Thursday, June 04, 2020

Good People, Bad Situation, and BAD Gear

The last few days we've seen a lot of pictures of normal folks gearing up to defend their homes, their businesses, their neighborhoods...

I hate that it has been necessary, but I love that this has been the response to the necessity. The more people understand that the police are not here to protect them, have no duty to do so, and in extreme circumstances will not do so, the better.

The more that understand they must be prepared to effectively and responsibly defend themselves and others, the better off we will be as a nation.


There are three major problems I've been seeing over and over again:

  1. Plate carriers so low that they don't actually cover the areas they need to... some that might even make sitting difficult. You need to be able to do everything you normally do (and everything that you HAVE to do) without your gear, when your gear is on. For that to work, your gear has to fit properly, and be adjusted, worn, and used properly.
  2. SERPA... lots and lots of SERPA holster... just... no. Never SERPA ever. Friends don't let friends SERPA... Do you want to negligently or accidentaly shoot yourself, your car, your floor... or worst of all, someone else? No? Then don't use a SERPA EVER.

    This link is an explanation of why never SERPA, and a list of dozens of SERPA related unintentional discharges and shootings, plus lists of ranges, schools and agencies that have banned SERPAs:

  3. LOTS of folks wearing drop leg holster rigs (including a lot of drop leg SERPAs)...

    Which are often silly, but if you're wearing plate carriers and LBE can be justified (it can be hard to get a clean and secure draw from the waist when you've got a lot of gear on, even moreso if you're in a vehicle, or frequently getting in and out of vehicles)....

    But they're being worn so low that they're not just ineffective, they're silly, to maybe dangerous. I've seen some worn low enough to put the muzzle of their pistol at or below knee level.. In that position they cannot be used effectively, and they could position your weapon such that it would be easily snagged on the environment, or worst case, difficult to retain in a struggle... or even accidentally shoot yourself or others (see SERPA above).

    Drop leg holsters that you can't reach while standing aren't holsters... they're just insecure carrying cases.

    I have ridiculous gorilla arms... literally four inches longer for my height than average...and I wouldn't be able to get a secure draw from a holster in that position on me without bending down. Never mind someone with average reach.

Good gear used improperly, is as bad or worse than bad gear (because it gives you a false sense of security).

REAL Charcoal, Humans First Fuel Technology

Humans have been making... and cooking with... charcoal for thousands of years.

It was literally our first processed fuel technology, making a much hotter, cleaner, and more manageable fire than wood, with MUCH lighter and easier to pack fuel.

...In fact, charcoal is STILL the most common cooking fuel in much of Africa and parts of Asia and south America even today.

We've come up with hundreds of ways of cooking, since we started cooking over charcoal... None of them taste any better, and very few nearly as good.

Sadly.. Lots of people think cooking with charcoal is a hassle and a mess. They prefer propane, or just using their ovens or broilers.. or maybe cast iron preheated in the oven, then used over really hot burner...

... all of which can produce good results of course, especially cast iron....

... and if they've only cooked with "charcoal briquettes"... which aren't anything like actual charcoal (more on that later)... I can certainly understand why they would (mistakenly) think charcoal was not that great, a mess, and a hassle...

...Because they've never ACTUALLY cooked with charcoal...

Cooking with natural lump charcoal, is one of the most efficient, quickest, easiest, and least messy means of cooking there is... And of course, one of the tastiest.

Wood, natural gas, and propane (and some types of mineral coal), all make for medium temperature, and very "wet" heat, with lots of, sometimes unpleasant, residues (and odors).

Natural lump charcoal makes for a cook fire, so hot and dry, (because it burns very efficiently and nearly completely), that it lets you get a hard sear, or even char on the outside, while still staying juicy, tender, and medium rare inside.... Even for very thin cuts of meat, or very small pieces like steak tips.

Propane can't do that, nor can any home oven or most home ranges... even with thick cast iron. In fact, it's basically impossible to get anywhere near as good delivery of heat into your food as natural lump charcoal can give you, without very expensive specialty restaurant equipment.

... and if you like cooking in cast Iron, you have no idea how great it can be, until you cook with cast iron and proper charcoal... Propane and natural gas can't hold a candle.

Now... if you're cooking with briquettes, that's another story entirely... They're awful...

Briquettes really ARE a high effort hassle for poor results...

They don't smell right, sometimes food doesn't taste right with them, they're heavy and messy, they are difficult and take forever to light and usually need starting fluid (sometimes even with a chimney starter), they make for low and uneven heating... they can even choke off their own fire and end up going out... and most of all, they can take 30 or 45 minutes before you're ready to cook.

And of course, with propane... or even with an oven or a range and cast iron, you've got to pre-heat for 10 to 20 minutes as well...

Real charcoal is nothing like a hassle...

With a chimney starter, and natural lump charcoal; going from nothing to ready to cook, is very quick, and takes almost no effort.

Literally 20 seconds of trivial effort to load the charcoal and light the starter, and 10-15 minutes of waiting for the coals to get ready...

...and then you're cooking, at a FAR higher temperature than any home oven or burner can get.

How hot can it get?

A natural lump charcoal fire, in a chimney starter, can easily get to over 1400 degrees.

If you use enough charcoal, and let it burn a few minutes longer and hotter, it will get to the point where it is generating its own blast draft, just like a furnace.

When it's blasting like a furnace, that fire can get steel to cherry red, which is over 1500 degrees... even up to a bright cherry red as high as 1700 degrees... (leave it long enough, with enough airflow, and enough charcoal, and it can go even higher, and melt the thin sheetmetal of the chimney starter. With a bellows or blower, you can easily get a charcoal fire hot enough to forge, and even to smelt, steel).

Ok... but how hot can I actually cook with it?

After dumping the chimney into the grill, when the charcoal is glowing bright red on the grate; with good airflow and proper insulation under the fire, you can see a temperature at the grill surface of 800 to 1100 degrees easily... sometimes higher (I've regularly measured 1200 with a non contact thermometer).

... Which means cooking faster, which means getting better texture and flavor, without overcooking.

In fact, if you're just cooking a couple of steaks, burgers, breasts etc... you can just take a grill grate, and cook right on top of the chimney starter, using much less charcoal.

You cook right on the starter, it takes about 3 minutes total to cook a 1" thick steak to medium rare... 90 seconds a side.

It only takes enough charcoal to make the chimney work properly... a few ounces, a few inches, and some waste paper. I light it with a blowtorch to make it even faster and easier... and more fun... When the charcoal is fully ignited... you don't have to wait for an orange hot jet of flame but you can if you like... you're ready to cook.

When you burn it that hot, charcoal burns almost completely... Almost no cleanup... because it's REAL charcoal. No pan, no oven, just a little bit of ash... and really, it's only a little bit.

... and it's not all about the fast and hot...

If you want a lower and slower cook, get your starter to the point where all the charcoal has caught, but not where it's generating its own updraft blast furnace...

Then dump on the grate, and restrict the airflow into the firebox. Everything will slow down, and smolder, for quite a long time.

You can easily sustain a low and slow, or a medium heat, for hours... anywhere from 190 degrees in the grill box, to 400-500 degrees... adding new charcoal as necessary.

With a well insulated hot box, this dry controlled heat is ideal for pizza and certain kinds of bread baking. In fact, it's likely the only way most home cooks can actually get an oven hot enough to make proper pizza (though using a combination of firebrick and a thick piece of pizza steel, and preheating for a long time, can get you close).

... and of course, you can smoke meats this way, with seasoned smoking wood added to the charcoal.

It really is just better...

When I have the gear, and the space, I cook with REAL charcoal year round, rain, shine, snow (just rig an awning)... doesn't matter.

It can actually be much LESS hassle, and much LESS cleanup, than using your kitchen.

It's not like cooking with "charcoal briquettes"...which... and this is the important part... aren't even actual charcoal.

Wait... Briquettes aren't charcoal?

No... really... they're not. Not even much like it at all actually.

"Charcoal briquettes" are actually mostly sand or clay, and binders, with a little blackened sawdust, and coal dust mixed in.

Kingsford, the %1 brand in America...
...Also the FIRST brand of charcoal briquettes, as they actually invented the product, as a way to use the leftover wood scraps and sawdust from making wooden car body pieces in Henry Fords factories. Kingsford was the name of Fords cousin, who was the first president of the company...
...lists the following as the ingredients of their briquettes:

  • Wood char (partially charred sawdust and wood flour)
  • Mineral char (partially burned coal dust from processing of soft brown lignite coal)
  • Mineral carbon (unburned coal dust from soft brown lignite coal)
  • Limestone
  • Starch
  • Borax
  • Sodium nitrate
  • Sawdust

Even the "wood char" isn't really charcoal, it's blackened sawdust and wood flour (often left over from paper and saw mills, which is good), but it hasn't really been pyrolized as proper charcoal.

