30 November 2005

In and Out Urge? The hotel I'm at tonight is right next to an In and Out Burger, the fast food chain the Southern Californians claim is the best burger in the world. Well, its a decent burger but I think like silicon and other things LA, its over-rated. I'd rate it as maybe as good as Whataburger but not up to a Blake's Lottaburger. It's sure not worth any urges here...

Why, yes, I realize I may have just pissed off most of LA, but its really just an okay burger.

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Joshua Trees and the Flats: Lord, I love the desert. Why must I live in a swamp? <sigh> Science-wise, this was a great day. How can you not love a job that lets you run TNT and HMX as the standards? The Ph.D. I was to work with turns out to be Major (retired) Doctor Professor: a fellow who spend 20 years in the AF, taught at the Academy, and is now back as a civilian developing a group to study things that go bang. And not just empirically - we are talking mechanistic determination of the molecule levels. I've haven't seen chemist this cool in years. One thing the government really does do well is support research. Maybe not to the agreement of everyone and maybe not always as well known as it should be, but there are some incredible people figuring things out in odd places. I again regret not going ROTC years ago.

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29 November 2005

Woodwork question: Neither of the instruments below have hard cases, so I was thinking that maybe this approach called the stitch and glue method would work. Use real thin plywood and bend to shape, then stitch and glue. Advice anyone?

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Over the mountains but not thru the woods: I flew in Ontario today and drove out over the pass on CA 138 to Edwards AFB. Going thru the San Bernardino National Monument at Mormon Rocks was amazing as were the salt flats and the Joshua Trees. Mormon Rocks seems to make the peak in the pass. To the south, you have the "golden" hills that are the California trademark (translation: the drought killed grasses just waiting to burn). To the north, you are heading down to the high desert. There are Joshua trees all over the place and  I so want one of those for my yard. In Littlerock of all place, I had dinner at a little deli and meat market called Valley Hungarian Sausage. It's this little deli/meat market right off of CA 138. A young man from Budapest ended up here years ago, married local, and started the business. I had stuffed cabbages, Debreceni sausage, noodles and kalac for dessert. It was like going home except for a bit more hot pepper in the noodles. Hmmmm.  Much better than McDonald's again.

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25 November 2005

For the Co-mando folks: Here's the tater-bug and the Romainain bouzouki I mentioned on the Co-mando list earlier today. For 250 USD, the latter is an amazingly good instrument. No idea if Adam has any more but here's the link to his business site: I've mislaid the one to his music page. The tater-bug is standard length although the neck is wider than most American made mandolins I've seen. It's the Knorr Style from Musikalia in Itlay. I got it from a pawn shop. Once the neck was straightened, it played like a dream.  It's a bit mellow for bluegrass but great for Celtic and Classical stuff. Strung with those fancy Jazzmando strings, it sweeter voiced than I expect. I love the back: wish I could cut joints that snug.

The bouzouki is Celtic style with a flat back and strung in pairs of GDAE. I decided against the Irish or Greek tuning because I'm still too new a player to cope with the differences. I didn't like the way the octave tuning sounded either as I mainly play simple melodies on it. Tension on the strings is surprising low compared to true Octave mandolins.

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24 November 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Thanksgiving, the only truly religious American Holiday, falls during the Advent Fast for Orthodox Christians on the New Calendar. Because Orthodox is or should be* a faith tied to the life of the people of a country, we break the Fast today, in my dioceses with Vladika's blessing, to join in what is a oddity in the American calendar. There is no real question that Thanksgiving is a religious holiday, in an odd non-sectarian way. It's a day where we gather, theoretically, as family and thank our God for the blessing of the year. As Orthodox Christians living in a mainly non-Orthodox but non-oppressive country, we have a lot to be thankful for.  (At least until the PC-driven sell-out to Islam decides we should all be dhimmis.)

