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 have no patience to slog through any of this unabridged, then here’s the skinny of an Other Diet: eat the government, recommended serving sizes.  Have fruit in your diet, it is very beneficial for your health, and is also low in calories.  Drink flavored seltzer instead of empty-calorie soda.  Alcohol is loaded with empty calories, so cancel your home delivery of Cabernet of the Month Club.  Try to get in as much exercise as you can, a walk several times a week might be sufficient; and limit desserts to one day a week, say, Friday or Saturday.

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 (and I lost thirty pounds this way, without any suffering or feelings of deprivation).

  1. You are poised before your refrigerator about to make a decision.  On one shelf is a triple-fudge, triple-layer cake, and on another is a bunch of grapes (or say, a pear, nectarine, or apple).  In deciding which route to choose, you think: “They’re about as sweet, I had a difficult day, and my boss screamed at me all day.  I’m going with my go-to, the layer cake.”  Okay, where did you go wrong?  (Besides working at a lousy company, that is.)  Do you know why your clothes barely fit you anymore?  Fruit is so much better for you than diabetic-coma-inducing, desserts.  Fruit is mildly sweet because of its fructose, while the layer cake is jacked up with energy-jolt, cane sugar in maximum-tolerable doses.  Your good friend, the layer cake, also has flour which is essentially calories; it has shortening like butter, and that’s another source of calories; and it has chocolate which is a bit like caffeine, and can be as addictive as heroin.  In fact, chocolate is now a controlled substance administered by the Food and Drug Administration.  Your good friend is making you avoid bathing suits, and the beach, just like you avoid walking by your boss’ office when she’s throwing things again.  If you still must hang out with your good friend the layer cake, do it one day a week, like on Friday.
  2. The overweight (or the “heavy,” six of one, half dozen of the other) will tell you that they’ve always been heavy, and nothing is ever going to change this.  Yet ask them how many times a week they eat dessert (once a week will shed pounds), multiple portions (you’re not returning home from a concentration camp), junk food (this tells your body you hate it), or if you drink a full glass or more of a sweet beverage (drink half a glass of fruit juice with unlimited seltzer refills).  If you do all this and you still are heavy, you have an endocrine problem, and you need to immediately seek medical attention.  If you do partake of the kinky quartet, I can say with near one-hundred-percent certainty that these four habits explain your excess weight.  This worked like a charm with me as I lost thirty-five pounds.  I supplemented this with several walks a week, but not an Ashley Judd backpack hike up and down the GSMNP, just a mile, or a mile-and-a-half walk.
  3. If you would like something filling that will never pack on the pounds, have you tried zero-calorie (or five-calorie tops) flavored-seltzer?  You can drink unlimited and satisfying portions that will never add an inch to your waistline.
  4. As the leader in the diet and nutrition space both domestically, internationally, and anywhere else, it is our responsibility to inform you of produce, especially fruit.  You’re thinking: “I’ve heard of fruit, but don’t know enough about it to ever have included it in a competent purchasing decision.  If only I knew more.  I’m an American, yet somehow I feel left out...”  Well, then, consider this: fruit is mildly sweet (pineapple may be the sole exception), but contains fructose, and doesn’t contain the concentrated sugar, the sucrose, found in abundance in desserts and chocolate.  Besides the cane sugar, desserts typically contain fattening flour and shortening (like butter) as well.  Between those three ingredients, you’re getting a high-calorie hit.  Fruit has nearly the same sweetness with much fewer calories, plus because it’s organic, it contains vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, and even Vitamin A.
  5. If, for whatever reason, you feel the overpowering desire to break your diet, and continue eating past a full meal, then have a bowl of salad.  Salad has practically zero calories, even with dressing.  Another true dieter’s friend are fruit and vegetables.  Both have vitamins and minerals, and fruit is really what you should be eating instead of fattening chocolates and other sweets.  Bakery sweets can contain inordinate quantities of shortening and sucrose (typically from cane sugar), which is the hard stuff compared to fructose, which occurs naturally on the vine, or tree.
  6. This being the beginning of summer, do our thoughts turn to summer romance?  No, of course not, June means that cherries and nectarines are in season at the grocery.  July means strawberries; and August, if you’re out on Long Island, means the best corn and beefsteak tomatoes on Earth (sorry, just stating facts).  The latter can be found at farm stands, or their equivalents.
