Nothing going on, but here’s a stupid story about an egg

Nothing going on, but here’s a stupid story about an egg

Entropy is disorder and cannot be tolerated. We wash dishes and stack them away. We hide dirty ones in the dishwasher. We fold clothes. We make the bed. We hide messes in drawers. We sweep up crumbs. We plan and schedule our time, to gain a sense of control in the unending battle with entropy–all while the universe snickers.

On a lovely summer day filled with boat rides, music, ice cream, cooking, company, dishes, cleaning, listening, waiting, working, insomnia and guilt, I boiled an egg and lost it.

I remember putting it in the fridge. I think. I’d made potato salad and kept back two cooked eggs from the five I boiled; I ate one right away (warm and delicious) and I saved the other for later. I plotted a time theft, to steal back 13 minutes the next time I wanted an egg and say “Ha!” to the snickering universe with her relentless tick-tocking pendulum.

The next day I looked for my egg.

It was gone.

Into the void, where I could almost hear the black hole grinning.

…………………….:……………………

Update: 10 hours after I yelled “Where’s my EGG?” into the void, it yelled back “I ATE it!”

Oh, and the universe’s name is Jim.

 

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Tweezers, timers, and old tech

Some weeks gravity wins and I drop things or fall down. Other weeks the universe exerts its entropic force and I lose things. Well, gravity has given me a reprieve from falls–I’ve not broken a glass or tripped up the stairs in months–but entropy has reared her head.

Any self-respecting self-grooming eyebrow-plucker can understand my panic when my tweezers disappeared. It seems wiry eyebrows know when it’s safe to emerge like weeds in a field. The tweezers vanished on the same day my kitchen timer did. I looked and looked and swore and looked. I remembered years ago when I lost those bras (sorry, I cannot find the old post anywhere), and the time my sister lost her glasses in the ocean, see that old post here)! Then I gave up when I remembered I also lost my mp3 player the week before. (An mp3 player is an old-fashioned iPod, which is an old-fashioned smartphone, which is an old-fashioned phone, used to play music into ear buds that runners wear.)

Like tragedies that come in trios, so do my lost items. Once I lose three, they usually show up. So I told my woeful tale to anyone who would listen; I texted my daughter a thousand miles away and asked her to look for my mp3 player; and I waited.

The universe chuckled up the mp3 player first, when my four-year-old granddaughter found the little thing on the floor of the van. The universe also released the memory of me dumping my purse on the floor of the van two days in a row–once to find sunscreen at the park, and once to find granola bars for hungry kids in the parking garage at the airport. (Yes, I did take four children under the age of 8 to the airport to meet their Poppi. The terminal was under construction so we rode three escalators and an elevator to arrive back on our original level to locate the greeting space. Another story, but funnier if captured on video.)

Once the mp3 player was found, the tweezers peeked out of the bottom of the bathroom drawer where I had searched for them a dozen times. (Someone must have put them there, but only two of us live here so it was likely me. Hmm.)

Now I’m waiting for the timer. It’s probably in a suitcase, or the oven, or under the couch, or the pocket of a sweatshirt. Come on universe, cough it up.

Laura’s Notes on The Mueller Report

Reading assignments can make the most avid reader cringe. Like in a book club with a deadline when you must read a novel (that you don’t really like) all the way through in a week. Or like when you promise to read for a fellow author to pay back for when they read for you. Or like when you were in middle school and had to read a chapter a night of a novel that you hated, but later loved as an adult when you could read it because you wanted to do so.

Or like right now: when the entire country is sad and mad and scared due to the successful hacking of our sacred electoral system, and a collective morbid dread makes us certain that the executive branch knew about the hacking and covered it up, and when nine-tenths of the story is finally revealed and it is like a 400-page novel and everyone is talking about it and arguing, and you can’t even join the conversation because you have not read it, but then you learn that senators and “presidents” haven’t read it either, and you don’t know who to blame or what is specifically causing your flaming anger. Yeah, like that.

