Random (but not really)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why the Consumption Tax Is a Terrible Idea

The governor wants to switch from an income tax to a consumption tax. Since I am pretty sure this is, if not the dumbest thing a WV politician has suggested, it’s certainly close, I decided to take a look at the census data and see what that told me.

A tiny bit of background.

West Virginia is surrounded by five other states: PA, MD, VA, KY, OH. [A]

West Virginia has four Interstates running through it: I64, I68, I77, I79. For towns along those interstates, it should be no more than two hours to a bordering state. [B]

West Virginia has 14 counties that contain major food deserts [C]–cities are were more than 20 miles from “grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.” The entire county of Gilmer is a food desert. Nine (9) of those counties with food deserts are NOT along the state border, and nine (9) of those counties also have a mean yearly income less than $50,000.

WV has seven (7) counties with a mean household income over $60,000. With the exception of Kanawha, all those are border counties, meaning residents can easily drive to another state to make purchases. There are 16 counties with a mean income over $55,000, [D] 12 of those counties are border counties. Of those remaining four, only Nicholas and Taylor counties do not have an Interstate running through them.

There are 18 counties with a population over 30,000. [E] 13 of those counties are border counties. Of the remaining five, only Logan county does not have an Interstate running through it.

With me so far?

When you step back and look at the big picture, you see that the wealthiest and most populated counties tend to be border counties, where people can easily drive to another state to shop.

Of those interior counties, nine (9) have areas that are food deserts, four (4) have unemployment rates over 5.5%, ten (10) of those counties have a mean income of less than $50,000, and eleven counties have populations of less than 20,000 people.

Those who will be contributing most to the taxes to keep the state afloat are predominantly going to be those who can least afford the extra burden, while the wealthy will be able to avoid paying the consumption tax by easily driving over the border to another state. [F]

This idea could only have been come up by someone either profoundly ignorant of the population of the state, or profoundly ignorant of human nature.

Either way, it is the poor who will get screwed.

This is the Excel file I used to collate the data downloaded from the Census bureau and USDA.

[A] OH is somewhat problematic, since there the Ohio river is the border between WV and OH, and thus you can only cross at bridges, which are predominantly in the wealthier counties.

[B] There are other major roads that criss-cross the state, but most are good roads for only a portion. FREX, Most Rt 50 from Clarksburg to Parkersburg is a relatively flat and straight divide four lane divided highway. From Bridgeport East to the border, it’s two lanes, windy, and with several 7-9% grades. So I only counted Interstates with consider ease of access to other states.

[C] Food Deserts: Barbour, Fayette, Gilmer, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Mingo, Monroe, Roane, Upshur, Webster, Wetzel

[D] Income over $55k: Berkeley, Brooke, Cabell, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Marion, Marshall, Monongalia, Nicholas, Ohio, Pleasants, Putnam, Taylor, Wood

[E] Population over 30k: Berkeley, Cabell, Fayette, Greenbrier, Harrison, Jefferson, Kanawha, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mercer, Monongalia, Ohio, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Wayne, Wood

[F] And I do mean driving. Public transportation is abysmal in much of the state, and in rural areas, you are trapped without a car; you cannot get a job, go to the doctor, get groceries, etc.

All data from:
US Census Bureau – WV
USDA – Food Deserts

Written by Michelle at 2:15 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,West Virginia  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Another Visitor Drawn by the Bird Feeders

Although for a different reason.

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20170304_Hawk_009

Written by Michelle at 6:49 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden,Photos  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Why We Have the EPA: Water

In 1952 and 1969 and at least 11 other times, the Cuyahoga along Cleveland Ohio caught fire. (Ohio History Central) (Washington Post)



Let’s take a look at something that’s a little more personal–the water quality of the Monongahela River, which runs past Morgantown and is the source of my water. The Mon River also has had a long history of pollution, especially from acid mine drainage.