My maternal ancestors** came to this country to escape the combination of religious and political persecution that tore up the western edge of the Ukraine and the Carpathian Mountains in the late 1800s. If you were ruled by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, you were going to become Catholic, willing or not. If you were ruled by the Tsar, you got to stay Orthodox but there was a good chance your priest was reporting on anti-Russian activities to the Secret Police. In either case, you were a second class citizen for being either Slavic or non-Russian. Making a living was hard and a chance to go to a new world was wonderful. America was really looked at as a great and good place, so much so that an old-timer told me pews were added to Orthodox Churches simply because American Churches had pews -not that the Orthodox really knew what to do with them. It's dang hard to sit anytime except the sermon...

Thanksgiving is one of the things Christians are called to and despite it being both political incorrect and unsophisticated I am very thankful to be living in the freest and best country in the world. I've lived in a handful of countries over the years, visited more, and still have never found anyplace as free and open as the US. I'm thankful to live someplace I can practice my faith in peace and still have Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, and Moslem guests over for Thanksgiving dinner while one of my best friends calls in (He's Jewish). I'm thankful for the men and women that serve in the military; I see many of them passing through DFW and my thanks is never enough. I'm thankful for my goddess, who tolerates my less-than-normal lifestyle and loves me more than I can understand, for 2 strong sons, and for a circle of good friends across the globe. For students that have honored me by caring about what I teach. For the people I met through my job and the various societies, whose work mentally challenges me so much. For graduate students and post-docs from around the world who share their culture with us and join us for our celebrations. For a father who loved me regardless but expected the best of me. For mother, who still thinks of me as her baby and for my brother, who is the best brother I could have and I don't deserve - I wish we were closer. I'm thankful for my profession, as I can't imagine anything more fun than doing science for a living. For all this and for His Infinite Mercy, I give thanks to Christ God for blessing me so much more than I, the chief of sinners, deserve.

Happy Thanksgiving*** Y'all.

* Let not get me started on the sin of multiple jurisdictions in the US. I think a bunch of bishops are going to have some serious explaining to do at the Dreadful Judgment. Many of the Orthodox ethnophiles will too.

** My paternal ancestors include some of the earliest settlers in New France as well as a fair number of Algonquin. We have a hell of a lot more Native American blood than Prof. Churchill does and can actually trace it back to the Bear clan and a specific Band thro we are by no means tribal. Since Métis is really only used for those in the West, the term for me is mutt. (Jonathon, I got it wrong - mother corrected me - we're Bear and Daddy's personal totem was Turtle. Weird that. And grandfathers was some sort of swallow-like bird.)

***And next year, we're doing a turducken! If I gotta bone a turkey anway.

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Wrong on Matthews?: Apparently Chris Matthews denies having said what was attributed to him below and says his opinion is we should hunt down and kill terrorist. Funny how this link from LGF (the evil Grand Lizard's blog) seems to suggest he wasn't. I wonder how Matthews' moral relevance would hold up if his own live was on the line. Anyway,  I still think it would be fun to dump Cindy Sheehan or some of Code Pink into Mecca or Medina and see how they like the experience of an equally valid culture. Any know how to write "Constantinople will be freed in Arabic"? Or maybe "neo-crusader"? I asked the fellow who does the "Infidel" shirts but my stuff is too "Christian" for him. (paraphrasing his words).

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23 November 2005

Apple sauce or another reason to love your food-mill: Having a couple of bushel's of these Arkansas Blacks to play with, we tried this super easy apple sauce recipe from somewhere, maybe Connie's grandmother, which we found on a folded noted card in the recipe box. Because the apples are cooked in their skins, the sauce takes on a nice pinkish tint. The recipe calls for sugar to taste and a touch of cinnamon, but we skipped both as the apples didn't need it. Now this has no preservatives so it will darken if exposed to air but the flavor keeps fine. You could use some Vitamin C to keep it from darkening but why bother? I use a Food Saver™ jar that I can suck the air out of, mainly because I'm a gadget junkie. The only real problem is after making this you can't go back to store bought.

