Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Then and Now - Exploitation of Workers



In the early 1900's Lawrence, Massachusetts was a center for the textile industry in the United States. The woolen and cotton mills there had hired large numbers of unskilled immigrant workers to perform sometimes dangerous jobs at low wages. Many of the workers were young women and some were children.

Conditions for the people working in the mills and their families were abysmal, one half of the children died before reaching the age of six, and 36 out of a hundred workers died before reaching the age of 25. Workers earned between 6 and 9 dollars for 60 hours of work a week.

The Lawrence Textile Workers Strike of 1912 began after mill owners cut workers pay when the Massachusetts legislature passed a law limiting the work week to 54 hours. Prior to this time the workers had been unsuccessful in organizing, but the Industrial Workers of the World were successful in Lawrence, partly because the IWW created a strike committee with two representatives from each of the 25 nationalities working in the factories and also because they were able to support the strikers with money collected by the IWW throughout America.

The Lawrence Textile Workers Strike became known as the strike for Bread and Roses because it was reported that a striker carried a sign that read "We want bread, but we want roses too", the point being that they wanted fair wages and dignified living conditions.

Upton Sinclair was the first to attribute the term "bread and roses" to the Lawrence strikers in his 1916 book The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.

The strikers were successful in getting their demands for higher wages and overtime pay and showed that a diverse workforce could organize to counter the forces of unfettered capitalism.

Photo by Lewis W. Hine
Library of Congress
These are some surreal photos from the Library of Congress archives that show a glimpse of working conditions in the U.S. in the early 1900's.

January 1909 - Bibb Mill No. 1 in Macon Georgia - "Many youngsters here. Some boys were so small they had to climb up on the spinning frame to mend the broken threads and put back the empty bobbins."

Photo by Lewis W. Hine
Library of Congress

August 1910 - Young "doffers" in North Pownal, Vermont.

A "doffer" was usually a young boy or girl who took off (doffed) the bobbins.

Bread & Roses: The Strike Led and Won by Women

Lawrence textile strike - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia




From the book No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs by Naomi Klein -

"Labor groups agree that a living wage for an assembly-line worker in China would be approximately 87 cents an hour. In the United States and Germany, where multinationals have closed down hundreds of domestic textile factories to move to zone production, garment workers are paid an average of $10 and $18.50 an hour respectively. Yet even with those massive savings in labor costs, those who manufacture for the most prominent and richest brands in the world are still refusing to pay workers in China the 87 cents that would cover their cost of living, stave off illness and even allow them to send a little money home to their families. A 1998 study of brand-name manufacturing in the Chinese special economic zones found that Wal-Mart, Ralph Lauren, Ann Taylor, Espirit, Liz Claiborne, Kmart, Nike, Adidas, J.C. Penney and the Limited were only paying a fraction of that miserable 87 cents - some were paying as little as 13 cents an hour."
Also from the book "No Logo", speaking of Charles Kernaghan head of the National Labor Committee, the author writes -
"So Kernaghan lays out the facts and figures of the global economy in Disney pajamas, Nike running shoes, Wal-Mart aisles and the personal riches of the individuals involved - and crunches the numbers into homemade statistical contraptions that he then yields like a mallet. For example: all 50,000 workers at the Yue Yen Nike Factory in China would have to work for nineteen years to earn what Nike spends on advertising in one year. Wal-Mart's annual sales are worth 120 times more than Haiti's entire annual budget; Disney CEO Michael Eisner earns $9,783 an hour while a Haitian worker earns 28 cents an hour; it would take a Haitian worker 16.8 years to earn Eisner's hourly income; the $181 million in stock options Eisner exercised in 1996 is enough to take care of his 19,000 Haitian workers and their families for fourteen years."
The book "No Logo" is a bit dated having been written in 1999, but there is no shortage of horror stories in the current globalized world of work. For example this December 2006 article from the The National Labor Committee on the production of Bratz dolls. The article says of the Bratz dolls,
"They are made in a sweatshop in China, where women are routinely forced to work seven days and 94 ½ hours a week, for wages of just 51 ½ cents an hour, $4.13 a day.

