Irritation(s)

So it turns out typing is a chore when your back is stiff and partially immobilized by a bandage. Iʼm trying to use the dictation software instead, but I am discovering repeatedly that I donʼt really have anything to say. At least not today. The reality of having been cut must be hitting: it hurts. Mildly but definitely throughout most of the afternoon (Friday). I also want to do nothing but sleep (and thatʼs after having slept nearly a solid twelve hours Thursday night! — first for a quite unconscious eight, unlike the first postoperative night, on the sofa again, and then, after Janet departed to work, I lay down in the bed and conked for three more hours). I donʼt know if thatʼs Advil PM working on me or what, but I havenʼt been quite alert all day, either. On the other hand, I am not quite alert when all on my own somewhat often.

Besides, today the wound has decided to make itself known to me, sharp little pain in a line along my back. It might be the tape pulling sharply, but somehow I donʼt think so. Not wickedly bad but distracting and annoying. (And although I am whining, I realize, I donʼt mean to complain: people I know have endured real pain and some are experiencing actual agony right now. Iʼm just working on recognizing whatʼs going on with me, and this blog has turned sort of into a journal. So there we are.) And I have to watch how I sit or lean and what I do moreso than yesterday. I learned that doctors like you to rate pain on a scale of ten back in ʼ01 after the hernia job, and I didnʼt really know how to tell them what I was experiencing (without medication The Lovely One and I both learned as I was dismissed from hospital that day when they told her they figured I wouldnʼt want some painkiller for the evening because I had recovered all day without meds; she took the prescription and we stopped on the way home for the stuff). Maybe today is a periodic four.

I hope I heal fast, if only because I donʼt like thinking about or writing about just these petty problems.

Petty pain, yes. Today Qwest continues its evil ways with a vile vengeance. Every time I try to do anything online, the browser stalls and eventually complains of lost connections until I realize that once again the “internet” and “server” status items have eluded my electronic grasp. The internet connection has been so dicey that I almost fear uploading whatever few words I eventually put down here because I am sure that I will lose the post in the process by losing connection to that larger digital reality beyond me. Good thing that I have gotten into the drill of writing the post first in Scrivener and then just copying the text over to the WordPress window in the browser — a state that started from losing a post back in June that I had written in the browser and had thought I had periodically saved, but once I realized the Qwest connection had gone down (again), I learned that evidently I hadnʼt successfully communicated to WordPress after all.

I am almost to the point of advising anyone who asks to avoid Qwest for any service — phone, internet, video, whatever, because this is somewhat past annoying to troublesome. Of course, after all that sleep I am also somewhat grumpy today, or maybe something less than service has made me that way. Why should I complain? Qwest gave me a free month of continually interrupted “service” and no communication from their “service staff” in compensation for my complained-about difficulties with what they choose to call service. If I didnʼt already have one, I would say Qwest is a big pain in the back. As it is, I guess the pain they inflict is somewhat lower down.

So now I have discovered the theme for today — annoying pain, or aggravating irritations. Sorry for having written on that, but having pretty much wasted today, whatever I come up with as the minutes tick down to Janetʼs return from work will have to go up. And this is what I have to post. Perhaps a new week will do better for us all (and maybe in a new week so will Qwest, and maybe sows and boars will take to the air as well).

Oh. Click the picture for a positive side to Qwest…

Apologies. Take care out there.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

A FoxHunt Friday® — Mosque Madness

Uh oh, here I go again. Iʼll add apologies in advance as well as at the end, as originally written.

