flewellyn: (Default)
If I ever get married, I think my bride and I will have to compete to see whose dress is prettier.

Because if I DO get married, I will want the day to be memorable for all attending, even after the therapy.
flewellyn: (Default)
Dubbug: *wiggle* I bought something from the dollar store awhile back
Flewellyn: Oh, what?
Dubbug: it's a light!
Dubbug: solar powered light
Flewellyn: Oooh.
Flewellyn: ...wait.
Flewellyn: Solar powered...light?
Dubbug: yes!
Dubbug: innit cooool!?
Flewellyn: So...it has to have light shining on it, in order to shine.
Dubbug: tee hee hee
Flewellyn: Umm...
Dubbug: I wish, if it did that, I'd send it to you for present ^^
flewellyn: (Default)
I was just called a communist by a priest, because I insisted that rich people should pay their fair share of taxes to support the system that enabled them to become rich, and to help support those less fortunate than they.

Apparently it's now Church doctrine that it's great to help the poor, but bad to question the system which causes people to be poor in the first place.

Woulda been news to Jesus, I imagine...
flewellyn: (Default)
So, today, I'm gonna share a few tips friend Lynn gave me on cooking pasta that make it taste amazingly good. I thought, growing up in my family, that I knew pasta. Turns out I did...mostly.

But! There are a few small things you can do when making pasta, and a pasta-based dish, that go a long long way towards making the dish taste, feel, and look more like a restaurant-quality dish. Turns out that most of the fanciness (and schmanciness) of restaurant pasta is due to these simple tricks.

Trick one is to always salt the water. I used to forgo salt because of my dad's tendency to oversalt things. But, it turns out a little bit of kosher salt in the water, say, a palmful per pound of long pasta, or two pounds of short, makes a big difference. It not only keeps it from sticking together, but also imparts a nice flavor. Pasta by itself is rather bland, and this helps season it. Kosher salt is preferable because it has a cleaner taste than table salt, of course.

Second trick: don't cook the pasta until al dente in the pot. At least, not if you are going to mix it in with a pan sauce of any kind; a "pan sauce" could even just be some butter, or olive oil and garlic, or something. In fact, there's a recipe called "Spaghetti olio e aglio" which is just that: spaghetti with olive oil and garlic. Simple stuff, but oh so good, and here's the trick: about a minute before the pasta would be al dente, take it out of the pot, and put it in the pan with the sauce. Let it finish cooking in there. This gets more of the sauce flavor into the pasta.

Final trick: save some of the pasta water and put it in the sauce pan. Seriously! That salty, starchy water is a great addition, because it helps to not only finish cooking the noodles, but the starch helps bind the sauce together. If your sauce combines water-based and oil-based ingredients, like most do, then the starch will act as a binder, and keep them from separating. Also, it imparts a wonderful smoothness to the sauce.

I've been experimenting with these techniques with recipes I know already, some of which I've posted here, like Mint Chicken. Works very well! But, tonight I got experimental. I decided to try inventing something new. Well, new to me, I can't vouch for its complete originality.

I was having friend Hollee over, and wanted to make dinner. I had some chicken, some tortellini, and some vague thoughts of how to proceed. A few flashes of inspiration later, and...

Tortellini with Chicken and Mushroom Sauce

Some of the ingredients are obvious, but let's go down the list anyway:
  • Chicken, or turkey if you prefer. I used 1.25 pounds.

  • Mushrooms, sliced. I used regular button mushrooms, about 1/2 pound.

  • Tortellini. These can be homemade if you really want to, and if you do make your own, more power to you. I do not. I used frozen, a 3 pound bag.

  • Butter, 1 stick. Yes, really, the whole stick.

  • Garlic, minced. You can use preminced if you want (I did). Two tablespoons worth.

  • Flour. I used Wondra, which is great for sauces. I didn't measure exactly, but it was probably about 1/4 cup.

  • White wine. It can be cooking wine, which is just fine. 1 cup.
  • Your spices: basil, oregano, and pepper. Didn't measure these exactly, either, but I would estimate the pepper to be about half a tablespoon. The basil and oregano are definitely "to taste", but apply liberally. It would be hard to go overboard with them.

  • Optionally, some water, if you think the sauce thickens too early.
Equipment needs are pretty simple: noodle pot, large skillet, measuring cup, a dish, a cutting board, knife, some spoons. You probably have these.

