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The U.S. Army…

is 243 years old, today. Happy Birthday to all of you, past and present. You have upheld a fine tradition of service.

Alas for my bok choy

A few nights ago we had what can only be termed a “significant” thunderstorm here in our small West Texas city (bear in mind that “small” is a relative term and I tend to favor towns in which the population falls somewhere between four and five digits). It decimated my bok choy cabbage, which is a bummer. I had very specific plans for it. Specifically, I was going to make my initial efforts at making kimchi with bok choy, rather than the traditional Napa cabbage. Sadly, such a thing was not to be.

Fear not! All is not lost.

Enter Napa cabbage.

bok choy

I actually used two of them. Yummy looking, yes? They got chopped into pieces about two inches wide.

Then, of course, we needed the daikon radish.

daikon radish

If you are used to the small red radish that we typically see here in the US, the daikon is a little different. Other than the fact that it is not red, there are two other differences. First, it is a lot bigger (the one I used weight right at one pound). Second, it is very mild in comparison to many red radishes. These also got chopped, though into much smaller pieces than the cabbage.

All the other goodies.

kimchi ingredients

Garlic…I used about six cloves. I peeled a piece of ginger about two inches long. I chopped the entire bunch of scallions into pieces about one inch long. The garlic, ginger,  and about 1/3 cup of the sambal oelek went into the blender to make a paste. The cabbage, daikon and scallions went into a food grade plastic bucket along with about four tbsp of kosher salt. The veggies and salt were mixed by hand and then allow to sit for two hours or so. Although I didn’t take a picture, after two hours the salt had pulled so much water out of the veggies that they occupied a much smaller space.

I pulled the veggies from the bucked, placed them in a glass bowl (now that they would fit) and with gloved hands mixed them with the paste. Then, into the canning jars they went. That was yesterday. According to the recipe I used, they need to be opened every day to allow the gases that are a by-product of fermentation to escape. The recipe was right! After less than 24 hours, the lids on the canning jars were bulging. The mixture should sit one more day before I taste it to see if it’s ready. Still, it already looks like the yumminess that is kimchi.

kimchi

Tomorrow, we’ll see if it is ready for the refrigerator or if it needs to ferment another day at room temp.

Of gardens, life and depression

I have mentioned previously my battle with depression. In the (not) words of Yoda, “a part of life, it is, hmm?” In my case, a garden is one of the best things I can do to make my life better. My last garden was a spring garden, two years ago. Between working out of town and depression, I did not plant one last year (and foolishly deprived myself of the anti-depressant benefits I get from working a garden). So, this year’s spring garden required a fair bit of work.

While I neglected to take pictures of the initial ground/weed clearing, I eventually wound up with this picture:

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Not pretty, but it was better than the weeds that had been there, before.

I had decided I wanted to try raised beds, this year. I priced treated lumber, but Lowes and Home Depot are both inordinately proud of their treated lumber. Instead, I opted for untreated lumber. I had some in my garage. The rest I bought from Lowes, who happily took my money!

I opted for 4′ x 10′ beds to reduce the amount of sawing I’d need to do.

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This one is typical of what I built using 2″ x 10″ x 10′ lumber. The two pieces of scrap on the diagonal are there to make it more rigid for moving. I took them off once I had the various beds in place.

I had to make several beds.

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Feel free to ignore the mess in the background!

Then, the beds had to be placed. It took awhile, but doing it by myself meant I could only blame one person if it turned out wrong. Besides, it’s my project, anyway!

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Woo-hoo! They are placed. Now, all I need are seedlings to plant…

plants to be planted

Above, we have a sampling of said seedlings. There were more, plus the plants I sowed directly as seeds.

Not everything happened in the garden itself, though.

flowers

These bloomed early on. Pretty, yes?

Eventually, things started to grow.

potatoes baby

Potatoes in a barrel (and a finger on the lens).

We have plums

Plums! Now, if I can only keep the birds away from them.

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There is stuff behind the tomatoes, I swear!

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Like salad goodies

green beans

And green beans

There’s other stuff, too, but the pix came out worse than my green beans pic, so apparently even I have standards!

