Interview on Pink Cloud Nine
I was recently interviewed by Katherine Salamanca. The subject included my book, "We Won't Forget You Mr. McGillicuddy,"
It feels so strange, sitting here with the world on fire and everything seeming mostly so normal, except for the masks and businesses closed. I drive around the countryside with my dogs and it all seems so normal. Except for the masks. And the closed businesses. It’s a lot like the story in my book where people are carrying on with their lives, the triumphs and the challenges, while they are being stalked by someone intent on revenge way in the background. They never see it coming until it’s almost too late.
I put up a bird feeder and the birds are flocking to it. Unfortunately, my always hungry dog keeps pushing it over and eating the bird seed that falls out on the ground even though it causes her pain all night long and the seeds never get digested. Meanwhile, the birds go hungry. She reminds me of the billionaires who never stop their accumulation of wealth even though they could never spend it all and all this wealth chasing causes so much pain and misery to the rest of the earth. To solve my dog’s eating problem, I moved the bird feeder to the front yard where the seeds will be out of reach. I wish it were so easy to reign in the billionaires.
I don’t think most of us realize the amount of propaganda that is coming at us through the media. When I talk of media, I’m not just spotlighting the news. It’s the shows, the commercials, and the news that is being given to us in a distorted way. It works on us both consciously and unconsciously. Word choice has a lot to do with it and outright lies also, but the most damaging part is that which seeps in through the subconscious influencing us without our being aware. This is what happens when one group of people belonging to the same class owns 90% of all the media being put out in this country. The commodification of the media is also a problem. The way it is set up, if a story is getting traction, other media jump in to get their share of views and likes without doing their own research, because it is time consuming and the other guy got it right anyway. This is another of the causes of the spread of false information.
You see, the narrative is all important. If you control the narrative, you can leave out what you want, use the descriptions that serve your narrative (for instance use riot instead of protest) and even put out lies that will later be retracted but no one will notice the correction. An example of this is the Jeffrey Epstein case. They hauled a ton of videos and other evidence out of his mansion and according to witnesses there were leaders and captains of industry caught on them raping children. But where did they go? Who was on those tapes? And, of course, Jeffrey met a (cough) suicidal end. If this is all that is released, then we must make up the rest so we get a story of most of our leaders having raped children, killing them when they were through so they could drink their blood. OK. That’s horrible and we don’t really know this is going on but as long as the real story is covered up, we will have this one circulating around under the wire. Conflict between those who believe the story and those who don’t will arise on social media and elsewhere. Perhaps that is the desired end because when we are all riled up against each other we miss what is happening elsewhere.
I am old enough and my time is short enough that I could just coast to the end and block out all the bull that is happening in the rest of the world. My place is safe, I have my garden to produce food, my dogs for company and I am not far from most of my kids. It would be so much easier just to lay back and watch everything without involvement. I cannot do that, however, as I care about the world my grandkids will live in. I care about their future and prospects. So I tend my garden and when the mood strikes, I write about what I see. Perhaps the future will see me a another protest on top of the hundreds I have already participated in. We will see. Meanwhile, I need to pull some weeds. Some of them are medicinal and I might make tea, a strange brew of weeds to help cure what ails me.
#media #information #riot #pandemic
Stimulus: Guillotine Outrage
Right now, I am biting my tongue to keep from typing cuss word after cuss word over this monster the Congress is passing. What a time to stick special interest payments into a bill! The pitiful amount they are giving individuals is a corn cob up the butt and nothing more. This bill does not deserve to be labeled as a COVID relief or stimulus bill.
The people get a $600 check to help them since their $1200 check given out 9 months ago has long run out: not even enough to pay for a month’s rent or mortgage payment. But we are supposed to cheer for this bill that has taken 10 x longer to assemble than the 4 trillion given to the rich and corporations months ago.
The bill gives $33 million to start a war with Venezuela, a country we are not at war with, does not want a war with us and sent us foreign aid in the form of low fuel prices at gas stations they owned in the US when the cost was so high many could not afford gas to go to work. They say it is for “democracy programs,” and we all know that means military and other support for the rich in Venezuela who are rebelling against the elected government. But that’s not all. The military, it seems, cannot get by on the $721.5 billion they got for this year so Congress slipped a little more in, $2 billion to be exact, for the space force! Also, under the foreign military assistance program, $1.3 billion is reserved for Egypt. In addition, $453 million is going to the Ukraine and $177 million is going to the Israeli missile program that will be taken from the $500 million “Israeli Cooperative Programs” in this bill. WTF does any of this have to do with COVID?
