talon: (Default)
( Jun. 6th, 2011 10:54 am)


This is not a fun article to read. It is even less fun because it is current news and not a report of things back in the 1700's or 1800's, when people who were different often had fewer rights.

Read more... )

talon: (Default)
( Jun. 1st, 2011 10:16 am)


Then perhaps we should look into why food costs so much, and why we are unwilling to feed our children healthy foods.

We fed generations of school children on cheap crap foods that we wouldn't even give feed lot animals, so it's small wonder they think these high sodium, bad fat filled, artificially enhanced, mechanically produced foods are OK to feed children.

Spam and fries every day!

talon: (Default)
( May. 27th, 2011 01:31 pm)

I forgot the buns! What a bad hostess I would be!

I'd have poppy seed buns, sesame seed buns, pumpernickel buns, pretzel buns, sourdough buns, potato buns, and swirly peter maxx buns.

talon: (Default)
( May. 27th, 2011 01:25 pm)

Hot dogs, to be precise.

I want to have a Dog Party. It may be a while before I can afford to do this (mostly because I have a long way to go to organize my house and get it tidy enough for visitors...)

It would be buffet style, and it would have more than one "dog": Hebrew Nationals, chicken, bison, rabbit, andouille, lamb, Italian sausage, duck sausage, spam strips, breakfast links, falafel strips, tofu strips (aka koelnerwurst), bratwurst, jagdwurst, mettwurst, kangaroo snags, and Glamorgan sausages.

There would be a wide variety of dressings: yellow mustard, german mustard, Dijon, mayonnaise, dijonnaise, baconnaise, sriracha aioli, wasabi aioli, dill mustard, tarragon mustard, marinara sauce, creole mustard, horseradish sauce, pesto, cucumber yogurt, ketchup, chipotle ketchup, bloody mary ketchup, and ranch dressing.

Of course there would be a wide variety of toppings, too: Bavarian kraut, Berliner kraut, Hoeckleheimer kraut, caramelized onions, crispy fried onion shreds, chopped onions, pico de gallo, avocado, chopped apples, chopped bell peppers, tomato wedges, chopped tomatoes, shredded romaine, sliced turkey, sardines, crumbled bacon, mushrooms, scrambled eggs, fried okra (I won't eat it, but I know those who will...), dill relish, sweet pickle relish, corn relish, pineapple relish, shredded carrots, diced celery, roasted peppers, diced hot pepper relish, provolone, pepper jack, sharp cheddar, feta, brie, gouda, swiss, pickle spears, baked beans, chili, vegetarian chili, cole slaw, asian slaw, german potato salad, American potato salad, crushed Fritos, crispy potato sticks, bean sprouts, radish and alfalfa sprouts, grilled pepperonis, and broccoli slaw.

The dogs wouldn't be complete without a goodly choice of seasonings: pepper sauce, Tabasco sauce, celery salt, pepper, red salt, black salt, white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, dill weed, paprika, nigella, sumac, za'atar, caraway seeds, cumin, mahlab, lemon pepper, thyme, cardamom, and cloves.

And of course, sides: potato salads, coleslaws, fries, baked beans, salad wedges, onion rings, mac and cheese, grilled cabbage and vidalias, and guacamole.

All this requires drinks: sober sangrias, lemonade, cherry limeade, Tang, mint juleps, margaritas, and locally brewed beers.

I'd also need a buttload of people to eat all of this....

Truth is, if I actually do a Dog Party, it probably won't be near so expansive a spread. But I can wish...

talon: (Default)
( May. 19th, 2011 09:00 am)

I am not a believer in Doomsday prophecies.

That said, I live my life as if every day is both the very last day of my life and the very first day of the rest of my life.

I keep my affairs in order, my debt low, and an inventory of all I have so if I die and no one else does, whoever has to deal with my estate (such as it is) just needs to follow the step-by-step instructions I left behind. If everyone in the world dies at the same time, there won't be anyone to follow the instructions and that's OK because there won't be anyone to be the recipients of all that stuff.

And if the doomsday passes without the world ending - I will still have a life and the things I need to live it comfortably and happily.

And all of that said - when a doomsday prophecy gets really huge - like the one that is predicted for this Saturday, my instincts are to play with it.

Not, mind you, with the people who sincerely believe the world will end then. They have my respect for committing so deeply to their beliefs. I just don't happen to share them. And since the core group of believers is far, far away, I can indulge in my whimsy.

Of course, I'll probably get in trouble, but hey, you're never too old to do silly, crazy, funny things.

