Friday, November 28, 2014
The mind of man is a capricious concoction of voltaic cells that controls our lives.
Harnessing that energy is the process of education and critical thinking – giving man the capability of astounding creations from science to art to agriculture to engineering.
In our smugness we tend to think that our brain, its size and functioning, somehow separates us and places us above the rest of the animal kingdom.
But how are we to know that the raven is not spending its days contemplating theoretical physics; or that the great whales are not the great philosophers of all living creatures?
One of the problems with the human mind is that we can’t turn it off, ipso-facto I find myself lying in bed during the wee hours while my mind runs the gamut from logic to insanity, and all points in between.
So, I am wondering: Why 24 hours in a day? Why sixty minutes in an hour and sixty seconds in a minute? It makes no sense.
A ten hour day; divided into one hundred minutes; divided into one hundred seconds is so much more logical. You could express any time with a whole number and decimal places: 09.37.15 for the ninth hour, thirty seventh minute, fifteenth second – very precise.
I almost missed a commercial flight because the agent said it would leave at 12:05 on a Wednesday; and I was thinking five minutes after noon – when it was zero dark o-five that morning.
So there I was in bed: three-hundred-sixty-five days in a year – twelve months – fifty-two weeks of seven days, and leap year… what the fuck?
I try to turn it all off by focusing, concentrating, meditation on nothing; which is actually not turning it off but refocusing; but the damn id keeps interfering.
I count my breaths: one, two, three, four… why not count my pulse? Hell my fingers and toes are base ten… now if I could just roll my wife over and jump her bones then I’d be able to sleep; but that’s not going to happen.
One, two, three, four…
Thursday, November 27, 2014
save a turkey - eat a chicken!
ANOTHER SLOW COOKER RECIPEE
After reading Kulkuri’s comment about baked beans on an earlier post about slow cooker cooking, I decided to share my slow cooker bean recipe: should anyone be interested.
I soak baby lima beans overnight. Place them in the slow cooker next morning, cover them with two chopped onions, a ham steak cut into one inch cubes, a cup of diced celery, two minced garlic cloves, a can of diced tomatoes, one bay leaf, a teaspoon each of dried oregano, thyme and basil, a dash of crushed red peppers to taste and four cups of Chicken stock (again we use McKays.)
I set the cooker to high and cook about six to seven hours.
Baked beans, a glass of cold beer (Canadian) and crusty bread – you can’t find a better winter feed.
THANKSGIVING IS SLOW COOKER TIME AGAIN
A five pound chicken (I prefer chicken to turkey) stuffed with two lemons quartered; add I cup of chicken broth, two garlic cloves, a bay leaf and sprinkle the bird with Herbs of Provence. Cook on high for six hours.
My wife will make mashed potatoes, savory dressing, green peas and cranberry sauce when we are ready to eat - a glass of Beaujolais.
Life is good.
The only way this could be any better would be to live in France and work in a vineyard like microdot.
Life is good.
The only way this could be any better would be to live in France and work in a vineyard like microdot.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Friday, November 21, 2014
This is one of those cold days: remnants of snow on the ground, temps in the lower twenties, and a wind blowing 15 to 20 knots.
This is a fresh bread and homemade soup day.
We have make homemade bread in a bread maker for at least thirty years. We use the Breadman Ultimate which cost less than $100 on e-bay.
Today I did a milk bread: 1 1/8 cup of milk, 4 cups of white flour, 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 teaspoon of yeast.
Just prior to the last rise cycle I took out the dough and remove the paddle (I don’t like the hole in the bottom of the loaf when the paddle is left in during baking.) I briefly kneaded and replaced the dough back in the pan; then back into the bread machine for the last rise and baking.
About thirty minutes before the bread was done I put together a mushroom soup: I sliced about a half pound of button mushrooms, diced one medium onion. In a stew pan I melted a large chunk of butter, then sautéd the onions and mushrooms with a tablespoon of dried parsley until the mushroom liquid was gone. At this point I added a tablespoon of flour and stirred until it was well combined. I stirred in two cups of beef broth (we use a product called McKay’s Instant Broth and Seasoning – vegan special, one teaspoon per cup of water – purchased at the local health food store.)
I brought the soup to a boil then add one cup of sour cream. Using a hand blenders I pureed the mushrooms and blended in the sour cream.
A small spinach salad – a large bowl of soup and a slice of warm buttered bread, with a nice glass of Merlot on the side.
I drink wine every day, therefore I can’t afford expensive bottles except for special meals. I have found a quite good, cheap – vino de mesa – wine of the table.
Tisdale wines sell for four dollars a bottle at the local Hannaford supermarket. If you are a wine drinker you might give these a try.
Soup, fresh bread, a salad and wine; it makes a day like this special.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
I came across the author Angela Carter in an article written by Brian Greevy (click the link to read his article.)