The Monongahela River watershed was considered to be one of the region’s most intensely polluted by acid mine drainage in the United States until about 1970. (USACE)

Look at the change in pollution from 1974 (1) to 2000.

Morgantown

1974

1999-2000

pH

4.8

6.3

Alkalinity

2.5

14.2

Acidity

24.4

12.2

Total iron

4.9

2.7

(WVU Extension Service)

See also: (1964 Department of the Interior Report) (Morgantown Utility Board 2015 CCR)



Access to clean water is not a problem for 3rd world countries, it is a problem in many areas of West Virginia (and elsewhere in Appalachia). (Inside Appalachia)

Clean water is something many take for granted nowadays, but this is something that has come about through regulation and work. It does not come through the actions of private industries who don’t give a shit about those living downstream.

(1) The Clean Water Act was implemented in 1972, so this sampling is from two years after that.

Written by Michelle at 6:28 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Science, Health & Nature  

Friday, March 3, 2017

Why We Have the EPA: Air

In 1952, England had a Great Smog that killed at least 4000 people (History.com) (The Guardian), although the history of killer smog in London dates back to the 1800s. (Guardian)



In 1966, at least 50 people were killed by a smog that covered the city of NY over Thanksgiving weekend. (Business Insider) (US Dept of Health, Education and Welfare Report from 1966)



In 1948, smog killed at least 20 people in Donora PA (a town south of Pittsburgh along the Monongahela River, north of Morgantown). (History.com) (Pittsburgh Post Gazette) (NPR)



Current smog in the western US comes from uncontrolled emissions from China (Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics), and it’s possible that one third of deaths in China come from smog. (Business Insider)



Why do we need the EPA?

Because industry will not regulate itself. Because without regulation people die.

Written by Michelle at 11:28 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Science, Health & Nature  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Books of February

Weather was pretty much horrible most of this month, so I did a lot of reading. Mind you, the tail end of that was comics (which are shorter) but I also read a lot of new books.

So what was good this month? Honestly, most everything.

Mystery had be finishing the Erlendur series by Arnaldur Indridason. The final book was excellent–I very much enjoyed the series, and the glimpse into a non-English speaking country. I also read the first two Veronica Speedwell books by Deanna Raybourn, which were good (I got fed up with her other series and stopped reading. So far this one doesn’t have the bits that irritate me about the other series.)

All the new books I read that were part of an ongoing series were excellent. Daniel José Older concluded his Bone Street Rumba, and it was of course excellent (there are other books set in this world, even if the main arc for Carlos is done). Ben Aaronovitch‘s newest Rivers of London was long delayed, but I didn’t mind the wait. Lisa Shearin‘s latest SPI Files was also a fun romp. And then there was Paul Cornell‘s latest Shadow Police. The last three are all supernatural police books, but all three are as different as it’s possible to be. And all three were thoroughly enjoyable. If you don’t like dark, avoid the Shadow Police, if you don’t like lighter romps, skip the Lisa Shearin.

And then there were the comics.

If you have not read Princeless, then you must immediately stop what you are doing and go find a copy. ESPECIALLY if you have small people in your life. Princeless is a delightful take on the princess trapped in a tower fairy tale trope. It’s truly lovely–the first book was a ten for me.

Along a similar vein is Princess Ugg, which is more for older kids and younger teens, and I liked it quite a bit.

And then for something completely different AND NOT FOR KIDS was Rat Queens, which I really really liked. I said not for kids, yes? I mean it. It’s a snarky RPG story with sex and drinking and drugs and I really liked it.

