balancing act frog optical illusion

Balancing Act or Bespectacled Frog
© Other Letter


If I Make it to Old Age



Dieting Hacks, so now everyone can look like a Heather Graham

Everyone has their own inner Heather Graham, you just need to find her.  So in a bid to strengthen Other Letter in the waistline reduction and diet space, we offer these new, earth-shaking dieting hacks — the same ones actors and actresses use when they need to lose forty pounds in two weeks before a shoot.

If you would also like to make nutritious and delicious recipes that are a breeze to prepare, check out Dinners even a Bachelor can Cook.  Don’t be intimidated by the title of the recipe section, bachelors are complete morons about food (and likely other things as well which I don’t have the time or inclination to get into explaining).

Once you have lost a little weight, it motivates you to lose more and more pounds.  Your diet improves, you eat healthier, and before you know it, you’re climbing Everest, and regularly entering Iron Man (and Woman) Triathlons where you place at the top of the leader board.  You’ll see, you can trust me on this.  I belong to a higher calling, I’m a blogger...

While I am not a licensed dietician, you know how you just know stuff?  Well, this is stuff I just know somehow.  As for how my physique measures up, for my age, I am an absolute Adonis (no, I’m not ninety).  Women on the street — and in the bedroom — regularly remark that I am a vision of male virility.

  1. Eat the recommended serving size.
  2. Don’t eat desserts, except maybe on one designated day of the week, say, Friday.
  3. If you often do not have the time to create Michelin Three-Star™ meals, but you also feel that booking on down to the McDonalds every other day may be why you’re called “the waddler,” why not try frozen pizza?  I mean, you’re already called, “the waddler,” what do you have to lose?  The vegetarian variety is healthier than the pepperoni, meat-eaters variety, with less of an environmental footprint — besides yourself, the ASPCA and PETA will also be grateful.  I’m partial to the Trader Joe’s variety, but you can likely find a good version anywhere, even say, in Alaska ( up there in Anchorage, and you’ll win a free digitized, email reply including signature block).
  4. Zero-calorie seltzer, and the naturally-flavored sub-species, is for most, more refreshing than plain water.  While naturally fructose-sweetened, fruit juice is good, too, it has calories, and liquid calories have the same fattening potential as solid ones do.  Here’s a little trick I picked up in the steamy jungles of Nam waiting for Air Force reinforcements: When you run out of lemon seltzer, fortify plain seltzer juice with lemon juice.  Out on the rice paddies, we would put one table (not measuring) tablespoon of lemon juice in eight ounces of seltzer, or half an average, tall glass.  (Here is another trick I picked up on my third tour of duty there, when steady nerves were at a premium: Rest both the spoon and the lemon juice bottle on the lip of the glass, then pour.)  This was decidedly the perfect refreshment before lengthy and arduous search and destroys.
  5. Okay, we know Other Letter has a position statement about seltzer water as a weight loss tool.  Now, per a very recent National Public Radio (NPR) report, zee French government has put carbonated water into public park water fountains (they call it fizzy water, but zee French can get away with novel English).  Should I take complete credit?  Of course, why not?  Zee French are so progressive though, hats off!  Or is that, berets off!  I’m going to book an Air France flight to Paris so I can have my fizzy water in a park, and gloat on another Other Letter triumph.
  6. If you’re thinking of going big cheese, aren’t you thinking of the big cheeses: Gouda, Monterrey Jack, and the newcomer to our Other Letter fromage palette, England’s Blue Stilton (report will follow here on the British Edam).  Then go deep into British culinary heritage with Cotswald Double Gloucester (double because it’s aged longer and so is stronger than single Gloucester — either that or it’s the name of a set piece for the Gloucester United Football Club).  Of course, you could go French castle with creamy Brie, Camembert, or the sharper, Roquefort, which is great sprinkled on tomato salads with Ranch dressing.  Enjoy a single one-inch cube with optional crackers, with mandatory seltzer to wash it down, and essentially calorie-free mango, and pineapple spears.  Depending, cheese may be suspect for dieters, the dicey factor in any framework of snack.  Regularly eating slabs of these fromage treats, and you will be spending your every Saturday night with Internet porn.
  7. You have travelled the road of cheese, and you have some in your fridge.  Okay, you open the package, you smell, you sigh — now what?  How do you store your fromage?  This is a little trick I picked up at an Other Bed and Breakfast: You get sandwich bags, you know, the ones with the pull over flap.  Just finish your assortment for the day, and reverse the flap on your sandwich bag, and you’re set.  What could be better?  That’s right, nothing can be better than convenient cheese storage.
  8. Although your body might compensate, drinking cold liquids tends to cool your body, because what was originally in the refrigerator is now in your body.  Past September (pencil in your calendars) is the time of year for herbal tea, or hot cocoa.  Both of these will keep you off the hard stuff: seven-layer, chocolate fudge cake (Pepperidge Farm used to make a chocolate layer cake that people could kill for, and probably did).
  9. Okay, fast food, if you think of your body as a temple, McDonalds is the ninth circle of Hell raiding your temple.  We all know about the opioid epidemic?  A Big Mac is the fast food equivalent.  It is dipped in lard and it is just as addictive as morphine.  I cannot claim I know exactly where the other outlets stand vis-à-vis nutrition, but I would have to say, a distant second is Burger King (McDonalds fries their burgers, BK broils theirs), followed by Wendy’s, and maybe Taco Bell is not as bad because it is less of a burger joint.  Sonic Burger, In and Out Burger, Kill-your-own-Cow Burger are all suspect.  They resemble Krispy Kreme, but instead of dipping your heart attack on a plate in sugared frosting, you can watch as they dip your burgers in grease.  Tipping is generally frowned upon by management, but if you want an “extra gooey,” slip your server girl a fiver in her cleavage.
  10. I just heard on NPR (National Public Radio for those checking in from Russia) that there are two kinds of heavy people, healthy and disease-resistant, and unhealthy or sickly.  I’ll admit, heaviness does not make for the most physically attractive person with either kind.  I’d say the difference between health outcomes results from diet — shoveling down McDonalds for many lunches and dinners, versus scarfing down spaghetti and meatballs regularly.  One will die before their time, the other may not.  Neither of them are much of a challenge in a wind sprint.
  11. Buy a cycling machine that can realistically simulate the Tour de France.  While you’re at it, get a Stair Master, or just go all out, and make your home gym better than the commercial ones.  Build a wing off your den to keep all the plates that will rival any NFL training room.  Over the long haul, you’ll save thousands in gym memberships where you always find yourself canoodling with people: whose hygiene habits are highly suspect; who have blood dripping out of their nose, originating from some strange white powder; and who leave syringes on the locker room floor because they’re steroid junkies, making you always wear sneakers in the shower there, or else you’ll step on the hypodermics and get Hep-C.
  12. If you’re not doing so already, incorporate fruits and veggies into your diet.  These have virtually no calories, and fruits, when properly prepared like a sliced apple, make an especially good substitute for chocolate layer cake and baked Alaska.  Learn when certain produce is available in the grocery.  Cherries are at peak flavor in May, strawberries in June, tomatoes in July, and corn in August.  In all honesty, when these are at peak flavor, these are at least as delicious as candy.
  13. It’s late, and you have ventured to snack.  You are far down the well-worn path of snack, but how can you snack without busting your diet, without tallying up hundreds of official diet points, and without looking like you moved next door to a McDonalds?  At Other Letter, we hear your cries loud and clear.  While not approved by any known dieting organization, we suggest the following: seltzer (we like lemon-flavored, although there seems to be novel flavors now every week at the grocery), a summer-seasonal nectarine (we like organic), and dig this, class, a generous cube of reduced-fat, smoked Gouda (avoiding the temptation to consume the entire, cheese hockey pock).  Near midnight, this is pure snacking ecstasy.  I am sorry, but there is no snacking East-to-West, and North-to-South, you will find to be finer.
  14. If you are not regular, what you might like to try is all-natural, Psyllium fiber capsules.  BE SURE TO READ THE LABEL to make sure you’re taking it properly.  For many, take 2-5 capsules, 1-4 times a day with at least 8 ounces of water, a tall glass in other words.  If you take other medications, you should take this two hours before or after you take those.  If it does not work by the seventh day (or sooner, depending on severity or painfulness of symptoms), I would seriously suggest that you see a doctor.  I would go this natural route over Ex-lax, or the dreaded enema.  If you’re younger, this likely makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  Actually, that’s a major blessing of being young, ambulance rides to the ER, depending on genetics, are an impossibility.
  15. Add probiotics to your diet.  All those bacterium in yogurt, Kefir (pour-able yogurt), and yogurt smoothies, are what you need more than life itself.  These add to, or replace, beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract.  There are generally between six to twelve types of these bacterium in each cultured product.  If you do not eat these you will get colon cancer in no time, and poof, you will be doubled over in agony, often in public spaces — think railroad stations, hockey arenas, a Taylor Swift concert with your family (when ticket prices cost less than a television), anywhere it would be the most embarrassing, you’re there doubled over.  On the ambulance ride to the emergency room, the EMT asks your spouse when was the last time your spouse ate probiotics?  Your spouse admits, “Well, never, I just never knew, I try to give them all vegetables...”  The EMT sneers in disgust.  There is an important lesson in this, think wisely, eat probiotics regularly.  Remember those yogurt commercials where the Russians in that village all lived past 130 years of age?  Well, there you go.  I bet in our midst are a few who saw President Lincoln give his Emancipation Proclamation (and have been avoiding the crushing publicity by keeping their birth date a secret, although they do resemble prunes).  What do you think they’ve been eating every day, hmm?  That’s right, yogurt, and plenty of it.
  16. Wash your food down with water at least partly, skip the caffeinated, sugared water altogether (aka soda).
  17. Tea, especially the herbal variety like South African Rooibos & Honeybush, makes an excellent substitute for a milkshake.  By the way, if you buy a box of Rooibos tea, you help Charlize Theron help her people make a better life for themselves, and set them on the road to self-sufficiency.  Because of the favorable U.S. dollar-Krugerrand exchange rate, every box of tea you purchase prevents an Afrikaans baby from dying because of poor health care and malnutrition, and feeds an Afrikaans family for a month.  See how many lives you save with just ten boxes of tea (the answer we were looking for is “Ten”).  With Trump cutbacks, America will need the same Tea for Tots programme.
  18. Alcohol means plenty of empty calories; if you really need a buzz, run up and down your stairs twenty times (for bonus points, wear ankle weights).
  19. Better still, exercise at least once every day, even if it just means twirling your pencil around your fingertips, or walking back and forth on your living room floor.
  20. Weigh yourself on a scale (not a meat hook) every day.  This way you will notice when your diet is working, and when it isn’t.
  21. If you have any doubt about the wisdom of these suggestions, see a doctor.  He or she will agree with every word here, especially about building a world-class weight room on the side of your house.  While you’re at it, build an Olympic-size swimming pool in your backyard.  Not only will you be as fit as Olympic, Gold-medal-winning, swimmer Michael Phelps, you’ll have many more friends because they’ll be looking to use your pool on hot days.

