Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Tissue Paper Flower

I liked this photo. I don't know why. I left it rather large, so it might be worth a click. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Dialing Gravy 511

The inestimable Mary from Deep South Dish offered up this set of instructions to make the perfect gravy. In a nutshell, it's 5-1-1. 1 part oil plus 1 part flour to make a roux followed by 5 parts fluid to make the gravy. All done in the pan where you cooked the meat, of course.

I tried this with pan-fried pork chops and the result, even for this obliterator of gravies, was outstanding. My liquid was beef stock, store-bought, and I ended up with about a 9-1-1 ratio by the time I had added enough to scrape up the meat bits from the pan, but it was fabulous. I threw in some diced, fresh sage and thyme from my garden to add flavor.

This is what it looked like. The white in the photo is the ceiling lights reflecting off the gravy.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Make Mexico Great Again!

As a pronounceable acronym, MMGA sounds rather primitive.

Oh well.

Pondering this old post wherein it was suggested that open-borders progressives move to Mexico and become Mexican citizens, something new occurred to me.
(My open-borders progressive friends) should move to Mexico, become Mexican citizens and spend their lives working to make Mexico better.

I'm not being facetious here. I really mean it. By moving to Mexico and becoming citizens of that great country, all of their time and effort would make Mexico a better place and they would be serving the needs of poor Mexicans every hour of every day. No more half measures. Go all the way and do what you feel called to do, my brothers and sisters.
I cannot think of a single border-control conservative that would not look upon such an act with sincere admiration and support. It's how we religious fanatics feel when we talk to people who work in the missions in third-world countries. I've met some doctors who spend months at a time working in Central American hospitals. I couldn't care less about their politics, those guys are awesome.

Therein lies the slander heaped upon advocates of border control. If we hated brown-skinned people, we'd laugh at those who work in foreign lands. "Ha ha," we'd say. "You fools are wasting your time on der untermensch when you could be here in America toasting Trump in a beer hall!"

It's not race, it's citizenship.

So why the slander? If we hate each other, we'll be more likely to vote to keep the other side out of power.

Just remember, change happens when ordinary people get involved and ordinary people won't get involved without proper motivation.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

In Defense Of Teachers

Over time, thinking back on this post about the Baltimore school system and its implications, I have derived a great many conclusions. Here's a recap.
A Project Baltimore investigation has found five Baltimore City high schools and one middle school do not have a single student proficient in the state tested subjects of math and English...(The students) are essentially illiterate and unemployable...For all intents and purposes, there are no whites, asians or hispanics around them. The entire government is made up of Democrats and has been for decades...The Baltimore School District spends 50% above the national average per student.
Conservatives like to blame the teachers while progressives complain about school funding and racism. It's all nonsense. It has to be.

First off, the teachers are highly motivated to see the children succeed. Assuming that they are all venal degenerates, they are nonetheless rewarded for the kids achieving high scores on the standardized tests. Even if they were the most selfish people on Earth, they would work hard to help the children learn. Such calumny against teachers is vicious nonsense. Almost all of them get into the profession because of a natural devotion to children.

Second, the teachers are, collectively, some of the most progressive people in the country. The teachers' unions bankroll the Democrats everywhere. The Democrats, obsessed with der volk, err, people of color, would hardly be the ones trying to screw children on the basis of race.

Third, it's never been easier to learn. Unless I missed some new discoveries, there are still only 26 letters in the alphabet and ten numbers in math. Nouns and verbs continue to serve their respective purposes and, our deficit spending aside, addition and subtraction fill their same old functions. Meanwhile there are apps and programs and books and toys and libraries and websites, cleverly designed by dedicated professionals to help children learn.

How in the world do you end up with mass failure? How is it that we blame the teachers, the schools, the funding or racism?

Politics has been interesting me less and less as I stumble to the conclusion that we are all lying to ourselves as a country.
Popular culture is all Song of the South. It turns it's back on the pain and suffering of real people and instead uses them to sell a narrative to the rest of us, a narrative that isn't true at all. Without that truth, we'll never be motivated to change what is because we won't see it.
Our elites blame the teachers, the schools, money and racism because they want power. If they blamed us, instead of handing them more authority, we'd be motivated to change our behavior and improve ourselves.