Fantasy, Supernatural

Battle Hill Bolero (2017) Daniel José Older (Bone Street Rumba) (8.5/10)
The Hanging Tree (2017) Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London) (8.5/10)
The Ghoul Vendetta (2017) Lisa Shearin (SPI Files) (9/10)
Who Killed Sherlock Holmes (2016) Paul Cornell (Shadow Police) (8/10)

Comics

Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery (2013) Kurtis Wiebe and Roc Upchurch (9/10)
Princess Ugg Vol. 1 (2014) Ted Naifeh and Warren Wucinich (8/10)
Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood (2012) Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins
Thor Vol. 2: Who Holds the Hammer? (2016) Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, Matthew Wilson, Jason Aaron, Noell Stevenson, CM Punk
Mighty Thor Vol. 1: Thunder in her Veins (2017) Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman

Comics, Kids

Princeless
Princeless: Vol. 1: Save Yourself (2012) Jeremy Whitley and Mia Goodwin
Princeless, Vol 2: Get Over Yourself (2014) Jeremy Whitley and Emily Martin
Princeless Vol 3: The Pirate Princess (2014) Jeremy Whitley, Rosy Higgins, Ted Brandt

Lumberjanes Vol. 1 Beware the Kitten Holy (2015) Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Brooke A Allen

Mystery, Historical

Veronica Speedwell
A Curious Beginning (2015) Deanna Raybourn (8.5/10)
A Perilous Undertaking (2017) Deanna Raybourn (7.5/10)

Mystery, Police

Erlendur
Voices (2003/2006) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder
The Draining Lake (2004/2007) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder
Arctic Chill (2005/2009) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder and Victoria Cribb
Hypothermia (2007/009) Arnaldur Indridasontranslated by Victoria Cribb
Outrage (2008/2011) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Anna Yates
Black Skies (2009/2012) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Victoria Cribb
Strange Shores (2010/2012) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Victoria Cribb  (9/10)

 

Non-Fiction, Science

My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places (2013) Mary Roach

Audio Books

Legion (2012) Brandon Sanderson read by Oliver Wyman (8.5/10)

So how did the stats come out? 24 books this month, nine of which were trade paperback (the comics), one audio book, and the rest (14) were ebooks. The six re-reads were all the Inspector Erlendr mysteries–I had re-read the older books so I could finish the lat two books in the series.

Genre-wise things were relatively evenly split:

Fantasy : 13
Mystery : 10
Comic : 9
Non-Fiction : 1

Well, except for that single non-fiction book there.

Gender wise men have taken the lead for the year.

Male : 14
Female : 5
Anthology : 5

Part of that was reading the entire Erlendur series, but the rest of it was reading comics, which are male dominated. Yes, there were female writers and artists, but although there were comics written completely by those bearing the Y chromosome, this month had only a single comic whose crew had all X chromosome comics. (Lumberjanes is very good, but it also is not my thing.)

And that’s how things worked out. Here’s hoping for better weather so I can get out more.

Written by Michelle at 1:01 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Project Chairs: FINISHED

HUZZAH! They’re done!

Here’s what the chairs looked like before I started. The chair on the right had the most damage, with the replaced back board and broken bar. Plus, most of the joints were no longer flush together.

Kitchen Chairs

Here’s the most damaged chair, in pieces.

So, I'm doing this.

Here are the repairs on the two most damaged pieces:

20170215_114050

20170215_114123

And here are the finished chairs.

The damage is still visible, but BY GUM the repair is smooth and sturdy!

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The two repaired chairs are in front.

20170219_Projects_007

Next major project will be the table–or the bedroom floor since that’s the last room that needs done.

Written by Michelle at 3:11 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Busy day at Coopers Rock, what with it being freaking 70 F IN FEBRUARY.

Towards the gate:

20170218_Coopers_Rock_007

Towards the I68:

20170218_Coopers_Rock_006

We took it kinda easy today–my back has been sore from all the bending over and crouching I’ve been doing working on the chairs.

Location: Coopers Rock
Trails: Roadside, Reservoir Ski, Reservoir Trails
Distance: 3.7+ miles
Elevation: 2169-2364 feet

So we hiked the Reservoir Ski Trail to the reservoir and then around the reservoir, which brings me to this important question:

20170218_Coopers_Rock_001

HOW DID I NOT KNOW THERE WERE BEAVERS AT COOPERS ROCK?

