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    Saturday, February 14, 2015

    Lablad climbs snowbank

    That's an elder pollarded to 5ft, for perspective

    Sunday, July 13, 2014

    LabGrrl's Favorite Non-human Tart

    I forgot to take a picture while it was sexy, so here is a slightly squished day-old piece. Still fantastic tasting, but the fruit has slid around and its not gorgeous...more for the baker!

    Gooseberry Cream Tart

    Tart shell:
    Makes one 9-inch false bottom tart shell  
    Combine 1/4lb (one stick) of slightly softened butter, 5 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar, one and a half tablespoons of shortening, a dash of salt and 1 cup of flour until an even consistancy is reached, then add the yolk of one large egg, and mix until a soft, goopy dough is formed. Press into the tart pan leaving it slightly raised around the edges. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely. 

    Poached Gooseberries:
    I really like sour and tart flavors, but you may have to increase the sugar content for some people.Chop one quart of gooseberries (true gooseberries, not cape gooseberries or anything else called a gooseberry) into equal size pieces. Usually in half lenghtwise suffices, but I use a mixture of invicta, pixwell and hinnomaki red, which are very different sizes (and colors), so I chop them finer. Add the zest of half of a lemon, four finely shredded large leaves of lemon balm, 1oz of blackberry brandy, a dash of freshly grated nutmeg, 1/2 tsp lemon juice and 1 cup of sugar to a saucepan, heat slowly to boiling, simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer pan to fridge, let sit at least one hour.

    Cream cheese layer:
    Drain fruit, reserving syrup. Beat together 8oz of softened cream cheese (use the brick kind, not the softer whipped kind.) 1tbsp of confectioner's sugar, the zest of half of a lemon, 1/4 tsp fiori di Sicilia, 1/8 tsp lemon extract and half of the syrup from the fruit. Beat it until it is smooth. Spread onto cooled tart shell.

    Spread fruit across top of cream cheese, then drizzle with the remaining syrup (if the syrup is thin, you can thicken it lightly by reducing it, but it must be cold when drizzled...remember that gooseberries have a lot of pectin, however) Let entire thing chill overnight. Slice cold, but enjoy at room temperature for most deliciousness. 

    This may be my favorite thing, but gooseberries are rare enough in stores that I must wait for mine to come in to make it....

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    On Cuomo's not-really intolerant words, conservative outrage, and trolling the rubes for fun and profit.

    First, a bit of business: I'd like to thank so many of you with your incredibly kind words lately. I'm constantly blown away by the supportive things I get during my fight against ILD, or as I prefer to think of it, the scientific experiment of telling the statistics to go to hell while I continue to LIVE with AIF-ILD. One of the things you do when most of your life revolves around writing (the one thing I've always done in all my careers) involves getting into a comfort zone to write, and I don't have that luxury anymore...learning to write without that comfort zone is sort of like learning a new language...it's a long, slow battle. Some of it is pain, where just sitting at the computer for more than an hour is like being tortured, and some of it is the fact that the methotrexate, specifically, gives me a 2 day brain fog (and a one night puke party) once a week, and my disease-less specifically-gives me a transient brain fog that strikes without warning. When these strike, I can sit for fifteen minutes trying to come up with a word that corresponds to a thought...not exactly conducive to writing! But writing something, ANYTHING, does help, even if the days of banging out 6000 words of decent material in an afternoon are way behind me (I've had a few 2000 word days, though!) You people are awesome.

    More business: Since there are days that go by that I can't moderate, for the most part I've turned comments off. Most of you are not animals who go into comment zones to mark your territory. You decent types can get to me via twitter or email. 

    On Cuomo's not-really intolerant words, conservative poutrage, and trolling the rubes for fun and profit...

          The Right Wing noisemakers are at it again because mean old Andrew Cuomo said they needed to GTFO of New York State. But did he really? Rather than assume that most of these Wingers are idiots, I'm going to assume most of them aren't reading what Cuomo said, but what other Right Wingers have said he said. They are merely repeating words they don't understand.