As bad as conditions are now, they are about to get worse. The factory wants to fire all the workers and then bring them back as temporary workers with contracts of just one to eight months, which would strip them of any legal rights they might have. As it is, the workers are denied sick days as well as work injury and health insurance.

In January 2007, out of desperation, the Bratz doll makers will go out on a wildcat strike."

This is a youtube video about girls who make Bratz dolls -

This National Labor Committee - Video copy says, "Charles Kernaghan and Barbara Briggs are working to improve conditions in the overseas garment factories where U.S. companies make our clothing."

The video is a summary of the "race to the bottom" in the search to find the cheapest labor in the world. It involves Disney, Wal Mart, and others including the now infamous Kathy Lee Gifford clothing line.

For example the video talks about Selena, a 13 year old girl from Bangladesh, who is paid 7 cents an hour which works out to $3.32 a week to make NFL garments that are sold at Wal Mart. Selena is making about 1/3 what the Lawrence textile workers were paid in 1912.

In this factory, the workers are paid 19 cents to make a garment that is then sold by Wal Mart for 75 dollars. A fire in 2000 in a Bangladesh textile factory that had the fire exits blocked killed 51 young women. In 2006 the same thing happened, this time 84 people died.

They are hanging their hats (lives) on Byron Dorgan, Senator for North Dakota who is "currently working on legislation that would restrict the importation of products made in countries that do not enforce labor laws. The bill would give U.S. companies the ability to go to court and seek damages when their competitors move their production to countries that exploit their workers."

The National Labor Committee has a second (amongst many) eye-opening video about worker exploitation. In this case it was in Amman Jordan where workers from Bangladesh were promised a fair wage and ended having their passports taken away upon arrival in Jordon, not given the wages they were promised, forced to work 14 to 16 hours a day, tortured and in some cases sent home with no money - and large debts owed to those who lent them money to get to Jordan.

Be sure and watch the middle part of the video where they show the bathroom, it's a hole in the floor - with a huge rat walking around in it.

You can tell the person in the video is not lying. They made fleece jackets for sale at Wal-Mart in the factory he worked in.

So what's a person to do?

I think it's probably impossible, and in any event not very effective, to try and avoid all items made or sold by people who are not paid a living wage, and given basic protections of human dignity. Even my new pair of New Balance sneakers are tinged with sweat-shop allegations.

I think the best one could do is to be educated and use that knowledge to help people organize to stand up for basic human rights. You might want to start close to home, since I hear tell the people selling merchandise at Wal-Mart, McDonald's or The Gap aren't paid a living wage.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Road To Escondido

I got J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton's CD The Road to Escondido for Christmas.

It's really good music if you like J.J. Cale or Eric Clapton and great music if you like both of them.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Buttercream Frosting

Sponge Cake
Originally uploaded by sobameshi.
I was watching a cooking show on PBS today and they were making layer cakes. The cakes were simple - two 9 inch round sponge cakes, with raspberry jam and buttercream frosting between them and some nice dabs of frosting placed with a homemade parchment cornet . There were individual fresh raspberries strategically placed around the top.

I have to get to the main point of interest though - which was the recipe for buttercream frosting. (I don't know why I torture myself watching these shows...)

They made the buttercream frosting by combining:
3 sticks of unsalted butter


1 box of powdered sugar

Originally uploaded by Plukas.
Holy moly, that's pure sugar and fat - ummmmmm sugar and fat. It's pretty amazing to think about the crappy frosting you get on some bakery cakes - you could be eating 3 sticks of Crisco or some type of partially hydrogenated (trans-fats) vegetable oil on your cake. That's the bad frosting that leaves a weird residue sticking to your mouth and arteries. At least butter melts in your mouth.

I think I figured out the purpose of the cake.