I do admit that stupid stuff I hear on the news can get me upset or at least writing. And the ceaseless chorus of “outrage over the Ground Zero Mosque” chanted by every FoxNews reporter/commentator all week long (they say thereʼs a difference, but as John Stewart among so many others has decisively shown, no such actual distinction exists, especially when FoxNews reporters use their commentatorsʼ corybantic remarks as the premise for a later news story: “some sources say…” meaning OʼReilly or Hannity or even Beck, among so many other loose cannons), mostly thanks to Obamaʼs gaffe at taking a stand in support of the First Amendment and then “politically” retreating from his poorly polling but Constitutionally correct statement, put me over the edge about wrongheaded Rightist opinions. Todayʼs real issue: you canʼt love/support/adore/finagle the U.S. Constitution as/how you please. Itʼs a thorny document for prejudiced “thinkers” (especially, evidently, that awkward freedom of religion thing).

Click for a clearly contrary (and incorrect) point of view.

As anyone who has come upon this blog is probably aware, I have no hesitation to belittle and ridicule the wildly false and brazen propagandizing that blares without cease and without censure (and usually without sense) from far too many loudmouths selfdescribed faithlessly as “conservatives.” (No one who hints at coyly — “lock and load, citizens” — or actually advocates armed revolution is in any way preserving traditions or adhering to the Constitution. Sorry, lying demagogues, but you canʼt “love” the Constitution by overthrowing it — or by selectively favoring and ignoring the sections, clauses or phrases you can strategically manipulate or donʼt like.) The worst offenders are the multifarious talk-radio whacks, whose names are appropriately Legion, and their equally wicked and often deranged fellow travelers with blogs. However, the naysaying Antijournalists who touch my own existence most often reside in that bastion of egregious treachery and deliberate deceit (and unacknowledged distortion), FoxNews, where opinionated invention is marketed as “information” and mindlessly accepted as such by millions of abused and misled fans who wrongly believe they can get their “news” from that unfair and unbalanced sewer.

The FoxNews falsities are evidently endless. A simple Google search yields plenty, some even from rightish sources. The Foxies were of course instrumental in endorsing and publicizing — then later being able to duplicitously “correct” — slimy Andrew Breitbartʼs NAACP/Shirley Sherrod “racist speech” scam (viz. a timeline on that hoax here). Sadly, that was but one example of the nearly constant hand-in-hand operation of FoxNews with militantly revisionistic Rightist bloggers, all stomping together in lockstep to kick down the truth while pretending to be wildcard mavericks. Uh huh, sure. (How is it that rigidly sticking in the big warm group with everyone else like you is falsely presented as “freedom” while anyone actually thinking for oneself is brutally demonized [falsely] as a “lib” or worse names?)

Most recently is the trumped up “scandal” over the Muslim cultural center (with a timeline of those events here) that FoxNews is yammering and hammering yet today (partially thanks to the Presidential blunders of first taking a stand and then twostepping away from his clear, Constitutionally accurate position).

The controversy (which smells as synthetic as the enthusiasm a now infamous FoxNews producer stimulated at an otherwise lackluster TeaPot party) is simply wrong. Why? Two reasons.

The map indicates the relative locations of Ground Zero and the Park51 site.

First, the Park51 site is not at Ground Zero (yeah, it is fairly close nearby, two blocks away and hidden behind taller buildings from the scene of the attack, and yes, the Burlington Coat Factory building abandoned on the site received shrapnel, the landing gear from one of the jetliners-used-as-missiles, and debris during the planebombing and collapse). Dust and ash and other wreckage, including presumably human remains, blew far from the actual World Trade Center site. But no one can declare all of Manhattan “sacred ground,” so the delineated and cleared Ground Zero site is the limited geographical reality to enshrine the loss of those killed through the two-plane attack in September 2001. And Park51 is not there. Foxʼs “Ground Zero Mosque” is a malicious misnomer designed to stir popular outrage (and one lifted without credit, in public anyway, from one of their too-friendly extremist blogger pals, Pamela Geller, who originally promoted and maintained the artificial indignation day by day, right along with her — or one of her confederatesʼ — laughably insane, difficult-to-understand Birther crapulosity).