Basically, they're over 90% stuff that isn't anything like charcoal, and less than 10% of stuff that is sort of like charcoal... but no actual charcoal.

That's why they can't cook worth a damn, why they take forever to heat, and why there is so much mess. They don't light well, they don't burn well, and they don't cook well.

Thankfully, you can get natural lump charcoal almost anywhere now (including walmart), and given how little you actually need, for how much you can cook with it... it's actually LESS expensive than briquettes.

Good natural lump charcoal runs between $1 and $1.50 a pound. "Good" briquettes run between $0.50 and $1.00 a pound.

Initially, that may seem significantly MORE expensive, however, with lump, you never need to use starting fluid ($4 a bottle, which lasts what... 20lbs?) and you don't waste 80% of your heat "waiting for the coals to be ready".

More importantly, because it cooks so much hotter and so much faster, and because you start cooking in 10 minutes not 30-45...

...You can cook more with 1lb of lump, than you can with 5lbs of briquettes...

Yes, really, it's about 5 to 1.

... And of course, because lump burns much more completely and cleaner, and briquettes are literally more than 90% "nothing like charcoal"...when you're done with that 1lb of lump vs 5lbs of briquettes... the briquettes end up making about 10 times the ash, and nasty residues.

So... yeah... grilling with briquettes is a high effort, expensive, messy hassle...

Which, of course, is why you should grill with... you know... actual charcoal.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

What an amazing world we live in...

I don't think I would ever buy something like this... For one thing, none of them are remotely big enough for me (you might get 20hp out of the absolute biggest of them, which is I believe about 300cc. I can't ride on the highway with that).

... But I absolutely LOVE that we live in a world where you can go to amazon, click a button, and get a motorcycle delivered to your door for short money (dirt bikes and scooters for as little as $750 with shipping, street bikes for less than $1500 shipped).

Everything is Forever On The Internet

I had a personal data breach ping on my dark web monitoring... Some of my personal data including an old email and password, address, and phone number( the usual data they get when they breach a badly programmed totally insecure web site or storefront etc... that was storing passwords in an insecure format ) was exposed in the middle of March 2020.

That's not exactly an uncommon or unexpected thing. These things get exposed from old breaches, and then are collected and aggregated to build password cracking dictionaries and do datamining etc... and eventually they often get released into the wild.

What's amusing though, is that it's a 20 year old email, password, address and phone number, from when I lived in Fremont, CA.

I left Fremont and moved to Ireland in 2001.

Remember... Everything is forever on the internet.

Don't Fail Closed Unless It's for Security

Apparently Plex... the leading home media server platform in the English speaking world... is down, (or at least partially and intermittently down) worldwide at the moment.

For about 60-90 minutes so far. They're working on it, and uou can check the status here:

To be clear... this isn't just the Plex web service and remote UI, local media servers are failing to display libraries and videos... Not every one, not all the time... but a lot of them, and by default (you have to manually access the direct URL for the media library you want to access, and somtimes that still fails).

It seems that they've got an API hook that calls home when you access your media server, and it's not supposed to be required for operations when there is internet access... but in practice, it IS required, because It's failing closed. That API hook is not completely down, but it's responding so slowly, that it is effectively down, as requests will time out most of the time from most servers etc...

Theoretically, if there's no internet access from your media server, and you access it locally via direct URI (local ip address, port, and path), your media server SHOULD just load the default page view. Though in my experience, this also fails sometimes on some clients.
UPDATE 2145utc : unless you access some specific URLs, some of their entire web domains or subdomains are timing out or giving server errors. 
I think they may have an infrastructure issue, as well as an API issue.
For example, as of right now, the main app URL and app URI are both giving a server error. and are both giving server errors.
But, if you access it by the main page loads.... Until you try to sign in, at which point it starts timing out again. That's generally a session management, authentication management,  load balancing, or content distribution and delivery network issue. 
Then, if you attempt to sign in, sometimes it timesout without presenting the login dialog, sometimes the dialog loads, however every time the dialog loaded, my signin timed out sliently, either freezing, or just going back to the login prompt... But the really fun part, is that I got a "new login" notification email from Plex, even though the site wasn't actually granting me access. 
Doing some basic systematic investigation... it's definitely a session and authentication management issue somewhere... or likely a combination of issues stacking to cause the failure. Especially as it's a timeout issue and it's intermittent, and given the URL/URI issue, and the login and presentation issue It's most likely an interaction between their load balancing/content distribution, and their auth and session management API or backend service. 
This is a good lesson on why you don't implement optional non-security things, with "fail closed" dependencies. The default should be, if that API hook can't hit its call home, then the default page view appears. Not "plex is unreachable".

Now... There are lots of times when you want things to fail closed. When something is not actually optional, then yes, if that thing isn't available, you should fail closed, and provide a helpful error message as to why. If something is important for security reasons and it's not available, you should definitely fail closed... Often in those circumstances you should fail closed silently, without error output, or with just generic and non-helpful output, so that the failure in security is non-obvious.

... But you should never fail closed on something just because it's an option you want to have, but isn't necessary for functionality and security.

Your personal gratification, and "nice to have"... or your businesses desire to have some piece of data.. are MUCH less important than making sure your users have the best possible functionality and user experience, as much of the time as possible.

Sadly, it's a very common flaw in both implementation, and basic thought process.

Every city needs 'Bertos

One of the best things about Phoenix... and I am absolutely not kidding here, I really do consider it one of the best things... late night street tacos, burritos, and horchata.

We have 3 chains of these places that were all started by members of the same family... All named almost the same and generically referred to as "Bertos"... and they're all almost identical and actually pretty damn good... and then also a few actual independent family owned places that are still sometimes 24 hour.

... And it's GLORIOUS.

You want to stuff yourself silly for 10 bucks, and have it actually be GOOD, not taco bell or McDs etc... ? 'Bertos.

Need to feed ten people in the middle of the night and don't want to or can't cook? 'Bertos

Desperately need a ton of protein for cheap? 'Bertos.

It was honestly one of the things I missed the most when I moved away from Arizona, and one of my favorite things when I came back.

'Bertos satisfies... 'Bertos nourishes...

...'Bertos heals wounds of the soul...

Monday, June 01, 2020

Good... But NOT Good For Me

I have shot, and owned, at least one and usually several Glocks from each generation, and in each frame size, except Gen 5s (I have held and played with, but have yet to shoot a Gen 5).

I have been dissatisfied with stock configurations, and modified each one I owned, to the best I could possibly make it; for my hands, and my eyes, and how I carry and shoot. Grip mods, trigger mods, sights etc...

I recommend everyone try a Glock as one of their first options for a semi-auto carry gun, because if they work for you and you like them, they are great guns (the others I recommend as first line choices are Gen 2+ M&P, SIG P series, and CZ... all of which I presonally prefer to Glock)

Across the entire 25 years that I have legally owned guns of my own, I have usually owned at least one Glock... in case I need to give someone a gun, or I need a gun where I don't care if it gets lost, confiscated, taken as evidence etc...

I am even a certified Glock Armorer... though I took that class almost 20 years ago... It may expire? I don't know.

But the thing I think reveals the most about Glocks for me...

AS good as they are, as reliable as they are, as generally goo value a used one is...

I have tried, usually bought for myself, and made as close to perfect for me as I could, each of the major Glock 9mm, 45, and 10mm guns, across multiple generations in multiple frame sizes, then carried them all for a few months...

... And ended up selling or giving away each one, and each time replacing it with a 1911, BHP, SIG or CZ.

... Well... and once an Hk USP compact that I had tuned by factory armorers, carried for a year, then sold for more than I bought it for; and once a springfield XD, that I ended up giving to a friend who needed a gun and couldn't afford one.

They're good guns... I'm not down on Glocks at all... But they're not good guns for me, or for a lot of others.

... And Glockybois are as or more annoying as any other fanboi of course...

Choosing Your Words... Hammer or Help

Yes, there absolutely are several reasons other than racism why black people are disproportionately killed by police... 

...And in case you didnt know, it is, without any doubt or question, absolutely and GROSSLY disproportionate. Police kill twice as many white people as black people, but to be proportionate it would have to be between FOUR and SIX times as many (depending on how you define and count white, black, and hispanic... which can be kind of arbitrary and which makes the numbers messy and hard to be precise about).

...But even controlling for all those factors, as much as anyone possibly can... it's still about 40% more than would be proportionate... better than 300% yes, but still a whole hell of a lot.

...And guess what... the individual officers doing the killing, or their leadership, don't have to individually express or feel racial bias or animus, for that 40% disparity to  be because of racism... that is the definition of structural or systemic or  institutional racism. 

It doesnt mean everyone in the institution or the system is racist... it means there are structural and systemic and institutional racial biases and disparities built into the systems and institutions... for many and varied reasons, NONE of which may be actual explicit racism (at least not by the definitions of racism most people use and accept).

