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megpie71

May 2017

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Sunday, May 28th, 2017 02:35 am
This had better be awesome. I'd forgotten how much work sautéing ground sausage is. Ow.

Originally from the Peace, Love and Low Carb blog. I have, as usual, changed it:

3lb ground Italian sausage (used Johnsonville)
2 + 2 Tbsp butter
2 + 1 Tbsp olive oil
2 C spinach, packed (baby, and all of a 5oz package)
1 C carrots, diced
1 leek, not so small, cleaned and sliced
1 box (6oz) minced onion and celery
~5 C chicken stock
1.5 C lentils (green)
1 C heavy cream
1/2 C Parmesian cheese, grated
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Original instructions: Heat slow cooker on low setting. Thoroughly rinse lentils, and add to slow cooker with chicken stock.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown sausage in olive oil and butter.
Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage from pan, reserving drippings. Add the cooked sausage to the slow cooker.
Add spinach, carrots, onions, garlic, leek, celery and a little salt and black pepper to the pan. Sauté vegetables over medium heat until tender. About 10 minutes.
Add sauteed vegetables to the slow cooker and mix in.
Stir in heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, and red wine vinegar. Cover and allow to cook on low 6-8 hours.

What I'm doing:
Brown sausage in olive oil and butter. Sauté veggies + salt & pepper in drippings. Package everything up and put in the fridge.
Do everything else tomorrow.

The original had one sautéing 1.5lb ground sausage in 2 Tbsp each of olive oil and butter. I wound up buying 3 1lb packs, and running low on oil in the pan about half way through and sloshed more olive oil in there. Then when sautéing the veggies (which were, like 2x the original) in the drippings, it looked too dry, so I added 2 more Tbsp of butter.

Right now I have the sausage browned and the veggies sautéd; I'm pretty much ready to combine everything when I wake up tomorrow so it can cook through the day.
Friday, May 26th, 2017 08:04 pm
Previously unread.

Continuing the Hugo due diligence reading.

Um, not sure what I think about this book. Well-written, definitely. Captivating? I'd say "morbidly fascinating", I want to know more about the world, but I am not sure I want to now about the world. It's... well... in this case a sign of brilliant writing.
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Thursday, May 25th, 2017 04:31 pm
I am thinking about writing a thing, or several things, about empathy. I come from a perspective of generally being appalled about how the concept is bandied about, not just in the popular press, but pretty much everywhere, including among the pros.

Part of my appall is how there seem to be a vast profusion of definitions, many mutually exclusive, loose out there. Like, I'm pretty sure two of my grad school classes promulgated precisely opposite empathy vs sympathy distinctions.

So, for kicks and giggles, what's your personal definition of empathy? Assuming, of course, you have one. (If you don't, you can say that too.)

All comments will be screened, and I may or may not be unscreening some or all of them at my personal discretion. If you don't want your definition of empathy being tied to you, comment anonymously.
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Thursday, May 25th, 2017 03:57 pm
When I was about 11, my mum had a birthday. And when I asked her what she wanted for a present, she said "Oooh... I'd really like a new kettle." (Or something of that nature. Grown up, kitcheny, and boring, that's the main thing I remember.)

I rolled my eyes, and said "No, Mum, something you want, not just something practical."



...so, I was rather clueless.



I turned 35 today, and my presents included two cooking thermometers, a bunch of flowers, a CD for my kids to listen to, a casserole for my family to eat for dinner sometime this week, and a dutch oven. And they are ALL AWESOME. A decade ago, I would not have realised how boring my future presents would be - or how much I would consider them superb and wonderful and not boring at all...
Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 02:40 pm
Starts good, gets great: New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's magnificent address of May 19 on the removal of the Confederate monuments from New Orleans. It's 22 minutes long, and, Americans, it's absolutely worth making the time. Beautiful, firey, and uplifting, it's worth hearing it delivered rather than reading a transcript.



Many thanks to [personal profile] heron61 for bringing it to my attention.
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Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 07:32 pm
Reread.

