Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Civil Rights Movement and Any Progress That Has Been Made

I was born and raised in Greece and came to the US the day before the Thanksgiving holiday in 1977. I was completely uneducated and uninformed in any civil rights matters. In Greece my education was consumed by learning ancient Greek, Latin, mathematics, science and Greek politics. Regarding any other matters, well, I was clueless. In Greece, young people between the ages of 17 and 24 can be categorized as: professional students, drunks, gamblers, ignorant, or rabid communists. I can safely say that was more ignorant than drunk.

Music has always been a big part of my life. I can only say that I love music of all types. Friends and relatives are stunned with my knowledge of hip hop/rap music and hip hop/rap artists. If you haven't heard songs by N.W.A. (Straight outta Compton, Express Yourself), well, you are are not doing yourself any favors. By the way, here is a message to the relative who stole my Snoop Dogg CD titled Doggystyle: RETURN IT!!! Another artist that I admire and respect is Nina Simone. There are several songs that she wrote and I like, but, her song Mississippi Goddam tops all of them.

Mississippi Goddamn was released in 1963 and was written in response to the murder of Medgar Evers in Mississippi and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, which killed four black children. Then Alabama's Governor George Wallace was a segregationist and during his 1963 inaugural address he had pledged "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever". Oy!

Recent political events have stirred up such terrible feelings that forced me to write this post.

In Mississippi, since on November 6, 2018, senate candidates failed to capture a majority of the vote and they went to a November 27th runoff. Hyde-Smith ran against Mike Espy, a former Mississippi congressman and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in Clinton's administration and she won. So far so good, because in every race always someone wins, but there is more to this story. Keep reading.

While speaking at a campaign stop, Hyde-Smith described her loyalty to supporters with the following gem: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Hyde-Smith's dismissed the comment as "exaggerated expression of regard". I think they were wrong! All they had to say is that "it is just locker room talk". It worked for Trump and it would have been a slam dunk for Hyde-Smith too.

The Governor of Mississippi defended her comments. Also the President of the United States of America, the great divider-in-chief, defended her comments too.

So, back to Nina Simone's civil rights anthem, Mississippi Goddam. It's been 55 years and the lyrics are still so true. Here are a few verses from Nina's song:

Governor Wallace made me lose my rest

School children sitting in jail

They keep on saying, “Go slow!"

I think every day's gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine

They try to say it's a communist plot

Yes you lied to me all these years

Oh but this whole country is full of lies

You're all gonna die and die like flies

If you told me that this song was written in 2018, well, it describes what's happening in the US since 2016.

Feel free to replace "Governor Wallace" with "President Trump". President Trump has publicly stated that he is a Nationalist. To me Trump said "I am a white nationalist" or if you don't have blond hair and white skin with an orange hue, don't come to this country.

"Go slow" sounds a lot like what I hear from Trump's supporters asking to "let him do his job". 

"School children in jail", again Nina hits the nail right on the head because we separated so many immigrant families from their children after they illegally crossed the border. Within my family (including myself) I had several relatives who came to the U.S. illegally. Since these people became citizens, they raised families and have paid lots and lots of dollars in taxes. It is just cycle only this time instead of Greeks or Italians we have Spanish speaking people trying to come to this country for a better tomorrow. Their only fault is that they don't have blonde hair and their skin is not like Trump's, white with an orange hue.

"They try to say it's a communist plot" is what Trump letts up every day about philanthropist George Soros and Hillary Rodham-Clinton. 

"Yes you lied to me all these years", that's right Donald! Since you went down that damn escalator you have been spewing lies about everything and anything. STOP the madness!

"Oh but this whole country is full of lies" even though Giuliani has stated that "truth isn't truth", whatever this means. Trump promised to drain the swamp, but he failed to mention that he is the swamp. God shield us from all the lies, indictments, firings, guilty pleads, and Trump directives. 