Second, whether the siting of Park51 is now (after all the carefully orchestrated and broadcast hoopla) or ever was hurtful to the families and friends (or some of them) of those lost on 9/11, the real issue is Constitutional. Yes, especially after all the selfserving politicians, braindead “pundits,” bloggers, radio nuts and opinionated reporters on FoxNews have had their deliberately provocative say, the location may now have become — or been made into — “a stab to the heart,” as the Palinʼ Grizzly (so important herself in popularizing the jingoistic, artificial scandal through her semiliterate Tweets) snarked. But then so is every racist, hate-filled, pseudopatriotic, funds-eliciting Fundie sermon on Muslim evil. But Newt, the Ice Queen, the Foxies and other weasels of their stink excuse that talk because a] they agree with such cant, b] those speakers, according to them, are “good Christians” (as they wildeyedly and wrongly rave that our deistic and even agnostic “Founding Fathers” supposedly planned, evidently in secret, for us all to be), and c] whatever aggressive craziness the wicked preachers scream is Constitutionally protected free speech. The Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech in the First Amendment (and a thoroughly misled Supreme Court bafflingly and scarily has now extended that right to nonhuman noncitizens, to corporations — God forbid). The right to speak out is guaranteed by the Constitution.

Exactly my point. So is freedom of religion.

And freedom of religion is definitely and gloriously not limited to Christianity (of any hue, and particularly not just to selfrighteous Fundamentalist claptrap*). Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, pagans, Hindus, atheists, pantheists, even deists like Franklin and Jefferson are all free to practice their inharmonious and not necessarily valid beliefs wherever and however they must — so long as any and every religion is separate from the state. And the state cannot hinder, inhibit or restrict at all nor meddle in any way with the practice of religion. Therefore, the Park51 project is free to locate and practice as it pleases without interference, Constitutionally and absolutely. Thatʼs why the public outrage, if itʼs actually real, is wrongheaded; quite candidly, weʼre acting unConstitutionally, just like those many who were conned into voting for Proposition 8 in California. It doesnʼt matter what even a majority wants if itʼs not Constitutionally valid. Wrong is wrong, no matter how many believe in the untruth.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” [That is the First Amendment in its quite simple entirety.]

Certainly, the First Amendment directly limits Congressional meddling with religious freedom (and speech, the press and public assembly), meaning the federal government can definitely do nothing about the NYC Muslim cultural center, Park51, but that also means the interfering citizens groups and loudmouths in the media, although free to express their opinions, donʼt have a legal leg to stand on. We can hurt possibly in this situation, but we cannot stop religious practice.

Besides, for the Rightists to tar all Muslims for the actions of those fundamentalist al-Qaeda nutjobs is wrong. Just as I should not presume that all Christians are selfserving, selfsatisfied, selfrighteous, vindictive, uncharitable, unBiblical, verse-selective fundamentalist “evangelicals” (Matthew 5:39; Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27; among other ignored or redfined passages, not to mention that notorious hellbent rich man and the eye of the needle) like the Fundie whacks around, behind and with Geller.

FoxNews and naysaying, hateful Rightists need to learn: repetition of a lie does not make reality. (At least so I hope.)

Finally, since I wrote this little diatribe on Tuesday afternoon, time and tide have outdone me by far. A former student shared this on Facebook Wednesday night, and I almost decided to withdraw this post. (Now there is an intense and important essay on the wickedness of the synthetic mob hatred for the new cultural center.) However, I appreciate the commentatorʼs reference to Niemöller.

* And furthermore, if our own homegrown narrowminded, exclusivizing unchristian Fundamentalists have the right to freedom of religion, fearfully so do fundamentalist Muslims and forthright, persuasive atheists, and any other cult. The one clear thing about our Constitution — other than its establishment of a strong, tripartite, powerful federal government — is that it is not exclusive to any one tiny segment of the population.

— Sorry about the link to Facebook above (on “armed revolution”). However, I could not believe the insanity nonsensically expressed in the comments. And the treason. (For any readers who arenʼt on Facebook it might be worthwhile to join just to see for yourself how utterly demented Rightism has driven average, unclear-minded, thoughtless bogus “patriots.”)

