Monday, December 17, 2018

Horace Fletcher (1849-1919), nicknamed "The Great Masticator," was a well known and influential food and health faddist in early 20th century North America.  As a man of virtually limitless energy, Fletcher became a world traveler, millionaire businessman, amateur painter, speaker, and author, and self-taught nutritionist who perfected and fanatically distributed his doctrine of "Fletcherism," for 24 years (from 1895 to 1919).  This dogma taught that all food must be deliberately masticated and not swallowed until it turned to liquid.  Fletcher believed that prolonged chewing precluded overeating, led to better systemic and dental health, helped to reduce food intake, and consequently, conserved money.  People were cautioned not to eat except when they were "good and hungry," and to avoid dining when they were angry or worried.  They were also told that they could eat any food that they wanted, as long as they chewed it until the "food swallowed itself."  See also Chew, Chew, Chew! by DEBORAH FRANKLIN at

How to Make Parched Corn  Americans spend millions of dollars on pricey power bars, but Native Americans and the early pioneers already knew how to make an easy nutritious snack.  Parched corn was staple of early Americans and today it is the perfect pick-me-up for any outdoor activity.  Follow directions to whip up a batch of the original American energy food at  See also Parched Corn and Rye Coffee:  Eating as a Civil War Soldier by JENNIFER BILLOCK 

helter-skelter  In chaotic and disorderly haste.  Also the name of an English fairground attraction with a spiral slide.  The term long pre-dates the fairground ride and has been used to mean disorderly haste or confusion since at least the 16th century.  Thomas Nashe used it that way in his 'Four letters confuted', 1592:  "Helter skelter, feare no colours, course him, trounce him."  ('To confute' is, or rather was, as it has been used only rarely since the 17th century, 'to render futile', 'to prove an argument to be false'.) Helter-skelter has been in common use in England for the past 400 years and has been known in the USA since the 1820s.  Neither helter nor skelter had any meaning in themselves.  Like many word pairs of this sort (called rhyming reduplications), they only exist as part of the pair--although skelter was used alone later, but only as a shortened form of helter-skelter.  Read more at

Christmas Stories  (over 100 stories, books, poems, and carols)  includes short descriptions and graphics

"CHRISTMAS COMET" COMETH  You can expect a ghostly green blob to grow brighter in the sky near Orion in the coming days, as Comet 46P/Wirtanen makes it closest approach to the Earth in 20 years.  Shining just bright enough to be glimpsed with the naked eye, this fuzzy visitor of ice and rock will be easily visible through late December 2018.  NASA has even sponsored an observing campaign (led by the University of Maryland) to track the comet with professional and amateur astronomical groups.  The comet will make its closest approach on Sunday (December 16), flying by just 7,199,427 miles from our planet.  That's about 30 times the distance to the moon.  It sounds far away, but in celestial terms, this is a close flyby—among the 10 closest cometary approaches since 1950, according to skywatching columnist Joe Rao.  Wirtanen is one of three comets that astronomer Carl Wirtanen discovered in 1948.  It makes flybys of Earth every 5.4 years, cycling in a short orbit that makes it a part of the Jupiter-class family of comets.  These constant swings by the sun come with a cost.  Wirtanen is largely made up of ices, and with the comet's repeated passes by our star, that ice has bled off over the eons—eliminating any hope of a bright tail caused by lots of material released at once.  Also, Wirtanen has a small nucleus.  The Hubble Space Telescope examined Wirtanen in 1996 and found a tiny core of only seven-tenths of a mile,  one of the smallest cometary nuclei we know of.  Elizabeth Howell  Read more and see pictures at

EASY CRANBERRY SAUCE - MICROWAVE  Recipe by Kittencalrecipezazz at  I had this last night at a buffet, and it is very good--beautiful too.  A note from the hostess:  "Mine = 1 cup of sugar.  I used plain water, but the recipe does allow orange juice substitution.  I have done both.  I did not use any orange rind.  It can be microwaved (8 min approx) or brought to a boil covered on the stove top.  I recommend using a pan larger than you think it looks like you should need because it wants to really bubble up.  If it boils over it is an incredible sticky mess for clean up.  I have another recipe from a long ago trip to Napa that calls for zinfandel or pinot noir.  I've done it a few times but prefer the simplicity of the original 3 ingredient recipe we had Sunday."

TRIVIA  The Times of London reports Rocco, an African grey parrot, has been using Amazon Alexa to shop online while his owner was away.  The Largest Known Diamond in North America Has Been Found Below Canada's Arctic  December 17, 2018  Issue 2005  351st day of the year

Friday, December 14, 2018

Negotiation and Mediation Concepts and Terminology  by John Wade   Negative intimacy is the psychological state of enjoying the conflict (colloquially, a "conflict junkie" or "resentnik").  Someone who is negatively intimate will undermine settlement, and continue the conflict at almost any cost.  It gives him/her a meaning to life.  Find other mediation terms at  Resentnik has been used at least since 1994.

