Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dream: travel, shopping, must rest...

I dreamed last night that Charlie and I were on a road trip. We stopped at a mall and there was a very crowded second hand store. We walked in and there were lines of people waiting to go through the various aisles. Eventually I spotted what looked like a baby section and there was a largish bag there obviously for baby stuff diapers etc. I looked it over; it was beige fake leather, there was a seam that had come apart on the outside that would need repair. The price tag said eight dollars. I looked inside and it really wasn't large enough to be a diaper bag. There was a zipper pocket and I opened it and there was a quarter inside. There was also an older style ladies wallet in the purse as well which I did not open. I do not remember purchasing the purse. About that time Charles and I looked at each other and said, "We're done here?". "Yeah" he said, "We need to get to Reno. " End of dream

To see or carry a purse in your dream represents secrets, desires and thoughts which are being closely held and guarded. It symbolizes your identity and sense of self. Consider also the condition of the purse for indications of your state of mind and feelings. Alternatively, a purse symbolizes the female genitalia and the womb.
I'm sitting on a gold mine that needs a little rejuvenation and ... and..MO MONEY!?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday morning idle thinking....

Phase Technology:
I lay in bed last night considering the state of phase technology. As far as I know, it only exists in Star Trek: Next Generation or perhaps amongst the Sci-Fi novels. A brief Google search reveals sound systems and some other kinds of phase technology that in no way resembles Next Generation tech. I would fall asleep trying to dig out any work being done by physicists or cosmologist and the math?  That is why there is a whole mathematical philosophy devoted to impossible stuff.
Thinking about the implications of the crew passing through the solid structures of the Enterprise unable to interact with the normal phase of the ship I thought this might be the solution to the Mid East Problem.
How about we use the technology to divide Jerusalem, Hell the whole middle east into three phases; Jewish , Moslem and Christian Jerusalem. That means that EVERY faith has total access to their very own Holy Land.
Now, think about this. the technology would essentially freeze the Holy Land in it's present glory, nothing could be developed or improved or rebuilt.
The Christians can relax about the Apocalypse, the tour groups can walk the Jesus walk, the Islamic folk can argue between the various factions and the Jews can pray at any wall they wish.
Hmmm, oh to have the Power of the local friendly Djinn, who you may note are distinctly of Arabic origin, so any and all wishes would have to be gone over with a fine toothed comb.
I could also see this being swiftly abused with Prison world, Republican World, American World, African World.
Can you imagine all the cruise ships toting all the pilgrims from everywhere and shimmering into their various preferred phases. This coupled with enhanced assault proof nanotechnology would make dull peaceful and frustrating multi-verses. All you could do is argue and trade insults. There would actually be insult shortages as people ran out of epithets, taunts and volatile commentary. Hypertension and anxiety would run rampant. Hmmm, better build in birth control in that nanotechnology, otherwise the end times really will be here before you know it.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Very peaceful day to all the folk and Happy Birthday, Jim.

Last night I had an adventure in dreamland. It was terribly important that I get from Point A to Point Z as quickly as possibly, it was vital that I get there.
There was a tremendous crowd of people in the auditorium I started out in,(Not sure it might have been an electronics convention) I had to excuse myself numerous times climbing over the furniture, handing people things I was about to stand on etc. (Here's your glasses, lady. Oh, Thank you!)
Once outside I headed up hill on a road that lead to another theater, again full of people waiting for something to happen. (I think a giant remodel was going on, I remember running past brand new colorful computers being installed down one aisle.) I dashed inside and saw that the seats were all filled. I leaped forward jumping here and there. At one point I grabbed some guy's hand to swing down to his level. I asked first of course. Whoever he was gallantly replied, "Why shore little lady, take mah hand." I reached the edge of the first row and there was a lake. I lined up and dived in and began swimming in something the consistency of mud and/or jello. I finally climbed out on the other side thinking to myself, "Boy I am sure gonna be sore tomorrow". About that time the radio came on and I was listening to NPR.
Not sure what dream symbols I will be looking up for this one; heroic task, running, swimming, it will be something dumb such as ..you feel as if you need more control in your life etc. Meh...
Merry Christmas, don't wear yourself out running around and stuff. As for me I am making stuffed mushrooms; sausage, green onions, Philadelphia cream cheese and 'shrooms. Yummy. And left over turkey casserole from Thanksgiving, stuffing and nap inducing condiments. Merry! Merry!
Oh wait! I get it, I just dreamed about traveling difficulties during the Holidays! Oy!!
To dream that you are traveling represents the path toward your life goals. It also parallels your daily routine and how you are progressing along. Alternatively, traveling signifies a desire to escape from your daily burdens. You are looking for a change in scenery, where no one has any expectations of you. Perhaps it is time to make a fresh start. If your travels come to an end, then it symbolizes successful completion of your goals. Oh dear.....