It's a fat and sugar delivery device. Think about it - you couldn't get that much butter and sugar on a pancake. But by combining butter and sugar into a "frosting" you can layer it on baby. The chef who was making this cake reminded me of a plasterer or stucco mason. She made a first layer of mortar (buttercream) then refrigerated the cake and added another layer to get it nice and smooth and fill in all the chinks. She had some nice tools to work the frosting with.


Making Decorating Cones with Parchment Triangles

ZPi | Cake Decorating Of Yesteryear

Visit the Food Network Store to stock up on your favorite cookbooks, DVDs, and kitchen essentials!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Rachael Ray - Promoting a Cute Pit Bull Calendar

Speaking of big name TV cooks...

Rachael Ray is promoting a "pit bull" calendar for the new year.

She must be nuts.

I think the people who defend pit bulls as pets, should band together to live on Pit Bull Island or someplace where they can test out their "they are just regular ole dogs" theory on each other, it certainly doesn't sit right with the facts.

Merritt Clifton who compiled the dog bite statistics from 1982 to 2006 is an animal advocate.

According to the Clifton study,
Pit bulls, Rottweilers, Presa Canarios and their mixes are responsible for 74% of attacks that were included in the study, 68% of the attacks upon children, 82% of the attacks upon adults, 65% of the deaths, and 68% of the maimings. In more than two-thirds of the cases included in the study, the life-threatening or fatal attack was apparently the first known dangerous behavior by the animal in question.

Clifton states:

If almost any other dog has a bad moment, someone may get bitten, but will not be maimed for life or killed, and the actuarial risk is accordingly reasonable. If a pit bull terrier or a Rottweiler has a bad moment, often someone is maimed or killed--and that has now created off-the-chart actuarial risk, for which the dogs as well as their victims are paying the price.

Pit bulls and Rottweilers are accordingly dogs who not only must be handled with special precautions, but also must be regulated with special requirements appropriate to the risk they may pose to the public and other animals, if they are to be kept at all."
I predict the success of Rachael Ray's Pit Bull 2007 Calender Campaign will be that some number of people will see those "cute little puppies" and decide they want one. The dog will end up on a chain if we are lucky (and the dog is animal should be chained) or maybe one day when you least expect it - maiming or killing someone.

I also predict that the vast majority, with some exceptions, of those who own a pit bull don't have enough assets, or insurance coverage, to make them worth suing. That's too bad for the victims.

Every pit bull owner should be required to have a "plan of care" for their dog which includes a secure area for the dog to live and play in, training, and adequate liability insurance to cover the risk their animal presents to society.

I'm all for freedom and keeping the government out of personal choice - provided what you do does not effect the health or welfare of another. If owning a pit bull meant you were the only person at risk for getting mauled or maimed - fine. In this case your decision to own a pit bull impacts anyone in the vicinity of the dog, so you lose the "right" to make that decision on your own....or would if I had anything to say about it.

There's already a population explosion of pit bulls in animal shelters, the last thing we want to do is encourage people to buy or produce more cute pit bull puppies. If I was a soft hearted celebrity sort who wanted to "rescue" another living being I might want to think about human beings before I devoted my name, time and effort, to four-footed critters.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hay In Art: From Wales to Wisdom

Country style
Originally uploaded by Guills.
Hay In Art: From Wales to Wisdom has some nice pictures, paintings, poems and descriptions of hay. It's interesting to think of the connection people feel (felt) to hay and haymaking and how corporate farming and urban sprawl effect that part of our culture.

Most of us urban dwellers are so far removed from where our food comes from that the idea of growing and harvesting hay to feed cows to produce meat and milk is not even in our consciousness.

In an ideal world everyone would have a chance smell a field of hay, and some freshly-cut hay, at least once. It's not totally unlike the smell of a new-mown lawn (a really big lawn), but it's the context that makes it magical (as you can imagine in the picture above). The smell of hay could be a background to accompany your trip to a nice trout stream, a ride on a horse, a walk on a quiet evening or early morning with the birds calling and the bees buzzing. It smells very sweet.


Sprawl Overview - Sierra Club

Sierra Club

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Consuming or Being Consumed?

frontline: the persuaders: watch online | PBS

Fascinating must-see TV.