I ordered the book The Bloody Chamber, a small paperback, through interlibrary loan at the local library.
Angela Carter died in 1992. She was a prolific British author and recipient of numerous awards. Her stories are a cross between The Brothers Grim and The Twilight Zone. Her spin offs of fairy tales are spiced with sexuality, bestiality and sadomasochism.
They are not only a provocative read, but well written.
The first paragraph from The Courtship of Mr Lyon:
Outside her kitchen window, the hedgerow glistened as if the snow possessed a light of its own; when the sky darkened toward evening, an unearthly, reflected pallor remained behind upon the landscaper while still the soft flakes floated down. This lovely girl, whose skin possesses the same, inner light so you would have thought she, too, was made all of snow, pauses in her chores in the mean kitchen to look out at the country road. Nothing has passed that way all day; the road is white and unmarked as a spilled bolt of bridal satin.
Father said he would be home before nightfall…
And then The Tiger’s Bride begins:
My father lost me to The Beast at cards.
It is a matter of taste; but I like her style of writing, and her short stories end with more mystery than they answer: a jumping off point for imagination.
The Bloody Chamber has ten short stories (a quick read before bedtime – but may keep you awake.)
I recommend this carrion for a midnight mind feast:
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
I spent a dozen years teaching and living in Native Alaskan villages; my wife is also Native American – she is a registered member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Massachusetts.
I admire the respect shown to Elders by all Native tribe members, both young and old. Elders are held in a special venerated position, and during Potlatch and special ceremonies Elders always feel free to stand up and lecture the tribe or gathering – and everyone listens respectfully to their every word.
During such time I have often found myself sitting through disjointed ramblings of circular and pointless stories expressing bias and even raciest views; and I admire the people who respect their elders enough to listen attentively.
As I have said before: age does not automatically confer wisdom; it often calcifies past prejudices and results in a rigid view of the world in past tense.
The aged, however, do have an untapped resource of untold value. As custodians of living history they have tales on a personal and local level of life and times past: perhaps this is the real history.
After retiring from the military my wife and I attended college. One of our class projects was the recording of living history of the western Maine area. We located subjects between the age of seventy (old to me at that time) and ninety, and recorded their vivid remembrances of youth and early life.
A ninety two year old wood cutter recounted his life during the depression. Wood cutting at that time was done with whip saws and axes. He hired six men to harvest the timber, paying them one dollar a day and room and board. The men lived in his barn. His wife would prepare rolled oats and maple syrup, harvested from their own trees, for the breakfast meal. The evening meal was always meat (deer bear or moose) and potatoes that he had grown during the summer. Oxen were used to drag the timbers to a loading area; and then he would transported the timber to the local mills on a sled pulled by eight oxen.
A seventy year old woman we recorded told of raising six children while her husband worked in a wood mill. Along with local history she gave us a number of recipes, including her recipe for biscuits – which we later tried.
I was raised by my grandmother who was born in 1892. I am sorry to say that I never questioned her about life in the Mississippi Delta at the turn of the century.
As a young boy in the 1950’s I would visit with an elderly neighbor in her late nineties. She would tell me stories about her life in the Delta during the Civil War. I was young so remember very little of her tales – it is a shame someone didn't record her knowledge for posterity.
Now, I am in my seventies. I was raised during a time before television. Our telephone number was 126 and my great uncle’s number was 6. If you didn't know a person’s number you could just tell the operator who you were calling and she would ring them.
Mail was the standard way of communicating over a distance. Stamps were three cents and postcards were a penny. It took a week for a letter from my grandmother to reach her daughter in Kentucky and another week for an answer.
My grandmother and I lived on one side of a shotgun house. They called them shotgun houses because a hallway ran down the center of the house, and you could shoot a shotgun through the front door and it would exit the back door. Across the hall was an older couple that owned the house. Most local houses, including ours, were built on brick pillars, because before the levees the Delta would flood every summer.
We had three rooms: two bedrooms and a kitchen and a small bath. There was flowered linoleum on all the floors. In each room a light was suspended from the ceiling on a cloth covered electrical cord. A screen porch stretched across the front of the house and at night in the summer my grandmother and the old couple would sit on the porch to escape the heat – I would often fall asleep in the swing.
After the rent, my grandmother and I lived on twenty-five dollars a month. A loaf of bread was fifteen cents and a quart of milk was a quarter. I usually had grits for breakfast, sometimes bacon and eggs – the eggs came from my great uncles coop across the street. I qualified for reduced lunches at school. During the summer my lunch was usually a mayonnaise sandwich – two pieces of Wonder bread with mayonnaise; sometimes a pineapple sandwich – two pieces of bread with mayonnaise and a ring of pineapple; or a tomato sandwich –two pieces of bread with mayonnaise and tomato; or a lettuce sandwich, you guessed it, two pieces of bread with mayonnaise and lettuce (I still love those sandwiches today.) Supper was usually something simple: sometimes a piece of meat with rice and gravy; greens, tomatoes, beans and okra if they were in season; but almost always rice and gravy, biscuits and gravy or bread and gravy.