Anyway, the point of all this is really to help me look at my garden now and remember what it was when I started it. It’s a good cure for those times I’m tempted to say I don’t have the energy to work on it. Everyone is different, of course, but my experience with depression has been this: When I force myself to do the very thing I simply do not feel like doing, things get better. I have more energy, my aches and pains subside and my outlook improves. For me, the garden is a great way of doing “the thing” that makes life better. I don’t know what it will be for you, but I encourage you to find your thing. Don’t stay locked away inside your home, secluded and alone. That will not make life better. Doing the thing makes it better.

Go do the thing.

 

 

 

 

Risk assessment

Not too long ago, I wrote about the possibility that collectivists and individualists differ in the kinds of risk assessments they make. Now that I look at it, the post could have been fleshed out a bit more, but I think I’ll leave it as is. How convenient, then, that someone shared with me an article from Medium.com. Entitled “The Surprisingly Solid Mathematical Case of the Tin Foil Hat Gun Prepper,” I would have likely not read it due to the title. Fortunately, it was recommended to me by a person whose opinion I respect. He suggested I read it, though he said I would likely not find it comforting. While it was not comforting, it did tend to reinforce some things I already thought, but without any “the sky is falling” sorts of statements.

The author, BJ Campbell, is a stormwater hydrologist whose professional concern includes things like determining the risk of a given area flooding. He applies the same sort of mathematical analysis to determine, in this case, the risk of what I will call “significant social upheaval.” His conclusion? The risk of such an event during an average lifetime is greater than that of floods for some people living in floodplains. I encourage you to read the article for yourself.

One of the things that interests me about people, far more than the math of their risk assessments, is the sorts of assumptions they make. Campbell deals with some of these as they pertain to mass shooting incidents. He suggests that in the aftermath of a mass shooting, discussions and conversations about guns and gun control policies end up in “three buckets.”

There’s the “tyranny can never happen here” bucket, which the left has mostly abdicated in the wake of Trump winning after they called (and still call) him a tyrant. There’s the “you can’t fight the army with small arms” bucket, which is increasingly unsound given our ongoing decade-and-a-half war with Afghani tribal goat herders. And there’s the “what the hell do you need an AR-15 for anyway?” bucket, which, by its very language, eschews a fundamental lack of understanding of what those people are thinking.

I find the last of his comments about buckets most refreshing because it addresses the fundamental lack of understanding on the part of many people. Preparedness is not about getting ready to overthrow the US government. It’s about being prepared (in such an event) should others attempt to do so. More than that, it is about taking steps, should things reach the point of well and truly sucking, to help ensure that for you and yours they don’t suck quite as much. Under the heading of “Prepping is Just Disaster Planning,” he writes the following:

“But if one of these things happens, you’re screwed anyway!” Well, sure. The point of disaster planning for a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or wildfire, is not to be “not-screwed.” It’s to be notably less screwed.

What I find really interesting, given that Campbell specifically says he is not a prepper, is that he touches on the sorts of things that some preppers find concerning.

It’s an interesting read and I highly recommend it.

Note: Just before I published this thing I realized Bayou Renaissance Man had devoted space to it on his blog. I encourage you to read his words. They’re much more coherent than mine.

King of the punsters?

Edwin Newman was a broadcast journalist who began his career in the wire services before transitioning to radio and eventually to television. He may have also been one of the greatest punsters of all time. This is frequently attributed to him. I reproduce it here for your dubious benefit and with no apologies for the pain it may cause. I should note, it does require some familiarity with the 1970s.

“Where have you been?” she asked.

“Out walking the dog,” he said, “looking for the old familiar feces.”

“Your shoes are wet,” she observed.

“Naturally,” he said, “nobody knows the puddles I’ve seen. That is why I am standing on these newspapers. These are the Times that dry men’s soles.” He took off his jacket and tossed it aside. “This”, he said, “is so sodden.”

“I’ll never forget the time they brought you in frozen stiff,” she said,

“I was afraid you’d never come out of it.”

He shrugged. “I thawed, therefore I am.”

“I believe the dog has distemper or worms or something,” she said.