3 lbs Arkansas Black or another hard apple, quartered and cored but not skinned

1 cup water

sugar to taste

Cinnamon or Sweet Spice to taste

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) if desired

In a large saucepan, put one cup of water and the un-skinned apple quarters. Heat the water until boiling and then simmer 20 minutes. (Yes, it looks like too little water but, trust me, it works fine). Apples should be soft to the touch. Drain off water and save. Feed apples through a food-mill to separate skins from flesh. Rerun skin 2-3 times until fairly dry. Adjust taste and add 1 tsp of ascorbic acid if desired Mix well. Use reserved water to thin to taste. That's it. Cool and serve. Total time less than an hour.

With Macintosh or some of the lighter red varieties, the applesauce is a faint pink. These apples make it a light red. If you want it white, you can skin the apples but it loses flavor.

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22 November 2005

Want try living in Mecca?  Chris Matthews is quoted in The Best of the Web today as saying evil is only a point of view. I wonder if he thinks the sentence of abduction and rape on 5 young women by their Islamic Council is also only wrong from a point of view. Of course, unlike me, Matthews is a liberal and his feminism therefore does not require any actions. So if we can't give these women asylum in the US, can we buy them guns? And Chris, honey, why don't you try moving to Mecca and seeing what the perception is like close up? Or Tehran? I understand its a different perspective there too. To the point, a young American Moslem woman I know is selling her families land there on the grounds its all going to get much worse, fast.

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For Russ and Anna in Hungary:  If y'all read this, call Kirby.

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19 November 2005

Venison! I got the call today from Golden Triangle Meat that our deer are ready. The kielbasa won't be done until after the season but the smoked, summer and breakfast sausage are now ready... Hmmmm. And my Arkansas blacks apples got here from Georgia. I'm happy. (The pickled peaches too so I'll make three pies for Thanksgiving.)

You have to have lived in the North East to understand. Modern apples just don't match the flavor or texture of the older local varieties like these. We had apple crisp with these tonight and they were awesome. Ben wants to turn a wooden one for his teacher now too.

UPDATE: Dang! The fast started Wednesday!

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17 November 2005

Stuck in San Jose, again: Dang. American has mislaid their airplane again and my flight is now scheduled for 8 pm, meaning I will be arriving about 2 am. I feel sorry for the graduate student I'm meeting at 9 am tomorrow... Ah well, I should have a bunch of book reviews up this weekend and maybe someone will throw money in my hat while I practice this mandolin? 

UPDATE: Drop by Instapundit and you'll see it's not just me....I wonder if he carries a blender when he travels and if an airline gate agent fits into it?

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Modern Benedicts: Finally Republican hit back and the Democrats admit it:  Some democrat admited today that he wanted the troops pulled out of Iraq, without regard for the human cost. Just like we did in Vietnam. After all, they aren't white folks like us so why should we care? That should seems to be the subtext here. Let them die like those people in Southeast Asia did under the care of the North Vietnamese, Pol Pot, etc. After all, they are going to help him suck up to the party base. Of course, we could just admit that like Benedict Arnold, the bastard is a traitor despite his service in the Vietnam war. History shows that honest service at one time is no magick proof of later patriotism.  (For you not up on American history, Arnold was a hero of the American Revolution and a respected General in the US's fledgling army until it suited his political purposes better to sell out to the Crown.  I think we should start calling Democrats "Benedicts" in honor of him.) In fact, the sheer fact the democrats and their MSM love-slaves are always screaming about questioning their patriotism should raise a red flag. How many faithful husbands or honest employees do you know that constantly bring up the fact? The sheer sensitivity to the issue point to the fact they know what they are doing is treasonous. But like their namesakes, the Benedicts are using treason to their profit.

 Kudos to Senator McCain for hitting back on this crap. Now if the Republican will only keep it up? And any bets if we will hear any democrat voices supporting him?

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16 November 2005

Sales Meeting Blogging: WiFi is so cool now I have a laptop that uses it. I'm sitting here discussing trends in thermal sales while updating the blog.  It's kinda cool. Especially as it also lets me keep up with customer emails too and also monitor the samples I am running in the Tech Center's lab at the same time.