So, first thing, cut up the chicken. It should be in small chunks. Then, get the dish and pour in the flour. Mix into the flour the pepper, basil, and oregano. Coat the chicken chunks with this flour-spice mixture, and set the dish with them aside.

Get the skillet hot and melt the butter in it. When the butter is melted, add a tablespoon of garlic and the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms on medium to medium-high heat, to avoid burning the garlic: roasted garlic is tasty, but burnt is bitter and nasty. This part will take about five minutes or so.

Once the mushrooms are soft, pour in the wine, and add the chicken chunks and the other tablespoon of garlic. Mix this together and don't worry about it being watery at this point. In fact, worry if it's too thick to dissolve all of the flour, and add some water if that's the case. The sauce will thicken as it cooks. Stir the sauce while the chicken cooks. This will probably take ten minutes.

Turn the heat up to medium-high or high. Keep stirring the skillet, while you start the noodles cooking. Tortellini cook fast, so you won't have much time between putting them in and taking them back out, probably a minute or two at most. Make sure the tortellini are still underdone when you take them out.

When you do so, transfer the tortellini to the sauce pan, along with some of the noodle water -- a cup should do it. Stir them in and let them cook in the sauce. Add more basil and oregano if you think it needs it. It probably does. This phase should take about five minutes.

When the sauce is nice and thick, take the skillet off of the heat and serve. You can top it with parmesan or romano cheese if you like, and that is very tasty, but it's not necessary. This dish tastes quite good on its own, with no topping or garnish.

That's it for Cooking with Flew, and remember: less time cooking means more time eating!
flewellyn: (Default)
So, apparently, Osama bin Laden is dead. That's interesting, and I suppose it marks some symbolic victory, but what have we gained?

Our hyped up state of fear of the rest of the world, particularly the Muslim world, is not going to vanish overnight. Our excessive and unnecessary curtailing of civil liberties, resurgence of paranoid right-wing reactionaries, and broadening of the "national security state" will not be stopped by this.

We have killed a terrorist leader, but only after being terrorized by his specter for ten years. And let's not pretend that the worst elements of our own society, which have cynically used the (overblown, post-9/11) threat of bin Laden to gain power and influence, will simply go back to the margins like they should. The overt racism and religious bigotry, the rampant resurgence of overt misogyny, all galvanized by "us or them" thinking on the part of our leaders and fed by an extreme right-wing that has been seeking an excuse for years if not decades, these things will not fade away.

Nor will the paranoid overbroadening of police powers disappear. We still have Gitmo, the use of torture against civilians, two wars, warantless wiretapping and surveillance, and the overall abandonment of our moral high ground on the subject of human and civil rights on our national conscience. We have, these past ten years, fought monsters so hard that we have become monsters.

In the final analysis, Osama bin Laden has won. So why are we celebrating?
flewellyn: (Default)
Dubbug: I'm not entirely sure what it is about japanese ppls and poop


Mar. 14th, 2011 12:21 am
flewellyn: (Default)
So, I just spent some time explaining to Dubbug how nuclear reactors work, so she could understand what was happening in Japan.

Her reaction:

Dubbug: so basically they're just boiling water in there!?
Flewellyn: Yes, that's exactly what they're doing.
Flewellyn: It's like a big pressure cooker.
Flewellyn: But the heat's coming from the nuclear reactions in the uranium fuel.
Dubbug: would it be safe to cook my mushrooms in there?
Flewellyn: Uhh...if you like radioactive mushrooms.
Flewellyn: I don't think you would.
Dubbug: will it make me grow big?
Flewellyn: No, but it might make you have cancer.

I think she was hoping the mushrooms would be like in Super Mario Bros.
flewellyn: (Default)
You're familiar with the Five Stages of Grief? Well, this is in that vein.

  1. Denial: "Nothing's happening, it was cold this winter!"

  2. Conspiracy Theories: "It's all a plot by climatologists to get more money! Never mind that oil companies make more in a day of drilling than climatologists earn in their lifetimes!"

  3. Partial Denial: "It may be warming, but that's perfectly natural! No evidence it's anthropogenic! Any evidence to the contrary is still a conspiracy against business!"

  4. Positive Spin: "This will turn out to be a good thing! You'll see!"

  5. and finally,
  6. Enraged Acceptance: "Everything sucks now! Why didn't you WARN us?! Stupid scientists!"