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ADDENDUM the First:

To clarify for H J Gadiyar, check out the details of these pictures!

The larger tree is in the process of being gnawed down. But in the background to the left you can see a felled tree.

beaver2

Here you can see the tell-tale v and ^ signs of the tree that fell to the left. But also you can see that the missing branches on the tree coming towards the camera have all been chewed and drug off once they were detached.

beaver1

Written by Michelle at 7:01 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Project Chairs: Update Part Three

If you have spent more than an hour with me, you know I’m not a patient person.

So much of this project is WAITING. GAH. Waiting for wood glue to dry, waiting for resin to dry, waiting for stain to dry… SO. MUCH. WAITING.

Here’s how things have progressed since last week.

I dug and scraped and sanded all the old glue and gunk and everything to get these pieces to fit together again. (Here you can see prior to work, these pieces are held together with about a quarter centimeter of wood glue.)

These pieces fit together better now...

As do these two pieces.  (You can see the new split on the smaller piece.)

I scraped old glue and then sanded the crap out of the broken pieces to see if I could get them to fit back together smoothly.

Scrape glue, sand, scrape glue, sand. Ugh. I hope I'm making this actually better.

I glued everything back together as carefully as I could. After getting the large piece down I remembered I had small paint brushes–those worked best. Then I taped everything down for the resin.

I hate waiting.

Duh duh DUH!

PROOF I wore gloves! I also had a window open! Safety precautions! I did not bond together anything that should not have been permamently stuck together.

Proof I remembered gloves!

In progress. It’s never going to look good, but BY GUM IT WILL BE STURDY. And smooth. And even. Just ugly. (Here’s how it looked before I started.)

It’s possible if I’d be more aggressive with the sanding it might have looked better, but as this wood is mostly likely 100+ years old, I’ve been terrified of using too much force. And the site I found that showed step-by-stop how to use the resin to fill voids also used a power sander to smooth the resin. I’m positive that made things quite different from my sanding by hand.

20170215_114050

Again you can see how the resin filled in the void.

20170215_114202

Three areas visible here that got resin.

20170215_114123

Let me tell you, working with the epoxy is a giant PITA. I ended up peeling everything off and starting again on two different sets of cracks. The second time I was far more sparing in my application of resin. If I’d thought to get tooth picks it probably would have gone easier.

The resin is supposed to be sandable, but I mostly have just (CAREFULLY) used a razor and exacto knife to cut the resin flush with the wood.

Yes, that is as miserable to do as it sounds. But so far, no trips to the ER.

And here’s where things are now. Waiting for stain to dry so I can polyurethane the chair on the right. Left is also waiting to be polyurethaned and for the back to be finished.

20170215_114029

Another note–the wood here is very light. I’m positive that on a darker wood many of the imperfections and repairs would have blended into the grain. But here I’m stuck with repaired cracks and voids that are much darker than the surrounding wood.

Written by Michelle at 3:22 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Project Update: Chairs

(First post here.)

The project is moving apace. Two chairs are finished, two are waiting the arrival of the clear epoxy I ordered.

First, what was hiding when I went to recover the seats:

Oh. Well.   Now I'm thinking I'll leave these old layers for a future surprise.

I found three different fabrics.

Of course I left them underneath for the next person to go WTF?

I did NOT strip the wood, just thoroughly cleaned and sanded. Here’s part of a quick cleaning:

20170209_110924

The two chairs that were finished were simply coated with a water-based polyurethane. I’m going to have to purchase a small can of light oak stain for parts of the two remaining chairs that I’m repairing.

Here is the chair that has the busted back. I am super nervous about how the repairs will turn out, but I realized it can’t be worse than how it was. Plus, someone cracked the end of a support bar while working with the legs. (That someone is NOT ME.)

So, I'm doing this.

The clear epoxy should arrive Monday, so I can stain the pieces I sanded over the weekend and they should be ready for the epoxy then.

And here is a finished chair!

20170209_122334

My goal was simply to recover the seats, and add a layer of protection to the wood.

