Monday, April 21, 2014

Thoughts of the day

Many of the people who died on the Sewol were high-school students and presumably physically fit. Might the availability of climbable ropes, secured to outside railings - say, with a backhanded hitch - and dropped through all available man-size openings, have saved lives on the Sewol? Or would the "maze" of bulkheads, corridors, and cabins negated the life lines? The rest of my observation regarding the Sewol ferry tragedy has been moved to here.

Broken trust: A high-school football coach was caught stealing cash from students' wallets stored in lockers. The story doesn't say whether the wallets belonged to his players. He was caught in a sting where the cash was coated in ultraviolet powder that was invisible in regular light but appeared when an ultraviolet light was shined on his hands.

My reaction to NY Times David Brooks column, Saving the System, has been moved here.

Marked for later reaction: Douthat on Bush Iraq v Obama Libya, How We Left Iraq, Obama's Indecision Points, No One Expects the Caliphate, and Reform Conservatism and Foreign Policy; CNN on Libya spiral, more CNN on Libya disintegration; and Washington Examiner on Obama's foreign policy.

Politico: The Man Who Broke the Middle East by Elliot Abrams. (h/t)

CNN: How did this happen? Iraq, Syria, Gaza and Libya all in flames.

Dutchbat found liable for deaths while conducting a UN mission in Srebrenica where the outgunned detachment surrendered the Muslims who had sought refuge in a UN safe zone. The international community needs to make up their minds. Either they need to endorse Bush for fielding an effective security force in Iraq or they need to steer clear of local crises as advocated by Russia. As is, the political compromise of fielding inadequate security forces like Dutchbat for show that are conditioned for political considerations and then finding the neutered military force liable when they're unable to accomplish the mission and a lot of people die for their faith in the limited-by-design UN security measure is irresponsible, dangerous, and feckless. However, the UN seems to have no issue with this harmful formula and blamed Bush for trying to fix it. This is why US soldiers work under US sovereign command on UN missions.

Celebrity law professor Jonathan Turley posts on President Obama freeing 5 top Taliban commanders in exchange for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured as a PFC and may have deserted his unit in Afghanistan. Turley on Hillary Clinton's memoirs, Obama deciding what to do about the crisis in Iraq, sending 300 military advisors, and Saddam's judge assassinated, funding Syria rebels, more at Clinton's broke comment and doubling down, ISIS's Taliban-style actions, kidnapping vs assassination, Obama's torture admission, ISIS on-line dating, Boehner critical of Obama on Iraq, and Clinton breaks with Obama, Obama seeks no Congressional authorization for ISIS, Bush compared to Hitler, drumbeat to confront ISIS, Iraqi soldiers bribing officers, cost of anti-ISIS campaign, Turley represents the House, House files challenge, Iraq's ghost army, SJW GU student mugged, dancing video antithesis to ISIS, ISIS razing Iraqi culture, Obama and Axelrod sued, ISIS bans at Mosul University, ISIS publicly killing gays, ISIS executives 7-year-old, Clinton and The New Nixonians. Update: I had hoped for better sustained engagement with Turley's commenters. Commenter bigfatmike especially offered the promise of a vigorous debate here, but interestingly, typically, and disappointingly, he like the rest of them followed the same pattern of disengaging when I laid out my position. Even those with legal background prefer adversarial narrative to inquisitorial truth. I was able to refine the law portion of my position, at least.

Said short: 'Bush "defrauded" the American people into a war'. This position controls for many people for whom the issue begins and ends there. Bob adamantly refuses to consider mitigating his view with the historical record, the body of US laws and UNSC resolutions, the procedural presumption of guilt and burden of proof for Saddam, the heightened threat effect of 9/11, Clinton's precedent with Operation Desert Fox, the UNMOVIC compliance test that Saddam failed, and the Duelfer Report that shows Iraq was in broad violation. Bob summarily and angrily dismisses any mitigating argument about the actual law and policy of OIF as a "fanatical" view that contravenes the unconditional truth in his mind of the false narrative. He's made a few cursory efforts to respond, but disengages as soon as I counter. He mostly tries to disqualify my position from consideration.

Neo stuff: The cult nature of the radical left and the disturbing fetishizing of sociopathic men by radical leftist women. (Related: Billy Hollis describes leftists as like religious fundamentalists.) Regarding Iraq by Q&A. Regarding Bush, Iraq, and the Benghazi controversy with follow-ups here and here. Her Iraq tag.

Via QandO, a criticism of Obama's foreign policy record by James Kirchick. Also via QandO, a left-to-right changer explanation by Professor Danusha V. Goska; her blog.

Professor Nacos slanders VP Cheney based on his remarks on Iraq, and I responded with my OIF FAQ in his defense. Let's see if it makes a difference.

Neo revisits her profound post on "the forgetting", where people move on from and forget catastrophic, even humanity altering events. I believe I noted the original post, but I don't recall that I did and if so, where I did.

Ross Douthat on the culture war's sore winners and the courts.

Wherever the merits may reside in this he-said/she-said case, the accuser, Brown's Lena Sclove sounds like she's cut from the same radical leftist cloth as Harvard's Sandra Korn. For that matter, it sound as though Daniel Kopin, the accused who dropped out of Brown, is also cut from the same radical leftist cloth. While proclaiming his innocence, it doesn't appear that Kopin or his parents are willing to blame the ideology of the policy that has been turned against him. (h/t)

A current case involving a highly suspect allegation of sexual assault at my alma mater, Columbia University, that reads like a fascist social takeover and parody of a corrupt third-world trial. CU President Bollinger is a civil rights lawyer. I wonder what he thinks of this. (h/t)

Facebook conducted a social experiment where "the authors found, “[t]hese results suggest that the emotions expressed by friends, via online social networks, influence our own moods, constituting, to our knowledge, the first experimental evidence for massive-scale emotional contagion via social networks and providing support for previously contested claims that emotions spread via contagion through a network.”" The experiment significance is stated as "We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues." Humans are moved by a sub-rational socially sourced emotional consciousness. Activists, salesmen, and other interpersonal manipulators (eg, game) work this area. "Emotional contagion" seems to be an elemental subset of my concept of social cues.

A rough guide to spotting bad science.

Grantland's oral history of the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and Kings is interesting for the spin and selective recollections. For example, video replay shows Lakers PF Samaki Walker's 3-point heave at the end of the 1st half of Game 4 was after the clock expired, yet after seeing the video, Walker only admits there's an "argument" his shot shouldn't have counted. Bias, even when faced with dispositive proof to the contrary, is the nature of competition and tribal affiliation, including with the referees' accounts. I've encountered the same phenomenon in rhetoric, where an opposing debater will only concede there's an 'argument' when I've thoroughly proven a point.

The Philadelphia Eagles signed Army Ranger captain Alejandro Villanueva, USMA '10, who has served 3 tours in Afghanistan, for a try-out. He's doing it right, unlike other West Point football prospects who sought to enter the NFL immediately and bypass active duty. A West Point graduate's first duty is to lead soldiers as their officer. That supersedes all other career ambitions. It's fine for a USMA grad to do something else next, but only after he or she has checked the block on leading soldiers.

A fan at jeremylin.net opines on a perceived trend that opposing teams capitalize abnormally on Lin's mistakes:
Lin is so stupid but he's also extremely unlucky. Everytime he makes a mistake the other team capitalizes on a dagger 3.

