Butter emails
Thursday February 25th 2021, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Politics

The question on everyone’s minds, clearly, is this: does your butter still spread on your bread?

Who expected an outcome of the pandemic to be, and I quote, rubbery butter?

Who knew that farmers fed their cows palm oil? But apparently they do, and in Canada it has become an issue.

Since everybody’s home quarantining, more people are baking, and they’re using more butter than normal, and the farmers needed to step up production to meet the demand.

So they increased the palm oil in the animals’ feed, (bbcnews link) which apparently does work at upping the fat content in their milk.

Making the resulting lipids not traditionally soft at room temperature anymore.

The farmers, after saying, hey, the US and the UK do this too and it’s not new made clear their intention towards us consumers: Let them eat cake.

Snow days
Saturday February 20th 2021, 11:43 pm
Filed under: History,Life

Things I learned:

If you have a defibrillator, do not put an iPhone 12 in your chest pocket–its magnet is strong enough to turn it off.

If you go camping in the out yonder in Alaska in the winter, take a flashlight with you and look down in the outhouse because you don’t want to be bitten by a bear when you sit. (She’s okay.)

But the best story was the woman who was delivering groceries to a couple in Texas but her car slid down their hilly driveway and got stuck in their flower bed. There were just no spare tow trucks out there.

She got taken in by the couple whom she’d delivered to, offering her heat and power and a safe place to stay, whereas it turned out her own apartment had none of those things and no water. They tried to help with her car but had no snow shovels.

So they took her in as if she were their own, just as they would want someone to do for their own grown daughters. For five days.

I mentioned that one to my husband and he told me his sister in Ft. Worth had taken people in, too. Power, water, warmth, and safety. Because she can. So you do.

Wizard of awe
Thursday January 21st 2021, 11:06 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

I asked my friend Jane if I could borrow her picture and credit her, and she said, Sure! –But that it was someone else’s artwork.

Oh and: Jill Biden’s coat at the inaugural had the official flowers of every state and territory embroidered on it.

The Inauguration
Wednesday January 20th 2021, 11:53 pm
Filed under: History

A new start, guided by the light.

I’ve never watched an inauguration before. I missed seeing the swearing-in live because I tuned in at 9:00 our time and it was done a few minutes early, although it turns out the clock still had to strike noon for Biden to officially take over the reins.

The singing. That poem! The speech. Everything could not have been more perfect.

I hadn’t read the Narnia books in years, but the ascension into joy and light at the close of the Narnia books, with Aslan happily encouraging, Further up and further in! –that line leaped out to me as the Bidens, the crowd following, entered the Capitol and before them was a steep long flight of stairs, and on up they went. They crossed a wide landing, and there before them was another one that had not been in view before. Up again they climbed, never flagging. Further up and further in to where the view is better and better, the light clearer and the day ever more joyful!

Noted before that point: Elaine Chao starting to get up tripped in her heels and the camera swung away fast as she staggered a moment. A man was wearing a scarf wrapped tightly around his neck out there–of the finest white lace, and whether offered by his wife against the cold or in memory of someone he loved I’d love to know, but it looked like a wedding ring shawl (as in, you can pull it through one.) That was one masterpiece of both handknitting and love, because you don’t knit such a thing for just anybody, but the camera person didn’t know to let the shot linger there long enough for me to make out many details on the pattern.

Amanda Gorman! 

Lady Gaga, turning in the middle of the national anthem and gesturing to the Capitol’s flag as she sang triumphantly, “That our flag was still there.”

As Biden himself said, we need to “lead, not by the example of our power but by the power of our example.”

Such a joyful day!

From Martin Luther King Jr. to my grandfather
Monday January 18th 2021, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Family,History

June 23, 1964

The Honorable Wallace F Bennett

Senate Office Building

Washington 25, DC


Dear Mr. Bennett:

Your vote together with those of your midwestern colleagues in the Senate was the sine qua non for passage of an effective Civil Rights Act. You have earned the sincere gratitude of freedom loving people the world over. I add to theirs my sincere and heartfelt thanks.

Sincerely yours,

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Dictated by Dr King but signed in his absence

Grampa considered that vote the most important one of his 24-year Senate career and told us grandkids that. He nearly lost his seat over it, but he wanted to teach us that standing up for what was right was what he was there for in the first place. As should we in all things.


Thank you ten Republicans
Wednesday January 13th 2021, 10:48 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

The cause of Trump’s second impeachment today, with brief annotations offering bits of context we might not otherwise have known as a lawyer goes through the speech Trump made to instigate the mob.

