Thursday, December 14, 2017

El B's Double Victory Chili

"El Borak ain't got no chili" -- No one ever.
A recipe for the Coyote:

You'll need:
  • 2 lbs of 85/15 ground beef.  
  • 2 15oz cans of Bush's hot chili beans.
  • 2 cans of Rotel chili fixins
  • 1 small (6oz?) can of tomato paste
  • 1 15oz can of tomato sauce
  • 10-15 oz of diced tomatoes
  • Arizona Cowboy or similar jalapeno sauce
  • Tabasco Chipotle pepper sauce
  • Other peppers or tomatoes as desired

1. Brown up the ground beef and throw everything in the crock pot on low

2. Add Beans, fixins, sauce, paste. If you like bigger tomato chunks, add the chunks here but not the water from the can. Home-canned tomatoes are fine, but I don't like fresh ones here (personal preference).

3. Add 1/2 TBSP of Jalapeno sauce and 1/2 TBSP Chipotle sauce.

4. Now, since I was shooting for the spiciest chili trophy, I took a dozen dehydrated tabasco peppers from the garden and diced* them up, but you can use whatever you like. Put them in a little bowl and cover them with water, microwave until it boils, then add the water (not the peppers) slowly, stirring and tasting. The idea here is NOT to burn your tongue off (Spicy <> hot), but to get noticeable heat with the deep, smoky flavor of the other two sauces.

5. Cook it for 3 hours on low, then refrigerate overnight.

6. Next morning, bring it back up to temp (crock pot on high).

7. Profit!

* more like 'crunched', but you get the idea.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Shredded leaves vs shredded paper

Just settled in for a long winter's nap.
So anyway, one of my lovely neighbors* popped by with a present for me the other day: three refrigerator-sized boxes packed full of shredded oak leaves.  There's probably 600 pounds total, sitting in a pile in my field next to the new raised beds.  Now that the rain has stopped, and before everything freezes again, I figured I would pack about 100 gallons of that into a few of the older raised beds.  So I pulled the shredded paper out of this bed and piled in about 3" of leaves.  I might as well give an explanation why I swapped them out...

There's probably nothing better for your raised bed than shredded leaves left to rot on top of it over the winter.  In fact, I won't even bother to fertilize any of the beds that I so treat - no compost, certainly no chemicals - even though I plan to plant heavy-feeding sweet corn in this bed next year. A few inches of leaves rotted into the soil provide everything you'll need, even after doing the yeoman's work of smothering everything that tries to sprout from that bed in the next 5 months. It is, IMO, the best thing you can do for a raised bed.  You just have to have enough leaves.**

That said, you'll notice that there are three 2'x2' beds behind this 4'x8' one, and they don't look like they've received the same courtesy.  That's because they haven't, and may not at all this winter. The bed on the top left has no cover at all. It's got spinach growing in it, and obviously will not flourish if I pile a bunch of shredded leaves on it.  The one on the right has shredded paper that is nearly rotted in.  There's no sense in removing that.  But the one in the center has a brand new crop of shredded paper just added, and the reason for that is that it's got a bunch of 6" garlic plants growing out of it.

Shredded paper is not nearly as good for your soil as leaves. While keeping the soil protected like leaves do, it really provides no nutrients. Your soil needs far more added than this sterile cap can provide. 

But there's one thing it's great for: keeping its form.  When I have 15 little garlic shoots growing, I can pack around them with wet, shredded paper and be certain that the paper, once dried, will hold that exact form until I rip it out. Rain doesn't faze it, wind doesn't move it. The garlic will die back over winter, but when it pops out in the spring there will be a little hole in the bed's cap in exactly the right place.  Leaves will give you no such courtesy.

Once I pull the garlic, about July 1, I'll add a couple inches of compost before I plant again, probably from these very leaves. After all, in addition to my new 600 pounds of leaves, I have all the leaves that I would normally rake and rot.  And the ladies are not terribly happy about that....

* Well, not next-door type neighbor. More like next-town-over. Hi, Dorothy and Marvin. Love you guys.
** Obviously, the more beds you have, the harder it becomes to give them all the treatment. Thus my casting about for other people's yard waste. Preferably delivered.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The political stuff

Don't look now...
New York Times has a change of heart. Or at least calculation:
Yet despite the right’s evident bad faith, I agree with Hayes. In this #MeToo moment, when we’re reassessing decades of male misbehavior and turning open secrets into exposes, we should look clearly at the credible evidence that Juanita Broaddrick told the truth when she accused Clinton of raping her. But revisiting* the Clinton scandals in light of today’s politics is complicated as well as painful...
"I Believe Juanita".
Interesting times, to say the least.

The Times just threw Bill Clinton under the bus. DNC/CNN cheater Donna Brazile recently provided the same services for Hillary Clinton and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. There are two ways to read this. Either the Democrats know the Clintons are finished and so no longer fear them, or they know the Clintons are going up the river and are trying to distance themselves. Maybe it's both.  I think we can be certain from the public manner in which the Clintons have been shivved by their former supporter-enablers, Hillary will not be the Dem' nominee in 2020.

Conservatives screaming "Fire Jeff" because our current AG has not chained the Clintons up yet are hilarious. It's coming from him in good time or it's not coming at all. My suspicion is that the aforementioned distancing is a result of NYT being privy to leaks they have not shared with you. "In light of today's politics" means that The Narrative is still in play and there are plenty of things they are not telling you. Sessions has never really respected the Narrative, so much. Nor does he respect the loud impatience of anons on Twitter.

Does anyone still read National Review?

Once you accept "trans" as a thing instead of a mental illness, you have no argument against a white guy who identifies as a Filipino woman. Set yourself against reality, even to save the feelings of the insane, and you're riding that poppy path to the end.

Nancy Pelosi is utterly insane.  The longer she remains Minority Leader, the better.

That signs saying "It's OK to be White" triggered college administrators across the fruited plain says plenty about the current state of higher education. But it's #NotAllColleges -- we have exactly zero of that crap here.** It's really only prevalent on campuses large enough and liberal enough that one can assemble a critical mass of mentally ill - both in the faculty and the student body - to raise a ruckus.

I'm really enjoying watching Hollywood self-immolate.

The entire Middle East is about to go to war.  Won't that be nice?

Obvious hit is obvious. Now I want Roy Moore to win, not because I agree with him***, not even because it matters in any real sense, but because he lays bare all the pretensions of the GOP's Respectable Class. Jeb Bush popped his head out this morning to say that Moore was unfit because he gropes young women. David Cop-a-Feel could not be reached for comment.

* This is "revisiting" in the "we studiously ignored them the first time" sense.
** We also have a reassuring dearth of clown hair and ear gauges.
*** I never saw statues of the 10 Commandments as a hill worth fighting on, much less dying on (2Cor 3:6-8).

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The chiggers die tonight

Picked the last peppers and any remaining tomatoes bigger than my hand.  The late squash/zuc/pumpkin planting yielded 2 zucchini, 1 grenade-sized squash, and a pumpkin the size of a doll's head that Mr. Charisma broke off from the stem before it could really amount to anything. Not winning, but I'll take it.