The English suffix -nik is of Slavic origin.  It approximately corresponds to the suffix "-er" and nearly always denotes an agent noun (that is, it describes a person related to the thing, state, habit, or action described by the word to which the suffix is attached).  In the cases where a native English language coinage may occur, the "-nik"-word often bears an ironic connotation.  The suffix existed in English in a dormant state for a long time, in borrowed terms.  An example is raskolnik, recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary as known since 1723.  There have been two main waves of the introduction of this suffix into English language.  The first was driven by Yinglish words contributed by Yiddish speakers from Eastern Europe.  The second surge was observed after the launch of the first Sputnik satellite by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957.

Utopia (Libellus vere aureus, nec minus salutaris quam festivus, de optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia) is a work of fiction and socio-political satire by Thomas More (1478–1535) published in 1516 in Latin.  The book is a frame narrative primarily depicting a fictional island society and its religious, social and political customs.  The original name was even longer:  Libellus vere aureus, nec minus salutaris quam festivus, de optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia.  This translates, "A truly golden little book, no less beneficial than entertaining, of a republic's best state and of the new island Utopia".  "Utopia" is derived from the Greek prefix "ou-" (οὐ), meaning "not", and topos (τόπος), "place", with the suffix -iā (-ία) that is typical of toponyms; hence the name literally means "nowhere", emphasizing its fictionality.  In early modern EnglishUtopia was spelled "Utopie", which is today rendered Utopy in some editions.  A common misunderstanding has that "Utopia" is derived from eu- (eὐ), "good", and "topos", such that it would literally translate as "good place".  In English, Utopia is pronounced exactly as Eutopia (the latter word, in Greek Εὐτοπία [Eutopiā], meaning “good place,” contains the prefix εὐ- [eu-], "good", with which the οὐ of Utopia has come to be confused in the English pronunciation).  This is something that More himself addresses in an addendum to his book Wherfore not Utopie, but rather rightely my name is Eutopie, a place of felicitie.  Read more and see graphics at

Quinine  The original antimalarial agent, quinine took its name from the Peruvian Indian word "kina" meaning "bark of the tree" referring to the cinchona tree.  From this tree, quinine was first obtained  The Peruvian Indians called it "the fever tree."  Quinine, a large and complex molecule, is the most important alkaloid found in cinchona bark.  Until World War I, it was the only effective treatment for malaria.  In fact, quinine was the first chemical compound to be successfully used to treat an infectious disease.  Quinine was isolated in crystalline form in 1820 by J.B. Caventou and P.J. Pelletier.  In one of the classical achievements of synthetic organic chemistry, R.B. Woodward and W. Doering first made synthetic quinine in 1944.  Quinine acts by interfering with the growth and reproduction of the Plasmodium, the malarial parasite that lives within the victim's red blood cells.  Quinine causes the parasites to disappear from the blood and the symptoms of the disease are thereby alleviated.  However, when quinine treatment ends, many patients relapse.  They suffer another attack of malaria due to the failure of quinine to kill the malarial parasites in cells of the body other than the red blood cells.  These parasites persist and, after a time, they reinvade the red blood cells and precipitate the relapse.  Since quinine does not permanently cure malaria, better drugs were sought.  A number were discovered that replaced quinine during and after World War II.  Some of these drugs (such as chloroquine and chloroguanide) are more effective than quinine in suppressing the growth of the blood forms of the malarial parasite.  Others (such as primaquine and pyrimethamine) act upon both the blood and tissue phases of the parasite, producing a complete cure and preventing a relapse.  Quinine has been used outside of malaria as a remedy for fever and pain and to treat and prevent leg cramps.  Prolonged administration of quinine may produce toxic symptoms such as deafness, disturbances in vision, skin rashes, and digestive upsets.

Sleep, a meditative eight-hour contemporary classical symphony, is performed overnight while the audience is tucked in and preferably sleeping.  That’s right, Max Richter actually wants people to sleep through his concert.  Sleep was released in 2015 as a set of eight albums alongside a condensed From Sleep standalone album.  Despite being an enormous feat to pull off, Richter chooses to perform the full eight-hour version, and intersperses occasional Sleep performances with those for his latest album, Three Worlds:  Music from Woolf Works, which comprises his composition for Royal Ballet choreographer Wayne McGregor’s lauded Woolf Works.  Richter, who was born in West Germany but grew up in England, is also building a fine resume in film and TV score work.  Recent works include his music for Hostiles, starring Christian Bale; the Matthew McConaughey-starring White Boy Rick; and for Mary Queen of Scots, which stars Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie.  These pieces join his hauntingly beautiful soundtrack to HBO’s The Leftovers.