Next week, we’ll see how the repairs go. But if you hear a lot of cursing, you’ll know it’s not going well.

Written by Michelle at 2:40 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

Although last week’s snow is gone, it was a clear, beautiful day at New Rover Gorge.

We spent a good deal of time poking around Wolf Creek. One area was easy to get to, the other–less so.

Location: New River Gorge: Canyon Rim Area
Trails: Timber Ridge, Long Point, Fayetteville, Park Loop Trails
Distance: 4.7 miles
Elevation: 1784-2151 feet
Temperature: 34F

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Map of the Hike.

Written by Michelle at 9:57 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Books of January

The start of the month was for short stories–including finishing up anthologies I’d been reading for ages and ages.

I read a lot of good books this month, including going back and re-reading a book I’d almost forgotten about.

As for my favorite books of the month, let’s start with A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories which was an anthology I picked up solely for the Patricia Briggs story. Which I’ve not read about five times, because I kept re-reading it when I’d flip past it or while on a Patricia Briggs reading bender. Not all the stories were for me, but in all it was a strong anthology.

I know I keep going on about Daniel José Older, but that’s because I really do love his writing. Ghost Girl in the Corner is set following the events of Shadowshaper, but follows Tee and her girlfriend Izzy. As expected, the teenage girls are all strong characters I enjoyed spending time with. Kudos again for that.

Ghosts in the Snow is a good book, but it is extremely dark, and I’m not sure that I was in the mood for that much darkness, but if you like supernatural mysteries, then I do recommend it. As long as you’re aware that it’s dark.

The Peculiar Crimes Unit series is one I really do like, and when I realized I had the first book as an ebook, I set out to reread. Second book was also inexpensive, but the third? Well, that’s why I moved into another series. I’m waiting impatiently for that to go on sale. I’d like to note that Grandmom really enjoyed this series.

The other two mystery series are also very good–I’m re-reading the Inspector Erlendur series–but I can only read a couple Karin Fossum stories at a time, because they tend to be extremely depressing–two of the mysteries were about murdered children. The third was about a murdered teen. So small doses of that.

Mystery

Inspector Erlendur
Jar City (2000/2004) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder (8/10)
Silence of the Grave (2003/2006) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder (9/10)
Peculiar Crimes Unit
Full Dark House (2003) Christopher Fowler (8/10)
The Water Room (2004) Christopher Fowler (8/10)
Inspector Sejer
Black Seconds (2002/2007) Karin Fossum translated by Charlotte Barslund (8/10)
The Water’s Edge (2007/2009) Karin Fossum translated Charlotte Barslund
Bad Intentions (2008/2010) Karin Fossum translated by Charlotte Barslund

Supernatural Mystery

Ghosts in the Snow (2004) Tamara Siler Jones

Fantasy Anthology

Street Magicks (2016) edited by Paula Guran
Beyond the Pale: A Fantasy Anthology (2014) edited by Henry Herz
A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories (2014) edited by Kevin J. Anderson & Kieth J. Olexa (8/10)

Fantasy Short Stories

A Wolf in Holy Places (2009) Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Burnt Sugar (2014) Lish McBride
Ghost Girl in the Corner (2016) Daniel José Older (8/10)

And now, the statistics! Huzzah!

14 books this month, which is about average.

All ebooks this month (not a surprise), with 5 re-reads, three of which I have in paper. I would have continued on with Christopher Fowler’s series, but I’m not paying that much for a ecopy of a book I own in paper (and paid full price for at the time, I might add!).

eBook – 14
Multiple Formats -3
Re-read -5

Genre, things were split pretty evenly between fantasy and mystery.

Fantasy – 7
Mystery – 8
Anthology – 3

As to author genre, it’s split pretty evenly between male and female authors this month.

Male – 5
Female – 6
Anthology – 3

And that’s it for this month! YAY READING!

Written by Michelle at 12:02 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Project: Kitchen Chairs

This one is going to be a little more complicated.