I am going with a group of people and we are going to arrange clothing we got at the thrift stores and garage sales on sidewalks as if people had been pulled up to the heavens right from where they stood - shoes, stockings, undies, outerwear...purses and wallets and all the trappings. We're using discarded invalid IDs and adding pocket and purse things to make it seem more real. And most of these will be placed near churches and parks because around here, those are the places mostly likely to have sidewalks.

Since it's supposed to happen at 6 pm, we'll arrange them around then.

And then we'll take pictures and clean up.

And because we're equal opportunity pranksters, we'll include dog leashes and collars and even a few dog T-shirts or bandanas. Maybe a few cat collars, too.

talon: (Default)
( May. 16th, 2011 10:25 am)


I never used a stroller.

At that time, people said I was a bad parent for not using one.

I carried my children when they were babies, and once they were old enough to walk, I let them walk. I put them in a dog harness and leash so they would wander off too far or get lost, but walk they did. And when they got tired, I carried them.

At the zoo, the park, and the Book Sale, they rode in a wagon. In fact, we were responsible for the trend of zoos renting wagons out to patrons with children because in a wagon, we could load all the kids, an ice chest, and snacks. The children could get in and out easily, walking when they wanted and riding when they tired, and it was so much easier to deal with than strollers for multiple children. It was easier to maneuver, and the kids could use it to stand up in for better looks at things. The wagon held things and kids so much better!

I never did like strollers.

talon: (Default)
( May. 16th, 2011 09:21 am)


Here's a radical suggestion - why not make the car tags we have to buy annually BE the road tax - that's what these tags were originally created to pay for and I think they should return to that. Base it on the weight of the vehicle and that will be the tax for as long as the car is driven, regardless of its age.

Or add a road use tax to tires - the less a car is driven, the longer the tires last, therefore the less that person will pay in road taxes. A person who drives a lot will buy tires more often, thus paying more in road taxes. This will also be an incentive to take better care of tires (proper inflation, proper brake use, and all) which will reduce gas use and extend the life of the car as well as the roads.

Fuel is already at the maximum tax consumers can afford to pay. Adding an expensive-to-implement mileage tax on top of that when we already have these other, better, tax venues available. In order to implement a miles-driven tax, devices will have to be installed in cars to track those miles and then devices have to be installed on fuel tanks to calculate those miles and there's room for all kinds of defects and errors in this when simply adding a tax to tires - already rated for set numbers of miles - has far less room for errors and defects and if a tire is defective, the consumer has recourse which we don't have with these electronic or computerized devices added to cars and gas pumps.

Return the car tags back to being the road use tax it originally was and add a tax to the purchase of tires and problem solved - simply, inexpensively, and with very little room for defects and errors.

Even the electric cars have to buy car tags and tires, so this tax would be evenly applied to everyone - no cried of "unfair!"

So, McCain is flip-flopping, and it seems no one cares?

In 2008, McCain voted against a bill that would have banned waterboarding as an interrogation technique - in spite of massive American protests against our country becoming a country that condones torture (I was among the many who wrote to protest it, marched to protest it, and was thoroughly ignored) and in spite of his own spoken position that he believed waterboarding was torture. He flip-flopped then, and he's flip-flopping again.

Now, he says waterboarding and other forms of "enhanced interrogation techniques" did not lead to the location of bin Laden or his death - that we Americans tortured all those people for nothing.

I have never approved of torture as a means of collecting information. I've spoken up against allowing our citizens (uniformed or not) to torture anyone in the pursuit of gaining information, and now I feel slightly vindicated and sick that I was right.

The sick comes from feeling I should have done more, said more, written more emails and letters and articles, protested more. And yet, would it have done any good? That is what feeds the sick feeling. No matter how loudly I spoke, how often, would it have mattered? Would anyone have listened to me?

Our politicians have stopped listening to us, their employers and constituents.

Is tere any way we can use this to make them listen to us once again? The way they are supposed to? They are supposed to represent us, to be our voice - and for too long, we've let them think we vote for them because we want to hear their voice override ours.

talon: (Default)
( May. 11th, 2011 10:53 am)

For the 4th straight year, we are getting deep budget cuts. We're getting hit with a 7% budget cut on top of the 8% one we got in January (and no guarantee we won't get another cut later in the year) and the 22% total budget cuts we got last year...and the year before, and the year before. How do they expect us to operate with such severe budget restrictions? We're already doing furloughs and workloughs and have taken pay cuts and had more of our personal pay taken to cover "benefits" we can't afford to use and laid off 1/3 of our staff.