This might very well be the ultimate lullaby.  Right at the start of the 2018 SXSW Music Festival, Max Richter's eight-hour composition Sleep was performed overnight to an audience tucked into 150 beds.  The audience slept, dreamed and sometimes snored through this trance-inducing experience.  Link to 11:51 video at

Will tonic water prevent nighttime leg cramps?  Q.  It's been suggested that drinking 2 to 3 ounces of tonic water before bedtime can prevent leg cramps at night.  Is that true?  A.  Tonic water—and the quinine it contains—have been promoted for preventing leg cramps for decades despite the lack of evidence that they are effective.  Quinine is FDA-approved only for treating malaria and is sold with a warning against using it to treat leg cramps or muscle pain, because it increases the risk of bleeding and heart rhythm disturbances.  Tonic water contains no more than 83 mg of quinine per liter—a much lower concentration than the 500 to 1,000 mg in the therapeutic dose of quinine tablets.  Drinking a few ounces of tonic water shouldn't be harmful, but it isn't likely to prevent your leg cramps.  There are a few other things you can do, however.  Because cramps are often caused by dehydration, make sure to get enough fluids.  But avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which are dehydrating.  (Don't mix gin with that tonic!)  Stretching during the day or before bed may also help prevent them.  Once a cramp starts, getting out of bed and standing on the affected leg may abort it.  Using ice or heat and gently massaging the affected muscle may provide some relief.  Hope Ricciotti, M.D., and Hye-Chun Hur, M.D., M.P.H. Editors in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch

We set out to create a vibrant pearl barley salad with a balance of sweetness, tang, and nuttiness.  First, we had to find a consistent cooking method for the barley.  We turned to what we call the “pasta method,” in which we simply boil the grains until tender.  Inspired by the flavors of Egypt, we incorporated toasty pistachios, tangy pomegranate molasses, and bright cilantro, all balanced by warm spices and golden raisins.  Salty feta cheese, pungent scallions, and pomegranate seeds adorned the dish for a colorful composed salad with dynamic flavors and textures.  Find recipe at  Thank you, Muse reader!

How to Open a Pesky Pistachio Nut by TechShopJim   Grab a discarded pistachio nut shell half, and stick the top of the small end into the partially-opened pistachio.  With the shell top inserted into the crack, twist the shell half like you would turn a screwdriver.  Clockwise or counterclockwise directions both work.  As you twist, the shell will separate with a loud report as if by magic.  A small screwdriver works just as well if not better in opening pistachios.  December 14, 2018  Issue 2004   348th day of the year

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Ig Nobel Prize is a parody of the Nobel Prize awarded every autumn to celebrate ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research.  Since 1991, the Ig Nobel Prizes have been awarded to "honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think."  The name of the award is a pun on the word ignoble, which means "characterized by baseness, lowness, or meanness," and is satirical social criticism that identifies "absurd" research, although, occasionally, such research has succeeded in yielding useful knowledge.  Organized by the scientific humor magazine, the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), the Ig Nobel Prizes are presented by Nobel laureates in a ceremony at the Sanders Theater, Harvard University, and are followed by the winners’ public lectures at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  The Ig Nobels were created in 1991 by Marc Abrahams, editor and co-founder of the Annals of Improbable Research, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Irreproducible Results and master of ceremonies at all subsequent awards ceremonies.  Awards were presented at that time for discoveries "that cannot, or should not, be reproduced".  Ten prizes are awarded each year in many categories, including the Nobel Prize categories of physicschemistryphysiology/medicineliterature, and peace, but also other categories such as public healthengineeringbiology, and interdisciplinary research.  The Ig Nobel Prizes recognize genuine achievements, with the exception of three prizes awarded in the first year to fictitious scientists Josiah S. CarberryPaul DeFanti, and Thomas Kyle.  In 2010, Sir Andre Geim, who had been awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in 2000 for levitating a frog by magnetism, was awarded a Nobel Prize in physics in 2010, for his work with graphene.  He thereby became the first (and only) individual to have received both a Nobel and an Ig Nobel.

Who organizes the Ig Nobel Prizes? — The Ig Nobel Prizes are organized by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research.  The ceremony is co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Studentsand the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association.  Who has won this prize? — Ten Ig Nobel prizes have been awarded each year since 1991.  The winners page contains a complete list. 
How do I find out about past years? — The Ig Archive page collects details, videos, and links from past ceremonies.  Can I nominate someone for an Ig Nobel prize?— Of course!  For details on how the nomination process works, please read here. 

Confessions of a Wasteful Scientist | David Hu | TEDxEmory  Dr. David Hu is a mechanical engineer who studies the interactions of animals with water.  His team has discovered how dogs shake dry, how insects walk on water, and how eyelashes protect the eyes from drying.  Originally from Rockville, Maryland, he earned degrees in mathematics and mechanical engineering from M.I.T., and is now Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biology and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Georgia Tech.  He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award for young scientists, the Ig Nobel Prize in Physics, and the Pineapple Science Prize (the Ig Nobel of China).  He serves on the editorial board of Nature Scientific Reports and The Journal of Experimental Biology.  His work has been featured in The Economist, The New York Times, Saturday Night Live, and Highlights for Children.  He has defended basic research in a Scientific American article, Confessions of a Wasteful Scientist.  He lives with his wife Jia and children Harry and Heidi in Atlanta, Georgia.  18:46

THE CLOCK WITH NO FIVE, a true story recounted by Martha Esbin  The little boy loved to sit in front of the grandfather's clock.  It chimed every fifteen minutes, and when he heard a signalling click that the chime was about to play, he was so excited.  So she got him a small alarm clock, wrapped it in pretty paper and placed it under the Christmas tree.  But the alarm rang, so she unwrapped it, planning to stop the ringing.  At that point, a very observant person said "Do you see something odd about this clock?"  I didn't, but he pointed out there was no five.  She took it back the store and said "Do you see something odd about this clock?"  The clerks didn't.  She point out the lack of a five and said she'd like to trade the clock for one with a five.  But not one of the matching clocks in the store had a five. 

Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood On The Music Of 'Phantom Thread'  Lots of kids dream of growing up to be rock stars.  Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood was no different—though his interest was less in the glory and more in the intricacies of craft.  "I was obsessed with bands," the British multi-instrumentalist says, "and would always listen to my favorite records wondering, 'How do you write that kind of music?' more than, 'How do you play guitar solos?'  It was all about how you arrange music."  As it turned out, he's learned to do both (in one of the world's biggest rock bands, no less).  But beyond his many years with Radiohead, in the past decade Greenwood has quietly made a name for himself as a composer, most notably of scores for the films of Paul Thomas Anderson.  Phantom Thread starring Daniel Day-Lewis is set in 1950s London.  How did you think about the place in conjunction with the sound?  It's strange, 'cause lots of British music in the '50s is quite twee.  And if there's anything this film isn't— or at least the lead character, Reynolds Woodcock, he's not twee in any way.  So instead, we started thinking about what music he would listen to, and that kind of led me to things that are little more austere.  Also, I'm a big fan of all of these really over-the-top baroque recordings from that era, where they didn't care at all about what was authentic, and so they would have enormous romantic orchestras playing Bach and Vivaldi and stuff, and it sounds glorious.  It's not how they do it anymore.  Rachel Martin  Read the rest of the interview and link to 3:53 video at

Directing Daniel Day-Lewis:  ‘I know.  I’ve killed off the world’s greatest actor’  Paul Thomas Anderson on directing Daniel Day-Lewis in his final film, Phantom Thread by Tara Brady   In 2017,  Daniel Day-Lewis announced that his role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread would be his last.  The film stars Day-Lewis as a freakishly fussy 1950s dressmaker.  This is Daniel Day-Lewis after all, an artist that comes with his own mythology.  Industry lore tells us he remained in his wheelchair on the set of My Left Foot, learned Czech for The Unbearable Lightness of Being, sparred for 18 months for The Boxer, slept in an abandoned prison during the shoot of In the Name of the Father, and who, by staying in flimsy period costume, caught pneumonia while making Gangs of New York.  For the purposes of Phantom Thread, the 60-year-old actor consulted Cassie Davies-Strodder, the former curator of fashion and textiles at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, and apprenticed (for months) under Marc Happel, the costumier at the New York City Ballet.  In preparation for Phantom Thread, Anderson honed in on Christian DiorLucien FreudCharles James and the 20th-century Spanish couturier Cristobal Balenciaga.  Working alongside the veteran costume designer Mark Bridges, everyone involved in the production read The Master of Us All:  Balenciaga, His Workrooms, His World.  The tone of the film flirts with the supernatural by way of George Cukor’s Gaslight (1944) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940), was an undiscovered country for Anderson.

Daniel Day-Lewis  Awards  showing all 143 wins and 92 nominations  As of this writing, Day-Lewis is the only male actor in history to have three wins in the lead actor category.

"Figgy pudding" is a seemingly misinformed synonym for “plum pudding,” a British Christmas favorite.  In fact, figgy pudding or Christmas pudding has a long, delicious history.  The dish that eventually evolved into plum pudding originally contained preserved, sweetened meat “pyes” and boiled “pottage” (that is, vegetables) and was enjoyed in Britain as early as Roman times.  By Elizabeth I’s day, prunes had come into vogue, “and their name became a portmanteau label for all dried fruits.”  As plums became synonymous with fruit, plum dishes with and without meat became party food.  Steamed plum puddings soon became much-anticipated Christmas treats that required plenty of patience.  By the 19th century, cooks traditionally gave their plum puddings at least a month to develop their signature spicy flavors.  Charles Dickens managed to almost single handedly revive old Christmas traditions with his 1843 book A Christmas Carol, which celebrated a nostalgic holiday of redemption and love.  One of the traditions he upheld was that of the now-iconic Christmas pudding.  In a long passage, he shows Mrs. Cratchit steaming and preparing the pudding for her excited family:  Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! . . . All sorts of horrors were supposed . . . In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered—flushed, but smiling proudly—with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.  Maybe Mrs. Cratchit used this 1837 recipe (on page 112 of The Housekeeper's Book) at which features bread crumbs, flour, suet, sugar, currants, raisins, candied citron, orange peel, lemon peel, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, brandy, white wine and eggs.  “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”  It’s not entirely certain where the carol that contains the famous reference to a figgy pudding comes from.  In 1939, a composer named Arthur Warrell received a copyright for the carol “A Merry Christmas,” but acknowledged that it was an arrangement of a traditional English song.  The carol is thought to date from the 16th or 17th century, when carolers demanded refreshments like figgy pudding to keep them going throughout the chilly English nights.  December 12, 2018  Issue 2003  346th day of the year