“Maybe so,” he replied, “but his bark is worse than his blight. By the way, I’m thinking of giving him to the Longshoremen’s Union as a mascot.”

“What kind of dog do they want?”

“A dockshund.”

“I’m lonely,” she said, and pointed to a button she was wearing that bore the words “Kiss me. I’m Irish.”

“I’m hungry,” he said. Quiche me. I’m French.”

She gave him instead a pastry consisting of thin layers of puff paste interlaid with a cream filling. He cut off a corner and ate it. “Very good,” he said. “Also the first square mille feuille I’ve had all day.”

“Your French is getting better, she said. “I can remember when you thought the French for throw out the bag was cul-de-sac.”

“O solecism mio,” he said. “And I can remember when you thought a porte-cochere was the entrance to a Jewish restaurant.”

There was a moment’s pause. Then:

“I had an apprentice French hairdresser once,” she said.

“What did he have to say for himself?”

“Je ne sais coif.”

“Having a man around the house does make a vas deferens,” she continued.

“And a woman around, too,” he said gallantly. “You’re a wonderful housekeeper. You keep everything polished.”

“Maybe so,” she said, “but I wish I could chamois like my sister Kate.

I meant to ask you, did you watch the space shot at the office?”

“No,” he replied, “To me the space program is a mere shirrade. I decided to go to a movie instead, the one in which Montgomery Clift plays the founder of psychoanalysis.”

“What was his name again?”

“Pretty Boy Freud.”

“I notice that in the early days of photography he had his picture taken with his coat on and looking furtive. Any idea why?”

“He must have been a cloak and daguerreotype.”

She changed the subject. “I’m glad we’re out of Vietnam.”

“So am I. It was time to let Saigon be Saigon’s.”

“What do you make of the situation between the Russians and the Chinese?” she asked.

“Dogma eat dogma”.

“You said a Maouthful.”

“Tell me, how was your trip to Washington?”

“All right,” she said, “but the taxi driver insisted on talking. I felt that I was a cabtive audience.”

“What was it you had to do there?”

“Deliver two messages.”

“To whom?” he asked.

“One was to the junior senator from Mississippi.”

“Any trouble?”

“No. I was directed to a room where the Armed Services Committee was meeting, and I simply went in and asked, `Stennis, anyone?'”.

“What was the message, by the way?”

“Just what you’d wish on any politician during the festive season: a Merry Charisma and a Happy New Year.”

“And the other?” he asked.

“That was more difficult,” she said. “The nonferrous metals industry was holding a meeting and I had to find the one ferrous metals man who was there. Luckily I was able to go into the ladies’ room and say,

`Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the ferrous one of all?'”

“Any luck?” he asked.

“Oh yes,” she said.

“What did you do about lunch?” he wanted to know.

“I had Chinese,” she said.

“Not Korean?”

“No, though I do like Seoul food.”

“Was the Chinese any good?”

“Not really. I sent back the soup.”

“Any reason?”

“I told the waiter it had been tried and found Won Ton.”

“You’ve done better.”

“When?”

“That cold day at the Four Seasons when you didn’t like the cooking and you told the head waiter, `Now is the winter of our discontent.’ But what happened after you sent back the Won Ton?”

“They brought me some consommi.”

“How was it?”

“Much better. It was a consommi devoutly to be wished.”

“I’d like to have a Chinese meal in Alaska someday,” he said musingly.

“Why is that?”

“I’d like to try lo mein on a totem pole.”

She was lost in thought for a moment, then blushed lightly. “I don’t think I’ve every told you that I originally intended to marry a clergyman.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“Because,” she said, humming softly, “I picked a layman in the garden of love when I found you.”

I was his turn to hum.

“What are you humming?” she asked.

“The volcano’s torch song,” he said. “Lava, come back to me.”

She pouted.

“This time of year seems to bring out the worst in you.” he said.

“I know,” she replied. “I’m often jejune in January.”

“Sometimes I think you’ve never got over your regret at not being born a blond.”

“Not quite true. Actually, I dream a genealogy with the light brown hair. Wasn’t it a shame about Father O’Reilly being mugged the other night after the ecumenical meeting?”