It's not unlucky. The team sees him as "the other" and subconsciously takes the other side with the opponent and blames him ("yeah of course it's his fault"), then gives up on the play, every single time. Of course the other team will take advantage. Lin really is the epitome of Asians in America in general, not a part of the family no matter what, and only well liked when he acts as a good tool to fill some dispensable, immediate need.
I doubt the premise that Lin's Rockets teammates "[take] the other side with the opponent", but the broader suspicion and insecurity concluding the comment represent the view of many Asian American men. Another comment, same thread:
Asian Americna show [sic] been ingrained by both their own culture which demands humbleness and self depreciation combined with American main stream culture which re-enforces again and again in the media that Asians are physically weak, socially awkward and slightly feminine and submissive to other groups.
The comments show how Asian American men project their personal experiences onto Lin whether or not he actually shares them. The NBA lies at the heart of American popular culture, and Asian American men feel what happens to Jeremy Lin in the NBA is a demographic social-cultural barometer. Fair or not, as long as he plays in the NBA, Lin carries the burden of his American tribesmen in the zeitgeist.

My view is there's truth in the social dissatisfaction, suspicion, and insecurity of Asian American men. But I have to learn first to live my life within my personal orbit, whatever social handicaps are in the environment. That's the required priority. Messianic social-justice goals are secondary and optional.

A compelling case can be made that Lin's fellow Rockets guard, James Harden, is the worst defender in the NBA.

On the same day the Rockets traded Jeremy Lin to the Lakers, 29-year-old Lebron James decided to leave the aged Heat and rejoin his hometown Cavaliers, who are a much younger team. Grantland takes: Bill Simmons, Zach Lowe, Andrew Sharp.

An introspective blog by ex-Mets, journeyman pitcher Collin McHugh, who is currently pitching for the Houston Astros, his wife Ashley's professional website, and her take on their love story.

The Montreal-born, 20-year-old, fresh-faced, 5'10", rising tennis pro Eugenie Bouchard is quite pretty, though her jaw is a shade large. She's not American, but at least she's Canadian. Her friend, British tennis pro Laura Robson, is cute. Bouchard has a twin sister, Beatrice. They were named after the British royals.

Rusted Root's Send Me On My Way, 1995, is one of my generation's iconic pop songs and captures the innocence of our outlook. It's been reintroduced into pop culture repeatedly as a popular choice for movie and television soundtracks.

A fine reading of the 2nd part of JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. Here's the 3rd part of the series, The Return of the King.

The epic rap battle of Bob Ross vs Pablo Picasso is well done. "Well, Bob is dropping bombs like this is Guernica - served twenty years, Air Force, United States of America." Good stuff.

World War Z (2013) was a missed opportunity. It should have been good but, instead, it's a glossy, B-level zombie apocalypse movie, on the level of Roland Emmerich's expensively made schlock. The movie is trailer-ready with high-quality, exciting action scenes, but otherwise the story line, dialogue, characterizations, and plot devices are thin. A good deal of the dialogue is amateurishly expository. World War Z is one of those movies that could be much better than it is and ought to be reattempted someday by a better director. Some things in the movie I questioned: On the cop hoarding baby food in the Newark supermarket, his jacket shoulder patch said NYPD. The text description of the Naval fleet implied the UN was the sovereign authority controlling US military forces, except when it was said Thierry had no authority. Utilities, military forces, and official organization held up remarkably well. Characters didn't explain anything to each other and, instead, sparred a lot in their conversation. The discrepancy between Gerry's 12-second zombie timer versus the USFK 5-10 minute or much longer zombie timer wasn't addressed. The long-haired, bearded soldiers at Camp Humphreys look and act a lot more like the Hollywood version of Special Forces than Army Rangers. The shoot body versus shoot head and burn body notion was raised and dropped; shooting or just hitting bodies and heads seemed to work just fine. After Gerry blew a hole in the fuselage of the Belarus plane, it sprayed zombies all over the Welsh countryside. Why the biting zombie parasite would avoid sickness or injury in its hosts when it kills and zombifies its hosts instantly rather than leave them as berserk but alive biters isn't explained.

The Descent (2005), or its production name, Chicks with Picks, is as taut as I remember. Good movie.

The Purge (2013) has a really cool premise and the set-up was good enough, but the story turned into a B-level horror thriller with exaggerated caricatures and unbelievable behavior rather than the smart social commentary the movie promises. The premise remains intriguing, though, and I'm willing to give the sequel a second chance to deliver on the promise of the original movie.

Princess Mononoke (1997) is excellent.

The animated Batman The Dark Knight Returns, part 1 (2012) and part 2 (2013), is mostly faithful to Frank Miller's original comic, but significant changes blunt sharp-edged nuances of Miller's telling. For example, in the Ridley heir rescue scene, Batman shoots and kills the girl Mutant with the M60 in the comic, but in the movie, shoots her handgun out of her hand and then knocks her unconscious. Other changes were medium translations from comic to movie. A lot of inner dialogue from the comic was taken out, which removed depth from the story. The Gordon apartment portrait referrals to Year One were a nice touch. Peter Weller is okay as the voice of Batman, but he's no Kevin Conroy. Weller's recruiting speech at the city dump was unconvincing. Conroy would have pulled it off. The movie passes muster, but isn't as good an adaptation of the original comic as recommendations made it out to be.

Tron Legacy (2010) wasn't good. Its script is filled with gibberish that makes the movie's already clichéd plot devices fall flat. It also vaguely knocks off Star Wars.

Pacific Rim (2013), War Horse (2011), Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012), and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) had some interesting moments and gimmicks, but were forgettably shallow and clichéd. I borrowed them from the St. George library in Staten Island. It took me 2 hours to reach it by foot and ferry.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) is an adequate 2nd-part bridge movie in a trilogy. The overly smooth visual texture reminds me of a cartoon. The fight and chase scenes are over the top. Bard's family, with his firm paternal authority and 3 well-behaved, loyal, obedient children, is a patriarchal fantasy, although he is a widower of a wife who was a beauty. Bard's code of honor stands out in Laketown. Azog the Defiler managed to kill Beorn's whole community of skin-changers and perhaps enslaved Beorn at some point but is unwilling to take on Beorn alone to storm Beorn's house? Perhaps Beorn is exceptionally powerful. 26JUN15 add: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) was underwhelming. Nothing was developed. No character had depth except Bilbo Baggins. The movie just rambled from piece to piece with overwrought scenes and reactions that crossed into caricature. FYI, the five armies were the wood elves, hill dwarves, Laketown/Dale humans, orcs, and animals.

Life of Pi (2012) is very pretty with terrific CGI. All the characters, especially the teenage Pi, played by Suraj Sharma, are likeable and well acted. The older Pi, played by Irrfan Khan, is good, too. The deaths of Pi's tight-knit loving family on the CGI TsimTsum is disturbing. The story is simple but provides an adequate framework for a gorgeous film. As good as the movie looks in 2D, I imagine it's an impressive experience in 3D, the way the movie was intended to be viewed.

