Thursday, December 29, 2016

Another Radiolab review report what ever.

I like Radiolab but sometimes I don't particularly care for the topic.  I will avoid the one labeled, "quicksaaaand".  I used to have that nightmare as a kid but once I saw someone demonstrate how to get out.....

So the other night the topic was certainty, uncertainty.  The guest was a woman who had been assaulted behind a sand dune in the late 80's.  She got a good look at the man, he ultimately strangled her until she passed out.  When she awoke she noticed that her hands were covered with blood, so she carefully crawled to the top of the dune to preserve the evidence.  Her husband found her and then went to the police.  She described the guy.  The police assembled nine men with numbers hanging in front of them.  Number three made the hair lift on the back of her neck and she identified him.  They went to trial, the defendant presented a perfect alibi, he was helping pour cement with his family.  His clothes were examined and there were no cement particles on his clothes.  He was convicted on very strong circumstantial evidence.  He got 32 years without parole.  Seventeen years and some odd months later the woman's lawyer called her.  The DNA was in and he was not her assailant.  She was utterly crushed.  The man was exonerated. She eventually asked to meet him to apologize.  They met and talked and she asked to hug him.  Most of the time during the 17 years she had performed some volunteer work, particularly at the prison giving classes to the prisoners.  Her lawyer told her that there was a hit on the DNA.  Her real assailant was in the same prison for 60 years.  She wanted to see what he looked like and she had no visceral reaction to her real assailant.  A couple years later her lawyer called her to say that her exonerated assailant had been booked for murder.   Police found the body of a missing woman.  His nephew was questioned and confessed that he had gone to visit his uncle who answered the door.  He saw the woman tied up on the bed.  His uncle invited him in to rape her as well and they then killed her.  He was convicted and went to prison.  The woman was stunned and could no longer believe her own perceptions about people.  The retired judge of the case talked with her and said that her original assailant had a previous record and the police were actually watching him but did not follow him the day of her assault.  The judge also told her it was his opinion that he was an outlier for the situation.  To recap she was assaulted, convicted the wrong man her feeling fully engaged with his guilt, he was proven innocent, her DNA pointed out another man who did not engage her feelings and then the original guy committed murder.  Brrrrr.  You couldn't make this stuff up. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve chit chat Radiolab Review

I have recently developed the habit of listening to various podcasts on my Kindle at night.

Last night I listened to Radiolab.  The hosts are two lovely NPR gentleman with polysyllabic names and poly cultural accents.   I listened to  BLISS.  I'm sure you can find it.

The first segment was all about a gentleman named Mr.Bliss.  He was born in 1908 in Germany I think it was.  At any rate he had a varied youth and was a talented musician.  He and his wife were living in Germany in 1938.  He was sent to one of the death camps.  He was very popular there he played instruments and taught subversive lyrics to the prisoners.  Everyday all of the prisoners were marched outside to listen to hours of very loud propaganda speeches by Hitler and company.  The more he listened he decided that language was easily manipulated to go from good to bad things.  He thought there should be a method to keep language from changing.  Eventually his German wife was able to get him a Visa and they went to China, which was the only country accepting Jews. They stayed there working to stay alive and eventually went to Australia.  Once they settled there, Mr. Bliss decided that he would work on a dictionary that involved symbols and each symbol with represent a thought.  Therefore no one could use the symbol as propaganda.  Eventually Mr. Bliss completed his symbol dictionary and published it and mailed out 6000 copies and waited for the orders to roll in.  No one ordered anything.  After a while he gave up on his book.  About 1970 a teacher in Canada was looking for something to help her class of cerebral palsy children learn to speak.  She found the Bliss Symbols book, looked it over and checked it out.  They started out slow with simple symbols and worked their way up.  The kids were communicating.  The teachers were able to sort them by smartest to who needed help, who was a leader, who needed leadership, etc.  They were thrilled!.  The teacher wrote a letter to Mr. Bliss about the success of his symbols.  He was so thrilled that he traveled from Australia to Canada to see the students in action.  When he got there he was thrilled at first and then when he saw that the symbols had evolved with additional symbols he was horrified.  He objected that the modifications would lead eventually to them speaking English.  The teacher said yes that was what they wanted.  He objected strongly because to invent new dialects for the symbols would defeat the original purpose of elimination of language with use of the symbols.
I do not think he envisioned the symbols being spoken it was all mental.  So there was a falling out, he sued the Canadian education system and eventually settled for $187,000.00 and that was pretty much the end of the use of Mr. Bliss symbols to help the cerebral palsy students speak.  He wanted to prevent language being corrupted for war purposes and truly did not see the benefits of helping the cerebral palsy students. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