This is a book about swords. It is pretty much just about swords and swordsmanship, through history and in the modern day. I don't think I cam say much else about it, apart from possibly "there are some things that Hank Reinhardt say about some swords that I do not agree 100% with".
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Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 02:11 pm
There are two things coming up I want to see, and would like to encourage friends to come see with me. I'm not quite at "buy a ticket to something fun" today, but I'd like to get there.  Please comment / message / email me if you're interested in coming too, ideally by this weekend.

Show one:
The Southwark Playhouse is putting on Working, a musical with songs by "Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Rodgers & Susan Birkenhead, Stephen Schwartz and James Taylor". So obviously Lin-Manuel's contribution is among lots of other people's, but the musical blurb itself sounds interesting: based on a book of "interviews with the American workforce" and "a strikingly dynamic and contemporary look at what it is to work and what it is to be a musical".  Also I like the theatre's access information page which seems a better effort than most and would therefore like to Turn Up And Support This Kind Of Thing.

I'm looking at going to the 3pm show on Saturday 10th June.  This is both my least-busy Saturday during the run, and immediately after my exams.  Tickets £25 / £20.


Show two:
There is a touring professional production of Bring It On, the cheerleader musical, which I saw a local amateur production of recently. I am considering either:
  • 2:30pm show on Saturday 23rd September, at the Milton Keynes Theatre
  • 2:30pm show on Saturday 14th October, at the New Wimbledon Theatre
Both of them are do-able as a day trip from Cambridge by public transport.  I lean slightly toward the Wimbledon one because that's by train not coach, but I could be persuadable to either.  (Both is probably overambitious).  Tickets are between £43 and £57.50, plus a transaction fee (because of course there is).


Also, I'm looking longingly at an amateur production of In The Heights in Birmingham 14-15 July, but as I'm running a child's birthday party on 16th July I don't think it's going to happen.

(yes, I am mildly obsessive about Seeing All The Things related to Lin-Manuel Miranda, but I also kind of like the idea of aspiring to a lifestyle of travelling the country seeing musicals ...)
Monday, May 22nd, 2017 09:21 pm
The Turks are the kings of spring this week, coming in with 20 points and the trophy! SOLDIER and Avalanche stayed inside with their video games. ;)

This week's prompt is #19 - First Lines

Something different this week: 

Choose one book off your bookshelf. The opening line of that book (any genre) will be the first line and the beginning of your drabble. This first line, no matter how long, will not be counted toward your 100 words. If the first line has names listed, I will allow you to change those names to reflect FFVII relevant characters and/or places. Also, please list the book that you took your first line from in your author's notes in case anyone is so intrigued that they want to read it.

So whether the first line is from The Grapes of Wrath, Harry Potter, some random romance novel or a thriller, that first line is your first line and everything after is just 100 words.
Monday, May 22nd, 2017 08:01 am
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways to Give:

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is still struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and hasn't been cleared to return to work, thus can't earn money to cover basic living costs, let alone the bills they've received, including a recent rent increase. They are frequently running out of money for gas to even do odd jobs for pay. You can read more and help out here.

Help For Free:

[profile] florentinequill linked to The PRIDE Study, the first large-scale, long-term health study of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or another sexual or gender minority. You can read more and sign up to participate here.

Housing:

[tumblr.com profile] darlingarmadillo's third roommate is moving out and she's seeking a new roommate for a three-bedroom condo, bedroom unfurnished, two cats, in-unit laundry, workout room, near the Howard stop in Chicago; $750/mo. You can read more and get in touch at her craigslist posting here.

News To Know:

[tumblr.com profile] zorilleerrant linked to the upcoming Static Shock Appreciation Week, to celebrate the television show Static Shock and the comics and other media the character appeared in. Appreciation week starts on May 29th, and you can share fanart, fanfic, meta, and other commentary on the character, including themed daily posts. You can read more and spread the word here.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.
Sunday, May 21st, 2017 09:23 pm
I've been looking a lot at Fate Core rpg system recently. I sponsored the "Wearing the Cape" superhero game on k'start, and I've looked at a few of the other systems.

I have a friend who's putting together a group for a game to be podcast, maybe vidcast; originally, it was going to be Hero, but wow is that troublesome for fantasy gaming (yeah, there's books, and we looked at 'em and even tried to work with them, but he wants some unique magic details, and that means writing the system from scratch, and Hero's got a lot of number-crunching once you go down that path). We looked at GURPS, which I love - he thinks it's okay, but again, would need to rewrite the magic system. Right now, he's looking at 5e, and seems to think that the magic system is easier to twist into what he'd like than those two. I'm trying to pitch Fate, because I think he wants a strongly narrative game more than one where your stats define what you can do.