One of my uncles owned an automobile dealership and sold Kaisers and Henry J’s; but he went broke and later moved to New Orleans. He is the uncle that gave me my first gun when I was twelve years old: a 22 cal. bolt action rifle that I still own.
My grandmother and I didn't have a car, but I had a J.C. Higgins, red and white, twenty-six inch bicycle that I road from second grade to ninth (until I was old enough that I was ashamed to be riding a bicycle to school.)
Before moving to Mississippi at age eight, we had lived in Kentucky. I remember the Second World War and star flags in peoples windows. I remember ration books and tokens used for money.
My memories of the history, politics or current events of my early years is crap – but I remember the things I experienced growing up in the forties and fifties; that is, of course, considered only nostalgia in the overview of history.
But, perhaps it is not the big things elders remember that is of consequence, but just the everyday life of a different time and place.
Sorry for such a long winded blog entry.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Today, two of the blogs that I follow made mention of aliens.
The Brain Police posted a video about the Mormon religion and their belief that the human race was seeded by god/aliens from outer space.
Then on Squatlo’s Rant, Squatlo begged the question that if there are little grey (not green) men perhaps they are not an alien species, but the evolution of the human race many centuries into the future, traveling back in time to view their more primitive predecessors (being alien, male and human would account for their obsession for probing the sexual organs – vice cat scan.)
Just for the sake of the exercise there are scenarios that could fit this proposition.
Einstein’s formula for light travel, posed that moving away from an object near the speed of light slows the time in the traveling object with respect to the relatively stationary object.
For physics nerds the formula is: time change equals laps time on the traveling object (rocket,) divided by the square root of one minus the speed of the rocket (as percentage of the speed of light) squared, divided by the speed of light squared.
It works out that if a rocket were to travel from earth at eight tenths the speed of light, after thirty years aboard the rocket the earth and its people would have aged fifty years – the crew of the rocket returning to earth would have traveled twenty years into the future.
The closer to the speed of light traveled the more time slows aboard the rocket and speeds up on the earth. This has been scientifically tested on a small scale and found to be correct.
So travel into the future is possible; but, not into the past – according to current theory.
However, who is to say that people of the future would not have found the key to time travel into the past… worm holes etc.
Now for the big headed, small bodied, large eyed aliens of science fiction
We can see a scenario where mankind of the present pushes the climate change past its tipping point – the ozone layer is depleted resulting in sun rays becoming deadly.
Humans would have to become nocturnal and possibly subterranean dwellers.
Over the eons, through evolution, human bodies could become more fragile, eyes become larger and brain pans enlarge to house the advance brain functions necessary to devise technologies suited to the new environment.
If these humans traveled back in time to view us, their more primitive relatives, it could account for our obsession with ET and Paul.
Squatlo; I think you have a better argument than the Mormons.
I’m just saying
Friday was the first snow of the year. It wasn't much, only about two inches here in the foothills of western Maine.
This is the time that my wife and always look forward to – a time to light the wood stove, enjoy the beauty of nature, kick back with a pot of tea and a good book and appreciate quiet serenity: but not this year…
We lost our beautiful eighteen year old Ragdoll cat, Dixie Darling Jill, last January. We have intended to adopt another cat, but it just wasn't the time so soon after the loss of our constant companion of almost two decades.
But, last week we were checking out pictures of cats at local shelters posted on the internet, and just out of curiosity searched Maine Coon Cats in Maine. A length popped up to Thunderpaws Maine Coon Cats. (check out this link to Siberia Farms where Thunderpaws Maine coons are raised.)
We gave a call and talked to Donna Chase, who has been raising Maine Coons for thirty years. She was coming down to south western Maine from the north country where she lives to bring five male kittens to be picked up by their new owners. We told her we might be interested in a female and she said she had only one but would bring it with her for us to view.
|Donna Chase with Bella and baby Toula|
We had been looking for two cats, because sometimes we are gone overnight and lone cats can suffer loneliness. Donna said that she breeds her adult cats only three times and then rotates them out, and that she had two adult females she was looking to retire and would make a special price if we were interested and willing to spay the adult, along with the kitten when she was old enough.
A two hour trip down to southern Maine to connect with Donna changed our life from a quiet sedentary older couple to herders of cats.
