Showing posts from October, 2008

Today's Election Thought

"The advance planning and sense stimuli employed to capture a $10 million cigarette or soap market are nothing compared to the brainwashing and propaganda blitzes used to ensure control of the largest cash market in the world: the Executive Branch of the United States Government."

--Phyllis Schlafly, 1964

Month of New Subjects - Latitudinalism

Ever heard of Baron de Montesquieu? It is to him that the United States ultimately owes our balance-of-powers form of government, so it would make sense to include him in a book on the creation of American society. It wasn't this excerpt that was included, however. Tonight I read his philosophy of the differences in people in different climates.

Taking "political correctness" to its extreme, we are not actually supposed to acknowledge or talk about actual racial differences, but they do exist. For instance, I am of northern European descent (think glow-in-the-dark-pale). Andy is of Irish/German/etc. etc. etc. descent (we're rather more like mutts in America), so he looks different than I do. Certain diseases are more predominant in different ethnicities, and these ethnicities are based on where our ancestors came from and are probably formed by adaptations to our natural climate. I think we're all fine up to this point.

Taking this as a really BIG springbo…

Election Thought For The Day

"The ballot is stronger than the bullet."

--Abraham Lincoln

True, but rather ironic all the same.

Month of New Subjects - Social Contract Theory

Starting with John Locke, who was writing during arguably one of the most turbulent eras in England's history--the deposing of King James II in favor of his daughter and her husband, just after the country had sort of settled down after the whole beheading of Charles I/Cromwell's reign/the Restoration saga--basically argues much of what would later show up in America's Declaration of Independence: basically that governments cannot exist without the consent of the governed. I think he was probably taking pot shots at the ever-popular King James II who was trying to impose an absolute monarchy on the people who had beheaded his father for many of the same reasons, which is very interesting to read while we have a president with the same sort of intellect. Thank heavens we have term limits--I'm not sure we're up to beheadings just yet. Not to say we're absolutely above such things--if we were faced with the prospect of 4 more years--or heaven forbid, the rest …

Today's Election Thought

"I feel that, however feeble the influence my voice can have on public affairs, the right of voting on them makes it my duty to study them."
--Jean Jacques Rousseau, 1762

A Thought For Election Season

"The [purpose] of government is the good of mankind; and which is best for mankind, that the people should be always exposed to the boundless will of tyranny, or that the rulers should be sometimes liable to be opposed when they grow exorbitant in their use of their power, and employ it for the destruction, and not the preservation, of the properties of their people."

--John Lock, On Civil Government

Creature Features - The Blob

With tango & everything else, we've sort of gotten away from our horror-flick "marathon" but last night we made white chocolate martinis and sat down to watch The Blob. Since this was our 4th or 5th movie, before starting the movie we placed a bet on how many times the heroine would scream. I said 6, Andy said 4.

So far, I'd say this one takes top honors as the strangest "horror" films I've ever seen. For one, it starts with a rather catchy theme song, and I'm not even positive the movie was trying to be scary. Kitschy, perhaps, but we suspect it was just something to go see in a drive-in theater so teenagers in the 1950's could make out. I thought that after my experiences learning to make jelly this year, I might find oozing carnivorous grape jelly somewhat frightening, but nothing. Perhaps if it had been pumpkin butter.......

And it turns out, neither of us even came close. The annoyingly-helpless female of the movie screamed exactly…

Things We Have Learned This Month

* It is possible to make "zucchini" bread using green tomatoes, but without adding more liquid, one is likely to end up with a large "bar" cookie.

* This might be our most educational "month of" project, but it's really hard to read philosophical essays every single night.

* Green tomatoes last a really, really, REALLY long time--especially if one is trying to ignore them.

* Sometimes a "canning intervention" can be necessary.

* It is never too early to start listening to Christmas music, provided no one else has to hear it.

* After enough live "gifts," one can welcome a dead bird on the bedroom floor at 6:00 AM with pure joy.

* People who don't watch the news are probably a lot happier than those who do.

* If two people are going to study one subject for an entire month, it is unfair if one person has access to audio books and documentaries and the other one doesn't.

* It really is okay to not use every single thing your g…

The Pumpkin Flour - Issues

At first, grinding up the dried pumpkin in the blender was going well. Then we heard and odd noise, and on dumping out the would-be pumpkin flour, we found
It's the little rubber washer that would normally be under the blade. Notice anything special?