The departments that got the hardest hits: the Secretary of State - eliminated, the Human Rights Commission - eliminated, Consumer Credit Protection - 38%, Judicial Complaints Commission - 67%, OK Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs - 33%, OSSM - 15%, Fire Marshal - 9%, Indigent Defense - 9%, Civil Emergency Management - 8%, Merit Protection - 7%, Ethics Commission - 5%, Libraries - 7%, Arts Council - 9%. Odd how it's the agencies that protect the citizens the most and provide the most benefits that took the greatest hits.

And the ones that benefit rich people got increases: Corporation Commission - up 15%, Supreme Court - up 12%, Senate and House - up 7% - those stand out because they are the only ones to see budget increases.

talon: (Default)
( May. 11th, 2011 09:05 am)

Dragonfruit is pretty. I'd happily grow the cactus for the fruit - did you know it flowers under the moon and if not pollinated, dies and produces no fruit? The sun is too harsh for the delicate flower, but gives the fruit its vivid coloring.

Sadly, dragonfruit isn't much of anything once you get under the skin. It's mild, and timid, and no amount of coaxing will embolden it. It's easily overwhelmed by other fruit flavors, but florals tend to complement it - rose, violet, lavender. But not too much, because even these delicate florals can dominate the mild, mild dragonfruit.

It's pretty, though. The pulp is a milky white with soft black seeds, very Goth looking. It's a good fruit for a zombie - all looks and not much else.

You really want dragonfruit to be spectacular, to wow your tastebuds as much as it does your eyebuds.

But it doesn't. it's not even all that nutritionally good, just - blah.

But rambutan - rambutan are pretty and bees love rambutan, and the fruit is sweet and mildly acidic, like grapes. It makes for a delicious jelly and a fine pie or fruit for a bread where one would use fresh grapes.

talon: (Default)
( May. 11th, 2011 08:12 am)

If society gave every adult the right to kill just one adult without any penalties, who do you think would be the first one to kill you?

Oh, my bad. I guess I should be asking which one person would you want to kill and do you think they'd stay alive long enough for you to be the one to make the kill?

More importantly, would you actually kill someone just because you could? Would you use up your free kill as quickly as possible? Or would you wait until someone truly worthy of death came along?

Do you think you'd regret the quick kill and be frustrated when someone more - worthy, I guess - came along and you had no free kill left? Would you kill that second time?

Would you go to your own grave never having made that free kill?

How many other people do you think would refrain from killing?

Would religions spring up helping people to make the right kill choice?

Would there be anti-killing groups trying to push no-kill legislation?

Would there be no-kill towns or communities?

Would people living in a no-kill community conspire to drive someone they disliked into a kill zone?

Would the legal age of adult rise to provide younger adults time to contribute to society and gain experience and skills?

Would senior citizens form death stalking clubs?

This whole line of thought sprang from a headline that said "man executed for murder of 4 people" and wondered if he was being executed because he exceeded his bag limit.

And yes, I know how terrible that sounds, but I was also thinking about gardening, composting, and hunting when I read that headline and this chain of thought just seemed natural to me.

And having written out all these questions, I have this story idea forming. A couple of characters are nattering in the back of my head, just beyond audible range, and I'm seeing this society through its obit pages...

talon: (Default)
( May. 10th, 2011 12:35 pm)

I have no idea who wrote this (no link!), but it is worth sharing and if I do learn who wrote it, I will edit this post to reflect that.

It appeared as a quote in a DKOS Cheers and Jeers diary.

