Thursday, January 01, 2015

hail and farewell to another year

That was quick. Happy New Year.

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Army all-weather coat

Excerpt from pages 128 to 129 of DA PAM 670–1 • 2 December 2014:

20–7. Coats, black, all-weather (male and female)
a. Type. The black, all-weather coat is a clothing bag issue item.
b. Description. The black, all-weather coat is made of polyester/cotton (65/35) in Army shade 385. The coat is a sixbutton, double-breasted model with a belt, convertible collar that buttons at the neck, gun flap, shoulder loops, adjustable sleeve straps, welt pockets with two inside hanging pockets, and zip-out liner. The back of the coat has a yoke and center vent. The coat is one-quarter lined with basic material; the sleeve lining is made of nylon taffeta (see fig 20–7). There is no wear-out date for the interim version of the double-breasted coat made from polyester/cotton (50/50).

Figure 20–7. Army black all-weather coat with officer insignia

c. How worn. Personnel may wear the all-weather coat with or without the liner. They will wear the coat buttoned, except for the neck closure, which personnel may wear open or closed (unless otherwise prescribed by this pamphlet). Male and female coats are buttoned and belted from opposite directions. The black scarf is authorized for wear with the all-weather coat. Personnel may wear the coat with the service, dress, mess, hospital duty, and food service uniforms. The black, all-weather coat is authorized for wear with utility uniforms only in a garrison environment when personnel have not been issued organizational rain gear. Officers wear nonsubdued pin-on grade insignia on the shoulder loops of this coat. Noncommissioned officers wear shoulder marks on the shoulder loops. Enlisted personnel wear nonsubdued grade insignia on the collars. When the grade insignia is removed from the coat, personnel may wear the coat with civilian clothing.

The basic design of the Army all-weather coat has not changed since at least World War 2, though the regulation color at that time was khaki, not black. It was worn in the field during World War 2, which is no longer the case. The modern place of the Army all-weather coat is with the sterile wear of fastidious Class A and Class B uniforms rather than the rough wear of rugged Class C uniforms. While its basic design has not changed since World War 2, I guess the contemporary construction of the Army all-weather coat is no longer rugged enough for wear in the field.

Due to the suggestive name and military origin of the coat, a common assumption is the gun flap below the right shoulder is related to firearm use, perhaps a vestige of a pocket for a pad to cushion the butt of a rifle. Actually, the gun flap covers the open edge of the convertible collar when buttoned at the neck to keep water from running inside the coat. It may be called a gun flap because raising the right arm, such as when using a rifle, tends to open a gap between collar and coat that lets in water. The gun flap is also called a storm flap, which better indicates its purpose. Closing the convertible collar does a good job holding body heat in the cold as well as keeping water out in wet weather.

The common name for the Army all-weather coat is the trench coat, derived from its use in the trenches of World War 1. More on the history of the trench coat here.



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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thoughts of the day

NORAD tracks Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

December 21st 6:03 pm is the winter solstice, which marks the official beginning of the winter season, for 2014. The day is technically the shortest day of the year with 9:15:16 of daylight. However, the winter solstice sunset of 4:32 pm is not the earliest sunset in December. From December 7th to December 9th, sunset was 4:28 pm. The shorter day on the winter solstice is due to a later sunrise on 7:17 am, which is 10 minutes +/- 1 minute later on December 21st than the sunrises on December 7th to December 9th.

Reminder that when President Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex, it was actually in the context of discussing the "imperative need" for a strong military.

Jonathan Turley praises Senate Select Committee report on CIA after 9/11. CIA directors authored this rebuttal and set up this website. Turley's premise is that the CIA's actions, variously labeled enhanced interrogation and torture, have been illegal under torture prohibition. However, they may have been legally authorized by the implied repeal of counter-terrorism statutes.

James Fallows laments the state of civil-military affairs and culture. It's a case in point of misconceptions of OIF becoming an underlying premise for the course of the nation's military affairs and foreign policy. I dropped bait with my OIF FAQ, patient zero.

American Sniper has partially opened a passing window of opportunity to set the record straight on the 'why' of OIF. I planted a seed at this American Thinker article.

I sent a message to George Jonas in response to this column. Jonas's premise is, "Our business was with Saddam. When we finished it, we ought to have left." In fact, our business was with Saddam to the extent he was the head of and effectively the government of noncompliant Iraq. However, our business was principally with Iraq, not just Saddam. By law and policy, the US mission with Iraq that began on August 2, 1990 was enforcing Iraq's compliance with the series of UNSC resolutions, including the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687 (1991), that started with UNSCR 660 (1990) in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. After Saddam refused to comply in 2003, the regime change was only the preliminary step for the US-led, UN-mandated process to make Iraq compliant. The nation-building aspect of the US-led mission in Iraq was conducted within the context of making Iraq compliant. The process to make Iraq compliant was not concluded until December 2010 with UNSCRs 1956, 1957, and 1958.

The Charlie Hebdo magazine attack brings President Bush's 20SEP01 speech to mind. Insight from a Charlie Hebdo writer. Jack Hooper, a retired deputy director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service who led the counter-terrorism investigation of the Air India 1982/Narita perpetrators, explains the "60 minutes to (or 'til) boom" shortcoming of the law enforcement approach to counter-terrorism in this Canadian documentary on the Air India 182 terrorist attack.

Succinct explanation of financial collapse and government reaction.

I listened to about 4.5 hours of testimonies for and against scrapping the Stuy test at a NYC Council meeting about Resolution 442. The defenders of the SHSAT made me proud, but listening to many of the proponents for overhauling the entrance criteria made me despair about our society at large. It was like witnessing passages come to life from Atlas Shrugged about covetous moochers from a decadent society. Narrative conformism is an accurate relabeling of the current evolution of political correctness.

Hats off to Stuyvesant junior, 17-year-old Mohammed Islam, who has accrued 72-million dollars on the stock market, according to New York magazine. Update: Islam and the investment club at school are real, but their trades are simulated and the rest of the story is fake. New York magazine apologizes for being duped. Boy geniuses who do amazing things are not new, but that the story seemed plausible in the first place speaks to how mysterious the stock market is for most people, including me, and how credulous we are about it. Bernie Madoff's billions-dollar scam comes to mind.

A recollection of Army Basic Training that is reminiscent of mine: same base, roughly the same time of year, which also means a similar demographic make-up of fellow privates. While he did his Basic Training about a decade before me, my IET curriculum was still based on the Cold War model, so our training was likely very similar aside from some SOP tweaks.

I was hoping for elder insight on life and manhood from Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie, but it was mostly Suzuki's anti-economic, even radically anti-humanity environmentalist pitch interspersed with biographical tidbits. The importance of family, especially his connection with his father, is featured, but at the same time, he implies he gave short shrift to his 1st wife, Joane, and their children. Notably, they're not part of the movie beyond a brief mention and pictures when he talks about his early career. They don't seem involved with his life's work, unlike his 2nd wife, Tara Cullis, and their children. Suzuki is a self-absorbed, egotistical, ambitious, grandiose, granola-hippy showman, which doesn't make Suzuki a bad person. That's what it takes to achieve his level of professional, public success. Suzuki's type is global-visionary idealist, country-changing activist, like Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King. But like the others, he's become disappointed late in life that his early activist successes have not wrought the sweeping transformations of his country and humankind that are his life's work. Furthermore, he's discouraged by the small-minded blowback for sincerely trying to make the world a fundamentally better place. An interesting part of the movie is the revelation that World War 2 Canadian policy on west-coast Japanese-Canadians in British Columbia was harsher than the similar American policy.

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke on the Catholic “Man-crisis” and what to do about it.

Jonathan Abrams' Grantland feature on Paul Silas offers nuggets on the masculine social fundamental of standing up for yourself and fighting back. It's an interpersonal social test. Standing your ground is a rite of passage and a trial to win respect among men. By the same token, it's a necessary proving ground for effective leadership, which means managing the personal confrontation correctly is necessary to achieve the greater good as well. I did not understand the social-dynamics value of confrontation in instances where I might have made a difference had I made different choices during interpersonal conflicts in a collective context, eg, as a soldier and student activist. I backed down due to a lack of personal confidence but also with the mistaken social notion that ceding the conflict, while costing me personally, would deflate the factional conflict for the greater good of the group. In fact, I should have done the opposite: actively attack the interpersonal conflict. Even if I lost as expected, the confrontation would have been better for my personal development, improved my leadership ability to make a difference, preserved my options, and been a better collective process for the group in the long run. I was personally weak, I was socially misguided, and thus I made a fundamental life-changing mistake that stunted my effectiveness. From the Abrams article:
[As a youth in Oakland] “I wasn’t that tough at that time,” Silas said. “Players used to come at me and beat the hell out of me.” Those physical tests turned out to be crucial for Silas’s development. He learned to strike back when another player got rough with him, and before long he discovered that being the aggressor could prevent opponents from ever challenging him to begin with.
When [Bill] Walton arrived in San Diego, he tried challenging his new coach. ... At this point, Silas understood that Walton was testing him. He confronted Walton immediately.

“We went at it like you could not believe,” Silas said. “The players couldn’t believe that any coach would do that to him. They loved that I had done that, and me and Bill, after that, he wanted to do as well for me as he could. [But] he got hurt that year and didn’t play and he didn’t play the next year.” Another time, Walton and teammate Tom Chambers got into an argument. “Bill Walton slugged him upside the head and [Chambers] started running away,” Silas recalled. Silas talked to Chambers the next day and told him that if he saw Chambers run away from another confrontation, then he would no longer be needed on the team. “Then when Bill would come at him, he’d go right back at his ass,” Silas said. “It just changed Tom’s game.”
“But we had a lot of players that did not like him that much because the media would talk about him, how great he was going to be.” One practice, Silas noticed [Lebron] James’s mood seemed down. It was routine for Silas’s Cavs to shoot 100 free throws before every practice, and James was refusing to shoot. Silas called the star rookie to his office. From his days with the Celtics and Sonics, Silas knew that respect among players had to be earned. If James was to become a leader on this team, he needed to prove it. The older players wouldn’t follow him just because of his talent.