Monday, December 22, 2014

My neices's daughter, Miss M asked....why isn't there grape pie, is it a thing?

Yes, Miss Dunbar grape pie is a thing. Biggest ingredient; Time to marinate grapes but it sounds delicious!!

Seedless Grape Pie Recipe:  My Grandma Horn NEVER made a pie like this.  She would NEVER have made a vanilla wafer crust, just sayin'.
1 pound seedless green grapes, rinsed, dried and halved
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
40 vanilla wafers
4 ounces toasted walnuts
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
16 ounces sour cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

For the grapes: Combine the grapes, honey, brandy and lime juice in a zip-top bag, seal and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.  Spoiler: this is a major time suck and you will need to prepare this well in advance of baking day.

For the crust: Process the vanilla wafers, walnuts and salt in the bowl of a food processor for 15 seconds or until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse 6 to 8 times to combine. Press into the bottom of an 11- by 7-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.

For the filling: Whisk the sour cream, brown sugar and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl. Drain the grapes and reserve the liquid for another use. Add the grapes to the sour cream mixture and stir gently to combine. Pour the grape mixture on top of the crust and set aside.

For the topping: Combine the brown sugar and butter in a 1-quart saucier and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir constantly and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and pour over the grape mixture. Do not stir into the sour cream mixture. Cool at room temperature for 5 minutes, and then sprinkle the sea salt on top. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before slicing.
Cook's Note: You may use the reserved grape liquid to mix with your favorite adult beverage for a cocktail or with soda water for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink.

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2012

God Bless Alton Brown and Google. Let me know how it turns out.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Does Sears still send out catalogs?


There was a piece on the radio this morning about catalogs. The interview started with how many things have been killed off by the internet; Rolodex, paper maps, but not catalogs. Huh? Someone counted the number of catalogs they received during the week and received an average of fourteen catalogs.

When I lived in Barrow during the 90's, I received all sorts of fabulous catalogs all the way from barge order catalogs to Gumps of San Francisco. Unfortunately most of the catalogs would usually have a disclaimer that states specifically that they will not deliver to Alaska or Hawaii. Eventually I learned that the work around for that was to put the street address of the postoffice in the order form and next line put in the po box number so it looked like an apartment number. And I do remember ordering a very large steel kitchen storage shelving unit that cost over one thousand dollars including shipping. which had to be shipped in special air at another little terminal in Barrow. I'm pretty sure it was the need for something to put my grow lights and plants on that prompted that thrifty purchase. Had a tussle just getting it upstairs. I think it went for 50 bucks at the yard sale.  Here is a tip:  Always go to yard sales in Barrow.
However, I loved the luxury catalogs. There were the drool worthy furniture catalogs that were literally furniture porn. Oh and the food catalogs for Christmas gift baskets, very sexy. But my absolute favorite was Gumps. A store in San Francisco sent out the exquisite catalogs filled with spendy little treasures. My favorite item was a collection of Limoges nativity figures that were hinged to open. I think there were the basic three; baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, a donkey, a camel and sheep, shepherds, the three wise guys. The complete set was nearly 2000 dollars but boy was I ever tempted. Loved those figures. Now I would be terrified to put them on display because our cats may be senior citizens but they are spry enough to investigate and destroy anything new or unusual. I should probably go Google to see if they are still popular. Oh yes, Limoges nativity set still available at Gumps for 2,999.00 and they are SOLD OUT. Jeez.
Now a days we get catalogs but they are more generic; Dollar Store etc. sigh...not the same.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sunday Viewing

December 7, 2014:
Some reviews etc:
Day of Infamy: 73 years ago Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. I read the book Day of Infamy when I was in the sixth grade. I rememer being impressed by some of the physical feats performed by desperate sailors trying to save their ships. I did a book report for English class and got a middling grade. My heart was not in it as I was a fanatic Glenn Balch fan who was a popular Idaho author of Teen, horse riding adventure books. As it turns out I was never meant to own or ride a horse.