Follow these steps, and we will see you this summer in Cabo San Lucas strutting around in your Speedo™.  4/25/17.

One positive user review: I lost six, very stubborn pounds in close to two weeks (I have lost 25 pounds to date, I just have to be careful when there are gusty winds).  The major change was greatly reducing a fruit juice — that I was almost downing by the gallon — in favor of the suggested portion size.

One caveat: If you have a lifelong problem with obesity, I really doubt this will get your weight fully back under control.  It might, but somehow I doubt it.  If you have a sweet tooth, or mostly equate happiness with food, you’ll likely need heavier artillery, more potent weapons in the battle of the bulge.

Then you can also try Weight Watchers and Overeaters Anonymous.  I understand the former might involve buying their food, is on a pay-as-you-go basis; while the latter is free, and follows the 12-Step program originally outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous (the former may have elements of the program as well).  The former has trained facilitators, while the latter has self-chosen sponsors.

The drawbacks to Weight Watchers, and these might be deal-breakers, are the relentless calorie counting, and the fact that it is fee-based.  Overeaters Anonymous, because it is 12-Step based, is more informal, but not necessarily any less effective.

I have no information regarding which is more effective.  Good luck!  5/12/17.
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What is cruel to eat?

The line must be drawn somewhere on acceptably humane grub so why not draw it after poultry?  Hogs and cows are huge animals and are high atop the evolutionary ladder, so they really need to be pardoned from the slaughterhouse.  Turkey burgers and turkey bacon can substitute for beef and pork versions.

Even though it’s awful that I’m condemning chickens and turkeys (they are an inexpensive source of protein), they still shouldn’t live their entire lives in cages.  What got the animal slaughter mentality all started is Genesis 1:26: “Have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”  Good job, ancient cave-dwelling, prophecy-writing boneheads.

If you want to go whole hog (pun intended) banning cruelty to animal life, yet still get complete nutrition, then seafood and especially shellfish may be your best option.  Human shellfish consumption does not effect the rest of the marine ecosystem because it lives beneath the sea bottom or has an impervious shell.  Man just needs to be sure that they do not over harvest shellfish to its extinction.  Mollusk consumption has the potential to prevent whale beaching from lack of krill and shrimp, which whales compete with Man as potential food.  Sharks choose people as a food source for the same reason, there is nothing left to eat.

Notice how far apart on the evolutionary tree super-functional
Homo Sapiens is compared to the fish.

Fish are cold-blooded, are far down the evolutionary scale, and have minimal biological functioning — they will never be able to be trained to do anything.  (Dolphins and whales are not fish, they are in the Class Mammalia, they’re mammals).

(This may be reading too much into this, but I once saw a two foot long fish at an aquarium move its eyes — was it a sturgeon?  This implies it knows ahead of time where it wants to go, or what visual intel it would like to acquire, which is very spooky.  As an aside, aquariums and zoos, outside of resuscitating endangered species, function as prisons for animals, especially for the more sophisticated genus.)

I know vegans will want to skin me alive and roast me for winter carnival, but have you ever seen a vegan?  They are uniformly gaunt, and pale — usually you catch them just before they’re put on life support.  Vegans generally have five to eight years to live once they start living off of dandelion sprouts.  They can’t even put salad dressing on their dandelions because that contains dairy products.  The only thing that they’re allowed to eat, is what they forage in their own backyard.  In winter, they eat what was pickled from their backyard in Autumn.  If they run out of pickled weeds, and their lawn is picked clean, they don’t have the strength left to go to the supermarket and buy regular, people food.  Boo hoo on you!

To avoid vegan sickness, a protein-rich, and eco-friendly diet would first include mollusks, then other shellfish second, then smaller fish, and then poultry, in that order.  Eating cows and hogs is for all those heartless Bible thumpers out there.
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The Meaning of those Nutrition Facts Labels

Other Letter’s
Taste of Acadia™
Lobster Roll

OL Lobster Roll Nutrition Fact

In the States, and in many other nations, every food, except those from non-fast food, non-limited menu restaurants, lists its nutritional content on its packaging (guess the font type on the U.S. label — the answer appears at the bottom).

Burning away one gram of fat requires nine calories of energy; while carbohydrates (like starch or sugar) and protein require only four calories.  Burning fat from your body requires more than twice the exercise it would, if pound for pound, your diet was strictly carbs and protein.  Sugar is converted to fat rather readily so if it’s not introduced for immediate use it stays long term in your body as fat.

The human body makes use of twenty amino acids, nine of which are considered essential, they must come from the diet, and they are not produced internally.  These nine together comprise “complete proteins.”  Amino acids are the building blocks of protein like DNA for cell reproduction, and are also much of the cell tissue in developing muscle, among other types of tissue.

Mono- and poly-unsaturated fats are good for your health.  Saturated fats, as found in some hard cheeses, are not as good as unsaturated fats, because they can build plaque inside the arteries.  Trans fat are hydrogenated oils manufactured to increase product shelf life.  To give you some idea of how unhealthy, and even deadly, trans fat is, it will soon be illegal to produce in America (although in a post-apocalyptic world without food production, and with a disregard for long-term health, trans fat will offer utility because of its indefinite shelf life).

(Answer to our Nutrition Facts pop quiz: you win a doughnut if you guessed the panel is typed in Helvetica.)
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All you need is An Other Diet  1/12/16.  It’s the New Year, and you’re packing unneeded extra pounds.  So why not try An Other Diet?  It’s easy to follow, it’s sensible, and there’s no: domineering coaches or boring meetings; weigh-ins or weigh-offs, or threatened weigh-ins or weigh-offs; expensive tithing; memorizing charts and formulas; and neither is there any special equipment such as scales, grow lamps for herbs, or Oprah food.

Here’s An Other Secret: Just stop eating dessert, especially the 500-calorie variety (and almost all of them are); and eat apple sauce, any fruit in its stead, or yogurt.  Fruits and veggies have almost no calories, and plenty of vitamins and minerals.  There is a road back from obesity, and it’s mostly in the last two sentences, although while you’re at it, you might want to seriously think about getting yourself an exercise bike or a treadmill.

All of us at Other were glad we could help — it’s what we do.  We’re going to make weight loss fun, , An Other Diet success stories and we will post them for you.  Whoever loses the most weight gets a trip to see the Other Letter Building, where my squad and I tirelessly work...