“You’ve got to change,” Silas told him. “What they’re saying means nothing to you. You’re going to be one of the best players ever.”

Rob Konrad, a former Miami Dolphins fullback about my age, fell off his fishing boat 9 miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean with no flotation aid and swam for 16 hours to reach shore at 4:30 am. He could be featured in a future episode of I Shouldn't Be Alive. That's willpower.

Unusually deadpan-honest admission from an active professional athlete, former Celtics PG, current Mavericks PG Rajon Rondo: "I haven't played defense in a couple years," Rondo said. "I've been able to hide a lot with Avery Bradley on the ball. He's helped out, the young guy. But [in Dallas] they expect me to play defense and, in the West, if you don't play defense you'll get embarrassed every night at the point guard position."

Communication is key in any collective activity, such as the Army, campus activism, or team sports. At the end of a Lakers-Grizzlies game with the Grizzlies up 1, Kobe Bryant ran up to foul Grizzlies PG Mike Conley with about 12 seconds remaining and then berated Jeremy Lin for not fouling Conley earlier. It turns out Lakers coach Byron Scott had instructed Lin to wait until the 10-second mark to foul Conley. Evidently, the Lakers are not on the same page with each other.

What if Jeremy Lin had experienced the kind of support that has enabled Grizzlies PG Mike Conley's development? Perhaps, if Lin had stayed with the Knicks, he would have experienced it. But he went to the Rockets, instead, who acquired James Harden, and that was that.

NBC's Peter Pan Live was panned in reviews, but I liked it well enough. I got what I paid for. Of course, I haven't seen the musical performed live in a theater to compare with the televised version. The story is red pill in the portrayal of Wendy Moira Angela Darling falling in love with insouciant, aloof, demanding alpha Peter. Tinkerbell is jealously possessive of Peter and Tiger Lily is in love with Peter, too. When Wendy is too old to go with Peter to Never Never Land, she gives her budding daughter Jane to him, like a cult member willingly giving over her children to her alpha-male cult leader. Peter Pan shows moments of a serious, clear understanding of the dangers and downsides of Never Never Land and the real world, but has chosen to live deliberately and freely as a MGTOW like Chris McCandless. There is also a strong fem-centric character to the story. The female characters (Wendy, her mother, Mary, Tiger Lily, even the actress-portrayed Peter Pan) show the strongest personalities. Not having read the J.M. Barrie story, I wonder whether the NBC production altered the original story with feminist flavoring.

Tim Burton's Batman came out 25 years ago. I watched a blurry, skipping, streaky showing of the movie from an original 35mm film reel. It captures the atmosphere of Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns. A significant departure from the comic is Batman kills a lot of people in the movie without pause. In the comic, Batman kills on rare occasions, but only when it's unavoidable.

Axe Cop is fun.

Stephen Chow's Journey to the West: Conquering The Demons (2014), his riff on the classic Chinese children's story, is fun and well-crafted in Chow's signature style. The protagonist, Xuan Zang, a pre-enlightened Tang San-Zang, is similar to Chow's protagonist in Kung Fu Hustle. The demons are similar to the demons in Princess Mononoke who were good but turned evil due to hate-inducing incidents.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) was cliche, light fare, but entertaining nonetheless. Monsters University (2013), the sequel to 2001 Pixar hit, Monsters Inc, and early Hayao Miyazaki hit, Castle in the Sky (1986), were good, not great. Pixar and Studio Ghibli both have made grander movies.

12/9, my blog suddenly started jumping to vindicosuite every time I reloaded the page. Luckily, when I googled the problem, I found someone has blogged about it or else I wouldn't have identified the source. Apparently, sitemeter was sold to an adware company so whenever sitemeter loads now, it goes to adware. I hadn't used my sitemeter for a long time, but it was still in the template like an artifact. I took it out.

New link color: rgb(65,105,225). Old link color: #58a, aka rgb(85,136,170). New highlight color: rgb(200,255,255). Old highlight color: default yellow, aka rgb (255,255,0). Default text color is #333, aka rgb(51,51,51). Black is #000, aka rgb(0,0,0).

As of 29DEC14, I've had a cold for about week that progressed from a tickle in my throat where I would clear it, to a painful sore throat, to a persistent cough as the sore throat faded, then added congestion/stuffiness and a blowing nose. No fever, though I got warm a few times. The cold has surprised me because I hadn't been sick in over 2 years. My lips are dry. My throat is itchy and dry. My teeth feel sore; not painful, but sore. My nose is rubbed raw; I used up almost all the cheap napkins I've been hoarding to blow my nose. I haven't been able to taste anything, which I don't recall was the case during past colds, which is a shame because I've used up most of a can of salmon, eaten but not tasted. I smothered 1 bowl with hot sauce; I felt it burn the back of my throat but didn't taste it. According to Go Ask Alice!, Columbia's popular health and medical FAQ, losing taste is normal during a cold due to immune-response excess mucus smothering olfactory cells needed for taste. 02JAN14: I'm mucusy (not phlegmy), which is not quite runny and not quite congested (stuffy, I guess), and blowing my nose a lot, and the cough pad in the back of my throat keeps jumping, triggering coughing jags, but otherwise I feel fine. The mucus and cough seem to be sticking around for a while, which is annoying and consuming my tissues at a rapid rate. According to WebMD, it's normal for a cough and mucus to stick around for 2 weeks, and hydration and sleep are the keys to healing a cold. A higher than usual number of people on the streets are coughing a lot right now with maybe the same condition.

I scavenged a DeLonghi Indoor Grill that was missing its drip tray but otherwise worked fine. It uses the same kind of heating device as the Mirro, but the female inserts on the grill's heating element don't fit the prongs on the Mirro's male ends. Oh well. I should have examined the underside more closely before bringing it inside my apartment. Not long after I did, I captured a sac spider where the ceiling and wall meet over my bed. When I finally turned the grill over to clean it weeks later, I discovered it was dirty like it had been left outside for a long time. Some bits of crud looked like they might be insect leavings. I believe the sac spider came from the grill. I wonder whether other bugs came out of the grill. I also wonder whether the clothes moths that are still flying around my apartment, from I don't know where, came in from something I scavenged. I tested out the grill as a stove range. It heated an inch of water in the Salton enough to bubble and steam, but not hot enough for a roiling boil. The grill's cooking heat wasn't enough to justify the storage space required for the grill. I brought it back down to the discard area. Lesson: When I scavenge something, clean it and make a decision to keep or discard it immediately before creatures crawl, fly, or hatch out of it.

I should check out local dollar stores to look for cheap canned salmon and sewing kit. I lost the sewing kit from my soldiering days. Update: The dollar stores carry canned salmon, but not for cheaper than the sale price of $1.99 for a 14.75-oz can. They sell canned sardines and mackerel at $1.99 for 15-oz cans. The best price for a travel-size sewing kit is $1.29. Chain drug stores sell the same thing for $3.99-$5.99. The cheapest price for a packet of sewing needles, prethreaded, is $1. A home-size boxed sewing kit costs $5.99. A larger box costs $7.99.

I had kept an old valencia orange in my refrigerator for many months, maybe even a year. I kept waiting for it to grow moldy and that didn't happen. The skin became darkened, leathery, and indented. I believed the insides would at least be dried out, if not somehow rotten. I didn't know what to expect when I finally cut it open. Unless it was putrefied, I was going to cut it up and add it to the bachelor stew I was cooking. Yet I was pleasantly surprised when I cut it open and discovered the meat to be juicy and sweet. I sectioned the orange it and ate it normally.

15-oz can Sunny Seas mackerel has been replaced by 15-oz tin Polar sardines at my local supermarket. Downside is its sale price is $1.50 instead of $1.25. Upside is it's packed in tomato sauce that's flavorful. The sardines taste slightly better than mackerel, but also not close to the $1.99 14.75-oz can salmon.

I made a salmon and egg bannock with salmon, 1 egg, baking soda, vinegar, flour, onions, okra, ginger, and garlic. It was okay, but the salmon flavor mostly disappeared. So, not worth it.

Bachelor stew with enough different stuff thrown in I'll call it a gumbo. In the Mirro, 1 cup white rice, spaghetti, Rotini pasta, 1 15-oz can Polar sardines, 1 carrot, 1 larger and 1 mid-size Eastern potato, okra, collard green leaf and stem, banana, vinegar with flushed out peanut butter remnants, twice-drunk black tea leaves from tea-bag, flushed out sour cream, onions, garnished with sour cream, crushed tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and hot sauce. It was okay, but the flavors were not distinct. I ate the whole thing in a day-plus, as usual.

Thick crust vs thin crust bannock pizza. Both are good.

The ginger I'm currently using has been flavorless.

Interestingly, bananas have become my top savory ingredient as well as sweet ingredient. It even has enough flavor to substitute for meat.

There was an unopened box of 7.25-oz Kraft macaroni and cheese in the discard area so I policed it up for dinner. Poured the macaroni into the Salton. Poured water on top. Squirming worm-like bugs floated up, including several fat ones. Looked inside the box and saw a few worm husks inside. Looked for the expiration date on the box: 11 August 2013. I spooned out the visible worm stuff, stirred and changed the water a few times, and boiled the macaroni for an extra long time. I don't have milk so I mixed the cheese granules with sour cream, instead. Added onions, seasoned salt, mustard, and hot sauce, and ate it for dinner.

Spicy Sweet Chili flavored Doritos are weak flavored. I can barely make out the soy sauce, garlic, onion, and paprika flavors that are in the listed ingredients. The chips are also flimsier than standard nacho Doritos chips. A good rule of thumb is to choose nacho-based Doritos. For example, Spicy Nacho flavored Doritos are okay, though adding hot sauce to regular Doritos works better. Cool Ranch Doritos are an occasional exception.