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith set in Botswana and featuring the character Mma Precious Ramotswe.  The series is named for the first novel, published in 1998.  Eighteen novels have been published in the series between 1998 and 2017.  Mma Precious Ramotswe is the main character in this series.  The country of Botswana is in a sense a character as well, as it is a crucial aspect of how the stories flow.  Mma Ramotswe starts up her detective agency when she is 34 years old, using the inheritance from her father to move to the capital city Gaborone to buy a house for herself and find an office for her new business.  She feels a detective needs to know about people more than anything, to solve problems for them.  The novels are as much about the adventures and foibles of different characters as they are about solving mysteries.  Each book in the series follows from the previous book.  In 2004, sales in English exceeded five million, and the series has been translated to other languages.  The novels have been adapted for radio by the author and for television.  In 2004, the year of the sixth novel's publication, Alexander McCall Smith won the Author of the Year award at the British Book Awards  and the Crime Writers Association Dagger in the Library award, both for the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.

R. Alexander "Sandy" McCall SmithCBEFRSE (born 24 August 1948), is a British-Zimbabwean writer and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh.  In the late 20th century, McCall Smith became a respected expert on medical law and bioethics and served on British and international committees concerned with these issues.  He has since become internationally known as a writer of fiction, with sales of English-language versions exceeding 40 million by 2010 and translations into 46 languages.  He is most widely known as the creator of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agencyseries.  "McCall" is not a middle name:  his two-part surname is "McCall Smith".  Alexander McCall Smith was born in Bulawayo in 1948 in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe), the youngest of four children.  His father worked as a public prosecutor in Bulawayo.  McCall Smith was educated at the Christian Brothers College in Bulawayo before moving to Scotland at age 17 to study law at the University of Edinburgh, where he earned his PhD in law.  He soon taught at Queen's University Belfast, and while teaching there he entered a literary competition:  one a children's book and the other a novel for adults.  He won in the children's category.  He returned to southern Africa in 1981 to help co-found the law school and teach law at the University of Botswana.  While there, he co-wrote The Criminal Law of Botswana (1992).  He settled in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1984.  He and his wife Elizabeth, a physician, bought a Victorian mansion that they renovated and restored, raising their two daughters Lucy and Emily, who attended the independent St George's School for Girls in the city.  An amateur bassoonist, he co-founded The Really Terrible Orchestra.  He has helped to found Botswana's first centre for opera training, the Number 1 Ladies' Opera House, for whom he wrote the libretto of their first production, a version of Macbeth set among a troop of baboons in the Okavango Delta.  See extensive bibliography at

African dance rattle capsules from Cameroon to Madagascar, from Somalia to Mozambique:  Plaiting a symmetric, nonahedral shape by Paulus Gerdes  See 15-page document with many graphics at

Authentic traditional dance filmed in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, in 2007.  The particular dance carried on uninterruptedly for more than an hour, with the dancer entering a deep trance.  It was filmed unplanned and unrehearsed, with only a standard hunting spotlight for lighting.  2:01

The pomegranate (Punica garantum), from the Middle French pome garnete, which means, “seeded apple,” is the fruit of a shrubby tree believed to have originated in Persia (modern-day Iran).  One of the world’s oldest cultivated fruits (it was domesticated as many as 5,000 years ago and grew wild long before that), the pomegranate has a long history in the arid and semi-arid regions from the Mediterranean east through Asia.  The pomegranate has been mentioned in biblical tales, and some debate exists regarding whether it was a pomegranate, not an apple, that enticed Eve in the Garden of Eden.  The fruit received mention in the writings of Homer, as well as in Greek mythology:  It was a pomegranate that tempted Persephone while in the underworld with Hades.  Many cultures consider it to be a symbol of fertility, health and prosperity.  The round fruit, which has a spiky, flared crown, can be as small as an orange or as large as a grapefruit, depending on variety.  Pomegranates have shiny, leathery skin, which can be anything from deep brick red to yellow.  The beautiful whole fruits are often used as decorations.  Inside, the fruit consists of around 800 crunchy seeds surrounded by juice sacs (these are called arils), which are suspended in membranes.  Arils may be vivid ruby red, pale pink or even white, depending on the particular variety of pomegranate.  The many varieties of the fruit differ in terms of sweetness and juice-to-seed ratio.  Some can be extremely astringent or even sour; seedless and soft-seeded varieties exist as well.  Alissa Dicker  Pomegranate Primer Page 2:  A Pomegranate Overview   Link to other pages at


Persian Molasses Crinkles  Learn how to make pomegranate molasses or buy it at a store featuring Middle Eastern foods.  Recipe for the drop cookies is at

Molasses Crinkles bElaine Khosrova  You can substitute pomegranate molasses.

Language is fluid.  Words are often shortened.  They can acquire new meanings.  Sometimes words are dropped--on occasion I say public for public library.  I've read uniform meaning policeman and suit meaning lawyer in novels.  Sometimes words even mean the opposite after a while--aweful mean full of awe and was a good word--then it became awful, not a good word.

