Monday, December 16, 2013

Thoughts of the day

It's interesting that I can start a thoughts of the day without knowing what will go into it after the 1st thought and the post just fills itself like groundwater in a well. Of course, wells eventually go dry.

I used the Victorinox 3 1/4" Serrated Edge Paring Knife I bought at the Salvation Army to cut up a pernil pork shoulder. I'm pleased. The Victorinox serrated knife worked as well on slicing the pernil as I hoped it would. I hope I didn't blunt the knife on the bone and gristle. The pernil pork shoulder produced approximately 9 pounds of meat and 1 pound of bone, which comes out to about a dollar a pound for the meat. I theorize heavier pernils are likely a better purchase, despite the same price per pound, because the higher weight is likely due to more meat with the same weight of bone.

My thoughts on the NatGeo reality shows based on life in Alaska have been moved here.

In Life Below Zero, solitary homesteader Glenn is shown handwashing his clothes in a tub with what looks like a grooved toilet plunger. I have an extra toilet plunger I don't use. I don't believe the grooves are needed to agitate the laundry. A stick would probably work just as well. I'm going to try handwashing my laundry with the same technique. Update: Handwashing by soaking then churning with the toilet plunger worked well enough, but hard scrubbing is necessary to clean out ground-in stains. The rubber head of the toilet plunger cracked then fell apart under the heavy load of churning, though. I believe the plunger-looking device Glenn uses is hard and possibly reinforced. Glenn is right that handwashing clothes, while more time-consuming and laborious, feels more satisfying than the impatient chore of machine-washing clothes.

Despite plastic bagging all of my identifiably wool clothing and blankets, clothes moths are still spawning and flying around my apartment. Can they chew through thin plastic shopping bags? It's frustrating - I don't know their source. Moth larvae feed on biological matter not limited to wool. They primarily feed on excreta - blood, sweat, urine, feces, skin flakes, hair, etc - so they may have settled on a food source in my apartment that's altogether independent of wool.

The Army Goes Rolling Along, sung properly.

Citizen Soldier by 3 Doors Down. It's a 2007 song featuring the National Guard. Extended version.

Via Mad Minerva, the West Point egg nog riot of 1826. As famed, rightfully, as West Point is for discipline and strict regulations, there is also a long rebellious streak in cadet heritage. The combination has made for US Army officers who are dutiful yet bring a lot of moxie to the fight. Paradoxically, as West Point has eased the pressure somewhat on cadets in various ways, the rebelliousness of cadets has subsided. Subversive spirit missions are still a regular part of cadet life, though.

Pet peeve: I don't like that in college sports the United States Military Academy is called Army. West Point is a historical and cultural flagship institution and an important officer source for the Army, but the Army is much bigger than West Point. I say that as an enlisted Army veteran. The Army had enlisted soldiers, and commissioned officers for that matter, before the Army had West Point. I would prefer West Point be called West Point or, alternatively, the Military Academy in college sports. The West Point name is famous enough in its own right.

Military deities at the Rubin Museum of Art:
Magzor Gyalmo, Mongolia; 18th century - Textile; appliqué and embroidery with pearls - Rubin Museum of Art - F1996.19.1 (HAR 472) "Magzor Gyalmo, literally “The Queen Who Repels Armies,” belongs to a class of powerful protector deities and is considered the wrathful emanation of the goddess of learning, music, and poetry, Sarasvati. She is also invoked for divination rituals. In this painting she is accompanied by two fearsome attendants seen in the bottom register." (Source.)
Virupaksha, the Guardian King of the West, 17th-18th century. China. Clay, polychrome, stone eyes, wooden base and interior armature.

PROBLEM: "What you're seeing is how a civilization commits suicide," says Camille Paglia. . . . She starts by pointing to the diminished status of military service. "The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster," she says.
SOLUTION: U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University and Ivy League ROTC.

Oscar got married.

Stuyvesant Spectator coverage of the boys bowling team and the girls bowling team, plus a joke story on the boys bowling team. The boys team was called the Pinheads in their story. Actually, the girls team is called the Pinheads and the boys team didn't have a name this season, indicative of the boys team's anomic state. My team was the Peglegs, which is the traditional Stuyvesant team name. Other past names of the boys team have been Keglers and Hookers. If the boys refuse to restore Peglegs, I like Marksmen or, if they can become proficient bowlers, Stuyvesant Strikers.