...Though remember, some of that 40% absolutely is explicit racism... Dont dismiss that...

Thats what makes most people not only not understand the problem, but refuse to accept it may even BE a problem... because theyre not personally racist, and nobody they know in those institutions is personally racist... so how can it possibly be racism?

This is why I believe using the terms institutional racism, structural racism, and systemic racism, are counterproductive. The word racism itself creates a backlash reaction, because of how emotionally loaded it is.

Using the terms institutional, systemic, and structural racial bias, and racial disparity doesn't have the POWER of the word racism... And certainly, many understandably  want to use that power to effect change...

...But in part, that is what can make words other than "racism",  more effective in helping people who simply believe that they are not racists or bad people, to understand the problem... and to want to help fix the problem, rather than resisting even acknowledging that the problem exists.

So... do you want to use POWERFUL words, as a hammer against the hard rock wall that people throw up against them... or do you actually want to be effective in changing the minds and behaviors of those people?

Recipes for REAL Men - "Sometimes Soup Really is Just That Damn Good"

I have been craving this soup lately... one of my favorite recipes I've ever created.

2 cups dry beans (or six cups canned, and reduce broth by 2 cups)
1lb andouille (or other spicy smoked sausage)
1/2lb bacon
6 cups chicken broth (or four if you're using canned beans)
2-4oz of franks red hot
Fresh garlic to taste (I just use 1 clove)
1tblsp cumin
1tblsp smoked chili powder (chipotle or something similar)
1tblsp fresh cilantro (chiffonaded)
2tsp fresh mexican oregano (chiffonaded)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Salt to taste (probably none, with the bacon, sausage, and hot sauce)

Finely cube or dice the bacon and render it thoroughly (you want the bacon crispy but not dried out).

While the bacon is cooking, slice the sausage, and cook it out in with the bacon, before the bacon completely finishes cooking.

Crush and mince your garlic and drop it in the hot fat and meat (it you want to add a diced onion here, and some fresh peppers, you can).

Drain your soaked beans (don't drain canned beans, you lose a lot of flavor), and dump them in with the bacon and sausage.

Add your dry seasonings and hot sauce, and let them cook for a few minutes in the hot fat, before you add your flavorful liquids (it adds depth of flavor).

Now, add your flavorful liquid, and just simmer until the beans are the texture you want.

Finish it with a hint of cream, and if not enough of your beans have fallen apart to thicken it to your taste, hit it with an immersion blender for 5 or 10 seconds.

... Oh, and I usually make this in triple batches... 3 lbs of sausage, and other ingredients adjusted to match.

Recipes for REAL Men - "The Best Butter Chicken"

I make about the best butter chicken (Chicken Makhani) that any of us have ever had... Most restaurants aren't even close.

It's been requested that I post the recipe... But I don't really use recipes for this sort of thing.

It's not so much a recipe as a technique which I tweak based on what I have available, the exact flavor profile I'd like etc...

However, I can describe the technique and give a roughish recipe.

The first thing is we're using a prepared Garam Masala powder from india. I prefer toasting, grinding and mixing my own, but it wasn't convenient to do so at this time.

For appx 4 pounds of chicken, I used:

Appx 4tblsp garam masala powder (which includes some chili powder)
Appx 1tblsp of a mild mustard powder (mostly for emulsification)
Appx 1tblsp of garlic powder
Appx 1tblsp ground black pepper
Appx 1tblsp ground fenugreek
Appx 1tsp cumin (the garam masala had cumin as well)
Appx 1tsp paprika
Appx 2tblsp salt

Cube 4lb of BSB, and thoroughly rub the spice mixture into the cubed chicken.

Mix the spiced chicken together with appx 8oz of drained greek style yogurt, and 1/2 cup of buttermilk. I also add a couple teaspoons of soy, a couple teaspoons of franks redhot, a couple teaspoons of lemon juice, and a few dashes of worcestershire sauce.

Let sit for at least 2 hours.

For this step, you can start with clarified butter... but I actually prefer to use a brown butter preparation. I like the flavor... you just have to be more careful to avoid burning the butter solids.

Pull the chicken out of the marinade and remove as much as possible, shaking it off into a bowl to save... it will be the basis of the sauce.

You will get your best results with this using a very heavy enameled cast iron pan or dutch oven, on medium to medium low heat... just enough to really keep a sautee going. It will allow you to have a stable heat, and avoid scorching.

Gently brown 1/4lb of butter in a flavorful oil (olive, peanut, whatever you like) to a nutty brown color, aroma, and flavor.

I prefer to sautee some fresh garlic in the mix here, but we were out this time, so the only garlic was from the spice powder mix.

Sautee the chicken in small batches in the butter. Add more butter and oil, and brown it as necessary between batches, taking care not to scorch or burn the butter of the remainders of the yogurt from the chicken. You don't want the chicken fully cooked here, just MOSTLY cooked.

You will eventually use 1/2lb of butter or more in this recipe, depending on your butter, and the moisture content of your yogurt and chicken.

Add all the chicken back into the pan, along with the saved off yogurt marinade from before, and a 6oz can of tomato paste. Cook fully with high heat, making sure to reach a high simmer or sautee (depending on the fat and moisture content of the mix it might sautee, but most likely this is going to be too wet) for at least 4 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid scorching.

This is a very important step, for food safety as well as flavor.

At this point you want to add about 4 more ounces of yogurt. Keep another 4oz of yogurt handy to adjust the final texture and flavor.

Gently simmer the chicken in the yogurt sauce until it is fully cooked but tender, then remove from the heat and let stand. If the sauce breaks, vigorously stir in some more yogurt.

Serve over steamed basmati rice, or with a pilau or jasmine rice, with or without vegetables; and of course, naan.

At your option you may add onions, peppers, carrots, or peas, either raw or sauteed.

Recipes for REAL Men - "the universal cheap dinner recipe"

Apparently, there are still people who don't know what I will call "the universal cheap dinner recipe"...

So called, because basically every culture on earth does some variant of this as a staple... or several variants as multiple staples...

Part 1. Pick one (or more than one)... Thick cut bacon, spicy sausage, smoked sausage, spicy ham, smoked ham, or salted ham. Diced and sautéed until rendered and crispy (amounts are up to you... what balance of meat to rice to beans), then put aside. If you don't have enough fat, add butter. You can also add chicken or turkey chunks, pork chunks, beef chunks, lamb chunks, or ground meat for additional protein.

Part 2. Onions, red and green peppers, chilis, canned rotel, tomato chunks, zucchini chunks, squash chunks, peas, corn, carrot pieces, "mixed veggies"... whatever you like. Even kale, broccoli, or broccoli raab. Sautee in the hot rendered fat until NOT QUITE done, then put aside with the meat. You want to do this separately from the meat because the veggies have so much liquid, they will tend to steam the meat instead of brown render and crisp it. Again, if you don't have enough fat, add butter.

Part 3. Your preferred rice, approximately equal volume to the rest before adding liquid. Sautéed in the hot fat until toasted and nutty brown. If you don't have enough fat, add butter.

Part 4. Red, black, white, Brown, navy, pinto, or kidney beans; either soaked overnight, canned, or parcooked beforehand (or you can pressure cook the whole thing, or just cook the beans for longer before adding rice). If you have to parcook, or cook them longer, then you'll want to simmer them separately in your flavorful liquid before adding them to the rest. Otherwise, sautee them in the hot fat for a bit before adding your flavorful liquid.

Part 5. Add flavorful liquid composed of a meat broth... chicken works... an acid like vinegar, wine, hot sauce, lemon juice, orange juice etc... salt, and umami builders (fermented hot sauce, Worcester shire sauce, soy sauce, fermented fish sauce etc... you can also add hard dry cheese or cheese rinds for additional flavor and umami). If you want more body, you can add dairy... half and half, cream, milk, cream cheese, or yogurt.

Simmer until rice and beans have absorbed half the liquid, then toss in the reserved meat and veggies. Then simmer until the rice and beans are at final tenderness.

If you like, add in frozen seafood chunks or shelled and deveined shrimp at your last toss in stage.

It's the universal cheap and easy recipe. Mix and match as you like. Add in ethnic cuisine specific spices and sauces to make it more mexican, more asian, more Indian etc...

It also works for barley, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, pearled bulgur (cous cous) etc...

Do mostly that and let it cook out and get a nice crusty edge and rind on on side of a flat pan, and you've got paella.

Remove the beans and rice, and add cubed potatoes, and you have Peruvian or Indian dishes depending on which spice mix you add.

Remove the beans and rice, and you can make it a pasta dish. You can also serve it over plain or flavored rice, pasta, or cooked potatoes.

Pull the rice and beans, and add in a chunk of cream cheese, some hard Italian cheese, and a little half and half, and you have an amazing creamy sauce to serve over pasta, potatoes, or rice.