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Funny but Bad Logic, Poor Biblical Studies, and Lousy Theology: God hates Shrimp (h/t to Instapundit) is a spoof site mocking people like Fred Phelps, whose actions are one of those reasons that I wrote this. Whether intentionally because it doesn't help make his case, or honestly because they don't understand Christian belief, the author makes a very poor case. Read in context, the release of Christians from the Old Testament laws was very specific: Peter's vision of "what God has cleanse" was tied to a specific discussion of what laws should pagan converts be required to hold, and there was never any question of the obligations of the moral laws being relaxed. Secondly, the looking at Paul's words in his letters as different from the Gospels is a delusion that derives from the Sola Scriptura viewpoint.  What we call the New Testament was decided on by Church Council out of the mass of literature available. It was never meant to be isolated verses, but instead to be read as a whole and not detached from the tradition and teaching of the Church. References to sexual immorality are pretty much all in agreement: coming from a viewpoint that says all sex outside of the marriage of one man and one woman is wrong, there really isn't a discussion to be had.  Nothing has been found to suggest that Christian ever had a different view despite the writings of some 20th Century academics. Abortion, Infanticide, Homosexuality, Premarital Sex, Murder...all have been condemned from day one. Comparing any form of sexual immorality to the dietary laws ignores the decision that the Early Church made following Peter's dream and quoted directly in Acts. Converts are to avoid a list of things including sexual immorality instead of keeping the full Jewish law. And yeah, that term for sexual immorality includes a lot of stuff Christian Churches look the other way on like pre-martial sex and divorce too.

No one said the faith was going to be comfortable or agreed with the World. Sorry, but being Christian doesn't mean being nice or liked. However, some people like Phelps may be shocked to find out it doesn't mean being a hate-filled asshole either. There's this thing about loving the sinner despite the sin.

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15 November 2005

Little Lent: The Advent fast begins today. Today marks for those Orthodox using the New Calendar the start of the fast preceding Christmas.  Until relatively recently, Christmas was preceded by a 40 day period of prayer and fasting. This fasting was counter-balanced by the 12 days of Christmas, when people celebrated, partied and exchanged gifts for 12 days.  This fast always hits me harder than Great Lent, as the contrast between the outer and inner disciplines of the fast clash so strongly with the unbridled commercialism and continuous partying that the secular world displays. By the weekend after Thanksgiving, I'll probably in a foul mood that doesn't lift until the Christmas Liturgy starts.

And I would have to start the fast in San Jose, where Hunan Taste is just down the street from our office.

UPDATE: Yes, this means my laptop got here. Sadly they forgot to image the Hard-drive and I'm reloading it all by hand.

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14 November 2005

Laptops: Still no laptop but off to San Jose tomorrow anyway. <sigh>

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12 November 2005

Lego Robots and Indian Food: My youngest boy, Ben, competed today in a Lego Robotics competition at the Winston School down in Dallas. He,  his partner and the other team from Liberty were the only elementary school teams trying out. Everyone else was junior high or high school students. The way the competition worked was they had 2 hours to build a robot from a Lego kit and then program it to run a path with 2 45° turns and then knock a straw off two pillars. They did it in their test run but then in the competition they couldn't remember exactly where they started from and missed on both tries. They got close however and out of all the teams, only 3 completed the task.  Because they were so much younger than the other kids, they got honorable mention for trying. The organizer said it was an amazing showing that they came so close when most of the other kids didn't manage that. His science teacher, Heather Lytle, did a great job getting them ready. Ben did well and behaved perfectly even when he didn't win. I'm so proud of him.

On the way home we stopped at India Palace, a very upscale Indian restaurant in Dallas. The food was incredible and, because there are no Indian restaurants in Denton, I was surprised to find out the boys both are unfamiliar with it. We had a whole range of foods from samosas and keman naan to lamb vindaloo, the tandoori mixed grill and shrimp rice bismati and ending with kufti, kheer, and mango custard.  The chia was awesome, spicy and tingly with a hint of pepper. Afterwards both of them were saying we needed to find someplace like this closer or get Laxmi to teach us to cook this stuff.

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Laptop Update: Well, the replacement got here today but I have no clue how to log on as it doesn't take my old password or user name. So now I have a laptop but can't use it. <sob> So updating this is still limited to the days I am home.