Now we have a much-needed tax cut for racehorse owners that was also stuck into the bill along with $35 million for sexual abstinence programs. Also, we must prepare for the reincarnation of the Dali Lama. But wait! There is a healthcare provision in this bill. What a surprise! This section of the bill more than doubles the healthcare coverage of members of Congress. Nice of them to think of you.
Speaking of thinking of you, a section giving frontline essential workers and healthcare professionals funding was stripped from the bill while the tax deduction for the three-martini lunch was instituted because we know billionaires have a hard time talking business without martinis and they have a difficult time paying for all those lunches.
The total of what I have listed comes to $4,326,000000 not counting the tax relief for the wealthy which I have no figures for. I’m sure closer scrutiny would reveal more loop hole payments to the already rich. One thing that has no upfront cost was added that might cause a blip in our online travels. They added a felony charge with up to 10 years in prison and a hefty fine for illegally streaming videos. This section of the bill is written so loosely it will criminalize internet behavior and probably result in some of our favorite sites being taken down.
After two big giveaways to the rich and corporations, it is shameful that this bill should not address the people and the people only. No healthcare for many of us. Millions ready to be evicted and sent into the streets. Every other country in the world is providing 75%-100% of wages to wage earners and we are concerned with racehorse owners and corporations that give little back to their communities and making sure our wars continue on schedule. This is an outrage. This is the kind of governance that in 1789, the year of the French Revolution, brought out the guillotines. We should be in the streets surrounding Congress, their homes, where they park their yachts and jets, any place they frequent, screaming our heads off. We should be making these SOBs afraid for their lives. Even if Trump does veto the bill and we wind up with $2,000, that is still way short of what is needed. One thing we all can do is to sign the petition at #forcethevote (link below) so that we may be able to finally get the healthcare that we deserve and is standard in most countries of the world. Call your Democratic Congress representative and tell them you support their vote of no for Nancy Pelosi unless she brings Medicare for all to the floor. We have the leverage to do this and to push it the rest of the way through the Senate and the President right now. We are in a pandemic with people losing healthcare and we will never have this much momentum. In the meantime, get your strike boots on because we also need a general strike just to let the oligarchy know we mean busines!
Force The Vote!
#forcethevote #rebel #stimulous #march
Musings the Day After Thanksgiving 2020
I’m sitting here on my couch with my two dogs as close to me as they can get with the stove going strong and a cold, grey fog hanging over the land outside my widow. Last night we broke the governor’s order and had 19 people to our Thanksgiving dinner. They were all family.
I hadn’t seen anyone from my family or had much human contact since the end of September when we celebrated my granddaughter’s birthday. Everyone seemed to shine, literally shine with an inner light that, for a moment or two I was able to see clearly. The time was special and served as a renewal of the bonds between us.
I was messaging an old friend, Lane, and told her of this and of an experience I have been having lately. Suddenly, I will feel a memory with all the sights, sounds and especially the smells. For an instant it will be as if I had broken the bonds of time and was actually there. Lane told me she had been feeling the same. I suggested that it might be because of our age since she and I are both in the elderly category. She said that could be the case but also it could be the separation we have been experiencing from these lockdowns, the lack of human companionship.
I believe Lane was more correct than I. The lockdowns, no matter what their effect on the virus, have had a devastating effect on our humanity and the way we relate. When, if we ever, are let out of this prison, it will be difficult to reestablish relations, awkward to say the least. Some of us, especially the youngsters who are particularly vulnerable to this isolation, will be damaged in a way for a long time if not for life. There will be a lot of work to do to get human bonds repaired.
I talk about the lockdowns the way I do because I am not at all convinced that they have had much positive effect on the spread of the disease. Perhaps, when the virus first appeared, if we had locked down the entire planet for a couple of weeks there would have been a more positive effect. But perhaps the virus would have been waiting outside our doors for us to emerge and the lockdown would have had little or no effect as our lockdown that did not get 100% participation. And I want to add here that I, unlike some others who insist on calling these antilock down, anti-mask people idiots, believe that a lot of confusion and disobedience would have been eliminated IF and only IF we had all believed the government and those outside of government who have been directing this response. I don’t blame these people for questioning or disobeying. We have been fed lie after lie and at some point, even the truth will not be believed when told by a liar.