  7. If you are irregular, you might consider these natural, healthy options: Kefir, or pourable yogurt; probiotics, or intestinal micro-flora, available in yogurt, other foods, and capsules; psyllium, fiber capsules; a diet rich in dietary fiber; and even water; but now check out Magnesium supplements.  The latter may be the strongest of the lot.  Borrowing from early Saturday Night Live scatological humor, is Magnesium, Super Colon Blow Cereal, instead of just Colon Blow Cereal?  This is best taken with a meal, or a light snack of fruit before bed, as it will work overnight.  (While Magnesium is a dietary supplement, you may want to ask your doctor about your concerns, and his or her recommendations.)
  8. If you are irregular, one food that might help is Kefir, or pourable yogurt.  This is available in either whole milk or low-fat, and flavored or unflavored, varieties.  It has twelve active cultures which are known to help the digestive system process food.  Yogurt is similar, but it generally has just six active cultures.  Drinking water might also improve regularity, but Kefir is a significantly more advanced, and effective, approach.
  9. If the urge hits you for a triple fudge, banana-split sundae, do something else that can also make you feel good, but without: getting arrested; going out of your mind; or being sent to the poorhouse.  I was thinking of maybe going for a walk, others were thinking of getting intimate with sheep, dropping a grand on video poker terminals, or seeing how much blow their brain can withstand.
  10. Exercise is not always the best answer to undesirable weight gain, because it can be a zero-sum game.  One thinks: If I exercise for an hour, I can have a very big dessert.  By that calculus, you never get ahead, and if anything, you can gain weight because you exercise.  The battle of the bulge is won at the kitchen table, not in the weight room, or on the track.  There may be many who say I am wrong, that plenty of exercise meshes well with plenty of food, but most of them are offensive linemen for the NFL.
  11. When women starve themselves to lose weight, it does the opposite of what they hope.  They get uglier as they become skin and bones, not prettier.  The prime example is Taylor Swift, she’s so much better looking now than she looked just three years ago when her face seemed drawn, and she looked anorexic as if she just escaped a concentration camp (this was when Kim K’s and Kenya’s attacks on Taylor were most severe).  Once a woman fills out — but before she looks heavy — she has reached her ideal weight, and her appearance is at its best.  This assumes, of course, that her job is not a very high-stress one where she herds cats or supervises chimps.
  12. If you really have the urge to pig out, but you really cannot afford to pack on any more pounds, then go for a bunch of grapes (15 grapes have 54 calories), and three pineapple rings (70 calories per Trader Joe’s package).  Wash this down with unlimited, zero-calorie seltzer, the flavored variety, or just have the plain.  Assuming you don’t finish off an entire vine of grapes, the entire snack will have 124 calories.  Plus, grapes have anti-oxidants, and so do pineapples.  Think about these facts the next time you are about to make another artery-clogging, midnight burger run.
  13. Eat the recommended serving size.  These follow medically-established, caloric and nutrition guidelines for any adult.  The nation can eat these serving sizes and feel full and healthy.  How can you still say that you cannot do the same?
  14. Try to get off of desserts, especially daily ones, except maybe on one designated day of the week, say, Friday.
  15. Zero-calorie seltzer, and the naturally-flavored sub-species, is for most people, more refreshing than plain water.  While naturally fructose-sweetened, and vitamin-rich fruit juice is good as well, these have calories, and should not be drank in unlimited quantities.  Liquid calories have the same fattening potential as solid ones do.
  16. Gaining a few pounds during the winter can be adaptive as insulation against the cold weather.  The only problem is losing these pounds once the Spring arrives.
  17. McDonalds menu items should be put on the list of controlled substances.  These are addictive, and have the potential to kill people, especially when eaten on a regular basis.  In the winter, exercise opportunities are much more limited, yet bowling or mall walks are always an option (swimming is limited to Floridians, and ax-throwing to Jerseyites).  There are many among us who do not emerge alive after spending a winter getting most of their calories, empty ones at Mickey Dees, from the deep-fryer and the greasy grill.
  18. This being the holidays, you’d be better off to resist the temptation of gluttony, by avoiding those omnipresent desserts and second portions, because gaining five-plus pounds will be a major chore to shed come spring.
  19. When dieting, or keeping your weight in check, it might be said that “white is wrong.”  White being: flour, rice, sugar, and pasta.  I’m not so sure I entirely agree with that, but there’s your fairly-inclusive list of calorie-rich carbohydrates.
  20. People who eat like gluttons, aren’t limiting Thanksgiving dinners to Thanksgiving Day.
  21. If you overeat to mask unhappiness in your life, An Other Diet won’t make you happy.  True, being thinner can lead to a happier you, but in and of itself, a more buff you isn’t going to make you do back flips of happiness out of your bed every morning.