Very bad joke: I may have heard this on television. Might have been on the Mike Douglas show.
Have you heard about the guy who is half Japanese and half black?
Yeah, ever December 7th he goes out and attacks Pearl Bailey.
Bada boom, bada bing.

The Librarians: Brand new show on TNT. Bob Newhart, Jane Curtin and John Laroquet are secondary characters in this. The main people are very handsome and young and I have NO CLUE who they are. Everyone else out there who saw the show probably knows them from something that I have never willing subjected myself. Sorry but that is Baby Boomer viewing. The Library is a regular above ground library. The real library is several sub floors down and contains many, MANY magic artifacts such as Excalibur, The Ark of the Covenant, yeah that kind of magic, in storage. The main characters are the handsome 30-ish Librarian guy who clearly is pre Baby Boomer language familiarity wise. The CIA lady is 30-ish, blond, tall, strong, kick ass and knows her weaponry. The next three are summoned Librarians who did not keep their interview appointment and are; middle aged man IQ 195 writing novels while working on an oil rig 5 miles off the coast from his home town, a young Asian man who is a very talented thief and lastly a sweet doomed (brain tumor size of a grape) thing who is a walking computer. Okey dokey with me so far? CIA babe gets a letter saying she has been selected for the position of Librarian appear at the Library at time and date. She meets Jane Curtin who ushers her onto the elevator and they go down, down way way down to the real library. There the Gentleman Librarian is encountered sword fighting and his opponent is Excalibur. Eventually they become aware that they must search out the other three librarians and get them safe because someone is murdering all the other Librarian candidates. Then they go on a quest to recover King Arthur's crown. The bad guys want to bring back magic to the world. I LOVED THIS!!! Next week...dragons!!!

Two episodes of season three Sherlock Holmes: Episode three has not showed up on local PBS yet. A friend very kindly lent me all three seasons of her CD's.

Sherlock returns in The Empty Hearse. Scene opens with him in shackles being beaten by Serbian guard. He whispers to guard about his wife cheating on him and he storms out of the dungeon. The senior official overseeing the beating turns out to be Mycroft. Sherlock returns to London and decides to surprise John Watson who has gone out to dinner to propose to Mary. Sherlock snatches some diners glasses, some ladies menu and evening bag which he uses to give himself a miniature mustache. He presents the wine to John and natters on in a very amusing manner. John does not notice him. Mary returns to the table, recognizes Sherlock. John finally catches on, appears shocked and lunges for Sherlocks neck. Several stranglings and a nose bleed later it finally dawns on Sherlock that he might have gone about the whole thing wrong. Especially not letting John know anything. The remainder of the show is a composite from several points of view of how exactly Sherlock flung himself off the building and survived. Most witty and amusing and extremely well done. That was so well done I have actually forgotten what crime they solved during this episode.

Second episode Sign of Three: This involves John and Mary's wedding, the planning, the request that Sherlock be best man and make a speech, all of which looks to be dismal. And there were several tantalizing investigations along the way. A woman consulted with Sherlock about her dating a ghost, attempted murder of a Queen's Guardsman and attempted murder of John Watson's former Army Commander. The whole damn thing is solved during Sherlocks speech. Bad guy caught, and I am mesmerized by the quality of the writing...genius!!! Oh and John and Mary are preggers.

60 minutes:
Piece on Stradivarius great interview with famous Strad owner and where the current pieces are still made in Cremona from the very same forests as the original pieces. One wonders just how many centuries an original Strad can last. 
Piece on Cancer research and genome testing. A very rich genius from South Africa and of Asian descent has spent one billion with B dollars on cancer research, main frames and infrastructure. His approach has been to find genome of each cancer per patient and treat by gene therapy rather than by cancer site and to eventually treat cancer as a chronic disease. Most recent effort is to find genome of cancer tissues frozen decades before genome testing became available. He hopes to find patterns from the earlier cancers. One of his patients was a man diagnosed two years ago with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was told he had four months to live. He got some of the genome based cancer therapy and has lived to this date. There is also the problem that with genome based therapy 20 or 30 drugs developed for those cancers are required to treat them. The FDA is too slow. Conservative physicians view this as a good effort but is not an established treatment modality at present. 
Guilty Pleasure: Viola Grace has become one of my favorite authors. Her books are in digital format available from Amazon and she publishes three novellas each month unless she is traveling. Her world is a future earth (Terran First Wave) that is a protectorate of The Alliance. Because there are lots of beings out there who find Earthlings very appealing for many reasons. The Alliance sets Terra the task of finding 2000 talented volunteers to go into Alliance space or perhaps the Nyal Imperium to work, thrive and reproduce with other races. If they are successful, the Earth will be advanced gradually into full membership with the Alliance. The whole range of stories involve the women adapting to their newly discovered psychic powers and finding work in outer space. 