That's right--we haven't found all of it. So I've been digging around in this

in order to find it. To be fair, I strongly suspect that there might have been a piece missing before I started this process, but we're trying to cut back on our rubber parts consumption.

In the meantime, nothing else really seems to be grinding the pumpkin. The food processor just flings it around & we're not really willing to try the coffee grinder. Coffee grinders aren't very tough & we've learned that using them for things they weren't really intended for is a good way to boost the coffee grinder industry.

So....unless we have any brilliant flashes of insight, which admittedly seems unlikely from someone who think…

A Better Voice of Reason

Warren Buffet--probably the most rational investor America has ever produced--wrote a wonderful op-ed column for the New York Times this week. If you haven't already read it, you can see it here.

My only addition would be: You haven't made or lost money on the stock market until you SELL. You can sell now and lock in a loss, or you can take a few deep breaths, leave your investments alone, and they will probably be back to where they were in a couple years. America is simply on sale right now.

Wall Street: Home of the Lemmings

Speaking of sociology and "mob mentality," today "The Market" lost 500 points because Wall Street is afraid we might be heading into a recession.

Wall Street--where you can't swing a stick without hitting a "financial professional" of some sort and where economic numbers are released daily--is now afraid we might be in a recession. Well, at least they've caught up to the rest of us.

I am not a "financial professional," but I did work for 2 years as a stockbroker and have studied both history & economics, and what I seem to know that Wall Street doesn't:

1. Economic cycles are exactly that--they expand and contract. If one looks back to earlier recessions, one might notice that the economy shrinks every 8-10 years, then expands.

2. Stocks are risky, and the smart investor takes a LONG-TERM approach, and uses dollar cost averaging (which can be done for as little as $25 a month with some mutual fund companies) to take advantage of …

Under Attack

Today I was awakened at 4:00 AM by my body's need to sneeze. Why the air I had been breathing without problem for the previous 6 hours was suddenly deemed toxic by my body is anyone's guess, but it's pretty hard to go back to sleep while sneezing and a spouse isn't likely to appreciate you trying.

I don't generally have "hay fever"-type allergies, but this year for some reason my body has decided that we are under attack by pollen, and our response has been to sneeze out anything I might have breathed since the Reagan administration. Really, it baffles the imagination. I've lived around plants and trees my entire life, and have in general found them to be pretty harmless. Now, in my later 30s, my body has decided that breathing pollen might cause me to sprout flowers or leaves, or have some other horrible side effect. The germs that cause common colds? Hey that's no problem--they just let those right in. A little plant kingdom reproduction ac…

Month of New Subjects - Mob Mentality

I grew up on a cattle ranch, and young cattle--especially those of about a year of age--are extremely prone to taking fright if they see another animal looking frightened, and the whole lot of them will bolt. That's known as a stampede. Contrary to popular belief, it's hard to stampede older cows. They've been around, they're wise in the ways of cows, and it's really hard to induce them to panic.

People, on the other hand, never seem to grow out of the ability to achieve wide-spread panic. Why is that? A human being is thoughtful, smart, and generally pretty capable. Put us all together en masse and we are 2 brain cells from stampeding off cliffs.

I tried looking for books on mob mentality , but the only one I found was written in 1896 by Gustave Le Bon, so he missed some of the modern day lulus, but otherwise it's still very interesting. It's an interesting book to be reading while our election process is going on.....

I Can See Why Pumpkin Flour Hasn't Caught On

5 trays of pumpkin like thisdehydrate into 5 trays of this
In fact, this is the sum total of 4 pumpkins.
You know, the crazy thing is that I was worried about storing "all" that pumpkin flour & wondering what it's shelf life would be.

Anyone wanna place bets on whether or not we get more than a single cup of pumpkin flour out of this?

Whew--where will we put all of it..........

The Pumpkin Update

Remember these?We were keeping them warm so they would ripen, which does actually work, though I will now share a little new knowledge with you:

If you are keeping pumpkins warm by keeping them in the oven (as you are too cheap to have yet turned on the heat), it's a good idea to post a note or some sort of sign reminding yourself to remove them before preheating the oven.

Just a little tip there. As it turns out, you can indeed cook a whole pumpkin--seeds and all.