  22. Your diet supports your weight.  If you weigh two hundred or more pounds your diet supports or maintains this weight.  You eat like a two hundred plus pound person.  You need to have the diet of someone weighing 150 pounds, or thereabouts.  Those overeating have parts of their meals they should be avoiding: multiple portions, especially high-fat servings, or ones laden with cream; desserts; forty ounce sirloins; etcetera.  Remove the dietary excess and the bodily flab will disappear.  You can lose the weight without training for the decathlon, or the Boston Marathon, neither of which is an option if you get winded going down to the mailbox.
  23. You have incorporated every step here into your diet, yet still you tip the scales at a deuce and a half.  You’re 300 pounds and you don’t play nose guard for the New York Giants.  You power eat because you’re locked into a job and a mortgage and a spouse that will, in concert, eventually kill you.  You know this, and the only thing stopping your eminent demise is eating ungodly sums of carbs, specifically chocolate in bar, truffle, and baked form, like into brownies with fudge frosting, topped-off with fudge everything else.  What do we do then, Other guy?  Well, have you considered therapy administered by a competent psychologist, psychiatrist, or State-licensed Tarot card reader?  Because if you don’t, you will explode from over-eating.  People explode, it does happen.  If the above professionals seem like too much hassle — for instance, you live in Kentucky, or anywhere else in the South, where there aren’t any mental health professionals — then you may get the support you need from 12-Step Overeaters Anonymous, or Weight Watchers.
  24. There are occupational hazards getting in the way of being trim.  If you work in the restaurant industry, you’re tempted into overeating by being around food all day.  People with high stress jobs can overeat as a coping mechanism — eating feels much better than how their job makes them feel.  These professions can have all of the responsibility, yet the incumbent is powerless to effect key job metrics.  They’re responsible for all of the effort, but can effect little, or none, of the results.  Being the manager of a big league sports franchise, a store, or anywhere else, fits that pattern.  Wall Street traders also come to mind.  In a bear market, there isn’t any trading strategy where you’ll make profit targets.  Their boat rises and falls on the same waves that the rest of the boats in the industry do.  No one has a competitive advantage, so in a down market, there are few bonuses.  Sales work has a similar issue.  In a down economy, salespeople cannot hit their unadjusted targets.  First responders deal with despair when fielding their tragic, never-ending calls on their radio, ones which they can never hope to slow to a halt.
  25. Your date, Rose, picked out this lovely Eat-’til-You-Drop restaurant, the Szechwan Palace, down in the Village.  You are not yet familiar with power-eating, and all-you-can-eats, but before you can even wag your chopsticks, out comes a food cart with a two foot-high mound of Fried Rice and Jumbo Shrimp Surprise.  At this point, you can either have a plate and call it a night, or finish the mound, and ask for “free” seconds, and thirds, and on and on, until you look like the guy in Meaning of Life who projectile vomits like a fire hose (don’t worry, that’s the most vile part of this vital dieting example).  Rose told you to pace yourself, go in head down, and take regular breaks for air.  But instead, knowing it was all free, excluding nominal feeding trough surcharge, you had the staff and fellow diners on their feet cheering you on.  Waddling out of the Til-You-Drop, Rose notices that you are visibly fatter in your jowls, and rear end, than when you entered this fine, Asian dining trough.  The lesson here, among others: Free food is not necessarily “free.”
  26. Avoiding toxic chemicals and just as toxic people is the key to longevity — as well as not eating like a hog, drinking like a fish, or smoking like a chimney...  Organic foodstuffs is healthier both for you, and for the environment, because organic agriculture is sustainable agriculture.  The earth is not depleted by being charged up with inorganic fertilizers.  Organic food is never the byproduct of man-made chemicals manufactured in a factory as inorganic “food” can be.  7% of organic produce samples contained pesticide residues, 38% of conventional ones did.  The reason organic food had any pesticide residue at all is because the previous farm owner used pesticides, or the farm next door still uses them.
  27. If you aren’t vegan, and buy eggs or poultry, try to get cage-free, or even better, free-range, and organic (where the chicken feed is organic).  Their “humane” slaughtering can be instantaneous, but they should at least be able to have some semblance of a natural, healthy existence, as their ancestors all did a hundred years prior.  Otherwise, they are only meat or egg machines.  Free-range rearing produces healthier livestock, which means more nutritious meals on the dinner table.
  28. Imagine the perfect food...  Okay, McDonalds is only food in the most technical sense of the word.  No, you are imagining something sweet, flavorful, very low in calories, and healthy with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.  My readers start salivating, “What could this manna sent from Heaven possibly be, Other?  Pray tell, please, we’re desperate for tasty food that isn’t the junk food.”  It’s fruit, damn you, did you grow up in caves?!  Grapes are pretty much the perfect food, they have all the favorable aspects above, and they have a longer shelf life.  Grapes also have 54 calories per, hold on to your hats, 15 grapes.  You can have grapes until you can no longer stuff them down your throat.  Do that with Big Macs, and you’ll be like Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  Then even better than candy — I am talking better than Godiva Chocolates — are organic pears, and summer favorites, nectarines.  Sure, apples and oranges are nice, but to be honest, are they anything to write home about? — hmm?