Jeremy Lin is out again, with back spasms this time, only 2 games after returning to action after 2 weeks recovering from the right knee sprain he suffered against the Hawks on November 27. The left knee meniscus with the Knicks and the chest contusion in last season's 1st round play-off series against the Thunder robbed Lin of a chance to prove himself in the play-offs. Now, he has missed weeks of games due to his right knee and back spasms, and it's unknown when he'll back on the court. It's too soon to conclude Lin is brittle, but the case for it is growing. Lin has time to recover and become durable, at least durable enough to be there when it counts most; Nash missed a lot of time due to injury early in his career, too. In the wake of the Asik trade drama, there has been some talk about trading Lin, too. Both were signed to poison pill contracts with balloon payments next season. Both have had their starting positions taken away and their roles reduced this season. I wonder whether Lin's growing injury history is dissuading teams, such as the Bulls, that need a PG and otherwise might gamble on trading for Lin.

Over at The Dream Shake, there's a good stats-based breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses in Jeremy Lin's game so far this season. It's an as-is analysis that only touches on mitigating factors such as the role assigned to him by the Rockets coaches and the influence of his teammates, especially the Rockets' primary ball-handler, James Harden.

Eldo Kim, a Harvard sophomore with an older sister also at Harvard, e-mailed bomb threats at 8:30 am on Monday, December 16 in order to avoid a final exam that was scheduled for 9 am on the same day. It worked until he got caught. According to the FBI agent in charge of the case, Kim used TOR (masks IP) and Guerilla Mail (temp e-mail address) to send the anonymous bomb threats, but Harvard recorded Kim connecting to TOR from the Harvard wireless network. Kim waived his Miranda rights and confessed. I wonder why he confessed. Just accessing TOR doesn't establish the whole chain linking Kim to the bomb threats, unless maybe it does. The FBI agent's affidavit states that not all the evidence is included in the affidavit, only enough to demonstrate probable cause for the court to issue a complaint, so maybe the chain was completed somehow. Even if he was confronted with damning evidence, though, I don't understand why Kim waived his Miranda rights and added his confession to the state's case. I can empathize with a fellow Ivy Leaguer who over-extends on extracurricular activities to the detriment of his academics and panics. Even so, what the heck got into him to try a crazy, serious-consequential stunt like that? With this being a press case, the severe view on terrorism, especially in Boston after the marathon bombing, I don't think law enforcement will be inclined to go easy on him. Kim's e-mail even threatened a "shrapnel bomb", which is what the marathon bombers used. Kim, now 20, would have been about 8 on 9/11. Terrorism seems ingrained in the psyche of an American generation. He's from Washington state and not a Stuy grad, so there's that at least.

The NYCLU explains what to do if you're stopped by the police in New York.

This story on Asian American militant feminists is disconcerting in that their "movement" seems mostly, perhaps entirely, about non-Asian American men. It reminds me of the aphorism that the opposite of love isn't hate; it's indifference.

The Distinct, Positive Impact of a Good Dad by Professor Brad Wilcox of the National Marriage Project.

While browsing images of celebrities who were high-school cheerleaders, I was surprised to find out actress Meryl Streep was a pretty blonde, dark-eyed, slender, fresh-faced, radiant high-school cheerleader. Either due to her choice or period styles, I always thought of Streep as an actress with a reserved distinctive look rather than an attractive appearance. The discovery that Streep was an animated pretty girl is a reminder that, while women's looks matter, women routinely alter their appearance.

Epistolary, used in a sentence: AR Gurney's Love Letters is a play about an epistolary relationship.

Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis fits my lifestyle except I prefer scavenging to paying thrift shop prices.

Cool story about a quasi-homesteading mom: "Lulu is a single mom who'd gone back to school and didn't have the time or interest in working full-time to pay for rent. So when she had to move out of her more conventional home, she decided to move herself and her daughter into a shipping container." While there are gaps in the story (aren't there always?) as told, it's a data point to consider.