If your pumpkins were as sparse as mine, you'll be able to buy up enough grocery store pumpkins on November 1st to make pies and cakes for all of 2018 at about a dollar each. Never look a gift pumpkin in the mouth.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Winter Garden

So anyway, in preparation for the next month of cool temps, I've planted radishes, spinach, lettuce, some cilantro, and other good stuff that can take a little frost with cover.

Digging Dog decided that the planting would not be complete without a cow femur right in the middle of it.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Punching down

Horns. How do they work?

It's probably not kind to make fun of cows for being stupid. But cows are exceptionally stupid.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Harvest and hanging

The Rose of Alabama
So anyway, it was 38 degrees this morning: time to wrap this garden up for the year.  Not a great year, to be sure.  If I had to live the winter off of its bounty I would not have to worry about shedding those extra pounds. But this is why we make our mistakes while there's still time to learn from them.

Mistake #1: Don't plant what you don't want to eat. I planted all kinds of peppers* this year, mostly in an effort to see what grew best here. Unfortunately, the one that grew best is not one that I like to eat: banana peppers. Also, that accidental deer corn is pretty harsh. The chickens enjoy both, so there is that...

Mistake #2: Shade trees make shade. A few years ago we planted some oaks south of the back raised beds, and for years they broke up the sun just enough to avoid scorch. They are now so large that I either need to remove them or move the beds. I'm moving the beds.

Mistake #3: Container planting gets expensive. Unlike dirt, which you get to re-use every year, potting mix is a once-or-twice (at most) product that then needs to be added to the garden or composted. There was an enormous difference in the results of my "first year" and "second year" containers. However, buying potting mix in October is one way to reduce the costs substantially.

Mistake #4: If you plant your squash-type plants late summer in an effort to avoid squash bugs, they will likely fall prey to powdery mildew.

Mistake #5: Don't plant grape vines on the shady side of the post you want them to ascend, even if it's much more convenient to do so.

Still, it was a pretty good year for potatoes and tomatoes and a great year for cukes, garlic, raspberries, and herbs of all sorts. Of the tobacco plants I kept, I got a few pounds of leaves for hanging in the barn, though I have enough seeds left that I didn't bother to save any.

Next year's plans are already on the move. On the back yard cinder block beds I am expanding from six 12'x4' beds to four 25'x4' beds and moving everything to the field south of the house. I'm going to try planting horseradish as an annual instead of just letting it go wild. I'm going to plant only Roma tomatoes next year, as those seem to be the best for salsa and sauces. Finally, the die sales have provided enough fiscal overage that I might get to put in a small greenhouse. The problem there is that I'll have to water much more frequently, for which I'll likely need a second well first. My hundred-year-old, hand-dug cistern is reliable, but I don't like to push it too hard.

Oh, the woes of  prole self-sufficiency.

* Well, not ALL kinds.  I didn't grow jalapenos, but I will need to next year, as my current supply will run low this winter.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Goodbye, Boy Scouts

To be replaced with the
Teen Vogue gossip badge
It was only a matter of time:
NEW YORK (AP) — In its latest momentous policy shift, the Boy Scouts of America will admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year and establish a new program for older girls based on the Boy Scout curriculum that enables them to aspire to the coveted Eagle Scout rank.
Why must girls be allowed into the Boy Scouts?  Isn't there a Girl Scouts for them?  These are the obvious questions. The answers are more complicated.

Some background, first. I'm an Eagle Scout, as are both of my younger brothers and several of my closest friends. I was in Order of the Arrow, was SPL of the best troop in Lake Superior Council, attended the 81 National Scout Jamboree, hiked at Philmont, and taught the guides at Okpik a thing or five about wilderness survival. Scouting was one of the most formative experiences of my life, and I am still close to most the eight guys that made up our Senior Patrol in the early 80s. But I did not encourage my sons to become scouts. The reason is that even 10 years ago, scouting was obviously not what is was when I was a scout. Scouting was ill then. Now it is dying.

Now, the answers to why girls must be allowed into the Boy Scouts, which are two:

1) Boys are not allowed to have anything that's exclusively theirs. Girls have girl scouts as a 'safe space', but excluding girls from Boy Scouts is deemed oppressive and sexist and all sorts of other bad names by those dedicated to destroying masculinity.  As a scout, the most valuable lessons I learned, like teamwork and leadership and how to give* a good snuggie would have been impossible amidst the sexual tension resulting from the presence of girls. This is why under SocJus rules**, girls must be introduced.  It's not about fairness to girls as much as it is about denying boys a place to be boys.

2) The scouts are a dying organization.  Membership in the Boy Scouts topped out in 1972 and has been falling since. BSA has a payroll full of 'professionals' to meet, and those on the payroll are perfectly willing to change the organization (or rather, expand the customer base) to keep the paychecks flowing. Remember, the primary objective of every organization, whether the scouts or a business or a union or a civil rights organization, is to remain in business.

Of course, there are a couple of arguments made by the kinds of people who think this is a great idea but are not willing to cop to the real answers.

The first is that the girls will be in a separate organization. Yeah, that will last 2 seconds, as 'separate but equal' is never a winning strategy and demands twice as many leaders, twice as much overhead.  Dying organizations don't have extra leadership waiting on the bench so troops will be de-facto combined almost immediately.

But the second argument is the one that guarantees the death of the BSA within a decade: the Girl Scouts suck. It's true. The boy scouts have been about camping and the girl scouts are about fashion and fame. Why is that? Because it's what attracts your average teen girl. To attract and keep girls, who are generally not interested in sleeping outside in an igloo or using a map and compass to find a "lost" lake, Boy Scout programs will immediately begin to include the kinds of activities that girls like. In a decade, the Boy Scouts will have a new name and no boys.

Do I lament the death of the Boy Scouts? Not really. It's not the name of the organization but the experiences that are of import. And there are other organizations that can provide those experiences to boys. I just hope that the next Boy Scouts can figure out a way to eliminate 'professional' leaders and keep the SJWs far away, or they will die in turn.

* and receive, a lesson learned first.
** SocJus rules also demand the admittance of gay scouts and scoutmasters***, then 'trans' scouts. It was only a matter of time once the sexual disorientation dike was breached.
*** Now there's a great idea: gay guys camping with teen boys.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Coming apart

It's obvious from the divergent reactions to last night's shooting, on top of the year-long-triggering that has become our new public discourse, that the nation is coming apart. To be sure, there's plenty of noise amplification due to social media, but it is amplifying opinions that are less fringe than they were 10 years ago and did not really exist 20 years ago. We no longer have a shared narrative to guide us forward together, so we will go forward apart.

I suspect that the lunacy, the nastiness, and the rage are going to get worse -- far worse -- before they get better, mostly because I don't think they're going to get better for a century. Civilizational collapse tends to be that way. And make no mistake, that's what we are staring down.