Eat less and you lose weight, right?  Well, up to a point, because if you don’t keep eating less and less, or increase the time you exercise, you won’t be losing any more weight.  For a given food intake, and a given amount of exercise, you will reach an equilibrium weight, nothing less.  To reach your desired weight, you have to cut away those parts of your diet that aren’t keeping you alive, such as fats, and processed carbohydrates and sugars.

Making such a bold claim is simple: If you burn no more than the calories you intake, you won’t lose weight.  On the other hand, if you don’t convert any excess food into fat, you won’t gain weight.  When the calories entering and burning up in your body are equal, your equilibrium weight, or the weight you seem to plateau upon, obviously cannot change.  After your weight has plateaued, I would suggest staying four weeks with a new regime, before further lowering your food intake.
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The Next Time You’re in Iowa, You Eat Here  1/23/16.  If you’re heading to parts unknown, and looking for a place for a great meal, why not stop at the Machine Shed?  With six restaurants conveniently located throughout the Midwestern United States (in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois); it is best known as the “Restaurant Honoring the American Farmer.” — and boy, does it ever.  I’ll be having, and I mostly quote from their menu:

Cakes & Everything:  Start your day with a short stack of buttermilk pancakes (and they’ll be sprinkling whole blueberries on mine, or I might even get the Carrot Cake Pancakes), French toast (listed separately, and why people move to the Prairie in the first place: ‘Sourdough French Toast — Made from our award-winning cinnamon rolls in a batter of vanilla, cinnamon, cream and fresh eggs’) or a golden brown waffle along with your choice of two strips of Applewood smoked bacon, southern style sausage (two links or one patty) or a slice of ham. Topped with two ‘AA’ eggs cooked as you like them.”

Little did you know that you can win awards for making exceptional French Toast in the Midwest, I have never heard of Northeastern French Toast winning any awards.

Now, when dining such as this is available, why aren’t Midwesterners all double-wides, to borrow a common weight-loss community expression? — or look like Violet Beauregard, the experimental-blueberry pilferer, in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?

Back to grazing:

The Covered Bridge:  Shaved turkey, ham, corned beef and Swiss with 1000 Island dressing and coleslaw on marble rye.”

Reviewing the menu for your visit you notice that only one of the six restaurants doesn’t suggest reservations.  Can you imagine a place known mostly for lunch suggesting reservations?  “Oh, I know someone who can get us into the Machine Shed.  I know Farmer MacDonald.”  Your date sighs.

Keep in mind, depending upon how you count the Great Lakes, the Midwest is entirely landlocked, so seafood is mostly limited to pond-raised Catfish, and Canadian Walleye.  I guess you could go with the Northern Atlantic Cod, and the trucks might get it there in time.  I doubt they’d be flying it in though — to what, Davenport International?

You are in beef country so looky-here what is on the lunch menu:

Haybaler Top Sirloin:  We cut this Certified Angus Beef steak from the center of the top sirloin. It is the Beef Producers most flavorful steak.  Available in a 6, 9 or 14 oz.”
The Dinner Menu offers, get this, a portion of an entire pound of beef:
Shed Burger:  The Biggest Burger in town (no, in the World).  Two half pound Certified Angus Beef® patties topped with your choice of American, Swiss, Cheddar or Iowa Maytag Blue cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato and crispy onion rings.”
(The Maytag Dairy Farm, I discovered, has made blue cheese since 1941 under the auspices of the appliance titan’s unusually ambitious grandsons — I mean why not just stop at quality kitchenware?  Isn’t blue cheese just more headaches?)

Next time you’re in Iowa, Wisconsin, or Minnesota be sure to stop in and eat like the farmers do.  Best to be aware, they probably burn up a lot of carbs feeding the cows and planting stuff, so don’t eat as much as your neighbor does.  Just tip your well-worn, John Deere baseball cap you picked up in Nebraska at him, and don’t cause any trouble.  Oh, and tell ’em Other, from the Other Letter family of blogs, sent you.  They might give you a discount of some kind or another.

By the way, I’m considering launching a section entitled, An Other Vacation, about all that makes a vacation, Other.  , and we might just set you up in a prestigious hotel somewhere (but don’t count on it — you know, IRS regs on free stays).
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A Beginner’s Guide to Herbal Tea  2/06/16.  With all this frosty weather we’ve been having this winter, it’s time to break out the herbal Chamomile tea (cinnamon-apple is just as nice, or wild berry, too).

Here are a few preparation notes: a teaspoon of honey is a nice addition; the tea bag can be wrung out by wrapping the string around the teaspoon, or the spoon can be pressed against the tea bag.  One can pour in a tablespoon of cold water after it has fully steeped for three minutes so you don’t burn your tongue, although by then it likely won’t cause burning anyway.

Herbal tea is very satisfying, and can be drank by anyone of any age, any time of day.  It can also take the place of a light, late-night yogurt, or a heavy, wicked whoopie pie (wicked as in New England; pie as in your personal ticket to obesity; whoopie as in WTF, that's good, but I weigh more since the whoopie pie entered my life)...

A few additional notes since this edition went to press: the entire OL crew and extended family is getting deep into Rooibos Honeybush tea, direct from South Africa to your dinner table (if it is good enough for South Africa’s Charlize Theron, it is good enough for you).  Trader Joe’s has a variety, but I would guess you can find it elsewhere.  It is more full-bodied than Chamomile, and you will likely find it to be more satisfying.

Another aside: while the tea steeps, to avoid piling up dishes such as saucers in the dish-washing machine, and not have your teaspoon be as hot as blazes, balance the spoon atop the cup.
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A Kid’s Bucket List

All kids should do several things while they are young, because it may be much more difficult to do so later in life.  They should try to play at least one sport, and one musical instrument.  Lacking any significant melodic ability makes one better suited for rhythmic instruments such as the drum kit, bongo drums, or the tambourine.  Bowling is a sport, although soccer might be the best one because of its athleticism and general lack of injuries compared to football and baseball.

Children should swim in a large body of water, or at least in a pool.  They should go fishing at least once, preferably off the back of a boat.  Hunting is sadistic, but fish are so low in the food chain that fishing is wholesome fun, although after a while, if you’re like me, you start feeling kind of sorry for the fish that are caught (and the detriment to nature of overfishing everywhere).

Another enjoyable kid activity is growing a garden for at least one season.  While this may be entirely unavailable, another bit of fun is sitting on the back of a moving motorcycle or moped.  And last, visit an amusement park, to check out the roller coaster, but mostly, my favorite, to drive around in the bumper cars.

While a kid growing up in North America, or in Europe, may have the opportunity to do all these activities, children in the Third World may never get the chance to do any of them.  (By the way, I don’t advise children professionally, I just had a nice childhood, and this is some of what I liked to do.)
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You versus the Mosquito, the End Game

Mosquito Foreword: Let’s cut to the chase.  Keep alcohol swabs in the glove compartment of your car when you go out, and rub them on the mosquito bites.  The swabs are also good when you’re out and about, and you want to wash your hands, but you’re not near a bathroom.

Regularly Scheduled Programming: Does this sound all too familiar?  You have been bitten by a mosquito.  You scratch the bite, you itch the bite, you apply salves and cold compresses, you’re rushed to the ER, if you live near swamps, say in Florida, you’ve even taken aspirin or oxycontin, but you get no real relief.

Yet have you tried soap suds, then water, on the punctured surface?  That does the trick for me (although water alone may not be enough).  When a ravenous mosquito bites you, it is putting irritating toxins from its saliva on the surface of your skin.  Washing the toxins away, makes the itch go away as well.  This is promising yet not proven to combat malarial mosquitoes, but I believe I’m on track to cure malaria before Bill “legacy-fixer” Gates does.  Just thought I’d share that with you.
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The ALS Ice-bucket Brigade is a Worthy Endeavor...

But it is hardly the worthiest.  I would just hate to spoil all your bucket of ice-water fun, but ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, effects only one or two out of 100,000 people each year, or one-thousandth of one percent.  Compare this with cardiovascular diseases which kills 30% of the population, respiratory infections or diseases which ends the lives of 13% of the population worldwide, or cancers which kill 12% of humanity.  Diseases specific to the Third World such as malaria, tuberculosis, and diarrhea end 8% of lives there.

Hate to rain on your parade, folks, but there may be more pressing public health issues, effecting a wider population, and deserving earlier triage, at least from a statistical perspective.  The marketing whizzes that have made ALS a household name with this campaign should go back and create similar eye-openers for the rest of pathology.  I know this must be another wet blanket for a World that seems to be suffering a lot recently (but children, life was much, much cheaper during the Vietnamese War years), and at least the Brigadiers’ compassionate hearts are in the right place.  They are spreading a lot of sunshine, but they just might consider spreading it a little further around, because ALS is not the only malady needing the spotlight.
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The Hippocratic Oath is hardly a Vow of Poverty

What does a medical practitioner do when business is down, and when the waiting room is empty?  What does a doctor do when he’s a doctor looking for work?  He could perform his specialty on those that may not exactly require his ministrations.  What else can he do?  Close the shop?  Sell the house?  If nothing else, he can rely on his repeat customers.