“He can’t say he wasn’t warned. Rabbi Goldstein was most explicit.”

“What did he say?”

“Do not go, gentile, into the good night.”

“And that did not stop Father O’Reilly?”

“I’m afraid not. He left without further adieu.”

“Do they know who did it?”

“No, but they do know that the muggers were young and were laughing as they left.”

“Jubilant delinquents?”

“Exactly.”

“I bought a book of British seafood recipes today.”

“May I guess the title?”

“Please.”

“What Hath Cod Wrought?”

“No. It’s Cod et Mon Droit.”

“By the way, the cod war between Britain and Iceland did end, did it not?”

“Yes, it was followed by the cod peace.”

A sweet voice came from the kitchen. “Would you like some tea, Daddy?”

“Yes, my darjeeling daughter.” He turned back. “She sounds so sad these days. You’d think a girl pretty enough to be a model would be happy.”

“It’s the modeling that’s done it. It’s turned her into a mannequin-depressive.”

The sweet voice rose in anger. “It isn’t. It’s these hot, cross puns.

Will you two ever stop?”

They did.

Like I said, no apologies.

So much for seeking to understand…

I am beyond livid.

I wrote recently of my efforts to understand those whose risk assessment runs toward accepting increased restrictions on liberty. *Sigh* Some things need not be understood as much as kicked in the teeth.

This was shared by Old NFO. As a nurse, I lack the words to adequately share my outrage. I wrote a reply, but I was limited by the bounds of common decency.

“Wow! I’m a nurse, too, since 1991. I too have vast experience, mostly in mental health and perioperative nursing. A good part of my experience was while I served in the Navy. I have seen more than a few GSWs. With that in mind, allow me to respond to your suggestion. No. No, today. No, tomorrow. No, at any point in the future. No, you do not speak for nurses. You speak only for organizations with no vested interest in liberty. When you presume to think you speak for nurses, you forget yourself. When you note that freedom of speech does not allow you to yell “fire” in a crowded rooom, you conveniently forget later rulings the Supreme Court made regarding the First Amendment. When you note that freedom of the press does not permit one to print libel, you pretend the things suggested re: the Second Amendment are equivalent, again forgetting something important, to wit that just as the First Amendment does not excuse libel or slander, the Second Amendment does not excuse murder. I encourage you to consider the concept of prior restraint.”

Though frustrated, I am rather proud of myself. I avoided terms like “authoritarian fascists hiding behind the respect people have long afforded nurses,” but that is really what it comes down to. How can I say that? I am a nurse. I am married to a nurse. I know nurses, and many of them, regardless of how they choose to disguise it, are little control freaks dying for a chance to tell others how to live under the guise of concern for patients (this does not mean they are not concerned for patients, rather that they conflate the two).

The other link is to an op-ed piece written for USA Today by Rep Eric Swalwell. He, the fine gentleman who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, has proposed both a ban on the civilian ownership of “assault weapons,” which he falsely calls “weapons of war,” with them being removed from citizens by means of an Orwellianingly (behold, I have coined a word) labeled “buy back.” But, it gets better. He further proposes that no weapons be grandfathered in and that those who refuse to comply should be criminally prosecuted. Let me be clear. He is a liar and a quisling. I will note the same thing here I noted in my response to the article itself.

No. I will not comply, even if your anti-liberty wet dream comes to fruition. I dare you, no, I defy you or anyone else to enforce the terms of such legislation, should it become law.

I have long endeavored to stop talking like the military guy I was for so long. Though I will likely change my mind, I am not doing that today. So, my message to Rep. Swalwell, The American Academy of Nursing, The American Nurse Association, The American Psychiatric Nurses Association, and the American Public Health Association, is the same.

Fuck you.

Everybody have a fine Navy day.