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10 November 2005

Total Laptop Failure: Sorry to disappear but my aging laptop finally died on the 7th. Since I was in Atlanta at a hotel, I was unable to find an Internet Cafe that had software to allow me to update this site. So there will probably be a bit posted over the few days as I vent about various things...

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6 November 2005

Carnival of Recipes is up at Pajama Pundits...hmmmm. Soups. BTW, anyone want some hummus?

More turning: Noah and I hooked the vacuum chuck up today to finish the bowl for Gerry's mother. He was relatively disappointed that the bowl didn't implode but was impressed at how strongly the air pressure pushes it on the chuck. He's getting quite strong, yet he couldn't even shift the bowl against the force of 14 psi of air pushing it against the chuck. Kinda cool. I see why people love them. Finishing the bottom was a breeze. I'll ship it Monday with some jow. Now what else can we try using this new gizmo...

The wood looked fairly boring from the outside and I had planned a fancier turning. As it turned out, the bowl is simple to let the wood's figure show. It's a piece of elm someone gave me, I think. It's an interesting comparison looking at how wood versus metal works and leads to a bit of speculation on why Jesus was raised as a woodworker. When I forge, the metal is hammered to what I want, but turning or woodworking I have to bend and adjust my wants to what the material will do and what the grain looks like. It's a humbling experience when the wood tells you that you better change your plans.  Irish kings were reputed taught woodworking since God had been a woodworker, but I wonder if the other lesson was as important. It also teaches humility as the wood requires us to cooperate with it as it isn't going to change for us. Maybe that explains why ones sees should a difference dealing with people doing woodwork or smithing as a hobby. As a general rule woodworkers are very helpful to each other while smiths tend to be secretive, grumpy, and, well, just plain mean. Not all of them, but enough one sees a trend.

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Islam, the European Riots, and Common Sense: Okay, you wise one, what the hell is with this crap (from Fox News here):

The director of the Great Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, one of the country's leading Muslim figures, met Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on Saturday and urged the government to choose its words carefully and send a message of peace.

"In such difficult circumstances, every word counts," Boubakeur said.


Excuse me? If your group is burning, killing, and rioting, and the religious leader of it say crap like this, you deserve to be mocked and laughed out of the public sphere. Why the hell should anyone believe this is not acceptable behavior for a Moslem along with the rapes of infidel women, the murder of Christian school children, and the butchery of civilians when the religious leaders refuse to condemn these actions?  Since I don't actually hear Islamic voices decrying any action (and all CAIR does is attack anyone who dares to suggest Islam and Moslems are anything but perfect), maybe this is acceptable behavior for Moslems in the House of War? Message of peace? Carefully wording? How about "stop this shit right now or we are going to treat you as an invading force?"  The proper response to this kind of behavior is declaring martial law and shooting anyone engaged in this activity. Notice Mississippi didn't have the kind of behavior seen in NOLA?  Has everyone in Europe lost their balls? If it started here, I'd expect that at least in the red states, people would shoot back (hell, in Texas, its legal to kill people committing arson - the law actually says so) and I damn well expect the government to release the military on the bastards. And those Democrats who we know will cry for the poor misunderstood rioters? Well, we can let them go in front of the troops to see if they can get an immediate unconditional surrender. Otherwise, at this point, I think trials for treason and public hangings sound about right. (Yeah, I know it makes me sound like Roger, but we are talking civil war at best here.)

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5 November 2005

Diwala: "Only Christian Men honor even pagan things" With those words, Chesterton has the disguised Albert foretell the doom of the Saxon invaders in his "Ballad of the White Horse." Today, the local Indian community celebrated the Festival of Lights, Diwala, a holiday that has been described by some as the Christmas holiday of India. That may be a better analogy that it first seems to the believer in either religion, as Diwala like Christmas honored more as a cultural holiday that a religious one. There seem to be about 6 different interpretations of what the holiday symbolizes reflection both the cultural variation in India and the fact it spans several days, but an underlying theme is the lighting of lamps, of light over coming the darkness, of the good gods defeating the demons. Locally, it seem it excuse for lovely young women to dress up and show off, for eating sweets, and for getting together and being Indian in America.

