; dividing them into two cold pans and touching the bottoms of those pans into cool water. Stop auto-toasting, you nuts!

So I decided since I had indeed earlier created a fine smooth blend, I folded into the existing product the new batch of peanuts, unsalted this time, and un-oiled, and the blender made a crunchy version. It would easily have chopped them into paste so there are no too-large pieces. Looks like professional work to me.

And now it has only 1/3 commercial peanut butter. Since I'm grown up, it still tastes nicely sweet to me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Canine Capers

My dog has arthritis and it hurts sometimes; she twists her elbow the wrong way and yelps in pain. We are glad those days are rare, but she gets a narcotic pain pill the vet dispensed for just such occasions when she cries. Last night.

Then as I was just trying to get some shuteye, the dogs erupted in outrage, barking from indoors and my neighbor came out and I did too and we spotted a coyote she pointed out, and I ran in and grabbed my BIG HUGELY OVERPOWERED flashlight. (I recommend these.)

Thence, shining my OH MY GOD IT'S BRIGHTER THAN ANY I'VE SEEN light, I spied that the coyote had a partner! Two coyotes! Who slinked away, and I confess they were not so frightened as to run. Hmmph. I need a bigger flashlight. 40, 50 million candlepower, I'm thinking. My only neighbor went inside.

In all the excitement, my dog heads outside the gate and barks and goes on patrol. Oh great.

I call, I beg, entreat, implore. No dice. I of course am thinking if she doesn't come back, she'll succumb to the narcotic pain pill, and pass out, and the coyotes will eat her. She's stepping away at a fair rate trying to get away from Dad, me. Of all the nights she ought to definitely sleep inside on a Carolina evening, this would be the night.

I had to go chase her down in my night clothes. You don't want to know.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


One of the things the internet was going to do for us was make shopping easier. Thus, every time I forget what I already know and try to shop for anything, starting with Google, I am reminded yet again how clumsy the so-called advertising is.

It is strangely difficult for me to find a price for an item advertised on Google. Or rather, an item I'm looking for. I get plenty of stuff for sale with prices listed for stuff I did not search for, and don't want.

Let's give it a try: I enter this in Google. (Granted, I don't usually search like this but I figured, let's make a new start and see what pops up.) "where do I buy 50 lbs of dried green peas?"

First I hit the third and fifth sites listed. (The fourth site listed was the same as the third (?) so when the third failed, I went on.) I got a blank page with a sidebar and some categories.

The fifth site I didn't get to: it took me to a picture of dried peas only, and for some reason shrank my browser window to the size of the photo. Weird.

So I tried site one and two, which are highlighted in pink. I got a site selling "16 gallon jugs" of dried green peas for "$359.96" Hmm. That's a lot. It really seems very close to the rate paid per pound at th local grocery retail store. But how much really? So I set about trying to figure out how much space a pound of dried green peas takes up. I know the little one pound bags are about a cup and a half... So, I asked Google to help me find the density of dried green peas! I went back to Google and typed "how much does a gallon of peas weigh?" and got a crowd-sourced site which informed me thusly:  How much does 5 gallons of dried peas weigh? Answer: About 600 grams. 

This is, of course, absolutely wrong. On the moon, maybe. Not on my planet. Okay, and not only am I sucked in to this futility, before we say goodbye permanently to the site with the 16 gallon jugs of peas, let us note that this is the picture they thoughtfully provided. You can see, of course, that it is not a 16 gallon jug of peas. It is a sort of generic "peas in a jug" photo. I'm starting to suspect they don't have any 16 gallon jugs like this jug. (If they do, of course I want one. For the jug.)