  29. Men have a reputation, sadly well-earned, of being only interested in a woman’s looks.  Yet, warmth is very important in any relationship, who wants to be stuck with a bitch.  That, and conversational ability, as well as career prospects — given the modern, two-income household — count for much.  Women have a better chance of finding their sweetheart, if they learn how to stay trim (they can learn very important basics here).  If a woman becomes happier and healthier, this can very positively effect her appearance.  If a woman overdoes dieting, is anorexic, or is not coping with what’s continually thrown her way, then it will effect her physical appearance.  I have actually seen this in a woman.  Once she was on a steadier, healthier course, she came into her own, and she was feeling better about her life, the change was startling, her face and body filled out, and she was suddenly as beautiful as a model.  The lesson might be for the too thin, to go to your bread and butter, bread and butter.
  30. In a Weight Watchers’ world, cottage cheese is not your best friend, it is your only friend.  Enjoy its nauseating putridness as you down cup after cup after cup.  Here at An Other Diet, you enjoy food, you simply follow established federal guidelines on serving sizes (and drink flavored seltzer, or have fruit, especially Other Letter-favorite grapes, in any amount).  That cottage cheese cup you stare at with utter contempt, is a cup of yogurt in an Other World.  So read the precepts of sane weight loss here, there are not even forty of them, and shed those extra pounds away.
  31. To extend the refrigerator life of your food, try lowering the setting on your refrigerator.  Every fridge made after 1987 must have a thermostat per United Nations’ Geneva Convention for Food Preservation (I cannot find the link, but this is the God’s honest truth).  With a colder setting, your dairy and produce will last longer, and your beverages will be cooler.  The only problem is setting it too low, because this will freeze milk or any other liquid.  For my unit, the middle setting works best.  This might also increase electricity usage, but I seriously doubt that it will amount to any difference on your electricity bill.
  32. The Southern United States is different from most anyplace on earth, and the reason is simple — serving size.  35% of Southerners are obese.  That’s right, one in three in the South are grossly overweight, an even greater percentage in the Deep South.  One of my best friends, Ashley Judd, confirms this sad truth: “They’re all blimps down here!  Most Southerners are so fat, they can barely walk!  They all get around in motorized wheelchairs!”  And the reason Is simple: It’s too hot outside to exercise, so most spend their weekends at the McDonald’s or Bob’s Big Boy scarfing down their special value yet nutritionally-archaic menus, getting every item offered, one-by-one.  This means plenty of high-fat content, greasy burgers, fries, and 80% butter-cream milkshakes.  As a result, most south of the Mason Dixon Line tip the scales at over 250 pounds.  Because of the average Southerners girth, their Fords and Buicks are equipped with special shocks and suspension systems.  A Southern SUV typically has half of a ton in passenger weight, because following their parents’ lead, even the moppets power eat (a half of a ton is a beefy, lard-addled, one thousand pounds).  Their bed frames are wrought iron, arc-welded to withstand a couple with a combined weight of over six hundred pounds, and their clothing is made of rip-stop canvas typically seen in the manufacture of tents, sailboats, and sneakers.
  33. Anyone starting a new diet that was devised by some quack operation, must first discover whether or not that diet will kill them, regardless of the claims of: “...Ten pounds a week sloughed off your body frame indefinitely...”  The advantage to an Other Diet is that you are only eating what the United States Government dieticians and scientists says that you should.  You are only following their nutrition guidelines, not mine, not shysters operating out of a smoke-filled back office in Chicago.  In addition to this, I suggest you drink flavored seltzer, and you might have a big serving of dessert on the weekend.  There is nothing dangerous to dieting this way.  If you’re losing more weight than you’d like, then simply hold off on the seltzer and have fruit juice in more generous portions.  If you start looking like a stick figure, it’s time to speak with your doctor.  In fact, if you are obese, you should speak to a medical professional, instead of getting boilerplate, impersonal advice as seen here, and elsewhere.