And who would want that?

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

As that was written by Rudyard Kipling and he was a white male, we can dismiss it without consideration.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

You Can't Want The Deal More Than The Client

Relieve Stress By Cutting Back Emotional Attachments

I'm stressed out of my gourd right now, dealing with major issues in multiple areas of my life. At work, I'm doing the job of four people. I'm experienced and fast enough to handle two jobs at a time, but at four, things are falling off the table and that's been tying my stomach in knots.

My gourd. I am not in it.
A simple solution would be to hire additional help. We have an expert available in house who is dying to work with us and is currently tasked doing menial chores, but for whatever reason*, management won't move them onto our project. To have this cheerful and ultra-competent potential coworker so close is sheer torture.

These days, my blood pressure is about double what it normally is.

My wife, who has worked in real estate for years, shared a motto she uses herself. "You can't want the deal more than the client."

The house might be just right, the price excellent and the neighborhood perfect for the buyer. The purchase ought to be a no-brainer. The sale is right there, right at your fingertips, but the buyer, for whatever reason, won't pull the trigger. You have to shrug and blow it off. Don't stay up at night, don't yell at your windshield while you drive, just let it go.

For me, if management didn't want the work to fall on the floor, they'd make that simple move. They won't. Oh well.

It doesn't solve the problem perfectly - I'm still buried. At least with this motto in mind, I can slough off some of the stress and stop trying to change things over which I have no power.

* - Subordinate lesson: Don't waste your time psychoanalyzing management. Chances are poor that you will get it right and it will do nothing but waste your time.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Color Moods

One of the things I do when I'm not coming up with fascinating blog posts is design corporate web sites.

Well, I don't actually design them, it's more like I do the underlying technologies. If you asked me to do any real design, I'd hide under my bed. I'm afraid to try it because I know I don't know anything about design.

With that in mind, I'm trying to learn. Something I just discovered, something obvious to finger-painting five-year-old children, is that colors convey moods. Like this.

I've always gravitated to blues and some greens. I've heard that your color preferences reflect your personality but I'm not sure about that. I'm a big fan of Myers-Briggs personality profiles. I'm a strongly-typed ENFJ and I don't see ENFJ in blues and greens.
ENFJs are idealist organizers, driven to implement their vision of what is best for humanity. They often act as catalysts for human growth because of their ability to see potential in other people and their charisma in persuading others to their ideas. They are focused on values and vision, and are passionate about the possibilities for people.
Maybe I just like blues and greens.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Song Of The South For 2018

I've been trying to put my finger on this for a long time and I think I finally have it.

Back in the late 1940s, Disney decided to make a mixed-medium film based on the tales of Br'er Rabbit. The movie was Song of the South and it featured white children playing with a black man and a black kid. It wasn't full-on SJW, but they made an effort to show that integration was good.

The civil rights groups at the time begged Disney not to show scenes of blacks singing happily while picking cotton. They were fine with the film in general, but they felt that making the lives of Southern blacks look happy and carefree was detrimental to the cause of Civil Rights. Disney blew them off and, sure enough, the blacks are there, singing in their cabins and working in the fields. It's pretty appalling.

Song of the South failed as a movie because it lied to you. It wasn't a complete lie, but the lie about the happy lives of Southern blacks was too big to ignore. That lie made the need for the Civil Rights movement seem less urgent to the people whose only view into that world came from the arts.

All movies, TV shows, ads and plays are Song of the South these days. It's all lies and they all make it seem like there's no real need for huge cultural reforms.

That's the hit song from the movie. Here are the lyrics to the modern rap song the Philadelphia Eagles played when they took the field, Mill Meeks' Dreams and Nightmares.

Art like that is more than a beat and some rhymes. It tells you how people think, how they feel, what they value. Meeks isn't alone. Try a random sample of his peers and see what you find. If you actually listen to it, hear what they are trying to tell you, drive through the neighborhoods, look at the statistics, the cultural rot is crystal clear.