My apologies for having opinions myself. But I hate to witness the truth being hacked and beaten into falsehood.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

WordWine

My own visual realization of the topic (get it?), which I left only slightly scaled-down so that if you click on the picture you can see the enlargement. The (actually empty) fountain pen is inscribing, supposedly, on my actual handwritten text for “Mistakes by Moonlight,” somewhat further along than my posting of pieces here has gotten. I have always insisted that my penmanship is atrocious.

I have many favorite things (one of my notes-to-self for the blog is to discuss my favorite things). I listed some of the addictive (or at least noticeably unproductive) ones yesterday. Youʼre going to read more about some of those in posts to come, unless some unlikely stroke of genius sends the blog in directions as yet unguessed. And I have other things I like, that I donʼt feel are bad for me, to discuss in future posts as well, including (no, I wonʼt succumb to a list for a third day in a row) my preferred music(s), favorite books and movies (topics I have tapped oh-so-very-lightly several times already), interesting websites, religious musings, and pleasant activities (I nearly typed “pleasurable” before my inbuilt censor indicated the potential problem there).

But I realized in creating the daily posts this week that thereʼs one subject/activity that tops all the rest and in which I indulge myself without hesitation or regret (although not necessarily to your indiminishable joy). I love our language, words. I really enjoy stringing together sentences and exploring just what kaleidoscopic mash-ups may evolve. That was the fun of those days when I wrote poetry regularly. That was the heady glory glimmering behind the verbosity of the old poem I posted once and which explodes in all the other poems and prose I treasure, whether present on this forum or otherwise. My linguaphilia, not to coin a word although I thought I was (and the spellchecker didnʼt know the term either), conspires and smiles in all the elongated, perambulating and parenthetically interrupted sentences that I have made for these many posts (242 of them today, evidently). Erupting into strings of (somewhat) logically connected words is unrestrained pleasure for me, and I enjoy nearly as much finding (or rediscovering/remembering) new, exciting (hopefully appropriate) words to use (gotta love electronic thesauri).

Although I donʼt mean my verbal conduct to be offputting, I know how decisively many oppose the use of abundant and profuse words (not to mention floridly expansive and convoluted periodic compound-complex sentences). After all, one might have to look up an unfamiliar locution or even reread a lengthy and winding statement. Hemingway would hate my style, even moreso his fanatic and dutiful disciples. I bet ditto for Hammett, although I have benefited and learned from both men and the supposedly straightforward school of writing. The regimenting and rigorously Rightist bigwig bosses of contemporary “conservativism” donʼt like complexity, either (even the Dextral deference and reverential obescience to Respectable and Almighty Latin adheres to easy words and simple phrases, requiring little or no declension or conjugation, even as their English usage prefers brief and easily misunderstood AngloSaxon generalizations). Complex ideas are too difficult, simply, to impose and purvey, no matter that the truth is multiplex, intricate and difficult (particularly in politics). “Lock and load” sells so much better in the twilit land of troglodytes than ponderous, expansive, actual contemplation and reasonable discussion of knotty issues. Easy answers for simple minds. Forever. Amen.

(Sorry about that. A friend posted something on Facebook a few days ago [referencing this document, for those of you not on FB], as I was composing this post, that got me laughing — at its overt Rightism which slavish friends of the originator simplistically misinterpreted in their regimented, docile compliance with the accepted and enforced Right attitudes — and outraged that anyone should believe U.S. citizens could be so blatantly, but apparently successfully, manipulated. I took an Evernote of the post and its initial responses, perhaps fodder for a future rant. On the other hand, as George Orwell so vividly determined, limiting language is the firmest form thought control [short of successful torture, if we include his perceptions expressed in Nineteen Eighty-Four], and the paranoid Lords of the Right are clearly learning lessons in exploitation and “persuasion” from the fallen Soviets: Keep It Simple for the Stupids.)