         Don't think that this makes them stupid. SOME of them are probably stupid, some are uneducated, but MOST are repeating snippets of phrases that were just fed to them by people (who are in a range from stupid to evil, some comprising both)without any context, background or other things needed to understand what they are hearing.

        Instead of getting the above sentence, they are getting this:
       "This makes them stupid. Stupid, uneducated people who are evil."

          "But Kat," you say, "You didn't say that!"
           I did say it, see:
    Don't think that this makes them stupid. SOME of them are probably stupid, some are uneducated, but MOST are repeating snippets of phrases that were just fed to them by people (who are in a range from stupid to evil, some comprising both)without any context, background or other things needed to understand what they are hearing.

         The Right Wing noisemakers are cutting and pasting Cuomo's words to create a false narrative based on real reality....to that end, here are Cuomo's words:
    "I think what you're seeing is, you have a schism within the Republican Party. The Republican Party is searching for an identity. They're searching to define their soul. That's what's going on. Is the Republican Party in this state a moderate party or is it an extreme conservative party? That's what they're trying to figure out. And it's very interesting because it's a mirror of what is going on in Washington, right?
     "The gridlock in Washington is less about Democrats and Republicans. It's more about extreme Republicans versus moderate Republicans. And the moderate Republicans in Washington can't figure out how to deal with the extreme Republicans. And the moderate Republicans are afraid of the extreme conservative Republicans in Washington, in my opinion.
     "You're seeing that play out in New York. There's SAFE-ACT. The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE-ACT. It was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate. Their problem is not me and the Democrats, their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are "right to life," "pro assault weapon" "anti-gay"? Is that who they are? Because if that's who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York because that's not who New Yorkers are. If they're moderate Republicans, like in the Senate right now, who control the Senate -- moderate Republicans have a place in this state."
    Let's play Reading for Context. Since your kids and younger family members are going to be socked with Common Core, a little practice will help. Here's your practice questions, the answers follow:

    Question Number One:
    What is Cuomo talking about in the above quote?
    a. A conflict he sees going on in the Republican Party
    b. Who is allowed to live in New York
    c. His plans for the Republicans who live in New York
    d. Gridlock in Pennsylvania's High Court

    Question Number Two:
    How many different political factions does Cuomo mention in the quote, who are they:
    a. Two (Republicans and Democrats)
    b. Two (Extremist Democrats and Moderate Democrats)
    c. Three (Democrats, moderate Republicans and Extreme Conservative Republicans)
    d. Seven  (Extremist Democrats, Moderate Democrats, Moderate Republicans, Extreme Conservative Republicans, Extreme Conservatives, Lizard People and Greens)

    Question Number Three:
    Which of the following are given as things the Extreme Conservatives 'are':
    a. Right to Life
    b. Pro-assault Weapon
    c. Anti-Gay
    d. All of the above.

    Question Number Four:
    Which of the following does Cuomo say about Extreme Conservatives:
    a. They need to get out of New York
    b. They are not welcome in New York
    c. They do not represent the views of New York Republicans
    d. They control the Senate in New York

    Question Number Five:
    Does Cuomo tell Conservatives to get out of the state:
    a. No, he says that they have 'no place' in the state. He probably says this because any idiot with google can look up the views of the Republican Party of New York and see that it includes phrases like "our Party is a celebration of diversity"
    b. No, he says that, unlike the Moderate Republicans who control New York's State Senate, conservative republicans are 'not who New Yorkers are.' He probably says this knowing polls show that New Yorkers (and this includes upstate) are (statistically) not Anti-gay AND Pro-Assault Weapons AND Right-To-Life. Many New Yorkers are two of the three, but not three of the three. In addition, some people will argue (we call these people CORRECT) that you cannot be pro-assault weapons AND Right-to-life. You can be pro-assault weapon and anti-abortion, but the Right to Life movement isn't just anti-abortion. Right to Life is associated with a collection of views on Abortion, Euthanasia, Violence, and War. Many Right to Life proponents, especially in New York, are Catholic, and there is a lot of evidence that being Pro-Assault Weapons is not a view considered compatible with Catholicism's view of a Right to Life.
    c. No. Even that Rag the New York Post uses the phrase 'conservatives who oppose abortion and gay rights and favor traditional gun ownership' to describe Cuomo's comments, because you need to be dumb or manipulative to read the statement as ALL Conservatives instead of Conservatives who are Anti-gay AND Pro-Assault Weapons AND Right-To-Life. Their wording is dumb (they are The Post) but they at least get the Venn Diagram right.
    d. All of the above
    e. Yes