Jan. 12th, 2011 01:27 pm
flewellyn: (Default)
So, Sarah Palin has spoken out about the accusations that she is contributing to a violent atmosphere.

And in doing so, used the phrase "blood libel" to describe those accusations.

Blood libel. Yes.

Two things.

First off, Rep. Giffords is Jewish.

Second, in many far-right circles (not mainstream conservative), there's a pervasive belief that Jews control the media. So, this use of an ancient antiSemitic trope casts Palin as the poor Christian woman being picked on by all those mean Jews.

Assuming, of course, that Palin was not just being stupid. I'm not sure I'm willing to believe that this was not deliberate.
flewellyn: (Default)
This isn't going to be a coherent essay, just a collection of thoughts without much order. Just FYI.

My first thought when I heard of the shooting was, "Great, I bet it's a teabagger, or a sympathizer." Of course, many people would say that was jumping to conclusions, and perhaps prejudicial. To which I would reply, "Have you not been paying attention?"

Based on his YouTube videos, Jared Loughner seems to have some aspects of his thinking that resemble paranoid schizophrenia. The problem with that being the answer people latch onto is that, most of the time, schizophrenics are not dangerous. Very few of them commit violence against others. They're far more likely to be victims than perpetrators. Also, schizophrenia alone does not explain why Loughner chose to attack a politician.

The right-wing media machine has a lot to answer for. They've been using outright eliminationist rhetoric for years, and the last two has seen it ramped up to frenzied heights. I am neither the first nor the most articulate to point this out, but when political and media leaders, people looked up to by a large chunk of the population, begin spouting violent and eliminationist talk, it has a disinhibiting effect on those people in society who are carrying resentments and grudges against those they deem inferior.

If leaders are saying "these others you dislike are scum, and vermin, and traitors, and should die", then some of those followers will take them up on the challenge.

Responsible leaders should know better than to try and unleash such forces; a violent political faction is hard to control once created, and can turn on its leaders. Our current crop of "Tea Party" reactionaries is anything but responsible, however, as they have done nothing but try to scrub the evidence of their culpability, deny and disclaim that there's a problem, and then in the same breath accuse "the Left" of being "just as bad". Usually, they cite as examples some random comments or posts on blogs by people nobody has ever heard of, or groups like the Weather Underground who have not been active for over 40 years and never actually killed anyone other than their own members accidentally, or isolated incidents that were immediately condemned by mainstream leaders (like the hanging of Palin in effigy, which got roundly denounced by Democratic leaders in California).

Michelle Malkin has gone so far as to list boycotts, peaceful protests, and angry letters to the editor as examples of "leftist hate speech". For some reason, I'm reminded of those MRAs who complain that a woman refusing to have sex with them is the same as them beating her up. Can't imagine why.

At any rate, what we have here is an incipient movement towards genuine fascism in this country, and so far no concerted effort by our government to stop it. I have little faith in Obama trying to crack down on violent right-wing groups, as Clinton did, because apparently Obama is too committed to being bipartisan to recognize a genuine threat to public order. Well, maybe. He might surprise me.
flewellyn: (Default)
Okay, you all have noticed I haven't been posting as much lately. There are reasons for that, mostly having to do with a major crisis in the lives of several friends of mine. I'm putting it behind a cut, because it involves some MAJOR TRIGGERING SHIT for anyone who has dealt with sexual assault.

Seriously. I don't post trigger warnings at the drop of a hat, so be aware.

Make sure you want to read this... )
flewellyn: (Default)
So, my sister's visiting, and she came over to my place for dinner to meet several friends of mine.

After she left, my friend Ed, with whom she was staying, called:

Ed: Hey, is your sister there?

Me: No, she just left for your place. Why?

Ed: I needed to ask her some questions.

Me: I believe the answers are "three", "yes", and "I was really drunk".

Ed: Hmm..."How many times did you have sex?", "Did you have anal sex?", and "Why?" That works out perfectly! Thanks!


So it goes.

Dec. 8th, 2010 01:45 pm
flewellyn: (Default)
My grandfather called me just before lunch today, to tell me that my grandmother died last night from pneumonia. As is typical, he didn't say much else.

To be honest, I had anticipated this. She fell a few weeks ago, and broke seven ribs. This had landed her in the hospital, during which time she had fluid filling her lungs. They managed to remove it, but the damage was done; she came down with pneumonia a few days ago.

