Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving Mushroom Green Bean Casserole!

For Thanksgiving, I made this casserole to take to Steve's house:

It started with mushrooms from Eric at Pegasus Book Exchange. I'd stayed away from mushrooms for a decade or two, after a very sad bout of sickness at a singles mixer that my former-WSBA pal Eric Schwab had invited me to. I'm just not good at mixing, ate too many mushrooms that disagreed with me, and ended up with a very unfortunate result (...and was never invited back lol).
But after about a year of hearing Eric (bookstore Eric) talk about mushrooms, I decided to give his a try. And wow! they were great.
So when my brother Steve invited me to his place for the holiday and asked me to bring a side, mushrooms seemed idea - I didn't realize he doesn't eat them either. The green bean casserole with onions that so many insist is traditional seemed like a good way to present the mushrooms. I googled some recipes and got nice beans from Costco.
However when I set to work, it was time for substitutions. I steamed the beans - that kept their flavor and texture fine. I didn't have cream for the sauce but half-and-half worked fine with a little cornstarch. I didn't have flour for the roue (or whatever the mushroom equivalent was) but again cornstarch came through, with a little ground flax for consistency. I don't really like the crunchy onions on top - the flavor is nice but the texture seems like plastic. So I made a separate creamy onion sauce and then layered the casserole like bean dip - first panko crumbs, then beans, then the onion layer, then more beans, then the mushroom cream on top. But it looked incomplete.
That's when the inspiration hit me. I steamed more beans and spelled out a message. 
The result was tasty - I'm sure I'll make it again - and it didn't really take all that long to prepare - using good ingredients was probably helpful - but it was the presentation that made it memorable.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Furlough's End

A week or two ago I got the call back to work starting Monday.
There is roughly zero chance I'd get a better job before then, although I'll keep looking. Now that I've gotten past the barrier of getting started, I'm enjoying the networking and application process. It's been impossible, since no-one really wants to hire a guy who is over 60, but hope springs eternally and all that. I'm required to do it as a condition of  getting unemployment compensation (...and unlike a certain mother-in-law I could name, I don't believe in faking it...). Plus the networking is fun. I've met some interesting people!
Now the day before Thanksgiving is not going to be one on which anyone is doing anything related to hiring, and the rest of the week is not going to be any better. I'm concentrating on cleaning up stuff that got past me and preparing the house for perhaps renting a room or two come next year. I'm really not badly off but need to keep my options open. Clearing out and cleaning up is satisfying!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

And Sometimes You Win

Somewhat to my surprise, my writing seems to have helped the local chapter of Veterans' Service Organization I'm with to achieve its immediate goal of getting out of suspension.
 The story is long and complicated and not over yet (...nothing is ever really over...), but basically there was a dispute among the membership, which the losers escalated to the National level, which responded by suspending the Chapter. This struck many as unfair. However, my friends in the organization are not writers; they are talented and accomplished, having done many things far beyond my abilities, but they are not writers and had difficulty putting their story into order, along with the relevant rules, and supporting the conclusion that the Chapter should come out of suspension.
That's where my legal education paid off. The relevant rules were private, not public law, but the mechanics of making an argument were the same. I wrote a couple of letters that were essentially appeals supported by briefs; the first failed, but the most recent - filed only two weeks ago - succeed. I had actually expected this month's meeting to be more of the same denial and delay over the suspension. I certainly did not expect a formal reply to the letter. Instead, we got something better: a letter read at the meeting ending the suspension as of the new Chapter as of interim elections to be held next month.
This was a better answer than we had anticipated.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


I have a problem.  My doctor recommends I move to a vegan diet, to bring my blood pressure down. I don't mind that, really, I'm not wedded to the concept of eating animal products, it's just that I was raised that way and it's convenient. I'm transitioning slowly (... my body does not like sudden change...) with an occasional "meat cheat" which, surprisingly, is less pleasurable than I had thought.
However: Thanksgiving.

 How is there Thanksgiving without turkey? Stuffing isn't stuffing without the giblets chopped up fine. And mashed potatoes - whipped as my brother Joe taught me, with a beater using my variable-speed drill blending cream cheese into the spuds - simply have to be formed into a volcano with real pan-drippings gravy filling the crater. Otherwise, it's just a meal with family and friends.
(Talk not to me of tofurky. I like tofu well enough, but only when it is not pretending to be something it is not. We must be true to our natures.)
Thanksgiving this year will be salmon - the Pilgrims were more likely to have eaten that than turkey anyway - with a double order of the sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. On the plus side, this leaves more room for pie.

Maybe I'll just start with the pie: pumpkin, apple, pecan, rhubarb, lemon meringue ...

hmmm .... 

 ...ya know, I am not sure I have a problem after all!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Let the Electoral College Do Its Job: Deliberate Before Voting!

Well, this is gonna kill any chance I had of getting cooperation from the Next Administration on some of the Veterans' projects I'm working on, but it has to be said:

Under our Constitution, the Electoral College is a deliberative body. Its members ("Electors") were intended to debate among themselves who shall be President, and to vote for whomever they deem most fit.

That this has never happened means only that we have not followed the Constitution.

If the Electors were to fulfill their duty of deliberation, they would consider that they don't know how much Donald Trump owes to the hostile foreign power(s) that aided his campaign and applauded his Electoral win. They don't know what drugs he is taking to control the mood swings that cause him to twitter strange messages about sex tapes that don't exist.

The members of the Electoral College do know that he regularly defrauded people who worked for him. They know that he named an open anti-Semite to be his Chief of Staff. They know that his idea of a "blind trust" is to put his businesses under the control of the same family members who are serving on his transition team, setting them up to trade on insider information or worse.

They also know that the American people did not pick Trump. Clinton got 400,000 more votes than he did. If the American people chose anyone, we chose her.