The first lesson a larval systems analyst is taught when diagnosing a problem is to ask, "What's changed?" If the code ran fine yesterday and it's broken today, then something new has been introduced. Find that thing and you'll likely find the problem.

The Second Amendment has been around since 1791. Americans have always had guns, lots of guns, even before we were Americans. That hasn't changed, ergo that is not the problem.

But individuals using them on innocents for maximum effect is new. So what has changed? Lots and lots of things, and they are woven into the fabric of our current culture. It's not gay marriage or broken families or diversity*, but the underlying problem with all of them. We are collectively living for today and nothing else. No past, no future, no God, no vision. Nothing but appetite.

In our quest to grasp the trendy, we have torn down the fences that prior generations erected. And we have done so just because they were there, and without asking them or even ourselves why they were erected. We build ugly buildings filled with ugly art. We pipe ugliness into our homes via satellite with a monthly subscription. Half of us are on antidepressants. We eulogize the pornographers of our youth but our kids don't know what sex they are.

It is no wonder we are going mad, in little groups, in big groups, and individually. "Senseless" shootings, if indeed that's what this is, are evidence that the sweat of our collective insanity is starting to flow through some of the weaker pores. But this will not cool the body. It will inflame the body.

Now, I'm not saying any of this to criticize America or the West - there is simply no need for that.  I'm saying that this is the position in which we today find ourselves. We can howl and moan and vote** about it, but I suspect that it's not going to make much difference in any macro sense. This road goes somewhere very bad, and drag your heels all you want, there are millions of your neighbors slavering like huskies and dragging our collective sleigh at top speed.  They want to go there.

The shootings are going to get worse. The crime is going to get worse. The violence is going to get worse. And then it's going to get organized. And then it's going to get nasty.  We may not get all the way there in my lifetime, and I am certainly aware of the dangers of  extrapolating current trends into an unknown future. But the trajectory looks that way and the trend has plenty of support to continue, from people, institutions, even inertia.

This mad carousel may go on for a while, maybe a long while. Or it may not***. When it stops, you'd better be where you want to be, surrounded by the people you want near you. Teach your kids, support your church, love your neighbor, get to know your sheriff. And as much as possible, physically stay the hell out of the way.

Something wicked this way comes.

* by which is meant a generation raised to identify themselves primarily by hues, genitals, or sexual disorientations. By which is also meant establishing hostile microcultures, like Roman settlements without the order, throughout the nation.
** While voting matters, I fully suspect that significant change will be imposed from outside the current constitutional order. Nature abhors a vacuum.
*** much of that depends on the dollar, and how many we will print before the futility of something-for-nothing becomes too obvious to ignore.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Thoughts on the NFL protest

Kneeling is historically a symbol of submission.
You might have noticed from my lack of NFL posting the past few years that the league and its goings on do not really capture my interest.  Still, this weekend will probably mark a significant battle in the culture war, all things considered.

So some thoughts, in no particular order:

1. I don't care if the NFL implodes.  Once an organization gives itself over to SJW virtue signalling, there is nothing left but to watch its inevitable seppuku. What starts with pink shoes always ends in full-blown moonbattery. Screw them.

2. The players have a constitutional right to kneel.  However, as employees who represent a company* and have signed a contract that requires they stand for the anthem, things are a little more complicated than that. The people pay you to perform, not complain.

3. It's interesting to watch the left/right trade arguments this week:
Left, last week: Get anyone who attended the UTR protest fired!
Left, this week: Muh free speech!
Right, this week: Those players who knelt should be fired!
Right last week: Muh free speech!

4. Trump knew exactly what he was doing and purposely exacerbated the situation.  What was allegedly a protest against police brutality suddenly became about Trump, and therefore partisan, and therefore unserious. And Trump is suddenly the defender of all things American.

5. Lots of red pills handed out this weekend.  The NFL's primary audience is precisely those kinds of guys who are going to react viscerally to the symbolism of kneeling players. the protesters choose the anthem because they knew viewers would not ignore it.  I doubt they thought about the reaction they would thereby unleash.

6. In the end, this 'protest' is simply a bunch of bitchy millionaires virtue-signalling and will serve only to inoculate normal Americans against SJW posturing. The longer it goes on, and the more damage it does to the NFL brand, the better. Here's to hoping it takes down ESPN as well.

* they are wearing the company's *uniform* for pete's sake.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Just in case you didn't have enough news...

Boom, boom, come on....
The sun just belched at you:
NASA has recorded the biggest solar flare for 12 years as the sun unleashed an X-Class flare on September 6. The flare, which peaked at 8.02am EDT, caused a radio blackout following the “shock arrival” of radiation from the sun...
After many months of increasing solar quiet that produced but a single X-class flare in July that went toward Mars, the sun woke up this week.  It did not send just one flare our way, but a progressive series of M-class flares, then an X-3, then the aforementioned X-9, then an X-1 this morning.  For reference, the X-9 is the strongest in a dozen years and the 14th largest ever recorded.  It's big.

Immediate question: Is this the kill shot?  Almost certainly not. There's a CME coming tonight into tomorrow. It will result in a few electrical storms, some airline troubles, and an unhealthy suntan for the guys in the space station, but the power should stay on. In most places, anyway.  If you see an X-20 or X-30, then it's probably time to start loading the farraday cage.

Still, this flare, like others X-class flares that preceded it, is going to inject a whole bunch of energy into our atmosphere.  That means that you should not be surprised if a whole line of big storms appear next week to add to the spinner or three making news this week.  It's gearing up to be an interesting September.

Also, for any who care, I'm back on Twitter @ElBorakKS.  I don't expect this moniker to change much if at all; I set it up as a re-tweet account for Men of the West. Of course, I'll still shitpost a bunch from it but will probably avoid interactions with leftward-leaning individuals*.  It's a broadcast tower, not a battle station.  For now.

* to avoids the shadowbanz this time.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

This is your life on Holiday

Goodbye, Columbus:
The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to eliminate Columbus Day from the city calendar, siding with activists who view the explorer as a symbol of genocide for native peoples in North America and elsewhere.  
Over the objections of Italian American civic groups, the council made the second Monday in October a day in L.A. to commemorate “indigenous, aboriginal and native people.” It replaces a holiday that served as a touchstone for Italian Americans, marking the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean.
Because genocide is so much cooler when performed with stone knives.

UPDATE: A definition:
White supremacy or white supremacism is a racist ideology centered upon the belief, and the promotion of the belief, that white people are superior in certain characteristics, traits, and attributes to people of other racial backgrounds...
I would argue that holding white people to a moral standard higher than one is willing to hold people of other racial backgrounds is a assertion that white people are morally superior to others, and is therefore a white supremacist act.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sane enough for you yet?