Thank you Andy Kim
Friday January 08th 2021, 11:43 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Re yesterday’s post: I saw the nutcracker in the kitchen drawer this morning and instantly wondered, those oysters… But maybe shards, so, just as well.

Speaking of awkward methods, if people used Emery boards to try to get into a nut would it make them kernel sanders?

Re after the ransacking of the Capital:

Andy Kim, Representative from New Jersey, the son of immigrants, took in what had been done in the Rotunda, the violations, the trash spewed everywhere–and over there, cops with plastic bags. He asked for one.

When two of his colleagues walked by at 1:00 a.m. noticing the cleanup crew member wearing a suit they suddenly realized it was their friend and colleague. Alone. His parents had left everything they knew to be able to have democracy and this building offered such aspiration towards the best in man.

Putting it aright to the best of his ability when no one was around with a camera or megaphone or any kind of power, before that moment, to see it. It was simply something he profoundly needed to do.

Note that they found him doing so because they themselves were walking around the Capital to thank the staff and all who had done so much to protect and serve on a day like no other.

Tomorrow’s going to be interesting
Wednesday January 06th 2021, 11:36 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Well, that was a day that started off really well–and Ossoff and Warnock’s victories in the Georgia runoffs meant that suddenly Mitch McConnell was making the kind of speech this evening he should have been making his last thirty-plus years in the Senate, calling for bipartisanship and appealing to history and our country’s ideals. Now that he’s finally losing his Majority Leader status.

And after he and those around him had fled for their lives from the rioters (Klobucher, looking at her phone: “Shots fired”) invading the Capital.

After they hustled all the Senators, aides, and reporters present into a secure spot–whoops, it’s not, they’re in there, too, go in over here now–someone realized that Tammy Duckworth wasn’t with them because her wheelchair can’t do the route they took. They sent someone to rescue her from the office she’d had to barricade without legs, with a specific phrase from Sen. Klobuchar to let her know it was okay to open the door. She did indeed get rescued.

Props to the Parliamentarian’s aides who said, Help us grab the electoral votes! in the middle of the craziness. Big heavy boxes.

Note that Trump replaced the head of the Capital police last year, that some of them were taking selfies with the rioters and that there is video of a few of them moving the gates out of the way and letting the rioters in. Note that when Mayor Bowser asked for the DC National Guard to come to their aid, she was denied.

Whose signature was on the order for them to come after all?

Mike Pence’s.

Pence has zero authority to–


–unless he’s already signed another paper. Article 25 puts him instantly in charge if they invoked it while they were all huddled down there. Wouldn’t even need the Cabinet in that case.

One can only fervently hope.

You know… Actually…
Tuesday January 05th 2021, 9:30 pm
Filed under: History,Life

I heard back from my doctor’s office: whether I had covid in February or not is irrelevant in terms of my susceptibility to getting it again (I had told them I didn’t want to take the place of someone who needed it if I didn’t; they said, but you do) and so with my medical history I am in tier 1c and should receive my vaccine in a few weeks.

Very glad I checked.

The Washington Post was reporting on hospitals in southern California, where they’ve been far less compliant with public health protocols than the much stricter and earlier-onset ones we’ve been on, and they are now running out of oxygen to give patients and even the in-home concentrators like my dad was on before he died in Oct ’19 are in short supply.

If only the current administration were actually doing a decent job of rolling out the vaccine. (Today’s disclosure: rich donors were able to buy their way in in Florida.)

To which someone out there responded in the comments:

“Train Amazon drivers to give the vaccines. Everyone would be vaccinated by Saturday, Wednesday if you have Prime.”

Election eve part two
Monday January 04th 2021, 11:42 pm
Filed under: History,Politics

Come on, Georgia, we’re counting on you. The whole country will be celebrating with you! And then we can get these vaccinations off the ground.

I was wondering when what tier would go next so I looked it up and was gobsmacked at how few doses there were out there right now.

My state says check with your county. My county says check with your provider’s system. My provider’s system says check with Public Health over at the county. The bottom line: they ain’t got’em and there’s no system and there’s no plan.

In two weeks there will start to be one, if we have the votes in place to make the government govern. Go Georgia!

Meantime, we do have some doses being held for an unspecified other county that doesn’t have the equipment to accept them. So, what, are they going to life-flight them to Monterey to beat the clock on the hours they can be out of the fridge?

I do wonder, though, why the run-off is being held after the new Congress is sworn in: because what that does is make the winners the least-senior members of the Senate. That used to matter in terms of what committee assignments you got to have.

My grandfather was there from 1950-1974 and when he retired, he resigned I forget if it was a day early or a week early so that his successor could have first choice over all the other incoming freshmen and a quicker trajectory towards potential future chairmanships.