Another CGI-made movie, The Lego Movie (2014), is entirely CGI with some live-action scenes. It's a cartoon. Watching the movie, I mistakenly believed the lego scenes were stop-action and only augmented by CGI. "Everything is Awesome" is catchy and manic, the kind of song a Psy-Ops team might loop to drive a fugitive out of his bunker. The tenor of the story matches a 10 or 11-year-old boy's imagination.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011) is a lightweight romantic comedy. I borrowed it because it was previewed on several DVDs, it stars Ewan McGregor, and it has an interesting quirky premise. The movie mixes red pill and blue pill themes. The Fred-Harriet romance is feckless. Fred leaves his somewhat stodgy wife, Mary, played by a cute Rachael Stirling. The movie says Mary is a passionless lover, uninterested in his work beyond its financial benefit, and selfishly cares more about her career advancement than the company of her husband. However, Mary is loyal to Fred and wants their marriage. Consistent with red-pill teaching, Mary seems passionate only when she's jealous about Harriet. Fred leaves Mary because he's bored with his safe, predictable cubicle, suburban life and prefers the risky excitement of the Yemen project and vivaciousness of the youthful, stylish Harriet. In her turn, Harriet chooses Fred over her boyfriend Robert, a British special forces officer and gentleman, because she connects with Fred while Robert is missing in action in Afghanistan (which oddly is described as sandy and a desert). In other words, Fred is the infamous Jody who steals soldiers' wives and girlfriends while the soldiers are deployed. The movie is big on superficial quasi-mystical, quasi-spiritual, keep the faith, stay positive platitudes. Who died if the body was not that of the Foreign Secretary? Fred is naïve to believe involving the locals will protect the project from terrorists who've already murdered.

I watched an extended director's cut of Blackhawk Down (2001), which is 2:40 compared to the original 2:14. There were no additional plot-bending scenes. The extra footage comprised character notes, diegetic atmosphere, and some light political commentary interspersed throughout the movie. They didn't substantially change the movie, but made it a little bit richer.

RiverFlicks, which I enjoyed last summer, starts on July 9 with Big Hit Wednesday and July 11 with Family Friday. My local library has been showing recent hit movies for free on Thursday afternoons.

Graphic novels Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, by Neil Gaiman, and to a lesser extent, Batman: A Killing Joke, seemed no more significant than interesting, non-canonical vanity projects, but they've grown on me in memory. I'd like to read them again, especially the Gaiman story. A Killing Joke includes a short story that fits in with Gaiman's style. I couldn't find the Gaiman story while browsing at Barnes and Noble yesterday, but I've reserved the NYPL's copy.

In his autobiography/manifesto, Elliot Rodger talked about indulging in food as a substitute for sex and love, which reminded me of actress Mara Wilson talking about how the desire for sex replaced her childish obsession with candy.

Our hormones dictate how we feel. Serotonin is the calming, loving hormone and works with oxytocin for bonding. Dopamine is the thrill-seeking, high feeling neurotransmitter, and responsible for the falling in love feeling. Dopamine is an addictive chemical and works with epinephrine or norepinephrine, aka adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Yohami: "So, maybe the nice guy is doing all of that with some vanity and an ego complex, but that’s not the problem, that’s not his problem. His problem is that he needs to put himself first and fight the fight, and claim what he wants, and get it, and get skills and swagger and grow a pair, and get smelly, and set boundaries, and grow to be comfortable and proud of who he is, and be a man strong enough that other men look up to him."

Youtube animated video A Relationship Story is a lot like my Judy experience. Jordan and "Alexandra" even met the same way that I met Judy, drawn into phone conversations between her and a mutual friend. Like us, they got to know each other on-line before meeting in person and they were platonic until he fell in love after they met. The protagonist clearly shares my romantic idealist sentiment, beliefs, and schema. Like us, his all-in investment in their relationship grew while hers shrank, and the harder he tried, the less she cared. I wonder whether "Alexandra" has BPD. Being punished by her for doing your best for her with honor is unfair and unjust, but the experience is the gateway to the praxeology of women's sexual nature that changes everything. (h/t)

The creepy, funny Old Spice "Welcome to Smellhood" ad campaign is red pill in its theme that sexual relations with teenage girls is a developmental priority for teenage boys and the sexual maturation process normally requires separation from the boys' mothers. The WM/AF and AM/WF couplings are interesting.

Pair bonding is a powerful instrinsic, instinctive drive that is better fulfilled by some men than others. For the losers in the mating market, the friendzone phenomenon is a real problem. It can't be solved with a social moral appeal to women. tadelesmith's harsh friendzone and anti-friendzone make-up tutorials remind that there is little sympathy or help from women. It's human nature. Attraction is a hard-wired quality control mechanism, and women want men who make the grade. There's no rationalizing away basic biological reality. The only way out is to learn the solution, perhaps with the help of other men, and solve the problem for yourself.

Wait ... Sweet Child O'Mine actually is about fatherhood? The reference to "she" and "love" allow some room for a sex/romance interpretation, which is the initial assumption due to the source, but the strongest interpretation is a father singing about a young daughter. Men of a certain age need to be fathers, patriarchs. (h/t) If you they don't, then they become curdled adolescents, which is also the case with spinsters who fail to become mothers. Gender differentiation and traditional sex roles remain the best organizing principle (culture) for a society and best for individual developmental maturation. By the time some of us realize that, it's too late. Nietzsche was right about the bad air. We need to clear our cultural programming to discover the truth of ourselves.

The Onion's satire on girls' romantic standard lowering as they grow older, a husband and father who's my age is stuck in a sexless marriage with a dismissive wife, and self-abnegating advice from a father to his young daughter about marriage.

Gary Szarek "was found dead of hypothermia April 19 inside a white portable toilet". His cousin "said Szarek, who lived with his parents, never married or had children. She remembers him in his early 20s as being intelligent. She said he went to West Point...". "Decades ago, Gary Szarek was an achiever...[but] the former Grosse Pointe Woods man quit his university job...when he didn’t get a promotion, his relatives said. Eventually, he became a recluse...Szarek’s neighbors in Grosse Pointe Woods said he went out at night...They never saw visitors at his home, which reportedly was filled with piles of mail, newspaper and other items. Amid the disarray...was a perfectly-made bed he slept in." Investigators "have been able to learn more about 65-year-old Szarek, whose family home in Grosse Pointe Woods went through tax foreclosure in 2010. Szarek was evicted and tried staying in the house afterward. Since 2010...Szarek has been on the streets."

From Grantland story on Eddie Griffin by Jonathan Abrams: "Jones would routinely ask Griffin how he was doing. Griffin would offer the same response. “I’m a little tired,” he’d say. ... “That morning I was fine,” Griffin said to ESPN.com. “Then it just hit me in the middle of practice. I started thinking about what was going on in my life and it got worse and worse. When they told everybody to meet at the plane, I went home and turned off the phone.” ... Eddie Griffin instead remained on his couch for the next two days. He accepted a two-game suspension, but then no-showed a workout Van Gundy had planned for him." John Lucas strikes me as a fraud in terms of his understanding of the underlying psychological issues. The story of Griffin's exceptional talent pushing him into circumstances that mixed incompatibly with his psychological make-up reminds me of Jonathan Abrams' story about another NBA washout, Korleone Young, and Columbia suicide, Tina Bu.

Thumotic advice on seeking a job: network and add value; resumes have limited utility.

Here's how to auto-redirect a single blogger page, as opposed to the whole blog, to an external URL. I customized the URL of this post, but the original URL was shared out enough to warrant a redirect. Update: I switched to a timed delay auto-redirect using this javascript. Update: I hid the text on the old URL because when a search term on a blogger search includes the old URL with the search results, the whole page of search results auto-redirects to the updated URL.

Ian's shoelace site is thorough, aesthetically comfortable, and intuitive. I had a longstanding question about tying shoelaces and Ian's website answered it satisfactorily.

DIY chair leg risers: 4 16-oz sour cream containers packed with cut-up cardboard box pieces and folded newspapers, and 4 peanut-butter jar lids to hold the chair legs. They're stable.

