In my family we had the 'traditional' chipped beef on toast. But not very often. I remember the beef coming in a smaller jar than the one in video. The jar and its lid were not threaded so lid came off with a soda bottle opener. As this lady (Phyllis) says those jars could be saved and used as inexpensive juice glasses. I also think that the beef, at least as my mother bought it, didn't come in slices, but was in shreds as it came from the jar.

If I remember correctly we had it most often for lunch. During World War II chipped beef on toast was a common meal for the troops, which meant my father was sick of it by the time he got home. So mother would mostly fix it for herself and us children for lunch when he was at work. If we had it for breakfast, he ate it, but carefully reminded us kids that in the service it was called S.O.S. And if my older brother waited till he was away from the table to tell me yet again that meant 'Shit on a Shingle,' he didn't get in trouble for cussing.

My mother used a lot of Crisco, too. It's just awful for you, as it's about 100% transfat, but no one knew that then. It probably was worse health-wise than the lard it replaced in people's home, but it would keep longer without going rancid.

Phyllis mentions in another video that her family had milk with every meal in the 1950s. So did we. My mother didn't drink coffee, and didn't really know how to make it correctly. If we had house guests she'd buy coffee and turn the coffee pot she owned over to them to make their own. My father liked coffee, but only had it once in a great while at a restaurant.

My mother pretty much insisted we have potatoes in some form every evening. I don't think young couples, now, would consider having potatoes as often, though they are healthy, filling, vegetarian friendly and so on.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Jun. 12th, 2017 06:45 am)
The question of what to do about Puerto Rico has certainly been around since the Philippine Islands were granted independence from the US in 1946. There have been periodic elections on the island as long as I can remember to allow Puerto Ricans to decide for themselves, always with the same result at least till yesterday.

The Puerto Ricans call what they have a "Free Associated State" in Spanish; in English it's usually referred to as a Commonwealth, as the Philippines were between 1935 and 1946. Puerto Ricans have their own government and elect their own governor, and a justice system based on California's, but the island is dependent on the rest of the US for a lot of things. They send a couple representatives to the US Congress, but they are only observers. Puerto Ricans are full citizens of the US. Puerto Ricans don't pay income tax if they live in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has a lower minimum wage. Move to one of the 50 states and Puerto Ricans can vote for president like anyone else. Certainly since before I was born Puerto Ricans have been divided among those who want complete independence, those who want Puerto Rico to be a state of the Union like the other 50, and those who are more or less happy with things the way they are. Those who want things to stay the way they are have always had a plurality.

One slightly disturbing quality about our US democracy is that if the folks in power don't get what they want in local elections they can keep holding elections till they get it, and then stop holding elections so it can't be reversed. This is a bit like what happened over time in Puerto Rico. Since Alaska and Hawaii became states 50 odd years ago, there has always been a strong feeling among Puerto Rican elected officials that the island should become a state as well. For as long as I can remember Puerto Rican politicians at both Republican and Democratic national conventions have proudly proclaimed the Island as the 51st state. They just could never convince the general population of the island to agree. So they keep having elections.

Puerto Rico is in the midst of a deep economic crisis, and because of the US law from 1950 that currently defines Puerto Rico's status, the Island can't declare bankruptcy and start over. If Puerto Rico were a state like any other, it could. So with that idea in mind, another election was held yesterday. The other factions thought the idea of an election was stupid, spending money on an election for a proposition that by it's own wording was not "binding" and might well not mean anything anyway. So the leaders who want things to stay the same and the ones who want independence called a boycott. The turnout was ridiculously low for such a potentially important question, less than 25% of the eligible voters. Predictably of those who did vote, the vast majority wanted statehood.

Puerto Rico's current governor wants statehood, so he's all excited today saying the issue has been decided and is telling his constituents that he's ready to send two senators and an appropriate number of representatives to Congress as soon as the details can get worked out. Well, the rest of us know it's not quite that simple. The US Congress has the final say. There is the non-trivial matter of writing a state constitution, which the US congress would have to approve. (Arizona's statehood was delayed because Congress didn't like its proposed state constitution.) There is the non-trivial matter of all that debt, which no longer could be dealt with directly by Congress. There is the matter of whether the US Congress will allow the future Puerto Rican Senators and Representatives to address Congress in Spanish (and you know that sooner or later some will want to). There is the matter of this recent election which seems like the final word to the Puerto Rican Governor, but isn't going to set well with many Puerto Ricans, and Congress likely isn't going to act unless they are convinced an actual majority on the island is okay with it. Then you have the Trump administration's bias against Hispanics, and so on and so forth. Of all the times this issue could have passed this is certainly the worst.