A young lady I occasionally help with material analysis asked me to attend and so I went, knowing little more than what you can find off Google. It was an interesting evening, and any excuse to eat Indian food in Denton, which notably lack Indian restaurants, is a good one in my book. I was made welcome as were the other non-Indian attendees but it was in many ways the kind of celebration that Americans in Europe have on the 4th of July. It was the religious contrast that stuck me and the reaction of part of the Christian community to the idea I would attend a pagan ceremony. I am going to ignore Russ's comments on how being Orthodox means never having to say you are crypto-pagan...

For the vast majority of people there - young, well-educated, bright - it seems the religious part of the ceremony was of minor importance. The comparison to Christmas and Easter in the US was striking. The religious component is nice and necessary, but the focus is really on the party. It really did feel like Christmas and I am glad it wasn't my holiday as Christmas sends me into a fey megrims that makes the last weeks of the Advent Fast almost unbearable. Here we are remembering the time when history was overturned, when the Uncreated One Himself was borne of His creation, when the womb of the Virgin contained He who contains the Universe. And we worry about the damned tree, the foods, the baking, if we got the right present. And society hammers us with the rounds of parties, and shopping, and commercials. We should be prone in awe and dread before the image of that cave where God became a little child and we worry about dross.

Similarly, at Easter, we get the dang bunny, eggs no one seems to remember the reason for, a holiday named for a Celtic goddess of Spring, and chocolate. Yet, we are remembering, in theory, the day when God Himself died and the third day after when Death and Hell were overthrown. Christ God shattered the gates of bronze and harrowed hell, calling from the grave the dead themselves to a new life. Christ God is risen from the grave, overthrowing death by death, and we're hiding eggs? The central story of Christianity is a madness and a mystery that exceeds any pagan story of Vishnu stepping on the head of a demon or Rama overthrowing the lords of Hell. And yet, as many have pointed out (Lewis maybe the best know to this generation), these pagan tales are reflections and images of the promised liberation of the world from the grasp of sin and death.  In celebrating the triumph of the light, of good over evil, Diwala is proclaiming the victory of the Good. And hence, while even not vaguely Christian, it is something Christians should respect although we can not agree with it. Our fathers in the Church did similarly with the pagans in their day. Our God blessed creation, calling it good.

We are called to be witness to the world and not to stay hidden in Christian ghettos. Not all of us, not all the time, but there is this definite tendency in the Church today to separate evangelism into this special job. We go on missions, we preach the world, and then we run home and hide in our little churchy world. It's not new as in my college days you could get shunned by the Intervarsity group if you were spending too much time with "heathens." God forbid you drank too. Pizza and beer was not acceptable method for evangelism. Why cutting yourself off from people you may have known before was somehow holy I never really understood.  How in the hell are you going to get someone to listen to the gospel if you aren't willing to deal with them as person?  There is more to outreach than booklets, preaching, and inquirer classes. People respond to how you treat them and treating someone badly doesn't help you make the argument "God is love."  I hate to tell you what I think when some idiot in an SUV with a fish on the back cuts me off. St. Seraphim said the if you work on saving yourself, those around you will be saved too. Probably, in my simple interpretation, because the more you pray and deal with your own sinfulness, the gentler you are in how you treat other people. Somehow I doubt that mean avoiding their parties and celebrations: Our Lord sure didn't. I'm not suggestion double belief and praying to pagan gods despite the accusations: I sit through the prayers of others quietly saying the Creed or the Jesus Prayer to myself. However, if you aren't willing to eat with them and treat their belief seriously and with respect, don't you think they may be less than responsive to you. Maybe we should think about where and how Paul preached when he was in Athens?

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Diwala, China, and Indian Women:  One of the thing that stuck me at the Diwali Festival was just how pretty Indian women are and how their native dress really shows it off. Some of the women I know as graduate students blossomed into stunning beauties when all dress and made you. One young Indian lady raised in Garland twanged too (as well as did some of the most amazing traditional dance.) So having read Jonathon's emails about the male-female imbalance, made worse by the tendency of most Chinese women to go to college and not want to marry Chinese men (too demanding...I keep getting asked if I have male student. I shudder to think about when Noah gets older), how long before China decides the Romans had a good idea with that whole Sabine women mess?