    Question Number Six:
    Draw a Venn Diagram showing the types of conservatives Cuomo was discussing as having 'no place' in New York:

    Answers: 1:a, 2:c, 3:d, 4.c, 5 d. 6:

    Lest you think I'm joking about how some conservatives have rephrased Cuomo's completely reasonable statement, let's see how conservatives have rephrased Cuomo's completely reasonable statement:

    Cuomo: "extreme conservatives who are "right to life," "pro assault weapon" "anti-gay"
    New York Post:  "conservatives who oppose abortion and gay rights and favor traditional gun ownership"
     (at least that one is close!)
    Ed Cox: "New York's good conservatives and Catholics"
    And several places I refuse to link to who printed Cuomo's quote as  ""extreme conservatives who are "right to life," "pro assault weapon" [or] "anti-gay"" (their or, not mine)

    Andrew Cuomo is a Republican who calls himself a democrat. His dreck about job-creators comes straight out of Rand Paul's bedside gym socks. Republicans (who will NEVER win if they are in the center of that Venn Diagram) would do well to listen to him.

    Wednesday, November 13, 2013

    Peppermint Pattie cake

    This is, essentially, just a Betty Crocker recipe with additions, but it tastes amazing, so here it is presented with all my notes on it:

    2 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour (I use King Arthur, because bleached flour skeeves me out)
    1 2/3 cup sugar
    3/4 cup room temperture salted butter (don't bother with margarine)
    2/3 cup the darkest baking cocoa you can get (I like Hershey's Special Dark)
    2 tbsp espresso powder (or replace the water in the recipe with espresso)
    1 tsp peppermint extract (I use a high quality organic emulsion, because I am a snob)
    1/8 tsp pure peppermint oil (not 'flavored oil')
    1 1/4 cups water
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp vanilla (the best you have)
    1/4 tsp baking powder (aluminum free if you have it)
    2 eggs

    Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 2 9-inch round pans. Beat all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer on low for a minute, scrape, then beat on high for 3 minutes. Pour into pans, bake 35 minutes. Cool. Place a layer of peppermint buttercream frosting in the middle (add 3 drops of peppermint oil and 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract into a homemade vanilla buttercream (butter, 10X sugar, milk, vanilla) and frost with a cocoa or chocolate buttercream frosting that you've added 2tsp of espresso powder, 3 drops of peppermint oil, and 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract to.)
    Because this cake and the frosting are full of butter, serve them at room temperature. You can store it in the fridge overnight (and, in fact, I think it tastes better this way) but make sure it's allowed to come to room temperature before serving.

    Thursday, August 29, 2013

    A 10-point starter plan for Buffalo.

    Presented without comment, and the understanding that most of these things cannot exist without the other. Many of these things have long, complicated explanations. I don't intend to explain them right now.:

    10. Remove all residency requirements for non-elected positions in the city.

    9. 1% commuter Tax. 5% if you hold a city-funded job. As a commuter tax, this does not apply to people who live within the city itself. Most of the people facing the 5% tax would currently be under the residency requirements eliminated in #10.

    8. 50% of the above goes to education.