I inherited Grandmom’s kitchen table and chairs. She said that they were “antique” when she and Popbo were given them by one of his aunts, who had the set in her attic (or perhaps basement).

Popbo refinished the set, and then they were used every day. Over the years chairs broke and were repaired with greater or lesser degrees of skill (depending upon who was doing the fixing). When they started to get unstable, and she was afraid one might fall apart while she was using it, we used L brackets to brace them up, and at the same time recovered the seats, and that’s how things have been since–the late 90s probably.

So I have a table and chairs that are in need of a good deal of work, but also very old. And more importantly, of great value to me because they were Grandmom’s.

Essentially, I don’t want to make things worse, but it’s reached the point where something really does need to be done.

The table I can probably manage, since I’ve refinished tables before.

The chairs, however, worry me.

I’m not worried about the sanding and refinishing, but it seems silly to do all that work without repairing them, and THAT I am not comfortable doing.

The chair in the right is in the worst shape. You can see it was badly broken and poorly repaired. We try to make sure small people never sit in this chair.

Kitchen Chairs

Here is a closer look at the repair job. The back slat was replaced with a mostly-matching piece of wood, but the repair where it was rejoined is–awful.

Kitchen Chairs

The bracing is on the underside, out of sight in this view, but somewhat visible from the side. It’s just a brass L bracket, carefully screwed into the wood.

Kitchen Chairs

Here is the view from the back.

Kitchen Chairs

I’ve started by simply cleaning the wood with Murphy’s Oil soap and an old toothbrush and nail brush and soft cloths, and that’s helped, but they really need sanded and several new coats of polyurethane. (Several coats, because this is MY kitchen table now, and I use it every day.)

So, here is the question. Does anyone have advice or recommendations for me? Or is anyone willing to trade delicious baked goods for assistance in this project?

I’m assuming the wood is 100+ years old and so I am extremely leery of removing any existing screws for fear of causing further damage (or not being able to get things back together without breaking something.

Did I mention delicious baked goods of your choice in trade?

Written by Michelle at 8:21 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Project Floors: Part III

I’ve just finished up the hallway (and by hallway, I mean the tiny expanse of floor between the two bedrooms and the bathroom) but I also decided to see if I could do something about the floor grates.

I tried cleaning them, but they were still ugly.

Then I remembered the existence of spray paint!

Here is a painted grate next to one that has been cleaned (no, really, I cleaned it!) but not yet painted.

Redoing the Floors: Air Vents

And here we were in situ!

Redoing the Floors: Air Vents

I possibly should have gone with a darker color, but standing in front of the spray paint options was a bit overwhelming (like, half an aisle of spray paint) and it might just look odd to me because it’s clean and shiny.

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Quid Pro Quo: Something Given or Received for Something Else

US Constitution: Article I Section 9

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

 

Nations whose citizens have committed terrorism against the United States in modern times:
Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon

 

Nations targeted by Trump’s ban:
Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Libya

 

Nations with whom Trump has business interests:

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar

 

And a quick bit of history. Nations whose governments have been toppled / destabilized with US interference / assistance:

Korea (1945), Syria (1949), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Congo (1960), Dominican Republic (1961), South Vietnam (1963), Brazil (1964), Chile (1973), Afghanistan (1979-1989), Nicaragua (1981-1989), Panama (1989), Haiti (1991), Somalia (1993), Iraq (1994-1996), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Haiti (2004), Somalia (2007), Syria (2005-2015), Lybia (2011)

 

‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’
– George Santayana

Written by Michelle at 9:33 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

I tried several biscotti recipes over the holidays, and there were two I particularly liked. The double chocolate ones are good, but if I eat them in the evening, then I can’t get to sleep (because who can eat just one biscotti?!)

So it’s the Cranberry-Orange Biscotti that are on the menu this winter. And they are delicious.

