News

This is just for fun, but a survey of British vegetarians finds that 1/3 of them eat meat when they get drunk.

 

Not at all funny: Puerto Rico may be without electricity for four to six months.  Things are really, really bad.

Earthquake in Mexico kills over 200 people (so far)

In Miami, one city bureaucracy was up and running on speed within hours after Hurricane Irma- and ticketing residents for code violations for their yard conditions.  Jerks.

In Spain, gov’t cracks down on Catalan independence efforts. 

Amazon is removing unfavorable reviews of Hilary Clinton’s book.  They do not typically do this for other customers.

Climate scientists admit the models were wrong, warming lower than expected, doomsday now 20 years further off.  Never mind that this means climate ‘skeptics’ were right, we should keep believing the guys who have been wrong.

 

Media’s tap dancing on a high wire with the Trump wire-tapping story.
Obama and his administration knew what they were doing was illegal, which is why they had to continue.

 

Trump’s U.N. Speech

My favourite part:

We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela.

(Applause)

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.

(Scattered applause)

From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems. America stands with every person living under a brutal regime. Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action. All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests and their wellbeing, including their prosperity.

Bill Rhodes’ negative reactions

Politico on evil dictator Kim Il Jung’s side.

 

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small things

I love this kitchen tip- put a quarter on top of a cup of ice in your freezer if the quarter ever drops down in the cup you will know that your freezer has thawed and then refrozen.

It’s a good tip.  But it’s interesting the assumption that most people aren’t going to notice.

I’ve shared before about back when we were very poor, so poor we picked up money off the street to do laundry or pay for toiletries, so poor we didn’t have electricity, and I sometimes washed a load of clothes in the bathtub.  I was in a Bible study with a group of Filipino friends, all of them are professionals (a different group from the congregation where we worship).  The class was on money and I had mentioned our former poverty a couple times.  I realized at one point I needed to explain.
“I know,” I said, “that being poor in America is nothing like being poor in the Philippines. I know that.  We were not as poor as the most poverty stricken here.  But we were poor in ways not entirely typical for America, either.” I explained about the lack of food and the no electricity (but we did have gas and running water and a solid roof).  It helped to put things in some perspective.  And even in our more dire than typical circumstances, some of them were so dire because we wouldn’t ask for help.  In the Philippines, there are people living in shanties and shacks with no running water or electricity ankle deep in flood water after an average rain storm, and anybody they might ask for help is living in the same circumstances.

Later when we were chatting, I said one other interesting difference I had noticed is that when we were so poor, we could collect some change, enough to do a load of laundry or two, or buy cheap shampoo by picking up change in the road or parking lots of stores, or near vending machines.  I haven’t seen vending machines here, and I also have never seen any change in the street at all.  Not so much as a centavo (it takes about ten of them to make up a 2 cent coin).   You see less change in the U.S. these days because we are less and less of a cash based society. People use cards for everything now, sometimes even vending machines.  But the Philippines is a cash based economy.  We pay our utilities and rent in cash. We have to go to the office to pay the utility bills, including the internet.  Occasionally we find a place that takes a card, but it’s not common, and it’s not often.  And yet, nobody leaves coins on the ground.

The helpful tip above about leaving a quarter on the top of a cup of ice is so much a tip from a well developed, wealthy nation.  I’m not talking about  presuming a refrigerator, we had an ice chest back in the day, but the refrigerator is a different category of thing.  I’m talking about the money.  It’s the quarter that catches my attention.  Why does it need to be a unit of money? You could use a stone, a pebble, a screw, a paperclip, a metal washer,  a magnet, a marble, anything at all that sinks in water.  That sort of easy, careless attitude about money is only possible in a comfortable economy like America’s.

But it’s only a quarter, you say?

Exactly.

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Bird’s Nest Fern

Asplenium nidus, ‘Birds nest fern’

I can not turn these pictures the right way. I don’t know why my phone and the blog are conspiring against me so, but they are.

It’s a nifty plant- the leaves are thick, lush, green, grow closely together, leaving, however, a sweet little secret spot in the dead center- the ‘bird’s nest’ of the common name.

Bird’s nest ferns (Asplenium nidus) are identified by their flat, wavy or crinkly fronds. Their appearance can bring to mind a seaweed plant growing on dry land. Bird’s nest fern is an epiphytic fern, which means in the wild it typically grows on other things, like tree trunks or buildings. When you buy it as a houseplant, it will be planted in a container, but it can be affixed to planks and hung on a wall much like staghorn ferns.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Bird’s Nest Fern Care – How To Grow Bird’s Nest Fern https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/birds-nest-fern/birds-nest-fern-care.htm

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REview: Stranger in a Strange Land