Illinois' favorite son
Behold the new iconoclasm:
A ninety-year-old bust of Abraham Lincoln, our sixteenth president, was destroyed in a South Side Chicago neighborhood overnight on Wednesday.
Trump is of course correct that no amount to statue removal will mollify the left, just as no amount of sexual equality will satisfy a feminist. Because it's not really about the statues. It's about using manufactured outrage as a means to power and control.

case in point: I was rather amused yesterday to hear Nancy Pelosi complain about Confederates in the halls of Congress:
The Confederate statues in the halls of congress have always been reprehensible. If Republicans are serious about rejecting white supremacy, I call upon Speaker Ryan to join Democrats to remove the Confederate statues from the Capital immediately.
Let me guess, when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker, she had those reprehensible statues removed and the GOP snuck them back in under cover of darkness, right? If not, then why did not Speaker Pelosi have them removed when she had the power to do so? Because the whole issue is fake.

The political violence is beginning. And make no mistake, this is only the beginning. There are lots of people on both sides who welcome it or at least plan to use it, which is why it will grow. Gutless Republicans are hitting the fainting couches now, but when people have had enough, those Republicans will be replaced. Once the Gracchi arrive, you do not go back to the Republic. You progress to Marius and Sulla.

The hysteria is also only beginning.  Last month was Russian hackers everywhere. This month it's white supremists and Nazis everywhere. It's obvious that the yanking of our populations' emotional strings is being orchestrated, surely to be rid of the deplorable Trump.  But what else will it release? I'm really thinking these folks have not thought that far ahead.

The insanity is also only beginning.  Did I just hear Trump state that we are looking at a military solution to Venezuela? Oh good lord.  How many troops should we send to Zimbabwe while we're at it? At least you can forget about martial law here.  At this rate we won't have a single soldier actually defending our country by 2018. Don't tell Canada, the warmongers. We haven't finished that wall yet.

Time to make sure your preps are in order. US and South Korean joint maneuvers begin Monday, which allegedly include flyovers near NK territory by nuclear-capable bombers. Surely that will go off without a hitch or a reaction.

Any other result would be crazy.

UPDATE: SHTF Stockpile will be free for 5 days starting the 19th.  Because I care.

Cuked out

Spears and chips and wholes, oh my!

So after putting up 5 gallons of pickles this week, I've had about enough of cucumbers for the year. Which is timely, as the most prolific group of vines is just starting to turn yellow... I'm sure they don't have much left in them.  Time to swap them out for a fall crop.

I have an idea I'm going to try this year that I've never done before: very late planting of cantaloupe, pumpkins, zucchini, you know, all those things that the Squash Bug Panzer Divisions tend to devour*.

The way I'm thinking is this. It's not the first generation of squash bugs that gets you, but the second. That's why when I've planted in April or so, by August my leaves are crawling with little grey demons and the vines are not long for this world. The first generation arrives and lays, but it's their offspring that really take it to the plants.

If I plant now, the second generation won't arrive until October or so. It's not quite frosting here (first frost is usually November 11 or so). But the nights are chilly and the days short. It's very unlike August. I expect they'll find the garden a much less comfortable place then.

But is there enough time between now and early November to get a full crop? Maybe. The plants are 4" tall and ready for transplant, and I was harvesting tomatoes well into November last year, so I'm hopeful.

And sure, hope is not a plan, but if it doesn't work out, at least I have lots of pickles.

* Technically, I shouldn't follow squash family with squash family in the same bed, but this is an experiment.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Let the salt flow

How about we just not?
That little box marked "Sex M/F" is permanent:
President Trump announced early Wednesday on Twitter that the military will bar transgender people from serving “in any capacity,” citing “tremendous medical costs* and disruption.” 
The announcement, which did not say what would happen to transgender people already in the military, was met with immediate outrage from gender-rights advocates in the Bay Area and beyond.
Progressive are losing their minds, of course. Outrage, outrage, outrage. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But it's funny. These folks seldom bother to mask their contempt for our armed forces and the individual members thereof. Many campuses under their sway won't even allow the military to recruit there. But all of a sudden our brave soldiers in uniform are serving honorably in dangerous places to keeping us all safe.

Perhaps they are really only referring to the 15,000 or so sexually disoriented nutcases who are affected by Trump's decision.

Personally, I suspect the other 99.9% of the military personnel will be glad to excise that particular psychosexual drama from their workplace.

* If you enlisted primarily in hopes of getting a free addadiktomy, it's going to be a long four years.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sometimes papas just gotta proud

Daughter Chili is Willy Wonka
UPDATE: A Kekistani axes a good question:
wait ... this is a trans Willy Wonka?
Not precisely. Chili just turned out to be the best man for the job:
A big change to the story is the casting of Wonka as a female. Huffman said Jaley Hoyt turned out to capture the switches from content to maniacal most convincingly. 
“We’ve been at this for two months, and I still get goosebumps at how she plays the role,” Huffman said. “I’ve seen her in multiple productions, and I knew I could throw her a role not written for a woman and she could make it her own.”

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Corn when you want none

So anyway, with the lovely and gracious Rogue on a whirlwind tour of the East Coast, I decided that in her absence I would double her strawberry beds, since other one, as they say, runneth over.  So I started a new bed, half dirt and half compost from the Chicken Composter. And lo, before I could even transfer the runners of one bed to the waiting arms of the other, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a whole bunch of grass-like shoots?

Upon further review, they are the growings of a bunch a deer corn I had added to the hens' feed but which they apparently didn't like and so left on the henhouse floor. I'm going to let them grow in the short term just to see what comes of them. Though they're probably GMO with some virus injected into the DNA, which, while accounting for their amazing growth will start a pandemic that burns mercilessly from rural Kansas* across the globe, killing millions. Including you.  Sorry.

* You know the 1918/9 Spanish Lady Flu that killed 50 million started here, right?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Maybe it's tobacco

Though since Mr. Charisma moved my signs, I can't be sure.  It sprouted about 2 weeks ago and has done nothing since...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I know what you did last night

Look, Ma, no seeds

Raspberry jelly recipe courtesy of Sure Jell*.  The kids fussed about the seeds in my bionic raspberry jam, even as they devoured it.  So with only two jars left I figured it was time for another batch or so, this time juicing the berries and making jelly instead of the (usually) easier jam.

Ingredients needed:
Four cups of raspberry juice
One box of Sure Jell
Five and a half cups of sugar.

1. Bring juice and Sure Jell together to a rolling boil.
2. Add the sugar and bring it again to a rolling boil.
3. Boil hard for one minute, then into jars it goes
4. Boil the jars five minutes in the open bath canner.

Simple, yes?  This recipe jelled perfectly and cleaned up quickly. Just don't double it, as others have reported problems with that. If you have lots of juice, it's not hard to knock out two or three batches in quick succession.

I ended up with enough juice on hand for another half batch or so, but the plants seem to be done with their spring production, so that juice has a new home in the freezer. Here's to hoping that the bionic raspberries decide a fall season is in order. The short case I made last night won't last even close to a year.

* Which, of course, demands that you buy Sure Jell to make it.  Good thing I had some on hand.

