Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ran up to Manahawkin on errands, otherwise quiet. Incredible that that "bailout" thing was defeated, but finally, at long last, maybe the criminals in Congress are listening. Now we have to see if there's any way to avoid absolute chaos in this country I no longer recognize.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Whole bunch of nothin' going on again yesterday. High points were calls from both darling daughters in the evening. Got a message from old friend and former colleague, Charles K. We'll try to arrange lunch with Riderite Dave P. one of these days.
Read a bunch of blogs--still can't believe we're witnessing a possible repetition of the last eight years.
My fellow blogger, Jim W., commented here a few days ago with the Yeats poem that's constantly cited to support this or that viewpoint, some opposing. The lines that resonate today:
"The best lack all conviction/While the worst are full of passionate intensity...." Of course, that could apply to almost any situation, political or otherwise.
But what rough beast slouches toward Washington to be elected? Geez, I hope it isn't the doubled-headed Monster McPalin.
Note: One of the many blogs I read--http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/--includes a truly horrifying, but completely convincing, treatise on our new military police state. It contains some quotes from an official army instructional booklet that are enough to make you gasp. The entries are long and well-documented, but well worth your time; see the first two, in particular.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Quiet day again. Hauled out some Christmas stuff from the garage, as I'm determined to go through and get rid. Talked to Betty at length. Went to Acme. Ho-hum.
Robyn just wrote that she thinks Palin might be "wired" for the debate on Thursday. She sent a picture from a web site that shows Bush in his first debate with an odd-looking bumpy bulge under his jacket in the back. The article mentioned that after several questions he seemed to hesitate with an peculiar expression on his face. ('Course, his expressions are so damn peculiar anyway, how could you tell?)
Anyway, it boggles the mind to think that Palin might be listening to Rove or some other Machiavellian hack and answering accordingly. The very fact that we could consider this a possibility suggests how far we've fallen, I'm afraid. Is there no end to the dirty tricks?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

After Santori's with Leslie in the morning (and stocking up on practically every item in the vegetable kingdom), didn't do a hell of a lot yesterday. Saw the beginning of the "debate," but since I can't stay up much past 9:00, not much. It's one of those show biz things, anyway, just as the conventions are. I want to read about the candidates and their views, not watch them all prettified, coached, and lacquered up (or liquored up, who knows?).
Well, damn, I copied and wanted to paste in here a comment on one of the blogs I read, The Daily Kos. It concerns the "bailout" (gang rape of the American taxpayer, that is) and clearly expressed my own feelings and beliefs. Unfortunately, I can't seem to transfer it from the draft to this entry, so it appears as a separate Friday one below.
I'm an ignoramus with these machines!
Later: Just back from Weight Watchers. Was surprised, but not overly concerned, that I've gained 2.4 pounds, so I'm at 129.6 with an even 70 pounds off. Will correct by next week, I'm sure.

Friday, September 26, 2008

You and all of us. All those idiots waving McPalin signs should be angry. The rest of us should be angry. We should all be marching on Wall Street and ripping these people limb from limb, taking their houses and throwing their families out in the street to starve.
Oh, hey! Dancing With The Stars Is back?
--(A comment on The Daily Kos; exactly expresses my sentiments--and the realization that the proles' attention can never be focused.)
Sorry! This entry is not original with me (wish it were). It's from Chris Floyd's blog "Empire Burlesque." I copied and pasted it and somehow got it into my blog without the proper credit. Excuse the unintended plagiarism, but please read:

Sometimes after I write critically of Obama and the Democrats, people ask me: "Well, what are we supposed to do? He's not perfect, they're not perfect, but don't you think McCain would be worse?" As it happens, I do think McCain would be "worse" -- but only marginally so, for reasons I've laid out before. But what does that matter? These are the wrong questions for a nation swimming, sinking, drowning in the innocent blood shed by its bipartisan war machine. These are the wrong questions for a nation whose politics have become -- literally, with no metaphor or exaggeration -- insane, mired in violence, delusion and self-destruction. Whatever happens, whoever wins, there will be more war, more needless death, more mass murder in the name of America. Whoever wins, there will be more state-assisted assaults on working people and the poor. There will be more coddling of the rich, more servicing of the powerful, more injustice, more inequality. The country is broke -- the bipartisan elite have looted it. The infrastructure is rotting; communities are dying; the quality of life is deteriorating for millions of people; the socioeconomic system, based on cheap gas and the consumption of a vastly disproportionate amount of the world's resources, is unsustainable -- but the bipartisan elite won't fix these problems. They won't even address them. They are too busy expanding the frontiers of empire, pushing for new adventures in Pakistan, in Georgia, in Iran, pushing for more war, more bases, more missile sites, more troops.