Perhaps I should have entitled this post “Freedom of Speech” the way things have developed (but I think that title should belong on a later, more thoughtful and profound post), because what I love about language and spinning out phrases and clauses to weave together is the unqualified freedom of such creative personal expression. (And now I find a theme intertwining this weekʼs posts — freedom, as opposed to obligation, if we want to include Sundayʼs bit of Stars in Heaven. Look back — I  love the hits, which by the way are nearing 50,000 according to the counter to the right — and see for yourselves.) Liberty is what language provides to me (in an almost christian way, philosophically, as one must sacrifice oneʼs childhood abandon to acquire and master as best one can the semantic, linguistic and grammatical regulations — and a whole lot of words — in order to enjoy the radical liberation of unconstrained articulation, as churchly folk say one should submit to the savior to find spiritual disenthrallment), and whether that logico-linguistic freedom is real or paradoxical (as the previous parenthetical interjection indicated) or whatever, itʼs fun for me. And I hope not utterly alienating for my readers.

As all the recent posts have run long, I kept this one almost short (-ish). It is a weekend, after all. I hope someone appreciated my redirected (or spatially dyslexic) allusions to one of the most over-the-top political speeches of the modern era — Safireʼs (intentionally?) excessively alliterative words for Agnewʼs obedient mouth.

And I hope everyone appreciates the florescence of incidental puns on “utterlately, including the one above.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Pockets, part five

Yes, yes, this series is getting too long. I should realize that I am the only person in the world as interested in pockets as I am. However, with one more post we can bring it all up-to-date and cease (for now).

Bright and early in the 21st century, as the Banana Republic vest that I showed you earlier begin to die, I went on the Internet to see what was available when you searched “photojournalist’s vest.” I was delighted to discover a variety of options. A little searching, a little thinking, and I came up with a possible alternative to my old standby. And they ran about half or even one-third the price!

the original gray Fox Outdoor vest — I hope you all enjoy the various bookshelves I hung these vests upon, or that I will, looking back in future years, enjoy peering at the books

Several Internet sales sites featured vests that turned out to come from a manufacturer called Fox Outdoor and varied in price from $29-$45 (while the Banana Republic vests cost about $100). These even came in various colors, not just khaki (which is a color, younger generation, not a description or style!). Naturally, I went for the cheap end, choosing some cornily named Texas vendor (First Army?)—of probably deviously deep right-wing, gun-toting sympathies, as most of these outdoorsy joints are (and I am not exaggerating: I have shopped around in my PocketQuest where I was clearly unwelcome—that bullyingly violent, KKK-standard in-group exclusivity being one of the truly less endearing, omnipresent qualities of the neo-Right myrmidons of moral doom). However, being relatively anonymous on the internet, I ordered First Army’s photojournalist’s vest in gray. (Creating the link, I remember why they hadn’t gotten my business most recently—prices have hiked.)

I felt nervous about this Internet order, although I don’t know why I should have. Unlike my Banana Republic catalog days, I was looking at a photograph of the vest, not a drawing. The little JPEG from the website was nowhere near as clear as the catalog pictures from TravelSmith, but it still showed what I was after, and the description sounded a lot like a traditional photojournalist’s vest.

When it arrived, although the vest looked a bit olive-green to my eye (rather than true gray), Janet to the contrary to this day after many washings in the meantime, it was wonderful—just what I wanted. All the pockets were there, every one of them! It fit a little smaller (or shorter, really) than the Banana Republic version, but that actually made it feel more lightweight in the summertime. I wore it nonstop for five years, and it’s still in pretty good shape (the rear inside pocket has ripped out the “waterproof” lining long since, but that is the worst problem). I still wear it often.

black Fox Outdoor vest (the first of two) — note the expected sagging left pocket for books and notebook

Pretty quickly after getting that first one, I saved and followed up with two more—one in black and one in khaki. I was a little disappointed to discover that the pocket sizing had something to do with the dye batches, as both the black and khaki vests had various inadequacies in their smaller pockets (the three “shotgun-shell” pockets on the lower left and the pen pocket on the left bellows pocket above) so my Swiss Army knife no longer fit easily in place beside the highlighter and the Chapstick. But I adjusted.