I would guess that Congress will largely ignore yesterday's election. It could become yet another political issue dividing this country, but likely won't become a big deal for a few years.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( May. 28th, 2017 06:58 am)
The leaning tower came down this morning.

Over the last few days it went horizontal, and yesterday below horizontal, blocking the driveway and last night the top fell to the ground. The bloom stock broke most of the way through at its base, making it a lot easier to cut away the rest. Didn't even need to go up more than a couple steps on the ladder. I measured it before I chopped it up and the stalk was about 12 foot long. It's all gone and the plant looks like it was never there. The neighbors probably think I'm screwy for leaving it be so long. ;o) But the process was fun to watch.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( May. 24th, 2017 06:15 pm)
I think somewhere I mentioned the subject of book I read through most recently. It is The Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan, which covers the years between 1908 and the armistice on October 31, 1918 ending Turkey's participation in World War One, eleven days before the armistice on the Western Front. Not sure anyone here is interested in that subject, but I should say it is balanced, well written and easy to follow. I've read a couple books on the Ottomans before, the excellent The Ottoman Centuries by Patrick Balfour, 3rd Baron Kinross, which covered the entire sweep of Ottoman history and another book I don't recall well that also focused on the Ottomans in World War One, but without the clarity of The Fall of the Ottomans.

The book manages to relate the problems Turks had without painting them as 'the enemy,' but also not ignoring the ugly side of Young Turk rule. The book explains why the Armenian genocide began, who was behind it in government, and some of the horrors, but it does not let that topic overwhelm the rest of the history. It does cover the double dealing on the part of the British in the war who seemed to have made promises to far too many groups, tribes and nations with conflicting interests. It does however show without actually arguing the point that perhaps those who think that the current troubles in the Middle East began with the British and French occupation after World War One probably haven't dug deeply enough into the issues that were tearing the Ottoman Empire apart long before then.

My only gripe about the book is that it stops in 1918 where as the transition from the Ottomans to the modern Turkey took several more years of fighting.

Currently, I am translating a very long, Soviet era, Russian novel called Blockade by Aleksander Chakovsky, about the siege of Leningrad in World War Two. It seems the book was turned into a movie shortly after it was published in 1978, but it is not easy to find out anything about its author. The book is fine for brushing up on my Russian skills, but it certainly is not one I would recommend to anyone, Russian speaking or not, as a work of art. Among the problems I've seen in it besides the usual Soviet era ideological crap are plagiarism (It's bad when you know the English language sources a Russian book stole from), horrible syntax, and possibly non-existent or possibly terrifyingly bad editing.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( May. 17th, 2017 10:07 am)
From Trump: No politician in history treated worse than me
As my brother used to say, it's the littlest violin in the world playing 'My Heart Cries For You.'
I'm tempted to rewrite the headline without the word 'treated,' but that's not true. But surely Trump understands both his position and public relations as poorly as any elected US politician in recent memory.

From (our local NBC station's site.) John McCain says Trump scandals are 'Watergate size'
It was also on the NBC national site this morning, before it was subsumed into the following article: The ground begins to shift for Capitol Hill Republicans
Amazing it was stable this long.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( May. 17th, 2017 05:34 am)
My new fridge is in place and since I've got ice this morning it must be working okay. Sirius will be pleased. Last night he got the last of his fancy pouches of cat food. As soon as I dumped it out I knew I'd made a mistake buying that one. A few nice, whole, cat-sized shrimp plopped into his bowl. Sirius doesn't like shrimp. He didn't even lap up the broth till late last night. He did, in fact, eat it all when he got hungry. But as I expected, instead of eagerly gobbling up his soft food as soon as he got it, he let it sit, and meowed plaintively at me for a while as if something was wrong. Yeah, he was just being picky. The shrimp was mixed with fish he does regularly eat, and he did eat the shrimp eventually. If it had been whole tiny shrimp from a canned mix, I'd have found them left in his bowl this morning. He doesn't like any of this fancy stuff that well. He likes the goo that separates out of processed canned food the best. Why not give him what he likes? (I spoil him. He gets half regular and half indoor-cat kibble every day. He leaves the indoor kibble till everything else is gone, usually well into the next day. He's only coughed up one hair ball in all the time I've had him. So the indoor-cat food has done its job, and I can feel like I'm doing something good for him.)