Monday, July 10, 2017

In yer nest, killin yer beez

Actually, these are not your friendly neighborhood bumblebees, lightly flitting from flower to flower, thereby keeping the world fed.  Those black and yellow wonders of God's design are to be treasured and protected.  These are carpenter bees: solitary, territorial, wood-drilling bastages that will eventually bring your barn or deck tumbling down.  And I've finally found a way to kill 'em.

Carpenter bees love my back barn as there is plenty of unfinished wood into which they can drill lots of 6"-8" nesting holes.  I suppose I could paint over all such wood surfaces as I find them, but there is a limit to how much of your barn you can actually paint, and for how long that's effective.  And there always seems to be more bees than paint.  I also don't want to use pesticides or sprays, because my chickens eat these bees as soon as they fall to the ground.

So for a while I took to carrying a tennis racket with me on the way to the chicken cage*. It was a strange game of tennis we played: no ball, one racket, lots of swinging.  The bees would eventually tire of it and simply wait at the top of the barn for me to leave.  I could serve a half-dozen bees on a good night, but there always seemed to be the same number the next night.

However, I finally discovered a simple little trap that lets their wood-drilling obsession lead to their downfall.  As you can see above, it's a 4" cube of wood, with a tempting hole drilled in it and a canning jar attached to the bottom.  What you can't see is that there are holes on each of the four sides, and a big (2") hole in the bottom that reaches those holes, allowing the bees that enter the cube easy access to the canning jar.  Bees come in, but they don't come out.  The above is about 2 months' worth of trapping -- I figured I'd get a pic before I empty it out for the hens and re-set it.

The hens? OMG what about all that white poison in the jar?  It's not poison, it's actually food grade diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is ground up little fossils, perfectly inert and harmless to people and animals, but really hard on insects because it scratches their outer coating and causes them to dry out.  Lots of folks use it on their dogs as a non-poisonous substitute for flea powder. Others make a drink of it, swearing that its scraping qualities promote colon health. People eat the strangest things.

In either case, I dump the bees on the ground outside the cage and pour a little water over them before I free the hens, just in case.  While they might not appreciate having their food washed before they eat, they sure appreciate the meal.

* That chicken wire on the right of the picture is the cage's left edge. It is, alas, unpainted.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday randomness

These are a few of my favorite things
After spending the past week in the Ozarks, I am once again thankful that Kansas is made of dirt instead of sand, red clay, and chipped limestone. I hope all the preppers planning to bug out to southern Missouri like the taste of skink, 'cause they're sure not growing any corn there.

The lovely and gracious Rogue is planning to replace the current hens with a batch of barred rocks that arrived yesterday by mail. But I'm not telling the ladies this time. Last time they learned they were being replaced, they "helpfully" dug out the area around the chicks' cage, freeing them to become coyote poop.  This batch is staying in the other barn until they are much, much bigger.

I am officially tired of Trump's Twitter account. And I'm not even on Twitter.

I am also officially tired of women in politics complaining about how hard it is to be a woman in politics*. No one is forcing you to be in politics. If your job is too hard, go do something else.

I pulled the first bed of garlic last night and replanted it in cukes. While I had pulled a few of the smaller, deader-looking garlic last week, I was looking forward to seeing what a full-term head of Duganski hardneck would look like. I was quite pleased, as fully a third of them were store-sized or better. So they are acclamating to the aforementioned dirt quite nicely. With garlic, the larger cloves you plant, the larger bulbs you get, all things being equal. So assuming I get the same ratio of big bulbs from the bigger bed, I'll have enough planting garlic to double or triple production again next year with enough left over to scare away every vampire from here to Dodge City.

Shredded paper mulch works great on garlic**. The ground beneath is soft enough to pull the bulbs with a minimum of fuss and is filled with tons of earthworms. But it does not seem to work as well for onions. Since onions grow above the ground, the paper tends to smother them. Good old-fashioned weeding is necessary in that bed.

Speaking of shred, after about two years of abuse, my 12-sheet shredder finally gave up the ghost.  I have replaced that with a monstrous, 20-sheet shredder that will easily handle newsprint, cardboard, even small barnyard animals I suspect. With the change, Mr. Charisma is no longer interested in shredding things. This is much to my surprise - ramming stuff into the shredder was one of his favorite pastimes.  But his little brother, Dino Baggins, seems ready to step up to the challenge. It's a good thing there are no cats in the house.

* This is known as Female Privilege. Women get to complain about being a woman-in-whatever and all the men are expected to go, Aww, you're so brave and strong. When a man complains that it's hard to be a man-in-whatever, he's rightly called a whiner.

** That's the white, snow-looking stuff you see in the pic. This half-rotted paper will go on the compost pile, to be replaced with a new batch as soon as the cuke leaves are high enough for me to pile more beneath them.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Good onions, bad onions

You know I've had my share
Out of the ground and done:
  • Spinach
  • Radishes
  • Strawberries
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Red onions
  • Cilantro
  • Snow peas
  • Elephant garlic
Just about finished:
  • Red potatoes (already started harvesting)
  • White onions (tomorrow)
  • hard-neck garlic (Thursday and Friday, assuming we get no more rain)
 I'm still planting bush beans even though I'm also harvesting them, and the raspberries are going nuts. Not sure on the pears -- the fire blight of 2015 has returned -- but apples and peaches are off the charts.  If I had cherries this year, I never saw them. 

But while we are eating healthy here* on Rancho d'El Borak, one little problem has arisen.  The onions you see on the table are full, fist-sized beasts that will store quite well, but they all came from the north end of my raised beds. The onions from the south end, both red and white, are about half-sized and are good only for chopping up for this weekend's burgers. Why? Because the maples that a decade ago shielded crops from the harshest of the Kansas sun now smother about half of the beds.  Rather than cut down the trees***, I'll be moving the beds this winter to a sunnier place on the south of the house.  So it's a good thing I built them to be uprootable and easily moved.

But there's additional reason I'm moving them.  Given the various excremental objects being thrown at our national rotating oscillator as we speak, I've decided that the beds need to be doubled in size again, and I really can't do that where they are.  So I've located 2 pallets of cinder blocks and a nice open place where I hope to a) grow as many vegetables next year as a family of nine can eat, and b) create at least two marketable products as part of our local CSA/farmer's alliance.  I'm reading old USDA brochures on growing horseradish as an annual and will be saving all my big garlic bulbs for seed.  I have a greenhouse/hoophouse in my sights****, but I will only buy it with money I earn from selling crops.  If I can't accomplish that, I don't really want to farm bad enough to need one.

The plan, which involves a lot more work on important things that I hope will lead to less work on unimportant things, is called Luke's Tower. We'll see how it plays out over the next 36 months...