"You're all gonna die and die like flies", Trump said it, if you mess with him, the stock market will go down to zero and there will be "violence on many sides".

Starting from the civil rights movement, then to Nina Simone's songs, and now, I am wondering if we have made any progress. Our country is deeply divided. Our president has abandoned treaties and confused our allies. Democrats and Republicans are voting within party lines having the Vice President having to break ties. 

Since 1977, the year I came to the US, I have never seen such a polarized "United" states. But, in Greece they say that "the rotten fish stinks from the head" and nowadays rings so true. Trump has used the word "dumb" and "dummy" 236 times since 2011 and has attacked black people and women regularly

In a nutshell, we are in trouble. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A U.S. Citizen's Prayer

This post is about the 45th president of the United States of America, Donald John Trump. He is the most controversial president you've ever had. According to a Washington Post article, just in the first 9 months of his presidency he averaged 5 falsehoods or misleading statements per day! Apparently, he worked hard on his presidency because in the seven weeks leading up the midterm elections, he averaged 30 per day! Way to go Donald! New York Times published an article on July 10, 2018, listing the names of people that Trump has insulted on Twitter, what an impressive list. Way to go Donald! Go to PolitiFact site to check on the president's truths, lies, and falsehoods.

The most astounding fact, though, is that he still has plenty of followers who think that he is doing a good job and believe that he needs to be left alone in order to do what he does best, make deals and save the United States of America. Oy vey!

But this post is of religious nature and I offer the following prayer.

Dear God,
forgive our president, Donald John Trump (Πάτερ άφες αυτοίς),
because he really doesn't know what he is doing, (ου γάρ οίδασι τί ποιούσι)
permit him to be truthful, honest and good for just one day,
and on that day may all people rejoice in harmony.
May this be your will.

Monday, November 5, 2018

My Four Compost Bins

This year I have built several raised beds and also grew potatoes in 5-gallon plastic buckets. In the process I realized that not only you need lots of dirt, but you also need organically rich dirt. Right away I knew I needed to create a one-dimensional array of compost piles. I figured I needed at least three of them. 

We have a nice house built on about a 1/4 of an acre in Orange County, NY. We had a beautiful 100 year-old pin oak tree in the backyard that we had to cut it down because during a storm the root system was compromised and we were forced to cut it. A separate post will follow on that. We also have two dogwood trees, white and pink. We do have some leaves that we get every fall from each dogwood, but that's not enough for my raised beds. Unfortunately, nowadays the lawn mowers cut the grass very finely and that mulches the grass. Well, that doesn't help me with my predicament, the need for organic matter. 

We decided to build the compost piles at the end of the property that is NE. Composts require organic matter, and air. You can dump leaves and do nothing to them, just leave them there and a year later you will have beautiful dirt waiting for you. Of course you can add eggshells, vegetable clippings and coffee grounds, tea bags and maybe even mix it up a little and you will have even better results. 

Where do you get coffee grounds and tea bags? Really? Do I have to write about this? This is what I do. On the kitchen counter I have a plastic container (from takeout) and I add things that can be mulched. Then, the next morning I add them to the mulch pile. About every three weeks I turn the mulch using a pitch fork. If we have coffee, I add the used coffee grounds in the container. BUT, it really helps if you develop a relationship with a local coffee house, luncheonette in your neighborhood. In our village we have a bagel shop where I drop off a large aluminum pan and two plastic bags and a few days later I go and I pick up several pounds of used coffee grounds. Of course, remember that tipping is necessary and totally appropriate. 

We have a fence (mostly for the deer) and in the from of the fence we have planted several forsythia bushes and the compost areas would go in between the fence and the forsythias. 

You can get free pallets in many places. Make sure you ask for permission because chain stores recycle them and they are not us to take. For example, at Scott's Corners Hardware on Rt. 17K they have a specific area where they leave their pallets. There have lots of pallets behind the fences, but don't take those. 