The show starts with the idea of "clutter" in our world due to the ubiquitous advertising all around us. In the specific instance the narrator is in New York's Times Square and says the city has been covered by a thin layer of blinking, flashing, animated messages. Advertisers try to break through the clutter by creating more, better, different ads - and end up with a self-generating cycle of more clutter in the process.

Advertising is about giving people what they want. People want to fill some void in themselves, to create meaning in their lives. Advertisers tell people a story so they can convince themselves what they want - in other words so we can sell-our-selves (literally and figuratively).

If you want love buy Coke, if you want community buy Starbucks, if you want sex buy everything.

They use the example of the ill-fated attempt by Delta airlines to create a new/faster/cheaper version of itself called "Song". An ad campaign is started that doesn't talk about cheaper fares, more room, comfortable seats, better food (or whatever an airline consumer might want) but rather focusing on the positive emotions of the concept "Song". People end up liking the ads but are not sure what is being promoted.

TV advertising is becoming less and less valuable as use of digital recorders like TiVo grows which allow consumers to skip the commercials. Advertisers are weaving the selling of items into the shows, or in the case of one episode of "Sex in The City" convincing the writers to base the show on one commercial theme (in that case a type of Vodka).

Lots of questions...What does this do to the the artistic value of a piece? If the idea is to sell vodka how much range can there be? Is there any element of trust required between an artist and the audience? Integrity? More importantly - if everything is an advertisement do we homogenize or possibly even destroy our culture? What would we give up if all art, writing, spoken word became commercialized?

Even a theoretically balanced show like this PBS Frontline "The Persuaders", had a little bit of logo showing. The narrator is shown working at his computer and the camera manages to catch a great shot of his laptop logo - it's an Apple of course, he being an artistic sort of creative type and all.

A secret in the advertising world is that no one really knows how effective ads are. An old saying goes, "I'm wasting half my money on advertising, I'm just not sure which half."

Most consumers would not say "I saw x, or y in a magazine or on TV and then decided I should buy it." The effect of advertising is much more insidious and deliberately below our conscious level of thought. Advertisers use experts such as a psychiatrist who probes the "reptilian brain" to find what the codes are for our desire. He then sells the "code" to advertisers.

Although most consumers (myself included) would not admit to being influenced by ads, brands and logos - we do have quite strong brand loyalties. How we came to those loyalties may be hard to explain. I don't know why I think Tide is the best detergent, but somehow I'm convinced.

Another advertising guru studied what brings people to join cults in hopes of using that knowledge to sell. He stumbled on this idea while listening to Saturn car owners use similar words to describe their brand loyalty as Hare Krishna's do theirs.

Selling politics.

The use of the right words to sell an idea is explored. The administration stopped using the words "global warming" and replaced them with "climate change". There's some funny clips where a congressman starts to say "global..." and then stumbles on to "climate change". The selling included changing the war in Iraq to the war on terror, replacing the phrase estate tax with death tax.

It's fascinating and a little scary.

We are all, I imagine, a little conflicted on this idea of consuming and being encouraged to consume. It's part of what makes America such a wonderful place to live and conversely not so wonderful for the planet or people in third-world countries.

I love ads. I like to buy stuff. I'm not obsessed with buying things and I like to use what I have and try to reduce my ecological footprint, but I'm not hypocritical enough to say that I'm going to stop either looking at ads (they can be great art, funny, beautiful...and just make you feel good) or buying a certain amount of stuff. I like my laptop, my iPod, eBay, Starbucks, and certain brands.

Everything at some level is about selling or being sold.

If there was one thing that was key in the program it would be this -

The idea for advertising is based on You. Selling things to you requires that you be thinking about what you need. Not about what I need or they need - what you need. So...if we wanted to make a little dent in the affluenza we suffer from we might start thinking a little less about me and a little more about us.