The chair itself, a fold-up fabric chair I scavenged, is fraying at the seams, but the weight-bearing joints are still intact. I'll miss the chair when the seams give way. The frame and joints are strong, made of metal, heavy-duty canvas, leather, and thick plastic. Too bad the seams are weaker.

In the 1st episode of Doomsday Preppers, the McClungs' solar-paneled aquaponic greenhouse, which they set up over their backyard pool, sounds cool. They turned their pool into a fish pond. They keep chickens over the pond. The chickens provide eggs. Chicken waste drops into the pond and feeds pond plants and algae, which feeds their tilapia fish. They grow tilapia fish in the pool, which reproduce rapidly. Nutrient-rich tilapia water is carried up by solar-powered pumps to their produce, which is watered with gravity: bok choy, grapes, blackberries, peppers, carrots, broccoli. The heart of their food production system is duckweed. The duckweed purifies waste water and provides equal protein to soy. They use the duckweed to feed their fish and livestock (hens, goats) or they can eat the duckweed directly. The McClungs live in arid Arizona, but the show doesn't answer how they would renew their water if utilities shut down.

The NEWater reclamation facility that recycles waste water directly as potable water sounds cool. I wonder whether they use the same filtration system as the astronauts but on a bigger scale.

Exercises: Australian pull-ups, elevated push-ups.

I did an acclimation 1.8 mile ruck march with a 50-pound ruck, BDUs, and jungle boots. My right foot tripped and I twisted my right ankle; it seems fine other than being sore. Like an overloaded ship with a high center of gravity, the ruck sack dragged me to the sidewalk when I tipped to the side, where I probably would have stumbled and stayed upright without the unbalancing load. When I wasn't tripping, the ruck felt balanced on my back and easy to carry. Add a few miles and I'm sure I'll feel the load. The back of my left ankle chafed, blistered, and the blister was scraped away. I'll try inserting a sour-cream container sheath. I should also tie the laces tighter to decrease the rubbing movement of the foot inside the boot.

Update: I did a 6.3 mile ruck march with a 50-pound ruck, BDUs, and basic combat boots. I was worried about chafing the scabbed over blister on my left ankle, but my left foot feels fine - no issues at all. On my right foot, the boot rubbed a blister onto the top and side of my right pinky toe and my bunion felt some squeeze. Otherwise, my right foot feels fine. While there was no blister, the rear ankle area of my right sock was worn thin. I don't recall my basic boots as more comfortable than my jungle boots, but they are now if they weren't before. I'd like to repair the 'tread' wear on the back outside of the heels of my boots. The ruck was comfortable. I started feeling the weight after I turned around at the halfway point, but not to the point of struggle. Nothing was painful. The used shoe pads I attached under the shoulder straps, one tied on with a shoelace and the other with rubber bands, help.

I plan on making ruck marches a regular exercise. Wearing BDUs and boots won't be regular, though. Doing so is just motivational, the gratification of fitting back into the BDUs of my youth. They're a measuring stick. I know I'm not back to my Army shape, never mind fitness, because the medium-regular pants are tight and the belt is too short.

There is a bit of a thrill looking at myself in the mirror with BDUs on, but I'm not a soldier anymore. Wearing the uniform feels sadly nostalgic, like the dreams I've had about revisiting a past, closed opportunity. It reminded me that my interactive social experiences had benefits, but when I panic about where I am, I need to remind myself that I didn't find in them the personal answers I need. 'Fake it 'til you make it' is something, as my incorporative soldiering experience proved, but it's not enough. Humans are social beings so being isolated or exclusively reclusive is self-destructive. However, there's a balance. Wholly seeking personal identity from social models outside of myself (stuyracurl) is unsatisfactory, too.

Basic principle when choosing what to eat: "Always Chose “REAL” Foods and Home-cooked meals". Makes sense. Under guidelines: "Eat rice, potatoes, or yams instead of bread for main carb source". I agree with that, too. I put on more weight with bannocks, mix-cakes, and mix-brownies yet they're less filling than rice. One night, I ate a bannock pizza, bannock sandwich, peanut-butter-and-jam bannock, and a bowl of pasta, and I still felt unsatiated. I've concluded that bannocks work as snacks, appetizers, or side dishes in a meal, but they don't work as the main course of a meal.

My stomach has recently (mid-late June) started hurting again, something which I've associated in the past with stress and anxiety. However, I wonder if it's related to diet because I've eaten a lot of spicy junk food (Doritos) and cheap ice cream recently. However, around the start of it happening this time around, I ate undercooked pernil which ended in diarrhea after my stomach started hurting after inhaling what smelled like marijuana while walking through the park. I've packed on the pounds since my stomach started hurting because a full stomach feels better. I should use baking soda to settle my stomach, instead.

My stomach pain that's coincident with a junk food binge also coincides with buyer's remorse over 2 X 1.75-qt Exceptional Value boxes of ice cream that cost me 2 dollars each, plus 2 BOGOs or 2 X 2 11-oz bags of Doritos (Cool Ranch, Regular) for $4.29 each, totaling $12.58. Before my stomach pain, in recent weeks, I bought 2 X 1-gallon tubs of ice cream for $4.99 each and 2 X BOGO Doritos. That's over 31 dollars total for junk food. To satisfy my sweet and salty teeth, in comparison, ~18-oz Betty Crocker brownie mix boxes are on sale for $1.25 each right now. A 1-lb bag of Goya popcorn kernels costs $1.50. The sale price of a 5-lb bag of potatoes, for making French fries, is usually around $1.50-$1.88. Add: As a lesson on attention to detail, I overpaid for the Goya popcorn kernels. The standard size for popcorn kernels is 32 ounces for about 2 dollars. I forgot and thought $1.50 was a good price for a bag of popcorn kernels, but I was actually buying half the normal amount.

Rice cooks up okay in the Nesco, which means I can use the 2-quart and 3-quart mixing bowls. Bone broth mixed with rice water is savory. Rice gruel with tomato sauce, sour cream, onions, garlic, and ginger, and carrots is good. Rice mixed with peanut butter and jam isn't bad.

I bought a bag of Idaho russet burbank potatoes on sale for $1.89. Idaho russet potatoes are an industry standard choice for french fries because they're a denser potato. The french fries were okay using the cold water soak, oil blanch, oil fry method. Skipping the cold water soak and oil blanch made the potato slices puff up. Doing the cold water soak but skipping the oil blanch led to the potato slices not crisping up in the oil fry, although that may have been due to not enough time, degraded oil from too much use, or that the slices were discs rather than boards.

The french fries made from Idaho russet potatoes turned out better than french fries made from Eastern potatoes, but the difference was only a little noticeable.

A baked Idaho russet potato is noticeably more mealy and dense than a baked Eastern potato.

Yellow potatoes are thin-skinned and seem just as mealy and dense as Idaho russet potatoes.

Break-fast meal: Leftover corn oil. I made a combo platter with a pernil slice, chicken thigh slices, a sausage chunk, a tilapia wedge, pernil skin, fatback slices, onions, and carrot slices by frying everything in the leftover corn oil from making french fries. Oil frying doesn't make the meat and vegetables taste better than baking, broiling, or frying on a skillet. The oil frying made a big difference with the onion-and-baking-soda bannock and cake, which soaked up the oil and crisped the dough and batter. The pernil skin fell short of crackling and the sausage chunk wasn't cooked through. The onions and carrots were undercooked. I thought I fried everything long enough, but maybe my guesstimated timing was off. Other possible factors are the cooking properties of the corn oil were degraded by overuse and the frozen meat had an adverse effect. The used corn oil smelled rancid, but not as bad as vegetable or canola oil. Everything dripped with oil and the bannock and cake soaked up a lot of the oil, which I ingested without blotting.

