November 25, 2009

In Memoriam

Of the five dishes I've made for Thanksgiving, three of them were prepared with my late grandmother's cookwear. It's not that I didn't have my own pie plate or casserole; it just felt right to keep her legacy present.

It wasn't her apple pie recipe, though. Sorry.

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November 22, 2009

Turkey Day Warning Order

The Marines have an aphorism: "Piss-poor planning leads to piss-poor performance." So, I have written a plan.

Note that I am cooking more than I promised I'd bring, because I am not certain all these items will come out to my satisfaction. My potential menu contributions are:

  1. green pea and ham soup with vegetables
  2. angel-food cake with whipped cream and blueberry topping
  3. apple pie and/or
  4. apple crisp
  5. vanilla ice cream

The soup and ice cream I did not originally volunteer for, but I figure I should bring more rather than less, and make options available.

This constitutes a Warning Order. It is written in regulation format

  • Situation: Thanksgiving dinner for the family. This unit is expected to bring food.
    • Friendly forces: two parents, one sibling, one sibling-in-law, two sibling-in-law parents, one each aunt and uncle, possible one sibling-in-law sibling, possible one sibling-in-law sibling spouse
    • Enemy forces: microorganisms, mammalian vermin, insects + arthropods.
      • Size, Activity, Location, Uniform, Time observed, Equipment:
        • Uncounted hordes, Ubiquitous, Lipid membrane + proteins/Fur/Chitin, Ubiquitous, Chemical digestive enzymes/Teeth/Mandibles
      • Enemies' probably course of action: microorganisms will spoil food left unrefrigerated; vermin & insects will eat food not kept under secure cover
    • Neutral forces: vehicular traffic, grocery store crowds
  • Mission:
    • Prepare a selection of healthful and delicious courses
    • Deliver same to mission area ahead of T-time
    • Serve same in an attractive manner on Thursday afternoon
    • Mission critical: zero friendlies killed


    • Commander's intent: "Safe, delicious food, on time."
    • Concept of Operations:
    1. Monday morning: house meeting with flatmate (agenda: if he touches the food I'll be making, his body will never be found)
    2. Monday evening: begin cooking soup
    3. Tuesday morning: cook & refrigerate ice cream base; refrigerate soup
    4. Tuesday evening: flavor & freeze ice cream base, bake apple pie, bake angel-food cake
    5. Wednesday morning: pack car, play video games, do laundry
    6. Wednesday afternoon: drive to Big Flats
    7. Wednesday evening: thaw ice cream base
    8. Thursday morning: whip cream & berry topping, bake apple crisp if pie quality deemed insufficient
    9. Thursday afternoon: ice cream base dashed into ice cream in ice cream maker; reheat soup; reheat crisp; execute mission
    10. Thursday evening: clean cookware, begin after-action report
    11. Friday evening: drive to Owego
    12. Saturday evening: drive to Buffalo
    13. Sunday: write paper on modern public perception of Victorian England
  • Admin:
    • EPW:
      • No microorganisms to be taken prisoner; wounded or surrendering microorganisms to be executed on-site without delay
      • Non-cute vermin to be executed, bodies disposed of in garbage
      • Cute vermin to be captured, repatriated to owner if possible, given to ASPCA if ownership unclear
      • Insects to be executed on-site if practicable
      • Surrendering spiders to be immediatly relocated outside area of operations
    • Casevac:
      • Minor injuries/illnesses, treat with available on-hand resources
      • Major injuries/illnesses, evacuate to emergency room via privately-owned vehicle if possible, ambulance if necessary
      • Casevac available via telephone number 911, callsign "Echo Mike Sierra"
    • Logistics:
      • transport via yellow 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier
      • funding out of general funds, select discretionary cash or debit card at individual discretion at point-of-sale
  • Command & Signal:
    • Primary communication link: cellular telephone
    • Secondary communication link: email
    • Tertiary communication link: carrier pigeons
    • Quaternary communication link: smoke signals
    • Quinary communication link: shout really loudly
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    November 17, 2009

    Twilight As I'd Write It

    I have never read the Twilight series, nor have I watched their movies. But if someone paid me to create a new movie adaptation, I think this is what I'd go with:

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    November 16, 2009

    I Kind Of Boxed Myself In There

    In German class, a girl that I sometimes am partnered with came into class today with a nice cut on the bridge of her nose. While waiting for class to begin, I jokingly said "Nice cut! Looks like you got tired and let your guard slip."

    She nodded. "Yeah, keeping up with conditioning is always tough during the school year."

    I said "But seriously, how'd you get the cut?"

    She looked at me like I was kind of slow. "Umm, boxing. You know, my hobby?"

    "Wait," I said. "You box? For real?"

    "Well, yeah. I thought I'd told everybody."