We need to fill our lives with something. To find our own meaning. We could do that with a pair of Nike tennis shoes but it might be better for our fellow humans if we did it with something that required reaching out, helping and showing compassion to those who could use a helping hand.

As Naomi Klein the author of "No Logo" put it,
"When you listen to brand managers talk, you can get quite carried away in this idea that they actually are fulfilling these needs that we have for community and narrative and transcendence. But in the end it is…a laptop and a pair of running shoes. And they might be great, but they're not actually going to fulfill those needs."


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Positive Mood May Help You From Getting Colds

Does this surprise anyone?

The Science News Online, Dec. 16, 2006 article Sniffle-Busting Personalities reports on a test of 334 healthy adults exposed to rhinoviruses via nasal drops. Those who displayed generally positive outlooks were less likely to develop cold symptoms.

Beneficial impacts for people with a "positive emotional style" were seen during additional tests using rhino or influenza viruses. According to the article, that study showed -
"Although a positive emotional style bore no relation to whether participants became infected, it protected against the emergence of cold symptoms. For instance, among people infected by the influenza virus, 14 of 50 (28 percent) who often reported positive emotions developed coughs, congestion, and other cold symptoms, as compared with 23 of 56 infected individuals (41 percent) who rarely reported positive emotions."
A positive emotional style includes feelings of liveliness, cheerfulness, and being at ease.

Not only can positive emotions help keep you healthy but preliminary data suggests a correlation between lack of positive emotions as an indicator for stroke.

I found this article via - Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things


Monday, December 18, 2006

Weird Words, Drinking, Hiking Staffs and Walking

This is a piece about weird words, drinking, hiking staffs and walking.

I'll start with the first - weird words. My grandmother was a reader and teacher and occasionally liked to drop a strange word on us. I remember before B and I got married Gram asked, "so will you be having a shivaree?"

It wasn't a word either of us had ever heard and Gram's explanation made it sound like a somewhat frightening event, so we opted out of ye old shivaree.

A shivaree depending on who you are talking too is either (a) a mini-Mardi-Gras like event held before the wedding, (b) a kidnapping of the bride before the wedding, or (c) a chance for the bride and groom's neighbors to wish them well, where According to Wikipedia, "people of the local community gather around to "celebrate" a marriage, usually one they regard as questionable, gathering outside the window of the couple. They bang metal implements or use other items to create noise in order to keep the couple awake all night. Sometimes they wear disguises or masks."

These are Wikipedia links to the word Shivaree and it's cousin Charivari.

A second weird word that Gram liked (because it's an Irish word) was Shillelagh. I didn't know what that meant either and I'd try to make out the meaning from the context someone used it in.

Someone could say "he had one heck of shillelagh" or "he had a nice black shillelagh, it was long and stiff" or "what a beautiful shillelagh he had". I didn't know if it was a badge or a body part and eventually I kind of got the point that it was some kind of stick or club.

I hadn't thought of that word "shillelagh" until I read this little blurb from NPR about the book Hemingway & Bailey's Bartending Guide to Great American Writers. The book is illustrated by Earnest Hemmingway's grandson Edward. He has included this little story about grandpa,
"After drinking in back with friends, he passed John O'Hara at the bar. O'Hara was carrying an Irish blackthorn walking stick (shillelagh) and Hemingway began to mock him for it. Defensively, O'Hara claimed that it was "the best piece of blackthorn in New York." Hemingway immediately bet him fifty dollars that he could break it with his bare hands. Then in one swift move he smashed the walking stick against his own head, snapping it in half. The broken pieces hung over Costello's bar for many years."
Ah the beauty of drink, drinking and being drunk - being immortalized by breaking a stick over one's own head, luckily he was a heck of a writer so he lives on in other ways.

You can buy your very own Genuine Irish Shillelagh made from Irish Blackthorn from, although it's not going to make a very good walking stick unless you are Leprechaun-sized, since it's only 21-23 inches long.

Thinking about shellelaghs put me in the mood for a walking stick, or as fancy schmancy places like REI call them - Trekking Poles. You can get the "Leki Ultralite Carbon SLS" trekking poles for two hundred bucks.