    7. 25% of the above goes to police/fire

    6. The remainder of the above goes to transit, parks, roads and all the other things people in the suburbs currently use without paying their share of taxes on. Yes, get over yourselves, suburbia.

    5. Move all of ECC into the city itself. Not all onto the abysmal city campus, either.

    4. See above, only UB. (Unlike people running for mayor, I know this and the above are not under the city's control)

    3. Waive all fees for food trucks that will spend 15% of their time in underserved areas, and offer at least one healthy $5 meal. NO, SERIOUSLY.

    2. Punish businesses who refuse to remove snow, have too long grass, etc., but only punish homeowners who are repeat offenders. [Seriously, let me tell you about this little old lady down the block, and a neighbor who made her life hell until everyone stepped in.]

    1. More farmer's markets, and no fees for produce trucks.

    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    To reiterate: Keep the wealth where it is made.

    I've got the double barrel of an extreme pain level and spotty 'net right now, so I will try to keep this short and sweet:

    After the fiscal cliff deal was passed in the house, GOP leadership stopped Hurricane Sandy relief from coming to the floor...as one of the democrats said in the house during the outrage that followed, this would not have happened if it was a red state...I have tried to not believe this, but this seems to be absolutely true...

    Which is why I want to reiterate a statement I made a while back:

    We need a cap on how much federal money a state can get compared to how much federal money a state puts out.

    New York and New Jersey are among many of the (mostly blue) states that fund the lifestyles of people in the South. The same states that send members to the House that oppose the so-called 'socialist' policies of 'tax and spend' liberals have been sucking on the teats of states like New York for years, while states like New York (which, by the way, is still mostly rural, with 1/5 of the land being hardwood forest) have a terribly hard time affording things like teaching our children actual science instead of creationism...which are promises we've made to our citizens.

    Bad things happen. Hurricanes happen, earthquakes happen, acid clouds happen...because of this, it would not be fair for us to completely pull the social safety net out from under states like Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and the like, but it should disgust anyone who votes for 'fiscal conservatism' that states that send people to Washington DC who want to cut taxes seem okay with taking money from people who disagree with them. Therefore we should arbitrarily draw a line. My preferred line is this: No state should receive over $1.05 in federal dollars for every $1.00 they put into federal dollars, and no state should get less than $0.95 for every $1.00 they put in...I also think that unpredictable natural disasters should not be a part of this calculation at all. If a state cannot prepare for a disaster because it's never happened before (say they've never encountered a Category 2 hurricane before, or an F3 tornado) then we can't very well expect them to build houses to withstand such things, can we? Natural disasters should not even be a part of this calculation, honestly...but I think the constant mollycoddling of these states by the donor states is why they are so nasty about sharing the money THAT THEY DIDN'T MAKE, ANYWAYS.

    If you people in the red states want to not have marriage equality, fact-based education or other things found in civilized countries, you're welcome to do so (as long as you abide by the full faith and credit clause,) but I think asking the civilized states to fund your lifestyle choices is just terribly wrong...

    Over one-hundred years of sucking at the teats of New York and her siblings has made these red states fat, lazy and stupid, and now they are just damned mean...If they feel they must stop federal dollars that are going to the people who paid into the damn fund (FOR A CHANGE!) then the last thing they should get is a shiny new Air Force Base on New York's dime, right?

    So, to reiterate, here's the petition.

    Monday, December 17, 2012

    If you murder someone, you are mentally ill, full stop.

    If you murder someone...not kill out of self-defense, or kill as part of a job (whether you think that's a legitimate job or not is unimportant) or kill accidentally...but deliberately take a life, there is something wrong in your brain. There are people, right now, who are using that fact to try to either promote or attack gun control, when the answer to gun violence will always require both mental health services and sane gun laws.

    There is a legitimate concern that when we state the above-that murdering someone is diagnostic criteria, in and of itself, for a mental illness-we are restigmatizing those facing mental illness as crazy murders. Certainly, there are people who will choose to believe that in stating this I mean that all people who are mentally ill are potential murderers, but that could not be further from the truth.