Western Beef 20-oz can pineapple slices in light syrup lose all flavor in bachelor stew, but are okay as a bannock pizza topping or an accompaniment with broiled pernil chops.

The bloody water from pernil looks and smells substantial but tastes very light when used as a broth base in bachelor stew. I also added some to cooking rice and hardly tasted a difference. It adds a little texture from clumping up when heated. That reminds me: I ought to buy rehydratable dry beans for my bachelor stews and meat sauces, but I'm still holding out for a sale. For eating effect, hydrated dry beans are a cheaper and likely healthier alternative to canned corn.

Lesson: Bone broth works okay in place of canned soup with canned salmon when making bachelor stew. I haven't tried using bone broth as the broth base for bachelor stew with less flavorful canned mackerel.

More canned salmon and mackerel lessons: 14.75-oz Ship Ahoy canned salmon is fattier and tastes better than 15-oz Sunny Sea canned mackerel, but the canned salmon costs more, of course. They taste good when mixed with tomato sauce; however, keep in mind that the salmon flavor has disappeared when I've tried making bachelor meat sauce with canned salmon. With spicy brown mustard, the taste is not bad, but only okay. Adding garlic and ginger flakes work well, and heating the mixture in the microwave improved the taste, though heating is not strictly necessary. When grilled directly onto bannock using the George Foreman grill, the fish flavor of either salmon or mackerel almost completely disappears except for a slight whiff of a note. I should try baking it on bannock in the toaster oven or Nesco. Update: I baked some salmon and mackerel mix on a pizza bannock, and the fish flavor was there; not strong, but there. Baking is a viable method. I mixed 1 can of salmon with 1 can of mackerel. First, I wanted to compare the amounts of salmon vs mackerel. The two looked about the same. Second, I wanted to mix the two to see if I could 'cut' the salmon with the cheaper mackerel. Instead of the salmon flavor carrying the mackerel, however, the salmon flavor seemed to dissipate, so the 'cut' didn't work. I then made a bachelor stew with the 2-can salmon, mackerel mixture and it didn't last longer than my usual 1-can bachelor stew. So, mixing the salmon and mackerel didn't help.

Bachelor stew is the most stomach-filling, value-stretching way to eat the canned fish. Other preparation methods consume a can of fish quickly with less flavor and less stuff. Mackerel eats faster than salmon, which closes the gap of real value, at least when the salmon is on sale ($2 sale for the canned salmon vs $1.25 sale for the canned mackerel).

I tried using an 11-oz can of Campbells pork and beans, bought on sale for 40 cents, with the salmon, mackerel mix in a bachelor stew. The pork and beans didn't add any discernible flavor, so it failed as a cheaper substitute for canned soup.

Adding a beaten egg to bachelor meat sauce makes no difference, although it adds texture and flavor to bachelor stew.

Delectable bachelor stew: Made with the Nesco and 3-qt mixing bowl, 1 can of mackerel, 10.75-oz can of Campbell's condensed chicken noodle soup, white rice, black beans, carrots, potatoes, okra, garlic, salt. Angel hair pasta and small shells. Lessons learned or reinforced: I added a generous dollop of Best Yet spicy brown mustard, but the wisp of flavor comes and goes that's not worth the cost/benefit. Dice the carrots and potatoes with generous size to retain flavor and texture. Add okra late or else the okra will soften too much and disintegrate. Add the pasta late and time its removal in order to retain a firm texture, as though I'm making the pasta as a stand-alone dish, or cook the pasta separately. Apparently, egg noodles, the kind used in the Campbell's soup, can stay firm no matter how long they're cooked. My first bowl, with firm angel hair pasta and egg noodles, was as good as any noodle dish served in a neighborhood Japanese comfort-food stand.

For my next bachelor stew, I used the 2-qt mixing bowl and added no canned fish and no canned soup. Instead, I used just 1 chicken thigh. Everything else was the same, except no angel hair pasta. It was pretty flavorless. I added extra salt to compensate. The strongest flavor profile was the grueled rice. My theory was the smaller 2-qt mixing bowl might concentrate the chicken flavor. Nope.

I made a bachelor stew with 1 chicken thigh, 1 10-oz box frozen spinach, rice, 1 diced carrot, 1 diced potato, 1 beaten egg, red beans, ginger, and garlic. No can of soup, no can of mackerel, no pasta. It was okay, but lacking something.

Binge eating in 1 day: 1 whole 1.5Q/1.89L/48-oz carton of Edy's caramel swirl ice cream, 1 whole bachelor stew (mackerel, chicken thigh, rice, red beans, Idaho potato, carrot, ginger, garlic, onions, elbow macaroni), 1 banana, grape jam, creamy peanut butter, sour cream. My scale says I gained 5 lbs.

Dry beans need to soak and cook wet for a long time to soften up. 4+ hours at least. Best to prep them a day ahead. At first, the red beans in my bachelor stew were like nuts. They were soft by the time I finished eating the bachelor stew.

Dry red beans added at the start of cooking a bachelor stew without the instructed soak and rinse softened the beans just fine.

Beans have replaced canned corn in my bachelor stews.

Shortcut meal-cooking method: In the Nesco, cook rice in the 3-quart mixing bowl. At the same time, place the 8" diameter Mrs. Smith's aluminum pie dish onto the mixing bowl, which happens to be a matching fit. Place meat, frozen or thawed, vegetables, potatoes, etc, in the pie dish. While the rice cooks wet, everything in the pie dish will cook - bake - dry. If I want to cook wet, I can add water in the Nesco for steam. The meal: salted white rice, 1 (frozen) chicken thigh seasoned with ginger and seasoned salt, 1 (frozen) hot sausage, and 1 carrot. I meant but forgot to bake a potato in the pie dish. For the dipping sauce, sour cream with hot sauce, raw garlic, and raw onions. For dessert, 1 orange, and Betty Crocker french vanilla cake with Skippy creamy peanut butter spread.

Lesson: When I use the short-cut everything-in-the-pot-at-the-start method (uncooked rice, water, carrots, potatoes, okra, pernil, chicken thigh added together at the start) to cook everything together wet in the 3-qt mixing bowl in the Nesco, chicken thigh cooks fine wet but pernil cooks poorly wet. The pernil tasted stale. At minimum, I need to separate the pernil and cook it dry. Broiling works best for pernil chops.

A 15-oz can of Healthy Choice chicken & dumplings soup makes for a fair base for bachelor stew with mackerel, rice, etc. - not as good as Progresso soup, but fair.

Reliable bachelor meat sauce: 28-oz can of (Cento) crushed tomatoes, 1+ cups of rice, 1 chicken thigh, 10-oz box of (Best Yet) frozen whole spinach, Ronzoni elbow macaroni, 2 diced carrots, chopped ginger and garlic, salt. As with bachelor stew, I can eat to satiation and stuff myself with bachelor meat sauce. The flavor doesn't change.

Start-fast: White rice, baked pernil chop seasoned with ginger, garlic, and onion, and seasoned salt, baked potato, and baked carrots. Break-fast: white rice, crackling, fried pernil slices, pernil-oil-baking-soda-and-vinegar bannock with sour cream and pasta sauce, Ronzoni elbow macaroni with sour cream, pasta sauce, and hot sauce, french vanilla cake with creamy peanut butter and sour cream.