Bella, the four years old mackerel polydactyl Tabby with beautiful yellow eyes is quiet and dignified; she is quickly adjusting to her new home and to us (Maine Coon Cats are a laid back breed – people oriented and lovable by nature.)
|Bella with the beautiful yellow eyes|
|Many Maine Coons are polydactyl (five toes instead of four) which gives them feet that look like they are wearing bearpaw snowshoes.|
Toula the kitten, on the other hand, is wild – a bundle of energy that never stops. She is either running at full speed through the house, climbing up our legs or perching on some piece of furniture ready to leap; she is chasing her toys, in our laps, or annoying poor Bella until she crawls under the couch for refuge. This baby cat runs and dashes or explores for hours until she is exhausted and then wants to sleep in our laps.
|And here is trouble.|
Neither cat claws the furniture (we have a scratching post they use) but our legs are pitted and scared where Toula has dashed through the room and scampered up our legs to get in our lap – on our book – at the computer keys….
|With hair tips on the ears and huge feet she looks like a lynx baby.|
We are again cat people – and loving it. We did not realize how routine our life had gotten until we started herding cats.
Friday, November 14, 2014
Last week on Real Time with Bill Maher Bill did a monologue about age; he said America is one of the few countries that does not venerate the aged. He went on to say that old people are smarter than young people because they have seen it all before.
Traditional Chief of Koyukon Athabaskans
Having lived for twelve years in Indian, Yup’ik and Inuit villages of Alaska I can relate first hand to cultures that venerate elders.
I can also agree that every individual is smarter as an elder than he or she was in their younger years; but, if you were an ignorant young person, and ignorant middle age person, you are probably going to be an ignorant old person. It’s all relative.
I am an elder - and I am one hell of a lot smarter in my old age than I was as a young person; but, that is not saying much – again it is all relative.
I have never claimed to be a sage old owl, but just an Ol’Buzzard that has soared in the air currents and sat on tree limbs and rocky crags and watched – and now I remember.
Any opinions I have are naturally biased as they have been filtered through my personal experiences, likes and dislikes, prejudices and intellect (or lack thereof) during my seventy years+++ of chaos.
As an elder I look at the current state of affairs and am not particularly concerned. I have seen this all before: war, social ills, prejudice, bigotry, confusion, dysfunctional government, politicians motivated by selfish avarice, ignorance and religious fervor.
The one thing I can say for sure is that we never learn and we will do it all over again: we are destine to perform the same play, slightly modified to time and place, and with different actors – but with the same outcome.
ADVICE FROM AN ELDER
Don’t despair - there are things you can do: get a nice bottle of wine, enjoy a good meal, have sex with your significant other and chill out.
A ZEN STORY
A man came to the Buddha seeking contentment. He said, “I want happiness.”
The Buddha replied, “First remove the ‘I’ that is ego. Then remove the ‘want’ that is desire. Now you are left only with happiness.”
Enjoy the Now.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
There was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth;
There was panic in the hen house;
The dogs were all howling and the children were crying;
As the Democrats went to bed.
The Republicans are now running the country.
As I have said before, we get the government we deserve and we deserve the government we get. (Even though that it circular - it sounds good.)
The inmates have truly taken over the asylum, so now that crazy uncle can sit at the head of the Thanksgiving table and hold fourth.
We do live in a democracy and election results reflect the will of the majority. Election results also reflect the actual state of the nation itself.
We liberals don’t like to admit it, but this is the America we now live in: a Christian America of gun violence, racism, Tea Party radicalism, militias, out of control police; a country with a higher prison population than collage attendance; a nation that holds prisoners without trial – a nation that executes its prisoners; a nation that is more concerned with its military than with its poor.
Europeans have known our true nature for a long time.
Today we can use the excuse that Democrats are apathetic and stayed home; that Democratic representatives took noncontroversial stands in order to maintain a low profile to secure their own jobs in the future; but this is who Democrats are.
We are a Tea Party nation.
Texans don’t need to secede –we are all Texans now.
I’ll be going down to get my concealed carry ID right after I build a fence to keep non-whites out of my yard while I wait on the Rapture.
Naaaa, I will just probably watch movies on NETFLIX, read, drink wine, make love with my wife and occasionally blog.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
People get the government they deserve. If the Dem's, Independents and the apathetic don't turn out and vote then we will have government by the crazy for the wealthy.
It doesn't have to make sense because the government is by the people – by the people – by the people…
…and the government reflects the populace – the majority.
When a blatantly ignorant Tea Party candidate wins a seat in the Senate or Congress that is a reflection of that state – that represents the majority.
Fox News has a much larger following than their polar opposite MSNBC. That mirrors our Nation.
The Republicans blame everything on President Obama; I blame everything on religion that has institutionalizes ignorance and now holds a foothold in government.
As long as religion holds sway in this country – as long as states remove pages from text books and religious factions decide what can and cannot be taught – as long as ignorant people line up and vow allegiance to the loudest evangelist we will remain a country of the ignorant, for the powerful and by the manipulative.
Get used to it.
This is who we are.
Perhaps it is who we have always been.