Why not offer painkillers that require regular refills?  The Gastroenterologist could decide, it’s finally time for that colonoscopy he always said you needed.  The Oncologist could prescribe a single mastectomy, or just to be sure there is no metastasis elsewhere, make that a double.

Sure this may sound like malpractice, but it’s motivation is not criminal, it is only economic survival.  Say it’s a slow day at your favorite doctor’s office, yet bills still need to be paid, so an unwarranted procedure is performed.  Couldn’t this just be passed off as preventive medicine?  The patient cannot interpret any tests, how could she possibly decide any costly surgical remedy is not required?  Insurance carriers might pick up the unnecessary work in an audit, but then again, they might not.  The doctor will advise you, there is one hope, the only hope, the excision.

syringe with blood droplets

Doctors and hospital administration will say, this suggestion is barbaric, we are only here to heal the sick.  No, in for-profit medicine there is a price-tag attached.  They may be motivated by altruism, but they can easily have just a strong profit motivation.  The Hippocratic Oath is hardly a vow of poverty.  Capitalist medicine has a rather significant limitation, the doctor’s and hospital’s wealth takes precedence before your health does.

With a national health plan of the kind Japan, Western Europe, and Canada offers every one of its citizens, this economic imperative of medicine for-profit is no longer in play.  National coverage insures the health and wealth of everyone involved in the health care delivery process.  Then regardless of caregiver — hospital, group practice, and practitioner — there is no longer an incentive to give people unnecessary, invasive, yet highly profitable ministrations.

This is not to say every doctor’ conduct is prescribed by the dollar sign, only to say that for-profit medicine favors those most motivated to make a buck, however contraindicated by good health and well being.

The doctor knew, why not the patient?  2/02/10.  By now everyone must have heard the story about Heidi Montag, the woman that just had ten plastic surgeries.  She is only 23, looking at the pre-op pictures I do not know why she would do this to herself.  I wonder if the doctor was Heidi’s ally and only looked out for her best interests, or was he instead just looking to pay off his Mercedes.

Introductory Flu Shots, Act Now  2/03/10.  My family and I have never had flu shots.  None of us have ever had the flu.  All these medical centers sure promote their vaccination services.  I wonder how much of the health sector of the economy is devoted to flu vaccination and remedy.  Serves to remind us all that doctors do work miracles, best to pay yours a visit soon.

The Value — Erogenous or Reproductive — of a Pair of Breasts  5/22/11.  Looking beyond the considerable erogenous appeal of women’s breasts, their surgical removal, when employed as a last resort against cancer, is a topic worthy of dispassionate discussion.

Breasts are skin sacks filled with milk glands, whose sole purpose from an evolutionary standpoint, is to feed toddlers.  When removed via mastectomy, men get very upset.  So in this age of vanity-driven insecurity, women get upset right along with them.

Makes one wonder why the actress, Christina Applegate, with her double mastectomy, is not getting more work.
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Fire like Ice, July Heat like January Frost

Cold is only a skin sensation, just as heat is.  With all their self-serving, dire warnings, a legion of doctors have made many of us fear our bodies, we no longer trust our own internal instincts.  Heat is never feared, why is cold always feared?  Hypothermia and heat prostration are not given equal stead.  Our ancestors did not have this bias towards temperature, otherwise they would never have survived their winters.

You may say mind over thermometer cannot work, but next time you want a short, brisk walk, try walking to your car in thirty degree weather with an open winter jacket.  If you just notice the skin sensation of cold air, it is little different in intensity from that of 95 degree heat.  Don’t be dumb though, ten degrees and a sub-zero wind chill is really time to cozy up inside.


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Magic Johnson’s Immunity to AIDS

Earvin “Magic” Johnson played basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers for fourteen years.  The world took pause, when just before the 1991-1992 season, he was diagnosed HIV positive.  With Mr. Johnson’s tragic diagnosis, the perception of HIV’s successor, AIDS, shifted away from that of a disease that only affected gay men.  Now it was viewed as a disease that could infect anyone, especially those with African ancestry.

At the time he got the blood results that he was HIV positive, his wife was already two months pregnant with their second child, Earvin III.  Given the vast majority of AIDS infections are freely transmitted through unprotected sex, it must have been divine intervention that his wife and Earvin III have both been tested HIV negative.

Magic Johnson and AIDS

When it comes to STDs, Magic
is a little more than just magic.

Fast forward eighteen years and Magic starts this season as studio analyst for ESPN’s NBA Countdown program.  After ten to twenty years, most people are dead that have what Magic has.  HIV comes in one of two major strains.  Magic has the exact same pathogen that most anyone who has ever died from the infection has.  Isn’t he just doing very, very well with managing the syndrome?

Or is he?  Say the blood test was a false positive — he tested positive for HIV but he never had the virus.  Say they were just having a little fun back in the lab.  That would be so unethical, no phlebotomist could ever think of doctoring these results.  But what if that lab tech was a million dollars richer?  Would he give a false positive then?  Then who would pay the employee at the lab?  Say, just say, an ambitious middle manager at Ortho Biotech, the maker of Prezista, a leading remedy; or a Lexiva sales manager at GlaxoSmithKline looking to top quotas.

You’ll say that’s all just plain crazy, why would anyone give Magic a false positive?  They would because Magic becomes the ideal poster patient for HIV treatment.  Mr. Johnson is heterosexual, he’s extremely well known and well liked, he is black, and he will listen to doctors.

Because he is heterosexual, the market for the remedy increases ten fold over it just being a homosexual remedy.  Because he is well known, he spreads the word around — it is a treatable plague, a medication-responsive virulence.  Because he is black, an increasingly African people will agree to the treatment.  And because he’s modest and a respectful role model, we, too, will obey our doctor’s orders after they pass along the news of our terminal illness.

Who knows if Magic really has HIV?  If Magic’s nose were to start bleeding on ESPN’s NBA Countdown, I seriously doubt anyone on the set would leave their seat.
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How Royalty prevents Inbreeding

Royalty love and marry each other, this is how they stay royalty.  As to why Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles do not look like Appalachian genetic mutations from the movie Deliverance, no one can say for certain.  Princess Diana was also from royalty, yet for all intents and purposes, she was next to perfect.

How can they all be God’s gift?  How can Lady Diana be God’s gift to the world; and Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles be God’s gift to each other?  How can they all be reproduced after one’s own kind, and still without a hare’s lip between them?  The citations in the literature are surprisingly scant.

This we know.  There are few, if any, portraits of royalty with genetic anomalies common to inbred parents.  No princes with six-fingered hands, no long-tailed princesses.  Considering royalty much prefers physical relations with their own kind, their genetic health is remarkable, even miraculous.

To expand their sphere of influence one royal blood line can marry into another.  This does help to mitigate the possibility of birth defects.  At the same time royal breeding can have strategic implications.  If the mother is British royalty, and the father Danish, their child can cement an alliance against Germany.


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Elixirs of Life, and Victuals that Replenish



Bud and Johnny hang with Herb and Mary Jane

In fourteen months, nearly 2,000 Mexican drug murders, all so United States citizens can have a ready supply of their favorite, and expensive, illegal drug.

If these drugs were cheap and legal, everyone would be happy, everyone except pedal to the metal Bud.  This country cozies up with their legal intoxicators, the Kings of Booze, and the connected gin mills.

If we had a marijuana policy similar to Canada’s, the roads would be safer, the underworld’s windfall would be limited to the markup on top shelf, and our prisons wouldn’t be filled to the rafters.  Canada has joined Europe in a harm-reducing, demand side reduction, approach to drug policy.

The United States is standing by its wildly successful drug prohibition, maximize incarceration, zero tolerance methods, the most unforgiving in the world.  What the Drug Enforcement Administration fails to recognize is the obvious — the day drugs became illegal, a ferociously lucrative black market became both possible and unstoppable.

marijuana cigarette

jug of wine

Unstoppable, that is, unless the profit motive is removed.  This war in Mexico proves we have almost won the war on drugs.  In return for protection, every Latin American will work the plantain plantation instead of the cocoa, and decide on staying in poverty instead of escaping it forever.  What sacrifice?  We only require they bend to our will.  Hey, converting hearts and minds almost worked in Viet Nam.