Part of my personal struggle has been with friends. Some of them have intimated that I have joined the ranks of “conspiracy theorists.” Yes, I have said and posted some fairly radical stuff. Some of it was simply to see what reaction I got and some was because for one reason or another I thought an idea in the piece had merit. From my perspective, there is something other than the virus going on and I am getting close to the belief that COVID 19 was engineered to do just what it has done: sow confusion, remove a few retirees (useless eaters) from the overburdened retirement system, and consolidate both money and power in the hands of a few rather than the society as a whole. It’s not difficult for me to believe this as almost every single leader we have has told us lies at one time or another and many of them lie constantly but aren’t as stupid about it as Trump. I also realize that these people, despite different parties and different public political views, are all friends. They are also the ones who work for those who control almost all of the media, resources, money and power. So why the hell should we believe anything they might say? It has become obvious to even the most challenged observer that the same group has profited greatly from the pandemic and that the economic system they have told us is so great is about to implode. How can we trust these people when they have been involved in lies economic manipulation to their own benefit?
It has also occurred to me, as it apparently has not occurred to many of my countrymen, that the same people we are looking to for leadership are not only the liars mentioned above, but also the same who are either directly or indirectly implicated in policies that have led to enrichment of the upper class, poverty for the lower class, continuous war and the needless deaths of millions of people in a variety of ways including war and sanctions. We are looking to the murderer to solve the crime of murder as we are also looking to the thief to solve the crime of robbery. How is that working out?
Now I’ve seen a lot of conspiracy theories out there and some of them hold quite a bit of water. Some seem really far out and there is no reason to believe them at all. Lizard aliens merged with humans to control the planet, for instance. It gets difficult when one is lumped in with conspirists and when asked for sources, find the sources they had just accessed are no longer there. It is also infuriating to give someone a page of resources that prove your point and the other person says something like, “Let me know what you find in those links.” Some of us have gotten too lazy to do our own research.
The problem now is that we are all separated into our little boxes: economic status, conspiracy theorist, Democrat, Republican, black, brown, white, sexual orientation, etc. In addition, we are divided by loss of social contact, loss of exchange of ideas, and censorship (which is going wild). Last night showed me in a way no other word or deed could that we are suffering from lack of human contact and it is making us all insane. We are prevented from tossing around ideas, from feeling that warmth of another person hugging us, the conversation that couldn’t take place over the phone or internet and from seeing our own reflection in the people around us.
I am not suggesting throwing caution to the wind, but rather to temper our caution with knowledge and reasonableness that takes into account not only the risk of the virus, but the risk of continued social isolation. Alone, we are not strong. Alone, we are not sane. Alone, we cannot heal.
#loneliness #COVID19 #family
Avoid Turkey Disease!
Since my day job had to do with food safety, I thought it would be good to give out some information on how to safely handle that holiday dinner and how to avoid the dread Thanksgiving Disease. After all, we don’t want family and friends to become sick because of the wonderful food they just consumed to celebrate the holidays. To make sure this doesn’t happen, and before I give you specific information on Thanksgiving Disease, we are going to start at the beginning: shopping for food.
When one is choosing meat or poultry, pay attention to the temperature controls the market uses. If there is no thermometer or gauge to measure the temperature, there is no way of telling if the meat or poultry is being kept at the proper temperature. If the product is frozen, one does not have to worry as much, but if you are buying fresh, it is critical that the meat case be below 40 degrees F. The second thing to watch is the expiration or sell by date. You would not want to buy meat that is past the sell by date, especially poultry or fish. Some people like their beef a little aged, but aged beef still needs to be trimmed. Finally, buy your meat items last and if your market has those extra plastic bags near the meat department, use them to prevent contamination of the outside of the package or prevent leakage of blood that could contaminate your car seat or other groceries nearby.
With your car safely packed with goodies that need refrigeration, the best thing to do is to go straight home, unload them and place the refrigerated items in the refrigerator. I have actually had people who know my field of expertise call me up and ask if that fresh turkey they put in the trunk this morning and then parked at the hardware store in 90 degree weather for a couple of hours before driving home is still good. I say when in doubt, pitch it! It is more important to be safe than sorry. Besides, in the case of the turkey in the trunk, that car sitting in the parking lot gets mighty hot when the sun is out, even if the air outside the car has a chill to it. High temperatures are where the bacteria that make you sick thrive.