    I looked around. The other people that sit in our corner were nodding their heads. I still don't remember being told that; maybe I was sitting somewhere else that day. What's funny to me is how surprised I was, even though I attended a kung fu academy with as many females as males. I think it's that serving with female Marines gave me a mental linkage between "Marine personal appearance standards" and "combat-trained females," such that when I see someone that is a bit less squared-off, I don't think of them as potentially dangerous. This is a bad habit. Perhaps if I got back into martial arts training, I'd recover my more open-eyed view of people.

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    Eat! Eat! You're So Skinny!

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    November 09, 2009

    Pigeon Impossible

    Pigeon Impossible. This short has apparently been winning all kinds of awards recently.

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    Today in German class, we celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall. Perhaps I should hyperlink Berlin Wall, as there were only three people in the class that remembered the momentus events of 1989: the professor (who had just come to America that year), a retired high-school teacher who is auditing the course, and myself. I was in middle school.

    Last Thursday was Guy Fawkes Day. Many of my friends made comments about it, having see the movie V for Vendetta, or read the comic book upon which the movie was based. Me, I first celebrated Guy Fawkes day in AP History class, with Mr. Horrigan. His regret was that the plot failed.

    Tomorrow is the United States Marine Corps' 234th birthday. Semper Fi!

    The day after is Armistice Day. The larks, still bravely singing, fly. Let us not forget.


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    November 07, 2009

    Something Even More Full of Hot Air Than I Am

    Friday afternoon, I got to take a (tethered) hot-air balloon ride with two friends. It wasn't bad. Being up in the air is no longer such a thrill for me, but I did appreciate the lack of rotor noise.

    I learned of the opportunity while sitting in the club offices, relaxing after my last class of the day. Thus I had no camera with me. Perhaps I can get a copy of a friend's cell phone images. Also, perhaps I should invest in a camera that does not require a baggage train to bring with me. I love my DSLR, but the thing is big enough that I only take it with me if I expect to see something worth imaging. Thus spontaneous photography is impossible.

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    November 03, 2009

    Random Thoughts While Writing a Paper

    • The Harvard University Press is headquartered in Cambridge. The Cambridge University Press is headquartered in New York City. For the latter, I am quite surprised that it is not in London. Yes, I'm also aware that one Cambridge is in Massachusetts and the other is in Britain.

    • I wish I had a bigger desk, as I am interweaving quotes from nine different books, and I don't have enough space to keep them all handy. Three are on my lap, four on my desk, and two have been relegated to the floor. Also, there are four different e-texts open in browser windows, making my reference list a lucky 13. Books spread all over the place: this is pretty much how historians work, judging by my professors' offices.

    • I can't find a free online German version of the particular Nietzsche work I'm writing about. There are a number available for a couple of Euros, but free versions seem suspiciously absent. Or maybe the German publishing companies are better at SEO. Still, I'm annoyed that the German Project Gutenberg claims to have the text of this book, but when I went there all I got was a 404 error.

    • I must give Hayden White some credit: he wrote two books claiming that history was useless. He then gave up his job as professor of history to take a job as professor of literary criticism. I was first exposed to modern literary criticism in ACE English (a college class taken during high school). That exposure convinced me that literary criticism was useless. White's book has done nothing to disabuse me of that notion.

    I grind my teeth when I come across phrases such as "…it is possible to imagine a conception of history that would signal its resistance to the bourgeois ideology of realism by its refusal to attempt a narrativist mode for the representation of its truth…" My first marginal note comes on page "ix", and reads "Pointless obfuscation". Later notes include "You have got to be kidding" and "Stop dodging the issue!" And his attempt to disentangle his work from the Holocaust deniers that love to quote him was not terribly convincing.

    • The two best sentances in my paper: "According to Nietzsche, French history could not be the same history as German history. Histories created futures, and as their futures were disjoint, so must be their histories."

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    November 01, 2009


    In German class a few weeks ago, we were doing drills. The word "Wörterbuch" was unfamiliar to me, so I raised my hand. "Ich habe eine Frage, Professore! Was ist 'das Wörterbuch?'" ["I have a question. What is…?"] The professor, walking past me, brusquely said "Dictionary!" and went to help another student.

    I, feeling hurt, pulled out my German-English dictionary from my bag and consulted it, all the while muttering to myself with irritation. “Geez, it'd only take her two seconds to tell me what the word was, but now I'm wasting half a minute of class time looking it up. Ah, here it is! Let's see, "Wörterbuch: (neuter) noun: Dictionary."

    At which point I slapped my head and was amused. A fine example of a comprehension error! I had interpreted her utterance as an imperative command, using the common English procedure of converting a noun to a verb: "(You) [consult a] dictionary!" When it was actually a nominative sentence with pro-dropping: "(The answer is) (a) dictionary." Of such issues is the study of linguistics made.

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