Here are the first two bins that I made. I haven't yet, but I should staple a wire mesh to better contain the mulch inside the pallets. Next year, though, next year. 

Using wood pallets

Working hard in the outdoors requires you to constantly hydrate your body and I like hard cider. Of course, Angry Orchards is in Walden and I had to support them. I did it for their sake and had NOTHING to do with me. Okay? I like cider. I drink cider. I still drink cider. This is my Brett Kavanaugh impersonation. 

Drinking Hard Cider

Of course it helps when you also add such organic matter as hay or straw, but don't confuse the two. I take advantage of Craig's List and I look for mulching hay and/or straw. I usually pay $2 per large bale. I deal with a nice farmer who is in Gardiner, NY

Straw delivery

I created a small area for processing these pallets. They are very tough to deal with. The have these weird nails that are twisted and are very tough to remove, but, they are free.

Pallet processing station

Here is a nice picture of the three piles that I've created so far this year. You can see the green watering can that I use to keep the piles hydrated. Oh yeah, you need to add sufficient moisture to your mulch for it to decompose faster.

The blue tarp protects two very large logs from the pin oak tree that we saved. We would like to make two or three tables from them?

Three mulch piles

Here are the two logs that we saved from our tree. I placed bricks under them so they will not be sitting on wet ground. It was a herculean task, but since I am Greek it was easy for me to get it done.

Our pin oak logs

On the right side I created three mulch piles, then I decided to create an area for the hay/straw, but then I added a fourth mulch to the left of the straw. Ach!

Here is a close up of the right three mulch piles.

Perhaps I should mention that I am always on the lookout for leaves, wood chips and other organic matter. In my little Toyota I always have two rakes, two 5-gallon buckets and a pair of gloves.

I am in the process of building a simple cover for these piles because when it rains they get drenched and that's too much water for them to handle. The mulch needs to be "a little" hydrated and be drenched. Also, in NY we get lots of snow in the winter and that would really stop the mulches form decomposing.

Another post will be here soon with the coverings.

Happy mulching!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Why Space Force is a Failure from the Get-Go

In simple terms, the U.S. Armed Forces are made up of the five armed service branches: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy.

The United States Space Force, USSF, is a proposed branch of the United States Armed Forces, which is intended to have control over military operations in outer space.

President Donald Trump first suggested a Space Force during a speech in March 2018: "We're doing a tremendous amount of work in space – I said, maybe we need a new force. We'll call it the Space Force."

In simple terms, I'm thinking about the effort needed to convert the Pentagon to a Hexagon. I would think they would have to demolish the existing building as well the surrounding buildings and then build a new hexagonal building.

The US Pentagon

I do have a proposal to make, though. They could build a pyramid in the middle of the existing pentagonal structure. In geometry, a pentagonal pyramid is a pyramid with a pentagonal base upon which are erected five triangular faces that meet at a point (the vertex). I think this will be the most efficient way to tackle the addition of the new force.

Another issue that needs to be resolved is the one that has to do with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Wille the chief of the Space Force be included or will it go under the department of Homeland Security like the Coast Guard?

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Who is the wizard that designed this laptop bag?

I know, I know, and please forgive me for posting this on a cooking blog but I I got to tell you, I need to vent somewhere.

Recently I realized that I was missing a variety of small objects: several pens and pencils, small notepads, post-it notes, and a few other miscellaneous objects. Usually I would realize these objects were missing after a trip somewhere with my laptop.

It didn't take me long to figure it out, though. IT WAS MY LAPTOP BAG!!!

This bag had a pocket that had two separate zippers, one on top and the other on the bottom. The bottom zipper was not closed 100% and that caused stuff to disappear. Who new!

I would get ready to go to a customer's office and I would get all ready with whatever I could possibly need: pens, pencils, post-it notes, etc. Then, I would arrive at the meeting location and almost always I would be missing something.