And these babies are pretty sturdy. Both the black and original gray ones are still going (so is the khaki; I just don’t choose it as often). I wore the gray one pretty exclusively through 2006, keeping the black mostly for “dress” (Janet is writhing at that notion) until about 2004-05, since when it has become my everyday wear. I like the black (and the gray) because the colors seems less thoroughly geeky (I am wrong about that, I realize, but it’s how I feel). Both colors show wear, and for Prague I dragged out a stockpiled black vest I had bought since (summertime 2009) so I would look a little nicer. I still try to restrict the Prague vest for “good” although right now that newer one is the vest with the stuff actually stuffed into it (I must have thought I was dressing up sometime a while back, or at least decided to wash the older black one).

Thus, wherever I go, not only do I embarrass my wife (actually Janet has accustomed herself to my oddities pretty well for the most part) in public, but I can carry just about everything I want or should acquire while out and about. Pockets: they’re a splendid invention (and exploring that history might be the one last “pockets” post I have in me to present, especially since the Wikipedia article on the subject is so poor).

And that brings the history of pockets, with appropriate digressions and rants on the side, up to date. Tomorrow’s April Fool’s Day, and we shall have to see what I come up with for that holy day.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Definately (sic) alot (sic)

This one may be short and sweet, or bitter, depending on how it comes out. For once the title says it all: “definately” “alot.”

I’m starting to feel that no one knows how to spell definitely. For the last twenty years in my teaching career, I think I corrected definately to definitely more than any other mistake except maybe student-creating one word of the phrase a lot. Both errors are omnipresent, apparently, on the Internet, at least in e-mail and on Facebook and any other post anybody makes electronically. Why is that? It’s an avoidable situation. I’ve got my computer programmed, using a little Mac app called Typinator, to auto-correct such foolish goofs. Doesn’t anybody else care? You can make Word do similar corrections, and I know some people at least do try out e-mails and posts in a word processor before sending or posting. Reading ill-conceived and ill edited e-mails and posts, I’m beginning to think everyone should proof their writing of every kind first in a word processor.

Unfortunately, even for me it’s just too easy to write and post right there in the browser. And I make typos myself. Boy, do I make typos. (And, of course, this MacSpeech Dictate software that I’ve gone back to using for today’s post can create some doozies by mishearing what I say.) So I probably should get off my high horse, but I won’t.

On to the grammar lecture (well, really it’s a spelling lecture). I am beginning to feel I definitely have a lot to say.

Both errors seem pretty ignorant to me. Taking the easier, second one first, “a lot” is a phrase not a single word, just like “a little.” And I don’t see anyone writing alittle, one word. So where does alot, one word, come from? And why? Are we all just stupid? Surely we see it in print correctly as two words, a lot.

Furthermore the phrase “a lot” says what it means. There’s this thing, this lot. Which lotA lot. That lot. This lot. A lot. The a is an adjective, modifying—or describing—the lot. So it’s two words, my friends and faithful readers, please.

And definitely definitely has no A in it. Never did, never will. I am quite definite about this. We all are. Aren’t we? And in my experience most people who use the word definite know that there is no A in that word, the adjective from which the adverb definitely derives.

Both the adjective and adverb (definite and definitely) come from finite, meaning “limited,” the opposite of infinite, “unlimited.” So to be definite means to be clearly limited about the point of view or opinion. And when one does something definitely, one does it in a clearly limited way.

Since finite is pronounced “fine•ite”  (with a definite long I in the second syllable), the spelling for its derivative definitely should definitely be easy.