Recipe based on Italian-Style Cranberry-Orange Biscotti from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (4 3/4 oz) sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp orange juice
Zest of one orange
1 tsp orange extract
1 cup (4 5/8 oz) dried cranberries
1 cup (4 oz) chopped walnuts, toasted
2 cups (8 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I’ll lightly grease the parchment paper to make removing the biscotti logs easier. Not required, but recommended.

Beat the eggs and sugar until light-colored creamy. If you start mixing the eggs and sugar and then go onto measure out everything else, as well as toasting and chopping the walnuts, you’ll come back and it’ll be done.

Beat in the baking powder, salt, vanilla, orange juice, zest, and extract.

Toss the walnuts and cranberries in with the flour, then add to the egg mixture, beating just until the flour is completely incorporated.

Create two dough logs on the parchment paper.

This is easier said then done. Here is the easiest way: Plop down blobs of dough roughly in two log shapes.

Wet your hands.

Using your wet hands, shape the dough into something resembling two logs.

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

Don’t worry if the dough looks very wet after shaping. It won’t matter.

Bake the dough for 25 minutes at 350F.

After 25 minutes, remove the dough from the oven and drop the temperature to 325F.

As soon as it’s cool enough to do so, move one of the logs to a cutting board. Using a serrated bread knife, and cutting on the diagonal, cut 1/2″ thick slices. If your knife is sharp, you should need only to press down on the dough to cute it–avoid sawing which will break off bits of the cookies.

Arrange the slices on the cookie sheet (I stand them on end, but if they’re on their side, that’s fine), then cut the 2nd log in the same manner.

Bake the slices for 25 minutes at 325 F.

Cool on a rack, and then enjoy dipping in your favorite hot beverage.

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

Written by Michelle at 7:42 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock (TWO DAYS IN A ROW)

Two weekend days in a row where it wasn’t raining and miserable!

HOORAY!

This time we walked out to the overlook and back. Same distance as yesterday but MUCH easier, since there is little elevation gain.

Location: Coopers Rock
Distance: 6.4 miles
Elevation: 2188-2442 feet
Trail: Roadside Trail
Temperature: 28 F

20170129_Coopers_Rock_001

20170129_Coopers_Rock_007

20170129_Coopers_Rock_012

20170129_Coopers_Rock_019

Written by Michelle at 6:34 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

We’ve actually been out to Coopers Rock several times this year, but the weather has been so gloomy, I carried my camera solely for weight-bearing exercise, apparently.

But Saturday was snowy and pretty, so we hiked down to Mont Chateau, one of my favorite hikes.

Location: Coopers Rock State Park
Date: 2017-01-28
Distance: 6.2 miles
Elevation: 1483-2412 feet
Trails: Advanced Ski Trail, Mont Chateau Trail
Temperature: 28 F

20170128_Coopers_Rock_012

20170128_Coopers_Rock_048

20170128_Coopers_Rock_037

20170128_Coopers_Rock_044

20170128_Coopers_Rock_055

What? Doesn’t everyone clamber along streams in 30 F weather?

Here are the previous hikes, if you were interested in the hikes.

Date: 2017-01-21
Distance: 5.7 miles
Elevation: 1806-2350
Trails: Advanced Ski, Resovoir Loop, Clay Run Trails
Temperature: 60 F

Date: 2017-01-15
Distance: 3.3 + miles (GPS cut out for part)
Elevation: 1768-2420 feet
Trails: Advanced Ski, Resovior Loop, Roadside Trails
Temperature: 35 F

New Years Day Hike! (Lots and lots of people out)

Date: 2017-01-01
Distance: 4.7 miles
Elevation: 1961-2393 feet
Trails: Roadside, Scott’s Run Trails
Temperature: ~40 F

Written by Michelle at 9:40 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Pizza

For Kimby!

Homemade Pizza

The dough is from The New best of BetterBaking.com by Marcy Goldman. This was actually the first time I tried that dough recipe–usually I make pizza with a thinner crust, but this was good! (Especially since it was fast–the other recipes I was thinking of using wanted an overnight sponge. NOT the thing to read at 2PM when I want dinner at 5PM.)