According to this post, "Don’t eat wheat. Don’t eat corn. Don’t eat added refined sugars. Don’t eat refined polyunsaturated oils. These are four of the big Paleo/Primal principles that we can all agree with." According to that list, pasta, my various bannocks, and brownies are bad. Comparatively, white rice and potatoes, while not unqualifiedly healthy eating, are at least better.

Bachelor meat sauce: 28-ounce can of Marzano crushed tomatoes, 1/2 pound of ground pork, 10-ounce box of Best Yet frozen whole spinach, 1 carrot diced (in place of canned corn), 1/4 yellow onion diced, 2 garlic cloves diced (1 clove fried with pork in front, 1 clove added at the end), about 1/2 cup of white rice as thickener, Barilla pipette pasta, about 3 quarts of second-boiled pernil pork shoulder bone broth.

Break-fast meal: Approx 9-ounce Basa fillet baked with onions, garlic, flour, sour cream, and seasoned salt, 1 carrot, 2 steamed Eastern potatoes with salt and sour cream, and white rice. For dessert, Pillsbury chocolate fudge brownie a la mode with Exceptional Value chocolate light ice cream.

My best recipe for pernil pork shoulder chop is to slice open the pernil chop to create a pocket, stuff the pocket with diced garlic and onion and seasoned salt, season the outside of the pernil chop with seasoned salt on the top and bottom, broil for 15 minutes, then flip over the pernil chop and broil for 10 minutes. Eat with sour cream and hot sauce dipping sauce. It's good with egg and onion fried rice cooked with sesame oil and black pepper, pork bone broth, and a dessert of brownie a la mode.

Broiling has proven to be the best method for cooking pernil chops. There's no bad way to cook pernil chops, but other cooking methods have proven to be worse than broiling. Broiling flavorfully chars the meat and fat and tenderizes the gristle. The meat's tender. Baking, either in the Nesco or toaster oven, is the 2nd best method, but is less flavorful than broiling. Baking dries the meat more than chars it. Boiling a pernil chop in bachelor stew does not produce enough oils to flavor the stew. Chicken works much better for oiling a bachelor stew. Boiling a pernil chop barely releases the flavor of the meat and fat and doesn't tenderize the gristle. In the Salton-pot steamer over the burner, I steamed a prime pernil chop with fat and gristle with garlic, onion, collard greens, carrot, Premio pork breakfast sausage, and rice. The result of steaming was the same as boiling the pernil chop. I had expected steaming to prevent shrinkage and make the meat more tender, but that didn't happen. The wet heat of boiling or steaming causes the meat to contract the same as the dry heat of broiling or baking. However, wet heat doesn't tenderize the gristle or char the meat and fat like dry heat does. The meat actually seems to be less tender when cooked with wet heat than when cooked with dry heat.

Heat rises. In my Nesco, the hottest area is up by the rim rather than lower in the well.

Interesting cooking technique: I placed collard greens, carrots, onions, garlic, and a chicken thigh in the 1-quart mixing bowl, covered them with cooked white rice packed on top. Then I steamed the bowl. As usual, cooking with the Nesco takes too long - hours. The result, however, was fall-apart tender chicken and vegetables, as though they had been cooked in a pressure cooker. Despite my previous judgement against steaming pernil chops, I'll try this technique with the pork. I wonder whether the technique would work the same with the Salton-pot and burner. Update: I used the same recipe with a pernil chop as a break-fast meal. It wasn't fall-apart tender like the chicken, but I didn't cook it as long a time in the Nesco, either. There seemed to be less shrinkage of the pernil chop than usual, but that could be my imagination. I still prefer broiling.

An all-starch meal to kick off my weekly fast: 1 baked potato, sliced (not a good way to cook it) for an appetizer, the above pressure-steamed chicken-and-rice bowl, a plain pizza bannock with just mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce with hot sauce, and spaghetti and tomato sauce. I made the pizza bannock and spaghetti in order to try the Furmano's crushed tomatoes with roasted garlic & olive oil as a pizza-bannock and pasta sauce instead of its usual role as a base for bachelor meat sauce. It works as pizza-bannock sauce but is thinner than I like as pasta sauce.