* I'm convinced that once I turned 50, my doctor instituted a conspiracy against my health**.  Every time I see him he finds something else wrong with me.  Most of it has been fixed by getting as much wheat as possible out of my diet. I haven't lost much weight but I had to buy smaller pants, my belt is about to be downgraded again, and my blood pressure and cholesterol are back to human levels.
** And Billy Connolly is not really joking. I've forgotten what he looks like.
*** If it were my decision, I'd lose the trees. But the lovely and gracious Rogue likes them right where they are, and alive.
**** Actually, I have two coming.  The 8'x6'x7' hard-sided greenhouse is a done deal. I'll be using it to stay in spinach and lettuce and radishes all winter. The other is a 20'x48' hoop house.  We'll see on that one.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Muh death threats

Trump bullying Kathy Griffin
A crybully has them:
Kathy Griffin accused President Donald Trump and his family of launching a campaign to destroy her life in response to the image she posted earlier this week in which she appeared to be holding the commander-in-chief's severed head. 
The comedian* broke down in tears as she detailed the torrent of abuse she has been receiving online, and the constant death threats which she described as detailed and specific**...
Later in the interview Griffin said that her career was likely over now as a result of this incident, and that President Trump had 'broke' her, moments after she declared: 'There's a bunch of old white guys trying to silence me!'
Is there a name for that judo move in which SJWs effortlessly turn from brave, edgy warriors speaking truth to power into helpless victims of Muh Patriarchy? We've seen it now more times than the Stone Cold Stunner and every time it's pulled off flawlessly.

Well, almost every time.  In this case, it appears that Little Miss Victimhood might have really stepped in it -- she's been fired from a couple shows, lost an endorsement or two, and even Al Franken doesn't want to be seen with her. And if you're an embarrassment to Al Franken...

She is even muttering that her career is likely over.  We can hope, though I doubt that's the case. There always seems to be plenty of room for bitter, liberal harridans on TV. I would not be surprised to see her show up on ESPN as a hockey analyst in 18 months or so.

Wait, yes I would. But only because I don't watch ESPN.

* You keep using that word...
** but alas not effective. Whence do all these incompetent would-be killers arise?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A dog's life...saved by technology.

It's a lifesaver
So anyway, I've mentioned before that DiggingDog works the graveyard shift for our local canine signal corps.  Every night, for hours on end, she passes directives to and from the neighbor dogs. These other dogs are at least a quarter mile away, so she must put considerable effort into passing these messages.  Sometimes her efforts are so strenuous that I can feel the sunroom frame vibrating. Obviously, this condition is not conducive to human sleep.

Such was the case Friday night. I went to bed about midnight, two hours or so after the relay began.  In order to make sure I knew she was working, DiggingDog moved directly outside my window. Bark-bark-bark, in groups of seven or eight, depending upon the messages being transmitted.  By 2 am I, still awake, was contemplating various accidents she was going to be involved in, most of them ending her miserable life. But it would probably just be easier to leave*, so I moved to an empty bed in Mr. Charisma's room on the other side of the house.

DiggingDog apparently decided that were I not within barking distance, I would not appreciate how hard she was working. So she parked herself immediately outside Mr. Charisma's bedroom window. By 3am, I had developed a very long list of exquisite tortures for her, but I was too tired to kill her at that point.

Instead I moved upstairs to an empty bedroom and put in some ear buds so I could listen to storm sounds on Youtube. I lay there wincing and twitching as I heard her barks even over the thunder. Unable to fly up to that bedroom window, she wasn't actually within hearing distance and probably had given up at that point. Yet that rhythm -- bark bark bark, 7 barks, now 8, now only 3 -- remained with me until I finally passed out from pure exhaustion.  At 5am, Mr. Charisma's little brother, Dino Baggins, awoke and demanded his morning bottle. Saturday was a very long day.

But at a family picnic yesterday, my newest brother in law mentioned an ultrasonic dog trainer he used to quiet his neighbor's terrier.  I, not being a TV watcher, had never heard of such a thing. But I brought up my handy dandy WalMart app and quickly located the First Alert Automatic Bark Genie, a 9v-driven electronic speaker that emits a dog-hearing-level squeal every time it detects a bark. I'm not sure whether it distracts or annoys the barker. Nor do I care, so long as the result is no repeats of Friday night.

I hung it outside of the sunroom last night just as DiggingDog was warming up for her shift. Thirty minutes later she climbed to her observation post atop the picnic table and cut loose with a double-bark. Then she stopped and looked around. She hit another note, then stared accusingly at me through the sunroom window. Finally she padded away, confused.  As I was putting Mr. Charisma to bed a half hour later, I heard her again just outside his window. Bark bark. Pause. Bark. Then nothing.

I saw her last when she came slinking across the deck at about 10pm. She stopped to look at me through the sunroom window, her face the most forlorn I had ever seen it. She was utterly defeated, her beloved signal corps destroyed. With a shrug of resignation, she moped into the silent night.  I slept 8 hours without moving.

Highly recommend.

* Plus, the kids really like her.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Global warming strikes again

The fire this time
This time it burns up the Kansas wheat crop:
Blizzard conditions and heavy snow swept western Kansas, including 14 to 20 inches in Colby in the northwestern quadrant of the No. 1 winter wheat state in the nation, said the Weather Channel. 
“We lost the western Kansas wheat crop this weekend. Just terrible,” tweeted Justin Gilpin, chief executive of the grower-funded Kansas Wheat Commission.
I suspect that over the coming months and years it's going to become much harder for acolytes of Albert Gore's Traveling Circus and Subsidy Vacuum to keep claiming that currentYear() is the hottest year ever. Eastern and southern Europe have been getting freak snowstorms one after the other this spring and the good old USA just got one in my neck of the woods*. While it will be weeks before the final damage is counted, it's safe to say that there are fewer acres of wheat and more dead baby cows in the world than there were this time last week.

But what do snowstorms have to do with global warming? Very little, I suspect.  About 18 months ago, I dropped a cryptic little note in my year-end prognostication:
If we get hit (we won't) it will be by something coming out of the sun that we do not see until hours before impact. But sunspots are disappearing, the Earth's magnetic shield is weakening, and Jupiter's centuries-old storm is dying. Something is happening, and it's bigger than 50ppm of CO2.
Obviously, I don't know for sure, but I suspect that we are on the cusp of a grand solar minimum, a naturally-recurring phenomenon that humans neither cause nor can avoid.

It's been long-noticed that our sun's activity is cyclical, up and down, noisy and quiet, on about a 12-year cycle.  But it's less well-known that those cycles also have cycles. Every 200 years or so, the sun gets really quiet, the global temperature drops, crops are destroyed in large numbers**, people starve and suffer and overthrow their entire social order. A good time is had by all once it all washes out a couple decades later.

For the record, Cycle 24 looks like we could be getting ready for that kind of a quiet period:

The NASA Website is good for something.

But, you might wonder, if we are on the cusp of such a minimum, won't that get in the way of the Global Climate Progress that we have been allegedly enjoying for the last 40 years?  "Fear not," says peer-reviewed science, the great god CO2 has a wonderful plan for your life: A grand solar minimum would barely make a dent in human-caused global warming.

So who is going to win the royal rumble between that big glowing ball in the sky and and an extra 50 ppm of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere?  I suspect that we will find out for sure in the next 5 years or so.