day two of no posting on Facebook

Good morning; I woke at 5 am this morning, fired up my Kindle to read in my nice cozy warm bed.
I opened videos and found that because I have one of those prime accounts that I have access to all sorts of Videos.  I watched part of the first episode of "Alpha House"  Hilarious.  The story is that four senators share a house in DC.  One of them is Bill Murray who gets picked up by the DOJ to start serving a term in prison.  Now they must find a fourth roomie and attend to Congressional bidness.  So far, so funny.

The ice storm has triggered a state emergency so they can apply for FEMA money.  Wonder if FEMA has small change for that.  I wonder how Trump will treat FEMA once he gets in a budget cutting mood. 

I listened to another Podcast last night.  Was it Invisibilia? Yeah, I think so.  A young man was talking about his sophomore year in college.  He was greeting new freshman and heard an odd sounding voice next door.  He introduced himself and the young man replied very slowly stating his name.  It turned out that he was very bright, just talked slow as a result of being hit by a car when he was eight and being in a coma for five months.  He had to learn how to walk and never did get his voice back.  The weird thing is that he never knew that he talked slow, mostly because his parents were both deaf.  The first kid found a mutual acquaintance who was a neurologist and he had never heard of this particular ailment.  The slow talking guy wrote a song and sang it very slowly.  The first guy found a musical group to compose a song around his lyrics and speed and it was actually quite well done and very touching.  The things you learn on the radio, I tell ya. 

Bye for now.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Not possible to post on Facebook this morning.

Here sitting snugly and somewhat smugly on the beautiful southern Oregon coast, we really dodged a bullet this past couple of days.  A winter ice storm hit the central Willamette from Portland down to Roseburg.  Hundreds of huge old trees loaded with ice were crushed with the weight.  They fell on cars and houses, uprooted sidewalks etc.  There thousands of power outages.  Power crews from all over the state came in to help restore power. 

In the meanwhile I have been faithfully cranking out my eighth of a mile per day walk around the block.  I look for a break in the rain and occasionally get stunning sunshine.  Now sunshine here in Oregon can be dangerous.  While driving the light strobes through the trees as we fly by and it can be extremely distracting. Kind the visual version of running along a picket fence, dragging a stick along the fence for the noise.

On my daily walk, I always walk by a neighbors yard.  It has been semi-feral for years, no weeds mind you as ever square inch is planted with grape vine, fruit trees, giant ferns, a gingko tree, an yellow delicious apple tree, all sorts of begonias, huge Rhodies, one extremely large Douglas fir.  In the summer it is so overgrown that the sidewalk is like walking through a tunnel.  Most of the leaves drop off the trees in the winter and the sunshine shows off a rather handsome bird bath that is a large porcelain and just might be a spend McCoy or something.   There is one house on my route that has six or seven Trump signs in the front yard, they went up shortly after the election weirdly enough.  Oregon was a blue state for all the good it did us.

Also the annual Robin migration has arrived for them to Winter over.  A huge chattering flock descended to strip the red berries off my backyard Holly tree and they liked the tiny tine pine cones on the fir tree.

I like to listen to Splendid Table, one of the guests was complaining about how Delicious apples had no taste.  Hmmm, I then wondered if he had ever had a water cored Delicious.  That happens rarely and the growers curse it because that bin cannot be sent to market as they rot so quickly afterwards.  But water core happens when the fruit is still on the tree and then there is a frost.  The freezing forces juices to concentrate in veins near the core of the apple and is extra sweet and crispy.  I pity the person who has never tasted this financially unfortunate sometimes seasonal tasty miracle.  

I haven't felt like cooking much lately but yesterday I had all the ingredients for  Tamale Pie um except I used cut up corn tortilla shells instead of corn meal and I used a packet of Sloppy Joe seasoning which just left it faintly sweet, not overpoweringly Sloppy Joe like.  Husband left rave reviews.  The roasted peppers were spot on and so flavorful.