Uncle Joe's traditional marinara pasta sauce, sold in standard 24-oz-size glass jars, tastes good. I bought a jar on sale for $1. Interestingly, it tastes better than the Uncle Joe's pasta sauce with mushrooms, which is bland.

Roaster chicken thoughts: I bought a package with 2 whole roaster chickens for 99¢ a pound. 99¢ a pound appears to be the store's regular price for packages of 2 whole roaster chickens, which is something to keep in mind. The package cost $7.43, which comes out to 7.5 pounds combined for the 2 chickens or a few ounces under 4 pounds each. The basic cooking process was simple: 2 hours in the 3-quart mixing bowl in the Nesco at 425°. I cooked the 1st chicken for 2 hours with onions, carrot, and banana under the chicken. Inside the body cavity, I stuffed shredded tea leaves from a used teabag, banana, garlic, mushy post-frozen onion, and salt. I salted the outside along with some Worcestershire sauce. I don't think the Worcestershire sauce made a difference. I left the chicken in the mixing bowl and scooped pieces out. The chicken meat was tender and subtly flavored with the ingredients, except for the banana. The banana flavor was strong enough to rival the chicken flavor rather than complement it. For the 2nd chicken, I salted it outside along with some Worcestershire sauce and poured salt into the body cavity, and that's it. I cooked it for about 2 hours and 40 minutes to try to achieve a roasted effect. The legs with thighs, wings, and bottom layer fell away when I lifted the chicken body out of the mixing bowl to place on a plate. The 2nd chicken browned more on the outside than the 1st chicken, but the meat was noticeably drier than the tender meat of the 1st chicken. I basted once, but it didn't make a difference. The flavor of the 2nd chicken was basic salted chicken flavor, like generic store-bought chicken, unlike the subtle and banana flavoring of the 1st chicken. After eating 1 breast with hot sauce, 1 thigh, and the giblets from the 2nd chicken, I recooked the remaining pieces with onions in the chicken grease at 350°. The flavor was improved and the meat was moister. The lesson learned from the 2nd chicken is that onion, along with salt, is the minimum flavoring. The roasted chickens produced a good deal of grease. The pieces of a roaster chicken are 2 breasts, 2 legs with 2 thighs, 2 wings, tasty giblets, the bits of meat stuck to the bones, and a mess of chicken bones. I ate the chicken with rice. For the 2nd chicken, I added black beans, lentils, and a banana to the rice. Chicken meat, as I've noticed before, is tasty but less than filling.

After months of waiting anxiously, wondering whether the store would offer the sale again, the 99¢/lb pernil pork shoulder sale finally came around again to my relief. I bought a package of 2 pernil pork shoulders on 23JAN15 that weighed a bit over 20 pounds for $19.89. It was the heaviest of the 4 packages of the shelf. I cut upon the vacuum-sealed plastic bag, transferred 1 pork shoulder to a produce bag, wrapped each pork shoulder in multiple plastic shopping bags, and stored them both in the freezer. I jammed 4 boxes of frozen spinach between the freezer wall and the meat so I'll have a little more storage space when they freeze hard. I also was able to restock my juice supply from the same weekly sale, which I also had been waiting for for a while.

Decadent dessert: Betty Crocker dark chocolate brownie baked with banana and Super A smooth peanut butter, topped à la mode with Exceptional Value chocolate light ice cream. The banana was a trade-off, both adding cooked banana flavor and taking away some chocolate brownie flavor. Cooked peanut butter has a stronger flavor than uncooked peanut butter out of the jar spread on a baked brownie. I could barely taste the uncooked peanut butter on the brownie.

Mrs. Smith's classic cherry pie is disappointingly, but not surprisingly tasteless. I had set aside some Exceptional Value chocolate light ice cream to eat newly baked cherry pie à la mode. The hot pie, cold ice cream contrast was correct, but the gastronomic experience lacked basic satisfactory pie taste and texture. I'll eat the rest of the pie unadorned and save the remainder of the ice cream for my next brownie batch. It's possible that the disappointing taste of the pie is related to baking the pie too long in the Nesco. The box instructions say to bake the pie for 55 to 65 minutes until the crust is golden brown. In the toaster oven with my other Mrs. Smith's pies, I had used the 15-minute timer with quarter-turns (the heat in the toaster oven is stronger on the left side than on its right side) to bake them for an hour, which worked to produce a golden brown crust. In the Nesco, about 2.5 hours on the 375° setting was needed to produce a golden brown crust. I placed the pie in the 3-quart mixing bowl which raised the crust above the lip of the Nesco pot. The height hadn't concerned me because the Nesco is hottest at the top of the pot. But perhaps going even less than a half-inch above the top of the pot took the crust out of the heat. Perhaps while the crust took more time to bake, the filling was overbaked. Based on my disappointment with the other Mrs. Smith's pies, I'm not inclined to give this one the benefit of the doubt, though. The cherry pie is probably tasteless because it's tasteless. That said, the cherry pie is more tasteless than the other Mrs. Smith's pies so maybe the poor taste is due to a combination of factors. I also had a diarrhetic upset stomach afterwards, but I don't know whether that was from the cherry pie, the ice cream, the two combined, or something else I ingested last night.



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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Jeremy Lin's time is now

It's appropriate that in Jeremy Lin's 1st game of the 2014-2015 season, tonight, he'll be starting at point guard versus the Rockets, the team that took him away from the Knicks in 2012, then promptly marginalized him upon trading for James Harden, then demoted him in favor of Patrick Beverley, and then off-loaded him to the Lakers in a salary dump.

With free agency looming again, Lin has a prime opportunity with the Lakers this season to prove he's a full-time NBA starting point guard who was denied a fair chance with the Rockets ... or prove his detractors are right that he's a journeyman combo-guard who was a flash in the pan with the Knicks. He would not have had the same opportunity this season with the Rockets. The Lakers are a motley crew right now and a team in transition. With his move to LA, Lin is roughly back on track with my 2012 hope for 1-2 seasons of seasoning and then taking charge of a rebuilding underdog team.

At age 26 and beginning his 5th season with his 4th team, Lin is a young veteran entering his prime. While the Lakers are Kobe Bryant's team, Bryant is entering his 19th season and returning after a season lost to injury. Bryant says he wants and needs Lin's help to carry the backcourt load in all facets, including running the offense and creative scoring. Most of Lin's new teammates are limited role players who need a playmaker to create scoring opportunities. Lin should have ample opportunity to use his whole game, including his ability to lead an underdog to overachieve.

Rather than under-use this season, as happened with the Rockets, Lin's coaches will be tempted to over-use him. With Nash out for the season and his Hall-of-Fame career likely over, Lin's competition at point guard is journeyman Ronnie Price and rookie combo-guard, 46th pick Jordan Clarkson. Lin will likely play at the 2 in a Mavs Monta Ellis-type combo-guard role as well as the 1 with the need to moderate Bryant's minutes. At shooting guard behind Bryant, Nick Young will be out until at least December while he recovers from thumb surgery and Xavier Henry is technically available but hasn't practiced the entire preseason with a degenerative knee condition. Wayne Ellington, a shooting specialist, is out for tonight's game with a concussion. The 3 is also thin for the Lakers. With Young out and Henry active but hurt, 2010 4th-pick bust Wesley Johnson is the team's only small forward. Promising 19-year-old rookie Julius Randle, a stocky power forward who's compared to Zach Randolph, may be called on to fill in as a back-up small forward. If Bryant plays some small forward, that means more time at the 1 and 2 for Lin.

This Sports Illustrated article provides some insight on Byron Scott's offense and Lin's division of labor with Bryant:
“He's telling me that he’s the elbow [near the free throw line] and below, and I’m the elbow and up,” Lin said of Bryant, referring to positioning on offense. “I’ve got the top of the key and the pick-and-rolls; he’s got the low-post isos and playing from the block.”
... Lin feels the detractors missed the point, as Bryant’s mid-range game and the Lakers’ Princeton offense will naturally combine to produce fewer threes.
Scott's system emphasis on the mid-range game should fit Lin because his game begins in the mid-range and then goes out to 3 or in to the basket from there.

An interesting marketing angle is the combining of Lin's and Bryant's popularity in Asia.

Lin says he'll be blogging more often this season.

Update: Poor opening game for the Lakers and Lin. Randle was lost for the season with a fractured right tibia.

Update: Lakers games will be broadcast on ESPN this season on Friday, October 31 vs the Clippers, Friday, November 14 vs the Spurs, Wednesday, November 19 at the Rockets, Friday, December 12 at the Spurs, Friday, December 19 at the Thunder, Sunday, February 1 at the Knicks, Wednesday, March 4 at the Heat, Monday, March 16 at the Warriors, and Friday, April 3 at the Trailblazers. The Lakers will be broadcast on ABC this season on Sunday, February 8 at the Cavs and Sunday, March 1 vs the Thunder.

Update: Ouch. Lin's been benched and Ronnie Price is now the starting PG.

Update: Kobe Bryant tore his right rotator cuff. Likely done for the season.



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Monday, October 27, 2014

Thoughts of the day

This New Yorker article has been recommended in several places as the go-to media-based reference on the Ebola crisis. I haven't read it yet. Although the soldiers who deployed to Africa to help with Ebola treatment logistics but not treated Ebola patients will be subjected to a 21-day quarantine, President Obama is against a similar quarantine for returning civilian medical volunteers who have directly engaged Ebola patients. The legal question of quarantine is addressed here (LI), here (VC), and here (JT). Here is the CDC's Ebola information page.

14-year-old Jaylen Fryberg appeared to be a scion who was a well-integrated boy with a large close-knit family in a close-knit community with good friends. Well-loved. Solidly middle-class, even wealthy, in terms of material needs and wants. Raised with traditional values and proud of his culture, he seemed to check all the boxes for a well-rounded upbringing of a young man. More than that, he was clearly a leader among his peers. He didn’t fall through the cracks. He was not alienated. He was a high-riser, somebody who, even at his age, appeared firmly on track to be a star of his family and community, and a man who could choose his life, but who would make sure his life was rooted in family and community. Yet he executed and tried to murder his closest friends before killing himself. What happened?