Same thing but yogurt or sour cream... Indian or Hungarian style.

Add in a bunch of ground beef, turkey, or chicken, and you've got burrito or taco filling... or shepherds pie etc...

Stuff it in shells and cover it with cheese then bake it, and voila stuffed shells.

Stuff it in pastry dough and bake it, pasties.

Stuff it in a pie and bake it, and you've got pot pie.

Add in potato chunks and cook it til it's mostly dry and crispy on one side, it's hash.

Cook the rice separately, THEN sautee the rice in hod fat, toss in the meat, and crack a couple eggs in there, and you've got fried rice.

Add more liquid, chiles, cumin, and beans, and remove the rice, and you have chili bean stew.

Add more liquid and leave in the rice, and you have soup.

Leave out the meat, and add more beans, and some soy (particularly fermented soy for umami) or TVP or other veggie protein, and it's loose vegetarian. Substitute vegetable broth, and its strict vegetarian. Substitute vegan broth, fat, etc... and it's vegan.

Every part is optional or substitutable, so long as you have four basic components (and one optional):

1. Hot flavorful fat.

2. Hot flavorful acidic liquid.

3. A starch or legume (or possibly both. Complete proteins are appreciated).

4. A protein.

5. Texture and flavor accents, like veggies.

Think about what you're actually saying for a minute...

"You care more about buildings than black peoples lives"

You're arguing that destroying the lives of business and property owners (most insurance doesn't cover riots by the way), and probably their employees who will lose their jobs...

... People who were not involved, and did no harm to any of the people in question, or anyone else for that matter... OK because some people who looked like some other people harmed some other people.

You're saying that it is justified to harm uninvolved innocents... and in fact thus far there have been multiple attempted murders. Maybe even murders by the time you read this... because people are ANGRY, about other people harming yet other people... and none of the people doing the harm, or being harmed in these riots, are any of the people they are supposed to be angry at, who actually did the things they're supposed to be angry about.

... And that's OK with you?

Are you deluded, stupid, or evil?

Civil War... Ehhhh... Not so much...

From 1968 to 1974, we were actually on the brink of a civil war.

There were literally thousands of bombings, shootings, assaults, and robberies, at least theoretically in furtherance of trying to start a civil war, and overthrow the government (in actuality a lot of the people had no clue what they were really doing or why... and a large minority of them were just in it for the sex and drugs).

Nixon resigning, ending the draft, and getting out of Viet Nam were the biggest factors in defusing that.

Also most of the people who were deliberately pushing the armed insurrections getting strung out on cocaine and heroin, self absorbed into the me generation sex and drugs and partying culture, arrested and jailed, or killed; was a big part of defusing it.

And finally, the soviets no longer paying for agitators to foment armed revolution, and the FBI stopping their operations paying and instigating agitators to do so; were the last big part of defusing it.

...It sounds insane... Like a conspiracy theory... but it's all true. You can easily confirm it for yourself...

These last few weeks... prelude to a civil war... Ehh... Not so much.

Denial, or just not paying attention?

Anyone who doesn't understand the riots this past week are not natural and spontaneous, and are being deliberately agitated, accelerated and escalated, by professional bad actors; in order to deliberately make things worse, so they can take advantage of the situation... Is either truly spectacularly in denial, or just not paying attention.

The Arrest, Caused The Arrest

It is critical to understand that it doesn't matter that the ultimate cause of death was cardiac arrest... because it was the positional asphyxia and the lack of treatment and the 8 minute delay after falling unconscious before receiving any kind of intervention, that were the proximate cause of, and  resulted in, George Floyds death. Had Floyd not been improperly restrained and negligently mishandled while restrained, he would not have suffered cardiac arrest.

Yes... The ultimate cause of death was cardiac arrest. The proximate cause of the cardiac arrest, was the positional asphyxia and lack of appropriate response to it.

The official autopsy findings did not contradict or counterindicate that. They simply noted that the ultimate cause of death was cardiac arrest, and that there was no indication of TRAUMATIC asphyxia... meaning his hyoid bone wast broken, and he didn't have ocular or facial petechiae or distinctive contusions indicative of violent manual or ligature strangulation for example.

Choke holds and other restraints which may occlude or obstruct the airway may or may not produce these signs, depending on technique, body positioning, and whether the subject violently resisted.

Side chokes and "sleeper holds" for example... effectively a large part of what happened to Floyd (the other part being suppression of respiratory function by compression of and heavy weight remaining on, the chest and back)... occlude the blood vessels to the brain, but do not break the hyoid bone, and generally do not produce distinctive bruising or petechiae.

Oh and Kelly by the way, is the number one instructor for EMS services EMTs and paramedics, in the country. He actually literally wrote the book... in fact, several books... on how EMS should respond to cases like Floyds.

Literally everyone's ultimate cause of death is cardiac arrest... the question is what caused it... and in this case it was the arrest that caused the arrest.

Y'all Dudes Are Culturally Appropriated and Stuff

I am a native New Englander, born in south Boston, and grew up split between New Hampshire and the southern suburbs of Boston.

I don't have a Boston or New England accent... I pronounce the letter R just fine... Though I do use the words "sure" and "ayup" for "yes" reflexively... something of a New England stereotype.

I am not a southerner, or Texan... though I have lived nearly half my life in the southeast, Texas, and the southwest... and I use "y'all" many times a day. Because it is a very useful word.

I am not a Californian... though I did live in NorCal for several years... but I use "dude" many times a day... because it is a very useful word.

I have culturally appropriated these good and useful words from the south and California, because they were good and useful words, and I am absolutely not sorry about that.

"Moderate" is a fallacy...

Sunday, May 31, 2020

You Can be HERE...

Doubleplus Ungood Think

If you insist that not being racist is actually racist, and to not be racist you must be racist...

First, you're wrong.

Second, you may need mental health assistance.

Third, there's this guy named Eric Arthur Blair... he wrote several things that you need to read, look him up.

The Wisdom of Sir pTerry

The Sound of My Own Voice

A few months ago I got a new headset, which has a studio monitor quality headphone component, but I don't really know how good the mic is... I decided to test it with a video.

This is the youtube version, I'm also going to try uploading it via facebook video, and then try to compare both with the original recording, to see what kind of compression and processing quality loss there is across the platforms.

But they can't admit it...

"I think people are stupid and gullible and irresponsible and bad, and they will be swayed by other bad people, and they will do bad things... Not me because I'm better and smarter than those other people and I won't be swayed, so I should be able to make decisions for those other people, because otherwise bad people will, and I want them to be forced by men with guns to do what I think they should do, because I am good and right and my thoughts and preferences and decisions are good and right"

-- Everyone who wants the government to restrict rights... but they can't admit it

Say what you mean, and mean what you say... Definitions MATTER

If you mean "it's to be expected that X happened" or "it's unsurprising that X happened", say so.. Don't say its "Understandable that X happened"...

Understandable means that you empathize with the action, or sympathize with it, or can find it reasonable, or excusable, or justifiable... or at least understand and find reasonable that others might.. If that's what you mean, then OK... that's what you mean. But if it isn't, then use the right words and constructions to convey the right meaning.

This isn't just meaningless wonkery... it's a very important distinction.

Definitions matter. Words matter. Communication depends on these things. Misunderstanding and conflict are generated and perpetuated based on getting them wrong.

You Like Me... You REALLY Like Me...

At peak, my blog was averaging about 2,500 to 5,000 unique views per day... a few times I went as high as 25,000, and a rare couple of times I went over that...

But I nearly stopped writing on the blog in 2015... and had been writing a lot less since 2013. I wrote more than 3900 posts from 2005 through the end of 2014... I've written exactly 145 posts in the 5 years since.

... But there's something funny...

As late as the end of 2018, I was still seeing up to 2500 uniques a day, and now, 5 years since I stopped posting every MONTH (I've averaged about 2 posts a month in over the last 5 years), never mind every week or every day... I'm still getting between 500 and 1,500 unique page views every day... That's how much my writing is out there, circulating, linked and referenced in other peoples posts, on forums etc... And how often is shows up in searches for the topics I write about.

... And that feels pretty damn great...

Comments are fixed... sort of

Comments are broken, and have been for a while. I'm working on figuring out why, and fixing it, right now.

Hopefully I'll have them back up, before more than a couple people want to comment but can't.

UPDATE: Well, the first fix was easy... but you have to actually go into the posts own page to comment. I'm trying to see what I can do to fix that.

Travelling Back From Out Of The Fog

A few years ago, I decided to deprioritize the blog... for several reasons.

First, my life was all cancer all the time, and I really just didn't feel like I was writing much worth reading that wasn't about the cancer and the impact it had on our life.