It caused a bit of a stir.

Would that today’s Republicans looked for such harmlessness in their loopholes.

Back to the drawing board
Sunday January 03rd 2021, 11:40 pm
Filed under: History

There’s art (these wire sculptures are gorgeous.)

And then there’s… art?

South Carolina decided to redo its flag after the massacre at the Mother Immanuel Church, doing away with the Confederate emblem at long last.

What I hadn’t realized is they haven’t finished deciding what they want to replace it with.

Thanks to the New York Times, I finally get why they call it the palmetto state: during the Revolutionary War, the British fired on their fort but it was made of palmetto logs and those held off the cannonballs.

We once had a palm tree cut down and it took three men three days because that wasn’t a trunk, that was a swirl of thick tough fibers that jammed the chainsaws again and again and nearly refused to go. So yes, I could definitely see those holding off cannon balls, and whoever cut them down had a huge job.

The state had what they thought was a stylized modernized palmetto silhouette–and then they asked what people thought of it.

No possible way. No flapping fabric toilet brushes in the breeze up there, just, no.

Stand up or deliver
Wednesday December 30th 2020, 12:04 am
Filed under: Food,History,Life,Lupus

Ooooh, thaaaaat’s it… Maybe.

A friend sent a text a little while ago that randomly mentioned the curfew. I checked: yes, we are in the purple tier now with ambulances being turned away from most hospitals so from 10pm to 5am, she’s right, that applies to our county too now.

Meantime on the immunocompromised front, the grocery app said 7-9 pm was the only available delivery slot today. I was hoping for earlier because last time we took that the guy never showed up other than to cancel at 10.

This time they messaged at 8:15 asking about a substitution and got my okay, so clearly someone was at least checking inventory.

At 9:00 it said, “Your shopper has finished working on your order.”

It’s 11:03, we are a mile from the store, there are no groceries, no updates, and it’s past curfew.

If he/she had to drop off to too many places and ran out of time, what happens to the orders remaining? Please please tell me they don’t make the lowest-ranking guy in the system eat the cost?

(Hope he’s got fridge space for it?)


Update, just before we hit lights out for the night a half hour later: he was on his way. It came!

Someone Merry Christmased the whole city
Saturday December 26th 2020, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,History,Life

You know those monoliths that have been popping up, starting with the metal one in the Utah desert?

Someone set one up on top of, where else could be better, Corona Heights hill in San Francisco. Made of gingerbread. (BBC link.) Frosted around the edges and gum drops for nails.

There are good ones at Stanford
Friday December 18th 2020, 11:10 pm
Filed under: History,Life,Politics

A dear friend is an attending physician at Stanford and was just offered the Pfizer vaccine.

He has talked about its jaw-dropping success.

He turned it down. Oh yes he absolutely wants it as much as anybody and to protect his wife and kids and he thinks the FDA should have approved those first two vaccines sooner.

But there is such a thing as ethics. He is not on the front lines dealing with covid patients. He’s dealing with a lack of beds for his patients, sure, but he is not directly exposed day in day out one-on-one to a monstrous rush of ferociously infectious people needing so much care and the constant extra shifts and the pressure and the intense grief and lack of sleep and even more exposure.

The residents, the interns, the nurses and the janitorial staff in those areas are, and as headlines all over the country pointed out today, some pointy-haired boss allotted all of 17 shots for those thousands of front liners and saved the rest of their first shipment for People Who Matter More Than You. People who were not working with covid patients at all. Some telecommuting only. People who were as safe as any of us can be right now.

When called on it they blamed it on the computer.

Yeah no. Not his turn. Give his to someone who’s putting their life on the line for their patients and then comes back the next day, and the next, and the next, and the next, to do it all over again.

Turning the corner
Sunday December 13th 2020, 11:14 pm
Filed under: History,Life

George Schultz, who turned 38 the day I was born, turned 100 today and wrote a beautiful essay for the Washington Post.

He writes of attending a wreath-laying ceremony in Leningrad years ago, where his Russian counterpart and the interpreter found themselves in tears.

He answered their unexpected vulnerability with, “I, too, fought in WWII, and had friends killed beside me,” expressing his gratitude for all those who’d fought in this battle for having defeated Hitler–and with that he turned to the graves before them and gave them a crisp soldier’s salute. Their sacrifices and their loss mattered to him.

And with that he won the Soviets’ trust and by that trust the treaty to reduce nuclear warheads later got signed.

One man, in the right place, doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do and it changed the world.

Offering hope that in our own politics we can do a bit better than the possum and the skunk.