Such fun with T yesterday. Took him for a walk around town, then to the mall where they have strollers to borrow. After that, went to a restaurant for lunch. I got a Cobb salad and gave the little guy avocado and hard-boiled egg. He ate some, but enjoyed more dipping a straw in my water and licking the end.
Got home about 3:30. Gave Pat ham and I had a Boca burger, half an acorn squash, and salad.
Am furious at the latest swindles and crimes the D.C. crowd seems to be discussing. I think this "bailout," is being carefully orchestrated by both parties behind closed doors. Soon, an "agreement" will be reached and thrust upon us. It will be a tad under $700,000,000,000 so we'll be encouraged to believe we're lucky to have escaped some of the burden.
And McC., one of the most prominent architects of this disaster, now has the gall to trumpet his pious intention to suspend his campaign and go back to Washington and help rob the taxpayers. Bush, of course, trots out ever once in a while to issue moronic, meaningless statements with an air of having other things on his mind. Thieves and hucksters screwing the public! Robyn had it right with her "rage and helplessness" remark.
Here's a complete article from the libertarian blog, LewRockwell.com. I don't agree with a lot of their philosophy, but this rings a bell. It's called, and describes, "The Bailout In A Nutshell."
"Taking money from people who made good investments and giving it people who made bad investments in the hope that the people who made bad investments will make good investments in the future and the people who made good investments will keep making them even though they will have less money to do so."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Susan came over just before dinner with her daughter, Julie, and 2 1/2-year-old Sophia, visiting from Connecticut. They brought us a whole chocolate cream pie (really a cake, of course), which Pat enjoyed. Daughter A. was here for dinner, as she had Back To School Night. Gave her salmon, Pat a pork chop, and I made myself Egg Beaters with spinach and tomatoes.
Saw Countdown. Keith featured a seemingly punch-drunk McC. "explaining" why he wants to postpone debating O. It's incredible that a presidential candidate can be as craven and confused as he comes across. The thought now occurs to me that he's a sacrificial lamb (or maybe gorilla). The repubs know they don't have a prayer and have shoved him up front to take the fall.
Keith showed a bit of the the criminal-in-chief, also in "explanation" mode, this time concerning the Wall Street larceny. The spoiled, semi-literate, arrogant Bush Brat disgusts and infuriates me so much I could hardly bear to watch.
Of course, the dems are no refuge, either. Here's a quote from Senator Ron Paul (R.) that expresses my sentiments exactly:
"Whenever a Great Bipartisan Consensus is announced, and a compliant media assures everyone that the wondrous actions of our wise leaders are being taken for our own good, you can know with absolute certainty that disaster is about to strike."
A pox on both their houses and the media's, too!
Just one more quote I wish I had written myself:
“What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents – and her supporters celebrate – the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance.”--Tom Graham

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another doctor yesterday: Pat to the podiatrist. Later, Jack B. came over. Talked to A. and Betty. Other than that, 'twas an enthralling day of grocery shopping and domestic chores.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Went to the plastic surgeon in Toms River yesterday. He'll remove the growth in front of Pat's ear in a few weeks. We'll have to go to Community Hospital in TR, but he'll be an outpatient. Am taking P. today to the podiatrist, tomorrow will have lunch with Marge, and Friday, Leslie and I will go to Santori's.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Attended Sunday Afternoon At The Opera and surprised myself by really enjoying La Traviata. As they all do, it included much intrigue and heartbreak, but the acting was great, the sets superb, and the singing magnificent. I told Mary Ann, who instituted and presents the program, that it was the best ever.