When I heard that, I figured it was probably coming soon. Pneumonia is deadly to older people, and my grandmother was 89 years old.

At this point, I'm worried about how my grandfather is going to take it. He's physically healthy, but his mental state has always been fragile. I don't know if he will survive long after losing his wife of 50+ years.

I'm not sure how I feel. Sad, obviously, but there's a curious sense of...I don't know...distance to it. It's not like when my mother died; I saw her every day. Plus, my grandmother was very old, and died at an age when people expect to. So, it's very sad, but I don't feel it's a tragedy. I don't know if that sounds callous, I don't mean it to, but that's how I feel.

At any rate...not much else I can think of to say, other than "So it goes."

Update: I got the numbers wrong. She was 90, and they had been married nearly 70 years. So, the worry is even more intense.

Also, my aunt told me that it was grandmother's decision to stop treatment for the pneumonia. She knew what that meant, and she opted to go when she was ready. That makes me feel better, in a way. I'm not glad she's gone, but I'm glad she went when and how she wanted to.
flewellyn: (Default)
So, a friend told me she had this question on her chem test: "Given blah blah blah, Calculate the *morality* of the NaBr solution."

I replied: "You could point out that it's full of comforting bromides."
flewellyn: (Default)
So, this election's been a mixed bag, but there have been some serious setbacks for progressives, and for the Democratic Party (which I note, right here, are not synonymous). The Democrats held on to many seats, but lost some others that seemed like easy victories. In particular, I'm thinking of longtime Democratic representative Earl Pomeroy, of North Dakota, who has done a great deal of good for the state, losing to a slimy, bullying, lying, dishonorable scumbag named Berg. And, in Kentucky, Rand Paul, libertarian asshat and employer of the head-stomping asshat Tim Profitt, beat Conway in what should have been a slam dunk for the Democrats.

The Democratic Party and the media are no doubt gearing up to assign blame already. The media, predictably, will say that this means America is a conservative nation and blah blah blah, more bullshit that they spout. Well, that'll be a mixed bag, because some (MSNBC and CNN) will try to analyze, while FOX will merely propagandize. The problem is, MSNBC and CNN will promptly pick up FOX's propaganda, being lazy. In the media, at least, Yeats remains right: the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

But the media may say whatever. The real issue I have, and am going to have, is with what the Democratic leadership will say. I know what they will say, because they always do. They will blame their base for not supporting them, castigate progressives for being "purists" and not getting out the vote enough. They will do anything but look at themselves.

This election is YOUR problem, DNC. And it's yours too, President Obama. The problem, as always, is that the Democratic Party does not understand why the Republicans are successful when their party platform is antithetical to the best interests of the general public. The GOP, whatever its faults (and boy, are there lots!), understands rule number one of any party strategy: whatever happens, keep the base happy.

As it happens, the GOP's base is composed of two groups: the plutocrats that fund them, and the reactionary fundamentalists that comprise their electorate. The GOP knows better than to publically stray from the line these two groups want them to follow, although there's plenty of indication that they mostly see the fundies as "useful idiots". Still, they make sure to throw plenty of bones to the fundies, and never publically disagree with them, much less berate them for lack of support. Republicans know that if they want to win, they must must MUST keep the base happy.

Democrats, it seems, don't understand this. The problem seems to be that the Dems believe elections are about finding "swing voters", those mythical undecided people who don't seem to favor one party or one political position over another, but are supposedly crucial to victory. One of the key traits of a "swing voter" is that this person may favor some progressive, liberal positions, but also favor conservative ideas as well.

So, what do the Democratic leadership do, in election after election? Take the party base, which is solidly progressive, for granted, and "tack right" to chase after the swing voters. Where they do this, it consistently fails, for two reasons.

First of all, I have yet to see solid evidence that "swing voters" actually exist. Of course there are people who are liberal on some issues and conservative on others; hell, I'm one of them (although the vast majority of things find me soldily in the "very liberal/progressive" camp). But, people who are genuinely undecided? Come now. In today's polarized electorate, anyone who is undecided is either uninformed, or else not paying attention. Either way, they're not going to vote at all.

Second problem, though, is the big one: the Democrats keep abandoning the base! More than that, they actually harangue the progressive base for not supporting them, even when they try to "govern from the center" and betray the progressives on election promises.