  34. What is your ideal weight?  Well, this is mostly based on height, and to a much lesser extent, build type.  This table of the Body-Mass Index is scientifically established.  If you weigh any different than what is on this list, you are a candidate for every disease in the book: hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, along with asthma, psoriasis, hair loss, you name it, you will soon have it.  You will spend the rest of your life in a back ward of some hospital upstate that doubles for treating obese, federal prisoners with anger management issues.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you...
  35. After you have been on an Other Diet for several months, you may notice you no longer lose weight.  Instead of happily getting on your scale for another positive report, your weight loss has leveled off.  This is fine, but is no longer worth mentioning to anyone.  You no longer expect back flips from your friends and family when you tell them of your latest victory in the Battle of the Bulge.  This likely means you have reached your equilibrium weight.  Personally, I am now at a weight I am very comfortable with, and I have stopped losing weight, but I haven’t changed my diet.  My caloric intake, based on Recommended Serving Sizes, is enough to support and maintain my current weight.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.  Remember those yogurt commercials where the Russians in that village all lived past 130 years of age?
  38. If you have a cold, or even worse, the flu, you know you need to get plenty of vitamin C.  Now, if you drink a quart of orange juice every day for a week, which is likely your inclination, you might start putting the pounds back on (by the way, unpasteurized OJ has twice the vitamin C as the pasteurized kind).  So instead, take Vitamin C in swallowable, pill form.  This way, when you are over your cold, you’re ready again to make statements at the beach.  Statements such as: “Here I am, Beth and Jill, hot as ever,” or for the ladies, “Come and get me, Jack and Jake.”
  39. If you want to gain weight, then skip meals.  Your blood sugar — your body’s available nutrition for the energy needed in cell metabolism — will completely bottom out, and you will get very cranky, when you miss, say, lunch.  At this point, the only thing you will want to do is eat, and especially eat comfort foods (such as unhealthy snacks).  This was my recent experience, when I did not have the time for lunch.  Crash diets and missing meals will only leave you crashing emotionally.  Instead, eat balanced (with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and judicious carbohydrates), wholesome, nutritious, whole (unprocessed) foods, and eat these meals regularly.
  40. 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 eating less fat, 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.
  41. Per a very recent National Public Radio (NPR) report, the French government has put carbonated water into water fountains at public parks (they call it fizzy water).
  42. These are a few great cheeses: Gouda, Monterrey Jack, and a variety I just tried and liked recently: England’s Blue Stilton.  Then from British culinary heritage there’s Cotswald Double Gloucester (double because it’s aged longer and so is stronger than single Gloucester).  Of course, you could go French gastronomy 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 crackers, with wash it down with seltzer, plus essentially calorie-free mango, and pineapple spears.  Cheese may be held in low regard by dieters, a questionable indulgence.  Regularly eating large slabs of these fromage treats, and you will be spending your every Saturday night with Internet porn.
  43. How do you store your cheese?  You get sandwich bags, you know, the ones with the pull over flap.  Without overstating the obvious, reverse the flap on your sandwich bag.
  44. 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.
  45. 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 suet 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, 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.
  46. When you are near your goal weight, you can start loosening up the reins.  Your goal weight is the weight you had always dreamed you could be again.  This was before you drowned your sorrows when your cat died.  The goal here is not to become a waif-like super model who’s ready to chew off the nearest hand they see at the post-Milan Fashion Week.  No, it is time to stop losing weight, and begin to maintain it.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. If you’re not doing so already, incorporate fruits and veggies into your diet.  These have virtually no calories, and fruits, 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 — and you can eat them in unlimited portions.
  50. It’s late, and you have the munchies.  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?  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 this, class, a generous cube of smoked Gouda (avoiding the temptation to consume the entire, cheese hockey pock).  Near midnight, this is pure snacking heaven.
  51. Wash your food down with water at least partly, skip the caffeinated, sugared water altogether (aka soda).
  52. Tea, especially the herbal variety like South African Rooibos & Honeybush, makes an excellent substitute for a thousand-calorie milkshake.
  53. 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).
  54. 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.
  55. Weigh yourself on a scale every day.  This way you will notice when your diet is working, and when it isn’t.
  56. If you have any doubt about the wisdom of these suggestions, see a doctor.