From the ridiculous to the sublime--rather vice versa: watched the two prez candidates on 60 Minutes. There's no question I'm partisan, but I'm convinced my boy outdid the insufferable stuffed shirt on the other side. McCain slid by all the hard questions and, of course, repeated the slogans, catch phrases, and cliches the Repubs think are all they need to dupe the ever-dupe-able electorate. (And I have the sinking feeling they may be right.) Did McC. think Palin was "ready to be president?" "Absolutely," sez he with a straight face.* And so on.
I was hoping he'd be asked how it felt to go tom-cattin' around future wife number two while his wife at the time was trying to recover from near-fatal injuries, but that'll be the day. This is the "family values" party, you understand.
More realistically, I'm annoyed that the interviewer didn't allude to the "how many houses do you own" gaffe when the one where he does his most serious "thinking" (he thinks? I was unaware!) was featured. Oh, no, no, we mustn't be antagonistic. We must let him keep returning to the "success" of The Surge and his never-to-be-let-rest "war hero" status of almost a half-century ago.
Of course, there was no mention of his temper tantrums and what's smilingly referred to as "salty" language. It takes a bit of the cuteness off to realize he's been overheard calling Cindy a "c--t." And here's a major omission: Why wasn't McC. asked WHEN he would release his full medical records? Oh, and was his wife's financial information ever made public? Why no mention of that?
If this, along with the throwback to vapid beauty-queen days is what the American people put in office, they deserve anything they get.
* Questions like these make you think "set up." What in the world did CBS think the answer would be: "Oh, no, she sure isn't ready. Hope I stay well long enough so she never proves that."?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another nice day yesterday: Barb H. and I went to the annual open house at the Rutgers Extension Marine Station, where biologists study fish. I've always wanted to go, but other things came up. One of the visiting scientist (who talked about crabs) was a guy who teaches at Rider and I enjoyed talking to him.
Earlier, I took a dry run to Toms River in preparation for Pat's visit to the plastic surgeon tomorrow. It's pretty straightforward, I was glad to find. On the way home, dropped several things off at the SOCH thrift store, including--reluctantly--the three bird cages (long story; somebody gave them to me) I've had hanging in the garage for several years.
Pat's cousin, Joe, called from Florida while I was out and they had a nice chat.
After dinner, I rang up Ellen on the web cam, as I was under the impression it was Sunday. That's her usual time to call, and I wanted to see the two candidates on 60 Minutes. It was Saturday, so the joke was on me, but as ever, we enjoyed talking. Discussed the election and agreed that if the McPalin ticket gets in, the country is going down the tubes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Had a delightful day with Barb H., her sister, Pat, and Kathy D. yesterday. We went first to the Carrenza Memorial, the obelisk out in the pines dedicated to the Mexican flier who crashed in the 1920's ("The Mexican Lindbergh"). Kathy and I had been there before, but Barb and Pat hadn't. We then traveled a few miles to Russo's Farm Market in Tabernacle and bought scads of great, grown-on-the-farm, vegetables and fruit. After that, we had lunch at Buzby's in Chatsworth, a little country store in a the tiny town. I had a tuna salad on whole wheat (it's been months since I've had a sandwich) and a cup of hot tea. We looked around the gift shop and chatted with the proprietress, Marilyn Schmidt, also an author. I bought her A Self-Guided Tour, Chatsworth & Vicinity. The weather was perfect: clear blue skies, bright sun, and just a hint of fall in the air.
Got home about 2:30 and found the peace vigil had been canceled. Enjoyed two peaches, a yam, and a big bowl of broccoli for dinner and just gave Pat soup and a sandwich.
Mike called, holding sweet Violet. Vivian, adorable as ever, showed off her dolls, including several fairies and Sleeping Beauty.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Went to Manahawkin and got six big, beautiful mums, two each of purple, yellow, and white, to adorn the newly neatened up front. They look great. Am going to tackle some of the garage mess today. Bought eggplant and fried Pat some rounds to accompany chicken and corn on the cob. Had salad and a small piece of chicken myself.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

After stopping at the library, went to my new "home borrower" client's, Jean C., in New Gretna. Enjoyed a chat with her and gave her the three books I chose--light mysteries, which she had indicated she liked. Returned several paperbacks for her.