Second, and more relevant to the current state of social media, is that in large part, people stopped commenting on blogs... They would comment on twitter, or facebook, or reddit, or wherever they found the post, or had the post shared with them etc... but they wouldn't actually comment on the blog itself.

... The discussion moved away from the platform... and that killed the entire point of blogs, which was to actively engage with readers and commenters. Otherwise, it's just a web site... or worse, a livejournal...

So, I moved my primary social media activity and most of my new writing, from this blog, to other social media... Mostly facebook, with a little bit of twitter, and eventually a little bit of MeWe.

... I still occasionally posted, as my loyal readers hopefully noted... but often I went months at a time between blog posts.

However, I am generally a long form writer... I've got several blog posts exceeding 10,000 words, and at least a couple exceeding 20,000 words... and across the last 15 years that Ive been writing in this space, I've managed to write a couple of series of posts exceeding 100,000 words, which is entire book length.

... And Facebook isn't exactly well suited to long form writing... though I've still managed to write a fair few long form posts anyway.

Well... For quite some time now, a lot of my readers and friends have asked me to start posting my longer FB posts back to my blog... at the very least because FB makes it extremely difficult to save and find posts later, and it can be difficult to link to or excerpt a post when you want to etc...

As it happens, I had already decided to do so... and few days ago I mentioned I was already in the process of doing it... But, you have been following both FaceBook AND the blog all along, you may have noted I hadn't done so yet (or at least not until a few minutes ago).

I haven't forgotten about doing so... I'm just in the process of collecting, cleaning up and re-writing in blog format, and then scheduling those posts to come out one or two at a time, so i'm not flooding the blog with tens of thousands of words all at once.

... So... why now?

Well, a few reasons... For one thing, I've noted that some people are starting to engage with long form writing and blogs again. Also, my life, while not exactly great at the moment, is at least no longer all cancer all the time, so I feel like I can write more about what I actually want to write about.

... But there WAS something specific that prompted me to act on the notions that have been stewing for months, where I was hesitating before now...

For the last 10 years, I have suffered from what I, and other cancer warriors call "cancer brain"... I have had long and severe bouts of  overwhelming fatigue, lack of clarity and focus, writers block, and even readers block, where I literally can't concentrate or focus enough to read, sometimes for months at a time. I have spent days, weeks, months at a time, going in and out of what those of us who suffer from it call "brain fog"... where I can have seemingly normal function, even be reasonably intelligent and clever and seem to write reasonably well... but it's not me... it doesn't feel right, it doesn't... work... It's not good work and good writing, or at least not good enough. I try to grasp ideas and work with them, and they just slip away. I try to write the proper words to say what I really mean, in the way I want to say it... and I just can't.

... But there have been moments when I came out of the fog, and WAS able to do good work... even some things I thing are great. Among the best I've written... They're not common, but they have been happening more and more, as I recover more and more.

A few days ago, I managed to write about 20,000 words, on several different subjects, in just a few hours... I think maybe some pretty good ones, as I have strung them together.

My brain started working close to how it should for a few hours... Waking up after a good quality sleep with less pain and no reflux (for the first time in days) was undoubtedly a big help there... but sometimes, in the midst of the fog, I hit a clear patch, and can think, and write, and be productive, at least a bit like I used to.... And hopefully will again.

And in that clear patch,  I wrote wrote couple of the best things I've written in a good long while, as well as a couple of linked posts that are...

...Let's call them interesting seeds, that will hopefully grow from possibilities in peoples minds, to interesting realities in peoples lives.

So, I decided that I would stop letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, and at the very least, post here, whatever I may write that I think is good... or that may plant interesting seeds in peoples minds...

...If I can achieve that... it's something worthwhile... And you can't hope for much better than that.

These have some interesting potential

8GB Raspberry Pi 4 released for $75

I have been waiting for the 8gb memory threshold to be crossed, for Pi platforms to become really seriously useful for certain important and/or fun applications. I was hoping they'd be a little closer to $50, but that will happen not too far out I'm sure.

Honestly... I cant afford this right now, but I think I need it, for personal and professional development stuff that I have been wanting to do for a good long while..

If anyone wants to help me get one of these... preferably the full developers kit... It would be much appreciated (paypal via or contact me directly for basically every other possible way of helping out). Or several of them really... at least two, but up to eight ideally (because they're modular building blocks that are most efficient in blocks of 8, which would be 32 cores and 64gb of memory for $600 at current pricing... and likely $400 or less for bulk pricing in six months).. because what I want to do involves some clustering, and scaling... It would potentially go a long way to helping me rebuild my professional life, and get some significant income again.

Arnold Lied, People Died.

The conventional narrative of the air war in Europe, is that the P51 was the fastest and longest ranged fighter of the war, and that we didn't have fighters with the escort range necessary to escort bombers all the way to their targets and back, until the arrival in quantity of the P-51C, and P-51D with the 8th air force at the end of 1943 and into early 1944 (P51s officially started escort missions in January 1944).

This narrative is repeated in countless histories and documentaries... it was even part of the official 8th air force doctrine reference and history.

It's also completely false.

In actual fact, as used in the field, the P47 (particularly the later bubble canopy models) was both faster (higher turbosupercharging boost pressure and better cooling, with higher octane fuel and new props, and new venting systems, plus new understanding of how those interacted and development of optimal settings for them improved speed and fuel economy in the field by more than 20% over official sources), and had longer range than the P51 when both were equipped with drop tanks.

Of course, it took more than twice as much fuel to get there... But with the available drop tanks from late 1942 onward, and the upgraded internal fuel capacity available in early 1943 (upgraded from 305 to 370 gallons internally, and twin 150 gallon wing tanks with a 200 or 210 gallon belly tank), the P47 had a full 770 mile escort radius available to it (and a non escort range of over 1900 miles with optimal fuel management) if the generals in charge of the bombing raids had chosen to use those tanks. And a few months after that, their escort range could be as high as 910 miles.

...(an aside, the later mustangs were upgraded from 180 gallons internal to 269 gallons internal capacity, and had twin 110 drop tanks available to them, and a 168 gallon belly tank which was suitable for ferry use but not for combat. With those tanks they had an official 2,080 mile reality with optimal fuel management that could be extended to something around 2,280-2,340 miles. However, the P47 had available.. though they were rarely used... twin 300 gallon tanks plus a 210 gallon belly tank with which it WAS combat capable... a combined total fuel of 1180 gallons in the configurations used in Europe... and which given optimal fuel management could extend its range... depending on atmospheric conditions at altitude [because they effected turbocharger settings] to between 2,360 and 2,480 miles... though officially it never had more than a 1,990 mile range, because it was politically important that the mustang have the higher official range number.

Further, the P47n used in the pacific, had vastly increased internal fuel capacity... ultimately a total of 810 gallons internal, which combined with twin 150 wing tanks and 210 belly tanks [they couldn't use the 300 gallon wing tanks because most of that new internal fuel capacity was in the wings, and the additional weight would have caused structural problems], gave it an escort radius of over 1100 miles, and an ultimate non-escort range of well over 2,400 miles... the longest documented range ever achieved being appx. 2,700 miles point to point, but with navigational uncertainty and course variations, could have been as much as 2,840 miles actually traveled)...

Instead, from the beginning of the war, until the very end of 1943, use of those large drop tanks was banned. In fact, throughout all of 1942, the 8th air force officially banned the use of drop tanks at all, for anything but ferry flights, though there is ample evidence that by the end of 1942 this ban was being widely ignored... and in early 1943, the use of 75 gallon drop tanks was finally authorized. Later in 1943, they authorized the use of the English 108 gallon drop tanks (made of compressed paper saturated with resin, in a bicycle and fender shop near the air base they were developed at by the by). However drop tanks were in short supply because of the official ban, and it took months and months for the supply of drop tanks to build up to usable levels after the ban was lifted.

This ban, and all that followed from it, was a stubborn insistence on the part of certain bomber mafia generals, to refuse to admit pre-war doctrine (which said that fighters couldn't effectively escort bombers long distances, and therefore the bombers should defend themselves) was false, and a refusal to accept responsibility for the loss of life caused by this doctrine.

They were able to escape this humiliating admission, by falsely claiming that they just didn't have aircraft with the ability to escort the bombers until the P51 was available in large numbers, with its drop tanks.

... So... As the P47 was actually used, by doctrine, the P51 was indeed faster and longer ranged... but in reality, in their combat conditions in the field, the P47 could be faster and longer ranged.

... At least up until the very end of the war, and really until after the active combat in the European war was over, when some final engine and turbocharging changes, and the final drop tank configurations available, finally made the P51 faster than the P47 as used in Europe and with longer ranged than the P47 as used in the European theater... but it was never faster or longer ranged in combat configurations, than the P47N used in the pacific.