Dough:
1 3/4 cup water
2 tbsp instant yeast (yes, TWO TABLEspoons)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
3 cups (13.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1 – 2 cups (4.5 – 9 oz) bread flour

Mix together all ingredients except 1 cup of the bread flour. Knead on lowest mixer speed and add more flour, two (2) tbsp at a time, until the dough comes together.

Let dough rise for 45 minutes, or until almost doubled (I totally let it rise twice that, because: busy.)

Sauce:
~1 tbsp olive oil (Yeah, totally didn’t measure here)
1 pint canned crushed tomatoes
2 – 4 tbsp tomato paste (YAY! A use for the tomato paste I canned last summer!) (A)
1 – 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic (B)
~3/4 tsp dried oregano (See above comment)
~1 tsp dried parsley (See above)
~1/2 tsp salt

Put sauce ingredients into a small pot, and allow to simmer on low while the dough rises.

Once the dough has risen, roll it into on large or two smaller rectangles. Dust with flour then cover with a clean cloth to rise for half an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 400F for at least 30 minutes. If you have a baking stone, make sure it’s in the oven for the whole pre-heat. (C)

Uncover the dough and drizzle it with olive oil. (D)

Spread the sauce over the dough.

Sprinkle a bit of shredded Parmesan, then sprinkle shredded mozzarella. I used part of a ball of fresh whole-milk and a block of the part-skim stuff with the longer shelf life, because that’s what I had. If I have Provolone, I’ll add some of that as well.

Add toppings of your choice. This choice was black olives and mushrooms.

Dinner : ready for the oven

Bake 15-20 minutes. The crust should be browned. If it’s not, let it bake longer.

Dinner : Ready to eat

Brief note on yeast. If you think you’re going to do any amount of baking, then buy a container of yeast, and just store that container in the freezer once opened. That’ll keep the yeast longer.

—–

(A) I have always HATED tomato paste–it always tastes like the tin to me, so making my own paste was MARVELOUS. It’s YUMMY and I use it ALL THE TIME NOW!
(B) I discovered that you can freeze garlic! (I tried pickling it last year and hated it.) So I mince a couple heads at a time, then freeze in 1 – 2 tbsp servings (An ice cube tray is what you want to use here if you don’t have a Food Saver.) Freeze the garlic into cubes then put those cubes into a ziploc bag and EASY! I do the same thing with lemon and lime juice, so it’s in tbsp servings, and I’m not wasting what I don’t use.
(C) If you have a baking stone, the easiest way to transfer a pizza is to roll it onto a sheet of parchment paper. Then use a flat cookie sheet to transfer the pizza back and forth. (Because I am NOT buying a pizza peel when a rimless cookie sheet and parchment work perfectly.)
(D) I’ve listened to enough food shows and read enough cooking magazines that I avoid Imported Extra-Virgin Olive oil, since much of it is adulterated. I can get California Olive Oil in our stores, which is what use now. I think it’s only an issue for EV Olive Oil.

Written by Michelle at 6:30 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Project: Floors, Part II

After putting the living room back together, I moved onto the NEXT room, the guest bedroom (or, as I still sometimes refer to it, Grandmom’s room).

This floor has a lot more deep damage to it–quite a number of burns that predated our purchase–but I still think damaged hardwood is a zillion times better than carpet.

And if you needed further evidence I’m weird:

See that line along the bottom of the door? That’s where Grandmom’s walker would sometimes scrape the door as she maneuvered in an out.

I still, after 6 1/2 years, can’t bring myself to permanently repair that scrape.

Written by Michelle at 8:56 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Music for the Day

Here’s some happy music I’ll be listening to today.

R.E.M – Exhuming Mccarthy

Mexican Institute of Sound – Yo Digo Baila

Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder


(more…)

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: music,Non-Sequiturs  
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