* Rancho d'El Borak didn't get snow, but we did get about 8" of rain over 3 days. Five Boys' Mom will have a more accurate count, I'll bet.
** Not from lessened x-ray or ultraviolet directly. A quieter sun allows more cosmic rays to reach the lower atmosphere from space. Those cosmic rays instigate cloud formation. And those cloud formations do the darnest things to stuff on the ground.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Rogue solves the pepper problem

So anyway, as soon as I finished supper last night, the lovely and gracious Rogue rolled up with a few somethings she found for sale on Facebook: a whole vanload of used cattle tubs, four bucks each.  These once held salt blocks or minerals, except for that row of two, which held buckwheat.  They're sturdy, thick, food grade plastic and hold about 10 gallons each.  So of course the first thing I did was to drill six 1" holes in the bottom of most of them.

You see, I have a pepper problem. Not one like last year where I couldn't get anything to grow past the dog-digging and cat-pooping stage.  This year I simply have no room for them.  Every bed I have except for Rogue's long one is full*.  So I have nowhere to put all these cayennes and chilis and bells** I've got popping up.

Well, had nowhere.  As soon as I figure out where to put the these new planters, and as soon as I figure out what soil I'm going to fill them with, they'll each get three or four pepper plants***, which should produce enough to keep me in peppers for a couple years.

* That one gets tomatoes, which are about 2" tall right now.
** But no jalapenos.  I've still got two cases of them from 2015.
*** and I may get to try one bucket in tobacco. Thanks, Tom.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Why we keep our guns

Not a tough fight, hardware being equal
Because loyalty has its own rewards:
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he will expand the number of civilians involved in armed militias, providing guns to as many as 400,000 loyalists.

The announcement came as Maduro's opponents are gearing up for what they pledge will be the largest rally yet to press for elections and a host of other demands Wednesday.
It would be easy to feel bad for the long-suffering people of Venezuela. But it would also be unkind, for this is the future they chose. Not even twenty years ago, they freely elected socialist Hugo Chavez, who ran on a platform of "I'll steal all the gringos' money and capital and give it to you." Now that free stuff has all run out, and the people are still hungry. Too bad.

But the lesson here is not that democracy is often an idiot, nor that socialism only works until you run out of other peoples' money.  It's that when the chickens come home to roost, the government is not going to protect the average person, but those in power. The operative words in the story quoted above are not guns or even armed militias, but loyalists.

Those loyal to the government get guns. Those disloyal do not.  Unless you already have your own, that is.  The solution may still be messy, but at least the mess won't all be on your side of the street.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Go west, old man

El Borak doesn't actually ride a horse
Well, I took Tom Bridgeland's admonition to seek a bigger platform seriously, and as a result I will now be posting semi-regularly at Men of the West under my given name, El Borak.  My first piece will be up tomorrow before noon.

Some of my early stuff will not be original to y'all, as I intend to update a number of older pieces from here and Myopia for more generic and broader distribution.  Garden stories and the like will still appear here, as will shorter pieces.  Well-thought out longer pieces will appear there, though I may link to them from here.

There won't be a link back here from there, as this is not an attempt to garner more readers in this place. They just look like a bunch of good guys doing a good thing and I'm going to help them out.

UPDATE: And there it is.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bring on the bees and the potassium

Flowers in picture are larger than they appear.
In late 2015 I received a dozen scraggly, shriveled up 'buttons' via ebay. I had ordered some Russian comfrey roots, and apparently the person who sells them thought it good for business to send as little root as possible, along with a note extolling the strength of said buttons. Well, apparently that works, as I now have two beds of comfrey growing. They are also abuzz with visitors from my neighbor's hives. And the seller got positive feedback.

But other than giving CNN another Russian conspiracy to expose, why would someone want Russian comfrey growing about the yard or garden?  There are actually a couple of uses for this plant besides getting the bees in the habit of visiting your place in early spring.

The first is, as I've mentioned here before, as a mulch.  Comfrey has a very deep taproot, through which it pulls up lots of vitamins and potassium, storing all that minerally goodness in its broad leaves. Broad leaves make great mulch, keeping the weeds at bay and the ground moisture in place. The one downside of comfrey leaf mulch is that the leaves break down so quickly that you have to constantly re-apply them unless you mix them with other leaves and stuff. Then again, re-applying often means you're getting more good stuff in your soil.

That quick breakdown helps the second use: comfrey tea. Not for you to drink, mind you, but for your tomatoes and other nightshades. When comfrey leaves break down, they liquefy* and release all their potassium goodness in a form that gives tomatoes a boost.  I don't like using commercial fertilizer, so any time I can create lots of natural if stinky fertilizer I try to do so.

Comfrey also grows like crazy, creating lots of seedless** bulk for your compost pile. But if you don't chop it down for compost it grows into a very tall and decorative flowering herb that's often featured in flower gardens. It's nice to look at, if you like that sort of thing.

One final attribute that I have not personally verified is that it has lots of medicinal uses -- one of its alternative names is 'knitbone'. Comfrey has long been used as a bandage for external injuries and a poultice for internal ones.  While I'm not expecting to have to knit any bone together myself in the near future, it's always good to have the stuff on hand to do so, I guess.

* and putrefy.  You wouldn't want to drink comfrey tea anyway. 
** Comfrey actually has seed, but the Russian variety is sterile and spreads via root only.

Monday, April 17, 2017

It's gonna be so damp

Could you direct me to teh internets?
when NATO memes 4Chan:
...if the most powerful political-military alliance has the real battlefield on lockdown, some worry it’s floundering in the battlefield of the internet, where ideas go to clash, Kremlin trolls go to spread half-truths, and ISIS goes to recruit foreign fighters.

The answer, some experts argue, lies in memes — those strange jokes and references that come out of the internet’s woodworks from seemingly nowhere, and seem to end up everywhere at once. A small contingent of academics and experts want NATO to get in on the action to confront pro-Russian, anti-NATO trolls, or to push back against internet jihadists in the cyber space.

“It’s time to embrace memetic warfare,” wrote Jeff Giesea, a widely-known social media and tech guru, in an article in 2015. “Trolling, it might be said, is the social media equivalent of guerrilla warfare, and memes are its currency of propaganda.”
Imagine how well NATO would run an actual guerrilla war from Brussels and you can imagine how well they could run a memetic one. It is the nature of meme warfare to be decentralized to the point of anarchy. It's leaderless and directionless and organic. There is a reason it's referred to, only half-jokingly, as "weaponized autism." This is simply not something that a military alliance of 17 countries, 6 ethno-states, and a dozen unaccredited chiropractic institutions can organize.  Because it's not organized.

One 2016 campaign meme* illustrated the problem perfectly.  Frame one showed Hillary Clinton tweeting, which tweet was run though three committees and approved by a handful of campaign officials before it could be posted. The result was safe, bland, and accomplished nothing, as you might expect.

Frame two showed Trump sitting in front of a computer.  "I've never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke," he typed. Thus is encapsulated the difference between organizing a meme campaign and writing a meme.  NATO organizes campaigns.