From the medicine cabinet to the bar, bitters have a long history of curing ailments and flavoring drinks.  Though they may seem mysterious, bitters are simply bitter and aromatic herbs and spices infused or tinctured in spirits.  Read more and see pictures at

Bitters are to cocktails as salt and spices are to foods.  They add complexity, highlighting existing flavors and introducing new ones.  But what else can you do with that bottle of boozy extract sitting on your shelf?  Apparently, a whole lot.  In Angostura’s home country, Trinidad and Tobago, bitters are added to all sorts of dishes, including breads, soups, and marinades.  Find seven recipes including a  winter squash version from David Baudek of The Kerryman Bar & Restaurant in Chicago at  December 11, 2018  Issue 2002  345th day of the year

Monday, December 10, 2018

A compound noun is a noun that is made with two or more words.  Each compound noun acts as a single unit and can be modified by adjectives and other nouns.  There are three forms for compound nouns:  open or spaced - space between words (tennis shoe); hyphenated - hyphen between words (six-pack); closed or solid - no space or hyphen between words (bedroom).

"Life can bore or it can be amusing."  words from the Hungarian song Merry Hours

Juniper berries recipes  The spicy, aromatic, dark berries of the juniper tree can be used fresh or dried, crushed or whole, to flavour casseroles, marinades and stuffings and complement pork, rabbit, venison, beef and duck.  They can also be used in sweet dishes such as fruitcake.  Link to recipes at

Sorghum, a cereal grain, looks like a smaller version of corn, but instead of producing ears, the seeds of the plant are harvested.  There are two food-grade sorghums grown:  milo and sweet.  Milo produces the edible seed while the sweet sorghum is used in producing the molasses-like sweetener.  Whole sorghum is a perfect gluten-free substitution for all those chewy wheat grains.  It works well as a base for grain bowls, tossed in salads, or used in soups and stews.  Sorghum can also be cracked and used as porridge, or in a risotto-like dish.  It can even be popped like corn.  Sorghum, whether the whole grain or flour, is best stored in airtight containers in a cool place.  Whole sorghum can be stored up to a year in the freezer or 6 months in the pantry.  Sorghum flour is best stored in the freezer and will last up to 6 months.   HOW TO COOK SORGHUM  Combine sorghum and water in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook until sorghum is tender, 40 to 55 minutes.  Sorghum should be chewy, but not tough.  Drain off any remaining liquid and serve.  Add more water as needed to achieve the right texture.

Sherwood Anderson Library (The Sherwood Anderson Literary Center, c/o The Lorain County Historical Society, 509 Washington Ave., Elyria, OH 44035.)  Windy McPherson's Son (1916) is Sherwood Anderson's first and most autobiographical novel and the only one set in Illinois.  Mid-American Chants (1918) is Sherwood Anderson's first and only book of poems.  Winesburg, Ohio (1919) gave birth to the American story cycle, for which William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and later writers were forever indebted.  In addition to book descriptions, link to online resources, FAQs about Sherwood Anderson and Winesburg, Ohio, and a brief biography at  See also All Roads Lead to 'Winesburg, Ohio' by Porter Shreve at

Abby the Spoon Lady (born October 29, 1981 in Wichita, Kansas), born Abby Roach, is an American musician, radio personality, and free speech activist.  Her music focuses on the American roots genre.  She tours with one man band Chris Rodrigues.  Abby first started street performing and busking as a means to make money traveling across the United States, primarily hopping freight trains.  She taught herself to play the spoons and traveled all over the United States by hitchhiking and railroad.  She states that landing in Asheville, North Carolina, was completely an accident and that she took the wrong train. Today she hosts storytelling events where she discusses the lifestyle of the American hobo.  She spent a good amount of her time traveling recording the stories, interviews and songs of other American travelers.  In 2014 she was instrumental in developing a group called the Asheville Buskers Collective which advocates for street performance within the city of Asheville, North Carolina.  Today she records buskers through a project called Busker Broadcast, and records interviews and songs of travelers passing through Asheville.  In 2012 she was filmed in the horror film Jug Face playing spoons, and in 2015 she was filmed for Buskin' Blues, a documentary about the street performance scene in Asheville.