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

One positive user review: I lost six, very stubborn pounds in close to two weeks (I have lost 30 pounds to date).  The major change was greatly reducing a fruit juice — that I was almost downing by the gallon — in favor of the recommended portion size.

One caveat: If you have a lifelong problem with obesity, I really doubt this will get your weight completely 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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You versus the Mosquito, the End Game

This may seem obvious to the grizzled veteran of the mosquito wars, but if the weather permits, wear long sleeves, or a windbreaker, and long pants.  If following a forehead bite, your head swells bigger than Trump’s has already swelled, there are hats with netting along the back and the side for that geekout effect everyone craves, but which hikers need to avoid hari-kari scenes.

Keep alcohol pads in the glove compartment of your car when you go out, and rub them on the mosquito bites.  More than one alcohol pad can be applied if you’re up against ravenous evening mosquitoes.

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.  Soap and water works best, but if you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail, the bathroom attendant may not have the soap-fragrance you prefer, leaving you rubbing alcohol gauze...

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 a trick I picked up in my fourth tour of duty in Nam: Place a fan near where you lounge to blow away the mosquitoes before they bite you.  This is surprisingly effective, and it saved our platoon from malaria along both the Mekong Delta and the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  Talk about trial by ordeal.
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County Executives on Long Island are High on Something

Nassau County, the county next door to my own, wants to opt out of cannabis legalization.  The Democratic County Executive, Laura Curran, claims it will involve much more police enforcement if it were legalized, not much less as intuition clearly points out.  The main interest of Curran, and now Steven Bellone of Suffolk, is to hold down the African American population per ignorant voter mandate.  Legalizing marijuana will make more people get high?  Is she certain of that?

There are people that will always look to get high, and there are those who will always decline the stuff.  If I had governmental authority, I would prefer that those from my county not have a hardcore, delirium tremens addiction to alcohol, but instead have a psychological one to cannabis.  Having alcohol the County’s drug of choice makes DT’s the County’s preferred withdrawal modality.

Furthermore, I would much rather have my police cruisers chase down a weed smoker going thirty miles per hour, than a drunk going hundred miles per hour.  Cannabis illegality is a means to hold down African Americans, because they are disproportionately arrested.

If you do not know Nassau County’s past, they have a never-ending history of backwards government mismanagement (indictments were brought against Executive Mangano and his wife, State Senator Skelos, and Town Supervisor Venditto).  It’s about time to chalk up another one to the clowns across the border...  3/14/19...

Future GOP hopeful, but realistically an over-reaching DMV civil servant, Curran said legalization of weed is all about money and revenues.  She is already complaining that Nassau County, the well-established den of thieves, won’t be getting their share under the State plan.  Then she needs to explain why it is much more expensive to make cannabis a legal substance, than it is to arrest people for toking when it is illegal.  There are huge tax windfalls from legal weed.

Curran wants marijuana to remain illegal, keeping dealers from organized crime in business who sell much more than just grass.  They sell heroin, they sell opioids, whatever the market will bear.  Weed is only a gateway drug when it is illegal, otherwise if it was legal, there wouldn’t be any sales connections connecting it to, say, cocaine.

Clueless drug counselors ignorant of the relationship nature of distribution, claim that legal grass pushes people into heroin.  Legalization only pushes people towards legitimate sales channels.  Readily available weed means heroin is not sought.

There isn’t any logical reason that Curran is toeing the Republican line, other than an unusually old money and stodgy community’s fear of Reefer Madness.  The liberated and progressive West Coast leads, the puritanical and regressive East Coast follows, at least one of these years they’ll have to follow...  3/19/19.
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The Biblical Joy of Unmanageable Family Sizes

Over-sized families are abusive of children, and as prime examples of unplanned parenthood, they are just as disgraceful.  Here are several high-profile contributors to the Earth’s over-population problem who all have at least six children: Mia Farrow, Delilah, Angelina Jolie, Marie Osmond, Eddie Murphy, Mick Jagger, Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, and Kris Jenner.

Farrow is the record-holder with a sickening fifteen, Delilah is almost as irresponsible with thirteen, and Murphy just had his tenth.  They collect them just like one would collect coffee mugs from out-of-state, and toss them when they look cracked.