This lady lives in an addition off her daughter's home; daughter has four big dogs, as Jean had told me on the phone. If there's anything I'm afraid of, it's dogs, and these aren't just dogs, they're big dogs, and there's not just one of them, there are four. Aagh! Luckily, however, they stay in the front of the house and there's a closed door between. They didn't even bark the whole time I was there, but I admit to feeling slightly uneasy during my visit. Jean, however, was delightful to talk to; I left her the list I had been provided of mysteries on order, plus my phone numbers. She'll call me with her selections and I'll bring them to her.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We were early for Pat's "all day" 10:30 dermatologist appointment, but cooled our heels until quarter of twelve before he was called into the examining room. After more waiting, Doc came in and glanced at the leison, then said we'd have to go to a plastic surgeon. Surgeon is in Brick so we drove there to find the place, about 20 miles from dermatologist. Upshot was we didn't get home until after 3:00. Pat ate his sandwich and I ate some of my salad in the car. Got home and had a butternut squash; Boca burger and Egg Beaters for dinner.
We go to the surgeon, but only for a "consult" on Thursday. Only appointment open was 9 am, which will make for a serious problem, as we have to leave the house by 7:30--damn!
Later: I just called the surgeon's office and was able to change the appointment to Monday at 1:30. I hope the four-day delay won't cause any more problems.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Went to the Women's Club meeting yesterday. A scrumptious sheet cake comprised the refreshments, but I contented myself with a cup of coffee. Home by 3:00 and immediately changed, then hauled out the garden utensils and transplanted Sea Thrift (a small mounded perennial) and a fair-sized mum. Boy, was it hot and humid.
Went in and made myself a casserole of eggplant, tomatoes, onions, and Italian seasoning. Ate it all. Washed and cut lettuce, assembled my salad and set out other items for today, when we go to the dermatologist for Pat's hours-long M.O.H.S. procedure. Put two loads of wash in, and folded the first. Will deal with whites later. Ran to store and got milk.
Gave Pat (bought) chicken potpie for dinner and I had broccoli, half a leftover potato, and one large spoonful of the potpie.
Talked to both my girls last night and got e-mails from both my boys. Jumped in the shower, then settled blissfully down with my wine and popcorn.
It occurs to me that, before I lost the 72 pounds, a day like the above would have been impossible. I would have been so exhausted, I couldn't have done it. It's amazing how much energy I have now!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Just finished 1984. I'm trying not to draw too fine a comparison to present-day (it was published in 1949), but some of it is so prophetic, it's scary.
What seems to me most alarming is the debasement of the language. In "Newspeak," English was pared down, so fewer and fewer ideas could be expressed. There simply were no words that could reflect them. Slogans, axioms, and catch phrases were repeated over and over and over until they lost all meaning; they were purposely created to disallow deep thought.
Now think of "support our troops," "fighting for our freedom," and similar cliches. What do these actually mean? Nothing much and they're not supposed to. Their purpose is to instill a automatic vague but positive response, that promotes the idea of "patriotism," shading into nationalism, then to support of this immoral and illegal war.
Now McCain and Palin are trumpeting the idea that they're "mavericks," who will "bring about change" in Washington. Say what?! Aren't they republicans? Didn't he vote with Bush 90 % of the time? Isn't she about the most reactionary rightist it's possible to be?
Hey, the truth is old stuff--it's illusion that counts.*
*I read this sentence years ago in The Last Angry Man. It stuck with me, as it seems so perfectly to fit our century.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

8:30 am: Just got back from a weigh-in at Weight Watchers. It's been three weeks since the last. I lost another .6 for a total of 72.4 pounds off and a current weight of 127.2. That's fine, as I consider this simply maintaining and I've maintained for a bit more than two months. Will continue, of course.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The landscaper I hired came with his two helpers yesterday and stayed four hours, clearing out the weeds, removing three azaleas, edging, and generally making the place look good.
In the afternoon, I took a dry run to Toms River where Pat gets the long, drawn out "M.O.H.S." procedure on Monday. It's right off the parkway and will be no problem to get to. I went in, explained Pat's physical situation to a receptionist, and she was kind enough to escort me back to where we'll be incarcerated--I mean, have to wait. The place is newer, bigger, and seems nicer than the one in Northfield.