... Only after the war, in stripped down configurations used to set records, using special high performance props, and turbocharger settings never allowed during the war (and then later in Korea when further developments in engine management, turbocharging, high octane fuel, and bigger better props made it even faster and more efficient) was the MUCH more aerodynamically efficient P51 actually faster than the fastest of the P47s.

I give Hap Arnold a lot of credit for a lot of things... He more than earned his legion of merit and distinguished flying cross, and he is recognized as the founder of the modern air force for good reason. I will never deny the man was critical to that foundation.

... But on this one issue, he royally screwed the pooch... and at least 10,000 men died, who probably didn't have to die, because of it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Everything begins with round, concentric, level, and plumb...

If you can rotate one piece and hold another piece completely still against it to cut it or grind it, you can make anything perfectly round and concentric.

Once you get four pieces perfectly round, concentric, and identical, you can find perfect level and plumb.

Once you can make four pieces perfectly round, concentric, and level, you can take a piece and make one surface perfectly flat.

Once you can make one surface perfectly flat and level, you can make a second surface perfectly perpendicular to it, and perfectly flat and level.

Once you can make two surfaces perfectly flat, level, and perpendicular to each other you can always find 90 degrees.

Once you can make things perfectly round and concentric, and make two surfaces perfectly flat and perpendicular to each other, you can make anything flat and square on all sides.

Once you know one exact measurement... all you need to do is hold it up to something else you know the size of... and can make something flat, square, perpendicular, and level on all sides, then you can always find a 45 degree angle.

Once you can make something flat and square on all sides, and you can always find a 45 degree angle, you can make anything flat, square, and true on all sides.

Once you can find an exact measurement, and exact 90 and 45 degree angles, you can always find the center of any measurement, and you can always double any measurement.

Once you can halve and double any measurement, find 90 and 45 degrees, and find the center of any measurement, you can find any measurement at all.

Once you can find 90 degrees, 45 degrees, and any measurement at all, you can find any angle at all.

Once you can make something round, concentric, flat, square and true, and can find any measurement and any angle, you can make any spiral you want, and thus, cut any screw thread or gear you want.

Once you cut four threads and four gears to act against each other, you can double the precision of your threads and gears.

Once you can find any measurement, and the center of any measurement, and can find 90 degrees, and 45 degrees, and any angle at all... and can halve and double them... you can double the precision of your measurements... and redouble them to any degree of precision.

Once you can double the precision of your measurements, and the precision of your threads and gears, you can make anything round, concentric, flat, square, and true at double precision.

Once you can make four flat, square, and true objects at double precision, and four round and concentric flats and shafts at double precision, you can double it again...

Then you can double the precision of your threads and gears again, and redouble, and redouble, to any degree of precision.

...and by doubling, redoubling, and halving, and quartering, over and over, you can find any measurement, of any line, at any degree of precision, and make anything round, concentric, flat, and square to any degree of precision.

Once you can find any measurement, at any degree of precision, and can always find the center, 90 and 45 degrees, you can find any angle, to any degree of precision.

Once you can find always find endpoints, and center points of any line, any measurement, and any angle, at any degree of precision, you can describe any arc, at any degree of precision.

... and cut any screw or gear, at any degree of precision.

Once you can make anything round, concentric, flat, square, true, and level, find any measurement and any angle, cut any screw and any gear, and describe any arc, at any precision...

... you can make anything at all...

This is how the entire industrial world developed, and how everything is still made today...

Everything... every manufactured piece, every machine, everything in this modern world... begins with the lathe.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

The actual Covid-19 death data says... Yep, it's a sociopolitics driven fraud

Once you understand the full scope of the fraud that has been perpetrated on the american people surrounding Covid-19 deaths, death rates, infection rates, and everything else... you're going to be very angry, and rightly so.

Remember the initial death estimates of 2 million... or even the revised estimates of 2,000,000? Yeah... turns out, not so much. Even projecting current trends out to august.. the date for those original 2 million death projections... Looks like its' going to be AT WORST, 1/20th of that.

The ACTUAL reported deaths, from the CDC as of May 1st?

... It's not 68,000 as widely reported... it's actually a little more than HALF that, at 37,000.

The actual number of deaths per day peak? It's not 2,500 to 2,800 as widely reported, but about 1,700... and that was just one bad week, it went down to 1,500 the next week, and is now down to 450.

Oh and about 1/3 of all the deaths are just in NYC by itself... about half if you include the NYC metro area. This has been a genuine crisis for the New York metro area, and for a couple of other densely populated cities... and yes, really... essentially a really bad flu season everywhere else.

This is not to say that the disease and its direct impacts aren't serious... but we've now put 30 million people out of work for... if you're charitable, an "overabundance of caution"... If you're more cynical, for a very deliberate sociopolitical fraud by mostly the left, but also authoritarians of all stripes... Who see this as an opportunity to push their own political agendas and goals.

Data directly from the CDC:

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Little Advice, for the Quarantine Cook

The three biggest "secrets" to restaurant foods... what make them better than most peoples home cooking... are pretty simple:

1. Use more flavorful fats... Butter, bacon grease, olive oil, peanut oil, coconut oil, whatever flavors complement what you're cooking. Home cooks rarely use enough, and often use bland plain vegetable oil, or even worse, margarine.

2. Use more flavorful liquids... Unless you're boiling pasta, or plain white rice (and even then, always salt the water), never use plain water when you can use wine, or beer, or broth, or stock, or lemon juice, or orange juice, or at least salted and/or acidulated water (water with acid added to it), or of course milk... and  never use milk when you can use half and half, or cream.

3. Use more salt and other seasoning than you think you should... and season BEFORE your food hits the pan, then check the seasoning while cooking and season again, then check again before serving and adjust a final time. 

Home cooks mostly badly undersalt and under season their home cooked food (as opposed to fast food and most processed foods, which have a ton of sodium). And don't forget general flavor boosters like finely minced fresh garlic or shallots cooked out in the fat, toasting your spices in the fats; using chicken or beef broth base powder, or powdered instant coffee or espresso as a flavor enhancer; and adding umami boosters like soy sauce, hot sauce(especially fermented pepper based like Frank's Red Hot), Worcestershire sauce, real naturally fermented vinegar, aged hard cheeses, MSG, etc... 

Oh and one final thing... a technique issue rather than a secret ingredient... 

Most home cooks don't use enough heat... they're afraid of burning things, and don't use enough fat, so they cook in dry cold pans, which cook slowly and unevenly. Instead of searing or sauteeing, they end up steaming or braising or par-boiling their proteins, making them dry, tough and flavorless. 

Proteins (except maybe foie gras and some delicate seafoods) should ALWAYS go into a well fatted, and ripping hot pan... even if you then turn it down just after, adding proteins to the pan will suddenly drop the temperature, and you will have a hell of a hard time to get a good sear or proper sautee going. 

If you need to, you can turn the pan down once the temp drops, and the first bits of water evaporate off.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Strength, Recovery, and Gratitude

This started out as a light and fun post in my head... but as I started writing... it got kinda long, and serious... and then it got very long and very personal and very serious... but I have to get this out, and y'all are my friends and the people I love, and who love me.. so... if you're interested... here it is... 

...I warned you...

Now that I'm back on a full dose of thyroid meds... after three months of taking the minimum dose to keep me from going myxedemic, before I was able to get a new prescription... and given the recovery I've made over the last 18 months... I've been feeling like it was time to start working out again.

I still need to get back on my testosterone, modafanil and adderall, to be able to really be OK mentally and physically... and particularly the testosterone to really build any muscle back up very much for that matter (I need to raise the money to get a local doctor, and blood work, and then pay for the scrips)... but I'm recovered enough that I feel like I can get started back again at least. 

I don't have a functioning vehicle (I have a motorcycle, but it needs a new clutch and I don't have the cash for it) and I can't walk more than 50 yards, so I can't get to a gym regularly. We don't have any free weights here, and I don't have the money to get any... 


...We DO have a Bowflex Ultimate 2, with all the attachments, that has just been sitting, broken down for a few years and gathering dust... 

Now, I would much rather have free weights... and eventually I will again...  But a bowflex is actually great for circuit training, and honestly, that's what I need to be doing right now. Light weights, high reps, get into the aerobic cardio heart rate zone, and not strain my back too badly while I rebuild my supporting musculature.

So, my project for the day, is to clean up and get this machine working again, and then do my first real workout that wasn't physical therapy, since 2012 when I had my first round of cancer surgery and radiation. 

Christ... It really is almost 8 years since I've been able to work out at all... I have a hard time with that honestly... 

I was still recovering from the first round of cancer and radiation... and moving across the country FIVE times in three years... from 2012 until 2015. Then we found the next round of cancer in late 2015,  and then the next round after that and my spinal injury in late 2016...  and I was literally bedridden from late 2015 to late 2018... and now its 18 months of recovery from my last round of cancer surgery...

...and finally, I can start working out again....

I don't really have the words to describe what that means to me. 