Delilah, of I Heart Radio infamy, is an Evangelical.  Like any good Christian she has had four husbands.  One of her 13 children took his own life, and I’d have to say that it was done out of neglect.  If you’re one of thirteen, how can you get any attention from your Mom?  The answer is simple, you don’t.  He was being phased out anyhow for newer models.  Delilah has taken the Bible’s imperative of “be fruitful and multiply,” far too seriously.  These days, Genesis 1:22 is really terrible, damaging advice, just ask Delilah.

Marie Osmond has eight kids.  She’s a Born-again; no, wait, a Jehovah’s Witness; no, a Scientologist; no, that’s not it, she’s a Mormon.  It’s all one and the same — ancient nonsense forced into the present day, including “wisdom” making sure your family is super-sized.

Which brings us to Kris Jenner.  She’s the Mom or Stepmom of ten kids roaming the streets looking for trouble.  These include Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kendall, and Kylie.  Kim, along with her bad-boy, loser, boyfriend, Kenya, is responsible for the cruel take down of Taylor Swift.

Mia Farrow, that paragon of virtue, has the record, fifteen kids, adopted and biological.  The sole purpose on this earth for one of them, Dylan Farrow, is to take down Woody Allen for claimed pedophilia at a time when she was seven-years-old, and entirely undeveloped as a female.  If you ever see the movies that Mr. Allen has directed, you see he could have the pick of the most gorgeous women in Hollywood, and instead he wants a twerp who picks her nose, and who is now angry as hell at his parents’ divorce?

Angelina Jolie has six moppets.  She uses them to accessorize when looking for paparazzi photo ops.  Why does she need six kids?  Does she know?  Or once she started collecting them, she couldn’t stop?

With ten moppets, Eddie Murphy needs to understand how condoms are used.  Ditto for Mick Jagger, who has eight children with five women.  Move like Jagger, but not breed like Jagger.  With Mel Gibson’s nine, he was absent in health class the day they demonstrated pulling the rubber over the banana.  Kevin Costner has seven kids, and is enjoying overpopulating this earth while dividing his parental attentions down to nil.
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What is cruel to eat?

This might help you decide what is inhumane to eat: Don’t eat anything that can have a name.  Pets have names, so of course, we don’t eat pets for dinner.  It’s a good rule, but the Chinese will eat dogs.

Bessie the Cow, we would tend to avoid, because it’s high up the food chain, and evolutionary tree.  Porky the Pig is not a good idea to eat, because for one, it is fatty, and for two, it is also a long-lived, large beast who’s high atop the evolutionary tree.

Turkeys and chickens are tougher to come up with a name, so they cannot be anthropomorphized, or seen as human-like, as easily.  Plants are never named, so they are the safest in terms of acceptable eats.  9/14/19...

There’s open season on wildlife, unless it gets a cute, cuddly nickname.  Rocky Raccoon and Peter Rabbit are two more animals that were given names, and shouldn’t be killed by man.  The naming was probably done to garner sympathy, and prevent them being poached down South, where they are hunted for sport.

Anything is fair game in Dixie, including people.  This is especially true in Texas, with the recent massacres in Odessa and El Paso, along with the Texans desperate pleas to keep their assault rifles.  9/16/19.

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

(Eating lobster is only cruel if you, oh never mind...  But before you call the PETA hotline, lobster men call them “bugs.”  That’s how little respect they have for these briny crustaceans.)

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 (or exertion); 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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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 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?

Anyone can see the Midwest is the land of vegetarianism.  Okay, 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 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, this is not mentioned in any professional capacity, I just had a nice childhood, and this is some of what I liked to do.)
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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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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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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, cryptically known now as Operation Peachy-keen.

“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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You Think You have it Bad?

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

Anyone in the industrialized World, the U.S. Canada, Europe, and select Asian nations, lives a better life than the rest of the world — hands down, there is no contest.  We have a social safety net to cover our retirement and disability costs.  We have potable, or drinkable water, and we have indoor plumbing.  We have the climate controls of heat and air conditioning.  Food is never in short supply, and can be bought already-prepared in almost any town.  We have ready transportation.

We have medical care, and were it not for Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress and Supreme Court, everyone would have insurance coverage (the verdict of the Hobby Lobby case before SCOTUS allows corporations to not pay for contraception for women if there is a religious objection — the objection being that the misogynistic Vatican holds down women, then Christian corporations can as well).

For centuries, America has been plagued by bad government.  E.g., just at the Constitutional level: the Second Amendment, the Fugitive Slave Clause, separate but “equal,” no suffrage for women, the Senate favoring landholders over the majority.  Yet our life offers technological redemption.  We all have toys like smart phones to enjoy.