Ask yourself, is that what you see in the movies? Is that what you see in the crime shows or the melodramas like This is Us? Aren't they all Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah instead?

Popular culture is all Song of the South. It turns it's back on the pain and suffering of real people and instead uses them to sell a narrative to the rest of us, a narrative that isn't true at all. Without that truth, we'll never be motivated to change what is because we won't see it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Beloved Sports Memories

... like this bring a smile to the lips and warmth to the heart whene'er they're recalled.

Living in Los Angeles at the time, I decided to become a Toronto Blue Jays fan when they came into the league in 1977. I followed them religiously in the newspaper and saw them as much as possible when they would come to Anaheim to play the Angels. I don't recall ever seeing them win there. I must have been a jinx.

I flew to Toronto to see the last three games of the 1985 season when they won their first AL East title, shown in the video above. I was sitting in the left field bleachers, not far from where George Bell caught that fly ball to end the game. Everyone went nuts, myself included. It was fabulous.

Back at that time, the Jays were still playing at Exhibition Stadium, which was built for the Toronto Argonauts. The design allowed freezing Lake Ontario winds to whip through the stadium from one end to the other. It had the reputation of being the worst ballpark in the major leagues. The Friday night game before this one was bitterly cold and, if I recall correctly, was temporarily disrupted by a squall of freezing rain.

It didn't matter. When the Jays won, it could have been 10 below and we'd still have loved it.

And that one is for you, ligneus. Not sure if you were living in Toronto at the time. I've been there twice and I think it's a gorgeous city. I'd still rather live in Dixie than anywhere else, but Toronto is beautiful.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

How To Help Undocumented Immigrants

I have plenty of progressive friends who recoil in horror at the thought of building a wall on our southern border and deporting Dreamers and other illegal aliens. They feel a tremendous amount of sincere, Christian compassion for those immigrants. It's well-intentioned and based in love. I would like to see the wall built tomorrow and the illegals deported. Here's how we can both get what we want.

The progressives should move to Mexico, become Mexican citizens and spend their lives working to make Mexico better*.

I'm not being facetious here. I really mean it. By moving to Mexico and becoming citizens of that great country, all of their time and effort would make Mexico a better place and they would be serving the needs of poor Mexicans every hour of every day. No more half measures. Go all the way and do what you feel called to do, my brothers and sisters.

Putting an end to anti-immigrant racism

Those of us who remained in America would build the wall and strictly control our borders. The only people allowed in would be the ones we wanted. Every Dreamer a planned and wanted Dreamer, as it were. That would mean that every dark-skinned person we encountered in America would be the kind we redneck bigots wanted. Every interaction would be positive. All of our prejudices would melt away in the warm bath of national comity.

This seems like the ultimate win-win-win-win. The progressives would be able to help the disadvantaged from other countries, the right-wing bigots would get to control their borders, the citizens of Mexico would see vast improvements in their quality of life and American Hispanics would see an end to racism. I don't see a downside to this at all.

With 5 of the 10 most violent cities on Earth, Mexico is in need of dedicated, compassionate, progressive citizens so very, very much.
* - Note that this works with European progressives who want to help Muslim immigrants as well.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

By Now, You'd Think We'd Be Used To President Trump

... but I guess not.

I don't know about you, but when I heard Trump rattling sabers about tariffs and trade wars, I saw it as the typical Trumpian gambit. You make huge pronouncements and then see what happens. Time after time, he starts the bidding way beyond what he really wants and then negotiates his way back to the win he is willing to accept. I'm pretty much a free-trade guy, but I didn't get alarmed by the president's tough talk at all. I figured someone in the media would have it dialed in and urge calm.

Nope. We were headed for a massive trade war, possibly followed by a shooting war. Sigh. It's all so much Pavlovian salivation on the part of the press. DOOM! DOOM! HE'S TOTALLY CRAZY!