This is not to say one drug is better than another, it’s only to say your government should not play favorites; and then act unfittingly, with guns blazing.  Further, by criminalizing a drug bought and sold in large measure by blacks, American drug policy indefinitely prolongs the impoverishment first brought by slavery.

One more note, many say marijuana is a gateway drug to more potent anesthesia.  If they knew anyone that’s tried marijuana though, I can almost guarantee that their gateway drug was alcohol.  And in 2002, the last year statistics were available, there were 1.5 million new cannabis smokers under 18.  At the same time, there were 3.8 million new, American drinkers under 18.

That aside, and at the risk of overstating the obvious, drugs of any kind will never improve your life, even problem-free use.  Continued, regular, non-experimental usage has the potential to make your life more and more difficult, both for you, and for those around you.  All that can be said is if you need them to make you feel better, something is amiss in your life.  As anyone at AA or NA will attest, their life began once they licked these vicious habits.


The Drug Sermon on the Mount  3/18/13.  The problem with drugs is that for them to work best, you really need them to work, you are already at a deficit.  No, thanks.  I have a general idea of what drugs are about.  I could be wrong, but most of the visual effects can be attributed to dilated pupils.  And they can take over your mind.  That’s why some people like them, that is why I dislike them.  If they take over your mind, how do you know they will give it back when they are done?

There are mind-altering drugs that can mess you up for good, and there are softer drugs.  The main problem is that they can be extremely addictive.  All of them can be — alcohol, marijuana, even caffeine.  Although you probably will not be looking forward to the weekend so you can ingest some caffeine.  Marijuana is probably safe — although you have to turn your lungs into an air-tight tank, and because of the tar, it has to effect your lung capacity (Olympic swimming Gold-medalist Michael Phelps did not smoke weed regularly, or did he?)  No one needs drugs to be happy, circumstances do change.  Used long-term, any drug is not healthy.  Some can kill you, or drive you completely insane — even alcohol can give you the one of the worst side effects of all, DTs or delirium tremens, water on the brain.  What’s more, your life can be reduced to copping drugs — until you cop them from an undercover cop.

If you smoke tobacco you will be doing so all day, every day, and anywhere, cars included.  Tobacco smokers, on average, lose 14 years of their life, and account for one in five premature, preventable deaths.  Tobacco kills the equivalent of three jumbo jets packed with passengers, crashing every day, without survivors.  Given the number of deaths caused from tobacco and the number of deaths caused from an overdose of aromatically-sweet marijuana — why is tobacco legal, advertised and sold everywhere, while giggling pot users are sobered to tears when handed down stiff jail sentences?  I will say this though, if you are getting high every day, you are really messed up, you are burning out, or you will be.  And be well aware that over time, cannabis use has been known to lower ambition and mental capacity (a celebrity or two quickly comes to mind whose usual functioning is always compromised from being an avid doper).

When you are young and have a developing mind is when the pressure is greatest to do the stuff.  There is also no place to do this when you are young.  If you get caught, you are screwed.  If you are really inclined to do this, wait until you are older.  By then, you probably won’t even be interested anymore.  And if you wait for college, you probably cannot do it on campus either.  Then I hope you like deep-woods camping trips (beats lighting up inside a movie theater any day).  From those I have known, the people who really get into this are from families where it was more than tolerated, it was accepted, or even encouraged — this is really not meant for the uninitiated or the very sensitive.  Another thing to consider is that whomever you are buying from will probably want to keep the really potent stuff for himself.  These ambitious entrepreneurs are generally not recommended by the Better Business Bureau.  Or just find someone to date.  There, there’s my sermon.  Don’t tell me I did not tell you so.

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Philly and Newfie Mummers’ Parades

If you’re a Newfie from Newfoundland, or from Philly in the States, you know about mummers.  With a celebration dating before the Nineteenth Century, men dress like women, and women dress like men; partyers go door to door getting grog, cake, or even stew.  It is a kind of trick or treat for the unsatiated and the post-parade-satisfied.  Philadelphian Kevin Bacon, perhaps best known for Diner and Animal House fame, has played a significant role in support of the Mummers, having often performed at their benefits.

Technically speaking, a mummer is a seasonal actor in a folk play.  With the parades, the term means that they perform as: Comics, Fancies, String Bands, or Fancy Brigades.  The Comics are the often inebriated clowns (the Wench Brigades are their offshoot); the Fancies strut with a backing band; the non-amplified reed, string, and percussion String Bands are fan favorites; and Fancy Brigades have the largest crews and floats.

The unofficial song and lyrics for the Newfie Mummers was written by Bud Davidage of a band called Simani, and it succeeds at being both hedonistic and respectful.  With their call “Any Mummers ’lowed in?” they descend on homes of friendly fellow Newfies, even Granny plays a part.  Then the merriment must finally come to a close:

“Good night and good Christmas, Mummers me dears
Please god we will see you next year
(if the Newfie winter doesn’t freeze us solid).”

Newfie Mummers’ Song by Simani

Philly 2013 Mummers’ Parade

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An End to DWI

beer mug

Wouldn’t it be great if taverns allowed their patrons to sleep it off in their parking lot.  A sign outside the bar would simply read “If you can’t walk the line, sleep it off in your car.”

The current system almost encourages DWI - if I drink too much and want to get home, I need to drive drunk.  And taxis can be shunned as embarrassing or too expensive.

The argument against overnight parking, that a DWI conviction shortens the path to sobriety and Alcoholics Anonymous, really is without merit; that drunken path will more than likely lead to casualties. 

By saying this, I am not supporting underage drinking, or people getting inebriated more often — that, of course, is up to the individual and their ability to exercise free will.  And experimentation is one thing, watching this become a lifetime salve is quite another.  Obviously, it’s not healthy, physically or emotionally.

On the other hand, if given this overnight parking safety allowance and you still drive drunk, you really belong in jail.  You cannot be trusted behind the wheel, and you show no regard for human life.  So before you park your car on the lawn, you owe it to yourself to check out A. A. and the Twelve-Step programs.

I’ll play the devil’s advocate one more time; take slow, local roads and you may not break your neck, or spend the night at the precinct.  If you find yourself following this advice, the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous awaits.  They can help keep you clean and sober.


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Rediscovering the People Kennel

WARNING: this recently uncovered, deposition excerpt is of a disturbing nature, anything you have ever experienced at Halloween will seem tame by comparison.

first People Kennel of seven

Bulletproof kennel #1 of 7, the spacious breeder, with a fresh coat of snow.
— Photo c. 1962, four years after it was closed by a
now declassified, FBI sting operation.

“You’ll never believe this — I have pictures of the People Kennel while it was still open!”

“No way, that’s impossible, the guards would have thrown the camera into the river ... They would never have allowed it.”

“They allowed it for the Governor’s visit.”

No one has photos of the Governor’s visit!”

“Right here, one roll, 24 photos of Governor White’s hush hush inauguration of the People Kennel, all to keep Sycamore Psychiatric beds full and in the budget.”

“Break ’em in photos?

“Of hookers, alkies, and blacks, well on their way to becoming lifers at Sycamore.”

“He visited in winter, right?  Those must be outdoor, winter shots.”

“Yes, even Nazis had nothing on us.”

“Growing up I always heard, ‘just give it another 80 years, and we will return all the camps to production.’”

Graffiti of five bloodthirsty bats

Swarms of bloodthirsty bats (identified as such by graffiti nearby),
served as gatekeepers to the Kennel’s haunted past.
— Photo c. 2006, graffitied a second time since then.

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Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital, 1972 fire

An often volatile, charged atmosphere
(c. 1972, courtesy Kings Park Museum)

Home, Sweet Home, for Some  4/13/11.  Given I have the afternoon free, I’m taking a look outside a slated-to-be-bulldozed, locked and shuttered, psychiatric hospital.  Beneath a window sill, I notice institutional toothpaste — toothpaste not for resale and not manufactured for stores.  So whoever was inside this window could not buy regular toothpaste, they had the donated, handout variety.  Visitors never brought them branded toothpaste.  Why?  Because no one ever visited them.

They had to have been here for years.  Some spent rec time in the basement (on a lark, poking around inside).  They left a plastic Nativity scene positioned to be alit in a beam of winter’s afternoon sunlight.  God’s promised warmth must have felt impossibly far away, though.  Their prayers for recovery and their cries for help, never answered, or even heard.

For the ones never leaving the ward, at the top of the steps was a bricked, roofed, and wired cage, tall enough to stand up inside.  The third story, rooftop views were impressive, and climbing the stairs offered exercise, then fresh air, for the well-behaved and the nicotine-addicted.

Psychiatric exemptions from the Viet Nam draft might well have given institutions a boost in occupancy.  Possibly an acid flip out, long term hospitalization, and your family will pick up the pieces in a few years, alive and kicking.