This advanced gadgetry, mostly unique to the industrialized West and non-agrarian Asia, would have floored anyone alive just fifty years ago.  Agrarian economies have suffered in the modern world.  These days, this is not where the money is — despite the fact that they are what keeps the world from starving to death.  This is an occupation where its value to society is not represented in its profit margins.

We have the opportunity to live longer in the West because we can eat better and we have exercise venues everywhere.  We have all manner of pro sports teams, and movies to keep us occupied during leisure hours.  We can travel around the world if our budget allows, and even on a tight budget, one can Eurorail through Europe with little fear of getting killed, or even getting ripped off.  While there is certainly pockets of poverty in the West, outside of these locales, no one here can ever honestly say they live a deprived life...  4/09/18.
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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

Our goal here is to prevent bachelors from dying of starvation, and I’d say, we’ve succeeded.

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, go-to, 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 give it up 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)
One or two tabs of butter (optional)

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.  Optionally, add butter.  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 acclaim.

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 we thought home beverage preparation could not get any more inviting, we heard call of frozen berry smoothies.  The flavors introduced here easily rival that previously only sampled in Three-Star Michelin haute cuisine bistros for several Benjamins.  Yes, Parisienne Michelin Three Stars have berry smoothies, okay?

Follow the recipe below the line, 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.  This is what it’s all about — if you’re a bachelor who doesn’t get to the grocery as often as you”d like.

But why stop there?  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 in malt shops, and guys greased their hair into D-As (translation, imagine a duck, okay, and imagine a duck’s — who ever said cooking was pretty?)

Basic Recipe (see above for frozen berry version): 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, that is, 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.

Locate unused blender.  Dust off and wash blender, if you haven’t used it in years.  Pour ingredients into blender — 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.

How to avoid sludge in your blueberry smoothie.  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.




The Banana Smoothie, cake to make, in a smoothie

A banana smoothie with just three ingredients that absolutely blows away any and all of the competition out there.

Two cups of low-fat milk
One ripe banana
One table teaspoon of vanilla (don’t bother digging out and dusting off the measuring teaspoon)

Put the ingredients in your blender.  Press the “Smoothie” button, and turn off after one minute.

The banana should be ripe, and soft is okay, can even be brown inside.  Good use of very ripe bananas.

There is a no-alcohol vanilla (I know Trader Joe’s makes this), which may be preferred, although you won’t get much of an unwelcome buzz from a teaspoon of vanilla (someone just thought: I never knew a buzz could be unwelcome).




Healthy and Tasty 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 browned, turning zucchini over once.  Makes two to three servings.




Roquefort crumbled over Tossed Greens and Tomato Wedges

One head of romaine lettuce (or three heads of endive)
One beefsteak tomato
Ranch dressing (on the side)
Block of Roquefort

Slice a romaine heart a third of the way from top to bottom, then cut the two-thirds again in half.  You should know have three thirds of a heart.  Next cut the three sets of leaves (of one heart) at one-inch intervals.  Clean them by running a strong stream of water over them in a colander for 30 seconds.  This technique comes from a former professional chef.  This makes enough for three servings, but you will only need two servings worth here if using one beefsteak tomato, so put one third back in the refrigerator.

Slice the tomato into sixths.  First, carve out the greenish stem with a V-shaped, incision, and slice off the flower remnant at the other end.  Next, slice the tomato in half, then again into thirds.

Crumble the Roquefort by spinning the tines of your fork over your salad.  Top it off with ranch dressing.

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

Roquefort is the most authentic and tasteful of the blue cheeses.  Per European legal mandate only those cheeses aged in the natural Mont Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon may legally bear the name Roquefort, as it is a recognized geographical indication, and it is a fully protected assignation of origin.




Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Salad

Why go to a Michelin Three-Star restaurant in Paris to get a Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Salad, when you can make it in your own kitchen?  Refund those Air France, direct, non-stop, trans-continental airline tickets now — and have this salad instead.  See what I’m saying?

One beefsteak tomato
A tube of mozzarella (sold precut is easiest)
Four leaves of basil
Vinaigrette dressing
Dashes of salt and pepper

After coring the tomato at the stem end with a V-incision, cut the tomato into six latitudinal slices (if the tomato is the world with North and South Poles, New York is on the same slice as London).  Unless pre-sliced, cut six quarter-inch slices of mozzarella.  Arrange on two plates, alternating the tomato and mozzarella slices.  Dice the basil, then put on plate with tomato and cheese slices.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with vinaigrette.  Serves two.