30 November 2007


Miss Carl's Egg Nog

Via my mom over the phone sometime in 1990 or so.
16 eggs
1 1/3 c. sugar
2 qts. half and half or 1 qt. milk and 1 qt. whipping cream
Break eggs into a very large mixing bowl and beat at high speed until very thick. (They should stand almost in peaks and be very light in color.) Gradually add the sugar and then the cream. Flavor as desired. Allow each person to spike her or his own glass, then top with nutmeg.

Miss Carl—or "Carly," as we called her— was Mrs. Carl Huddleston, the mother of my mom's best friend Mary Bob.

Yeah, those are raw eggs.

22 November 2007


Thanksgiving 2007

We had a great Thanksgiving day. Largely, Mack and I just hung out with each other.

Dinner was on the small feast side: Salad, roast duck (it came precooked from Costco, but it wasn't half bad), cranberry sauce, green beans, baked sweet potatoes, sliced tomatoes, and rolls. We'll have a store-bought (Wal*Mart) pumpkin pie later. (Have you ever cooked the pumpkin for the pie?)

It was a beautiful, temperate, day. Showered a couple of times (on my dog sheets on the clothes line, but what the hay). Windows open, comfortable, no cares for the day.

I hope each and every one of you had a wonderful day. Every day can be, of course, Thanksgiving. We are thankful not only for the animals, vegetables, and minerals that give us sustenance, but for all those who have come before us, paved the way, made the path easier.




void thanskgiving_greeting() {  
   if (streq(LC_LANG, "en_US")) {
      printf("Have a great Thanksgiving Day.\n");
      printf("Don't eat too much.\n");
   else {
      printf("Have a nice day.\n");

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18 November 2007


Kenneth M. Wilson Company Women's Quilt

When my dad died, my mom and brother ran his business, a sewing factory. After a year or so, my mom had had enough and got out. When she left, some of the women who worked there made her this quilt.

KMW Co. Women's Quilt

They all used the same pattern, but each one brought her own scraps and added her own name. Here are a couple of examples.

Rita Gossett Lillian Qualls Lois Waters

I'm in the process of getting the quilt to the Hickman County (Tennessee) Historical Society. It's just been sitting in a cedar chest forever. But I wanted a copy of the images, and I wanted to share them all. The entire set of photos is here.

Cold hard life intrusion among the sweetness: Anyone got any ideas on how to value the gift for tax purposes?

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14 November 2007


"Talk Jabba!"

Here and only there.


Obama 2008

Photo of Barack Obama

Election day is less than a year away. Time to settle in on a candidate.

I'm going with Obama.

I love the Clintons. I think the world of the Clintons. I've had enough of the Clintons. The last thing we need is a rerun of the '90s, with 50.01% (or less) elections and the Republican's pretty hate machines spewing vitriol against the new President every day. Mrs. Clinton is a great individual, someone I respect a lot, but her and her husband's style of politics is played. It's not that different from politics as played by the Bushies. And there's the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton angle. Not something I really care to see in the history books of 2083.

I like John Edwards. I supported him for the nomination in 2004. But, on deeper reflection, let's get real: He has no constituency in either the nation at large, among the political class in DC, or among the press. I'm afraid an Edwards presidency would be like Jimmy Carter's presidency: feel good for its moral superiority but almost completely ineffectual in terms of actual accomplishments.

I thought Bill Richardson might work out. The "no Senator has been elected since JFK" argument has something to it (although LBJ was a Senator prior to his serving as Vice President, and RFK, a Senator when he was assassinated, could likely have won the Presidency). But Richardson has provided, to this point, no compelling reason for his being President. He shares Edward's lack of constituency.

Dodd and Biden are both sharp, thoughtful, guys, but not Presidential.

Obama is something different. While he has some of the constituency problems that Edwards and Richardson have, at least he is building a constituency. The very nature of his candidacy is of being for something, and should he win the Presidency, he will have built a pool of good will and political capital on which to draw. (That could happen for Edwards, but the current approaches he's taking don't have that quality. To me at least.)

Obama brings the quality of actually listening to others, of encouraging the participation of those you thoughtfully disagree with (see Donnie McClurkin), of listening to those you thoughtfully disagree with. I'm sure some of my colleagues on the LGBT-side of the universe will have a difficult time accepting that you have to treat those who don't treat you like a human being like a human being, that you have to listen if you expect to be listened to, but everything in my heart tells me that Obama is right about this.

Not just a place at the table, but a table at which all are truly welcome, even those you disagree with.

So, I've made my choice, and I'm going to actively support Obama.