And no, the goddess is not going to let me have one of either, despite all the Judge Dee* novels I pass her.

* In this idealized Chinese past, scholars got 3 or 4 wives... running joke in my house since someone called her the taitai (sp? - great wife, implies the first wife).

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4 November 2005

Stuff for sale: Well, I'm cleaning the garage and selling most of it on Ebay. I already have a nice Unimat lathe up as well as 2 antique gun scopes. I probably should have listed them better, but win some, lose some. A bunch more stuff will go up over the weekend and I'm going to try to set up a store for jows and bowls.

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Carnival of Cordite is up complete with Noah's buck and I didn't even need to put Sandi in it behind him.

3 November 2005

Catching up: I think I'm finally caught up on recipes, although Noah thinks that I missed one for Shanghai Noodles. Maybe...I'll check the notes. Now I need to really get digging on Christmas gifts and turning. The bowls to the left are the start of this winter's lot: I want to get one done Gerry's mother too before the Christmas batch starts. And some carved boxes. And the gifts. Then there is firing that little forge off so we can use it. <sigh> And then figure a way to make that BBQ break even next year. The goddess has spoken. More blogging as soon as I can...

Dang. I forgot the two cradles and hutch top. And Noah's bookcases... How the hell do I have time to blog? Hmmm. Sleep may well have to become optional.

UPDATE: The bowls - the one in the foreground is bubinga and spalted tamarind, laminated in strips. The background is natural-edged spalted hackberry, with the cracks and holes from the original log. I hope the lady it was sent to in Newfoundland likes it.

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2 November 2005

Carnivals: The Carnival of the Vanities (and I missed the deadline this time by 35 minutes) and the Christian Carnival are up.

Lamb Shanks: You can't leave the shanks on the lamb when you roast it as they burn, so we saved them and used them in this:

4 lamb shanks

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups lamb stock

1 cup baby carrots, peeled

4 sliced shallots

1 cup red wine (we used left-over merlot)

2 tsp thyme

1 tsp sage

2 tsp black pepper

salt to taste

1/4 tsp cardamom

dash cinnamon

Cut the tip end of the lamb shank away from the bone (this lets it pull up into a ball shape). Mixed the spices together and rub the lamb with the mixture. Brown the lamb in a Dutch oven and then add the stock, the carrots, the shallots, and the wine. Bring to a boil and then cover. Remove from the heat, add any remaining spices, and put in a 300 F oven and let cook covered for 1.5 to 2 hours, until the meat is tender. Serve with rice and asparagus.

Asparagus a la Gerry

Steam 2  bunches of asparagus until tender. Toss with 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar mixed with 1 tsp ginger paste and 2 tsp chopped shallots. Serve

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Venison Chops and Fried Apple-Onion Chutney: This is a quick meal we made with the back-strap of the doe Ben shot below.  It's fast and tasty.

1 pound venison back-strap - cut into 1/2 inch thick chops.

1 Tbsp garlic paste

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp coriander

1/4 tsp chipotle

salt to taste

3 Tbsp butter

Grind all the spices together and rub on the chops. Melt butter in skillet. Fry chops until browned on one side and then flip and finish on other. Remove meat and keep warm.

Apple-Onion Chutney

3 Tbsp butter

1 large Granny Smith Apple, cored and sliced

1 small purple onion, sliced.

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cinnamon (or Sweet Spice Mix)

Melt butter in skillet. Add onion and fry about 1 minute. Add apple and fry until it starts to get tender. Spice with cinnamon and pepper and continue cooking until tender. The whole thing takes about 5 minutes. I reuse the venison pan with the fond still in place.

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1 November 2005

Things to eat: The carnival of recipes, Hallow Eve Edition, is up here.