Most surely had fond, lasting memories of their recovery here.  Although, whatever way they got in, after just poking around, they only wanted a way back out.
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Just Food for Thought


Cézanne's Still Life with Quince, c. 1885




The Small Dictionary of Hate

The joyous excitement of the Holiday Season is here at last, as the mad, gift buying rush kicks into high gear.  Every shopping mall is packed elbow to elbow with shoppers on parade, their slow saunter reminiscent of the Bataan Death March.  All the while very young, darling children scream for their mother, for Santa, or for their new found glee from discovering how much noise their lungs can make.

Briefly imagine a fellow, irate shopper directing a comment towards you that matches winter’s weather (cold and icy), with your reaction not far a field from the one in Edvard Munch’s The Scream.  So let us defuse this snarling beast’s angry evil, and spend a few moments translating this hate, or even worse, this hate crime, to its root.

Mouse over for Explanation
& Click through for Story

Edvard Munch's The Scream. Nearby, the slaughterhouse and the madhouse, check the screamer's one piece clothing. That's a runaway, and the runaway's 'friends.' It's round-up time.

Gravely Tested On The Promenade,
Edvard Munch’s The Scream, c.1893

Bad-mouthing someone as “a fag” or “a faggot” is a form of bullying or harassment, and, depending on its usage, can be considered prosecutable fighting words, or a hate crime.  Essentially this is an obscenity describing a man who enjoys sexual fantasies about other men.  A loser is someone who loses or seems fated to lose, perhaps through lack of moral resolve.  The psycho, or psychopath, has a personality disorder evidenced by aggressively antisocial behavior; while a creep does a lot of creeping, hence the name.

Hearing of hate crimes by their children must make their red-nosed Moms beam with pride, even getting a little teary; after all this was hatred first sown while they were only a glint in their mother’s eye.  Though one gets the feeling they were not raised by their folks, and instead were raised by a pack of desperate, fanged, and clawing wolves.

Onwards and downwards to the nastiest, most cutting word of all.  So nasty it can never be said in polite company.  If you are white and the comment is directed at you, it means absolutely nothing.  If you are darker skinned though, the remark is inhuman — inhuman of the speaker, and inhuman because that’s the word’s meaning.  It conjures up the days when one’s minority ancestors were beaten slaves, and pro-slavery statutes were the law of the land.  Sadder still, there is very little comparable, verbal retaliation for such a remark.

Returning to talk that can be handled by mortals.  The strongest verbal evil in the white man’s world is maternal copulater and rooster sucker.  The first implies that you inbreed, the second — again, a popular theme — you are male and sexual fantasies including Charlize Theron offer no release.

Besides the speech of hate, there are the haters themselves.  These bona fide sociopaths claim they possess the familiarity of a brother or sister (albeit completely estranged).  With supposed insider info, they serve up meaty portions of character assassination.  Families of the just would never speak in such tones.  The good do not conduct themselves in this manner.  Those that do need our prayers, if nothing else but to help the victim put the matter to rest.

Back to the vernacular of venom.  By announcing one is a “freak,” the immoral are pulling rank, sophistication rank.  With entirely questionable justification, they will maintain they are paragons of sophistication, somehow knowing you lack all discernment.  Hardened, monotone barkers, attempting to pass themselves off as class acts, have been known to prefer this form of abuse as it is featured prominently in their vocabulary.

For Lex Luther and friends, delivering hate is one of their kind’s finest pleasures in life, identifying their brand’s unholy scar and trademark.  The mean love hating, this is how they get off, this is their preoccupation.  The cutting words are quick to the tongue, because they are always on the tongue.

Next, we have daggers poised over the mentally ill, or those being pushed at knife point in that general direction.  These include house-of-horror fun advising an individual they are “mental,” “a head case,” “need help,” “messed up,” “not all there,” “a suicide,” “a train wreck,” and “a psycho.”  While cathartic for Doctor Pain — the ministration administrator — his or her patients have decided these are crippling.  For the good Docs’ part though, isn’t it their business to keep the ones on the fringes toeing the line?  Yeah, sure.  They’re not keeping down their next victim in an effort to bolster their own ego?

Then there is the politely impolite.  Were someone to say “You’re scary,” they are actually remarking that they themselves are scared.    There are also snobbish comments disparaging your economic condition, you look poor or you must be jobless.

The Dick or the a*h* may deserve their swear words when they make demands, or maintain expectations, that are entirely unreasonable.  When disrespectful or overbearing, these demands or expectations remain unmet, obviously for very good reason.

More entries for this Small Dictionary of Hate.  Sluts and whores can have sex just as many times as an attached woman, but with many more partners.  Whores are similar to sluts, although whores generally do it to pay her bills or her pimp’s, while sluts mistake their need for love as being desire for sex.

What is meant when a significant other says: “You’re cooked,” “You’re done,” “You’re through,” “You’re finished,” or “You’re dead”?  They have decided that the way you conduct yourself is detrimental to the continued functioning of the group.  So either you desist or you ply your trade elsewhere.  “You’re dead” adds the fanciful onus of being stalked by a murderer, or of someone significant claiming you have reached the end of your ambitions.  If this is only meant as hard-edged advice, then it should be imparted in a way any partially sensitive, mature adult can calmly understand, instead of being delivered as insulting accusation (or even, as death threat).

Next we have the “I am smarter than you” line of hate.  Favorites from this chapter of neo-Nazi eugenic delight include: retard, s*h*, bonehead, and “s* for brains.”  If only God could someday switch places between the obscenity-spewing super genius and the nice person.  The nice person would can the meanness though and just become a super genius, if genius is what the gentler one wanted.

Taken from Man’s anatomy, a weenie — or the less derisive, and more formal, wiener — is someone who cannot accomplish even minor tasks.  When loyalty is needed, a weiner fails to demonstrate it, one cannot depend upon them.  The wiener has been known to be warm, but now is often cold, they equivocate by always taking both sides, and lack any appropriate emotion.  A wiener can be a regular at ball games, although they obsessively concern themselves with trifles such as whether, off-guard, they will get hit by a foul tip.

A wuss, of course, is a cross between a wimp and a pussy.  A wimp, or the whimping, has balked at crucial endeavor, rock climbing for instance.  A pussy is a male who has been whipped into a woman.  A wuss, then, is a trans-gender rock climber with cold feet.

A nerd is how someone stupid often refers to an intellectual.  A murderous nerd is how someone stupid describes an intellectual who’s overheard what someone stupid’s been saying about them.  A murderer is someone who has murdered someone.  Translated metaphorically as a figure of speech, a “murderer” is someone grossly callous.

When someone, stranger or no, says “You are gay,” on the surface they are saying “You are a male homosexual.”  Why a mature, hetero male does not just completely laugh this off is because the insulter is trying to say two things at once.  That in addition to being a male homosexual, you are without value and socially incompetent, you have never made it with anyone.  I doubt if calling someone gay constitutes a hate crime, although it can hurt straights as much as being called a fag.

“Gay-boy” adds the element of immaturity to the hater’s homosexual repertoire.  At this point, the vulgar are high and dry, so badly in need of a take down fix, they’ll reach deep, deep down into their bag of tricks.

Topping off the list: when someone tries to settle a score by saying “We’re young,” it implies, “We lack maturity; we act like self-centered teenagers, praying for a free, permanent buzz to take us out of our misery.”

Don’t forget, “You have problems.”  Either this means you have your work cut out for you, or this means you have to deal with matters that I, by providence or good fortune, need not consider.

Now if this doesn’t get you in the Holiday spirit, what else will?
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Prayer of Saint Francis (Early Proposal)

I will take care of Number One.

Where there is hatred,
I will bring my baseball bat;

Where there is injury,
I will bring my lawyer;

Where there is discord,
I will shout the loudest;

Where there is error,
It is not mine;

Where there is doubt,
I will brag;
Where there is despair,
I will be cocky;

Where there is darkness,
I will buy up the flashlights;

Where there is sadness,
I will sell booze.

I will gain:
if others feel sorry for me and
give me things and
can’t figure out my game.

For; finders keepers,
getting is good,
and I will live forever.



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Prayer of Saint Francis (Final Edit)

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;

that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong,
     I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather
to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.

For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.





Dinners even a Bachelor can cook

As featured in Marillon’s Epicurean Delightful

An Other Food Feature: today, romaine hearts preparation.  Score the heart from top to bottom, then cut the remaining leaves in half as well.  Next, cut the three sets of leaves (of one heart) at one-inch intervals.  Clean them by running water over them full bore in a colander for 30 seconds.  This recipe comes from a former professional chef, to whom I am actually related.  This makes enough for two to three servings.