I made a satisfying meal of broiled pernil, basa fillet, and hot sausage seasoned with ginger, garlic, and seasoned salt, with rice, steamed carrots and onions, and sour cream and hot sauce dipping sauce. The meat wasn't completely thawed and, thus, semi-frozen when I turned on the toaster oven. The semi-frozen meat cooked okay, but the result was dry instead of properly broiled. My conclusion is broiling frozen or semi-frozen meat won't result in crispy, tender broiled meat. It's easier and faster to cook frozen or semi-frozen meat sooner out of the freezer than to wait for the meat to thaw to room temperature. But the taste isn't the same. Sometimes, convenience matters, but for the work to cook, I prefer a better-tasting meal for the pay-off.

Slightly thawed frozen meat is the easiest to carve precisely. When I butcher pernil shoulders from now on, I'll cut the pieces to storage size, rather than pernil chop size.

Lesson: I just cooked crackling in the Nesco with the pernil skin starting frozen. I didn't score it. I also didn't salt it, although I may have salted it when I first cut and stored it. The crackling made from pernil skin that was frozen, unscored, and (maybe) unsalted turned out the same as crackling made from pernil skin that was first thawed, scored, and (maybe) salted.

Next, I'm going try cooking the crackling with the grill pan after the grill pan worked well for cooking frozen pernil slices.

Not all sour cream brands are the same. Cabot and Breakstone brand sour cream are especially thick.

Smuckers strawberry jam, 32-oz jar bought on sale for $2.50, is flavorful and goes well with broiled pernil. Super Associated grape jelly, 32-oz jar bought on sale for $1.79, is nearly tasteless.

I'm pleasantly surprised by Betty Crocker's 15.25 oz box "super moist" french vanilla cake mix. I bought a box on sale for $1 to try as a contrast with my usual purchases of chocolate brownie and cake mixes. The box-mix chocolate cakes have been fluffier, ie, cake-like, with weaker chocolate flavor than the brownies. The french vanilla cake is also cake-like, of course, but I'm pleased with its solid flavor. It's on par with the brownies, just different. Compared to uncooked brownie batter, which tastes like MRE ranger pudding, the uncooked cake batter has much less flavor. It tastes better cooked. There are also more artificial ingredients in the cake mix than the brownie mix. The best-tasting version of the french vanilla cake has been pan-fried, which makes it thick, crunchy, and a little gooey. The pan-fried version reminds me strongly in taste and texture of the sweet mini-cakes that were sold at the small street stand off of Canal Street. Note: I used 2 eggs for the french vanilla cake batter rather than 3 eggs as instructed on the box, which may have caused the cake to be less dense.

Betty Crocker® Original Supreme Brownie tastes pretty good. The batter was exceptionally thick. The pouch of chocolate syrup that comes with the powder mix is different.

Pillsbury Mocha Fudge Brownie is different due to a mild coffee flavor. However, its chocolate flavor is also mild, which may be purposely calibrated that way to not overpower the mild coffee flavor.

Decided: No more chocolate flavored cake mix, like the Pillsbury devil's food cake batter I'm eating now. The chocolate flavor is weak, although it's passable when pan-fried so it's crispy on one side and gooey on the other side. For chocolate flavor, I'll buy brownie mix when it's on sale. When cake mix is on sale, I'll buy french vanilla or another distinctly non-chocolate flavored cake mix.

The week of 28MAR14-03APR14 I bought 6 jars of Skippy creamy peanut butter on sale for $1.50 each. I opened the last jar earlier this week. I dug through them fast because I ate them like pudding. The other jars of peanut butter tasted fine, but this last one tastes a little stale and musty. I checked the jars' 'best if used by date': 3 jars say Apr2314, 1 jar says Apr2514, and 2 jars say Apr2614. In comparison, the 'best if used by' date on the jar of Essential Everyday creamy peanut butter I bought 1.5 weeks ago says 02 12 15. I guess that's why the Skippy creamy peanut butter was on sale. If I had checked the 'best if used by' date at the time, I would have bought the Skippy on sale anyway. I'm surprised the flavor is off in this last jar. The jars are (vacuum?) sealed and the off-flavor hasn't made me sick. Update: I finished off the last of the 6 jars of Skippy creamy peanut butter on 02MAY14.

I just made a nice, thick baking-soda-and-vinegar bannock that I ate with Essential Everyday creamy peanut butter and grape jam, plus pasta sauce and sour cream. When I opened the jar of Essential Everyday creamy peanut butter, I first ate a large chunk of the peanut butter pudding-style. It became a bit gross. Then eating it spread on bannock with jam reminded me that peanut butter and grape jelly/jam taste better when spread on bannock than when eaten on a spoon as pudding. Eating them pudding-style consumes spoonfuls at a time, which empties the jars fast, while eating them as a spread on bannock uses one spoonful at a time, feels more filling, and tastes better. Of course, eating them pudding-style suits the immediate time orientation of impulsive snacking. Eating them as a spread requires the trouble and time of making the bannock first.

$5 (regular price: $9) for a 128-oz/1-gal/4-qt/8-lb tub of (Exceptional Value brand) light chocolate ice cream is a good deal. It breaks down to $1.88 per 48 ounces. The usual sale price for a regular-sized 48-oz carton of ice cream is $2.50. The problem is my habit of gorging until satiation when I have more food accessible, such as with my bachelor meat sauces and bachelor stews, which should last me 3 days, but rarely last more than 1.5 days. In the 1 day since purchase, I've eaten just about 48 ounces of ice cream. A secondary reason I bought the big bucket of ice cream bucket is the plastic tub (#2 HDPE bucket, #4 LDPE lid, considered safe). Right now, I use 16-oz and 32-oz #5 PP plastic takeout containers to store meat in the freezer. I wonder whether a 128-oz container might provide more efficient storage.

Yikes, that was fast. I consumed the whole 1 gallon of ice cream from 142100May14 to 172000May14. I ate some of it with bananas and a la mode with Pillsbury devil's food cake, but mostly, I just binge-ate it.

Stuffed and peering morosely at a dismayingly deep empty plastic bucket stained with streaks of melted ice cream, I started my weekly 24-hour fast. I must have really overdosed on the ice cream, because I felt no urge to eat during the entire fast. Usually, I experience a withdrawal-like psychological craving to eat even before I feel physical hunger. Not this time, even with a 6.3-mile, 50-pound ruck march during the fasting period.

Break-fast: 2 bananas, 2! 11-oz bags of Doritos (BOGO sale) with .5 16-oz container of sour cream, 1 crackling with sour cream, onions, garlic, and carrot slices, Worcester-sauce-vinegar-and-baking-soda bannock. Doritos taste good with sour cream as dip, but then, pretty much every food tastes good with sour cream.

$9.29 for 1 gallon of ice cream ($5) and 2 11-oz bags of Doritos ($4.29 BOGO) wholly consumed in 5 days is extravagant and indulgent. As always, the impulsive desire to buy junk food on sale ends with disappointed buyer's remorse and the unhealthy-feeling hangover of rapidly ingested junk food. The buyer's remorse is also due to the gloomy regret that junk food on sale is relatively expensive. The opportunity cost of the $9.29 paid for the hangover and quickly gone food would stretch a long way towards restocking my larder with healthier, more satisfying staples. Get it out of my system, I guess.

I bought 2 X 11-oz bags of Cool Ranch Doritos on a BOGO sale and ate them both in 1 day while watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I'm not sorry about binge-eating Doritos anymore because the extravagance is mostly derived from the impulse to buy the Doritos on sale. Once I possess them, it doesn't matter how quickly I eat them. Buying Cool Ranch Doritos this time makes up for buying 2 bags of regular Doritos during the last BOGO sale because the store was out of Cool Ranch Doritos. Cool Ranch Doritos don't go with sour cream. If I want crunchy snack food, I can always make popcorn with oil in the Salton pot on the burner. A 16-oz bag of Goya popcorn kernels costs $1.50.

