Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thoughts of the day

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

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

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

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

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

UAE and Egypt vs Qatar and Turkey in Libya.

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

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

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

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

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

The Ambassador Ryan Crocker on the ISIS crisis.

A good summary of our choices facing ISIS by zenpundit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Columbia has a Program on Peace-building.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Value social "stability, trust, and cohesion".

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Single Stop for Veterans looks useful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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