These recipes are for the people with so few kitchen skills, it is a wonder that they do not look like Holocaust or Syrian refugees, or that they are not on a first name basis with every employee on every shift of their primary fast-food restaurant.

Another aside, I know that any of those cooking shows put me completely to shame; it’s just that they put you to shame in the process.  What they can whip up in twenty minutes would take anyone else the better part of an afternoon.  Do you have fresh fennel in your produce bin?  How many markets did you need to hit before you had all the ingredients for Julia’s beef bourguignon?

So move over Rachel, stand back Gwyneth, roll over Julia, and step aside Martha, a new day has dawned on the World’s kitchens:



The Garden Omelet (even with pears or apples)

Some guys think of ways to not look like they drink beer competitively, and go on crash marathon training.  Personally, I eat well, and look for ways to knock Gwynnie off the top of the New York Times Bestseller List, and now I am sure I have it.  That’s right, a garden omelet, with either veggies or apples.  While many look at their trophy mantel stacked high with bowling trophies, and say, “That’s it, I can go no further.”  I say, once I have succeeded beyond even the mighty Gwyneth, there will be no mountains left to climb.  Lord, amen.

Two eggs per diner
Two tabs of butter
One medium zucchini (three to a package); AND,
Ten halved grape tomatoes; OR, a medium-sized tomato; OR, six cherry tomatoes; OR,
One medium apple

Dice zucchini on a cutting board.  Either cut grape tomatoes in half; dice medium tomato; or core, peel, then dice an apple.  If you want your dish to not taste, well, like crud, make sure your fruit or veggies are ripe and flavorful (which you can sample ahead of time to be sure).  Of the types of tomatoes I have tried with this recipe, the full medium-size ones tastes best.

Put two tabs of butter in a frying pan, then preheat it at medium-high heat for five minutes.  Break open two eggs per diner, and whisk together with a fork.  Pour eggs into frying pan, then pour in either the tomatoes and zucchini, or the diced apple.  Cook two and one half minutes on one side, or until moist yet not runny.  Then use a spatula to flip the omelet over, and cook it for a minute on the other side.  Break up the eggs with the edge of a spatula.

Serve hot, with potato such as french fries, or hash browns.  Frozen polenta or risotto also works well.



Pan-seared Scallops

Pan-seared Scallops, the name conjures up the finest of dining experiences, doesn’t it?  Well, what if you knew of an easy way to make them for your own dinner table?  Too much to believe?  Think you’re already in way over your head?  Then, just read on.

3/4 Cups of Panko, Japanese-style Bread crumbs (this is negotiable, you can use any bread crumb, although seasoned ones will impart a flavor you might not want)
Frozen 4 to 8 Ocean Scallop Meats per Diner (10 to 20 bay scallops)
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Recommended Side dishes:
Home Fries
Peas with Pre-peeled Pearl Onions

To defrost the scallop meats, cover them with lukewarm water in a large bowl for a half hour (using cold water will further freeze your scallops into a softball-size clump).  Next, pour the EVOO into a medium-size frying pan, and set it at medium-well.  Put roughly 3/4 cups of breadcrumbs into a dish.  Then one at a time, bread the scallops by rolling them in the breadcrumbs until they are entirely covered.

Next, place the meats into the frying pan one-by-one.  Cook them for 5 minutes (4 minutes for bay scallops both sides), then turn them over with a spatula, and cook them another 5 minutes.  Serve them while they’re still hot.

This is an advanced, elaborate technique I developed when I was Professor Emeritus and the Chair of the Appetizer Department at the Culinary Institute of Manhattan: Grate the peppercorns onto the scallops before you turn them over.  This fuses the flavor into the scallop.

Home fries are easy enough to make, I use Trader Joe’s brand, and I just follow the instructions on the label.  Peas are a snap, too.  Place them in a sauce pan with the frozen onions.  Just set the burner on high, and turn them down to low once the water starts boiling.  They should be ready when the scallops are.



Pan-seared Scallops — Not Breaded Version

Sear on both sides for four minutes as above, except use a tab of butter for flavor (a tablespoon) instead of olive oil.  You’ll likely want to grind a few peppercorns over the skillet for added taste so you’ll make up for the absence of breading.

This goes well with a nice and hot marinara (bottled is fine, I like the organic kind ) and a spaghetti such as angel hair.



Oatmeal Supreme

This is a cold weather treat, and like all the recipes Even a Bachelor can Cook, you’ll have no trouble making this, unless you’re faint from hunger.

One packet of plain, instant hot oatmeal (I use Trader Joe’s brand, they can reimburse for my plug here, ask TJ Corporate to see my Contacts section — don’t expect me to wait forever, got that?)
Cinnamon Spice
Handful of Raisins (to taste)
Cup of Trader Joe’s Organic Apple Sauce (this comes in small plastic single-serving containers)

Empty packet of oatmeal into bowl.  Boil water in a kettle, pour over oatmeal.  Shake cinnamon jar a few times over bowl.  Add raisins and the cup of apple sauce.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.  Makes one serving.



Stick-to-your-ribs, Hot Chili

This is a supper that will have you singing hosannas this recipe, just as it will have you feeling fully nourished.  Defrost a half pound of hamburger meat overnight in the refrigerator, or, assuming any pets can’t get at it, leave it out on the kitchen counter two hours before preparation.

Half pound, lean ground beef
Entire can of dark kidney beans, drained (15 oz.)
One and a half cups of marinara sauce
One teaspoon of chili powder (not chili pepper)
One to three garlic cloves (optional)
One medium (tennis-ball-sized) tomato (optional, but adds much flavor)
Half of one, small zucchini (nice addition, but not required)

For meat eaters: in a large frying pan, brown ground beef at medium-high heat.  In the sink, pour off the grease into a tin can or a coffee cup; or if you prefer, the fat of the ground chuck, or chopped sirloin, can be kept in the frying pan for flavor.

If you like garlic, use a knife blade to crunch a few cloves, and remove its husk.  Then dice it and sprinkle it over the pan.  There are approximately five cloves to a bulb, many people prefer no more than one clove.

If making this with tomatoes, cut away the core at the top, then half, then cut into thirds and then dice into, well, dice-size chunks, or a bit larger.  For zucchini, skin with a veggie skinner, then dice.

Lightly cover with marinara sauce (a cup and a half works for me).  Then pour a can of dark kidney beans into the frying pan.  Sprinkle in a teaspoon of chili powder, or just shake the spice container lightly a few times over the pan.  Stir constantly, reducing all ingredients at medium-high heat for five more minutes, or until you feel heat radiating off the chili onto your hand, and the very liquid consistency has become a very moist paste.  Serves two.

This just in:  You can make a meatless chili without the ground beef.  This tastes good, but to enhance the flavor you might want to add short slices of red or green peppers (not the hot variety), besides just the optional tomato or zucchini.



Marriage-saving Stir Fry

The supermarket sells frozen or fresh pre-cooked chicken; for me, frozen is the better bet because you only use what you need, nothing is wasted.  For a high-protein reprise, pour two scrambled eggs over leftovers on medium-high heat.

lifeless hand over cooking, vibrant food

From food’s preparation, life.

Half pound pre-cooked chicken or raw shrimp (frozen, thawed, or cooked)
Two cups frozen stir fry vegetables mix
3 tablespoons stir fry sauce, soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, or Teriyaki sauce
Enough olive oil to very lightly coat a large frying pan
Half a package of Chinese noodles (or 4 ounces)

Comment: large frozen shrimp should be thawed in a bowl of cold water for an hour or two.  This way, they thaw and still do not dry out, or lose any flavor.  Cold water is slower, yet still preferred, as it is not processed by your home heating system.

Very lightly coat a large frying pan or wok with olive oil.  Pour the shrimp or pre-cooked chicken into the pan or wok.  Sautée shrimp on each side until light orange.  Place the noodles in a sauce pan, cover completely with water, then put on high heat.  When boiling, put on low heat for another two minutes, or until soft.  Pour noodles into a strainer.  Put the frozen stir fry vegetables into the pan.  Pour three tablespoons of the sauce of your choice from the four listed above.

Pour the noodles over the ingredients in the frying pan.  Pour two or three tablespoons of stir fry sauce.  With a spatula, stir the results until your palm can feel heat radiating from the stir fry.  It should take five to eight more minutes to cook.  Serves two.



Franks and Boston Baked Beans

Today New England has Legal Sea Food restaurants, seventy years ago it had the Boston Baked Bean Company.  My father still remembers getting baked beans there for the family on a Friday night (of course they only had this treat if Grandpa was working — this was the time of the Great Depression).  He even recollects the finest hotels in Boston included Boston Baked Beans on their menu.  Google makes no mention of them, though.  Anyone know

Four turkey or beef franks
Can of baked beans (15 oz.)
Can of brown bread (optional)
Four to six strips of bacon (optional)

If including bacon, defrost it (that is, soften it) on a frying pan 45 minutes ahead of time.  Pour baked beans into a sauce pan and cook on medium-high heat for five minutes, or until your hand feels heat radiating from the pan’s contents.  Then set to low heat.