A good breakfast (not break-fast) meal: sandwich made from baking-soda bannock sprinkled with seasoned salt, baked Premio breakfast sausage, melted mozzarella cheese (trying to finish it quickly after the mold discovery), baked onion and garlic, raw collard greens, sour cream, and mustard; reminiscent of my Sunday breakfast at the K, a bowl of rice mixed with tomato sauce, sour cream, hot sauce, black pepper, and 1 soft-boiled egg.

I tried making the rice bowl with cooked rice, tomato sauce, sour cream, hot sauce, black pepper, diced frozen Premio breakfast sausage, raw egg, raw onions, raw garlic, and raw carrots mixed in the 1-quart mixing bowl, then steamed in the Nesco for 1.5 hours. It's not the same. The ingredients need to be cooked separately, then mixed in the bowl. The key to the dish is an oozing soft-boiled egg or egg over easy.

A good meal: Sliced sausage, garlic, and onion baked on a flat bannock bread made with baking soda, with mustard and sour cream added. 2-potato mashed potatoes with added raw garlic and onions, sour cream, seasoned salt, black pepper. Pernil pork shoulder chop broiled for 25 minutes (15/10) with garlic, onion, and seasoned salt in slit pocket, with 1 broiled carrot and onion slices, and sour cream and hot sauce dipping sauce. Heated mix of pork bone broth and starchy potato water.

Another good meal: Chicken thigh broiled for 40 minutes with garlic, onion, and seasoned salt in slit pocket, with sausage slices under the skin, onion slices, and sour cream and hot sauce dipping sauce. White rice. Collard green stalks and diced garlic, steam fried. 1 Valencia orange, sliced. Later that night, 3 bannocks: salt-and-vinegar bannock with sausage, onion, garlic, seasoned salt, hot sauce, sour cream, and grape jelly; baking-soda bannock with grape jelly and sour cream; salt bannock with seasoned salt, sour cream and grape jelly on one side and grape jelly and chunky peanut butter on the other side. The addition of grape jelly on the 1st bannock was surprisingly tasty. I tried to nail down the grape jelly and sour cream combination in the 2 subsequent bannocks, but wasn't able to repeat it. Maybe the difference was the vinegar or the other ingredients in the 1st bannock. I ate the 3 bannocks with chicken-thigh bone broth mixed with starchy potato water. I then started my weekly 24-hour fast.

Bachelor stew: In the Mirro, 15-ounce can of Sunny Sea mackerel in brine, 28.6-ounce can of Campbell's home style healthy request Italian-style Wedding spinach & meatballs in chicken broth, white rice for body and thickener, Ronzoni medium shells for the pasta, water, and seasoned salt to flavor the dilution. That's a basic recipe. I purposely did not add usual stew ingredients such as garlic, yellow onions, carrots, potatoes, black pepper, and hot sauce and found no drop-off in flavor. Although canned salmon didn't work when I tried it as the meat in a bachelor meat sauce, a tablespoon of Furmano's crushed tomatoes added to a bowl of this (cheaper salmon substitute) mackerel stew has provided a nice flavor kick. A spoonful of sour cream. A usual, the fish-oily flavor is heady at first but the smell increasingly becomes unpleasantly fishy. It's a valid excuse to consume the bachelor stew within 1-2 days. The oily thickness of the fishy flavor means the bachelor stew dilutes well, though.

A good meal: A salt-and-vinegar bannock sandwich with raw tomato slices, sour cream, seasoned salt, black pepper for an appetizer. Broiled pernil chop with diced garlic and onion inside a cut, broiled carrot slices, slice of raw tomato, with sour cream and hot sauce dipping sauce. For the starch, 2 baked potatoes with salt and sour cream. Baked potatoes suck up sour cream. This meal used about a quarter of a 16-oz container of sour cream. Finally, a sliced orange.

I bought a 1-pound block of Dragone mozzarella cheese for $3. Cooks Illustrated recommended it for pizza making. Slice rated Polly-O mozzarella as the best brand for making homemade pizzas, though Dragone wasn't one of the brands they tested. Update: I just made a bannock pizza that is one of my better ones. Salt-and-vinegar bannock (the dough was a bit overwatered), cooked for 12 minutes at 450 degrees in the toaster oven, Hunts chunky vegetable pasta sauce, Dragone mozzarella cheese, Hood sour cream, sliced Premio pork breakfast sausage (14-16 ounce packages for 99 cents each), diced onions, diced garlic, sliced collard greens, seasoned salt. I could taste the mozzarella, and the mozzarella and sour cream combination worked. Collard greens offer a nice sharp flavor as a pizza topping.