I got another one of those awful scam phone calls yesterday, or my answering machine did. (When the phone rang I saw the caller ID read "unassigned" which didn't exactly make me want to answer myself.) Got threatened that "IRS is filling lawsuit against you." I've never heard of a filled or half-filled lawsuit, but I suppose those foreign crooks know best.
Maybe Trump should stop practicing in front of a mirror.

cactuswatcher: (Default)
( May. 2nd, 2017 10:28 am)
Sirius the cat has had a rough few weeks, although he doesn't seem to notice it much. It all started when I made tacos and he managed to get a piece of shredded cheese that fell on the floor before I picked it up. I saw him do it and thought, 'Well, I'm not going to eat it, now. If he wants it...' He just gobbled it down. 'Oh, he really likes cheese. Maybe I can give him a little bit, for a treat now and then.' So when I was making a sandwich the next noon, he was hanging around so I gave him a sliver, and the next day and the next. Then the next day I noticed he was losing the hair inside on his back legs. Yike!

He loves cheese. But he's allergic to it. It doesn't seem to effect his disposition or general well being. But it certainly did a number on his hair! Fortunately it was the transition time from winter to summer coat and his dusty-brown underfur hung on while his black coat was falling out in most places. But it has taken weeks for his system to correct itself and for his black coat to grow back underneath.

I really felt bad. The first bit of cheese he had, probably wouldn't have hurt him. But giving him cheese three more days was my fault. As an act of contrition I didn't buy or eat any treats myself for those weeks. I just had a salad last night for dinner. I'm trying to lose ten pounds from where I was last year. Guilt is a good motivator, but it isn't much about the cat anymore, now that he is back to his furry self. I am five pounds down, but want to keep going for the rest.

One more thing about Sirius. He must have been a little disappointed in the toy I got out for him this morning. A few minutes ago I found a drawer open in the same cabinets where his toys are. I don't think he's been able to open a drawer before. but his efforts weren't exactly rewarded. A. The drawer with his toys is above his full height on his back legs, B. The drawer he opened was empty and C. When not empty it's the drawer I keep onions in. Sorry, Sirius, by chance I arranged my home to keep curious and industrious kitties very bored. ;o)
1. The year: Before time began.
2. What kind of car did you drive? I didn't drive much. You might not believe me if I told you the cars I did drive my senior year. Let's just say that the car I went to take my driver's test in was longer than the space they gave me at the DMV to demonstrate parallel parking in.
3. It's Friday night football, were you there? I went to a few games earlier in high school, but had to give it up for work.
4. What kind of job did you have? I made parts for jet aircraft. (not kidding!)
5. Were you a party animal? Nope
6. Were you in the band? No. Couldn't play anything. But remembering what the high school band sounded like, that probably wouldn't have disqualified me from being in the band. You did however have to take band class, and I would not have wanted that.
7. Were you a nerd? No! Terms were different then. You didn't call anybody a 'nerd,' unless you were sure you could lick them in a fair fight.
8. How often were you in detention? Never.
9. What was your school mascot? Hawk
10. If you could go back and do it again would you? There are certainly a few times I wish I'd done things differently. But over all? No.
11. Are you still in contact with people from your class? No, not since a reunion ages ago.
12. Do you know where your high school sweetheart lives? No. It's been ages since I knew.
13. What was your favorite class senior year? I liked all my classes senior year. We did plays in Spanish class. My English teacher missed a day and sent word to the substitute that *I* was supposed to lead the class that day. Our school specialized in math and science, so the senior classes in those were good. The class that was worth the most in the long run was Journalism. By the time I was a senior I wasn't even a total loser in gym class.
14. Do you still have your class ring? Yes, come to think of it, it's probably the only piece of gold of any size in the house.
15. Do you still have your yearbook? Yes, all four years.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Apr. 14th, 2017 06:44 am)
One of my local TV stations is doing an Internet poll about favorite Easter candy. I'd leave a link, but their polls disappear after a day anyway. The choices (and current percent of votes) are:

Chocolate bunnies (10)
Peanut butter eggs (20)
Jelly beans (11)
Cadbury creme eggs (36)
Peeps (8)
Easter M&Ms (15)Read more... )
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Apr. 13th, 2017 04:48 am)
I'm up early this morning. The power went off about 7:30 last night and stayed off till just after 3:30 this morning. It was fairly common for the power to go off where I grew up as a kid. The road was lined with trees, and you sort of had to keep your fingers crossed every time there was a strong thunderstorm. Unfortunately you got used to the sound of a transformer blowing up on the power pole a long walk from the house. There I lived in the woods. Here I live in a subdivision with the power lines all buried. I think this is only the third time the power has been off (always in good weather) in the 18 years I've been here, and the only time the power has been off for more than a couple hours. There is a substation quite close so maybe I haven't been lucky at all.