This is a case where you should not listen to what anyone tells you until you read it for yourself. Armed with your own logical analysis, you can join the conversation. Let me do two things for you: First, I’ll give you my notes of the Report because I did read it. Second, I’ll bet you a buck my notes so intrigue you that you will read the report for yourself AND then take the day (or week) off from work to watch Mueller’s testimony about his diligent and extensive investigations.

Let’s get to it.

Volume I

In Volume I (of II) the Special Counsel outlines his investigation into the Russian conspiracy to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Overview: Russia sought all chances to interfere in the election, and the campaign was open and eager for contact.

Russia conducted a coordinated and targeted campaign to sway the 2016 election. The Internet Research Agency (IRA) used social media accounts including Facebook and Twitter to manipulate voters. They organized political rallies, and targeted and recruited Americans to do their work. Campaign Officials promoted IRA materials and had connections to the rallies instigated by the IRA.

Russia (GRU) hacked the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Convention network, where documents were stolen. Such stolen information was disseminated by DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, and WikiLeaks with targets to oppose Clinton.

Russia (GRU) coordinated cyber operations and gained access to voter registration databases. They received polling data regarding states with tight races like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania (all won by less that 1% margins, with 46 total Electoral Votes–enough to swing the election).

The Trump Campaign had extensive interactions with Russia: DJT Jr interacted with WikiLeaks. Trump Tower Moscow letter of intent was signed during the campaign. Cohen and his boss were invited to Russia. Papadopoulos sought contact with Russia and learned of Russian “dirt” on Clinton. Trump Tower meeting June 9, 2016 was attended or known about by everyone (Trump, Kushner, Bannon, Junior).

Republican National Convention Platform changed a provision for armed support of Ukraine to sound less critical of Russia’s ongoing military aggression–all  due to the campaign’s effort to “improve relations with Russia.” (Puppet?)

Other multiple contacts with Ambassador Kislyak by many campaign officials like Sessions, Gordon, Page, Prince, Cohen, Papadopoulos, Flynn. Extensive connections to Russia by Manafort, Rick Gates.

In the end, the only way “no collusion” (no conspiracy) can be the final judgement is if the campaign was

  1. too stupid to know what was going on
  2. too guilty of other crimes to acknowledge the crimes commited before them
  3. ambivalent and self-focused (just don’t care about any thing, any country, any moral cause, any one)–only concern was to win and to make more money.

In any or all of these three cases, the candidate is unfit for the office of President of the United States of America.

Volume II

In Volume II (of II) the Special Counsel outlines his investigation into obstruction of justice during the investigation about the Russian conspiracy to sway the outcome of the presidential election.

Baseline Question: If you didn’t commit a crime, why would you interfere with the investigation?

Overview: The extent of obstruction of justice is overwhelming in scope and detail.

There were lies about Russian contacts during and after the election. Flynn discussed Russian sanctions with Russian Ambassador, and lied about it to everyone. When he was caught, he shared what he knew. The cover-up within the White House reached K.T. McFarland who refused to cooperate, and McGahn who also refused to cooperate. The pressure to lie (obstruct justice) was directed by the “President.”

[There was so much lying going on everywhere that it could only happen in D.C. If a novelist made up this stuff, readers would cry foul.]

Trump tried to stop the Special Counsel’s investigation (obstructed it) by trying to gain control of Comey and eventually firing him.

Trump tried to remove (obstruct justice) the Special Counsel after DT learned he was under investigation for obstructing justice in regard to firing Comey (where he obstructed justice). He admitted his own obstruction in a TV interview. Later he demanded that McGahn deny that Trump tried to fire the Special Counsel. What a mess of a web he spun to try to cover himself. When you tell so many lies, you forget the truth.

Trump demanded (obstructed justice) Session’s resignation, but was thwarted by McGahn in a feud to stop him from doing so, and by Lewandowski who refused to follow his orders. Trump abused Sessions in public on Twitter, and in NY Times interview.