Of course, I'll gladgly support the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States of America. Mrs. Clinton, John Edwards. Dennis Kucinich, should events transpire. But I believe that Obama is the best candidate, the candidate who can take all the shit that the Republicans will throw without having to throw it back, the candidate who can change the process and the tone, making it possible to achieve more of the content of the discussion.

If you fall back on the old, "a black guy can't get elected," then you need to identify in your mind five people who wouldn't vote for Obama because he's black and call them on it. Let them know your thinking that thinking that way is unacceptable and inappropriate. It's not politically incorrect: It's uncivilized. It's unAmerican. It's brain damaged. It's cutting off your nose to spite your face. It's guaranteeing that you won't consider some good fraction of the alternatives, when the best result is only as good as your best alternative. It's refusing to treat individuals like individuals, which, when it comes down to it, is all that each and every one of us is.

While we have to be confident in the individual for whom we cast our vote, we can't ignore the historical context with any of Richardson (Latino), Mrs. Clinton (XX person), or Obama (black but mixed, non-traditional cultural background). Given all we've been through regarding each of those populations, it seems to me most appropriate that we should address the not just non-white but basically black before non-male or non-Anglo. We all know there will be a woman President some day, a Latino President someday, but we still need convincing that someone who is black can be President.

This is the time to convince ourselves. This is the time to put so many bugaboos of the last 231, 220, 107 years behind us and get around to ignoring race. To make that happen, we have to pay attention to race. Deal with it.

Obama might be today's Abraham, today's Martin, today's John.

Hope is audacious.

Keep hope alive.

Keep hope alive.

Obama, 2008.


(Photo on Flickr by An Agent.)

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They've Implemented Ray's Idea

Once upon a time, your favorite cartoon cat had the following idea (in this strip):

Someone—well, someone Japanese—has gone and done it.
A team from the Hokkaido Industrial Research Institute has built a number of "melody roads", which use cars as tuning forks to play music as they travel.

The concept works by using grooves, which are cut at very specific intervals in the road surface. Just as travelling over small speed bumps or road markings can emit a rumbling tone throughout a vehicle, the melody road uses the spaces between to create different notes.

Depending on how far apart the grooves are, a car moving over them will produce a series of high or low notes, enabling cunning designers to create a distinct tune.

Patent documents for the design describe it as notches "formed in a road surface so as to play a desired melody without producing simple sound or rhythm and reproduce melody-like tones".
Tuning forks? A circular saw would be the closer analogy, except here, the teeth are in the road surface instead of on the rotating object.

No word on the degree of sonic Satanicity (I'm waiting to see that show up in the search histories) experienced when backing up.

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12 November 2007




Thought for the Day

Always remember that your whole life can be changed in an instant—the ones you love the most may not be here for you when you decide you want them. Life is not always about OUR decisions and what we want. Please don't leave anything unsaid or undone for those that you love, you may not get the chance tomorrow and you don't want to live with—"I wish I had only......"

I wish that since we had no decision making in Bailee leaving that at least those of us who knew her and loved her will remember how quickly she was gone, and how young. It doesn't always happen to "just people you read about or hear about or sick or old people", it can strike any time to any one. And for us to all know that and appreciate each other more, as if each time we see each other or visit could very well be the last....we hope not, but Bailee proved it can happen.

Mack's cousin Keri, who wrote the above, lost her daughter, Bailee, in a car wreck on 4 April 2000.

On 12 November 2001, Keri herself was killed in a car wreck.

Mack's sister Tammy sent me the above at some point. I keep it on the bulletin board over my desk at work.

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04 November 2007


Gratitude Is an Appropriate Response to a Gift

Recently, for the research part of my work, I had to travel to the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. On the flight up, I was preoccupied with work-related matters, so the fact that I hadn't brought along any personal reading was inconsequential. But for the trip back, we had done what we had to do in our meetings, and I wanted something non-work-related to read. I had gotten through the Nagel biography of John Quincy Adams a few weeks ago, had read Stumbling into Happiness by Daniel Gilbert in similar circumstances after my recent trip to Milwaukee last month, and didn't have anything light (for some value of "light") to read. (Maybe something about Stumbling... some day.)