At any rate when the power went off last evening, I heard a transformer blow loudly. Mostly, then, I wondered whether it was on the street that goes past the subdivision or at the substation. I don't really know, but I suspect it was on the street. The power didn't go off at all on the far side of that street. The power in the park next to my backyard was off for maybe 90 minutes. Those of us in the subdivision were left in the dark. They probably didn't have a suitable replacement transformer in the area, like they would have on every repair truck back in St. Louis County.

Although I have a lap top I could amuse myself on for a while, long experience taught me the best thing to do in an evening power outage is go to bed. I got a good 7 hours of sleep before the power came back, which is about what I'd get anyway. So I've been up resetting all the clocks, and deciding what in the fridge needed pitching. Eight hours without electricity is too long to not to be concerned. The freezer compartment was still fine and dandy. Most of the stuff in the main fridge was by chance crammed together in mostly full bottles and jars keeping nice and cool, so it should be fine. The few things in small quantities (which would get warm faster) I threw out to be safe. The tomatoes should be fine; the lettuce will tell me if it needs to be pitched before I need it. Luckily the only leftovers I had were a small amount of canned cat food, a bit of corn and some chopped black olives in the bottom of a can which I'd already thought about throwing out.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Apr. 6th, 2017 06:13 am)
This clump of cacti is blooming again. I saw a hummingbird buzzing around the flowers yesterday. An old, but good picture )
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Apr. 5th, 2017 10:53 am)
I'm always behind the times, so I saw both Fantastic Beasts and Rogue One for the first time this week. I have to agree with what I'd heard before about them. Fantastic Beasts is meh, not really bad but not exactly good. Rogue One wasn't what I was expecting, but it was far above and beyond episodes 1-3. Spoilers below if anyone cares, now.

I had a difficult time relating to or caring about the characters in Fantastic Beasts. Eddie Redmayne didn't impress me in the least as Newt Scamander, and Katherine Waterston's Tina Goldstein was more like a supporting role than a central one it seems like she ought to have been. I did get a kick out of Kowalski trying to convince the banker to try one of his pÄ…ncki (I ate some fine ones myself this spring). Otherwise Dan Fogler as Kowalski was perfectly adequate in a character actor's role. The only character I actually liked was Tina's sister, Queenie played by Alison Sudol, but again it was something of a role for a character actress. I think the movie should have been aimed at an audience under 13, but it's PG-13, and maybe it might have come off better in cartoon form than as a glitzy CGI extravaganza. I hear they are planning no less than four sequels. Either there are a lot of die hard Rowling fans or this series may not quite make it that far.

I expected Rogue One to be closer to The Force Awakens which was one reason I was in no hurry to see it. Indeed it was poor-but-principled female protagonist saves the world, but I didn't expect it to be quite so grim. When the group was all piling on the captured transport to go off to the last battle, I got the sudden realization "This is like the Dirty Dozen. Might be no one is coming back." Other than being a little melodramatic in spots, the thin story didn't play out badly; certainly better than The Dirty Dozen did! As for the CGI 'actors' I thought they could have found someone who could have done Peter Cushing's voice better, otherwise it seemed as good as they could do. I liked the movie over all, but will be glad if the next movie, the one between episodes eight and nine, will be very different.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Apr. 3rd, 2017 09:43 pm)
I hope the new LJ user agreement will convince those who have accounts here, but only post on LJ to reconsider especially for locked posts. I just don't think anything is safe over there.
The drought spoiled... not my yard or garden, but me. I've been used to cleaning the weeds out of the front yard once in the spring (February and early March, here) and then giving it a lick and promise every few months and having the front look halfway decent into the fall. Today I made a third concerted pass through the front yard this year. Granted it took me less than an hour, but there were well established weeds everywhere. We've had what the weather bureau says is normal rainfall, but the drought had gone on so long that I'm sure not used to it!