Another apparently schizophrenic black-swan shooter wounded 3 people after midnight at his alma mater's campus library, Florida State University Strozier Library (impressively open 24 hours a day during the study week), before being killed by responding police. What stands out about 31-year-old Myron May is that he was a successful, young-veteran lawyer, socially engaged, well-liked, civic-minded, and conscientious with a typical successful lawyer's all-star background. Supposedly, he was a proud alumnus of FSU where he had a fulfilling experience as an undergraduate. He was a well-regarded assistant district attorney before he quit abruptly last month. Once again, the black-swan shooter had little or no criminal history nor even a violent background before changing. Whatever happened to his mind seemed to evolve quickly over the past 3 months. It's remarkable how many black-swan shooters have had profiles that mark them as valuable members, even exemplars, of their community. What is driving them to spree killing?

The University of North Carolina is a highly regarded academic institution, yet hosted a large long-lasting academic fraud perpetrated by administrators and faculty.

For insight on the sensational Rolling Stone UVa-rape story that turned out to be categorically false and unethically reported, I suggest the reaction at the Community of the Wrongly Accused blog and this database of lawsuits by falsely accused college students. Add: Janet Bloomfield's case studies of 13 Women Who Lied About Being Raped And Why They Did It.

The CJ Chivers round-up: I missed the window to comment at his initial article in order to set the record straight on OIF. I tried to catch up at his update, where most of my comments were not approved, and editor's blog here and here. I also commented under related posts at Blackfive, at Ace of Spades, at Victor Davis Hanson's rebuttal here and here, at MSNBC, at Slate here and here, at Mother Jones, at National Review, at Dallas News, at The New American Magazine, at New Republic, at Madison Journal Today, and at The Atlantic.

Sunnis who fought side by side with the Americans in the Sunni Awakening have been slaughtered by ISIS. It's not only that we left Iraq prematurely in 2011. It's that we refused to go back thereafter even as it became clearly evident Iraq urgently needed our help 2 years ago and last year with the danger emerging from Syria. Even now we're providing insufficient help in an urgent situation. It's infuriating. It's a gross betrayal.

On TMZ, an audio recording of Amanda Bynes fantasizing about killing her parents. Her mind is racing.

So Right, the funny JR Smith song.

World Series Game 7 was a good game - taut and tense from first pitch to last pitch. I enjoyed that the World Series emphasized pitching, defense, fundamentals, situational hitting, and was played inside the park. The battle of the bullpens added to the drama. At that level, a hot fastball isn't enough to get outs as Giants reliever Hunter Strickland learned. Pitchers need to pitch precisely and intelligently to get outs against batters who are hyper-focused. Giants-Royals was just good baseball. I'll take post-season great Bumgarner over post-season collapse Kershaw.

A fine 3-hour Christmas song collection on youtube. The poster has good taste.

Godzilla (2014) is a waste of time with a nothing story. I looked forward to the movie and I was disappointed everywhere with it. It was pointless. I fell asleep which is a sure indicator of a bad movie.

Deliver US from Evil (2014) is schlock, The Raven (2012) delivers on its gimmick premise but no better, and The Quiet Ones (2014) has charismatic leads. The Thing (2011) is a decent prequel to the classic John Carpenter film that should have retained its practical effects and committed fully to the homage; it was okay. Director's commentary in a 2nd viewing adds sausage-making perspective and depth of appreciation for the director's storytelling and his take on his story.

Food, Inc. (2009) is endorsed by Keoni Galt. The Orozco family (dad, mom, 2 daughters) spent $11.48 on the dollar menu at Burger King for 1 family meal, yet mom claimed they can't afford groceries at the supermarket for home-cooked meals. I don't think they're budgeting right. My experience is groceries are cheaper in the long run than eating out. $11.48 is enough to buy groceries for a decent homecooked meal for a family of 4. Their older daughter is cute and feminine, but with her mom, I wouldn't trust her homemaking skills.

The Great Gatbsy (2013) is a straightforward telling of the F. Scott Fitzgerald American literary classic in Baz Luhrmann's signature sumptuous style. It's an incomplete translation, shallow, and it's not insightful, but the movie hits the major plot points and is competently presented, which is the minimum standard to be expected from the veteran cast and crew. I empathize with Jay Gatsby's romantic idealism. I wish I had his ambitious drive and intelligence. He knew who he was and what he aspired to be. While he deserved better than Daisy, if he's like me, then he needed her guiding star for the organizing principle of his dreams. Although he says he was ambitious and driven before giving himself to love, Daisy's inspiration seemed to add rocket fuel to Gatbsy's pursuit of his dreams. Gatsby: "See, I felt married to her." Nick: "It was all for her - the house, the parties, everything." Yeah, me, too. Gatsby was out of sync socially, too.

Golden Years (1991) features a youthful Felicity Huffman who can't stay in character. Linsanity (2013) provides a look inside Lin's life, personality, family, and the Linsanity streak with the Knicks. King Corn (2007) is in the same genre as the later Food, Inc., though the former is more documentary and the latter is more advocacy. The one advocacy point of King Corn is that excess corn syrup is unhealthy and corn syrup is used in many products.

American Blackout (2013) made me motion sick and I'm skeptical about the scene where yuppie douchebag Andrew wounded himself while trying to open a can of peaches by hacking wildly at it with a large knife. I find it hard to believe that even a spoiled yuppie couple would be completely bereft of practical sense and at least a multi-tool on hand. People like Andrew usually have some outdoors and other practical experience. America:Imagine the World Without Her (2014) doesn't answer its introductory question about what the world would be like without America but makes welcome points about context with some nicely done scenes and nifty effects.

NatGeo's Life Below Zero has been policed up on youtube, so I've started watching Animal Planet's Ice Lake Rebels. Stephan Hervieux looks and acts like a Scott Thompson character from Kids in the Hall. Add: There is an explosion of Alaska-based shows on youtube. Just how many camera crews are running around Alaska right now? Also, what does the trend say about our zeitgeist right now? There seems to be a rejection of modern society. What does it mean and what opportunities does it present?

On season 4 episode 4, The Harvest, of Life Below Zero, Andy Bassich said an axiom that I like: "It's the same old story. Experience is knowledge. Knowledge is confidence. Confidence is a job well done." He later says about training his dogs, "The only way to build confidence is to get them a lot of experience. ... They really excel at what they're doing once they have confidence, and that's the key. You got to get the confidence or you don't get the performance." Andy repeats the theme of building experience for knowledge and confidence. He doesn't mind repetition and failing because learning is a process. Even knowledgeable, confident people get beaten down and fail. Take the criticism and judgement from self and others. Absorb the shame, humiliation, self-loathing, and frustration. Once processed, it's a constructive experience if you learn from the experience. The whole episode, featuring the Hailstones, the Bassiches, Glenn, and Sue, is a medley of applied mastery learning orientation. It's a healthy mindset to eagerly, shamelessly seek out failures as building blocks in a constructive learning process. To be resilient enough to put yourself out in front of others and be wrong, to be embarrassed and humbled, and tough enough to absorb humiliation and losing face in payment for the lesson. There's nothing you don't know. There's only what you haven't experienced and learned yet.

The Veterans Day Parade was halting so much for cross-street traffic and perhaps other reasons that, despite the good feeling of being around soldiers and veterans, I gave up spectating after about an hour. I felt bad for the marching and, more so, the performing participants. I don't recall the flow stopping so much when I marched in the parade.

37-seed Stuy beat 28-seed Townsend Harris in a play-in round and then was eliminated by 2-seed Susan Wagner in the reseeded 1st round. I advised Coach Wu to approach the Susan Wagner match as a rare opportunity for his boys to learn up close from one of the top teams in the city in play-off mode on their home lanes. Update: Susan Wagner won the PSAL championship.

I attended this Postsecret event. In his intro, Frank Warren asked who had sent in a postsecret. I raised my hand and when he asked me how it felt, I shrugged and said, "not much". He then called me up to the stage and handed me a copy of the newest Postsecret book. I'm a fan of the content on Postsecret, but I was disquieted by the live presentation of the event. It's too canned, like a slick sales seminar. Postsecrets are confessional windows that reveal a glimpse of private lives. The postsecrets are not the essential meaning unto themselves. However, the Postsecret event characterized postsecrets with a collective overarching superficial social meaning rather than as distinct windows into individual lives. I don't like how the event reduced serious private issues to packaged new-age pablum.

I was in the jury pool for a civil case in which one of my law school instructors is the plaintiff. He's suing the NYC Department of Sanitation for personal injury and property damage, apparently from an accident in New Jersey. During voir dire, I informed the attorneys of my prior relationship with the plaintiff. Not surprisingly, I wasn't selected for the jury. After that, I was released from jury duty. $40 for the day isn't bad. For the pay, I wouldn't have minded a day or two more of jury duty or even serving longer as a juror for a trial.

Continuing the theme of the future is here, or science fiction becomes science fact, along with cell phones, tablets, and wireless internet: Automotion Parking.

There are various kinds of plastic clothes hangers, wooden hangers, wire hangers, rubber-coated wire hangers, paper-covered wire hangers, and cardboard-covered wire hangers. Watch out for wire hangers that rust.

To save rags or paper towels on a rough wipe job, use newspapers. Circulars work just as well. Newspapers don't absorb like rags and paper towels, so they won't finish the job, the ink may run and they're not hygienic, so they're no good for cleaning, but there is usually a free pile of it laying around.

I used the stomp method to hand wash (or foot wash) some laundry in a plastic storage box. It seems to work.

My internet is too expensive. I should look into cheaper options.