A much safer idea is to finally break down and turn on the heat and set the pumpkins on the heating vent:As these forced-to-be-ripe pumpkins won't keep, today we are making pumpkin flour. (I know, it sounds strange, but could anything really be weirder than green tomato cake?)

These pumpkins are much softer, so I have been able to cut them open without having to resort to throwing them at the patio
and they are all seeded, peeled, and sliced and in the dehydrator. When they're done and brittle, we'll put them …

Month of New Subjects - A Whole Bunch of Days

OK, I confess. I haven't finished the John Locke essay. I thought I needed a little lighter reading, so I picked up this from the library:
Its biggest attraction being the shortness of the book--only 100 pages. That was perhaps its only attraction. In a blog or a narrative, I expect the writer to use "I" a lot--it's a personal story and the writer is, in essence, the main character and generally the focal point. When someone writes about a subject and uses "I" to start every paragraph, if not most sentences, that seems a bit....slanted? Ego-maniacal? Smarty-pantsish? It went back to the library in favor of this:
Sociology is a REALLY broad field, and if one is trying to get out of reading a John Locke essay, one can make a pretty good case for reading about cases of mass-hysteria. "Mass" might be a bit of an overstatement, as the book is about Boise (Idaho) in the mid 1950's when it boasted a population of 50,000, which probably doesn…

Tomatoes Be Damned!!!!!

We are not denying the possible existence of yet more green tomatoes at Chateau Sutton-Goar. We just no longer give a d_mn.

Apparently even my most thrifty/health conscious/organically-minded self has some limits. If I have to touch one more green tomato, something is going to snap, and the odds are fairly high that it would be my mind. That is, if one doesn't count green tomato cake as already leaping that hurdle. To be fair, the cake was quite fabulous and wasn't even slightly green, which helped. My friends are a sporting lot, but green baked goods are usually a pretty hard sell.

The canner has officially been put away, the kitchen is back to normal, and my sociology book beckons. It may be hard to believe, but after all those green tomatoes, John Locke is sounding pretty attractive right now....

The Update

So now we've gone from hereto here
and have this
and some seriously sore muscles in my legs and back.

It feels like we've used a lot more of them. I think they multiply at night.

The good news is that I have found recipes for a green tomato soup and a green tomato cake that we'll be serving for tomorrow's soup night. The bad news is, my brain seems to have snapped under the pressure. Did I mention the green tomato jam?????

It's Actually Snowing

Apparently, those National Weather Service people don't mess around--if they say it's going to snow, it's going to snow even if it is only October 10. Which leads me to the next question: If we are experiencing Global Warming, who got the "warm" part?

We turned on the heat today. There's cheap and then there's frostbite. Andy now works from home, and when he was shivering so much he couldn't type, we decided it was time.

And on the harvest front, I moved these outside our front door yesterday for a little sun (being the south side & better sun than the back yard) so the skins could "cure" for longer storageand only these came back:

I don't know whether to be bothered by the fact that people steal squash or disappointed that I didn't put the extra cucumbers out as well.

And remember how many tomatoes we had?
We now have 13 pints of salsa verde
and now we're down to
I know--I can't see any difference either. Maybe I'll pu…

We Interrupt Our Normally Scheduled Philosophical Blog...

...because I didn't actually read anything yesterday. Part can be blamed on the dryness of the subject matter, but most of the blame belongs to the National Weather Service.

There was a frost warning for the valley, and as our garden is a bit too sprawled to be effectively covered, we spent last night harvesting.

After an entire summer, I finally had enough dehydrated bell peppers to fill my jar:Granted, it's a large jar, but I now have a new appreciation for why dried peppers are so expensive in the store--you're buying 10,000 bell peppers. Okay, maybe only 1000. Still, they really are mostly water.

I made and canned a double batch of seasoned tomato sauce:

and still have all of these left to go.
I have recipes for a salsa verde, a spiced chutney, and a relish all made with green tomatoes, and out of sheer curiosity, we'll be making fried green tomatoes tonight. If you don't hear from me for a while--blame it on the tomatoes.