Weird happening after that: On the way home, I stopped at Tucker Tom's for produce. While I was standing in line to pay, I felt a sudden sharp pain in my left palm. I looked and saw what I think was a small stinger--but short and white--which I brushed away. Well, I couldn't see any bees, wasps, or any other varmint on the floor or elsewhere, but damn, something sure got me and that thing hurt. When I got home, I put ice on it, but it continues to bother me, although not as intensely as it did.
Treated myself to broccoli and cauliflower when I got home, topping it off with half a (white) potato and yogurt for dinner.
Again, Pat didn't go to the bay yesterday. I'm a little worried about this, as he rarely missed before. Today I doubt if he'll go, as he has an 11:40 appointment at Ft. Dix--the usual exercise in futility, but at least, it's a pleasant drive.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Went to the podiatrist, who told me my toe problem (callous on the side of my second toe) was caused by an arthritic joint from the big toe rubbing against it. She pared a little off and gave me a device to lift the offending part away. If it still bothers me, I'll have to have minor surgery.
Aagh! When it comes to body parts, there's nothing so disgusting as feet, it seems to me, so the hell with all this. The only thing I'm concerned about is being able to walk and hike regularly.
Nothing new on the diet/fitness side, so I'll add a political note: If Palin and all her many apologists think her daughter's pregnancy is "personal" and "private," how is it she doesn't believe other women's should be personal and private? They made the choice to keep the baby, but she doesn't extend "choice" to anybody else.
Second political note: Why such vehemence in conservative quarters opposing abortion, but avid acceptance (even enthusiasm, judging from what seems to be the routine linking of religion and militarism) for killing children already born?
Guess they don't count, being in other countries and dark-skinned and all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Took Pat to the dermatologist to get the stitches in his arm out, but we were told they're not ready and must stay in longer. Will ask them to do it when he goes for the long procedure in Toms River next week.
We had a thunderstorm just as we got home and Pat didn't go to the bay. About 4:00, Old George stopped in (he had called earlier) with a nice bag of his tomatoes. He stayed to chat, I invited him to stay for dinner, he accepted, although he kept telling me he didn't want me to go to at lot of trouble. I told I go to a lot of trouble every day--and had to assure him I was kidding. Got another chop out of the freezer., gave the fellas that, peas, applesauce, and potatoes, with pudding (store bought!) for dessert. I had a Boca burger and broccoli.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Spent part of the day racing to the Laudromat and back. Had to go several times because I washed the heavy quilt and the mattress cover, both king-sized. In the meantime, I didn't have much time to eat, so after feeding Pat, simply had a medium--well, pretty large--spaghetti squash for lunch.
Went to Acme early, as we were low on staples (for me, that means veggies and fruit). I managed to spend $88 on nothin' much, then rounded out my stash at Tucker Tom's. There I found yams, cauliflower, tomatoes, red onions, beets, peaches, and cantaloupe. By 6:00, I was really, really hungry and enjoyed swordfish and a big dish of cauliflower. Gave Pat a baked chicken leg, smashed 'taters (I just can't help myself!), and stewed tomatoes.
I definitely want to get to WW this Saturday, as it'll be three weeks since I was weighed. I'm pretty sure I haven't gained and I may have lost, but I want to be sure. It's important for me to get weighed in periodically just for a while--okay, for the rest of my life--to keep at my present size and, especially, energy. I want never to go back to 204 pounds and feeling draggy all the time.
Later: Just calculated my BMI (Body Mass Index) and found that it's 22.6; I hadn't known it was that simple to do. I was told at the site I used that I'm in a good range--no surprise, really.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Took J. home, then stayed for his soccer game. Got home at 3:30 starved, as I hadn't had time for lunch; thought I'd have a bite after I washed bedclothes. Disaster: When I put the king pillow in the washer, it ballooned up, I didn't know it, and when I glanced into the laundry room, I saw the that the floor was flooded. Much yelling and gnashing of teeth, then I hauled out the Floormaster and that sucked it up. After several hours of clean-up, I downed leftover salad and felt better. For dinner, gave Pat leftover beef roast. I had zucchini, yam, and leftover sliced potatoes. Strenuous--but slenderizing--day.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Picked up J. to go back at Surflight last evening to see "Winnie the Pooh" on stage with Leslie, Dennis, and their granddaughters. The hurricane was in evidence, but we got through and had a neat time. Mike called on the web cam when we got home and we got to see Vivian and Violet, the little sweetie pies.