Meanwhile, employment is roaring, stocks are recapturing their lost ground, Rocket Man is offering to meet with President Trump after pausing his missile and nuke tests, ISIS has been totally wiped out and on and on. Every move he makes is going to kill us, except for the ones that make us wealthier and safer. Which would be all of them.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Bad Food In Horrible Packaging

A while back, I used a tin of corned beef for some African cooking. I had an extra tin of the stuff, so I decided to fry some up for breakfast this morning.

Bad idea.

For one thing, you can't get the tin open. That stupid key you're supposed to turn to open it always snaps off. Once it does, you can't open it with a can opener because the tin is rectangular instead of round. I got it started with a can opener and then had to finish it off with a screwdriver and needle nosed pliers.

The tin after using the key, a can opener and a screwdriver. At the bottom, you can see the little gash the key made before it broke off.

Needle nosed pliers to the rescue! I ended up cutting my finger on the jagged metal. Winning!
Once opened, it fried up the dog food. Or maybe it just looked like dog food.

Is this dog food?
Or is this dog food?


Or not.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

This Doesn't Bode Well For People With Low IQs

Given that the Buddha's goal was self-annihilation, it's no wonder he spent all that time staring off into space.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Alexa The Amazon Echo - First Impressions

For Christmas, we bought everyone in the family Amazon Echos. It's taken a while to really make use of it, but we're loving it now and talk to it all the time. My mom has moved in with us after being discharged from rehab at the nursing home (she broke her neck, but that's another story) and we bought her one as well.

Alexa is clearly the lead dog in the voice-activated home systems. Everyone is scrambling to work with her. Recently, Sonos upgraded their software so all of our music can be played anywhere in the house with a command to Alexa. With our Pandora and Spotify Premium accounts, we've got all the music in the world. With our Audible account, she can read books to us, too.

The only drawback is that she doesn't play nicely with Google. A few years back, we chose Google Music over Apple, mostly because we didn't want to invest tens of thousands of dollars to switch to the Apple ecosystem. Now all of our CDs have been uploaded to our Google accounts. Spotify Premium gives us unlimited access to those same albums, but our playlists are still locked into Google Music. There are ways to move the playlists to Spotify, but I haven't tried any yet. That will be a future post.

First Impression: We love Alexa.

Second Impression: When we ask her to bark like a dog, she does so, driving the Catican Guards crazy. ;-)

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Hollywood Is Toast

Jimmy Kimmel's Oscars monologue spewed hate at the Normals who are supposed to pay for the movies to be made. That's all you need to know.

The ratings were the worst in history. Of course, if I screamed at my customers, they'd go away, too. I keep trying to figure out how this happened. How can you completely disconnect from reality like this?

Also, why are they screaming and full of hate and outrage when life is so good? Technology keeps getting better and better, learning is easier all the time, information is everywhere, we can connect like never before, global poverty is constantly declining, business is booming, if you want to work, you can find a job, just what is the problem? Why are they so angry?

Hollywood is completely crazy. They live in a self-reinforcing world of their own making. They are the guards in their own prison camp. If any of their peers gets out of line, the others beat them down. It's one of Dante's circles of Hell where the possibility of escape is always there, but the inmates are so blinded by bitterness and hate that they keep each other inside.

How long can this continue? I know I'm not going to the movies any more and it's not because of the ticket prices or inconvenience. I like the movie-going experience with popcorn and a huge screen. I don't think I saw a movie in all of 2017. I wanted to go see the new Star Wars one, but not enough to actually do it.

I'm hoping that technology and the Internet will democratize movies. Cameras are cheaper than ever and a professional editing capability can be yours for an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. We're ready for a new center of gravity in film.

Hollywood is dead, long live whatever we can find to replace it.

In the Hollywood Circle of Hell, we find actors, actresses, directors and producers blinded by a hatred of their audience. They are forced to forever create movies for each other that tank at the box office. Their punishment is their belief that their wonderful art is wasted on the swine who make up most of the country.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Could You Deep Fry The Blob?

Remember the 1950s horror movie with Steve McQueen, The Blob? No? Well, there was one. So there.

Anyway, the blob was this blobby protoplasmic blob of blobbiness that engulfed people and things because ... because ... because ... well, I'm sure it had its own, blobby reasons.