The other universe is The Crossroads. This is a place displaced in the space time continuum where shape shifters can find their true love and there is usually a pretty darn good story involved as well. At any rate Sunday evening her three most recent stories were posted and I dived right in. Thank you Viola.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

NPR, Roller derby and me.


Today is Saturday, I was luxuriating in my bed this morning listening to Weekend Edition on NPR by Scott Simon. He reported on the Texas world roller derby championship held recently. Not too sure who won but maybe 20 or 30 countries sent teams to compete.

Boy did this bring back some memories. In my young and much dumber days in the mid 1960's, I was first introduced to Bay area roller derby by my friend, Judy. I had no clue what roller derby was. You wanna go? Um sure. I thought maybe we would get to rent some skates and participate. 

Hmm better not. Each team consists of 5 women, four blockers and the scoring person. General mission is to out skate and pass the other teams scoring person and make a point. Lots of noise and excitement, lots of elbows and shoulder bumps sending blockers flying over the sides of the track. Judy and I followed our favorite team, Bay Area Bombers all over the area. Just like professional wrestling there were good guys and bad guys, good girls and bad girls. The bad ones were of course the most interesting. We went from the Cow Palace to some far off fair grounds buried somewhere in Contra Costa county to watch this sport.

Eventually I lost interest as time marched on. I remember seeing a television broadcast of Roller derby sometime in the 70's. The sport had definitely jumped the shark as they had an alligator pit infield that the unlucky had to jump as a penalty.. Woo hoo dangerous. Poor alligator I think he made a good purse later on. 

Now there seems to be a more professional effort as the sport is being promoted internationally. The Aussies won the loudest contest. And they all have colorful names. Just make 'em up, g'head...and shouldn't there be a Roller derby Beer?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Inner peace...inner....WHAT!?

I had a dream last night that featured a large elephant. The elephant was friendly, tame or something and we were going to use the elephant to move to a different house. First we had to wash the elephant in a stream and then the elephant was sad. I hugged its trunk. The mahout pouted and would not do anything with or for the elephant. The homeowner kept asking when we were going to move. 
To see an elephant in your dream indicates that you need to be more patient or more understanding of others. Or perhaps there is a memory that you are holding on to for too long. You need to let go of the past. The elephant is also a symbol of power, strength, faithfulness and intellect. Alternatively, the elephant's introverted personality may be a reflection of your own personality. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

I am interested in learning more about Islam mostly due to all our Muslim friends and not incidentally Taliban, Boko Haram and ISIS. So here goes.

To begin with there is the Five Pillars of Islam. I know for sure that one is charity (2.5% tithe, not bad!) and another one is the Hajj (trip to Mecca). I am unsure what the other three are but without Googling let me guess:
A: Sanctity.
B: Good deeds
C: Conversion of infidels. 
Now lets go Google the Five pillars...
1. Shahadah: declaring there is no god except God, and Muhammad is God's Messenger. Actually years ago I attended an oil company orientation in Houston. The lecturer displayed the Saudi flag and explained that the writing said, “There is one god, his name is Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet”. Said so on the flag.
2. Salat: ritual prayer five times a day at pre-dawn, midday, afternoon, sunset and night. The five daily prayers are obligatory (fard) and they are performed at times determined essentially by the position of the Sun in the sky. Hence, salat times vary at different locations on the Earth. Remember they invented algebra to aid in time computations (you should see the formulae!!) They also perfected maps and navigation in order to find Mecca for proper orientation of the prayer rugs.
3. Zakat: giving 2.5% of one’s savings to the poor and needy.
4. Sawm: fasting and self-control during the holy month of Ramadan .This is a movable feast based on the lunar calendar and as near as I can remember the holy month advances eleven days for each 365 days. Years ago when I worked at Fairchild Semiconductor there were several Black Muslim ladies working on the graveyard shift. They got very skinny during Ramadan because they didn't eat during the day.
5. Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime if one is able.
Wow, three out of five is a good guess, I know there was prayer and fasting but did not know they were Pillars. 