Memes may be the currency of propaganda**, but they are not simply propaganda. They are not a cartoon version of VOA or of anti-communist leaflets dropped into remote villages.

Nor are they merely a matter of creating a catchy phrase and using the power of the press to broadcast it. The term Fake News was memed out via a plethora of mainstream press outlets last November. All of a sudden the term was everywhere, complete with big, professionally-compiled lists of Fake News outlets to avoid and experts tut-tutting about its danger to democracy.

Within eight weeks the Washington Post was begging people to stop using the term and CNN was cutting Bernie's live feed for applying it to them, even as a joke. Chris Cuomo said that Fake News had become the equivalent of the n-word for journalists. That's what happens when you try to push public opinion via manufactured memes: your whole profession winds up in therapy.

Given NATO's topheavy organizational structure, its bureaucratic inertia, and its insulation from the actual world much less the anarchic world of social media, it's not hard to imagine what NATO memetic warfare might look like. It would be like Poe's Law come to life all the time:

NATO Meme (working prototype v1.045556a)

Which is why I cannot wait for them to get started. The memes that arise in response will be glorious.

  * which I have since lost. My dank meme stash is not what it used to be.
** If that phrase means anything at all, which I doubt.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Is it supposed to be smoking like this?

The lilac at sunset
So anyway, I decided to take advantage of this week's lilac bloom by making some lilac oil. Some people call it lilac essential oil, probably out of habit or a healthy sense of marketing. But it's not an essential oil, it's an infused oil.

The difference is significant in one sense and not in one other.  As far as use goes, there's very little difference: you put the oil in your diffuser or however you use it and use it.  But as far as what the oil is, that's the difference.

An essential oil is distilled from the plant alone.  If I make mint essential oil, for example, I am taking the oil from the mint leaves. The oil is there, I'm just sucking it out.  But for an infused oil, I'm beginning with a base oil, usually a light one like grapeseed oil, and then infusing that oil with whatever smell I want by 'cooking' a bunch of flowers in it.

So with that non-important distinction clearly in mind, I may have screwed up this batch.

The recipe is simple, you just place your flowers* in the oil and cook it on the lowest heat you can for 6-8 hours, 'bruising' the flowers every 2 hours or so to release the smellies. You then let the oil (with flowers strained out) sit for a couple weeks.  I added two steps: I froze the flowers for an hour**, then put them in the dehydrator for half an hour to remove excess moisture.  But that's not the problem.

The problem is that I put it in at 6ish last night, intending to turn it off at 10 and have Rogue finish the cooking this afternoon so I could process it tonight.  Instead, at 10 I washed up the dehydrator but forgot to turn off the crock pot with my concoction in it. The lovely and gracious Rogue turned it off at 5:30 this morning and reported that it was boiling and bubbling like no one's business.

So while it cooked too long, it's also likely it cooked too hot.  When I get home tonight, I'll extract the oil by running it though the jelly strainer, then put it away for the required two weeks.  At that point we'll know if it's good or if it will make the house smell like an engine fire.

Unfortunately, at that point it may be too late to do another batch, as the flowers don't bloom forever. I may have to do another batch tonight, just in case. I know, what a shame.

UPDATE: That was a fail. I don't even need to store it two weeks to realize that I cooked the gentle flowery goodness right out of it. Time to start over.

* how many? a whole bunch.
** because bees and ants.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Never got to the jelly

The other 'hood
I ended up reading a book last night on the recommendation of Five Boys' Mom: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.  It's a memoir of sorts of a poor mountain kid who graduated from Yale Law via the USMC. Good read, quick read, and a very enlightening read.

What I found more interesting than the author's very interesting life* were the similarities between Appalachian white poverty and inner city black poverty.

There are some pretty obvious parallels: broken families, drug abuse, interpersonal violence, poor diet and hygiene, and the instinct to hide problems from strangers/outsiders. Two that I found to be the most intriguing and tragic were the scoffing at intellectual accomplishment and a belief that one's actions don't really matter.

The first is hidden within 'public' rhetoric about the value of education.  While everyone says that education is important, when black kids are calling out other blacks for "acting white" when they work hard, and when whites are calling other whites "faggot" for doing well in school, public rhetoric matters very little.

One interesting personal story related to that: Last Friday we got a talk from our university diversity officer**, who told us of a meeting she recently had with one of "her kids".  The soon-to-be grad was a black girl from one of Kansas' more prosperous counties, graduating cum laude, and with a bright future ahead of her.  Our officer asked her if she would be willing to go to lunch with the officer and a couple other black students as something of a mentoring opportunity. The girl refused, first quietly and finally quite adamantly. It took a few questions to get to the real issue.

"I don't like black people," the student finally said.  The officer was taken aback. The officer's black, the student's black, her parents are black, what's this rubbish about not liking black people?

It turns out that while her family was comfortably middle class, she grew up on the edge of a poorer area and attended inner city schools.  For years she suffered the insults and fists of her black classmates because she studied hard and spoke standard English.

While she was in middle school her family moved to a richer, whiter area where she excelled both academically and socially, but she neither forgot nor forgave those she left behind. Like JD, she managed to escape a really bad situation and make something of herself. Also like JD, those she left behind likely never will. And they will teach that learned helplessness to their children.

Which leads into the second problem: these people - poor whites and poor blacks alike - believe that what they do doesn't matter.  They lack what we might call 'agency,' that feeling that they can control (and are therefore responsible for) much of their current and future position. Instead, they revel in their mostly imaginary oppression and feel put upon when called to do something about their lot in life***. Nothing is their fault - not their life, not their drug abuse, not the wounds they are passing down like an heirloom set of china to their own children.

The poor in this culture are not honest with themselves about themselves.  They report going to church and work far more and doing drugs far less than they actually do. They look down on 'welfare queens' while trading their own food stamps for cash or smokes.  They have hidden away self-reflection because it's too painful to bear.

And if you're not honest with yourself about yourself, and if you don't believe that you can do anything about your situation, and if you insist that those people expecting you to get your shit together are "blaming the victim," then you are going to be painfully poor until you die at 55 of congestive heart failure while watching Rachel Ray in HD and eating Fritos dipped in ketchup.

The underlying problem is not that the poor have no money; they have plenty of money for smokes and sneakers and pot and iPhones and rims. It's not that they don't have dental care, but that they put Pepsi in their babies' bottles. The poverty problem in America is primarily cultural: the poor are poor in the midst of plenty because for whatever reasons, because of whatever fears, they avoid the kinds of actions that might bring them out and revel in the kinds of actions that press them down.

The tragedy is that there is almost nothing that anyone but the poor themselves can do about that.

* If you can call living to 31 a life.  The kid was born the year I graduated high school, for crying out loud.
** It wasn't a bad talk at all. Diversity in rural Kansas is not like diversity at Oberlin. Here it's about giving those who grew up 'out' a way 'in'.
*** from "casting lots," it's a euphemism that teaches that what happens to you is random and totally not based on your own decisions and actions.  And if life is just a throw of the dice, why try hard?