Angels in Heaven - Chris Rodrigues & the Spoon Lady  4:15

William Taylor Adams, better known by his pen name "Oliver Optic," was born in Medway, Massachusetts, July 30, 1822.  His father, Laban Adams, was at that time the proprietor of a tavern in Boston, but in 18 38 he moved to a farm in West Roxbury.  William received his schooling first in Boston and later obtained what he could while doing farm work.  He then traveled for a year in the South and upon his return assisted his father in the management of the "Adams House," built on the site of the former tavern.  After a short time, however, he obtained the principalship of the grammar school at Dorchester, at that time a village but now a suburb of Boston, and while there was married, in 1846, to Sarah Jenkins, by whom he had two daughters.  He continued to teach in various Boston schools for twenty years, and at the same time wrote many short stories and books.  In 1865 he resigned to devote his entire time to literature, although he retained his interest in the public schools.  He was a member of the Massachusetts State Legislature for one year but declined a renomination.  He died March 27, 1897, at his home in Dorchester.  His first book was written in 1853 under the pen name "Warren T. Ashton."  It was called "Hatchie, the Guardian Slave; or, The Heiress of Bellevue.  A Tale of the Mississippi and the South-West," and for it he received $37.50[!] from a Boston publisher.  Most of his short stories and books were written for boys.  His style was so pleasing, his plots so interesting, and the action so lively, that he was very successful and had a very large following of youthful readers.  He had the ability of writing stories that were so natural and everyday in their setting that his boy readers unconsciously became in imagination the heroes themselves.  Adams' style is, in some cases, rather careless, but he was a natural story teller, and while his heroes performed wonders, the action was at least possible if not probable.  All in all, Adams wrote perhaps a thousand short stories and over 125 books.  Having a reading knowledge of German, Italian, Spanish, and French, and having traveled some twenty times to Europe as well as to the Mediterranean coasts of Africa and Asia, he had firsthand information available for his stories.  He always carefully outlined his plots before beginning to write, then filled in the details from the voluminous notes which he had made on his travels or which he had entered in his note books from many sources.  Five hours of writing was his regular day's work.  He was one of the best-paid authors of his time.  For two stories in 1873 the Fireside Companion paid him $5,000.   Besides writing short stories and novels, he also was successively editor of Student and Schoolmate, Our Little Ones, and Oliver Optic's Magazine (Our Boys and Girls), and in these magazines many of his stories, which were later issued in book form, first appeared.  The pen name "Oliver Optic" was first used in 1851.  It was taken from the principal character, "Doctor Optic," in a burlesque being played in Boston at that time.  The name Oliver was added for euphony.  In a few cases it was written "Oliver Optic, M.D."  Besides "Oliver Optic" and "Warren T. Ashton," he also used the names "Irving Brown," "Clingham Hunter, M.D." "Gale Winterton," "Brooks McCormick," and "Old Stager."  The only story that I have found under his own name was a short story, "The Whaleman's Daughter; or, The Mysterious Pilot," which appeared in the Yankee Privateer, volume VI, September 19, 1857.  Albert Johannsen  See also Books by Oliver Optic at

Roasted Baby Eggplant by Katie Goldsmith  I was never a big fan of eggplant.  I don’t like the meaty texture of most dishes, or the slippery consistency of over-blended American baba ganoush.  Then I came across Japanese eggplant, baby eggplant, ‘Orient Express’ eggplant . . . who knew?!  Prep Time: 10 minutes  Cook Time: 40 minutes  See recipe at  December 10, 2018  Issue 2001  344th day of the year 

Friday, December 7, 2018

On December 5, 2018 the Eater staff announced the winners of the ninth annual Eater Awards, "shining a spotlight on the people who shaped food culture this year" and celebrating the standout achievements of a jam-packed year in the food and restaurant world.  The Eater Awards are meant to honor the people who shaped the way we thought about, talked about, and ultimately experienced dining this year—in restaurants, on television, and at home.  Eater Awards aren’t the only accolades we use to define the year in feasting—we’ve got lists of the year’s Best New Restaurants and nationwide essentials, too.  Read about and see pictures of the winners at

Sweet potatoes are not a type of yam, and yams are not a type of sweet potato.  They are both tuberous root vegetables that come from a flowering plant, but they are not related and actually don't even have a lot in common.  Yams are native to Africa and Asia, with the majority of the crop coming from Africa.  They are related to lilies, and can be as small as a regular potato or jumbo in size (some grow five feet long!).  Yams have a cylindrical shape with blackish or brown, bark-like skin and white, purple, or reddish flesh.  Compared to sweet potatoes, yams are starchier and drier.  There are many varieties of sweet potatoes, which come from the morning glory family.  Skin color can be white, yellow, red, purple, or brown, while the flesh can be white, yellow, orange, or even orange-red.  These vegetables have an elongated shape with tapered ends.  Kelli Foster

Tom Cruise gives lesson in TV settings and 'motion smoothing' by Dave Lee   In an impassioned video posted to Twitter on December 4, 2018, the Mission Impossible star warned that a default setting on many high-end televisions "makes most movies look like they were shot on high-speed video instead of film".   “If you own a modern high-definition television," he said, "there’s a good chance you’re not watching movies the way the filmmakers intended, and the ability for you to do so is not simple to access."  Motion smoothing, or interpolation, is a technique that artificially adds additional frames to the moving image in order to prevent blurring--most effective when watching sport.  But many in the film industry hate it, however, as it can degrade the image quality of the original film, and alter colouring.  Motion smoothing is also called the "soap opera effect." 