But the Electors need not choose between Clinton or Trump. The Constitution doesn't say they can't Elect Romney or Ryan or anyone else who fulfills the Constitutional requirements of holding office.

The likelihood of the Electoral College doing its duty and actually deliberating their decision before voting is very low. However, it would be Constitutional; it might even be required.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembering My Father On Veteran's Day

Remembering my father on Veterans Day. I know nothing of his service except it was Army and near the end of WW2 in the Pacific; he never spoke of it.

Rest peacefully.


When I first posted this on Facebook, I wrote that Dad's service was in the interwar period and in Korea; we never discussed it but I always thought that's where he served because he had a "This Is Korea" booklet which impressed me as a kid. Also I'd seen his scrapbook from WW2 and assumed from that he was too young to serve. But in retrospect, he was born in 1927 so he would have turned 18 in 1945, and might have joined early because he never got a high school diploma. Different times.

In reply, my family wrote

Ellen: Dad was a radioman in the Army Air Corp. He was very proud of the fact (and insistent) that it was Army Air Corp, not Army. He had a few stories that he told, the boys would probably remember them better than I.

David: Dad arrived in Luzon, Philippines in early 1945. I was looking at some photo's with him one time and he had a grim look on his face in one photo. He told me the picture was taken about a half hour after he saw his first dead Japanese soldier. He was transferred first to Okinawa (Some interesting photo's of B-29's in his collection) and later to Iwo Jima. His job on Iwo consisted of manually rotating an RDF (radio direction finder) listening for transmissions from U.S. aircraft. When they picked up the signal, they would stop rotating the antennae and press a button sending a signal to the aircraft as a navigation beacon. He told me once he was on duty August 6th 1945, but wouldn't talk anything more about that day. Miss you, Dad.

Kat: I knew it, I always remember mom saying dad was in ww2 not Korean War, that didn't start until 1950. I remember pictures of him in the Philippines and one with him holding a monkey. He was super young

David: One real regret I have in my life is I didn't get a chance to talk to him more about Uncle George, who died in 1945 when his destroyer was hit by a kamakazee off of Iwo Jima. Shortly before Dad passed, I was in Hawaii and went to find George's grave to pay my respects. Alas, he lies in the American Cemetary in Manilla. I had been in the P.I. in 1981, had I known, I would have paid my respects for the family.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It's Time For a National Popular Vote

This time around, the Electoral College gave the win to the Republicans even though the Democrats got more votes. But next time, it could go the other way around.
The Electoral College was intended to keep the power of deciding the presidency OUT of the hands of the people. An handful of elite "Electors" would meet as a "College" to talk among themselves who they thought should win. The Common Man was looked down upon as not having the good sense to decide, but merely to send his betters to do the heavy thinking. We reject that idea in every other election - so why is it a good idea for the Presidency?
 The Electoral College also means that most states aren't worth talking about. California will always vote Democrat so the Republicans there are wasting their time; Texas will always vote Republican so the Democrats there are wasting their time. And in both cases, the candidates ignore them (...except for raising money.) Most of the campaigning in 2016 involved SIX STATES. Isn't that .... stupid?
A National Popular Vote is the only fair way to elect a President.
 Amending the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College is hard but an "Interstate Compact" could solve the problem - without any action by Congress. Learn more here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

A Few Post-Election Thoughts

  1. Hillary won more actual votes than Trump; he won the election only because of the Electoral College. Be PROUD that more Americans voted for Hillary than for Trump (...and less than proud that the system really was rigged, so that rural votes count more than urban votes.)
  2. Whether Trump does as he has promised is not entirely certain. He's a habitual liar so perhaps on some things at least he'll just do the opposite.
  3. Do not engage anyone who gloats. Any reaction you give them will give them pleasure and waste your time. Just ignore them; if you like, take 2 seconds to delete the gloat that they may have take several minutes to compose - there's a little victory. If they're family members or whatever, you don't have to unfriend them if deleting their gloating suffices; you might want to stay in touch with family even if they're jerks.
  4. Do not engage in coulda-shoulda-woulda. Whether Bernie could have beaten Trump or whatever No Longer Matters. Any discussion on this subject wastes the precious limited time you have on this earth.
  5. Be kind, even to Trump fans. They're about to get screwed and they're happy about it. That's an illness. The rest of us have a lot of problems coming, and the only people we can count on is each other. If we twist ourselves into unkind souls, the fascists win.
  6. But be especially kind to our friends and family who are especially vulnerable to oppression. They may need us so we have to be ready to help them.
(I'm open for other tips)

Monday, November 07, 2016

November memes

Normally I wait to end-of-month to post my artwork but this is a special, special time - so I'll make this an open post and add as needed.

Who loves a sore loser? Nobody.
It's just strange that the GOP's titular leader loves the commies so much.

I was probably a little too subtle with this one.

Trump's staff won't let him tweet without a minder. Probably smart on their part but also funny. And scary!
An earlier version of "Make Trump Tweet Again". Probably too complicated for punch.

Yeah, I know his real self was probably not the chivalrous ideal he portrayed but the target audience here is people who believed his mythology: do they really want to hang with a perv?

When the Green Party started decades ago, I loved the concept.
But it's been taken over by cultists. And now they're allied with Putin against Hillary?
Weird! But not without historical precedent.

And earlier version of the GOP+Russia logo. Is it too complicated or is it more clear?

You really have to wonder about people who brush off the sexual abuse.
It might hurt their feelings but, ya know, it's indicative of something.

On this we can all agree!

I thought it was funny.
Not many others did. Ha!

Hey!!! One of my works made it into someone's collection.
Yay! And this shows the value of signing your work!

Don't make excuses.
You voted for pussy grabbing.

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