So after a quick perusal of the tiny bookstore/giftshop there at ACY, I chose The Omnivore's Delimma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. The four meals: McDonald's (eaten in the car), industrial organic, local organic, and hunter-gatherer. It's told from what is, to me, a sensible perspective: by a party who is active and interested in his food, where it comes from, the impact producing it has on not only Earth and water, but person and word. He goes from Nixon-policy-since cheap grain, corn in particular, and cheap petroleum being the foundation for the processed-food industries (not only corn-fed (with meat by-products) feed-lot cattle, but also corn-syrup Cokes, corn-based additives, etc.), to making a meal from a wild boar he shot himself and mushrooms gathered from where a pine forest had burned. In between he considered the organic industry—Earthbound Farms and the like—and grass-based small farms that carefully husband forest, grass, cattle, poultry, pork, and the like.

His point is not so much to suggest that industrial agriculture or food production is going away, but that there is a distributions of options available, and that an aware person forms a kind of balanced relationship with food acquisition and production. Every meal can't be made from scratch—bag the meat, grown the veggies, gather the shrooms and fruit—but the awareness of the possilibities can change one's perspective to respectful and grateful participant in the food chain. About his hunter-gatherer meal, he writes:
Perhaps the perfect meal is one that's been fully paid for, that leaves no debt outstanding. This is almost impossible ever to do, which is why I said there was nothing very realistic or applicable about this [the hunter-gatherer] meal. But as a sometimes thing, as a kind of ritual, a meal that is eaten in full consciousness of what it took to make it is worth preparing every now and again, if only as a way to remind us of the true costs of the things we take for granted.
His words reminded me of two quotations you might recognize if you've read here for a while. One is via Mr. Fripp from J. G. Bennett, and it's a grace to say before eating:
All life is one and everything that lives is holy.

Plants, animals and people all must eat to live and nourish one another.

We bless the life that has died to give us food.

Let us eat consciously, resolving by our labors to pay the debt of our existence.
The other is from the TV movie of The Martian Chronicles, but the last time I looked, I couldn't find it in the stories:
Life is a gift from the Creator of the Universe. A gift to be savored. To be luxuriated in.
To be grateful for.

So, in gratitude for the read, I'm roasting a chicken. I haven't cooked a chicken in several years. As a rule, we eat meat about once a day, almost always store-bought packaged sliced meat on sandwiches for lunch. For breakfast and dinner, we rarely eat meat at home. A few times a year we'll cook steaks on a Saturday night, turkey for Thanksgiving: meat with about that 4x-per-year happening. Once a month or so we might go out for dinner and have steaks or chicken or fish—and they're really, really good when they're a treat instead of part of the ordinary—but around here, cooking meat of any form is rare. (It was just a decision to reduce the amount of meat we eat, to go higher fiber and lower fat, not something based on the phony conceit of "animal liberation" or any other such nonsense, which Pollan, by the way, refutes admirably.)

I used to roast a chicken most Sundays during the late fall and early winter when I was single. I'd roast a chicken, make meat sauce, and bake bread while the football game was on. That's pretty rare these days. But Pollan's book got me motivated to cook something beyond using faux-meat (texturized soy protein) with canned sauce.

But did you realize that "organic" (i.e., industrial organic) chicken costs 3x what store-brand or Purdue/Tyson does? Yow! (We're having a Publix chicken. I'm not paying $15 for a 4.5-pound roaster. Not today, anyway.)

(Can you smell the thyme? The skin crisping?)

I recommend Pollan's book. It's a bit heavy on eruditeness (you have to spell that out: err-ewe-diet-ness in heavy Southern drawl to both be aware of the appropriate use and make fun of the word at the same time), but it's full of respect for people, for the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon, and for the food that nourishes us all. I'm grateful I read it, I'm grateful I'm cooking this chicken, and I hope to be grateful for the opportunity to serve it over linguini with a baked acorn squash (it's fall!) and some cornbread.

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Will That Be Before or After the Turkey?

It's All Over But the Shouting

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Mason, My Great Nephew

Mason, the son of my nephew Mike and his wife Nicole (wedding pictures from earlier this summer here), was born at 1:25 a.m. (CST? CDT? -- answer unclear) this morning. Nine pounds, one ounce, 21.5 21.75 inches.

Mike texted me the photo below:

Congrats to Mike and Nicole, and relief to them, the grandparents, uncles, etc. who've been waiting. (I thought he was going to be a Halloween baby, but he had other ideas.)

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01 November 2007


Merv Griffin, Don Rickles, and Nina Hagen Walk Into a Bar...

If you understand, you understand; if you don't understand, there's little I can help with, except, perhaps, pointing you to the Wikipedia entries on each. I hear the Sex Pistols, as such, were on the Leno show last night, as was Ron Paul. Perhaps this is a similar meeting of minds.

Dramatis Personae

Dailyesque awesome link via Your Daily Awesome.


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