The 1-gallon Super Associated vanilla/chocolate/strawberry ice cream, bought on sale for $4.99, of course, was not good, though the chocolate part was passable. I won't buy it again, though I got another plastic tub out of it.

56-oz/1.75-qt Exceptional Value Neapolitan ice cream, bought on sale for $2, tastes better. The standard supermarket size for brand-name ice cream is 1.5 quarts or 48 ounces. Ice cream floats (cold soda poured over ice cream) is delectable.

On May 22-26, I indulged decadently in catered-grade, delicious, densely rich chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and macadamia nut cookies. The experience reinforced that sweet or salty junk food is just (what I understand to be) like a drug. There's a wanting craving I can satisfy in the moment with a pleasurable fix. That moment can be multiplied or extended by gorging on more junk food. But junk food also provides diminishing returns; the flavor and pleasure go down as volume consumed in a sitting go up. Then, after I'm stuffed and stop eating, the resulting feeling is an unpleasant physical hangover. In contrast, eating nutritious food until I'm full leaves me with a satisfied satiated feeling rather than an unpleasant physical feeling of hangover. With junk food, the wanting craving returns when the hangover wears off, but I understand that it can't be satiated to satisfaction. Junk food feels different than nutritious food. Part of me regrets not gathering more delicious cookies, but a part of me also understands that more cookies wouldn't have made a difference. More cookies would only have extended the cycle of wanting craving, momentary pleasurable fix, unpleasant hangover, then wanting craving again. That's not to say I swear off junk food. Indulging the wanting craving for junk food with a momentary pleasurable fix is not nothing. I just understand better that adding more junk food, unlike adding more nutritious food, doesn't add more benefit; it just stretches out the momentary fix of pleasure. In other words, more junk food is the same value as some junk food.

59-oz Minute Maid pink lemonade tastes like candy when drunk straight but loses almost all of its flavor when diluted, even as much as half and half.

Popcorn kernel pricing as of Summer 2014: NSA - 4-lb Best Yet for $3.99; Associated - 2-lb White Rose for $2.69; Gristedes - 2-lb Shoprite for $2.69; Western Beef - 1-lb Goya for $1.50. Tip: leftover unpopped kernels will pop in the microwave. Calibrate the temp right (med-high) on the burner or else the kernels will only partially pop.

Somebody left a box of Passover dark-chocolate-coated matzos, sealed in plastic wrap, for the taking in my lobby. Like the review said, the dark chocolate shell was decently tasty and thick enough, although it did tend to flake off the matzo. The matzo itself is just a tasteless cracker, and it tasted a bit stale. I can easily make a matzo bannock from flour and water. The box comes with 2 large squares. I gobbled the 1st square upon opening. I gobbled the 2nd square today with a peanut butter spread. Chocolate and peanut butter go together decadently. Brownie with peanut butter is better. Dark-chocolate-coated matzo box vocab: Pareve, Halachic.

21JUL14: A fine bachelor stew for a special occasion. Maybe not my best, but full-bodied and tasty nonetheless. 1 14.75-oz can Ship Ahoy pink salmon, 1+ 32-oz container of 1st-boiled pernil bone broth (impressively strong flavor), Associated white rice, Carozzi fusilli pasta, Goya black beans, more than usual ginger and garlic, carrots, Eastern potatoes, frozen sliced okra, salt, seasoned salt. About halfway through, I added 2 Redpack canned whole peeled tomatoes and about a spoonful of leftover tomato paste, more white rice, fusilli pasta, ginger, garlic, black beans, carrots, potatoes, and okra; enough of the base salmon and broth flavor is left to carry the refilled bachelor stew. Still good. I finished it off as a refilled, light, and thinly flavored gruel with a few various leftover chunks.

When I tried making bachelor meat sauce with a full can of crushed tomatoes and a can of salmon, the salmon flavor was overwhelmed. But just the right amount of tomato flavor added to bachelor stew enhances the salmon flavor. Salmon in a concentrated mixed with tomato sauce in a bowl tastes good. There is a marked difference between salmon and mackerel flavor. Salmon is significantly more expensive, too, but if I can buy a can of salmon on sale for $2, it's worth buying.

From a grossly wet box of garbage, I scavenged an unopened 12-oz (drained weight: 7.75 ounce) jar of Trader Joe's fire roasted red peppers, an unopened 8.5-oz jar of Dalmatia fig spread, 4 (out of 7?) slices of Applegate naturals roast beef in an opened bag, and a mostly full jar of Gorham silver polish. There were a few opened jars of foodstuffs (mayonnaise, caramel) that I skipped, but had no problem rescuing the unopened, sealed foodstuffs. I wonder why someone threw out perfectly good, unopened, sealed food. The fig spread at least has a best-by date of Aug/15/2013, but the red peppers is BB 10/05/2016. The red peppers are tasty. I have yet to try the fig spread. I was going to leave the roast beef, but took it on 2nd thought. It looked okay, just a little gray, and didn't smell spoiled, just a little stale. Still, I'm cooking it before I eat it just to be safe. Gorham silver polish is apparently an old-fashioned, trusted brand and industry standard for polishing silverware.

Scavenging find: 2 10.75-oz cans of Campbell's condensed chicken noodle soup, 2 15-oz cans of Libbys corned beef hash, 1 15-oz can of Dunbars whole yams in syrup, and 1 29-oz can of Red&White peeled Barlett pear halves in heavy syrup. I wonder at someone just leaving the food in the leave-it/take-it recycling area. The cans weren't even expired. The corned beef hash and chicken noodle soup taste good.

Onion lessons: One, be more generous with my onions. I thought onions in the fridge would keep indefinitely, but yesterday, I cut mold patches from onions that I've kept in the fridge for months. Two, remove the outer layers completely when storing in the refrigerator. the mold patches were growing on the edges of outer skins I had left on the onion bulbs. Three, I'm not going to buy onions on sale until I finish the onions I already have. The moldy onions have been stored for weeks to months. Onions have been a ubiquitous staple in my food, but their utility has been reduced since I've used garlic and ginger. Garlic and ginger add more flavor and are less prone to mold when the ginger is stored in the freezer and garlic stored in the fridge.

Within the last 1-2 days, several clumps of translucent filmy strandy cloudy speckled something, likely mold, grew inside the 59-oz Ssips ginger and green tea carton. I ingested some of it last night and feel fine so far. Rather than pour out the rest of the drink, I'm boiling the remainder. I've thrown out the carton. I read on-line that mold actually is a common problem with bottled and presumably cartoned iced tea, but it's not poisonous. Update: I boiled the remainder, but ended up flushing it down the toilet anyway. I read on-line that boiling kills mold in its vegetative state, but boiling doesn't kill mold spores. Besides, boiling the drink solidified the color of the mold to a speckled whitish yellow that made it look grosser than it already did. Even if I scooped out the visible strands, I ain't drinking that.

I waited too long to eat an orange I bought months ago. When I cut it open, the orange was reddish pink and maybe moldy in its heart. The outer skin had grown dark around the navel and the weight was lighter. I threw it out. Oh well. The oranges I bought with it were sweet and juicy.