Once you have the food home, be sure to pop it in the refrigerator right away. The longer it is kept at a temperature warmer than 40 degrees, the more bacteria will grow on it. Any places that might have had juices from the package leak onto it must be cleaned up. To make sure your sponge or cleaning cloth is safe, put it in the microwave for one minute before using it to clean. Use a clean dish cloth and a spray bottle with a mixture of bleach and water (2 tablespoons bleach to a quart of water) to do the final sanitizing. When sanitizing the kitchen, do not forget those places where hands regularly touch: cupboard doors, counters, handles to cabinets, oven and refrigerator and water faucets. These should all be cleaned and sanitized both before and after any major cooking in the kitchen.
The next step is to cook that bird! Take it out of the refrigerator, carefully cut the wrapper around it and remove the neck and giblets. Wash the giblets under cold water and scrape out the kidneys. The kidneys are located in the backbone and are dark red like the liver. They are a filter for the body and I recommend removing them as any antibiotics, pesticides or other agents that might have gotten in or been placed in the bird’s food would have a much higher concentration in the kidneys. Note: the liver also tends to collect any of these substances as well.
You can stuff the bird, but do not stuff it too tight as this adds to the cooking time and the possibility of food poisoning. The safest way is to cook stuffing on the side. After the bird is in the oven and before you begin making the trays of deviled eggs, crackers and cheeses with carrot sticks, celery etc. (Man, I am getting hungry!), be sure to clean and sanitize your hands and all surfaces that contacted the turkey either directly or indirectly. This is especially important of cutting boards. Now let’s eat!
After dinner, it is time to make sure that Thanksgiving disease does not invade your holiday. Do this by putting all refrigerated food away immediately after eating. Thanksgiving Disease is a mild form of food borne illness that causes cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. It happens because some people leave the food on the table too long after the meal is finished and this bacterium grows while you are watching the game and working up another appetite. You then make a plate and either eat it cold or pop it into the microwave hoping to nuke anything that might have grown there since dinner ended. You will kill the microbe that causes Thanksgiving Disease if you put your food in the microwave and punch in enough time; however, the chemicals the bacterium discharged into the food while it was alive can still make you sick. Refrigeration avoids this and other problems.
Now that we know how to defeat the dread Thanksgiving Disease, we can enjoy our holiday feasts as long as we remember to follow the food handling rules: clean, sanitize and refrigerate. And do not forget that Thanksgiving disease and other food borne diseases can appear any time of year that food is handled carelessly.
Ira White is a retired Consumer Safety Officer for the Food Safety Inspection Service of the USDA.
I will be posting the link to a new video I have done specially for Halloween. It will be posted on Oct. 30 in the afternoon. I hope you join me for the fun!
Acceptance of the Inevitable
I haven’t written much the last week or so. Usually, I put an essay on Medium spread it to my other platforms such as Minds and Patreon and write several entries for Quora as well as a short piece or two for Facebook. True, I have been busy getting some of my garden ready to rest for the winter and planting a few things for a winter garden as well as learning how to use my pellet stove. But writing has not been on the list.
The rain that has been falling has helped get the fires under control, but some are still burning. That worry has been taken off the table though we are still in the fire season despite the rain. One could almost feel a universal sigh of relief when the water started falling from the sky.
This morning I stood on my back porch with my coffee and my dogs taking in the freshness of the air and feeling quite blessed. My upbeat mood is tinged with a sadness, a sadness at a future personal loss and I am confronted with acceptance.
There are some things we must not accept, must not stop fighting even though it appears we will not win. The Nazification of America or any other part of the world should never gain our acceptance. Corruption in all its forms should never be accepted nor should racism or any other form of hate.
There are those things we must accept such as our responsibility toward our fellow humans and the fact that we will age and eventually die like everything else in this Universe.
There are also those things we find it difficult to accept, but in the end we must.
I received a phone call from a friend last night. He was truly in the realm of acceptance despite his news. My friend has been quite ill lately, and I have been worried for his health. We thought that he just had a bad bout with the flu and that he would be better soon. He told me last night that he had gone to the doctor. After some examination and a few tests, the doctor told him he has advanced stage lung cancer. More tests are scheduled to see how far the cancer has gone and how fast it is growing but the doctor said he probably only has a year or two left before it takes his life.