Because the show was at 6:00 and we had to leave the house at 4:45, I didn't get much dinner. In fact, I didn't get any dinner, aside from a slice of American cheese I shoved in my mouth while making Pat's sandwich. (I'm going to make him more dinner-ey dinners from now on in, sez my guilty conscience.) Lunch was a salad and a yam. Due to the weather, we didn't get much outdoor activity this time, but played board games instead.
I like to get weighed in at WW every two weeks, but didn't have time yesterday. Guess I'll just wait until next week--I don't think I've gained and may have lost more.
Will take J. back up in a few hours and stay for his soccer game.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Enjoyed a surprise outing yesterday afternoon. Mary Ann V. offered me her ticket to Surflight Theatre's "Swingtime" as she has a cold. "Sure!," said I, and Mary S. (Mary Ann and Mary have season tickets) picked me up.
Great show, set up as a USO canteen with a wealth of the old-time numbers; terrific singing, dancing, and a nice little story line. I had just salad beforehand, and we didn't get home until 5:00. While I was gone, Susan had brought over a portion of the "Tomato Chickpea Spinach Simmer" she had just made--awkward name for a delectable dish. I had that with the rest of my salad and, yummy, yum, yum.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Had a delightful day at the beach yesterday. A. and I had lunch at her house, then spent the day lolling in Belmar. I had borrowed Susan's beach chair, which has shade attached and it was great; I'm determined to get one as soon as possible. We sat in the sun, talked, and read our books, then walked down the beach to Spring Lake, about a mile away. Didn't go all the way in the water, only up to our knees or so.
As it was after Labor Day, there were no lifeguards, no beach fee, and not a lot of people. What a pleasure!
For lunch, which I brought to A.'s, I had a small salad, half a yam, yogurt, and a luscious pear A. gave me. Getting home just at 6:00, I asked Pat if I could just give him a ham, cheese, and tomato sandwich and with a cup of tea, he was okay with that. I've made complete meat, potatoes, vegetable, and dessert dinners for him consistently, and I don't think a casual dinner once in a while will kill him--.
Ouch! What is wrong with me, that I think I have to apologize for serving my husband something less than a "complete dinner" once in a while? Heaven forbid, I must be turning into Sarah Palin, although I draw the line at moose...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Got my hair cut at 11:00 and it looks good. Was outside the house about noon when friend Mary Ann happened to drive by. She stopped and we decided to go to lunch after we fed our husbands. Went to "The Common Ground" and had a mediocre garden salad and so-so service. I didn't care much for the place under its former owners and don't like it now. Had a nice time with Mary Ann, though, who came into our place after for coffee and to say hello to Pat.
Enjoyed having Old George for dinner last night; I actually had the meal myself, but in moderation.* The pork tenderloin was tender and tasty and with it, I served peas, baked potatoes, and gravy, plus applesauce and cranberry/applesauce (in the freezer, left over from Thanksgiving). Guess it was somewhat of a "wintertime" meal, but that was fine by George, who is such a satisfying guest--very appreciative. He brought more of his home-grown tomatoes, and I sliced them down, too. Made that wonderful Blueberry Buckle for dessert (I skipped eating that, at least) and the guys gobbled it up. When it was just out of the oven, I took some to next-door neighbor Barb, who had recent surgery. Also took two portions to Susan before our walk this morning.
*Usually, I give Pat things he likes, which tend to be up in the stratosphere when it comes to calories, and I have the food that allowed me to lose 71 pounds. In truth, I make six meals a day, as there is very little he likes that I eat. I like almost everything he eats, but I dare not eat it or I'd be back up there in weight.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Labor Day quiet and I didn't labor anyway. We're having Old George for dinner tonight, so took a small pork tenderloin out of the freezer. Got ingredients to make another blueberry buckle for dessert. Gave Pat spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and I had an Egg Beaters omelet; added chunks of fresh tomato.
Susan brought over some brownies she had just made and Pat had two--said they were great.
Getting my hair cut at 11:00. Ho hum.