Frankly, sometimes the relationship between the DNC and progressive voter reminds me of an abusive marriage: the party keeps throwing the base under the bus, and then saying "Where you gonna go? You ain't got nobody but me!" Perhaps this needs to change.
flewellyn: (Default)
Note: usually, what you want to say is "I could NOT care less". If you say "I could care less", this lacks the impact you desire, unless you state specifically to what degree your level of caring could decrease from its current value.

For example: "I could care less, possibly, but the amount would be measurable only on the Planck scal...e." That works handily, and has the advantage of also being amusing.

This has been a PSA from the Youth Outreach Undertaken to Improve Delivery of Insulting and Obnoxious Tropes (YOUIDIOT).
flewellyn: (Default)
On October 10th, 2010, the date will be 10/10/10.

101010 in binary = 42 decimal.

In other words, October 10th will be the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

We must celebrate!
flewellyn: (Default)
These are something I came up with this past summer, but just managed to perfect. They're a fun and tasty meal for friends, especially to fortify your RPG group for a night of gaming. (This is my usual testing group for new dishes.) I use ground turkey because it has a lighter flavor than ground beef, and thus doesn't overshadow the herbs.

Your ingredients:
  • Ground turkey. For a group of about five people, I made 24 burgers, so I used 2.5 pounds of it.

  • Chopped fresh basil. The fresher the better! I didn't measure exactly, but I would say at least a good handful was used.

  • Chopped fresh oregano. Again, freshest is bestest! I used the leaves off of several sprigs.

  • Olive oil, preferably extra-virgin. You do have this, don't you?

  • Garlic, minced. You can mince a clove or use the stuff in a jar, like I do. Don't use garlic powder or salt (I really don't see the purpose of those things). I used a tablespoon of it for 2.5 pounds of meat.

  • Balsamic vinegar. The REAL stuff, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale, if you can get it. It might be a bit pricey, but you don't need much. A little goes a long way with this stuff.

  • One egg, large size.

  • Some buns. For slider-sized burgers, I used cocktail buns. Dollar buns work great too.

  • Some condiments. Condiments that I found worked well include dijon mustard, sweet and hot mustard, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and even plain old ketchup. Feel free to experiment with this part.

  • Optionally, other toppings. Italian four-cheese blend, for instance, is lovely on these burgers. So are sliced tomatoes, or little lettuce leaves (Romaine, please; Iceberg is just crunchy water).

Equipment needs are minimal: a knife to chop herbs, a clean surface to chop them on, a bowl to mix the meat, garlic, and herbs, and a skillet to pan fry the burger patties. If you want to separate out the meat into patties before you start to fry them, you can use a cookie sheet for this.

So, start by chopping up the herbs. Then, mix them and the garlic into the ground turkey in your bowl. Get it all mixed up nicely, and then shake on some balsamic vinegar. Don't overdo it! Several shakes is good, but don't pour out half the bottle, it's strong stuff. Mix that in well, and let it sit for about ten minutes to soak through.

Then, mix in the egg, yolk and white both. Get it mixed well so that the egg isn't really noticeable in the meat anymore. This will help bind the patties together; turkey being on the lean side, there's not enough fat to keep them from crumbling into bits otherwise. Don't worry about it affecting the taste, there isn't enough egg present in the meat to be noticeable.

So, once you've got everything mixed, get your pan heated up, and put in some olive oil. I used a decent amount, several tablespoons worth, on the pan. Then, get your patties into the skillet and start frying them. They generally take about five minutes to grill through; give them a flip halfway through to get both sides. Don't worry if they break apart sometimes, that's just going to happen. For slider-sized burgers, the patties should be about two inches in diameter, or so.

PROTIP: Ventilate! The balsamic vinegar will smoke a bit, and if you aren't in a ventilated area, you may set off your smoke detectors.

Anyway, once the burgers are done, they're practically self-serve. Get out the buns, the condiments, toppings, and so on, and have at it! If you're topping with veggies, you hardly need a side. Drinks? Oh, I suppose lemonade is always good. Or soda. You COULD try wine, if you're really feeling hoity-toity, but I don't partake.

That's it for this edition of Cooking With Flew, where our motto is: Less time cooking, means more time eating!
flewellyn: (Default)
So, the other night, I had a strange dream in which a science teacher was explaining about how light travels at different speeds through different substances. Some joker in the class asked "how fast does light travel through marijuana?"

Said the teacher, "About three miles an hour. And when it makes it through, it can't be bothered to care if it's a particle or a wave."


flewellyn: (Default)

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