Thursday, September 3, 2009

Read This and Weep

distributorcap NY: Because It Wasted Bullets

MSNBC, WW2 and Buchanan

Over at MSNBC, Pat Buchanan has decided that Hitler was simply misunderstood: he didn't REALLY want to start a war, he was FORCED to by England and France, who wouldn't give him lebensraum (expansion room) otherwise. Umm, fail.

Never mind that Austria wasn't actually a place for Germany to expand its population into, but a very good strategic base for attacking Russia (which Germany did immediately following its invasion of Poland). Never mind that Germany had brought its economic crisis on itself by aggressively building up its military capacity, in violation of the treaties it signed at the end of WW1. The way Germany went about its "expansion" was, in effect, as if the US had decided to fix its economic problems by nuking South America.

What part of "Exterminating 6 million Jews" is excusable for any reason? Forget Stalin (who Buchanan offers as a "he did it too, so what's the fuss?"), or any other psychotic dictator. Under what circumstances is it acceptable to commit genocide?

None. Any other answer labels you as sub-human and unworthy of civilized discourse.

Please go to MSNBC and tell them how you feel.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Prayer for agnostics

Thinking about the folks around here: so many are hurting and full of sorrow and loss. I'm not much of a praying Yogi, but I came across this in the files and felt a resonance, so I want to share it with you all. Be well.

Verbal prayers make sense, I think, if you know in advance that talking to God is like talking to your dog. You say human words to your dog, but he pretty much ignores that in favor of how you smell. Similarly, whatever divinity there is hears your words of prayer but very likely ignores all you say in favor of the aroma of your heart: your kindness, your compassion - for both your own poor soul and for your have-not brothers and sisters in the world. But the words of your prayer do matter to you: they give shape to your thoughts; they warm and give color to your soul and spur you to a focused listening.

William Cleary, Prayers to an Evolutionary God

Sunday, August 30, 2009

We're OK In Altadena

Hi all,

Sorry for the lack of stuff, but we've been busy, what with the pool and all, and now Mother Nature is busy making sure we respect her. For the most up-to-date info, try the LA Times web site. There's a map showing where the fire is and which way it's heading.

Here's a picture from Mt. Wilson Observatory, from about noon today.

If you click on this, you should get a Google map. Click on the lower yellow area (Altadena) a few times to zoom in, until you can see Lake Ave. We are down Lake, near Woodbury Rd., so we're not in immediate danger. We spent the day collecting files and such, in case it gets more urgent. Tomorrow we'll test out how the animal carriers fit in the van, to make sure we're ready.

Otherwise, we are fine. I'll post pix of the finished pool as soon as I get them off the camera.

Stay well, now.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's full of stars!

It's a hole with a pipe. What's that pipe doing in there?

Oh, fill it with steel, maybe it'll look better.

More steel.

Anyone need some leftover sheetrock? And who ARE those masked men?

We didn't know what to do with all the pipes, so we put them here.

Hi Mom!

Look, ma, no crack!

Ready for the deck! Can we swim yet? Why not? I wanna swim!

Phil and Maria Luisa already want in.

Now, where did I put that septic tank?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Perfectionitis in the Produce Dept.

Over on Tigers and Strawberries, Barbara and her commenters are having a good old time talking about frugality. In an aside, Barbara asks,"What is it about American’s quest for “the perfect—-fill in the blank with the name of a fruit or vegetable?” This quest for perfect produce is what has led us to beautiful but tasteless Red Delicious apples, huge, perfectly smooth skinned pumpkins with watery, tasteless flesh and giant, sweet-smelling strawberries that taste like styrofoam. It is all a passel of aberrant behavior on the part of food marketers and people who eat with their eyes, not their mouths–in other words, they want food that is pretty rather than food that tastes good." Let me take a stab at answering that.

Think for a moment about a produce section: bins and bins of produce, each offered at its own price. There is no way to tell within a bin of, let's say, Pippin apples, which are good and which are not, unless 1) someone has shown you how to tell, or 2) you've eaten enough to have learned how to tell except by looking for whichever ones are less "damaged", except by looking. Rooting through a bin of Russett potatoes, it is an intelligent choice to only take those which are perfect-looking, because why would you take a different one if it is not cheaper or better in some way? My point is, when there is a choice between good-looking and not, it is a rational choice is to take the best looking.

But Yogi, you say, what if the best looking isn't the best tasting? My answer is, when you don't know how it tastes, you go for looks. And now the grocers are left with bad-looking (but perfectly good) produce that they have to sell at a discount or toss. Their rational response is to only buy what sells, yes? And so on up the chain. When you match this with the agribiz push for monoculture, you end up with the modern-day produce dept. To blame this on consumers who are simply trying to decide what to buy for dinner is to miss the essential point: why do they not know better?

The answer is in the pattern of immigration and movement: when people move out of their native zones, they no longer know what is the standard for selection. Over many, many years (about 5 generations, at this point, maybe more in some cases) their reliance on visual cues for produce selection combines with the other rational choices to give us what we see now. When I moved to NY 10 years ago, I was appalled by the low quality of produce, and lack of selection, particularly varietal selection. I literally didn't know what type of lettuce would be best, out of the sorry selection I was offered. I found out quickly, because I have cooked for years and am passionate about it, but our housekeeper at the time was Guatemalan and there were many things in the anglo market she would have had to guess at. Conversely, when she took me to the local hispanic/latino markets, she had to show me how to choose chayote and such, as I had no clue. Migrants (whether immigrant or not) often had no choice but to choose with their eyes. I'd also like to point out that even now, in my 50s, I still can't always get a great watermelon. But I can afford to toss it if it's really bad. Many people can't.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Another video

Hey there. Had a good Valentine's Day? Me too.