GOP Bill Targets Children, Goobers
WASHINGTON---In a move that has enraged childrens groups and their supporters, House Republicans plan to introduce legislation that, if passed, would literally allow lawmakers to take candy from a baby.
The Juvenile Confection Freedom Enhancement Act would allow members of Congress to legally confiscate Tootsie Pops, Runts, Milk Duds, holiday candy, Everlasting Gobstoppers, Skittles, Razzles and other sweets that would appear on a new federal Yummy Watch List.
House Speaker John Boehner made the announcement yesterday. "We're bored to death talking about jobs, and we're not making much headway separating seniors from their Medicare," he said. "But it's pretty hard to screw up taking a lollipop from a two-year-old."
The law would apply to all children up to age four, Boehner said, with exemptions for certain older children. "If a youngster appears capable of fighting back, either alone or by assembling a posse of pals brandishing dodgeballs, we'll look the other way out of self-preservation," he said. When asked what he would do with the confiscated candy, Boehner said he intended to store it on a really high shelf in his office.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), the primary author of the bill, said it was originally targeted at keeping candy out of the hands of so-called "terror babies."<http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/08/rep-louie-gohmerts-terror-baby-meltdown> As more co-sponsors signed on---224 so far---the parameters changed, he said. "Walking up to a child and seizing his candy dovetails nicely with the spirit of our party. If we can't take health care away from old people, we'll take Heath Bars away from kids. It produces the same kind of endorphin rush, anyway."
The current draft contains exemptions for children of Republican members of Congress and the unborn. "But once the umbilical cord's cut, the Kool-Aid in their sippy cups is fair game," said co-sponsor Virginia Foxx (R-NC).
The response from juvenile advocacy groups was swift and fierce. "They'll have to pry these Sour Patch Kids from my warm, soft, tiny and adorable child hands," said Wendell Petersmith, 4, of the Center for American Num Nums.
"Just wait until we become eligible to vote," added Natalie Woolich, 6, of the advocacy group Candyless Grocery Store Checkout Counters NO! "In a dozen years, their days in office will be numbered."
A vote in the House is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. If approved, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to send the bill on a path of gumdrops to the Senate floor for a vote. "I look forward to letting America see just which Republicans are willing to lay a finger on our childrens' Butterfingers," he said.
President Obama has promised to veto the legislation if the Juvenile Confection Freedom Enhancement Act reaches his desk. He had no immediate comment, as his mouth was full of Raisinettes.

talon: (Default)
( May. 10th, 2011 09:36 am)

I do still want this book: Modernist Cuisine," by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Billet (The Cooking Lab, 2011; 2,438 pages in six volumes; $625, but the price is well out of my reach. I can only hope to find it someday in a garage sale or flea market, or perhaps an estate sale where the family knows nothing of the value of this set of books.

Or perhaps I will find them at a Friends of the Library Sale, one volume at a time, as I've collected other series of cookbooks.

But it will be a few years before that happens.

talon: (Default)
( May. 10th, 2011 08:55 am)

If you want to get up before sunrise (or haven't gone to bed yet), Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Mars will be visible without magnifying devices. Uranus and Neptune will be visible with binoculars or a small telescope.

This is the alignment that is presumably predicted for the End Of The World, either May 21, 2012 or December 21, 2012.

According to astronomers, this alignment of planets will not be made at any point next year.

Does this mean the end of the world is upon us right this minute?


So, what does this mean?

Only that these planets appear to be aligned when viewed from Earth. They aren't really aligned at all, not like 1979, when Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune actually were aligned. NASA took stupendous advantage of that knowledge and built and sent out Voyagers 1 and 2, which provided us with a trove of data that has yet to be duplicated.

Were these planets actually aligned, it would have presented us with another such grand opportunity, but, alas, they aren't.

It's all illusion, just as the end of the world prediction predicated upon this alignment is just illusion.

As one who was raised German, I appreciate a good breakfast. We wouldn't have just one breakfast. No, in my part of Germany, we would have 2 or 3 breakfasts. The first breakfast was tea, coffee, or hot milk with a slice of bread. That bread could be a slice of graubrot, or knackebrot, or even a slice of leftover cake (assuming such a thing existed!). We ate that even before we were fully dressed, as we were putting ourselves together for the day.

Once we were dressed, we'd eat a "real" breakfast. In winter, that would be soup, a slice of meat (usually ham), potatoes (usually fried with an egg, sometimes as potato cakes), and sauerkraut or green beans. In summer, it might be chicken cutlets with berries and asparagus or creamed herring with an onion salad.

Then, we'd get our third breakfast as we left to do chores or go to school or work - a cup or piece of fruit and bread spread with butter and jelly or nutella, or a twist of sugar so we could dampen the bread and sprinkle the sugar on.

There was very little variation. It was the same thing day after day. We never ate breakfast anywhere but at home, and only with family and the occasional overnight guest.

In America, breakfast is entirely different. At home, it's often a quick thing - a bowl of cold cereal (sometimes hot, and usually instant), or pop tarts or toaster strudels or frozen waffles or pancakes. Breakfast is often eaten away from home, and there are breakfast meetings, and we meet up for breakfast or brunch. The varieties of breakfast foods available in restaurants is breathtaking, especially from a European point of view.