If you know the term grok, then  you have either read this book or know somebody who has, or of course know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody…
I would have said I had not read this one of Heinlein’s.  I would have been wrong. It’s the weirdest thing.  Because I definitely read it, but the things I remember, the things that made the deepest impression on me were not the things most people would remember, do remember, or expect other people to remember.  Grok?  I knew it because of friends, but I would have told you had never read a book with that term in it.
What I have never forgotten is the exact scene where Jubal asks Ann, the Fair Witness, to describe a house she sees and tell them what colour the roof is.  She answers very precisely that the roof on this side appears to be white (or whatever), making no assumptions about the side she cannot see.  For some reason, that impressed me strongly.  I wanted to be a fair witness. I thought everybody should be a fair witness.  I aspired to that kind of fair, neutral observation.  Turns out, it’s not a very popular goal.  Turns out, I don’t care that much.  Turns out, I’m also too human for it, although I do at least own my biases I think.
But anyway.  That is the main thing I remembered. I hadn’t remembered which book it was in, my impression was an H.G. Wells title.  But I did remember that a a couple other things- the Rodin statues conversation was fabulous.  The idea that a good kiss is one to which you devote your whole attention, not thinking about anything else.  Okay, I think I was 13, maybe.
But the other stuff, the ground-breaking, iconoclastic stuff about how jealousy is a bad, awful, selfish thing you never feel for your loved on and being in a loving relationship is all about multiple sex partners and that is what all women would want if they were only freed from the chains of taboos, free love and open ‘marriage,’ and  and so much more spoiled horse-radish, I read it and dismissed it.  I thought it was stupid and irritating and wrong then, and so I glossed over it, and I think it’s stupid and irritating and wrong now and wonder how on earth so many people, including Heinlein himself, bought into it.   He did claim he didn’t write the book to convince people of one thing or another or to start a religion, he wrote it to make people think.  I think it’s intellectually and philosophically a very lightweight book.

I did appreciate the irony that all the wisest, more level headed characters and the religious fanatics are equally, ridiculously wrong about the afterlife. There is one, and it’s nothing like anybody expected.  But it doesn’t seem all that different from a large, 1950s bureaucracy, either, although we mainly only see middle management, I guess.

I don’t agree with every jot and tittle in this review, but I do agree with a lot of it, and definitely the smug:

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Kitchen Items I Brought With Me to the Philippines

I have a butter slicer similar to this one, only mine belonged to my grandmother and I have had it for probably 20 years. I use it a few times a week.  I like it so much, I included it in the small number of items I brought from home to the Philippines.  I hardly ever use it to slice butter, though. What I do use it for:

Cheese.  My menfolk would prefer that I bought presliced cheese. They won’t bother slicing a block of cheese for themselves. But if I buy a block of cheese and slice it with my butter slicer, they will eat those slices just the same as if I had paid pre-sliced prices.  Plus, as it turns out, I don’t even see presliced cheese here in the Philippines. My slices are thicker than store-bought presliced, but I still come out ahead.

I also use to slice soft fruits, like bananas, when I want some quick slices for a garnish or to divvy up between visiting kids.

I use it to slice boiled eggs, and things like spam, which is a product I did not expect to have in my home, but it’s commonly used in several dishes here.

 

I also brought something like this- a French fry slicer.  I have a separate apple slicer, and I would not own a mango slicer.  My French fry slicer, like my butter slicer is metal and it belonged to my grandmother.  I have never used it to make French fries.  I slice cheeses, cucumbers for sushi and sandwiches, zucchini, and sometimes eggs.  I slice jicama and serve the long rectangular cubes upright in a mug, with salt alongside because here in the locals eat jicama with salt (I haven’t found the two a compatible combo).

What I did not bring but wish I had is my zyliss food chopper, since I don’t have a food processor.  But the above slicers do help- I slice vegetables into thick fry shapes, then turn them on my cutting board and slice again, across the ends and up, making nice, neat cubes.  But I could still use a food chopper for things like onions and bok choy.

I brought some sharp knives and they do get used, but what I really could not manage without is my kitchen shears– they are handy for cutting up green onions, the bok choy, snipping the Chinese egg plant and okra into round slices that are handy in stir fries, as well as cutting up meat.

I also brought my sushi making molds, and one heavy duty saucepan.  I bought a wok here, but I kind of wish I’d bought one I liked at home and brought it with me, as all the ones I’ve seen here so far have Teflon, and I don’t love Teflon.

I bought a second hand blender here, and I use it to make fruit smoothies a couple times a week. Last night was guyabano, mango, and pineapple with pomelo juice. You have no idea.  Mmmm.

I do wish I had a microwave.  It would be lovely to reheat things without warming up anything but the food.

It was helpful to get some advice on what to bring from people who were already here or had been here.  But it’s important to remember how you cook and prepare food and what matters to you.  The most experienced, knowledgeable person I asked didn’t think I needed to bother with the kitchen shears, but they are seriously indispensable to me. I could not manage without them.   It did not even occur to me to ask if I would be able to easily find cooking pots and pans without Teflon for a reasonable price, and it didn’t occur to anybody else I asked to tell me the pans I could afford would all be no-stick or aluminum, because they don’t see that as a problem.  Neither of us is wrong, it’s just that neither of us is each other, you know?

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