Now that that's out of the way, here's video you should watch, courtesy of the site The Reality Based Community: Jayne Torvil and Christopher Dean, skating for the gold at Sarajevo, in 1984. If you haven't seen it, you're in for a treat. If you have, it's great revisit.

Hope you all are the same...

Thursday, February 5, 2009


A couple of times in the last few days, someone has described someone else as "Christians", meaning that they are honest and fair-dealing. In one case, the person was referring to themselves.

I don't think they hear the inherent bigotry of that. Or am I just being sensitive?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How's about YOU put your life on display, Jackson?

Lots of talk about the mother of octuplets here in SoCal. The most charitable thing I can say to the folks who are having a problem with this is, "Who the fuck made you arbiter of all that's good and holy?"

Really, now. Why are you so upset? She made a choice that you wouldn't have made, fine. I get that. But why the hating? She's not on public assistance, she's not asking you to baby-sit, you're not responsible for the baby's college funds, so what's the problem?

I think some people just can't get their heads around the possibility that someone might raise their children differently. One lady in the NY Times comments said something about taking the kids to soccer practice and the like, and doesn't seem to get that not every family is into the same sort of yuppie child-rearing. The Bad Yogi gets fish-eyes from some people because he and DW insist that YD not have a completely full day, every day of the week, and weekends too. Our opinion is that she needs down time and so would not be well served by being entertained 24/7. I imagine the lady in question is going to be in the same boat.

To me there's a distinction here between thinking that she made a mistake (personally, I think she's not terribly intelligent, but so what?) and dumping on her for what are supposed to look like moral reasons: It's not fair to the kids!!! I call bullshit. Many kids are still raised without being kept busy all the time, and they can learn to be self-directed, if they are not simply handed the remote. But there is the "idle hands make devil's work" meme running through our society, and I think that this is a major part of what;s going on.

Anyway, my prescription for these people is, Sit down and have a nice cup of Shut The Fuck Up.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Get 'em out, NOW

So, a few of the nominees have turned up with tax issues and the like, and are withdrawing. Good. Anyone in this day and age who didn't pay the nanny tax and still wants to be in public office is too stupid to be considered.

Folks, this isn't rocket science. These people KNOW that they are going to be scrutinized to the n-th degree. If they STILL can't get their shit together, they don't belong in public office. And if they are Democrats, that's fine with me: we need to clean house.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

6 weeks later

Not that I'm counting or anything. And it's not for lack of something to say; maybe TOO much, really. So, when in doubt, fall back on what you know: in my case, that would be food.

We're trying to change the way we buy, cook and eat, so that there's less waste, better choices, not defaulting to eating out just because we didn't get it together to start something before it's late and the kid needs to eat. Also maybe eat less, but not a god-forsaken diet. Quick, stop me before I start to foam at the mouth about the diet indusdflsdkf;a {crash, bang, silence.}

{Deep breath}
Where were we? Ah yes, cooking and eating. As part of the changes, we're trying to get dinner on the table by 6 so that we're done before 7. That way, we're not trying to get YD into bed at 8 with a shovel or a bat. So, tonight I got it together enough to have 4 chicken thighs thawed by 5pm and started rooting around in the fridge for the rest of dinner. Hmm, science projects. After arm wrestling some dying cauliflower, I found a few things that were at least marginally edible. We ended up having chicken in chinese sticky sauce, caesar salad for DW and me, broccoli for YD and some pasta. Not bad for 50 minutes. I liked the chicken well enough to write down what I did, and for a wonder the caesar wasn't too sharp, but still mouth filling. Here's the recipe:

Sticky Chicky

4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin optional
3 T hoisin sauce
3 T Pepper Jelly (mild or spicy, your taste)
1 t powdered ginger
1 t garlic powder
2 t dried lemon peel
2 T cider vinegar (or just enough to thin a little)

Oven to 350˚
Cover a small baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray or a little plain oil (I use a toaster oven for this dish. For all small chicken dishes, really.) Put chicken on tray skin side up, then put in oven for 10 minutes to start cooking. Meanwhile, mix other ingredients in small bowl or measuring cup. After 10 minutes, flip chicken and brush the glaze on thickly. Repeat in 5 minutes, then after 5 more (20 total: pay attention!), flip over and brush on skin side. Wait 5 minutes and brush on glaze one last time. Cook 5-10 minutes, or until you just can't wait any longer. The dripping glaze will have congealed on the foil and become dark on the chicken when it's done. We serve 3 with this.

OK? Now, since you've been nice enough to read this far, I won't bore you with expositions on whether anchovies belong in caesar salads (they do) or about coddling eggs (your choice, I don't bother.)

A couple of notes: Soon we will have my herb garden and I will NEVER run out of fresh ginger again! In the meantime, powdered is a barely acceptable substitute. And I had only enough garlic for either the caesar or the chicken. The caesar won.

Now go eat!