I could go on—a lot, but I should definitely keep this finite. The End. (I just wish I could’ve thought of some pictures to illustrate these topics.)

(I hope you’re happy, Shark, because it was thinking of you partying with Janet in Milwaukee over the weekend that got me to think of doing a grammar post, your favorite.)

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Several Short and Sweet

Since yesterday’s post was so massive, I figured I had better keep today’s simple and brief. First, if you read any of yesterday’s long post, thank you. Looking back, I do like my introduction to the post, and I may truly have to develop that week in London into a little narrative. Not only did we have a blast—a wonderful time, we did go through some adventures.  I also still enjoy the actual essay’s introduction. Former students: could you spot the thesis statement and identify where the intro ends? (No, there will be no test, although I do still have some of those Dum-Dums I used as prizes for the last twenty years in class. I am not sure how well a Dum-Dum pop will attach to an e-mail, however.) For the critics, I do admit that the text of the essay is more than just dry. I had apparently been reading far too many art texts (and I was trying to overawe the professor, whom I still have not forgiven for the impossible scope of the actual assignment). And I am just pretty pompous that way (viz. previous commentary)… Am I not?

Anyway, here are some random thoughts on several topics for today.

Waffles!

the last two waffles

My favorite part of yesterday came about noon, when I decided to try out a Christmas present from Janet’s folks (arranged by her, naturally)—a waffle maker (I almost wrote “waffle iron,” as we used to call the devices back in the last century, when evidently description topped purpose in naming things). Janet had purchased some box waffle mix, but I had wanted all along to try making some whole wheat waffles, not because I’m a granola but because I think whole wheat food tastes better than bleached, whitened-wheat products: I like big flavors not mediocrity (whitebread braindead screaming heads at Fox News to the contrary). So I went online, as everyone does these days, and searched “whole wheat waffle recipes.” I acquired of course 198,000 results in 0.26 seconds on Google. I printed out three selected almost at random and then combined/ignored/invented my way to my own recipe. And the waffles were delightful (all of them, which I greedily devoured through the day)!

I hadn’t eaten a waffle for at least a decade. Janet and I are after all getting older and not wanting to get any fatter (thinner would be preferable, however little I find myself running these days). However, staying at a motel over a long weekend in November, I encountered that newest (for me) treat at motel breakfasts: the waffle-batter dispenser and rotating waffle maker. While Janet prudently ate fruit or something equally dull and valid, I tried out the waffles. And loved it. When we stayed at the Oskaloosa Super 8 over Christmas, they had the same system, and I overate waffles for our two breakfasts there. Well, Janet’s no dummy: she had picked up on my excitement in November, and when we arrived in Anamosa on December 26, among my gifts was a small (two-waffle) waffle maker, which I initiated into service about noon yesterday.

My downloaded recipes were pretty similar, which is why I just randomly picked one and got started. One day I will make it as listed here. However, I wasn’t sure we had the applesauce (especially not unsweetened), so it was at that step I started improvising, as suggested by the other two recipes. Here’s what I finally ended up with (the total milk by estimation because I took seriously the recommendation of one to keep adding milk until I achieved the proper batter runniness; and I believed I should make it about like what the machine sproduced in the hotels):

Whole Wheat Waffles

  • 1 and 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 and 1/2 to 3 cups of skim milk
  • 3 packets of artificial sweetener (go for the sugar if you wish; I may try brown sugar sometime soon)
  • 1+ teaspoon of vanilla extract (we don’t have the real thing so I use a generous supply of the faked stuff)
  • 2-3 teaspoons of canola oil or margarine (or butter, if you wish)

Blend the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix up the eggs, milk, vanilla and oil in a separate small bowl and then dump into the dry stuff. Beat with a whisk until it’s batter. Use in your waffle maker as directed by the manufacturer of your small appliance.

Yield: 12-14 “Belgian waffles”

Enjoy ’em!