Breakfast buffets with omelets, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, sausages, ham, steak, bacon, pancakes, fruited pancakes, waffles, hash browns, tater tots, toast, French toast, stuffed French toast, fruits and puddings, pound cakes, muffins, biscuits, croissants, Danish pastries, tortilla wraps, salsas, huevos rancheros, eggs benedict, egg mcmuffins, crumpets, butters and jellies, and more are a very American thing. Europeans are constantly thrilled and amazed at our breakfast spreads and the number of people eating them.

And we offer breakfast 24 hours in some places (like IHOP - a restaurant dedicated to breakfast foods - unheard of in Europe). We have restaurants that are only open for breakfast and lunch - also unheard of in Europe, where restaurants are open for dinner, and maybe for lunch, but rarely for breakfast.

Breakfast is the American meal.

talon: (Default)


( May. 9th, 2011 10:10 am)


It's bad enough that I'm not allowed to fly - and what a pain that was going to my son's wedding half a continent away. What should have been a 2 day trip became a grueling 7 day journey by car - now they want to take away my ability to take train trips?

If they keep this up, soon I will be left with going on foot!

I'm already limited to attending conventions where I can travel by train or car in about 10 hours. Trains go farther and faster, giving me a slightly wider range. If our government takes train travel away from me, I'll only have SoonerCon and FenCon.

That's not the reason why I want to do OctopodiCon, but it is certainly a compelling reason to proceed with it.

talon: (Default)
( May. 4th, 2011 10:14 am)


I understand that allowing the gnomes to stay might upset and offend people, but that they were rounded up, imprisoned, and then given to a stranger rather than back to the family bothers me.

Like many other things Obama has done, he made this look too easy.

Saturday night, at the White House Correspondents Dinner, he joked that Trump's reality show decision was the sort of choice that would keep him up at night, and all the while, he had made a decision that was far more gut-wrenching than who to kick off a reality show. You couldn't tell by the ease with which he lounged during the dinner, or the wide smiles and easy joking that he knew what momentous and pivotal event was occurring - by his command - on the other side of the world. You couldn't tell that he was staking America's future on one act with only a handful of people. You couldn't tell that he was staking his own political future on that same act.

And you probably don't realize the incredible degree of timing it took - because May 1, 2003 - 8 years ago to the day - is when Bush flew the "Mission Accomplished" sign and declared that we'd won.

Obama didn't take the easy route, either. He wanted proof that bin Laden was dead and he wanted to reduce any civilian costs. So he took the riskier route, the one that could have cost him a country and a future, the one that reduced the number of deaths to only those that couldn't be avoided.

Instead of engaging in a theatrical and over-the-top publicity stunt, Obama made a solemn speech from the White House, and not once did Obama say or imply that it was "Mission Accomplished".

Because Obama made it look easy, and did things in a calm, understated fashion, his detractors will say - some are already saying! - that it was Bush who accomplished bin Laden's death, the same Bush who dismantled the teams searching for bin Laden in 2006 because he didn't "know where he is" and didn't "spend that much time on him" since we hadn't "heard from him in a long time." (Yes, the quotes are taken a bit out of order, but it all says the same thing. I haven't twisted Bush's meaning at all. That remains unaltered.)

So much of what Obama did in these past few days takes on a greater significance. It's possible that Obama released his long form birth certificate as a distraction so people wouldn't look too closely at other things he was doing. Certainly his behavior at the WHCD Saturday night was a distraction. Who would have guessed (other than Sean Meyer) that the burdens of being President weren't as easy as Obama makes it look?

It sheds new light, too, on the old campaign ads of McCain's where he said, "It's 3:00 am and the phone rings. What would Obama do?" Now we know what Obama did when that phone rang.

He staked his Presidency on doing the right thing.

I hope no one forgets this.


Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said minorities earn less than white people because they don't work as hard and have less initiative.
"We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that's tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don't want to study as hard in school? I've taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn't study hard because they said the government would take care of them."

Words fail me that someone can be so blatantly cruel and clueless in this day and age.

I don't know who keeps voting for her because she's never had my vote, not ever. And no one I know in our district votes for her. And yet, she keeps winning.

talon: (Default)
( Apr. 28th, 2011 10:20 am)


I love Jewish food. The kugels, the knishes, the latkes, the chicken soup, cholent, blintzes, stuffed cabbage, knaidel, kreplach, lokshen, bagels, holishkes, borchsht, meatloaf, matzoh balls, pollo frito, and even the herring in cream sauce.

I suppose a lot depends upon how you cook them. Most of these dishes are Germanic/Russian, and it takes a light hand, specific techniques, and some skill to present a delicious dish. These are not fast food dishes. They take time, and if you rush them, they will not turn out well at all.