I started in Jui-Jitsu when I was five, wrestling when I was 12, football and kenjutsu, and serious weight lifting when I was 13. Then power lifting when I was 14, and finally the SCA, and fencing (I fenced saber in college) and what they now call HEMA (whacking each other with medieval through rennaisance swords) when I was 16. 

From age 13 to age 30 I worked out almost every day... I was a serious competitive powerlifter, a football player, an airman and officer, a fencer and swordsman, a wrestler and juijiteiro... and I was strong, always... Even after I busted my knees up bad, other than running, I could always make my body do what I needed it to do, always lift that weight, always move that thing that nobody else could move, always carry that pack that was too heavy for everyone else... 

Then I started getting sick... And gaining weight... In less than 3 years, I gained over 200 pounds... But still, from  30 to 35 I worked out whenever I wasn't too sick... Which was less and less as I got worse and worse... and now after 8 years of being too damn sick, too broken down, to crippled up, to even work out at all...

... I can finally start again... 

I'm sorry that I'm rambling and repeating myself...It's just... Kind of a very big deal for me.

Up until my spinal injury... Being the strongest guy... or at least one of them... in almost any room, was a big part of my identity, and my sense of self. Not in a meathead ass kind of way... just... Knowing that whatever it was, I could handle it...  

Even when I was sick I was still the guy who hauled a 350 pound couch onto my back and took it down two flights of stairs and out to the truck.. I was still the guy who picked a 480lb lathe off the truck lift gate, and hauled it into my shop, when the truck driver  couldn't get close enough to the concrete slab, and would have had to unload it into the gravel. I was still the guy who was stupid enough to take a situps challenge, and do 200 situps in less than ten minutes  just to prove I still could, when somebody assumed I was just some fatass, and I just NEEDED to prove them wrong...

Immature? Petty? Stupid? Yeah,maybe a little... But you have to understand just how much being seriously chronically ill strips away the things that make you feel like yourself. And how hard you feel like you have to hold on to them. How not being able to walk without a walker for two years breaks down your self image. How not being able to get to the damn bathroom and having to use a commode for 18 months strips away so much of what you thought you were... How not even being able to get put of bed, and  being comoletely dependent on others for... everything... How that breaks you down.

...Through it all, I have always kept in my head and my heart... that core of me... the man who absolutely cannot be defeated... the man who has fought, and been broken down and damn near destroyed... but never defeated. The man who was too exhausted to keep fighting, but still SURVIVED when I couldnt fight anymore... The man who lived, when it was all I could do to live... when dying was so damn easy, and living was impossibly hard... 

When my body was useless and dying, and I couldn't even complete the basic tasks of keeping myself alive without help...

... At my core, I always held that... I don't know what to call it... hope, knowledge, conviction... that WILL... that CERTAINTY... That eventually, I would get back to being ME again. I would be able to think clearly again. That I would be able to write again. That I would be able to work again...  and that eventually  I would be STRONG again...

Over the last 18 months... since leaving a literally toxic environment that was killing me, and keeping me from recovering... I have lost over 100 pounds (I still have another 100 plus pounds to lose, but I've done pretty damn good so far). I have recovered more of the muscle tissue destroyed by my spinal injury and the resulting rhabdomyolysis and atrophy from almost three years of being bedridden, than my doctors and I thought possible. I have recovered enough muscle tone, and enough of my supporting musculature, that I can walk 50 yards without a walker or a cane on a good day (on a bad day I can't really walk at all, but there are more good days than bad now) which my doctors were dead certain would never happen again... 

They told me that I would probably never walk more than a few feet without assistance  again. They told me I would never be able to work out or lift heavy again. They told me I would never be STRONG again... Not like I was anyway...

A few days ago, I did 50 crunches... just to see if I could
It HURT... but I could do it. I could barely move the next day... But I still did it. 

I have recovered more than those who didn't really believe in me... even those who I thought loved me and supported me... ever thought I would.

I have recovered more than even I thought I ever would, or could... 

... And today... I'm going to use my strength again, and start working to build it back up again... I'm going to be STRONG again... I'm going to be ME again. 

And there is no way I can find the words to say what that means to me. 

... But I'm glad I tried.. because my friends, and the people who love me and care about me and support me... Maybe they need to hear this, as much as I need to say it.

Thank you.

Thank you all for keeping me alive, and keeping me going, and keeping me fighting through all of this... For giving me something to fight for when everything was ripped away from me... when those closest and most important to me abandoned me... when would have been expected to give up, to stop fighting...  you all kept me going. 

Thank you...

Time to get to work.

Friday, February 14, 2020

15 year Blogiversary

Today is the 15th anniversary of my founding of this blog, with this post:

First Post!!!!!

Ok folks, people have been telling me to write my own blog for two years now, so finally, here it is.

Yeah I said I'd get around to it before, but I'm lazy, what can I say.

The initial content is mostly going to be stuff I've written for other peoples blogs, and fora etc...

Suggestions, praise, worship, and deification are all welcome.

In that same day, I dumped a lot of content in, including the first two of my Recipes for Real Men, and my first AR-15 post "The Myth of AR Unreliability"... still one of my top 100 most read posts.

Recipes for REAL men, Volume 1

Men who dont care about heart attacks, or heartburn.

Men who dont mind their arteries hardening.

More Beef than Stew

The Myth of AR Unreliability

Ok guys, its time to smack down the bullshit here.

If an AR is properly maintained, and properly made in the first place, it is completely reliable. I have owned, been issued, and have used in harsh conditions, several AR's (including M4 variants); and I'm on my second M14. My AR's have been, without exception, more reliable than my M14's, more reliable than my G3, and in general more reliable than any other semi auto rifle I've owned.

15 years...

That's like a billion in internet years... And unfortunately life has been pretty screwed up most of the last ten, with cancer, family troubles... life troubles in general... I've only managed a few posts a year the last couple years. Ive mostly moved over to Facebook, because the conversation has mostly stopped happening on blogs over those years... But regardless, I'm still here... and still occaisonally writing long from blog posts here. 

I've written literally million of words, across thousands of posts. I've made thousands of great acquaintances, hundreds of friends, and a few dozen close friends... for which I am an incredibly lucky man.

I acquired an instant family... and nearly as quickly lost it 13 years later. 

I came within weeks of dying a dozen times, days of dying a half dozen, hours of dying at least four time... and I actually did die once, thankfully for less than a full minute.

Well... Thank y'all for being here, for reading and listening, and helping, and contributing, and inspiring, and every other damn thing.

...And please, always remember why I do this... 

...Callahans Law...

Shared Pain is Lessened; Shared Joy Increased - Thus do we refute entropy!

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Callahan's Law

Callahan's Crosstime Saloon", the first collected volume of Spider Robinsons Callahan's stories... 

...My absolute favorite series of stories and novels; which, in all honesty and seriousness, and without any hyperbole at all, I fully credit with saving my sanity, and my soul; more than a couple times... 

...Was actually published on the exact day of my birth.

Thank God for that... because it, and the other two collected volumes of stories in the series, "Time Travellers Strictly Cash"  and "Callahan's Secret" (all three are now collected in a single volume "The Callahan Chronicles"), were all in paperback a dozen someodd years later, the first time I really needed them. 

... There have been many other times I have needed them since... 

And the six more novels to follow, between 1989 and 2003, which were also there when I needed them... As was Spider himself once... though only by email, no less a help for it. 

I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him in person, but my friends who have, and particularly those...more than a couple... who also call him friend; have told me he's just what I would expect him to be, from my experience with him, and his writing, and his music. He is a man who must, by nature, because of his intellect, his empathy, his sincerity, his force of will, his sheer heart... reveal himself in all he does. 

I will say without a shadow of a doubt... I would not be alive, or remotely sane today, if it weren't for Spider Robinson, and Callahans... Or if by some awful curse or terrible miracle I was, I would be in prison... or very much worse. 

You see.. Callahans law states: 

"Just as there are Laws of Conservation of Matter and Energy, so there are in fact Laws of Conservation of Pain and Joy. Neither can ever be created or destroyed. But one can be converted into the other. Shared pain is lessened;  shared joy is increased - thus do we refute entropy"

If you think you might need Callahans too... I'm happy to help you out as I can. For that matter, theres at least a few thousand people just like me, all around the world, who also know they wouldn't be here, or sane, without Callahans... and without exception, they will help anyone who needs it, if they can.

Shared pain is lessened; shared joy is increased - Thus do we refute entropy.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Institutions, Transformations, and Insurrections

When you believe that your opposition, is in fact your mortal enemy, is fundamentally evil, and will stop or destroy everything you want and believe to be right... Well, then you can justify absolutely anything to yourself, in obstructing, resisting, opposing, damaging, and trying to remove or destroy that opposition. 