Gross: In the back of the bottom shelf of my fridge, I had kept a cereal bag of beef and pork bones that were months old, from when I was buying country-style pork instead of pernil shoulders. Last night, I took out the bag and discovered the bottom up to the sides of the pork bones covered with green mold with some white specks. I had originally kept the bag of bones in my freezer, but moved them down when I needed the space. I had meant to boil them for bone broth when I accumulated enough. I didn't because I was boiling chicken and pernil bones, instead. I had also kept a bag of chicken bones, but their flavor turned rancid so I decided to boil chicken bones immediately after eating the chicken. I figured the pork bones would keep in the fridge. However, the space occupied by containers of chicken bone and pernil bone broth meant the bag of pork bones remained unboiled for months. The top of the bag wasn't sealed and I'm concerned the presence of mold on the bones confirms there are mold spores in my fridge that entered the open bag in the 1st place, then multiplied inside and spewed out the opening. I've found mold growing on mozzarella cheese, ginger, and onion bulbs stored in my fridge; interestingly, all were stored in sealed plastic bags or containers, although the container lids are perforated.

Ugh, another mold-in-the-fridge problem. I discovered thick green-white mold growing on the bottoms of the last 5-bulb packet of garlic, which looked similar to the mold on the pork bones. There also was mold growing inside among the cloves of 1 of the bulbs. I bought the garlic months ago, though I don't remember if it's closer to a year or a few months. So, now I know garlic in my fridge will grow mold. Onions, ginger, mozzarella cheese, and bones have also grown mold in my fridge. One of these days, I'll have to wipe down my fridge and all my regular containers with bleach. I sliced off roughly .25 inch of the bottoms of the bulbs, which is a good bit of garlic, plus threw away 3 or 4 cloves where the mold grew inside a bulb. I peeled all the cloves and am storing them in a bag in the freezer next to the ginger. From now on, all my ginger and garlic is going to be peeled and stored in the freezer.

Last night, while preparing to filter water with my Brita, I discovered what appears to be mold growing all over the pre-filter water well that goes atop the pitcher as well as a dead moth inside the pitcher. I wonder if the 2 are related. There were patches of the mold around bits of tannish biological matter (excreta of some kind?) inside and outside the well that weren't there the last time I filtered water, 20 days ago (23JUN14). It reminds of the mold that proliferated inside the glass jar where I kept a moth larva and the rice bugs. For now, I'm soaking the pitcher, filter well, and the filter in diluted bleach water in a bucket. I'm seriously considering just drinking water straight from the tap from now on, which probably is just as well considering that I use water from the tap to cook with and make ice cubes. Update: I've been drinking water from the tap and chilled. It doesn't taste as good. I soaked the Brita pitcher, well, cap, and filter in diluted bleach water in the bucket for a few days, then wiped it down with a strong bleach solution. I'm now storing it in a plastic produce bag. I haven't switched out the filter, but I'll at least run a well-full of water through it if and when I used it again. For now, I'm drinking tap water still.

I bought a 34-cent chunk of ginger ($1.99 per lb) and lazily left it in the produce bag for 4 days before processing it (cut off outer layer, store in freezer). Despite that it was only 4 days in the bag, the ginger was already growing mold. I also peeled and froze 5 bulbs of garlic purchased on the same day.

27May14: I scavenged a Cuisinart stainless steel 8" skillet and 12" skillet. I discolored the 12" skillet inside bottom, which was already dulled, by cleaning it with a bleach solution. Only later did I find out not to use bleach on stainless steel. Oh well. It should still work. When found, both were grease stained, with some scratches, burned-on residue on the sides inside and outside, and a perfume odor, but otherwise appeared clean and usable. I wanted a skillet and now I have two of them, even if I did damage the bigger one. The skillets have raised the utility value of the burner. Funny how I didn't use the burner at all when the Salton and the Sunbeam were my lead cooking devices. Since they broke down, the burner has become my lead heating cooking device. My lead cooking tools are the Victorinox serrated and bird beak knives I bought at the Salvation Army. Update: Pro - good for making french fries. Con - chicken thigh and crackling were crisped on the outside but undercooked on the inside.

Alton Brown's "what to do with a Panini press" video inspires me to use my George Foreman grill. I just used it to press-grill a bannock and it worked well, quick and clean. It pressed the bannock dough to a uniform thickness of 1 cm or .4 inch. I wonder how well it will work with wet toppings if I make pizza bannock. I also wonder how well it will cook meat straight from the freezer; just make sure to catch the precious run-off juices.

An Alton Brown tip is to salt meat a half hour before meat so that the salt pulls out moisture laden with protein, and that protein will improve the sear of the meat.

My Vitromaster dinner plate impressed me. I was cutting slices from a block of frozen cheese, which takes a good deal of force pushing the knife, and accidently knocked the plate off the counter onto the kitchen floor. The plate not only didn't break, it didn't even nick. I'm used to things disintegrating when I drop them onto the kitchen floor. I dropped a glass beer mug that didn't even explode outward. It just disintegrated into a pile of glass bits. I've lost several frozen plastic 32-oz takeout containers holding meat by knocking them from the freezer onto the kitchen floor where they shattered.

17JUL14: Good-bye, Tostitos Salsa Con Queso 15-oz jar cup. It lasted for over 2 years of service with hot and cold liquids from microwave to freezer. I still have the Spinach Dip cup, at least. I filled the jar with water and placed it in the freezer to make the water cold quickly but I left it there overnight. The water froze solid. It seems that only when I opened the freezer door did the glass shatter. I didn't see it, but I heard it break as I was opening the freezer door. Temperature difference I guess, which cracked one of my ceramic bowls when I opened the microwave door. A few pieces of glass were flung some feet away from the refrigerator. Water freezes from the top and outside in. I thought because the jar wasn't covered, freezing the water wouldn't be a problem. In fact, I've frozen water often using the jars, though not as full of water. I wonder what made this time different. Was it only the volume of water? Perhaps the rim, which curves in over the body, was the weak point against the expanding pressure of the ice. Update: Culprit found? I froze water in a 32-oz plastic soup container and the bottom bulged. After some thawing, the plastic bottom returned to its normal shape, presumably when the ice block loosened from the sidewalls of the container. The bottom of a glass jar would, of course, break instead of bulging and popping back into shape. Water expands when frozen and freezes from the top and sides first. That explains why in the last stage of freezing, the ice is squeezed down beyond its water-occupied space. That also explains how ice grinds the ground beneath it. 12MAR15: I broke the Spinach Dip cup the same way. Late last night, filled cup with water and placed in freezer to drink later, forgot about it, went to sleep, and next day (today), found cup with multiple cracks around bulging ice. No chance of recovery. I had been using plastic containers to drink, which are flexible and bulge with the ice, but I didn't have enough space in the freezer, so I went back to using my Tostitos jar cup. That was a mistake. I'm hoping to scavenge a replacement jar. I can use plastic for cold, but the glass jar cups can drink hot, unlike the plastic.

While cutting frozen cheese, I cut my left index finger deeply across the top of the big knuckle because I stupidly cut towards me instead of away from me. I don't remember why I decided to do that. When I cut through the cheese, the force carried the serrated blade right into my finger. Deep cut but it doesn't seem as though anything important was severed. I squeezed out some blood, rinsed the wound with rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, and stuck an adhesive bandage on it. The blood seemed to be clotting in the wound quickly. My finger should be okay. Update: My finger moves fine and visually looks to be healing fine, but there's a dull pain when touched.

I bought a pair of thin tapered red wooden chopsticks for 25¢ at the Salvation Army. They had checkered tips on top that have broken off. It doesn't affect their utility at the working end. I just hope the chopsticks aren't toxic.

Eric

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