These are our pumpkins and butternut squ…

Month of New Subjects - Day 7

So when we last left off, I was going to sit down with Machiavelli and "The Art of War," from The Prince. Published in 1521, Machiavelli has come to be synonymous with ruthlessness and getting your way no matter who you have to trample. I don't think he's an author one could approach with eagerness or an open heart, and I found him most disturbing. Not because of his ideas exactly, but because of how much he might understand human nature. For example: are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.

How long has the Nigerian money scam (providing them your bank account so a deposed prince/ruler/whomever can transfer large sums of money into it--splitting it with you of course) been going on, and yet there are still people dumb enough to fall for it. Did you ever stop to think that the reason you get so much stupid spam & junk email is that there are obvious…

A Brief Public Service Announcement

Mandy asked about Kiwanis clubs, and service clubs do so much good for their communities that I thought I'd do a quick "plug" for them rather than just emailing her directly.

Like Rotary and Lions, Kiwanis is a service club--usually business people who meet weekly, listen to speakers on various topics of interest, then do projects to improve their community. My particular club is about 55 years old and in that span has built playground equipment, painted houses for senior citizens, raked up leaves for senior citizens, started Boise's Greenbelt, donated signs for an Oregon Trail park, built parks, planted hundreds of trees, as well as helping various charities and sponsoring school-based programs to teach children about community service. Worldwide, Kiwanis International has been battling the problem of Iodine Deficiency Disorder.

Lions clubs tend to focus on vision & vision related problems. If you have old glasses, you can donate them to a Lions club and they …

How Is This Possible?????

Thinking that it might be good to explore other books on sociology, I got this from the library:
I know it's hard to tell from the picture, but the bed is actually sagging under the weight of this book. 1000+ pages, and do you know what it does? Explains the concepts found in this:

Why does it take longer to explain what writers meant in their essays than it did to actually write them?????

I'm going to stick with the first book. After all, if I had fallen asleep while reading the library's behemoth, I would probably have gotten a concussion or serious internal injuries.


Month of New Subjects - Days 2 and 3

So there I was last night--reading my sociology essays and planning a brilliant, and let me emphasize brilliant post, when I fell asleep. Obviously, I hadn't gotten to Machiavelli as no one could relax enough to fall asleep to Machiavelli. Blame it on St. Augustine.

In this round, I started with St. Augustine and excerpts from The City of God. This is the last essay from the period in which Western Civilization had one unified religion. Being an American where we have 30 different denominations in every 10-block square, that's always a difficult concept for me to imagine. America's past is largely formed by disagreement in religion. Would we have nearly the same hangups about sex and who is or is not having it if a large part of our cultural heritage didn't stem from a bunch of Puritanical Calvinists who found Cromwell's England just a little too free-wheeling and liberal (if you can imagine the folks who banned Christmas because it was a bit too "merry&q…

Month of New Subjects - The First Day

The thing about a biography is that it tells a story. Stories are hopefully engaging, rather easy to follow, and if it is a true story, hopefully provides you with facts--leaving you with more information than you started with. Thus, at the end of day one (yesterday), Andy knew a little more about George Washington than he did at the beginning of the day.

My day one involved reading the following essays/excerpts:
"The American Pattern"
"The Ten Commandments"
"The Sermon on the Mount"
"The Code of Hammurabi"
Selections from The Koran
"On Government" by Confucius
"On Co-operation" by Lao Tse
"Philosophers as Kings and Kings as Philosophers" by Plato
"On Property" by Aristotle

Which will, I'm sure, explain why there was no post last night--my poor overloaded brain needed a break involving a glass of wine and some knitting--probably in that order.

What I am left with after my first day of sociology is not answers, b…

The Month of New Subjects

October 1 and thus begins The Month Of New Subjects.

As blog fodder, I realize that the odds of me desperately begging to be allowed to buy postage stamps has decreased dramatically, but we're actually very excited about this one. For one thing, my mother-in-law is playing too, choosing to study the geography of the Middle East. I admire her goal--trying to figure out where all these "stan" places actually are on the map, but as they change so frequently, it might be a bit more challenging and she might have to do it all over again in November.

Andy has chosen George Washington, and about 2 weeks ago this
showed up on our doorstep. 5 volumes of George Washington! Not only do I love old books--which I do--these were written by none other than John Marshall--arguably the most powerful Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Be still my little history-loving heart! Andy's mother sent them to us. Is coveting your husband's choice of subjects bad?

It turns out, "S…