Whatever. The blob resembled a sheet of cheese grits that you've chilled and are about to cut up, bread and deep-fry. Yummy! Why couldn't they have done it with the blob?

Oh noes! It's the blob!

That was quick thinking, Steve. Thanks to you and your deep fryer, the blob has been eliminated. With delicious results, too, I might add!
Below is either a scene from the movie or our kids reacting to my cooking.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Can You Die Of Boredom?

Dig this chart from a WSJ article on Italian politics and economics.

Thirty percent of the population in the prime of their lives sit around and do nothing all day? I'd go mad in a week or two. What do they do with themselves?

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Is Terrible

I could only stomach about 40 minutes of it. Hopefully it was less than that.

Somewhere in Hollywood, probably on every computer associated with movie production, is a Microsoft Word document describing how straight, white, conservative, male characters can be portrayed. Three Billboards had the full range of them. There was the abusive ex-husband, the bigot cop, the incompetent sheriff who covered up for the bigot and maybe someone else. My mind is blanking on the rest because after 30-40 minutes, I wanted to puke. I'm sure there was a plucky, gay dude somewhere in the film, just to give the homophobes in the audience the finger. If not, expect protests at the Oscar. Whatever. In the movie, when the racist cop arrested the black woman for possession of marijuana, I left the room to do something more rewarding like pouring sand into my eyes.

It's so mind-numbingly boring. The plots are irrelevant when the characters are all the same. The interactions that make up the movie are so predictable that the narrative arc becomes secondary to the fact that you can see all of the dialog a mile away.

I dunno, maybe one of the dudes had a redemption. If so, it's the same redemption people like me always have. We become more like them, because that's what redemption is.

If anyone ever made a movie from the true story of my life, the studio would be burned to the ground by enraged progressives protesting the sheer "hate" of the thing. As I tried to watch Three Billboards, I thought about that. I watched the non-me characters and put some of the ones from my life in their places. I guess that's why I quit watching. It was all so much rubbish.

On a related note, sperm counts are dropping.
Researchers from Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Jerusalem announced this week that sperm count in men residing in developed countries has dropped by a whopping 50 percent over the past 40 years.
Now there's a shock.

By way of contrast, here's Away All Boats, a second-string, Navy, war movie from 1956. It's not scintillating, but it has men doing man things, behaving and speaking like men. It couldn't be made today.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Do You Want To Be A Man?

If you are a woman, how do you know?

I've got a friend who has fallen into the clutches of the hardcore LGBT community. She's decided she identifies as a man. As long as I've known her, she has never come across as a man to me, not even as a bull dyke. She doesn't learn like a man, react like a man, pursue goals like a man or anything else.

A fundamental error in the whole transgender thing dawned on me today. How do trannies decide to identify as the other sex? They really don't have any frame of reference for the feeling. Ask yourself, what does it feel like to be the opposite sex? How do they think, what do they feel, what are their motivations? You don't really know what is going on inside of them. Dig this chart.

A woman's hormones as a function of reproductive cycle.

My hormones don't look anything like that. How would I know what a woman feels? It would be an obnoxious act of superiority to suggest that I did. Beyond that, there are the mental imprints you get growing up weaker and less aggressive than the men around you. I don't know that, either.

I might legitimately tell you that I don't like being male, but I don't see how I could say that I felt like a woman. The analogy that came to mind was looking at a painting, but not knowing anything about canvases, brushes or oil paints. I might know they existed, but not how they were used. I would be able to see the painting and understand the appearance, but anything more than that would be a total mystery. As far as I would be concerned, the painting was created by dipping your finger in inks or clays and applying them to really thin plywood.

Of course, the TG thing is all a lie anyway, so this is an empty, intellectual pursuit. If you identify as a pirate, there is no political constituency demanding the government pay for your leg amputation, parrot and monthly supply of rum.

Yarr. Too bad, matey. That might be nice.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

San Diego

... is beautiful. I took this shot after a rainstorm. It's big enough to be worth a click. Enjoy.