There was a light tan, I believe from appearance, sac spider on the ceiling edge directly over my bed. I like that sac spiders hunt small insects, but I captured it with some regret since sac spiders are venomous. If it was not venomous I would have left it alone. I hope it was alone and there isn't an infestation.

I've been waking up dizzy lately. Symptom of what? Maybe onset of diabetes? I don't think so but my incipient hypochondria wonders.

I've considered 14.75-ounce canned salmon to be an exotic treat with a sale price of $2.50-3.00 per can. For protein staples, I've bought pork pernil shoulder and chicken thighs on sale for 99¢ per pound and a dozen eggs on sale for $1.67. For more regular piscifare, I've opted for 15-ounce canned mackerel with a sale price of $1.25 per can. Canned salmon tastes significantly better than canned mackerel. Pork and chicken weight includes bones, whereas canned salmon and mackerel weight includes water. In June, I discovered a local supermarket selling canned salmon with a sale price of $1.99. I bought 1 can of salmon in June, 26 cans of salmon in July, and 5 cans of salmon in October, which adds up to 32 cans of salmon. At the end of October, I have 16 cans of salmon remaining in the stack, which means I've consumed 16 of 32 cans. If I discount the can I bought and presumably ate in June, I consumed 15 of 31 cans of salmon over 17 weeks for a use rate of .88/week. That's not as gluttonous as my impression, but it's still a large leap from a luxury to near-staple level of consumption. I ought to compare my canned mackerel and salmon purchase and consumption numbers over the same period. At $1.99 per 14.75-oz can, salmon is the most expensive protein in my diet. It confirms that when I buy more of a tasty luxury food with the expectation my consumption rate will not change, my habit is to eat more of it faster, instead. Salmon tastes good out of the can, and it's easier and faster to cut open a can than to defrost, season, and cook a piece of pork or chicken.

I cooked a 1/2-inch pernil chop on the toaster setting for 10 minutes. It cooked faster and turned out well, like broiling on both sides. It spit more grease than usual. I didn't flip the chop at 5 minutes, though. Next time I will flip it halfway through because the 2 sides weren't cooked evenly.

A 10.5-oz can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup, which I've bought on sale for 75¢, doesn't work as a bachelor stew base, unlike larger cans of Progresso or Chunky soup. It's passable for the Salton pot, but doesn't have enough stuff for the Mirro and 3-quart bowl.

I tried again to make a bachelor stew without an oily meat or fish base. The experiment was whether an increase in vinegar would compensate on the flavor since vinegar works as an additional tangy flavor in a supporting role. The ingredients were rice, angel hair pasta, 1/3 banana, 1 diced carrot, cut okra, onions, garlic, ginger, 1 beaten egg, vinegar, salt, and seasoned salt. The egg didn't add noticeable flavor. I variously added hot sauce, pasta sauce, sour cream, and chunky peanut butter as condiments. The peanut butter made a difference. I conceded with my last bowl with a side dish of canned salmon. My conclusion is bachelor stew needs a stronger flavor base than a vinegar boost can provide. Update: However, a scaled-down meal with pasta shells and some rice boiled with onions, some ginger and garlic, vinegar, and salt in the Salton was decent with condiments tomato puree, sour cream, some salmon for flavor, and seasoned salt.

A good bannock sandwich: Bannock made with flour, baking soda, and vinegar, baked medium-thin on toaster setting for 15 minutes on an oiled pan. The bannock was crunchy. 1 beaten extra-large egg fried in the Salton pot with cut okra, onions, and pernil slices. Garnished with sour cream, TuttoRosso crushed tomatoes, raw collard green leaf, raw ginger, raw garlic, raw onions, and seasoned salt. I've also eaten good bannock sandwiches with turkey and salmon.

Red Pack tomato puree is similar to the ketchup-like Goya tomato sauce. TuttoRosso tomato puree tastes better.

Associated chunky peanut butter is softer than Best Yet chunky peanut butter. Associated peanut butter is made with sugar and molasses and no corn syrup whereas Best Yet peanut butter is made with corn syrup but no sugar and molasses.

Condensed milk is made of milk and sugar and costs more than evaporated milk. It's sweet and tastes good, but it doesn't add as much extra kick to my brownies as I expected, perhaps because brownie sweetness is already stronger than condensed milk sweetness. I ate half the can of condensed milk like pudding.

Mrs. Smith's 27-ounce, 8" pies are on sale for 2 for $4. I purchased the classic pumpkin pie and classic apple pie. I tried their classic sweet potato pie before when it was on sale for 2 for $5. Like the sweet potato pie, the pumpkin pie was okay. I ate the whole thing in 2 sittings: dinner, then breakfast. The flavor was correct, but mild, which is to be expected from a factory-processed version of a dish that should be made from scratch in a home, restaurant, or baker's kitchen. The best part was the thick-enough flaky crust, though it was obviously like that due to shortening. I got the unpleasant off after-feeling I typically get from indulging in junk food. The aluminum pan from the sweet potato pie has been fairly useful, but it's torn and beat up now. Now, I have 1 new Mrs. Smith's aluminum pie pan with 1 more 8" pie pan to clean of apple pie. Update: I ate the whole Mrs. Smith's apple pie in 1 sitting. It tasted basically correct, but it wasn't a deep, rich flavor, and the spice apple flavor seemed to diminish after the first few bites. There was less apple than I expected. Again, the shortening-flaked crust was the best part of the pie. My verdict is Mrs. Smith's classic pies are okay but there's just less there in terms of flavor and density than the 1st impression.

I bought a 15-oz jar of Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Dark Chocolate Creamy on sale for $2. It's compared to Nutella on the label with the claim of 60% less sugar per serving. It may as well have said 60% less flavor than Nutella. It was disappointingly slight on both peanut butter and chocolate flavor.

I left oranges in a produce plastic bag on my window sill. The last time I did that, one orange molded up on the bag and window side, with the bag opening on the other side. It happened again. This time, I had cut holes in the bag to release moisture, but one orange molded up anyway. The mold was thick, green, and powdery. I didn't try to save the orange. Some of the mold got on the other oranges. I cut off some pieces, rinsed them off, and ate the 2 oranges that I cut off pieces. I hope I didn't spread the mold spores in my kitchen.


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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stuyvesant today, from the back

The no-longer-new Stuyvesant High School looks about the same as it did when we moved in Fall 1992, at least from the outside, but the surrounding neighborhood has changed a lot since then. This picture of Stuy from the rear with the nearly completed Freedom Tower in the background is dated August 10, 2014.


The new Stuy had its perks, but I preferred the old Stuy.



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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stress: Portrait of a Killer

Stress: Portrait of a Killer is a 2008 National Geographic documentary starring Stanford neurologist Robert Sapolsky.

In the state of nature, stress is a survival mechanism. When faced with a burst of danger from a predator, the stress response switches on to change the running mode of the whole body. Just as importantly, the stress response switches off when the imminent danger has passed and returns to the body to its normal running mode. The 'fight or flight' mechanism is not unhealthy stress when limited to actual fight and flight.

However, the psychological pressures of modern social life have switched on the stress response and left it on. Stress has become a chronic psycho-physiological condition with sweeping impact. Prenatal stress passed in a stressed mother's blood to the developing fetus is insidious with fundamental lifelong effects. The obvious symptoms - fat around the middle, stomach pain, frequent illness, reduced memory and cognitive function - point to a chronically stressed condition. I worry about the symptoms that are less sensorially apparent. Stress not only adds negative effects, it also dampens dopamine reception so that pleasure is reduced.

Always cut down stress wherever possible. Construct a healthy social environment. Physically hard work is not stressful. Anxiety in all its caustic forms is stressful. Control is an antidote to stress.

Add: Good stress includes diet, exercise, and fasting.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Moral dilemma, Lone Survivor, Torture Report

Comment at this post about the possible declassification of a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the use of torture in the War on Terror:
It’s a moral dilemma to be sure.

Last week, I watched the movie, Lone Survivor. It’s based on the account by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell whose team, along with a Chinook crew and whole squad of SF operators, were killed in action.

Nineteen of the US military’s best men died because PO Luttrell’s commanding officer, LT Michael Murphy, decided to release 3 prisoners – 1 old man and 2 boys – rather than kill them outright or bind them, which the SEALs believed would likely result in their deaths (animal predators, weather).

LT Murphy made his decision in accordance with his morality, the rules of engagement, and laws of war. He also made this decision expecting that his erstwhile prisoners would inform the nearby Taliban forces of his SEAL team. These particular Taliban were known to be responsible for, and thus capable of, killing US Marines, which is a hard thing to do.

Nineteen of America’s best men, many of whom were husbands and fathers of young children, were killed because LT Murphy made an all-American moral decision, the kind we teach our soldiers to make with their dedicated ethical training from the earliest stage of their military indoctrination.

His only reprieve is that he didn’t survive long enough to see his close comrades in the rescue squad, whom he had called to save his team with his last act in life, also die as a result of his moral decision to spare the lives of the old man and 2 boys who would kill him and his men.

LT Murphy honored the highest traditions and values of the US military and was awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously.

The moral dilemma of “enhanced interrogation” does not rise to killing old men and young boys who accidently stumble on a secret op. It’s usually not even torture by the standard of our enemy in the War on Terror.

But the other side of the moral dilemma of “enhanced interrogation” is even heavier than the life-or-death choice that faced LT Murphy and killed him.

Rather than LT Murphy’s own life, the lives of the three men in his command, and even the doomed rescue team he didn’t live to see, our interrogators are tasked with preventing the killing of 10s, 100s, 1000s, maybe even 10000s or more – depending on the kind of weapon the terrorists can obtain from terrorist supporters like Saddam – civilians, not just soldiers. Interrogators are charged with protecting the homeland itself.