Trump tried to cover up the June 9 meeting with Russians–he knew about the emails; he directed his communications staff not to publicly disclose information; he directed DJT Jr’s response about the inquiry.

I’m getting tired and numb to these crimes, so I’ll summarize the rest and then you can eagerly tackle your assigned reading: Trump obstructed justice in regard to Manafort, Flynn, Somebody Redacted, and Cohen. Cohen, who said he would “take a bullet” for his boss, eventually “flipped” although he was told by Trump’s goons that he was “loved” and “had friends in high places” if he just toed “the party line.” When Cohen burned down the party line, he and his family were threatened by the POTUS. Imagine it. This is the current state of affairs in the White House. In America. Our America.

Obstruction of justice and utter disregard for the sanctity of our democracy are clear. We have seen it constantly with this administration, and Mueller’s report spells it out in chronological order as we saw it all happen. As I read the report, my blood ran cold in realization that something quite like the mob is running our country, and perhaps publishing this little blog post could put me on their hit list. But wait, this group of con men are lower than the mob. And I’ve never been afraid; I’m an American and I have all the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Why start now?

There is too much at stake to be silent. To not read what is out there. To bury your head and hope.

Here is the link to the searchable pdf of the redacted report. (You can keep your buck.)

Here are some quotes with page numbers to get you started–just in case you like to read long documents in your own order. Consider these quotes as Laura’s Reader’s Guide just in case you force your Book Club to read THE REDACTED MUELLER REPORT for their June book choice.

Volume I, p 37 “Military Unit 74455 is a related GRU unit with multiple departments that engaged in cyber operations…hacked computers belonging to state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and U.S. companies that supplied software and other technology related to the administration of U.S. elections.”

Volume I, p 51 “GRU sent spearphishing emails to … Florida county officials responsible for administering the 2016 U.S. election. … operation enabled the GRU to gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government.” [1.2% margin gave 29 electoral votes. Do the math.]

Volume I, pages 51-57 “D. Trump Campaign and the Dissemination of Hacked Materials
The Trump Campaign showed interest in WikiLeaks’s releases throughout the summer and fall of 2016.” REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED. STAY TUNED FOR RELEASE OF PAGES 51-57.

Volume I, p 187 Expresses doubt that participants “had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful…” or “were familiar with the foreign-contribution ban…” Are you kidding me? Since when is a legal defense to plead ignorance?

Volume II, p 2 (P 214) “…if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Volume II, p 8 (P 220) “…Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office … no person is above the law.”

Volume II, p 14 (P 226) “…a witness’s false description of an encounter can imply consciousness of wrongdoing.” “well-settled principle that false exculpatory statements are evidence-often strong evidence-of guilt”).  Gotta love the language of lawyers.

Volume II p 78 (P 290) on May 17, 2017, when he learned of the appointment of a Special Counsel, DT  slumped back in his chair and said, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f***ed.” And then, “How could you let this happen, Jeff?”

Volume II, p 88 (P 300) The parts about obstruction of justice where Mueller writes in the third person about DT trying to force people to fire him is surreal. You can’t make this s*** up.

Volume II, p 96 (P 308) “…in light of the [DT]’s frequent public attacks, Sessions prepared another resignation letter and for the rest of the year carried it with him in his pocket every time he went to the White House.”

Volume II, p 116 (P 328) The McGahn feud of late-2017 through early 2018: DT’s personal counsel and McGahn’s private counsel communicated behind the scenes while one [DT] insisted the other [McG] tell a lie and the other [McG] refused to lie. The role of BULLY/LIAR was typecast as usual.

Vol II, p 150 (P 362) Regarding the Trump Tower Moscow Project, in an interview, the liar-in-chief spoke in repetition, because if you lie twice, it might come true:

“I decided not to do the project… I decided ultimately not to do it.”

“There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it. If l did do it, there would have been nothing wrong.”