Seeking to understand

People have an unfortunate tendency, when dealing with other people who disagree with us about something significant (or something minor sometimes), to do more than disagree with their point(s) of view. Instead, we disparage not the ideas but the person. I know because I am not all that special and I tend to do it myself. This tendency is Not Good, for at least two reasons. First and most importantly, it belittles the person. In fact, it seeks to make the other one less than a person, which arguably takes the tendency from simply Not Good to Really Not Good or even Really Bad. I would argue this tendency should not be a surprise from those on the Left, given the Left’s tendency toward various forms of collectivism and identity politics. It is hard to be a collectivist, I submit, while extolling the value of the individual over the value of the group. For those of us of libertarian or conservative tendencies, when we exhibit this tendency it is a bit of an hypocrisy given our conscious and deliberate extolling of the value of the individual. Second, it is at least Not Good because it interferes with out ability to understand those with whom we disagree. “You’re just an authoritarian s***head” may make us feel better, but all we’ve really done is call someone a name. We haven’t accomplished anything.

While I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing for several years now and trying to understand those with whom I disagree (rather than giving in to my tendency to engage in a sort of take-no-prisoners-kill-them-all-torch-the-buildings-salt-the-earth-and-mount-the-enemy-heads-on-poles response), I recently read some things that have helped me understand I think a little of the difference between individualists and collectivists. The first is a post on Sarah Hoyt’s blog. It looks at collectivist ideology as being profoundly “Un-American.” It is probably best summarized by this quote from the last paragraph:

“…worst of all they try to tell us that rather than remaining true to being a country founded upon Freedom From Government, we should become a country that espouses ‘Freedom’ Through Government.”

“Okay,” you might respond. “How does that contribute to understanding? After all, that isn’t as much of a ‘why’ as it is a ‘what,’ isn’t it?” Absolutely. But there is more.

I like to read the comments that so often follow blog posts. In this case, one of those comments contained this link. The article looks at two towns, the Canadian town of Stewart, British Columbia and the American town of Hyder, Alaska. The towns are about two miles apart. The authors, along with dealing briefly (the article is only seven pages, with pictures) with the American definition of virtue (including the important concepts of thumos and both the American view of “frontier” and the cowboy archetype), make this observation:

“There are quite a few American characteristics that seem unpleasant to people with different definitions of virtue. People who have a strong taste for order and hierarchy, who enjoy calm and quiet and leisure, who prefer security to risk, who take aesthetic pleasure in simplicity rather than in the bustling variety of human
commerce—such people are not likely to enjoy America much.”

It is here, I think, that I have found a clue.

I have spoken with a lot of people over the years who talked of how much they disliked working for others and how much they longed to start their own businesses. Most of them never do the thing for which they long. Why is that? Simply put, like many investors, I believe they are risk averse.

To me, this explains a lot. It is not simply that collectivists hate freedom and liberty. I do not believe they see themselves as wishing to be slaves or even serfs, and in the common, popular sense in which those terms are used, I agree. No one in his right mind wants that. Rather, they recognize, perhaps subconsciously, a fact about freedom and liberty that is important. As freedom and personal liberty increase, so to does risk. Earlier in the article, the authors briefly quote two sociologists, one Canadian and the other American.

“Canadian sociologist Kaspar Naegele compares his country and the U.S. this way: “In Canada there seems to be greater acceptance of limitation, of hierarchical patterns. There seems to be less optimism, less faith in the future, less willingness to risk capital or reputation.” American sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset concludes that Canada is a “more law-abiding, statist, and collectivity-oriented society” than the United States.”

I believe we should be honest about freedom and liberty. In addition to the psychological risks associated with freedom and liberty (responsibility and accountability make people uncomfortable), there are other more tangible risks. The freer you are from the control of others (whether individuals or government) and the more liberty you have to do as you will, the greater the risks (physical, social, financial etc) you will incur. For most people, every move outside our “comfort zone” is subject to some sort of risk assessment. We accept the risk and do the thing (whatever it is) when we perceive the value of the thing, or the value to be potentially derived from it, to be greater than the risk involved. I am becoming increasingly convinced that for the collectivist, or at least many of them, the risks of freedom and liberty simply are not worth what they might bring. Certainly many do not view them as having an intrinsic value greater than the risk that accompanies them.

Perhaps this is an American view of freedom. Certainly, it seems to date back at least as far as Sam Adams.

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

I am curious as to what others think. Please share your thoughts.