December 4, 2018   Seeing a rainbow is a stroke of luck, and a double rainbow is even more spectacular.  But a triple rainbow?  Impossible as it may seem, a bizarre tangling of colorful arcs was sighted in Robbinston, Maine, last week.  Tertiary and quadruple rainbows are real things, first photographed in 2011.  Third- and fourth-order rainbows are unlike their lesser-order siblings, instead appearing on the same side of the sky as and centered on the sun  The rain has to be opposite the sun for the first two bows, and then any rain to the left and right of the sun is the canvas for the third- and fourth-order bows—but at the same time, the sun has to be unobstructed.  It must also shine brilliantly enough that, amid all the reflections within the raindrop, enough light is left over for that fourth arc to shimmer. Lining up those conditions is about as tough as winning the lottery.  Matthew Cappucci  See graphics at
"Seeing isn't believing.  Feeling is believing."  "The library is like a candy store where everything is free."  The illusory presence of the stage--where the unreal becomes real . . .  Songs of Willow Frost, second novel of  Jamie Ford   quotes from the acknowledgments section:  I'm offering a rousing standing ovation to the staff of Seattle's Wing Luke Museum for your acceptance and encouragement . . . A wide-eyed wave, as I press my nose to the window of the Museum of History 8:  Industry (MOHAI).  I'm the kid.  You're the candy store . . . A shout-out to the Tacoma Public Library . . .

Jamie Ford (born July 9, 1968) is an American author.  He is best known for his debut novelHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  The book received positive reviews after its release, and was also awarded best "Adult Fiction" book at the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature.  The book was also named the #1 Book Club Pick for Fall 2009/Winter 2010 by the American Booksellers Association.  Jamie Ford was born in Eureka, California, but grew up in Ashland, Oregon, and Port Orchard and Seattle, Washington.  His father, a Seattle native, is of Chinese ancestry, while Ford’s mother is of European descent.  His Western last name "Ford" comes from his great grandfather, Min Chung (1850-1922), who immigrated to Tonopah, Nevada in 1865 and later changed his name to William Ford  Ford's great grandmother, Loy Lee Ford, was the first Chinese woman to own property in Nevada.  Ford earned a degree in Design from the Art Institute of Seattle and also attended Seattle’s School of Visual Concepts.
See also A Conversation with Jamie Ford at

Vermilion  An orangish red pigment with excellent hiding power and good permanence.  It's a mercury sulfide mineral (cinnabar) used from antiquity through to the present though only scarcely due to its toxicity.  Made artificially from the 8th century (vermilion), it was the principle red in painting until the manufacture of its synthetic equivalent, cadmium red.  The name "Vermilion" comes from Latin vermiculus = small worm, cochineal (which yields a red dye), from vermis = worm.

The Lure of the Red Herring  Before modern refrigeration and speedy transport, fish could not be got to customers more than a few miles inland before it went bad.  Various methods were invented for preserving them, using salting, smoking or pickling.  Kippers are herrings that have been split, salted, dried and smoked.  Yarmouth bloaters are made by a variation on kippering but are whole fish and do not keep so well.  Arbroath smokies are smoked haddock.  Red herrings are a type of kipper that have been much more heavily smoked, for up to 10 days, until they have been part-cooked and have gone a reddish-brown colour.  They also have a strong smell.  They would keep for months (they were transported in barrels to provide protein on long sea voyages) but in this state they were inedible and had to be soaked to soften them and remove the salt before they could be heated and served.  The first reference to them in English is from around 1420, although the technique is older than that.  Scott Ross and the Oxford English Dictionary now trace the figurative sense to the radical journalist William Cobbett, whose Weekly Political Register thundered in the years 1803-35 against the English political system he denigrated as the Old Corruption.  He wrote a story, presumably fictional, in the issue of 14 February 1807 about how as a boy he had used a red herring as a decoy to deflect hounds chasing after a hare.  He used the story as a metaphor to decry the press, which had allowed itself to be misled by false information about a supposed defeat of Napoleon; this caused them to take their attention off important domestic matters:  “It was a mere transitory effect of the political red-herring; for, on the Saturday, the scent became as cold as a stone.”  This story, and his extended repetition of it in 1833, was enough to get the figurative sense of red herring into the minds of his readers, unfortunately also with the false idea that it came from some real practice of huntsmen.  It was reinforced by the belief of Cobbett’s son that the origin was correct; he included it in a commentary on an edition of his father’s Rural Rides in 1853.

There are thousands of named date varieties. They fall into two main categories, soft and dry, and are most readily available from fall through winter.  See information on nine varieties, including medjool, known as the “queen of dates” for its large size, pillowy texture, and very sweet, strong flavor.  Its name means “unknown.”

George H.W. Bush's biographer hails the late president as a noble man who made the world better and inadvertently made it chuckle.  Nashville historian Jon Meacham spoke at the state funeral for Bush Wednesday in Washington and told mourners that Bush's credo was, "Tell the truth, don't blame people, be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, stay the course."   Watch Jon Meacham's 12:11 G.H.W. Bush eulogy at

The best ship is friendship is part of a proverb that George H.W. Bush  quoted to Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.  Mulroney recounted the story when he spoke at the G.H.W. Bush's state funeral on December 5, 2018.  Watch the 12:01 eulogy at  December 7, 2018  Issue 2000  341st day of the year