At my age, news like this is not uncommon. I have already grieved the loss of several friends and a score of relatives. It is not something one gets used to, but it demands acceptance because there is no way of changing it, no way of erasing this fact of life.
My friend has accepted his fate and will be living his life to the fullest until he cannot. I applaud him, brave soul that he is. The pros and cons of treatments have been weighed, more of which will be discussed with his doctor when the final test results come in. For him, the quality of the life he has left is his main concern and I’m sure that would be mine, too, if I were in his shoes right now. He is like the fruit on the vine that ripens as it glories in its existence even though the fruit will soon fall to the ground where its seeds will provide the next generation and its flesh will fertilize that generation.
My friend has accepted life and the end of life and is fully ready to live the rest of his days with joy while accepting that too soon, life will be at an end. My job is to support him, support and encourage his joy, love him as I love all my friends and accept that he will soon be gone. I have long accepted my future demise, so it will be less difficult to accept his. But it is always difficult to accept the passing of a beautiful soul like my friend though in the end it must be so.
#death #cancer #endoflife #friends #friendship
Dinner Rolls to Die For
Here's a dynamite recipe for dinner rolls to go with dinner on Thanksgiving.
Some people think that making bread is difficult. It isn't, really. This recipe proves it. You are going to have mashed potatoes for thanksgiving, right? It just so happens that this is the first step to making your bread special. Boil up a batch of potatoes with the skins on. The recipe will work if you peel your potatoes, but will not be quite as tasty. Save the water the potatoes were boiled in. This will be the liquid you add to your bread mix. Have a thermometer handy, as you will need it to determine the temperature of the potato water. Follow the directions below to make this wonderful bread.
6 cups of all purpose flour or unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (This is optional. If you choose to use only while flour, add 1 cup to the above 6 cups).
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons of mashed potato without skin
2 packages regular or quick-acting active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups of potato water (120 to 130 degrees. This temperature is very important! Too much heat will kill the yeast and too little heat and the bread won't rise properly).
1/4-cup poppy or sesame seeds.
Mix 3 cups of the all purpose flour and 1/2 cup of the wheat flour with the sugar, salt, shortening, mashed potato and yeast in a large 4 quart or larger bowl. Add the warm potato water (use thermometer to check temperature) and beat on low speed, scraping the bowl frequently for one minute. Change mixer to medium speed and beat for one minute. Scrape the bowl frequently until all flour is mixed in. Add remaining flour 1 cup at a time while mixing. Start with the remaining wheat flour then add the white flour. When the dough is easy to handle, lightly flour your cutting board or other work surface and turn dough onto it. Knead until the dough is elastic- about ten minutes. Put into a greased 2 1/2 quart bowl. Turn greased side up and cover with a clean towel. Put in a warm place (not too warm!) and let rise until dough doubles its size. This takes about 40 to 60 minutes. Touch the dough. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready.
Punch the dough down and divide into halves. Let it rest for five minutes. Flatten each half with your hands or with a rolling pin. At this point you have a choice. You can either make all the dough into rolls; all of it into loaves or you can make one loaf and one batch of rolls. To make the loaves, flatten dough into a rectangle approximately 18x9 inches. Fold the 9-inch sides crosswise into thirds. Overlap the sides. Roll it up tightly toward you beginning with the open end. Pinch the sides together to make a seal. Do the same with the ends and put the loaf into an 8 1/2x 4 1/2x 4-1/2 inch greased loaf pan. I like to use glass pans, as they seem to work better. Brush with melted butter or margarine. Cover with clean towel and place back in warm place to rise for 40 minutes to an hour. To make rolls, flatten out the dough on lightly floured surface until it is about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick. Put a small amount of flour in a small bowl and choose a juice glass or shot glass (depending on the size of rolls you want) to stamp out the rolls. Dip glass into flour then stamp out rolls frequently dipping glass into flour to keep rolls from sticking inside glass. Place rolls into greased baking pan about 1/2 inch apart. Brush tops with butter or margarine. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 40 minutes to an hour. Just before baking, dab a little melted butter on the tops of the rolls and loaves and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Gently press the seeds into the rolls.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place loaves on the low rack so that the tops are in the center of the oven. Bake until tops are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. The rolls and loaves are done when they sound hollow when tapped with the flat side of a butter knife. Remove loaves from pan and cool on wire rack. Remove rolls from pan and serve while still warm. Wrap them in a clean towel to keep them warm throughout the meal.