“It was an option that I decided not to do … I decided not to do it.”

Volume II, p 150 (P 362) “Even if [Cohen] was right, it doesn’t matter because I WAS ALLOWED TO DO WHATEVER I WANTED DURING THE CAMPAIGN.” Herein lies the heart of the story, the basic belief of the man running our country into the ground.

Volume II, p 157 (P 369) “Obstruction of justice can be motivated by a desire to protect non-criminal personal interests, to protect against investigations where underlying criminal liability falls into a gray area, or to avoid personal embarrassment.”

Volume II, p 158 (P 370) “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders…” Note: “persons” included Comey, McGahn, Sessions, Lewandowski, McFarland, Dearborn, and more.

Volume II, p 159 (P 371) “… our analysis led us to CONCLUDE that the obstruction-of-justice statutes can validly prohibit a President’s corrupt efforts to use his official powers to curtail, end, or interfere with an investigation.”

Volume II, p 169 (P 381) “…we CONCLUDED that Congress can validly regulate the President’s exercise of official duties to prohibit actions motivated by a corrupt intent to obstruct justice.”

Volume II, p 170 (P 382) “Congress can permissibly criminalize certain obstructive conduct by the President, such as suborning perjury, intimidating witnesses…The Constitution does not authorize the President to engage in such conduct… the President’s duty [is] to ‘take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.’ ”

It will take you a few days to read the whole report including the footnotes and appendices. Don’t read before bed or the nightmares will keep you awake all night. Early morning with strong coffee worked for me. When you finish, please share your perspective in the comments, or on your own website or social media. Ask other literate Americans to read it as well. Speak up–even if you disagree with me: this is still America where we are entitled to our own opinions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread 2.0 (and 2.1)

Three days after I wrote about Bread 1.0, I began Bread 2.0. That was more than a month ago. Making bread ain’t a sprint, kids.

Between the mixing and kneading and proofing and waiting and punching down and restarting–well–it’s a good thing bread smells and tastes so good or nobody’d ever bother.

Bread 2.0, from page 70 of James Beard’s book, is simply called “Sourdough Bread.” It begins with a note from the head baker and author decrying the popularity of what he deems an “overrated” bread that is “difficult to perfect at home.” (No kidding.) Sourdough bread is one of my favorites. I have tried many times with many recipes to make it because if it tastes so wonderful from the store, imagine how delightful it will be warm from my oven. Spoiler alert: Beard’s recipe isn’t so great. It isn’t even good. So just save your pennies dollars and buy Publix sourdough and live an easy life.

I promised to tell my journey, so after that grumpy intro, let’s see if you keep reading to see the pictures.

I made the sourdough starter for 13 days. For the first nine days it sat on my counter wreaking like death. I mixed and stirred and checked and remoistened the cloth cover. Finally I capped it and stored it in the fridge until I found time to make the actual loaf of bread (a 2-day process.) Here’s the starter. I had to hold my breath while I held my camera so close for you to peek in.

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The recipe requires a sponge made the night before the loaf. I made a half batch on my first try. The next morning the dough is made with yeast and more flour. My favorite part (kneading) went well and the dough felt stiff as directed.

The dough rose nicely in the bowl.

I formed the loaf and placed her in a buttered pan to rise. It was getting late, so I only let it rise for an hour. I think I should have waited three hours. I boiled water and poured it in the pan on the bottom shelf of the preheated oven. This is for development of a crusty crust. I baked her forever (35 minutes). During the bake, she continued to rise, seemingly in competition with her developing crust, until she burst through that armor crust. I don’t normally care if bread looks ridiculous, as long as it tastes amazing. Here she is.

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The crumb was dense and almost tasteless. Disappointed but determined, a week later I tried again. This time I made a full batch. The sponge and subsequent dough seemed fine.

The kneading went well. The recipe says it should be a stiff dough and in Bread 2.0 it was. For Bread 2.1 I didn’t add as much flour and let the dough stay a bit softer.