At the same time, boil franks in a second sauce pan filled with water.  Reduce heat to medium-high and cook another five minutes or until oil beads up on the surface (some franks’ instructions indicate they’re done when they float).  Pour water into sink.

Only if you have the time: on a cutting board, cut franks width-wise into three-eighth inch sections.  You can give it much better “mouth feel,” as it is known to fast-food engineers, by peeling away the casing from each section.  Reheat them with the beans.

This is all there is to it.  Try with mustard and/or brown bread.  For extra flavor, cook several strips of bacon, and add to sauce pan or serve on the side.  You never thought you would ever see such a complicated recipe for franks and beans.  Enough for two.



Meatloaf, the Dinner

This is a long time favorite with our family.  Goes well with baked potatoes (washed and scrubbed, oven preheated 425 degrees, 45 minutes large potatoes).  One sign of a true chef is completing the main and side dishes simultaneously.

One pound ground beef
One slice bread, crumbled into small pieces
One egg
Splash of Worcestershire Sauce
Two tablespoons of ketchup
One can (not drained) Vegetarian Vegetable Soup (10 oz.)

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, put in a metal loaf pan.  There is no need to grease the pan, but you will be doing yourself a big favor with clean-up if you line the pan with aluminum foil.

If halving the recipe, mix the egg and soup in a separate bowl, then guesstimate what is half, and add that to the main bowl.  Cook uncovered in a 350 degree, pre-heated oven for 40 minutes.



Post Graduation

(Microsoft clip art)

Blue Medal Worthy

If you’ve gotten this far, you have earned your cooking blue medal and no longer need any recipes from me.

More to try: bacon, egg, and cheese Sandwiches, best with pre-sliced, smoked Gouda cheese; bacon, lettuce, and tomato Sandwiches with mayo generously and hedonistically applied to the bread to make it the most flavorful; sliced turkey or canned tuna melts; tuna or egg salad sandwiches with mayo and piccalilli (pickle relish); English-muffin pizzas with chunky marinara and pre-shredded mozzarella.

Baking Powder Biscuits, that junior high classic from home economics, now from a recipe in the renowned Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook, first published in 1948.  Butter right out of the oven, even dunk in a dish of maple syrup, spread on strawberry jam, or spoon on apple sauce.



Second Course - Barbecued Scallops with Garlic Sauce

My aim was to make scallops taste better than the boiled or broiled variety, even better than the fried kind.  To make them less bland, my version uses a soy sauce marinade with chopped garlic to much satisfaction.

If you like this, shrimp or flounder may also be substituted for scallops.  If you are feeling very ambitious, make them kebab style: skewer scallops, cherry tomatoes, pepper slices, and onion quarters, then cook them on a spit instead of on a rack.

You will need an outdoor grill to make these, although I suppose you can broil them instead with similar results.

A dozen ocean scallops, or one and a half dozen bay scallops (fresh or frozen)
Three garlic gloves for larger bulb, five for smaller (approximately five cloves to a bulb)
Two cups sliced broccoli florets (not the stems)
Two tablespoons soy sauce
Two dozen frozen steak fries as a side dish

Finely slice garlic on cutting board.  Marinate scallops in a seal able container with chopped garlic and soy sauce.  Shake for twenty seconds (soaking in a boat-like dish would work as well).  Then put aside for twenty minutes.

Light grill, lower hood, and pre-heat for five minutes at medium.  Pour marinated scallops into aluminum pie pan.  Arrange the steak fries on a second pan, or crimp a heat-dispelling plate from aluminum foil.  Put pie plates on grill rack.

Cover and cook scallops and steak fries for eight minutes.  Next turn them over, cover and cook another eight minutes.  When the scallops are not translucent or see-through, both are ready.  Don’t forget to turn off the oven.  Remove pie pans with baking glove.

Makes two servings, plus any leftovers.



Easy Berry Smoothies, and now with Frozen Berries

Just when you thought home beverage preparation could not get any more intoxicating, comes word of frozen berry smoothies.  Yes, dream on, Gwynnie.  You can’t touch this, Martha.  Who is king of the blueberry hill now?  The flavors introduced using this method easily rival that previously only sampled in Three-Star Michelin haute cuisine bistros for several Benjamins.

Follow the recipe below, but instead of four tablespoons of maple syrup, use three.  Then top off your two cups of milk with a cup of frozen berries.  Your blender will have a “3” cup mark, just fill to this, no need to separately measure the frozen berries.  Last, set your blender to smoothie for a minute instead of 45 seconds.  Let the good times roll...

But not until you try the seltzer, ice cream soda approximate.  Add a cup of seltzer to the creation below, prior to blending.  Doesn’t this concoction bring you back to when girls wore bobby socks with poodle skirts, and guys greased their hair into D-As (translation, imagine a duck, okay, and imagine a duck’s — oh, never mind).

We’ll resume with our regular programming: Be sure the berries are fresh.  Blackberries seem to last longer in the fridge than raspberries.  Blackberries have a richer flavor, raspberries a more subtle one.  Blemishes and under-ripened ends on strawberries should be removed with a knife.

Raspberry and Blackberry Smoothies should be poured through a sieve into the glasses after blending, as they will have small seeds.

Two cups milk
Four tablespoons maple syrup (two tablespoons if including banana)
EITHER An entire 6oz. package of fresh, rinsed raspberries, or blackberries;

OR 3/4, or 12oz., of a 16oz. package of fresh, rinsed strawberries cleaned of stems and blemishes with a paring knife — and optionally, one half of a banana;
OR Half of a pint of fresh, rinsed blueberries;
OR Half of a banana without strawberries.

Dust off and wash blender, if you haven’t used it in years.  Pour ingredients into jar — pour milk first to have the blender function as a measuring cup.  Without the banana, use four tablespoons of maple syrup; with half a banana, two tablespoons of maple syrup.  Cover jar, run at purée, or smoothie setting, for 45 seconds (60 seconds for strawberries).  Makes two drinks (although you may like to double the recipe).  That’s all there is to it.

Key to the Blueberry Smoothie Recipe found!  Instead of taking an entire, 6-ounce package of blueberries and adding it to the 2 cups milk like you would in the new raspberry and blackberry recipe, add just 3 ounces, or half of a package of blueberries to it.  Because the blueberries are fully diluted by the milk, that blueberry sludge issue is avoided.




Heaven-sent Sautéed Zucchini

This is a very simple side dish having everything cooks want most — taste, nutrition, and easy preparation.

Three or four, five-inch-long Zucchini Squash
Two tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Two tablespoons of Soy Sauce

Lightly coat a frying pan with EVOO, and set stove to medium-high.  Peel the skin off the zucchini with a vegetable peeler, then slice it length-wise into quarters or sixths.  Gently place the zucchini in the pan being careful not to splatter the oil.  A few shakes of a soy sauce bottle should be enough flavoring.  Cook for ten minutes so it will be slightly crisp, turning zucchini over once.  Makes two to three servings.




Divinely-inspired Roquefort crumbled over Tossed Greens and Tomato Wedges

Are you looking for something to do with that slab of Roquefort you just bought?  Is it still too soft to be a doorstop?  If you ask Gwyneth, you know where she would tell you to put it?  That’s right, over your salad greens with the Ranch dressing you have sitting in the fridge.

Make your own dressing:
Russian = 1 part mayo + 1 part catsup
Thousand Island = Russian + ½ part of piccalilli

Why not crumble your Roquefort — the most authentic, tasteful, blue cheese — on Romaine or Endive salads with creamy, Ranch dressing?  You can twirl a fork into the Roquefort to crumble it.  I would not, however, try this with vinaigrette, Russian, Thousand Island, or soy-ginger dressing.  It would taste too funny.

Seriously, the reason to use Roquefort, and not use just any blue cheese, is because per European legal mandate only those cheeses aged in the natural Mont Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon may bear the name Roquefort, as it is a recognized geographical indication, and it is a protected assignation of origin.

In 1925, France’s Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, the body in charge of food point of supply governance, decided the production rules and naming of Roquefort.  Later, in 1961’s landmark ruling, the Tribunal de Grande Instance at Millau allowed blue cheese production to continue all through the South of France, but only cheese from the Mont Combalou caves would be permitted the appellation Roquefort.

And you thought only the States dealt with such weighty, precipitous matters regarding haute cuisine and a Michelin Guide supper.  Or you felt that only in America, after you had tossed your greens, would they ask you what would you like with that.