We have been in an escalating cycle of this for decades... Since LBJ at least... Maybe even since FDR... and we are at the point now, where the left believe that literally anything is justifiable, in order to give themselves the power to do what they believe is right... Including literally beating people in the streets. 

This was the goal of the critical school, and Gramsci, and the comintern operations against the capitalist west for the last 100 years... and it has succeeded in creating a completely unhinged left, and the failure and destruction of societal norms and institutions... Most of which the left have been gaining increasing control over for decades, and they have had essentially complete control over many of them since the late 90s. 

This is the point at which the criticalists and Gramscians, believed that they could induce the total collapse of the western capitalist order, and that the people would inevitably flock to socialism... They literally believed it was a scientific and historical inevitability, that socialism was functionally the next stage in the "perfection" of man and society. 

Except that's not happening... leaving aside a relatively small minority of zealots and idiots... Because most peoples lives are actually pretty good, and getting better not worse... Though if you listen to Democrats and the media we live in hell manifest on earth... Unless they're in charge of course.

Instead what is happening, is the majority of people are disconnecting from the institutions around them, and just trying to live their lives, which leaves the institutions to the zealots and the deluded... Until those zealots impinge on the peoples lives in ways they find intolerable, at which point they fight back... witness Virginia... 

This is not a good or stable state to be in... But it's also not the tinderbox of near civil war many believe it to be. It could progress to that, but only if either things actually get to be as bad as the zealots say it is, or those now corrupted and failed institutions attempt to impinge too far on normal peoples lives in ways they will not tolerate, and will violently fight back.... At which point, there should be a big collective gasp for air, and realization that something is seriously wrong and has to change.

... That's the point where we either get a mass reform movement of our institutions, or we get a civil war... which itself is such a mass reform movement, resorting to violence because the people believe it is the only way to effect the necessary change. 

If you look at the policies of the major parties... 

One side wants to completely change everything about this countries culture, institutions, and economy, because they believe the way things are is so bad and wrong that it must be changed completely... and they will precipitate that literally apocalyptic event (look up what the word apocalypse actually means) rather quickly if they can... because their zealots believe they will win (they won't, but zealots never believe they won't win), and then get to rebuild the nation in their chosen image... 

...The other side... not so much...

Saturday, September 07, 2019

A short lesson on how to lie to get what you want... without TECHNICALLY lying

"My god, this may be the worst disaster in history. You may lose your house and your children may die!"

... A short lesson on how to lie to get what you want... without TECHNICALLY lying...

This headline... while somewhat overblown... may look familiar if you've been reading news and social ,edit sites the last week or three... Or frankly, the last few years, particularly the last 3...

... If not the words, than the sentiment...

.. and that is the problem... it's about emotion and reaction, not information, and reason.

That notional headline, is not about informing you... it's not even specifically about getting your attention; which combined, are the primary purposes of headlines for actual news and information pieces. Or at least they're supposed to be.

Those words, that phrasing, is an editorial choice... the choice to use what is sometimes called "purple prose"... and is not designed to engage and inform you rationally and reasonably...

...  In fact, its a choice specifically designed to bypass reason and rationality, and to enflame and instigate REACTION, rather than reasonable consideration.

Specifically, they want you to react by sharing their links and spreading the irrational and unreasonable reaction to others.

The people who write these pieces, and the sites that publish them, have one job

That job is not to inform you... No matter how reputable a source they may be...

Even formerly responsible "hard news" organizations, and outlets for serious editorial commentary and opinion; are caught up in the hamster wheel of the online content generation and consumption cycle.

That job is to generate currency...

Both material currencies like ad revenues, and promotional considerations, and the even more valuable currencies of influence, social capital, and political capital.

These currencies are generated by audience impact.

Audience impact is measured by traffic (and if they have advanced data mining, by gathering valuable metadata).

Traffic is generated by getting people to share links.

To get people to share linksat sufficient scale scale to be effective at that one job, generally  requires one ( or more) of three things:

1. The least effective way is to create good feelings... being cute, or interesting or funny, or sweet... That generates the fewest shares and the fewest clicks and the least revenue.

2. More effective is to make people angry, or to inflame outrage. This is very effective for certain issues... politics and social issues, almost anything about children being abused, things about people being cheated... that sort of thing. These  stories get shared a fair bit, and generate a fair bit of revenue... but they tend to be self limiting, and there's a large percentage of people who just don't care about any particular subject... Even the most important possible subjects you can think of, many people will just tune it out.

3. Most effective of all? Anything that scares people... especially if it scares people about their homes, their savings, their own life or death.... or absolute worst of all... anything which may seriously harm their children.

You might notice.. Natural disasters offer these outlets the best of all possible scenarios... Even better than the 2nd and 3rd place topics: war, and politics (crime and "justice", , celebrities and pop culture, business money and economics, health wellness and medical issues, popular science {often having little to do with actual science} and "family and children", and "human interest" round out the top ten "mass appeal" topics... Almost all other issues are considered "niche", "genre" or otherwise of limited appeal).

They can write feel good stories about people helping people, and saving pets, and that sort of thing.

They can write stories to make you angry, about looting, and theft, and government failures, and government abuse... the worse the disaster the better...

...but... For either 1 or 2, they still need things to actually happen, so that they can write about them... or at least things need to feel tangible enough, or "real enough" that people will get mad about them.

The real goldmine though... better at creating emotional reaction than anything else... the absolutely INFINITE  possibilities for scaring people...

With fear, you get all the benefits of anger, combined with even greater likliehood of provoking unthinking reaction, and potentiallyfar broader impact. People are less likely  to ignore or tune out fear than anger, and more likely to react without thinking... or even reading more than the headline... and sharing the link....."just in case".

And the very best thing about fear based stories... even better than feelgood stories, or anger and outrage stories... is nothing needs to ACTUALLY happen.. or even be likely, or have any realistic chance of happening.

In fact, the thing doesn't even need to actually be plausible in the slightest, so long as they can confuse people enough that they may believe it... or the headline is scary enough that people share without reading... and that uncertainty is even better for creating more fear, and driving more traffic, from everyone who clicked and shared "Just in case".

So... step back, and look at the framing of the story... the phrasing and language and specific choices made by the author and editor. Look at the headline, and the included pictures.

... Are there a lot of verifiable facts, or is there a lot of passive interrogative or passive speculative  voice.. maybes, mights, and hypotheticals, presented as if they were facts or certainties?

Humans are inherently bad at evaluating risk... writers know this, and use it to lie, to create reactions, impressions, and emotions in the reader... while not TECHNICALLY lying. By properly  presenting a potentially catastrophic impact, with horrible unthinkable consequences, they know they can safely ignore the tiny likelihood of those unthinkable  consequences, because most most people, when forcefully and emotionally confronted with such unthinkable things... won't (...think that is... Most will either react with little or no rational thought, or if the feeling of threat or fear is great enough they will shut down both rationally AND emotionally do nothing at all).

When you examine the structure and language of a piece,  are  they using conditional or otherwise indefinite, but also extreme superlatives?  For example "this may be the worst thing ever" , or "If this happens, it will be the wost thing ever", or "if these conditions continue to worsen this may be the worst thing ever"... OR even sneakier and often more effective, establishing a set of speculative conditions earlier, then later treating them as if they are established fact; saying things like "the models show that this is the  biggest and worst disaster of all time".

Is there  an attempt to lay blame, or focus negative feelings for the "bad thing" on some vague and ill defined bogeyman, a  faceless but disfavored or unpopular entity or group, or a much hated specific organization or individual; with little or no attempt to prove or justify such blame, or a provide any kind of plausible rational causal link, or other factual or reasonable justification for such blame, or any other association of such emotions (or the reverse... to give credit to, or associate positive emotions with, someone or someething; without factual causal link, proof, or other rational justification) ?

Are the characterizations emotionally charged, deliberately attempting to induce emotions andreactions, and to create emotionally linked impressions and associations using linguistic psychology; like fear forcing, motive forcing, outrage forcing, suspicion forcing, negative association forcing, tonal forcing, or personal appeal forcing (appeal to ego, appeal to idealism, appeal to altruism, appeal to guilt, appeal to shame, appeal to conscience appeal to prurient interest, appeal to schadenfreude,  appeal to spectacle, appeal to ideology etc...) ?  Does it employ the classical fallacies: ad hominem, post hoc, cum hoc, false dichotomy or dilemma, straw man and the like?

How does the piece make you feel, rather than think intellectually and rationally? Go back and look at the text and other factors I mentioned above... Can you see these deliberate linguistic forcings, being employed to shape a narrative, specifically designed to create these emotions and reactions?

If the rhetorical content of a piece... written, spoken, or delivered through imagery... deliberately tries to make you feel or react a particular way, regardless of the facts... or even counter to them, or with facts being absent entirely; that piece is not news or information... It's not even editorial commentary or opinion...

... it's propaganda.