I found a stick during a walk a couple of days ago and was using it as a walking stick. I found it helped me keep my walking tempo. I tend to sort of slow down and look at things, but with the stick I could pace myself better. That stick was a little on the small side so...

I made a couple of new walking sticks, one nice and light from an old bamboo cross-country ski pole and another from an old aluminum ski pole that I painted black, and then added a rubber tip, a hand grip, a cigar tube extender and strap. Not only is it a good walking stick, it would make a nice staff in case I ever find myself leading an impromptu parade.

I've been practicing, just in case, while listening to this music and others from the Marching Royal Dukes.

In my search for the perfect stick I also bid on a mushroom hunter's hickory walking stick from Mountain Dreams Trading Post on eBay which is on it's way for less than 20 bucks including shipping and insurance. Next time I'm doing some shrooming it'll come in handy.

Once I get the hickory stick I'll have four walking staffs in my collection. I need some spares. I have lights on the one I bought for a dollar from the guy on the waterfront. I'm using it as a small Christmas tree...branch...stick.

If you aren't in to constructing/decorating your own walking stick, Whistle Creek has some nice looking Walking and Hiking Sticks, as well as some interesting information on wood types.

This is a close up of the an old Punch cigar tube handle on my aluminum hiking staff. Punch cigars, as I seem to recall, are quite good. They were named for Punch in the "Punch and Judy" puppet shows in an attempt to appeal to a British audience.

The cigar tube was not solely for aesthetic purposes. The ski pole was a little short for a hiking staff for me. It should allow you to grasp the handle with your elbow bent and your arm level with the ground, so I used the cigar tube (and a wooden dowel inside it - shoved into the pole) as an extender.

Finally I have to say something about walking.

I've always thought that you couldn't really know a place unless you had walked around in it - smelled it, felt the weather, the ground, heard the sounds. In other words if you take a tour bus to visit somewhere the place you are getting to know is the tour bus. If you can't get out and walk it might be better to stay home and watch a travelogue on TV. Not so say riding in busses, cars, trains and planes can't be an enlightening experience, but it's not the way to get to know a place. Might be a great way to meet people and learn some things about a place.

I was looking at a huge, amazingly beautiful photographic book by Ollivier Follmi on India yesterday and in the introduction Radhika Jha writes, "There is a saying the Swami Vivekananda, the nineteenth century Hindu philosopher, was very fond of quoting...

"to belong to a place one must know it with the feet."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Everett Events Center - Public Skating

You know what might be fun to do over the Christmas break?

How about taking the kids, a friend or yourself skating at the Everett Events Center?

Cost of Admission:

Children 5 & under: $3.50 admissions & includes skates
Admission 6 and up : $6.25 admissions only
Senior discount 55+: ($1.00) off admissions
Skate Rental: $2.75
* All prices include sales tax

They are closed on Christmas eve and Christmas day.

This photograph of the Everett Events Center is from the Seattle firm LMN Architects who designed the Center, Seattle Symphony’s beautiful Benaroya Hall, and 120 projects in 30 states and 6 foreign countries.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Peanut Butter, Mayo, and Green Olive Sandwich

I was watching the PBS show Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie today and Gourmet Editor, Ruth Reichl mentioned a really weird sounding sandwich.

She made hers with peanut butter, mayonnaise, and green olives stuffed with pimentos, on white bread.

I tried one with peanut butter, Vegenaise, and green olives stuffed with pimentos on whole wheat bread.

It was surprisingly tasty.

If you've never tried Vegenaise you might be surprised at how good it tastes. It's much better than those terrible low fat, no-fat, mayonnaises. I like the original Vegenaise, with the blue label - it's made with canola oil, apple cider vinegar, brown rice syrup, soy protein, sea salt, lemon juice and mustard. It's got plenty of calories (90 per tablespoon), good fat (9 grams or 14% of your daily value in a tablespoon) and just a gram of saturated fat.

