Now, That’s Satire!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:16 am

Like most people, I imagine, I have a morning ritual I go through most weekdays whilst preparing for the day. All the usual stuff, of course: exercise, bathe, coffee, breakfast, coffee, dress, coffee, morning commute—admittedly, a total of 45 steps down a flight of stairs into the basement, but a commute nonetheless—and coffee. From there, one of the first things I do is to scan a selection of Web sites for important and/or interesting news and information. Accelerate Your Mac, Snopes, Slashdot, Endgadget, EcoGeek, Versiontracker, SmallNetBuilder, US-CERT’s Cyber-Security Bulletin and the forums of a couple of hardware vendors whose products I use both personally and professionally. Then there’s a few sites trawled for their pure entertainment value: Fark, Penny Arcade, Dork Tower, Kotaku, Cute Overload, Daily KOS, and Wonkette.

I don’t usually do much more than skim Wonkette; not because it isn’t funny and clever and quite to the point, but because it tends to be a bit too aggressive for my taste. Or rather, Wonkette on top of my regular early weekday morning wake-up of Stephanie Miller is a bit too aggressive for my taste. One or the other is fine, but both stacked on top of each other is a bit too much snark for that time of the morning. And since I started listening to Stephanie Miller first, she gets grandmothered in.

However, I just became aware of Wonkette’s ongoing comic strip entitled Ayn Rand’s Adventures in Wonderland, by artist, blogger and Wonkette contributor Benjamin Frisch, and I suggest that everyone go and take a look at it. It is a delicious, bile-fortified, snark-frosted scone of satire, fit for any breakfast buffet.


What do you buy at the store?

Filed under: @ 9:24 am

This has been a long running thought process for me, mostly based on my concerns about my own diet and where the country is going in terms of food production and consumption.
A few months ago we caught the tail end of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. It was a wrap up show about Jamie Oliver’s attempts, over several weeks, to improve the basic nutrition and food education that was happening in a relatively impoverished elementary school in West Virginia. The kindergarten students that Oliver was interacting with hadn’t been able to identify which vegetable tater tots are made from. They knew tater tots, no problem, but where they came from? No idea.


And horrifying on several levels.
First on a linguistic level — a five year old hasn’t heard the word “potato” enough to be able to parse “tater” from that?
And second, and more disturbing, a five year old living in modern America is sufficiently unfamiliar with whole vegetables that they are unable to identify a potato when it’s shown to them?

I know for a fact that when I was that age I could have told you which vegetable a tater tot came from. Probably couldn’t have told you what a tater tot WAS, but I could have parsed out “tater” from “potato” and made an educated guess.

And anticipating Andrew’s scorn at what is for me a personal point of pride, that is, that I’ve never eaten a Hostess Twinkie, I will admit that the food I grew up eating was far, FAR different than that which my peers were eating. I’ve never had a slice of Wonder bread either.
So I grew up eating weird stuff… whole wheat bread, raw vegetables, fruit that wasn’t FROOT, oatmeal that didn’t come in a package, cereal that didn’t turn colors when you added milk, and milk that wasn’t chocolate.

I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I wanted desperately to be eating the same stuff that the other kids were eating, but I do appreciate it now. The fact that I grew up eating real food instead of synthetic has doubtless made a lasting impact on my development and my health as an adult.
And it’s a shame that in many (in most?) circles what I ate as a child would be considered “weird”. Absolutely outside the norm, yes, but what about a green pepper is more strange than, say, those horrid little “Froot Gushers”, those weird little clots of bright primary colored paste that squirt globs of tooth rotting goo when you bite them?
Why was my peanut butter on whole wheat, carrot sticks, and apple lunch “weird” when the baloney on paste board with a package of Twinkies was “normal”? And why is it now something of note when I eat hummus and flat bread with fresh vegetables for lunch and whole fruit for a snack? My fast food, Lean Cuisine (ergh! Nuked plastic!), Goldfish cracker and M & M snarfing co-workers are always astonished by my lunches. As I am, in my own way, of theirs.

Which brings me to the title of the post.