When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, I was disgusted, as was every other Army veteran I knew. But my reaction was tempered by the appreciation that the terrorists were assassinating and mass-murdering 10s and 100s of Iraqis at a time, almost every day, along with humanitarian aid workers and the coalition soldiers defending Iraq. Our interrogators at Abu Ghraib were wrong … but they were wrong while trying desperately to save American, coalition, aid workers, and most of all, Iraqi lives by stopping an enemy who was – and is – zealously committed to achieving social dominance through unrestrained terror-style murder and real torture.

Our morality – Michael Murphy’s morality – demands our judgement that certain acts are wrong and intolerable. Had I been in command, I’m certain I would have made the suicidal decision that LT Murphy made. I also would have penalized the interrogators and MPs at Abu Ghraib.

But know that that our morality, while we are competing with this enemy, comes with a very, very high price. At least consider the price when you judge.


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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thoughts of the day

Yikes, it's been three months since I started new thoughts of the day. There's no schedule; I cap one and start the next one by feel. But three months is a long time. The last one is stuffed. I delayed starting a new one because of several posts, such as my OIF FAQ, that I wanted to keep at or near the top of the main page. They've been pushed down since, though.

R.I.P. Robin Williams, July 21, 1951 - August 11, 2014. Williams was great. I liked him best as a dramatic actor and better as a subdued comic actor than a hyperactive improvisational comedian. My favorite Williams role is teacher John Keating in Dead Poets Society (1989).

R.I.P. Joan Rivers, June 8, 1933 - September 4, 2014.

Grantland's Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary series. See the feature on the late, great Phil Hartman.

The US Embassy in Libya has been totally evacuated amid battles between rival militias. Obama's Libya intervention was touted as his alternative-to-OIF showpiece. What a disaster.

UAE and Egypt vs Qatar and Turkey in Libya.

WaPo Marc Thiessen: George W. Bush was right about Iraq pullout.

Article by Nadia Schadlow about Obama's failure to use the military to build the peace. (h/t)

Comment and again at a Thomas Ricks article. Offering advice on the case for OIF. Giving away the OIF FAQ at QandO. Laying out my updated explanation for OIF at Neo's.

I can only hope making the case for OIF moves the needle of the zeitgeist. Hoping to win over particular OIF opponents is quixotic. It's like throwing pebbles into a river - slight ripple and then the flow resumes. Here's how one OIF opponent reacted to primary-source quotes justifying OIF when I responded to her challenge: "Please, I’m sure you totally believe in what you’re saying, but the barrage of missives to prove your point will only suffice to make you feel better and aggravate the hell out of me." Those "missives" were primary-source authorities. She dismisses the fact basis for OIF out of hand and reduces the issue to unmoored belief. She rejected the truth when I laid it out bare for her. She wants narrative only.

Kurds want help from the US to fight ISIS but the State Department is scuffling while saying no. Update: The West is slowly coming around with direct support to the Kurds, air strikes on ISIS, and Maliki is out.

The Ambassador Ryan Crocker on the ISIS crisis.

A good summary of our choices facing ISIS by zenpundit.

Western women of ISIS recruit, propagandize, and fulfill traditional wife/mom household role. They are serious people on a serious mission who believe the West is weak in character, frivolous and trivial.

Byron at bigWOWO again displays the contradiction between his advocacy of resolute American liberal leadership and opposition to President Bush's resolute liberal leadership. He asks what the US should do about Putin's actions in the Ukraine and ISIS. I called on him to help set the record straight on OIF with the OIF FAQ. Let's see if it makes a difference. I might incorporate my comments in the thread as an answer section in the OIF FAQ.

Good discussion at bigWOWO about how Western liberals should approach radical Islam. Eurasian Sensation's commments are notable. I posted this open letter from Eiynah, a liberal Pakistani woman, to Ben Affleck. This open letter was recommended to me with the description, “This letter to the leader of IS was signed by over 100 Islamic scholars across several nations, it condemns the actions of IS and provides a good overview and detailed argument for why the group is not following the precepts of Islam.”

Video of Columbia SIWPS panel, ISIS in Iraq, Syria, and the United States. Panelist Austin Long discusses the potential of the airstrikes on ISIS. Panelist Stuart Gottlieb writes, Blame The Obama Doctrine For Iraq.

Columbia Professor Nacos issues a call to action vs ISIS and I call her out, and again.

Columbia Professor Jeffrey Sachs advocates an exclusively soft-power approach to ISIS.

Columbia has a Program on Peace-building.

Peace operations: (DOD) A broad term that encompasses multiagency and multinational crisis response and limited contingency operations involving all instruments of national power with military missions to contain conflict, redress the peace, and shape the environment to support reconciliation and rebuilding and facilitate the transition to legitimate governance. Also called PO. See also peace building; peace enforcement; peacekeeping; and peacemaking. Source: JP 3-07.3 (source)

I rebut Jonathan Turley's claim that the anti-ISIS strikes are unConstitutional here, here, here, and here. For the President's basic counter-terror authority, look at PL 107-40 (2001), PL 104-132 (1996), and PDD/NSC-39 (1995). I unpacked the anti-ISIS legal authority issue here.

From August 15, 2014, Security Council Adopts Resolution 2170 (2014) Condemning Gross, Widespread Abuse Of Human Rights by Extremist Groups in Iraq, Syria. UNSCR 2170 appears to activate PL 107-243 and, along with the State Department designation, definitely activates PL 107-40.

Lawyer John Hinderaker at Powerlineblog points out that the rationale for confronting ISIS was more fully manifested the rationale for confronting Saddam, yet the same Democrats who opposed Bush now support Obama. (h/t)

The Army Capstone Concept sounds interesting. It matches my prognostication for Columbia ROTC.

Book Review: The Betrayal of American Prosperity is thought-provoking because it holds two of my core political beliefs in direct conflict where I've held them to be collaborative parts of the same set: a strong America leading the free world. If I must order the two values, then I'll follow the same order that I apply to individuals. A man must first be a better man in order to make the world a better place. America must first be a strong healthy nation with a strong healthy economy, culture, and people in order to be a sustainable, resilient, effective leader of the free world.

Mark Krikorian shares my reaction to CDC head Tom Frieden's irrational defense of not restricting flights from Ebola-stricken West Africa in the wake of the Duncan case in Dallas.

The wholesale narrative strategy in activism is based on the evolutionary concept of paradigm shift. Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, pp 383-384:
"Paradigm shifts" Harding said. He knew about paradigm shifts. For the last two decades, they had been the fashionable way to talk about scientific change. "Paradigm" was just another word for a model, but as scientists used it the term meant something more, a world view. A larger way of seeing the world. Paradigm shifts were said to occur whenever science made a major change in its view of the world. Such changes were relatively rare, occurring about once a century. Darwinian evolution had forced a paradigm shift. Quantum mechanics had forced a smaller shift.

Value social "stability, trust, and cohesion".

New York Times: The High Line Opens Its Third and Final Phase officially on Sunday, September 21, 2014. The third section's "soft" opening to the public is on Saturday, September 20, 2014. Update: As I walked through the long curving third section on Sunday afternoon, I fortuitously caught onto the artist giving a small-group tour of the art exhibit that's spread out along the tracks in the third section. His explanation was a non-stop patter of pretentious bullshit.

Bowlmor Lanes (300) at Chelsea Piers has kicked out PSAL bowling. Stuy boys games have been moved way out to Astoria Bowl. I wonder how many boys team members, many of whom would be returning from last season, will drop out due to the harder commute. Stuy girls games are being moved more reasonably to Frames (formerly Port Authority Bowl). I wonder why the boys team couldn't make the same move. Logistics, I guess. Stuyvesant's division (Manhattan I) is not the only PSAL division in Manhattan. Frames is likely maxed out for the PSAL.

The formal version of perk, ie, extra benefit, is perquisite.

The adage about an overnight success that's a lifetime in the making is true. It refers to a natural phenomenon that plays out in many ways. A long process of transformation often only appears as small incremental changes, or may be hardly apparent at all, until there is a seemingly sudden large change, a breakthrough, like a volcanic eruption following a long build-up of magma. I baked crackling and potatoes in the Nesco today, which takes hours. The potatoes gradually browned and the pernil skin gradually hardened from the outside in. For hours, the changes were slow. Then within the last hour, the potato slices transformed into oil-soaked thick, crunchy potato chips and the whole pernil skin slab turned into crackling. The life lesson is sticktoitiveness matters because immediate returns on investment are not the norm.

An example of the mastery learning road to success is LeCharles Bentley, offensive lineman guru, who approaches his craft as a science and art.

Astros 2nd baseman Jose Altuve was told to sit in the last game of the season against the Mets by his GM and manager to protect his 3-point lead in the batting title race. Instead, he talked his way back into the line-up, went 2-for-4, and won the batting title by 6 points. Good for him. Win it swinging on your feet, young man.

Fatherly advice from a 20-something who isn't actually a dad yet. Read it with a grain of salt, but it's worth noting anyway. (h/t)

Elusive Wapiti: Men's Health: Guys Need to Cultivate Relationships. The post draws from a study that showed the life outcomes (dependent variables) of Harvard graduates (controlled variable) differed greatly due to childhood upbringing and relations (independent variables).

Japanese dystopian cult-classic movie Battle Royale (2001) explores the same theme, namely that childhood characteristics are prologue to adult life. The 3-day Battle Royale on the evacuated island with 40 classmates, 2 dangerous transfer students, and elimination of their protective teacher is a microcosm of life's Hobbesian struggle. Former teacher Kitano is angered by his former students' disrespect for adults and in response to Mimura's question of "why are you doing this", sets the philosophy of the Battle Royale, "don't forget, life is a game, so fight for survival and find out if you're worth it". The theretofore seemingly harmless childish idiosyncrasies, relationships, fancies, prejudices, suspicions, etc, of the young teens instantly define their life-or-death judgements, decisions, and behavior on the island. The movie illustrates how what we are as children shape what we are as adults and our lives. Right before Mitsuki is killed, she says to the dead Kotohiki, "No one is going to save you. That's just life." As far as review, Battle Royale was conceptually interesting and entertaining, but it was lighter fare - hokey with choppy composition and little character development - than I expected from the high praise for the film. The movie was less graphically violent than its reputation and the hokiness deflated the reputed disturbing social themes. The soundtrack is very good, reminiscent of Ennio Morricone. The movie's maudlin, manic tenor reminded me of Peter Jackson's Dead Alive.

