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Christmas dinner cooking report

Turkey went in without a problem. Stuffing prepared to be baked (using rendered turkey fat and turkey giblets). Potatoes boiling. Rolls, however, possibly going to have to be written off; dough seems not to be rising, and proofing a second package of yeast suggests that it, too, is dead.

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Culture Shock: mostly culinary

Last year, I was with my brother-in-law's family in Minnesota, and the culture shock was pretty severe. This year, I'm with my parents-in-law in Alabama, where, surprisingly perhaps, the culture shock is not so extreme—Boston-to-Alabama is, perhaps, but in terms of the church service, Methodists are a lot more familiar than evangelicals. (I did have to get up and walk around outside the sanctuary during communion, because it felt too awkward to just sit there. It gave me a chance to look at some lovely, and only slightly homoerotic, portraits of Jesus and the apostles.)

On the other hand, my mother-in-law and I have...somewhat different ideas about cooking. I offered to cook Christmas dinner—in part, I feel like it's a nice gesture to relieve her of having to cook on the holiday, and in part, last year's turkey was kind of a little awful. (This was as much my wife's opinion as mine; she was the one who asked me if I wanted to cook the turkey this year.) So we sent along a shopping list, and tonight I started a little bit of preparation: mixing the spice rub for the turkey, and cubing the several-day-old French bread for the bread pudding.

Now, of course, that bread was going to be for both the bread pudding and the stuffing. But my mother-in-law had bought a bag of Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing mix, and it seemed wrong not to use it.

Culture shock does come in many guises.

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I crane, you crane, we all crane...

Today's spam:
Your Mailbox Is Almost Full "CLICK HERE <[unlikely link].ua>" To Update Your Mailbox And Receive New Massage.
On the one hand, who do they think is going to fall for that? No one who's responsible for my mailbox is going to write something that incoherent and ungrammatical, or send me to a website in Ukraine.

On the other hand, I could use New Massage....

(Speaking of tenseness, the previous post in which I said my NDA prevents me from saying how my day is going is of course a complete exaggeration. All the same, I wouldn't expect any genuine work-related news here, if I were you. Heck, document analysis is what my company does; even this very sentence is probably enough for them to find this entry, figure out it's about them, and analyze it for positive/negative content.)

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Seattle activist Dorli Rainey

I mentioned to a few people, last night, an interview that Keith Olbermann did with 84-year-old Dorli Rainey, who was pepper-sprayed in Seattle. (That link goes to a photo that the Guardian calls "a powerful image of martyrdom".)

I therefore link it for y'all here, because it's so very much worth watching:

http://current.com/shows/countdown/videos/occupy-seattle-octogenarian-activist-dorli-rainey-on-being-pepper-sprayed-by-seattle-police-importance-of-activism

If you can't stand Keith Olbermann (and, hey, I totally understand that; I view him with a grain of salt and frequent eye-rolling), watch the video anyway, because it's ten minutes long and he only manages to get in three questions, one of which is "how are you feeling today?". (Her answer: "I am feeling great. I feel so energized. It's amazing what a little pepper spray will do for you.") And if you can't watch or listen to the video for whatever reason, there's a transcript posted at that link as well, though I think it's more powerful to hear Rainey tell the story herself.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

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Once Upon a Time

So my wife and I have been watching Once Upon a Time, a new ABC show. I pretty much never watch anything on the networks (if you're following a show on a basic cable network, and you miss an episode, it'll be back repeatedly over the next week; with the networks, you have to actually remember to watch), but I have to admit I'm getting pretty caught up in this.

The premise, if you're not familiar with the show, is that the Evil Queen of fairy-tale-land (I'm not sure if it actually has a name) cast a curse which wiped away everyone's happily-ever-afters by transforming the land into the worst possible world, i.e., ours. Which, when you put it that way, kind of makes the show into a really depressing commentary—the whole premise, really, is kind of that things like true love and happy endings can't exist in our world. But, well, anyway, Snow White is now schoolteacher Mary Blanchard; Jiminy Cricket is a therapist; and the queen herself is the monarch-like mayor, Regina Mills. (You can see they had fun with the names; Cinderella becomes Ashley.) There are lots of nice little touches—in the first episode, as they're leaving the classroom, one of Blanchard's students hands her...a pear.

But there is one point on which the show failed me rather badly in this past episode. The danger of unthinkingly casting fairy-tale-land is that you run the risk of your cast being, well, snow-white. Which this cast is, other than the Magic Mirror/editor of the Daily Mirror, Giancarlo Esposito. (Excellent bit of casting, but then, casting Esposito in pretty much anything is excellent casting.) In the most recent episode, Collapse )

I'm certainly going to keep watching; I mostly like what they're doing with the show so far. But seriously, a plea to the creative force behind the show (i.e., the guys from Lost who aren't J.J. Abrams, and Buffy's Jane Espenson): think about what you're doing, OK?

(Also, personal note to Jane: I had no idea you went to graduate school in linguistics! Call me! I've got a screenplay I've been working on....)

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Notes on scandals

My brother, with his incredibly unfortunate photo, tweeted a link to this article about Joe Paterno. My wife and I have talked about the scandal enough this week that I'm not going to do so any further here; but my brother is right (as he is more often than you'd expect, but especially about sports) that it's an article worth reading.

Collapse )

Meanwhile, a great deal of attention is being paid to Herman Cain's alleged acts of sexual harassment. And I have to admit that I think that's a shame, for a number of reasons:
  1. Far, far less interesting to me than whether or not Herman Cain committed any sort of harassment is how unprepared he seems to have been for this fact to come to light.
  2. In the meantime, the question of whether Cain broke a law over a decade ago (in a way that was settled out of court) is overshadowing the much more serious question of whether his campaign flagrantly violated campaign finance laws this year.
  3. Even if Cain did sexually harassed women, that fact would be, in my mind, quite frankly at the very bottom of the reasons that he's incredibly unqualified to be president, and the more people talk about the scandal, the less they're talking about his dismissive reference to Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-stan, the insanity of his 9-9-9 plan (as encapsulated in the best graph ever), his complete loss of words when asked about things like Medicare and the Palestinian Right of Return....
And finally, to make it all better, the 11/10/11 Stephen Colbert sign-off, which you shouldn't watch if you, you know, hate really good singing.

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Minor irritations from Google

I think I'm starting to reset the fact that, when I do a Google Image Search, the first page of hits are taken from Google+. In fact, this happens when I'm searching on a name, even though most of the photos it shows me are people in the circle of that person on Google+, and not the people themselves. It's as if they're somehow overriding their "relevance" algorithm to be a "relevant Google service results and then other relevant results" algorithm.

Meanwhile, Google searches continue to ignore punctuation, so that "2+2" and "2 2" return the same results. This is a frequent irritation for me, since I often search on things where punctuation matters. On the other hand, "Google" and "Google+" are distinct. Which is Google's way of saying "we could include punctuation, but we just don't wanna", and "whatever you might need punctuation for, it's not as important as what we need it for".

(To be fair, Google searches also distinguish "C" from "C++" and "A" from "A+". Still.)

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