News on the kitty front.  Our newest black cat, Charlie, has discovered my lap.  Not only that but he will paw at the covers to be covered up.  And he is very good at holding me down in the chair.  He also likes to come to the bedroom and crawl under the top blanket where I have a heating pad, Bingo!!!  The oldest cat member, Braza, is 17 and 7 months.  She still gets around pretty well.

So, stay warm people, it's an extra chilly El Nino winter here and there.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Fannie Farmer's Last Meal (Netflix)

Christopher Kimball until recently, host of America's Test Kitchen decided he wanted to host a Bostonian Victorian dinner based on the 1896 cookbook by Fannie Farmer.  She was the first cook to standardize measuring cups and spoons.  Until her book was published, cooks used a handful of this, a peck of that, pinches and dashes.  Ok for most things but not precise enough for baking. unless you didn't mind the occasional hockey puck.

She published twelve course dinner menus in her cook book and Christopher decided to replicate one of those dinners as nearly as possible.  Twelve courses!! Now a days we usually gobble down  a one meal dish and dash. 

According to the Victorians, you could spill a drink at dinner but not announce it, just continue with dinner and a servant will clean up after you.  No discussion of politics or any rude topic.

This whole Victorian dinner took planning...over a year!! and that was not just the cooking.
The dinner was slated to take place in the family's Bostonian brown house.  He found an old antique
coal cooking stove and had the monster installed in his first floor kitchen.  The mason had to work in the brick work surrounding the chimney and back of the stove.  The stove was converted to wood burning and boy does it get hot.   They can make pizza in that monster.

His wife searched for a year for period table ware, cutlery, stem ware, linens and there was a gorgeous punch bowl for serving the rum punch.

Chris's coworkers from AMT did the recipe testing and it took months of trials to actually find the ingredients and try variations because Fannie Farmer's recipe did not include such things well known to the kitchen help in that period but which have long fallen out of common usage.

For instance the menu called for mock turtle soup.  Since the local turtles were on the endangered species list they could not use the local terrapins.  The Brits had somehow determined that mock turtle soup taste was best replicated by usage of calves heads.  The recipe did not specify how the calves heads were to be cooked; with brains and eyes or what.  Through trial and error it was discovered that the brains and eyes were to be removed prior to cooking.  The brains were poached and made into small balls that were then fried up for the dinner.  The eyes were discarded. This was only the beginning.  Head meat was to be shredded, various veggies prepped and all must be clarified into lovely soup.

There was a goose course.  The goose was covered in bacon.  There was a salmon course, and they diverted from Fanny's recipe for her salmon and simply grilled it on the woodstove.  The original called for a white sauce and some other unappetizing details.  There was a venison course.  The venison was larded using a long needle threading a core of lard into the meat to provide moisture. The stove was too hot and smoked the ends of the lard so they cut it off and it went up for service.

About four courses in there was a lemon sorbet as a palate cleanser.  That looked lovely.

The only vegetable course was artichokes and they were fried.  Not a speck of fresh lettuce salad as we know it was served.

There were three different jellies.  The cooking of this involved preparing calves foot jelly and it was  grueling.  Boil, boil, boil, calves feet, scrape off fat, voila jelly.  The jelly was then mixed with various flavorings, fruits and colors and set in layers in molds, quite colorful and delicious.

Wine was served throughout the dinner.  The upstairs butler had a microphone to let the downstairs cooks know that the next wine course was being poured and to bring up the next dish.  Good grief.

Dessert was an elaborate cake called Mandarin cake.  It was basically a chiffon cake backed in a mold, hollowed out and a lovely fruit crème inserted inside it and allowed to set.  The cake was decorated with whole mandarin oranges that were hollowed out and filled with layers of jellies and when sliced open were beautiful.  The display cake was left whole and individual slices of the cakes and jellies were presented on plates for each of the guests. 

There was so much work that went into this and to think that the Victorian Bostonians tossed an effort such as this on a more or less daily basis.  Shudders.  The modern crew that worked on this numbered about the same as the guests, a dozen or so.  I hope they got to nibble on the left overs. It sure looked like fun.

Now, I am no longer going to be able to follow Mr. Kimball on America's Test Kitchen because they have parted was in a flurry of litigation.  I have listened to him on the podcasts enough to form a hazy picture of what he looks like.  Not close.  He resembles Mr. Rogers with glasses and a bowtie.  And the web search revealed that he had lost 200 lbs to get to his present nicely slim weight.  Could not believe the before pictures.  Good job, now he can live longer and plan more elaborate dinners. Yay!!!