Ouch. Sketch comedy mocks a beta "tosser" who is outclassed by a charismatic scarecrow and loses the girl. Except he really liked Jill and his heart got crushed. Nobody cares about his hurt, loneliness, and downgrade of his life; they used him with an utter lack of regret. Reminds me of the hello m'lady sketch. Rather than fight for his honor, the beta left in a huff that incited barely a ripple of reaction from his 'friends'. Another sketch from the same comedy team shows off the PUA technique of "negging", which strikes me as a technique borrowed from cult leaders.

The INFP romantic rejection dilemma as a postsecret. As in real life, the female reaction in the postsecret community is unsympathetic. More red-pill postsecrets this week: this and this.

Two attractive (female) teachers, one of whom is married with 3 children, were arrested for having sex with the same 16-year-old (male) student at what is implied was the same time. The two teachers were investigated by police after he bragged to his friends. Hm. Realtalk. Well, the truth is out there.

From a letter to his son Michael, JRR Tolkien on marriage and relations between the sexes. Based on this letter alone, it appears that The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien is a must-have gift to any boy (or biological man in arrested development) who is deficient in sober paternal guidance on the ways of life and the world.

Added to the reading list: Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. Meditations is reputed to be a seminal work of applied Stoic philosophy. Follow with Seneca's Letters.

Columbia Veterans is the new Columbia military alumni association. I'm glad it's reified. I'll sign up when it feels right.

Single Stop for Veterans looks useful.

The NYS Prepare (prior version) "training event" didn't really train us. It was a rapid powerpoint briefing by a NY Guard captain that was more in-depth than the website. The powerpoint briefing is not offered on the website, though; it may be proprietary. The captain's briefing was mostly about raising awareness of the importance of self-sufficiency and prior preparation, what to think and do generally in case of a social-breakdown emergency, and warning us that we may not be able to count on incapacitated or overwhelmed government services (while also reassuring us the government can be counted on). The message was disturbing as it was meant to be. The government has its limits and if you're not ready for those limits when you need help the most and looking for a shepherd, you'll be shit out of luck and suffering, maybe dead. A city without services and utilities is the wrong place to be in a social-breakdown emergency. I did get a free NYS Disaster Preparedness Kit for attending. It smells like a typically musty Army conex, like it was stored with camo netting. I would suggest adding a sewing kit to their bug-out bag packing list. NY-Alert looks useful.

Moon (2009) is well-crafted with a seamless mix of CGI and practical models and a well-acted small, indie sci-fi set piece starring Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell opposite Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell 2, and co-starring Kevin Space as Gerty. The movie has touching background music.

Lone Survivor (2013) is an engrossing tearjerker that depicts the incident where a "total of 11 SEALs died that day in the War against Terror, in the biggest single loss of life for Naval Special Warfare forces since World War II." Eight soldiers, the crew of the CH-47 Chinook from the Army's 160th SOAR "Nightstalkers", died in the rescue attempt, too. The running battle is frightening to watch. The humanizing characterizations of the SEALs reminded me of the depictions of the Delta soldiers in Blackhawk Down.

Captain Phillips (2013) and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) are depressing in their portrayals of the social trap of futile, meaningless endeavors where individuals commit their lives but are used as mere pawns in enterprises run by and benefiting others. The Somali pirates made bad choices, but they were also their only choices. It shows that the situation in Somalia is unchanged from the Blackhawk Down episode twenty years ago where warlords are at fault for the failed state.

The Hunger Games is a catchy serial story that I'm tempted to read after watching the 1st 2 movies of the trilogy, keeping in mind however its premise is a schlocky tweenage girl-heroine action-romance fantasy, not a masculine action-adventure-intrigue fantasy. All the boys love Katniss and the world revolves around her. The setting works, Katniss is a plausible heroine, and the Hunger Games are a cool concept, but in terms of the Mockingjay rebellion against the Capitol, she and the Hunger Games themselves are assigned a social-political impact that seems unrealistically out of proportion.

Ender's Game (2014) the movie was a disappointing hack job of a favorite book. I can't say how much fault for the clumsy interpretation is due to the director and how much is the medium. The director's commentary emphasizes that funding, including the bankruptcy of a visual effects company, was a big problem. Perhaps, an animated series would work better to allow a proper telling of the story. Along with the ham-handed storytelling and characterizations, the movie is unfaithful to the book. At least the Starship Troopers movie made no pretense of faithfulness. The anti-military/anti-war premise of the movie distorts the theme of the book. In Card's telling, war comes with terrible costs, but they are necessary costs to prevent worse things than war. In Hood's telling, war and everything associated with war are the worst things and there are no such things as an intolerable enemy and war as a foundational step for peace. The contrast is the Atlas Shrugged movies, which were also made on a shoestring budget, but are loyal to Rand's themes.

Looper (2012), Kick Ass 2 (2013), and All Is Lost (2013) are solid movies. Looper is a well-told story except for its suspect ending. Kick Ass 2 shares the Batman ethic of the harder right and emphasizes the need to connect with your inner unique, heroic identity. All Is Lost shows the importance of staying calm, competence, working a problem, and working through your mistakes.

Draft Day (2014) is a glossy professional product all-around with a straightforward story using a standard heroic arc for Sonny Weaver Jr, played by sports-movie staple, Kevin Costner. The paternalism of the movie is appealing. It tugged some tears out of me.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is a sci-fi, special effects masterpiece. Its deadpan dialogue and disciplined pace straddles a line of tense and boring. Gravity (2013) also has nice sci-fi special effects. Some parts were questionable. I wonder what force pulled Matt Kowalski away from Ryan Stone at the ISS; he seemed to float away lazily once unclipped. Why is the orbiting debris field chasing Stone to the ISS and Chinese space station which presumably have different orbital altitudes, or else they should have been hit on the 1st pass that destroyed the Explorer shuttle. Did Stone's impossible transit from the Soyuz to the Tiangong using a fire extinguisher and without an oxygen line imply she only dreamed her escape just she like she dreamed Kowalski's return? Why would the Tiangong drop into the atmosphere? Shouldn't the Shenzhou be buoyant for water landings? Could they have salvaged Sharrif's oxygen pack?

The World's End (2013) is the last installment of The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, preceded by Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007), from the team of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright. Common themes of the trilogy include arrested adolescence versus adult conformity and the inner circle versus the mob. The movie features the lovely Rosamund Pike as Sam. Pegg shows off an impressive range as an actor. In the director's commentary and making-of feature, his voice is deeper than his acting voice. Like other comedians, Pegg is serious and clinical about his work when outside of his role-play. Completing the Golden Mile for Gary King (Pegg), which he fell short of achieving as a high-school graduate, reminds me of my regret over my truncated Stuyvesant bowling career. I tried to make up for it with later achievements, but they weren't the same. You only get to be young once.

Final Destination 5 (2011) is light, fun fare with an effective twist ending. Every death had a misdirection. I watched the movie in 2D though it's designed to be watched in 3D. The film franchise's premise doesn't get old.

Summer's ending again. River Flicks Big Hit Wednesdays wrapped up this week with Captain Phillips (2013). Last night, Family Fridays finished with the classic, Wizard of Oz (1939). Wizard of Oz is a well-crafted classic and I'm glad I watched it on a relatively large screen. However, Dorothy's lesson learned that "if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with" bothers me; I don't know what the quote means. River Flicks was a riveting part of my life last summer; not so this summer. My attendance has been sporadic. Of the 7BHW-7FF movies, I watched all of 1-1 (Aug 20 Captain Phillips, Aug 22 Wizard of Oz), most of 2-2 (July 9 Iron Man 3, Aug 6 Lone Survivor, July 18 Ghostbusters, Aug 15 Smurfs 2), some of 2-1 (July 16 American Hustle, July 30 The Lego Movie, Aug 1 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2), missed 1-3 (Aug 13 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, July 11 Despicable Me 2, July 25 Ghostbusters II, Aug 8 Groundhog Day), and 1-0 was rained out (July 23 This is the End). The highlight was the group that dressed up as the Ghostbusters with fully detailed costumes. I regret not going to more showings and not arriving early - before show-time - to the movies I attended. Whatever my interest in the movie of the night, the value of the experience derived not from the movies themselves, but from the pleasant, relaxed communal mood, summer event park setting, and the fellow audience, especially the young families and pretty girls. I'm sad Rivers Flicks is over, and I'm depressed that the same thing that added significant value last summer was negligible this summer. It's the shifting, ever-changing impermanence of life.

Tonight, I caught the closing act, Big Sam's Funky Nation, of Blues BBQ, the last event of Hudson River Park's summer evening series. Most significantly, I spoke (briefly) with the conscientious, competent, taut, gray-eyed, dark copper-colored Shirley-Temple-curly-haired girl on the HRP crew who I saw at all the River Flicks showings I attended this and last summer. Apparently, the crew worked at all of the HRP summer evening events. If I had but known - oh well. I asked and she confirmed her hair is naturally curly. She graduated from college this year. Working for HRP as a seasonal employee was her summer job for the last 3 years. She was the only returning member from last summer's crew and expects this will be her last summer working for HRP. So I accomplished that mission on literally my last opportunity to do so. I don't know her name or anything else about her, but I would recognize her hair anywhere; I haven't seen hair like hers on anyone else.

ESPN Replay is a trove for the sports fan who has internet access but not cable television.