Key point: If you want a D&D game, play D&D. If you want a D&D-esque setting but do not want classes, levels, initiative rolls, and saving throws - don't play D&D. Find a system that covers the style of play you want, and use that.

This is mostly me grumbling about D&D )
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Sunday, May 21st, 2017 02:26 pm

Lord, there's so many things I keep meaning to blog about and then I get distracted. And then I'm like "I must blog about this thing!" and remember that I didn't blog about the other thing and then it just becomes easier to go play Dragon Age for awhile.

But! Dogskull Patch is still mine!




After careful perusal of the house, it's best treated with a bulldozer, I think. Clearing out the junk--and there is so much junk--is just not feasible with my available manpower. Also some large animal has been inside. I choose to believe that it is a dog. Thinking about the alternative sources of the poop in the corner is a little more than I wish to deal with.

Also, the house has bees! There is a feral hive living in the wall (and maybe the attic) of honeybees! Which I think is actually REALLY REALLY COOL, since there aren't supposed to be very many wild hives in NC anymore owing to colony collapse. A Master Beekeeper and his apprentice are supposed to come out and investigate the possibilities of getting them out, since I flatly refuse to destroy a honeybee hive, even if it's holding up work.

This weekend we took out a lot of little weed trees. There's some hundred-year-old white oak that will be touched over my dead body, but some of the scruffy Carolina blackcherry (edible but unexciting) and the privet and five million loblolly and blackjack oak seedlings can come out. My buddy Krin went through the aerial photos going back to '79 and figured out that the back forty (or I guess back five, in this case) had been harvested at least once, which would explain why all the pines are growing like that.

I've been reading up on the local soil and poring over historical maps. This sort of thing is weirdly fun for me, but it's a bit late to switch careers to agronomy and also my agent would nail my head to her wall as a warning to other authors. There is a TINY patch of "silt loam" in this chunk of the county, and Dogskull Patch is literally sitting square on top of it. (And when I say "tiny" I mean "my neighbors have only a couple yards of it, and the back 40 is something else entirely.") When I was excavating some holes, I was very puzzled by the dirt--it was incredibly fine, almost like ash. It reminded me of porcelain clay. Apparently that is what "silt loam" is like.

(It's on the high point of a low hill. Not that you can really tell, in the middle of the woods, but a chunk of Dogskull is literally the highest point, by a couple feet, of the surrounding area. I'd guess that's why the silt is still there, and didn't get carried off by erosion.)

According to the county soil maps--and I had no idea that the geologic surveys ran so precise!--Dogskull Patch and environs is "prime farmland of state concern." I assume that means "If anyone cared about dirt the way that dirt should be cared about, they would beg to keep Dogskull as farmland, not vanish under tract housing." On the other hand, it was a tobacco farm, and tobacco farming is REALLY hard on soil. So at best guess--beautiful soil treated cruelly, now with a load of trees.

I must remind myself that it has taken care of itself for many years now, and that anything I can do to help is merely a bonus. I am not saving it, except perhaps from developers. I am merely improving small bits and making it more itself. Otherwise the monumental SIZE of the task and the sheer weight of responsibility would crush me flat. (My buddy Foxfeather advised me of this, and I am grateful. It was excellent advice.)

So, we took out some of the trees and dragged them over close to the property line to build a hugulkultur bed there. A large enough one will function as a berm and I can plant trees on the far side to help block the line. I'd like to put in a seriously gnarly hedgerow there, maybe with some Osage orange. Hedgerows are great habitat and the orange is one of the few more-or-less-native plants that will potentially keep out feral hogs.