Note: Here's a neat article on food from the NYTimes:
By EDWARD DOLNICK
Published: September 2, 2008
WHEN news of the great fish fraud broke recently, New York’s elite restaurateurs rushed to defend their sushi. Phony labels on the red snapper? Knock-off tuna? Not to worry. Top chefs can’t be fooled, they insisted, nor can their customers. “It is impossible to mislead people who have knowledge,” declared Eric Ripert, the chef at Le Bernardin.
Few statements could do more to gladden a con man’s heart. In the art of the con, magicians and swindlers and forgers insist, the ideal victim is not an ignoramus but an expert. Any magician would rather take on a roomful of physicists than of 5-year-olds. “When you’re certain you cannot be fooled,” wrote the magician Teller, “you become easy to fool.”
Experts make the best victims because they jump to unwarranted conclusions. The savvier they are, the quicker they jump, because they see at a glance which way a story is heading. In 2002, for instance, a French wine researcher named Frédéric Brochet gave 54 experts an array of red wines to evaluate. Some of the glasses contained white wine that Mr. Brochet had doctored to look red, by adding a tasteless, odorless additive. Not a single taster noticed the switch.
“About 2 or 3 percent of people detect the white wine flavor,” Mr. Brochet said, “but invariably they have little experience of wine culture. Connoisseurs tend to fail to do so. The more training they have, the more mistakes they make because they are influenced by the color of the wine.” For the experts, the term “red wine” carries countless associations. Each one points to further questions; each question leads them further off the trail. By contrast, the amateurs’ ignorance keeps them from exploring subtle byways. Seeing only one question — “what do you think of this wine?” — they can’t wander far.
The catch is that, when it comes to food, we all think of ourselves as experts. But we taste with both our tongues and our minds, and it’s easy to lead minds astray. Brownies taste better, for example, when served on china rather than on paper plates, research has shown. And we prefer wine with a pedigree, even if it’s a phony one. Sometimes all it takes is an alluring name. Until a few decades ago, Patagonian toothfish was a trash fish not worth trying to give away. Renamed Chilean sea bass, it sold so fast that it nearly disappeared from the sea.
Expectations are everything. In one recent test, psychologists asked 32 volunteers to sample strawberry yogurt. To make sure the testers made their judgments purely on the basis of taste, the researchers said, they needed to turn out the lights. Then they gave their subjects chocolate yogurt. Nineteen of the 32 praised the strawberry flavor. One said that strawberry was her favorite flavor and she planned to switch to this new brand.
The volunteers knew the taste of strawberries perfectly well. That was the problem. The associations that came with the word “strawberry” overwhelmed the taste of chocolate. Every trickster’s hope, says Jim Steinmeyer, who designs illusions for magicians, is “finding smart people who bring a lot to the table — cultural experience, shared expectations, preconceptions. The more they bring, the more there is to work with, and the easier it is to get the audience to make allowances — to reach the ‘right’ conclusion and unwittingly participate in the deception.”
In the case of the fish forgery, discovered by a pair of high school students armed with DNA tests, a nice presentation and a lofty price tag probably helped restaurants palm off tilapia as white tuna. That left diners poised for a fall. But in the end they weren’t pushed. They jumped. Maybe their own ignorance or carelessness did them in. More likely it was overconfidence.
It’s a culprit that’s claimed countless victims. In a classic study done in 1977, psychologists asked subjects an array of random questions. What is the capital of Ecuador? In the United States do more people die annually from suicide or homicide? After answering each question, volunteers were asked to rate how sure they were that their answer was correct.
Subjects hugely overestimated their own knowledge. Some not only gave wrong answers, but also put the odds that they were wrong at one in 10,000 or even one in a million. In areas where the respondents were more knowledgeable, they were more accurate but even more overconfident.
It’s natural to assume that these traps only snooker other people. Don’t count on it. The art curator and historian Theodore Rousseau, a connoisseur of forgery, pointed out that we never find out about the best scams. “We should all realize that we can only talk about the bad forgeries, the ones that have been detected,” Rousseau warned. “The good ones are still hanging on the walls.”
Or waiting at the sushi bar.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Only nutritional happening of note is that I put the "new" squash (don't know the name; shaped like a space ship with ruffles) in the microwave to soften it and it exploded. After I cleaned up, ate it anyway. Was good.