What do you buy at the store?
Andrew and I have had an ongoing discussion for several years now, the duration of the conversation being so long only because we only seem to have it when we’re shopping for food, about our grocery purchases versus those of the people around us. And we have decided that what we purchase to fuel our bodies isn’t food, it’s ingredients. The vast majority of what goes into our shopping carts is something that is going to be a part of something else, not a meal in and of itself. That, I think, is the problem. Too many people have too many opportunities to purchase STUFF that they can just shovel into their mouths to satisfy a hunger that they probably don’t even have.

Cooking takes time and those of us that work full time, to say nothing of those who are holding down jobs and raising kids, have little of it to start with. But I’m proud of the fact that we purchase ingredients. And if turning those ingredients into something that is pleasant to eat takes up my free time, I’m willing to make that sacrifice. I just wish I wasn’t preaching to the choir. Wanna come over and cook with me some day?


Orders of Business

Filed under: @ 9:34 am

First order of business:
OMPHALOCOELE: An umbilical hernia.
OMPHALOPHLEBITIS: Inflammation of the umbilical veins.

There’s just something about the fragment “OMPH” that I find amusing.

Second order of business:
(said in a Wicked Witch of The West voice….)

This is the center bed in the front garden. This spring Susan and I turned it, filled it with compost and chicken poo and then planted it to what I thought was going to be a somewhat more varied seed mix, but as it turns out I don’t care how varied the seed mix is. Isn’t that gorgeous? I mean, I’ve been growing, usually inadvertently, the regular California poppies for better than 10 years. With this mix I’m getting ruffles, I’m getting bicolors, I’m getting doubles, doubles with ruffles, double bicolors with ruffles….. The only problem is that I don’t remember what it was I ordered from Territorial in February so I haven’t the faintest idea what to order again. When these go to seed I’ll be collecting seeds like a madwoman.

The garden is FINALLY all planted. The weather has been so cold and damp that even my fourth attempt at starting beans isn’t going very well. The first three times I started beans it was too cold for them to sprout so they got too wet and rotted. Potatoes and onions are big and burly in that order, although I waited too long on some of the onions so the starts either got too dry or got too wet and rotted…. sigh. My poor little tomatoes though! I had ripe tomatoes at this time two years ago and at this point I’ve only got ONE tomato on the vines and it’s green and hard as a rock. On the other hand I’ve got cabbages that are looking good and more squash and volunteer pumpkins than I can count. I guess we’ll just see whether or not it ever gets warm enough for them to bloom and set fruit.

Third order of business:
With the help of the fire pit that kept us warm and incinerated meat for us we had a lovely party on the 4th. It rained on and off all day so I didn’t have to worry about spray sparks setting the garden on fire (which was nice), and it was cool enough that sitting and baking by the fire while sucking on a beer and talking was quite pleasant indeed. When it wasn’t raining the back yard was a very appealing place to be.
And we had our traditional barrage that lasted -oh- five hours or so? I swear we are going to be solely responsible for the city of Normandy Park banning fireworks one of these years. In addition to the earth shattering kabooms we had plenty of little parachute guys to try and blast out of the air with roman candles. And aside from a few little mishaps like the fireball that hit me in the thigh and the one that bounced and ended up in Andrew’s car (okay, new rule for next year, NO aiming roman candles at the ground) it was a great lot of fun. Curt added a new dimension to the “blasting things out of the air with roman candles” selection by bringing along a small remote controlled helicopter which was apparently a lot harder to hit than even the parachute guys.

(you’ll see the helicopter as a wee little yellow spot in about the center of the photo)

I think someone actually did manage to knock the thing out of the air (thus the aiming of the roman candles at the ground), but so far as I could tell it wasn’t even singed. We had a great time.

And thus to the fourth order of business:
I started out with a moderate dislike of the cedar shakes on our roof. Over the last 10 years that has progressed to active hatred. They warp. They curl. They’re more than a little flammable. They grow moss and slime, they shed bits of themselves into the gutters….
Currently we are (or the driveway is) playing host to a large truck and a pair of roof monkeys who are thumping fit to shake the floor and scaring the bejeezus out of the cats. At this point all they’re doing is delivering the new shingles and the rest of the roofing materials, but the theory is that they’re going to start pulling the old stuff off tomorrow.
I intend to keep the cats stoned out of their gourds for the next three days or so and, my dislike of thumping, banging, and remodeling projects in general rearing its head again, I may actually join them.
Or perhaps I’ll just go take a shower and go to work.

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