But that's awhile in the future. Everything is in the future. Meanwhile, in other news I work on the next Hamster Princess, have no idea what to work on for my next T. Kingfisher (there's at least two novels and one novella that aren't too far off, but none of them have hit a tipping point in my brain) and am suffering the massive productivity loss that is afflicting most of the creative people I know in this political climate. Also my stepfather keeps having heart attacks and winding up in the hospital with increasingly dramatic pulmonary failings--"THREE aortic aneurysms! Two blocked arteries! How are you ALIVE, sir?" but is about as interested in human company as the aforementioned feral hog, so I am in the grim stage of waiting by the phone to hear that he has finally keeled over so that I can swing into action. This is horrifically stressful, but he's nearly eighty and has certainly earned the right to die alone while fly-fishing if he so chooses, and for all I know, could still outlive me.

(I am at that stage where I do not feel guilty about thinking such thoughts, nor am I feeling guilty about not feeling guilty, but, in somewhat meta fashion, am feeling vaguely guilty that I am not feeling guilty about not feeling guilty. "If I was really a good person, I would at least question that I am not at all guilty about this!" This is a complex emotional knot best severed with hard manual labor and tequila.)

I am writing this while sitting out in the garden. My beloved backyard garden is really shining this year. I am proud and grateful to it. It exudes peace, and for once I can actually appreciate that, instead of rampaging around trying to change bits. I think it's mostly done (ha ha) and while I have lots of things to tweak, stones to add, etc, the bones are all there and not likely to change tomorrow, so I can sit and relax in it and admire the beans and the iris and the potatoes in their grow bags.

Anyway. Life keeps keeping on.

Sunday, May 21st, 2017 01:01 am
I went and saw Beauty and the Beast tonight, and actually really liked the LeFou storyline? Score one for thoughtful, nuanced analysis over premature angry judgment by a high standard of moral rectitude.
Saturday, May 20th, 2017 02:25 pm
Some saturdays, you’re just destined to cook. I got up to make breakfast and found myself, twenty minutes later, making patties from last night’s leftover risotto while the turkey meatballs cooked in the pressure cooker.

I don’t normally buy boxed mixes for rice or beans and now I remember why – at work this week someone left out a couple of boxes of risotto with a “free to good home” sign, so I took a box of chive and butter. It’s not bad, exactly, it’s just that the box mixes tend to have way too much seasoning in them, and I always forget not to stir in the whole packet. It’s not bad eating exactly, it’s just that the seasoning kind of overwhelms. But the box said you could take leftover risotto, form it into patties, eggwash and breadcrumb it, and pan-fry it, and the pan was still hot from making a few turkey burgers with the leftover meatball mix that didn’t fit in the pressure cooker, so I figured might as well. Having run out of beef, the rest of National Hamburger Month will involve risotto burgers and turkey burgers. 

Anyway, the macaroni’s cooking in the sauce I just cooked the meatballs in, so mac and meatballs are also on the menu, and later today I’ll make some hardboiled eggs. 

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Friday, May 19th, 2017 04:32 pm
I have [community profile] sps, which stands for "Slushpile sleuths," an ebook review forum created a bit before the big ebook craze. It's been sitting dormant for almost 5 years, and I'd like to change that.

Option 2: Make a book-review tumblr. Pros: Better outreach. Cons: You can't archive on tumblr, can't find anything later, and it takes to serious discussion rather like airplanes take to lakes: Sure, it can be done, but even when it works, it's pretty damned obvious to everyone that it's not how things were intended to happen. Other pros: Nobody cares if you post 30 words or 300.

Not sure where to start, and that's what I want to get feedback about. Should I just... post some reviews of books I've read? I think I'm not going to post Amazing Serious Reviews like [personal profile] james_davis_nicoll does. (Srsly. Looking for reviews? Start there.) I can write like that, but it's not fun for me; that's not how I think about books (first). I'd rather do fannish-style squee or rants.

I'd also like other people to be comfortable posting reviews, which is one of the reasons I didn't get in the habit of posting there - I didn't want to have it overwhelmed by my posts alone. But it's gotten pretty obvious that the choice is "fill it up with my posts" or "leave it dead." And looking around, none of the active book-focused comms are specifically for reviews. ([community profile] book_reviews hasn't been dead as long as this one, but the owner has been inactive since 2010.)

Why I'm suddenly noticing a community I started over 5 years ago and have barely touched since )

It'd be nice to revive a book review comm for the New More Active Shiny Dreamwidth. Extra participation would be more than welcome.