A few years ago I watched a special on the Hajj. It might have been National Geographic but maybe not. The film followed three or four families on their preparations for Hajj and the various rituals they had to perform once there. One group came from America, one family journeyed from England and a third family came from Indonesia. They had to purchase the special clothing, no one wears western clothing while on Hajj. The clothing for men seems to consist of two lengths of cloth to cover torso and a second one to cover head and shoulders all in white. The ladies all wear the basic black gown, head cloth and the same wrap as the men. The only exception I saw was one American blond who wore a pretty red head cloth, I do not know if that has any significance other than style. Get two million pilgrims in town and that is a lot of white. 

The story of how Islam came to be started with a very old Bible story. When Abraham cast out Haggar and Ishmael they wandered in the direction of Mecca. Haggar was desperate to find water for her son and walked back and forth in a valley several time and finally found some water at one end or the other of the valley. As a kid, I had always wondered what happened to Haggar and Ishmael. One of the rituals is for the pilgrims to walk that distant seven times (I think?) and pray. There is actually a covered walk way to keep pilgrims safer from the extremely hot weather when Ramadan happens in high summer.

Another ritual is to walk counter clockwise seven times around the Kaaba and pray. One of the rituals is to walk between two mountains several times and pick up 42 small stones which are used to stone the devil. Another ritual is to sacrifice a sheep, a goat or a camel. There are large abattoirs that provide the animals, all the pilgrim must do is pay for the ritual and the butchers text them when it is done. The sacrificed animals are donated to the poor and hungry. The men must get their heads trimmed or shaved, most of them go for the full head shave. The women are required to get a demure little trim. Oh yes, stoning the devil takes place at three large wells, there are at least two levels built like a super highway to handle the traffic. This allows the pilgrims to walk to get close enough to cast their stones into the well. Now I got to thinking and I figure 42 small stones x 2 million pilgrims is a few tons of gravel. What happens when the wells fill up? Do they empty the wells and recycle the rocks? 

All of these rituals happen during one week twenty-four/seven. That is a lot of organization. One of the managers was interviewed and he stated that having two million come to town was like having 20 Super bowls in one day. Ye Gods and Little Fishhooks!! Oh and there is a permanent tent city divided up by countries. During the filming I could see large commercial cranes in the back ground. Apparently there are several very tall hotels being built so that apparently the rich folk can pray from their rooms. There are also plans for expansion of the mosque surrounding the Kaaba by several square miles in order to accommodate the increasing number of Muslims, total world wide membership is up in the billions with a B.

One of the annual rituals is the covering of the Kaaba. The building is in the center of the mosque and looks smallish but is actually a couple hundred yards cubed. Each year the building gets a new cloth covering. The cloth is black and Koranic verses are embroidered all over it in gold thread, it is quite beautiful and cost five million dollars. There is also a private purification ritual inside the Kaaba itself where certain members come inside to wash the walls. I did notice someone handing a large five gallon plastic bucket inside. Um, I don't want to sound irreligious given that the building covering is so fancy, but wouldn't a gold bucket be nice? Maybe not, a five gallon GOLD bucket might be too heavy to pick up and get inside the building. Maybe one of those expanding hoses...

The film also covered the air travel, once the jets enter Saudi air space, there are specific prayers to be said on board. Part of the journey is to land in a town near Mecca (Medina?) to pray in the Grand Mosque to get into the proper frame of mind then journey to Mecca to continue the Hajj. Once this trip has been completed the pilgrim has earned the right to be called Haji. I wonder if it is the same for women. Let me Google that be right back...Oh they are also called Haji, how nice. 

One last thing: Call to Prayer. I watched several You Tube recordings of various calls to prayer. They were all beautiful. I got to wondering if they ever performed in harmony? The closest I could find was viewing call to prayer from a rooftop in a town with a lot of Mosques and it was sort of harmonious except all the calls were slightly ahead or behind each other. That may be a courtesy thing if singing in harmony is not part of the culture. I also watched one clip of a service where the Imam was singing a very long verse. About halfway through he became very emotional and actually cried. I truly do not know why the man was crying but he manfully got himself under control and finished the prayer with an “Allah”.

One last thought. How would Islam be effected if they mounted a space program and landed on their own planet and had it all to themselves? 

Okay that is enough comparative and/or speculative religion for the day.