    To put this in perspective, let's take three people...we'll call them Abe, Bob and Carl. Abe, Bob and Carl are all physically ill. Abe has a norovirus, and is puking and crapping his brains out even as we speak. Bob fell down skiiing and tore muscles in his back and Carl has a terminal form of cancer and less than a month to live. NO ONE in the real world would say that since Carl has a really extreme illness, Bob and Abe aren't sick, and don't need treatment. No one would say that since Bob and Abe don't have cancer, they aren't really sick, and no one would say that since Bob did it to himself he's not sick. We all agree there is something wrong with their bodies.

    When you murder, you can murder because you can't think in an ordered manner, you can kill without understanding you're killing. This is the kind of murder where we find people not guilty because of their mental illness. You killed, but you could not understand your own actions and you can't understand a trial or a sentence. Your mental illness, in this case, is so big that it overrules everything else. You're the mental illness version of the guy with cancer, your brain is a runaway train and it may or may not be able to be stopped. We do not judge if the damage to the brain is caused by a genetic condition, by a trauma to the brain, or your drug use, or if your mom stabbed you in the brain with a carving knife...we recognize that whatever the cause, you have a severe impairment as a result of it.

    You might murder because of a mental illness that is transient. You may have the mental equivalent of poor Abe, above. Most people will get a norovirus at least once in their life and will describe it as the sickest they have ever been. I, personally, have had puke-inducing chemo pills that I would rather take than ever face a norovirus again. You could be so sick you didn't understand what you were doing at the time. You could be sick from a virus, an injury, even from a trauma caused by your own emotional reaction to stuff. You could be sick from an underlying condition that only bothers you sometime (consider the kids who get confusional migraine, or the people who kill themselves during cluster headaches.) You may or may not have known better when you murdered, that's a question for the courts, but you certainly were not capable of ordered thought when you murdered.

    You might murder because of a community or shared delusion. There are people who want to call these cultural reasons...reasons of poverty, gang violence, etc. If you have been raised to believe the only way to escape your situation is murder, you have believed the delusion of another...maybe that delusion was plausible, but it is still a delusion. If you have been taught by your mother that your only hope is joining a gang where you have to kill a person to become a 'man,' or you have been taught by your mother that your only hope is killing a person with green eyes because they are lizardmen from planet X and they will eat you, you have believed a delusion, and we treat them (medically) the same, with education (and sometimes medication.) Think about not only people 'raised with' these shared delusions, but those who kill because of a powerful leader, the people we often call (incorrectly) cult leaders. These delusions might make perfect sense at the time...your brain may, in fact, be considered 'normal,' but you're still under the effects of a mental illness...even if the organic damage behind it (if any) resides in another person's skull.

    Any of these reasons is a mental illness. They do not represent the full spectrum of mental illness in the universe. THEY DO NOT REPRESENT MOST MENTAL ILLNESSES. The vast majority of mental illnesses are nothing like this. To go back to the 'physical' illness example, most of us have vomited at some point in our lives....but most of us have not vomited up our organs. Mental illness is like puking, we're all going to face it at some point, either as a result of our own actions (ie: drinking too much), as a result of stuff we can't control (a blow to the stomach, food poisoning), or just dumb genetics...but the existence of these mental illnesses (I don't want to call them minor mental illnesses, because they are serious to those experiencing them) and the fact that they are mental illnesses doesn't change the fact that there are more severe and life-threatening forms of mental illness.

    The events in Newtown do not call for an increase in sane gun laws or better access to mental health services. Either of those things could've helped. The events call for BOTH sane gun laws AND better access to mental health services...because no one who is capable of thinking in an ordered, rational manner is going to murder someone (They could kill them accidentally, or as part of a job, and that's a valid discussion, but it's not murder.)

    If anyone, on either side of the debate brings up that OR... If they say that we can have (or that we need) sane gun laws or better access to mental health service, shout them down. We need BOTH.