She rose like a champ in the bowl.

I formed a huge loaf and decided to let her bake on a flat pan this time, unconstrained by a loaf pan. I was a little concerned how flat she looked on that flat pan. But I persevered. Boiled water. Baked forever. Endured DH’s comments about 1. how it looked, and 2. how it didn’t smell great while baking. You’d think for sourdough bread a not-so-great odor during the bake could be laughed off–hey, it’s supposed to smell sour. It didn’t even smell like sourdough bread. It just smelled bad. Anyway, she baked up pretty.

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Bread 2.1 came out much softer inside than Bread 2.0, and had a nice crust. Despite her lovely appearance, the aroma and taste were not sufficiently sour and required a lot of butter, not quite salty enough for me. I try and I try. I follow directions (mostly). I tossed away half the loaf a week later. That’s a bad sign: homemade bread is never discarded at my house. My friend says I should wait and try a different sourdough recipe in July when it’s good and steamy outside. I’ll take advice from anyone who ever succeeded with sourdough bread. And somehow someday I’ll make a good one. Until then, there’s Publix bread.

Disappointed, I flipped in the book, desperately seeking hope, and I found a coffee cake to try. Stay tuned for Bread 3.0. Early predictions are that it’ll take 10 hours to make this next concoction. In light of the more than 20 days to make Bread 2.0-2.1, it’ll feel like lightning.

Bread 1.0

Bread 1.0

More than three decades ago, I started making homemade bread. Before breadmakers and cell phones, I learned the feel of the dough that marked the end of the kneading process. I fell in love with the smell of bread baking and the taste of the first steamy slice slathered in butter. All of this followed months of failed attempts where I made bricks, and I even sliced and tasted them. The best lessons are learned by failing. I repeatedly killed the yeast with too-hot water to produce those bricks. I recall making half a dozen bricks, at least, before accepting that I needed help.

At the local park I met a mom of two little blond boys. My red-haired daughter caught the eye of the red-haired mom and helped me make one of my first adult friends. The other mom and I got to know each other and one day at the apartment complex pool I told her the funny story of my bread bricks. She didn’t laugh like everyone else. She invited me over the next day to teach me to make bread.

She taught me to proof the yeast with some sugar in a small bowl with the perfect temperature of water. She actually taught me the feel of the water by showing me what was too hot and too cold and just right under the tap.

She taught me to knead, from the raggedy mess of the starting mixture to the smooth and elastic ready-to-rise dough.

She taught me to form loaves and how long to bake them, and to melt butter on the baked crust by rubbing it with a partly peeled stick of cold butter to make the crust delectable.

She saved me from my path to one hundred bricks.

For Christmas this year, my daughter (who has given up on gifting me novels anymore because she said my writing hobby has ruined me as a reader) gave me a bread cookbook call BEARD ON BREAD, first published on Mole Day in 1973. Unlike my pie habit from last year with glorious heaps of meringue and brightly colored fruits, my bread blog entries might be bland and pale and tan, but I’m willing to give it a try.

Last weekend I made the first recipe in the book, called “Basic White Bread” on page 22. Unlike my memorized recipe, this loaf called for no butter or milk, and a flipped ratio of sugar to salt. I followed along like a neophyte.

I proofed the yeast.

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I mixed and kneaded the dough.

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I let the first rise occur in a buttered and covered bowl until doubled in bulk.

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I formed a loaf and let it rise again.

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I baked for twice as long as I’ve ever baked a loaf, and even preheated the oven for half an hour and left my pizza stone in there. I tapped the loaf to hear its hollowness and set it on the oven rack sans pan for a few extra minutes to finish the bottom crust.

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Then I served it with pasta. It smelled right and looked beautiful and tasted so bland and basic. It made me miss my memorized recipe.

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Next time I’ll try a sour dough recipe since I have never had success in that arena and I must learn some new tricks in 2019.