The most disconcerting was finding Palm leaves growing out of the clump of Yucca Glauca. The yucca, at least this garden version of it grows in tight clumps so it's unusual to see any weeds in it. While there are no native palms in Phoenix, there are a number of varieties that will spread like weeds here if given a chance. My neighbor, a couple of owners back, worked cleaning out drainage areas and culverts for Arizona highway department. (One day he brought home a massive diamondback rattlesnake he found at work to show off, which scared me pretty good till he assured me he didn't get it anywhere near where we lived.) When he was going to move he decided to landscape his front yard to make it look prettier for sale. He brought in a good dozen Mexican fan palms he'd dug up at work, and planted them all over his tiny front yard. Fortunately the next owner saw the pretty little palms were going to grow into a giant mess and he cut down all but three of them. The three are about 20 foot tall now after a dozen years, and can easily get twice as tall. They haven't been much of a problem until the last year or so when the current owner stopped having them trimmed regularly. Yes, palms require maintenance. Usually they are trimmed at a particular time of year just as the fruit stalks start to grow to keep the palms from planting themselves in your roses. (I don't have roses, but the neighbor with the palms does.) If they do sprout and you catch them small, they're just like any little weed. Pull them and you're done. I'd guess the palm in my yucca was hidden for at least year underneath the yucca. So it was pretty sizable when it burst through recently. Way too big to pull. I cut it off as low to the ground as I could. Once it gets a few years old and has good roots it's hard to kill one.

While I was out working, the toddler from the house on other side wobbled out of their garage and greeted me with a cheerful "Geah!" (rhymes with 'yeah'). His dad chuckled as he led him back to go into his car seat. I pondered the expression while those neighbors drove off for the morning. I thought, well he'll grow beyond that philological curiosity all too soon. Then one of the folks from across the street came to get into his car parked on my side and he greeted me with a smile, a wave and what sounded like 'Guh up!' Maybe that toddler won't grow out of it. ;o)
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Mar. 23rd, 2017 07:31 am)
I went out early this morning to water because I thought it had not rained as expected last night and discovered the stepping stones in the backyard were damp. I frequently can't hear it softly rain in my house because of the tile roof. I know it's raining when the rain smacks hard into the metal chimney and vent covers up on the roof, which is most of the time when it rains here. Anyway I was outside when I heard someone playing a horn, I presume a trumpet, practicing bugle calls in the subdivision across the park from me. A kid practicing before school, maybe? Any way, glad it wasn't in my immediate neighborhood. Here in AZ we get up earlier and do noisy chores outside earlier than people would back in the Midwest, but I think bugle calls at 7:00 am in a quiet neighborhood is a bit much.

It's that time of year and I need to go get my car inspected today. It's just a pollution inspection. They had a safety inspection as well back in Missouri. But government here doesn't seem here seem to care if your brakes and lights work. With rare rain and no salt on the roads, mufflers last a very long time here, so little need to check to see if you are illegally rumbling down the street.

ETA (before 9:00 a.m.): That was quick. I got past the high school before all the kids were crossing the road. Zipped down the highway. Pulled into the test facility and there was no line up at all, the first time that's happened to me. With newer cars with on-board-diagnostics the test literally just takes seconds. The biggest hiccough was when I handed the tester the exact cash for the test, and he forgot for a second what he just told me I was supposed to be charged, then rolled his eyes at his negligible mistake. A little more highway traffic on the way back, not much. I was gone from home less than 40 minutes. Mail in my forms and money and my car is set to go for another two years.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Mar. 9th, 2017 07:57 pm)
Florida Lawyer's Pants Catch Fire During Florida Arson Trial

Liar, liar, pants on fire! Yes, his client was convicted.

German inmates dine on McDonald's

Failed food supply contract negotiation. A choice for lunch of regular hamburger, regular cheeseburger or veggie burger. Inhumane treatment! They can't even have the new bigger Big Mac! I wonder how many hardened criminals order the veggie burger. No word about fries. No word about dinner. Bockwurst, pretzels and beer from the nearest bar?
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Mar. 9th, 2017 08:01 am)
I know you're away from the Internet, but for when you get back:

Happy Birthday to [personal profile] shadowkat!
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Mar. 2nd, 2017 05:57 pm)
My Internet provider has been having continuing problems with denial of service attacks. The worst of it seems to be during school hours, which is more than a little suspicious.

It took me till the first of March to get back down to my normal weight from the holidays this year. I just have little resistance against snacks. I'm going to try to get ten pounds lighter, but it's more a hope than an expectation.