I liked the young edition of Team USA that won the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. It was a deep, versatile team with active, defensive bigs and high-scoring guards. The team defense was vigorous and the team offense scored in spurts. Team USA regularly started games slow, pulled ahead by halftime, then blew out the opposing team in the 3rd quarter. The half-court offense began the tournament rough as usual for Team USA, but improved enough to look cohesive if not sophisticated by the end of the tournament. The offensive philosophy reflected the current trend of 3s and scoring at the rim with less emphasis on mid-range scoring. Kyrie Irving shined as a lead guard on offense. Derrick Rose looked explosive but couldn't hit on lay-ups let alone his jumper. Kenneth Faried showed the value of his energy game as a defender and offensive rebounder. Klay Thompson showed off his well-rounded game on both ends. Steph Curry and Anthony Davis were serviceable on offense and defense, respectively, but underwhelmed their pre-tournament expectations. James Harden and DeMarcus Cousins fulfilled their expectations. Unfortunately, the most anticipated match-up of the World Cup, US vs Spain for the gold medal, was derailed when Spain lost to France in the quarter-finals. France then lost to Serbia in the semi-finals, though defeated Lithuania in the 3rd-place match to win the bronze medal. I believe the US tournament formula of good defense and offensive spurts would have been enough to defeat Spain.

20-pound bag of white rice, opened 17APR14, finished 28JUL14. That's 103 days or about 3.5 months. Update: Subsequent 20-pound bag of white rice, opened 30JUL14, finished 13OCT14. That's 76 days or about 2.5 months. I had a sense I ate rice more frequently with the subsequent bag of rice, but nearly a month or 25% faster is a surprise. Habit accrues quantity.

I bought 8 ramen packs - 2x each of shrimp, oriental, beef, and chili flavor - on sale for a dollar and ate them over a week. I added carrots, spinach, okra, mackerel, tomato sauce, and ziti. Ramen gives me the off after-feeling of unhealthy junk food, but it's quick and easy to prepare.

On 05AUG14, I butchered a pernil pork shoulder that I bought in March with about 8 pounds of meat and skin. Picking clean the baked residual meat, fat, and gristle from the shoulder bone is a treat. This time, I divvied up the meat using produce bags and packed them into 1-gallon ice cream tub. Next step is to boil out some 1st-boiled bone broth, which is quality stuff.

Bananas make for a good savory ingredient. The banana oil provides a robust mellow sweet flavor. I used banana as a topping for pizza bannock with a thick vinegar-and-baking-soda bannock, Marzano crushed tomatoes, Essential Everyday sour cream, sausage, pernil, ginger, and garlic. I also added some banana chunks to a bachelor stew. Good stuff.

Turkey wing gives robustly flavored oil and the meat tastes good, but the meat and skin are tough. They need to be boiled or perhaps steamed. Baking by itself isn't enough, though perhaps baking after boiling may work. Dicing turkey meat into bite-sized chunks works well, especially for a sandwich.

Essential Everyday brand is good quality for a good price, like Shoprite. The sour cream is thick with good flavor, better than Best Yet. The creamy peanut butter is okay. I'm again devouring peanut butter and Smuckers grape jam like pudding.

Goya Spanish-style tomato sauce is just like ketchup. I'll try it out as a base for bachelor stew.

59-oz Minute Maid grape punch is like the Minute Maid pink lemonade. It tastes like candy but doesn't dilute well so I drink it more or less straight.

Good meal: White rice with Luigi Vitelli rigatoni, 1 Idaho potato, and 1 carrot; Ships Ahoy salmon with Cabot sour cream, Tuttorosso tomato puree, ginger, garlic, and onion, heated in toaster oven and 1-qt mixing bowl; 2 chicken drumsticks with onions and seasoned salt, cooked in Nesco; Betty Crocker fudge brownie.

Ouch. 17SEP14. At the supermarket, the prices were raised on what have become staples in my diet. 16-oz bag Goya black and red beans were raised from $1.50 to $1.99. 15-oz can Sunny Seas mackerel was raised from $1.50 (often $1.25) to $1.99. 18-oz jar Everyday Essential creamy peanut butter was raised from $1.99 to $2.39. Ginger was raised from $1.99 per pound to $2.493.99 per pound. I was jarred by the change in price for the beans last week and saw the other changes today. I expect I'll unpleasantly discover cost increases for other staples. There have been other recent significant cost of living increases in rent, utilities, and internet that are concerning and compelling.

I've decided that tasty canned salmon is best as a featured flavor, even an uncooked stand-alone flavor. Not-so-tasty but cheaper canned mackerel is best cooked as an ingredient in bachelor stew or at least cooked and mixed with other strong flavors.

Vinegar is a cheap way to add a tasty tang to bachelor stew.

My last 2 containers of Breakstone sour cream were weak-flavored.

I've said this before, but I'll note it again as a reminder to self: Frozen chopped spinach is tasteless and not worth the sale price. Buy whole-leaf spinach for spinach flavor. Bacala Rico pollock fillets are tough and salty, and tasteless other than the salt.

Interesting bannock result. Baking soda, flour, hot-warm pasta-starch water made for a thick, spackle-consistency dough. No vinegar. Baked on toaster setting for 15 minutes. Thick burnt crust, thick body. I ate it dipped with Francisco Rinaldi spaghetti sauce. Ate half. Inside seemed wet, so I baked it for 5 minutes on toaster setting. Dried the body out some, but consistency was about the same. I think I repeated the unoiled bannock result I had with my oiled versus unoiled bannock pizza experiment. The interesting point was discovering the bannock result with the toaster setting. Higher temperature does seem to make a difference in the consistency of the body as well the crust. Watering makes the most difference in the consistency and taste. Vinegar and baking soda makes the bannock more bread-like.

Using half the water (4 oz) instructed in the recipe (1 cup) makes a difference in the flavor of Betty Crocker carrot-cake mix batter. It tastes better. For flour-based cake, brownies, and bannock, the amount of liquid in the dough or batter makes a big difference. Err with too little water rather than too much. Pan-frying the carrot cake batter yields a drier cake-like texture with a crispy crust, though pan-frying doesn't change the flavor. I doubt I'll buy the BC carrot cake again. The only distinct flavor is cinnamon. There is no discernable carrot-cake flavor.

I improvised knife-sharpening using the rough side and edge of a tempered glass panel, my Leatherman PST II's diamond-coated file, and bottom of a stone coaster. Of the 3 improvised whetstones, the PST II file is the only one that's purpose-designed to sharpen a metal tool. With my 2 dull long kitchen knives, KAI paring knife, Victorinox beak knife, Victorinox serrated knif, and Leatherman PST II knife, I either made no difference, honed but likely not sharpened the edges, or dulled the edges. The kitchen knives seem to be sharper, the paring knife seems to be the same, but the Victorinox beak knife seems to be duller. I dunno. Gray residue came off the knives with the PST II diamond-coated file and stone coaster, which says a difference was made - for better or worse, I don't know. Update: I watched a professional knife sharpener. She used an electric grinder, a diamond-coated plate, oil, a steel rod, and tested the edge by cutting paper strips. She used a 10-degree angle. She said she used the plate normally and reserved the electric grinder for duller knives. On the plate, she rubbed the knife edge back and forth, so not just 1 direction. She advised against using the Leatherman diamond-coated file for shaving off too much metal.

Rubber bands seem to be growing brittle faster than they used to.

My 1.5mm (1/16") kernmantle accessory cord clothing line snapped under load, which I've guessed has 100-lb strength. I was hanging custom-tailored suits that I mostly haven't used because I had 'outgrown' them by the time I had the chance to use them. The line snapped when I added my Army garment bag holding my Class As, shirts, sweater, and all-weather coat, which are fairly heavy combined, onto the clothing line. The break was instantaneous. I heard it. I didn't see it. I'm lucky there was no whipping. Instead, the line seemed to wrap around the outer hanger. I repaired the break with a zeppelin bend, then reattached the end with an alpine butterfly loop and trucker's hitch.

I was dismayed to find clothing moths on 1 suit jacket, though not the pants hanging inside the jacket. It appears they infested only the 1 suit despite that they were stacked tightly together under my bed. Perhaps it's significant that the infested suit is the only one I had worn for a full day (Shin's wedding). It doesn't appear they've attacked my Class As, despite that they're made of a polyester/wool blend and I've worn them often. However, I found what appear to be carpet beetles on several of the suits, and my Army all-weather coat and sweater were infested with them. Update: I soaked the mothed suit-jacket and pants, beetled Class B shirt, Class B sweater, and all-weather coat in water for a few days. I should probably soak all the suits and all my Class A stuff. I don't know whether soaking killed or even affected the insects; on-line advice is to heat the clothing in a dryer to kill the bugs. I should heat then seal them in plastic.

27OCT14: I should log and date significant events. The Windows on my desk laptop slowed down tremendously to the point of freezing over approximately the last week. About a week ago, a Microsoft(C) Register Server pop-up asked for approval; I never saw that before but okayed the notification because the pop-up kept repeating every few seconds: "Microsoft Register Server is the command used to register DLLs (Dynamic Link Libraries) in Windows." I thought maybe it was for a Windows update. It's obvious now the DLL that the pop-up registered was some kind of malware. Windows took a long time to load on start-up and every icon on the desktop, toolbar, and menu window was slow to load or even frozen ("(not responding)"). Windows Explorer was taking many minutes to load and then execute a command. I ran a system file check (sfc /scannow) which found 2 corrupted files and fixed them, but it didn't solve the problem. Virus/malware cleaners didn't find anything. After a few days, I finally did a system restore to 16OCT14, the oldest restore point saved. After the system restore, Windows seems to be running normally again. What makes me uncertain is that I don't remember the date my computer started acting buggy nor the date of the M(C)RS pop-up. What if I had waited too long and the malware bugs had been older than the oldest system restore point? Since about Oct 14 or Oct 15, the IE browser has stopped loading some websites (eg, Twitter, NYHealth) and many images. I don't know whether the IE problem is related to the Windows problem. I should uninstall IE and download a copy and/or switch to another browser.


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