Winter Wonderings (or maybe Wanderings)

The snow fell soundlessly through the night, Wednesday to Thursday, and then continued to whiten a gray but somehow not gloomy Thursday. I got up at 5:00 AM yesterday to shovel us out so Janet could get to work. When I actually shovel (as opposed to using the snow blower—hurrah! I am so glad Janet convinced me we needed to buy a new one!), it generally takes me close to ninety minutes. Although the air seemed clear as I started, the snow fell while I worked and the darkness gave way to gray daylight. I was pretty well snow-drenched (or ice-encased) by the time I finished. The city plows came by about 6:15, which was (for once) convenient, as I had already cleared the drive and partially the street in front, so there wasn’t a lot of snow to push away once the plow truck had finished his three passes, and I was able to rescrape the driveway on my way back indoors. We got her lunch packed, breakfast out and eaten, and the lovely wife on her way not much later than usual.

Most of the schools all around were closed, I quickly learned. (A year ago Janet would have fielded the phone call announcing the cancellation and then come to the front door to yell at me—pointlessly, since then, like now, I would have had my iPod blaring in my ears; but I knew what her appearance in the doorway meant.) I think those that had school got out early later on. Overall, I was glad I didn’t have to care (although Thursday evening play practice seemed a kind of school-like threat, considering the winter storm warning). I watched a movie we had rented for the New Year’s weekend and hadn’t gotten to, State of Play with Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck and Helen Mirren (I’ll let you use your own search skills if you want to check out the actors online). Although darkly illuminated and weak on the start, I liked it a lot, being a sucker for political thrillers (and a journalism junkie of sorts after all those years teaching Mass Media). I missed the BBC series it’s based on, and now I kind of want to see that.

With making waffles (and making a start on this blog post), the movie lasted until about 1:00, when the city plow came by again, so I had to return outdoors and shovel again, hoping Janet might be able to get off of work early to drive home in daylight (perhaps before the big winds to blow the snow into blizzardly white-out conditions).

Oops! It Appears to Have Become a Foxhunt Friday (apologies in advance—sort of)

As one of my pedagogical peeves was pupil innocence of the distinction between “wondering” and “wandering,” I amended my title for this section to make it clear there are two separate words, thus the old “I wonder as I wander…” In case the title bemused you or made you wonder.

The picture, by the way, is our unlovely view northwards of our back yard. Please appreciate the scenic loveliness of the Super 8 sign, the embodiment of the neologism gynormous.

(I hope you enjoy the illiteracy of the Urban Dictionary. I get their daily e-mail, and no one there cares about the language, actually.)

At length, why did I want to entitle this portion of today’s post “Wonderings?” Did you dutifully click on the links I have so conscientiously provided? Especially those involved in my apparently irrelevant (and as always irreverent) swipe at Fox (“We decide what to report so you don’t… know… —anything, really”) News? (Yeah, sometimes I love what you get when you search the internet.)

While shoveling yesterday morning, I got to thinking about global warming and climate-change deniers on the radical right (I’ll think about anything other than how all that snow is just flying to the right and left of my shovel, meaning I will absolutely have to go back over where I just shoveled at least two more times to clear it away). It has been a severe winter here and in Europe. I am sure this tough winter will seem to provide grist for their blind-eye-turning mills (that I feel sure some of you probably want to accept). Unfortunately (and I will leave to you to verify my assertion; your favorite search engines are just a browser tab away), I am certain that the computer models used to explore the drastically warming climate (which I learned about fifteen years ago—maybe longer—in Scientific American) include periods of cool summers and wild winters while the global temperature continues to rise until the Midwest dries into a desert (please, not a dessert), as weather patterns wobble, destabilized by the gradually increasing heat and water. Thus the Beck link to Discover magazine above (from even before he joined his pals at Fox).

Waffles sound good about now, don’t they? I guess cold and snow make me grumpy or something… Your comments are welcome.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.