Collard greens have a distinctive flavor that reminds me of bai chai. It works well as a pizza topping or a conventionally cooked leafy vegetable. Kale is pretty good, too. I prefer fresh collard greens - frozen chopped collard greens have a fraction of the flavor. Similarly, frozen chopped spinach has less flavor than frozen whole spinach. Maybe frozen whole collard greens are just as good as fresh, but I haven't seen any on sale.

Premio pork breakfast sausage tastes better eaten as a link than sliced onto bannock pizza.

The insides of the Eastern potatoes in the last bag I bought on sale were shot through with thin stalks. I think it was a fungus, but I haven't found information on-line to verify what it was. I cut out the stalks and used the potatoes, anyway. It was a hassle. I just bought another bag of Eastern potatoes on sale, but a different brand. This time I examined the skins of the potatoes for signs of the same infection. They look healthier than the potatoes in the last bag. We'll see. Update: I cut up 2 potatoes for my latest bachelor stew with a bone-in chicken breast base. The potatoes were unblemished inside. So far so good.

I'm eating my current batch of brownies, made from Pillsbury chocolate fudge brownie mix, a la mode with Exceptional Value (a C&S wholesaler brand) chocolate light ice cream. I prefer vanilla flavor for a la mode, but there wasn't any vanilla ice cream on sale. I bought the 1.75-quart/1.65-liter/56-ounce box of chocolate light ice cream for $1.67. The ice cream is light-flavored and cheap quality, made with guar gum and artificial ingredients.

I changed how I mix the brownie batter. I now pour the corn oil directly into the mixing bowl rather than into a measuring cup first. I didn't like that oil stuck to the measuring cup, which was a waste and annoying to clean up.

Pepperidge Farm Chocolate Fudge 3-layer cake is as tasteless as the Golden 3-layer cake. That's 5 dollars - total for both cakes - that could have been spent on better, cheaper, and a greater amount of food. I was considering trying the Vanilla 3-layer cake - not anymore.

Well-mixed peanut butter and grape jelly results in a more subtly flavored concoction than the distinct flavors of a standard spread of peanut butter and grape jelly. Adding sour cream to the mixture makes it creamier. It's not bad. I plan on trying it with brownies and yogurt. Update: It's okay on brownies, but I prefer the distinct flavors of a standard spread. When the mixture is baked onto a brownie, the jelly melts and hardens which is not good.

Mmm: I bought a 2-liter bottle of Dr. Brown's Cream Soda for $1.25 - $1.41 with the 5-cent deposit + tax. My taste for cream soda was acquired relatively recently, either in law school or right before it. It's in the same area, but not to the same degree, as my Army-acquired taste for Yoo Hoo. I don't normally buy soda and I just happen to have a box of Exceptional Value light fudge swirl ice cream in the freezer, which is also a rare purchase ($1.67 for a 56-ounce box). Before I guzzle all the cream soda or leave it sitting in the fridge long enough to lose all its fizz, I plan on breaking my weekly fast with an ice cream float. How an ice cream float works. Apparently, there is a difference between ice cream sodas and ice cream floats. I might add some sour cream in place of cream, whipped cream, and milk, which would make the drink a hybrid ice cream soda/float. Update: Tasty. I'm a fan of ice cream floats, and it's going on my good things list. I finally found a way not to use sour cream - don't use it as a sweet cream substitute in ice cream soda.