She had another recipe for Caramel Corn Clusters that looked really fun to make and eat. How could you go wrong with a recipe that calls for a stick of butter?

It was interesting to see the hot sugar/butter/corn syrup mixture foam up when she added the baking soda. I think the secret was to stir the popcorn and peanuts into the mixture while it's still frothy. It sounds exciting to fiddle around with hot stuff like that.

Here's the recipe -

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup salted peanuts (5 oz)

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: a candy thermometer

• Heat oil with 3 kernels in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, covered, over moderate heat until 1 or 2 kernels pop. Remove lid and quickly add remaining kernels, then cook, covered, shaking pan frequently, until kernels stop popping, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and uncover.

• Line bottom of a large shallow baking pan with foil. Lightly oil foil. Melt butter in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat. Add brown sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring, then boil, without stirring, until syrup registers 300ºF on thermometer, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

• Using a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula, stir salt and baking soda into syrup, then quickly stir in peanuts and popcorn to coat. Immediately spread mixture in baking pan as thinly and evenly as possible. Cool completely, then break into bite-size pieces.

For more recipes visit Gourmet Magazines Website


Portland Taiko Ensemble

The Portland Taiko Ensemble is performing at the Everett Performing Arts Center Sunday, February 4, 2007 at 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM. The Performing Arts Center site says,
"Portland Taiko is a premiere North American taiko ensemble, educating students about Japanese culture through the ancient tradition of taiko drumming. Taiko is a dynamic and evolving performing art that combines rhythm, movement, energy, and culture into a single art form. Portland Taiko inspires audiences to explore Asian American heritage through drumming, story telling and audience participation."

The Portland Taiko site says,
"Taiko, the Japanese word for drum and the name of the art form, has its roots in ancient Japanese tradition and was used in religious ceremonies, community festivals and theater. The boundaries of villages were defined by the distance from which the community taiko could be heard."
They have some cool big drums and look like they are having a lot of fun, and getting a good workout. If you live in Portland, you and or your kids could take part in some of the classes the Portland Taiko offers. They are very reasonably priced, for example - the class for 4 to 7 years olds is 75 dollars. It meets once a week for an hour for seven weeks.

Here's a YouTube clip from a rehersal of the Portland Taiko Ensemble -

Blogging At The Everett Library

Everett Library Coffee Shop
Originally uploaded by yustyack.
The Everett Public Library has a big coffee shop and a fast free wireless connection. Their coffee prices are good too.

Here's a little piece about Everett from the Library website -
"Everett supports a healthy economy, utilizing the pluses of aerospace, telecommunications, computer technology, electronics, health care, tourism, education and government business, the paper products industry of Kimberly-Clark Corporation and numerous small businesses. In the 1990s, government plans for a Navy homeport came to fruition. Though scaled back in size from original plans, the Everett homeport is modern in size and design and commands a prominent place on the city’s waterfront."
I have to add that since the time that piece was written plans for developing the waterfront have grown dramatically.

In the early 1900's the waterfront was the home of many lumber and shingle mills and Everett was known as the City of Smokestacks. Working conditions were poor and eventually workers, organized by the IWW (wobblies), rebelled - culminating in the Everett Massacre in 1916.

The mills gradually closed down and the waterfront was fairly barren in the 1980's after Western Gear closed (although the Everett Marina was, and continues to be, one of the largest and nicest marinas on the West Coast). One of the things I like about Everett is that it has a history as a town. There are many places called towns north of Seattle that are basically extensions of urban sprawl, or as we like to call them "unplanned" communities.

Everett Sunset
Originally uploaded by yustyack.
Their are plans in work to build condos, trails, and shops at the Everett waterfront in the near future. The Providence Everett Medical Center is expanding rapidly and will soon be one of the larger and most modern facilities in this area. It is already one of the top-rated hospitals in the Pacific Northwest.

All in all Everett Washington is a fine place to live and work.

If you move here I'd recommend settling in the city, or at least near where you will work, you don't wan't to drive on the freeways or major surface streets during rush hour.