Senate in Closed Session: If you've read Fox's news today, you've seen this. Now any real reading of what was known about Iraq shows that WMD were assumed to be present based on their use on Iranians in the war, Kurds in the North, and the refusal to allow open inspections. Much of this was inherited from the last Democratic president. So basically I think we have to conclude that the Democratic Party as a whole has decided to commit treason. That's the term for giving aid and comfort to the enemy, no? And the MSM is, of course, on their side. That a non-covert employee of the CIA married to a publicity hound can be the cause of this says how twisted the whole MSM-Inside the Beltway culture has become. 

And I'll be nasty and point out with Kennedy and Leahy as senators, we will all probably know what went on in a few days, right after the terrorists are told by their buddies in the news media. You know the same guys who didn't talk about Saddam's butchery because it might have limited their access to him. And don't report planned attacks so they can film them... At some point, we or our kids are going to have to deal with the fact about 20% of this country wants us destroyed.

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Eggplant Parmigiana: The boys basically hate eggplant. Fry a nice Japanese eggplant up in oil with pepper and garlic, and they gag. Stuff it or cook it and they call Child Protective Services and claim abuse. But let Uncle Gerry make Eggplant Parmigiana and they want seconds. The difference starts with how you treat the eggplant before cooking and you are only supposed to buy male eggplants (don't ask). Anyway, we made this in a huge batch so we could freeze it for meat free days. Cut it by about 4 to get a dinner size portion for 4.

6 large "male" eggplants


2 pounds grated mozzarella

2 quarts of tomato sauce (we made our own but canned works okay. Use a garlic-herb one)

4 pounds Italian style bread crumbs

10 eggs

1/2 gallon olive oil

Peel and slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch thick slices across the long axis. Salt the slice lightly on both sides and stack in a colander in a bowl. Cover with paper towels and put a couple of large books on top to press them. Let them sit and sweat overnight. The next morning, pat them dry and discard the drippings. Scramble the eggs and roll the pieces in the egg. Then roll in breadcrumbs to coat. Heat 3 cups oil to simmering and start frying eggplant slices. When the oil starts smoking from breadcrumbs in it, discard it and start over with fresh oil. (It takes 4 changes of oil for the recipe at this size). You end up with a pile of fried eggplant like above; guard it well because thanks to the sweating process, its great as is.

In a 11" by 14" baking tray, spread a layer of tomato sauce. Lay down one layer of fried eggplant and cover with a thin coating of sauce. Spread a layer of grated cheese on top of that. Then repeat the layering process two more times. On top of the final layer of cheese, you can sprinkle another layer of ground Parmigianino cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for 30 minutes. This recipe makes four trays.

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Hummus: Gerry was told, not asked, by the goddess to make hummus again during his visit here. With the Orthodox fasting requirements, vegan food is always a problem as it tastes like recycled plastic, mostly. Gerry's hummus, however, is fantastic. So we made about 30 cups. You might want to cut it down:

3.5 pounds of dried chickpeas

12 large lemons, juiced

4 cups Tahini (sesame seed paste)

2 cups Tamari

2 cups garlic paste

Salt to taste

1/2 cup red pepper (I use chipotle)

Add the chickpeas to a large pressure cooker and cover with water 2" over them. Cook at 15 psi for 65 minutes and then let the pressure cooker return to room temperature and pressure on its own (about another 40 minutes). Drain the chickpeas and save the water. Set up a food-mill (see above) and recruit two boys to run the stuff thru it. The good stuff drips out and the skins are pushed out the end. Recycle the skins 2-3 times to get all the chickpea out. (You can mash it with a potato masher but the skins make the texture coarser.)

Add about a quarter of the chickpeas to a food processor and turn on high. Add 1 cup tahini, 1/4 of the lemon juice, 1/2 cup tamari and enough of the reserved water to make a nice smooth consistency. (We like ours thin enough to flow but thick enough to hang onto a chip. You can make it sauce thin or as thick as paste.) Add the 1/2 cup garlic paste, 1/8 cup red pepper, and salt to taste as it blends. Dump into a large bowl (see Gerry and the bowl left). Repeat for the remaining three batches and then blend everything together by hand. Adjust flavors and then let chill overnight in the frig. Adjust flavors again the next day and then freeze. Makes about 30 cups (I think). 

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