And here we go! Site #6 rules! Here, finally we succeed! (I'm a bit surprised - this never happens! Rockin' good news!) "
$38.95 per carton (50 lbs). $0.78 per Pound

Friday, May 25, 2012

Department of Shameless Theft

Here is one of my favorite archy and mehitabel poems:

the lesson of the moth
By Don Marquis, in “archy and mehitabel,” 1927

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires
why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense
plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves
and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity
but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Funds of Funds

Spread the bad tranches - dilute, dilute!
Praise the wise traders - salute, salute!
We'll call ourselves shrewd,
(Tho' the emperor's nude)
And a percent commission
Will turn into two!
Tho the umbrella's shredded,
(T'was never repaired)
The fox in the hen house
Says "Don't fear the bears,
"'Twon't rain again soon,
Bears promise they're fair!"
And foxes and bears why they're cute, they're cute!
With their odd little smiles and gold parachutes.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Part the Second, where we find out the fate of Corky the Yorkie.

I recently mentioned to Corky's erstwhile human that I had questions about his fate. She related the following:

As Corky was inherited by the people who took over the country estate, and the only remaining animal compadre of Corky was a Russian blue cat, who had come to the house later on than Corky, he did finally achieve Alpha dog status, though with a severely reduced empire, the aforementioned cat being pretty much it. And the land itself, of course, but any empire without subjects is no empire at all, really, so the cat was it.

My friend noted, though, that Corky and the cat had been quite close. Perhaps too much so, in my view, as I will relate.

When my friend was still there with her full menagerie, it at any given time included a cornucopia of species, including parrots and macaws (and once a duck living with them in the outdoor habitat), dogs, of course, the occasional python kept for friends, a tortoise, an iguana, a hog, several goats, etc. I'm positive I'm leaving out a lot. As an example, I once opened a bureau drawer to find hedgehogs. I was unsurprised although I had no previous awareness that she had hedgehogs.

Anyway, she told me the story of how she became friends with a fellow at the local grocery who kept the waste produce for her and would come by a couple of times a week to chat and deliver the animal chow. The fellow was African American and it happened he had a white wife, and my friend suspected that in rural South Carolina their social life might be circumscribed somewhat by the local mores, so she invited the couple to socialize over there at some future time (which did come about later.) But just as she told the man, "We don't much care around here what body people are born in," a goat attempted to mount at that moment one of the hogs. Goats' reputations are deserved, but at that instant Corky too was seized by a transport of interspecies lust and mounted the cat, who apparently and perversely had for some sporadic past occasions also, submitted to Corky's overtures to the point of actual consummation.

"I was afraid he (the visitor) would think he had stumbled into some sort of nightmarish Dr. Moreau situation," she noted to me.

At that point of course I could do nothing but laugh until tears flowed, and that was fine because the story was over.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


A while back, when making some kabobs, I was preparing to soak the bamboo skewers. This is to stop them from catching fire on the grill, obviously.

Suddenly I realized I could soak them instead in some coconut milk I had on hand, and so I did. I soaked the skewers a long time and then went ahead and altered my recipe by brushing the kabobs with the coconut milk and then seasoned them. Very good; and as time went on I came up with a list of different things one can soak the skewers in. I like to soak them at least two hours before making the kabobs, so they will actually get wet. So here are a few suggestions:

Soy sauce, coconut milk, citrus juice (lime, lemon, orange), pineapple juice.

Obviously lots of people make their kabobs first and then marinate them like this, and the marinade will flavor the skewers. Just not as much as the pure thing.

One of my favorite recipes is the following:

Soak the skewers - start in the morning - submerged in pineapple juice.
Pork cubes, seasoned with soy sauce, a little salt.
I cut an onion into kabob-worthy (thin - one layer of the onion, about 1" square) pieces, then lightly caramelize them beforehand.
Pineapple chunks.
One piece of peach flesh per kabob, in the center.

The key here is pre-caramelizing the onions. Extremely delicious, and by breaking down the cell walls, allows the moisture in the onion to prevent charring of the outside of the onion, too.

I assemble the kabobs like so: piece of pork, thin piece of onion, piece of pineapple. onion, pork, onion, pineapple, etc. I pack them pretty tight. Again, the piece of peach goes right in the center.