Boing Boing: Internet Monkey Proves Holiday Fruitcake Need Not Suck

Boing Boing has discovered hi! monkey!. I guess that means he's going main-stream.

Monkey been one of my internet friends for years. I have one of his lunch boxes and a picture of him wearing a pair of cowboy boots after we got back from Montana.

He's in this collage with Rachel (notice they are both using the same Vanna-like gesture).

This is one of 745 random photos I have taken and stashed in one of my internet nooks and crannies.

Speaking of fruitcakes...

If I was looking for a fruitcake, I think I'd order one of the Bourbon Fruit Cakes made by the Trappist Monks at Gethsemani Farms in Kentucky. I'd probably throw in some of their Bourbon Fudge and Trappist Cheese too.

I'm thinking a lot of prayer might be the secret to making a good fruit cake...either that or a lot of bourbon.

I Was Mugged Yesterday

Yesterday was the first day of my Christmas vacation. I read some, wrote some, made some phone calls, put the Christmas lights that blew down back up, cooked, shopped, listened to some devotions, watched Regis and Kelly, and learned a new phrase - "mouse potato" (like a couch potato, but spends inordinate amounts of time on the computer rather than in front of a TV).

I decided it was a good day to do something aerobic so I drove to the gym I belong to, but haven't used for quite awhile. When I got there the door was locked. I assumed they were closed because they'd lost power during the high winds Thursday night.

I've needed a new pair of tennis shoes for awhile, and had some time, so I stopped by Fred Meyers and picked up my first pair of New Balance tennis shoes. They are very comfortable. I figured if I couldn't work out maybe just having the tennis shoes on, might have some effect.

I felt like Douglas Spaulding in Ray Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine", at the start of summer "slipping his feet into the cool, cloudwrapped heaven" of a new pair of "Royal Crown Cream-Sponge Para Litefoot" tennis shoes. Every boy and girl has had the dream that a pair of tennis shoes would instill some special power, in my day it was Red Ball Jets that allowed you to run faster and jump higher.

I took my new New Balance tennies out for a spin around the neighborhood in the late afternoon as the sun was starting to set. That's when I was mugged.

I was walking at a good clip, and it was starting to get dark, when two young men in black came up beside me. They were both pretty healthy looking and one was pretty aggressive. I kept walking fast and he started talking fast - "how you doing?" "out for a walk?".

Okay - I wasn't exactly mugged, they were Mormon Missionaries. It made a fun story to tell B when I got home. Started out with a serious, "I got mugged".....(long pause)...then pulled the pamphlet out from behind my back. I can't say no to those guys or gals. They seem so earnest. I have my faith(s), being a devout Calubud (Catholic Lutheran Buddhist), and am not really that much in need of new ones, but every time the Jehovah Witness's or Mormon's come by I accept their materials and listen.

I'm pretty much a pragmatist when it comes to faith and or spirituality. Whatever works for you - gives you peace and joy, strengthens you, allows you to do good, love yourself and others - Great!


Side Note - I noticed that I call the store "Fred Meyer", "Fred Meyers". That's because when I moved to this area, friends called it that. The store was started by Fred Meyer in Portland in the 20's, so the Fred Meyers appellation came about because it was Fred Meyer's store.

You will hear the same thing with Boeing from some North-westerners, who call it "Boeing's", because it is the airplane company started and owned by Bill Boeing back in the early part of the 20th century. I'm sure the people who say "Boeing's" - either worked, had relatives who worked or knew people who worked, at Boeing's airplane plant.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Silk Soy Nog

Silk Soy Nog tastes as good as regular egg nog and it's a lot lighter. I like it better than the thick stuff made with milk.

The Silk Soy Milk site says,

"Silk Nog is only available during the winter holiday season, one serving of Silk® Nog has no cholesterol, no fat and just under half the calories of dairy eggnog. Ho, ho, ho!"

The chocolate flavored Silk Soy Milk is tasty too.

The perfect choice for a night out in TofuTown®


Check out DrSoy Christmas Special for Healthy Eating