I was considering re-using the Dr. Brown's Cream Soda 2-liter bottle to store water. It's made from #1 plastic (polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET or PETE) which is light and flexible. According to this article, re-using a #1 plastic soda bottle is not a bad notion, but also not a good idea. Re-using a soda bottle while it's still in pristine condition should be fine, but once it's dinged up, then it "may leach DEHP—another probable human carcinogen". What plastic containers are (relatively) safe to re-use? According to the article, "Safer choices include bottles crafted from safer HDPE (plastic #2), low-density polyethylene (LDPE, AKA plastic #4) or polypropylene (PP, or plastic #5). Aluminum bottles, such as those made by SIGG and sold in many natural food and natural product markets, and stainless steel water bottles are also safe choices and can be reused repeatedly and eventually recycled." In my fridge, I store water in #2 plastic milk and juice bottles and solids in #5 plastic take-out containers. I wonder what kind of plastic my Skilcraft 1A863 1995 2-quart canteen is made from. It's interesting that the company that made our pens also made our canteens.

I bought a 2-liter bottle of A&W cream soda for $1 - $1.14 with bottle deposit + tax. It's just as tasty as Dr. Brown's cream soda. I guzzle cream soda as quickly as I guzzle Yoo Hoo. At least I can water down Yoo Hoo to stretch the drink. I'm tempted to buy more cream soda, but that's enough indulgence for now.

I'm not a fan of Ssips Sabor Latino tropical punch. The drink tastes fake - not just typically sugary and artificially processed, but fake. On the other hand, I like Ssips green tea with honey and ginseng.

The 16-pound bag of Delicioso brand rice I just finished had bugs. I didn't have that problem with the prior 20-pound bag of Carolina brand rice. I'm hoping my just-opened 20-pound bag of Canilla brand rice doesn't have bugs. So far, so good. I have the bag sealed up pretty tight inside plastic bags within a plastic trash bin. I don't think the bugs in the Delicioso brand rice came from outside, but I'm being extra cautious storing it just in case. And if there are bugs already inside the bag, hopefully they stay in there and don't escape out into my kitchen.

A bottle with a threaded cone cap dispenser like this one works beautifully for dispensing corn oil. The threaded cone cap doesn't leak when I pour the oil and I can control the amount of dispensed oil precisely. I had used a bottle with a pop-up lid like this one, but it dribbled corn oil down the side and control was rough. I'm pleased; I only wish the bottle was clear instead of opaque yellow. 25FEB14 update: Back to the lab. Oil leaks out from the seam at the bottom of the base of the cap. As the cap became greasy, it became more difficult to twist the cone into its open position and the cap loosened while twisting the cone, which exacerbated the leak. 10MAR14 update: I'm trying out a French's mustard bottle with stay clean cap, which uses a silicone stopper with slits. After one use, so far, so good: precise pour (squeeze) control and it hasn't leaked (yet). Granted, I was initially pleased with the twist-cone cap, too.

Bad idea: Storing oranges for a long time inside a plastic bag that holds in moisture. I just threw out a moldy orange and the moldy plastic bag, rinsed off the remaining oranges, and ate 3 of them. I still have 7 oranges left. 1 prior orange from the bag had mold growing inside and I threw out another one because it tasted off, but I don't know whether those instances were related to storage in a wet plastic bag. There's a reason oranges are sold in mesh, holed, or otherwise breathable bags. Hm: It's not just the moldy orange, though. Just now, I was surprised by a square of mold on the block of Dragone mozzarella stored in a plastic container in my fridge. A few days ago, mold also covered the floor of a glass jar overnight where I'm holding captured rice bugs and a clothes moth larva. I've dropped crumbs and rice and dripped starchy water into the glass jar. That's 3 places. Where did the mold come from and do I have a wider problem? I hope not. I hope it's just a coincidence.

Current exercises: stairs, elevated push-ups, pyramids, and ruck marches.

Exercise can suppress hunger.

In 9°F and -5°(+/-5°)F wind chill, I wore the Uniqlo heattech under Army polypros and Bonfire Radiant and did a 6-mile ruck march with a 60-pound ruck. I didn't feel the cold in the least wherever I was covered by the 2 sets of long underwear. My right thumb became a little chilly inside the glove. Only my face, which was uncovered, suffered the cold. My right trapezius is sore whereas my left trapezius and shoulder feel fine; I don't know whether that's a weight distribution problem or a strap problem. I'm using books and bowling balls to make up the 60 pounds and the 1-pound heavier ball was on the right side. The shoulder strap on the right side tends to slip under heavy load due to blunt teeth on the gripper. I've switched the right shoulder strap with the left and moved the heavier bowling ball to the left for my next ruck march.


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