I searched and found out that the reason for the double zipper is that if you board a plane and place you laptop bag in an overhead bin, you would be able to access the contents of the pocket by unzipping the bottom zipper, thus not having to remove the bag from the bin.

Oy vey!

Needless to say, this laptop bag is not anywhere near me.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Kitchen Basics Unsalted Vegetable Stock

Ahhhhh, Kitchen Basics (parent company is McCormick), don't you love this brand?  Unsalted Vegetable Stock is one of the many products they sell . Now, when you go to the supermarket and see this product you would think that "unsalted" means NO SALT! Am I right or am I right?

Kitchen Basics - Unsalted Vegetable Stock

But wait, there's more. 
Take a look at the ingredients listed below: carrot, mushroom, tomato, onion, celery, and several others. As a consumer shopping at a supermarket, I would think that this product is wholesome.

Kitchen Basics - Unsalted Vegetable Stock

In the Nutrition Facts area they claim that ONE CUP of the vegetable stock contains 210 mg of salt! The % Daily Value shows 9%. Ouch! What happened to the UNSALTED claim?
Well, since they don't add salt the salt comes from the vegetables. According to the FDA, the Daily Value for sodium is less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. Also, FDA states that "as a general guide: 5% Daily Value or less of sodium per serving is considered low." If I were to use the whole container of this wholesome product I would ingest 36% of my allotted daily salt intake. At this point I have to mention that I have high blood pressure and I take medication daily to keep it under control.

Kitchen Basics - Unsalted Vegetable Stock - Nutrition Facts

Their claim of 210 Mg sodium is misleading because this is just for one cup.

Kitchen Basics - Unsalted Vegetable Stock

Below is a clipping from the package. What is Genetic Engineering? According to the University of Nebraska, genetic engineering is the process of manually adding new DNA to an organism. Another term for genetic engineering is GMO, genetically Modified Organisms. Ouch, again.

Kitchen Basics - Unsalted Vegetable Stock

I learned from listening to friends and watching Jacques Pepin's online videos that having a small ziplock bag near while you are preparing a meal is a great idea. As you cut and/or peel vegetables you save the peelings and keep adding them to a ziplock bag. When the bag is full, add them to a pot full with water bring the mixture to boil and then reduce to a low simmer for 1 1/2 hours and BAM! You have beautiful, delicious and healthy vegetable stock. After the stock cools, I split it into small containers and I freeze them.

Once my Ziplock bag is full and if I already have several containers with stock in the freezer, I add the clippings to my compost heap. That way, every spring I have lots and lots of beautiful and free soil for my garden. There will be a separate post on this soon.

Compost Heap - Mulch Pile

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Goodbye Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

A few months ago I went ahead and deleted my Facebook, including several popular pages I had created, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. I just couldn't read the crap that my Facebook friends were writing and sharing. I would see content that was clearly incorrect being shared by people that I thought were intelligent. Initially I tried to warn them by sending a private message and suggest that they should consider deleting their post because it contained false information. Most of them deleted the shared content almost immediately, but I just could not keep up with it.

I must admit, Facebook made it so easy to share information with your friends. I would create posts, go live, call relatives of mine from Greece, and so much more.

People, though, became too political and several times I witnessed heated exchanges of political nature take place. The major reason for leaving Facebook was was the lack of respect they showed regarding my privacy.

So, I deleted my account, removed the app from my phone and moved on with my life.

But, wait, there's more! Many of the unsolicited/spam calls I used to get STOPPED! I used to get three to six calls every day about a variety of business-type of products, especially loans, etc. Gone! Stopped! Hallelujah! Now, at the most, I receive one call per week. Isn't that special!

There was some level of collateral damage because I had created several Blogger posts that linked to my Facebook account. Ach! I had to delete those Blogger posts. Sorry! There were several recipes that I made by going live on Facebook. Gone forever!

Twitter and LinkedIn had to go too. Twitter is just a vile platform that allows people to say anything about anyone.

Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty I am free at last!