Thursday, 22 November 2007

Pie Day

DSC02375 Pie Day! Last night, we made pie. A slight alteration to my mother’s pecan pie recipe [maple syrup instead of corn syrup] and a new one, an Apple and Tart Cherry pie. Debbie made the crust from scratch, impressing the hell out of me. It took a few hours, and I was exhausted by the time I pulled the pecan pie out at 11pm. I can’t wait to eat them today, though. Recipe time, oh hell yes. Click on the picture to go to the whole set of photos from the night.

Pecan Pie v. 1.2

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C. sugar
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1/3 C. melted butter
  • 1 C. fake maple syrup
  • 1 C. finely chopped pecans for mix
  • whole pecans for topping the pie
  • 1 t. vanilla extract

Instructions:

Mix everything together in a medium mixing bowl.
Line a 9″ pie pan with the dough and bake for 5 minutes at 450°; remove and change oven to 375°.
Pour pie mixture into crust.
Cover entire top with whole pecans.
Bake for around 45 minutes.

I found the Apple and Tart Cherry pie recipe on Epicurious, posted there from Bon Apétit’s November 1997 issue. Cardamom was a great and interesting spice to use, a first time for me. Although it looks like mouse crap when you de-pod it, it smells delicious after it has been sufficiently pestled and will be often added to my hot chocolate this winter.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Quandary

Quandary These signs have been around Downtown for a month or so now. I still don’t quite know how I feel about them. I don’t know how bad the homeless/panhandling situation is here in Cleveland, and whether or not it warrants a campaign with this level of bluntness or scope. It is supported by The Homeless Grapevine, and various other homeless-targeted social service agencies, but it certainly doesn’t give off a very charitable vibe. The Downtown Cleveland Alliance [DCA] website offers some elucidation:

One of the ultimate goals of the campaign is to show a distinction between panhandlers and the homeless. Many of the panhandlers downtown are in fact not homeless and damage the image of the homeless that are in need. Our goal is to make sure people’s generosity is not misguided, but rather goes towards organizations making a real difference. Instead of giving money to a stranger on the street, people can now donate money to help reputable organizations that have been providing food, shelter, counseling and job training to the homeless for years.

Nevertheless, it hurts to see those impersonal signs next to the panhandlers/homeless, on the streets. At the same time, it is an interesting chess game between this initiative and those it targets, and the territory being fought over is the moral mind of anyone walking the streets downtown. I’ve wrestled with this issue before, but now that there is another player it is easier to examine my own reactions to homelessness and charity.

The DCA is trying to curtail panhandling and simultaneously force the homeless to accept the social services available to them by removing the DCA’s main competition, folks who donate on the street. I’m not making a moral judgment here, just showing what I see as the mechanism behind this effort. The ads play on the guilt of passers-by, and absolve them for not giving while simultaneously offering them an alternative to assuage the guilt on their own by donating to the DCA.

The homeless/panhandler response has been instinctive and quite clever, I think. By just about every sign there are one or two homeless/panhandlers with their cups out. Their intentional juxtaposition completely subverts the intent of the sign and strengthens the guilt one feels by not giving. The sign, next to an actual human in need, seems inhuman. Too bad the whole situation is emotionally abusing to the battlefield. A bit hyperbolic in this situation, but:

When two elephants are fighting, the grass is what suffers.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Twenty-Seven

Birthdays get progressively more boring as one ages. Other than the initial “Yay It’s my birthday!” upon waking up today isn’t going to be much different than usual. Although I might stop by Dave’s and pick up a sugar-cream pie on my way home. Oh man, I love me some sugar-cream pie. One year ago, I put in my notice at my old job. That was a great birthday present. Whenever I get frustrated here at the County, I just remember how life-sucking the work at Thomson-West was and thank my lucky stars.

A lot has changed in a year. I’ve grown into my job, there is a new confidence in me when I hop around town talking to different County departments about improving their web presence. I actually have an expertise that can improve the way they interact with the public on the web, and the chance to use it. In the last year, I broke up with an old girlfriend, bought a house, found a new great woman, rode my bike to work for seven months, and took public transportation for the other five. I also broke a big toe and an elbow and finally got to play Punk Rock Softball. I’m also seriously cash-strapped as the house absorbs all of my money. So if anyone wants to treat me to my new favorite meal [a cheeseburger, sweet potato fries and a Guinness at Prosperity] tonight, I’m certainly down for that. Tuesday is the day for the cheeseburger deal at happy hour, if I’m not mistaken.

I didn’t make ribs this year, which was unfortunate. I am going to have two Thanksgivings though, so that will make up for it.

I must be hungry.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Not Grounded

A few weeks ago when I installed a dimmer in the master bedroom, I was heartened to see that the wall box had a ground wire in it, waiting to be hooked up. I hoped that this was a good sign for the rest of the house, which has ungrounded sockets. Unfortunately, tonight when I tried to change a socket, there was no ground wire present. That means I’m going to have to have an electrician come in and install them throughout the house, in all the sockets that don’t have them. Only the kitchen, and the room immediately off of it have grounded plugs, and I’m not even sure if they are truly grounded, or just have three holes and no actual ground wire inside of them. This is entirely possible, because even the ancient plugs that are currently scattered about were installed incorrectly to my untrained eye. You can screw the outlets directly into the wall boxes from the outlet itself, but also through some extra screws in the wall box. The old outlet was all bent out of shape because this wasn’t done.

It is interesting and crazy at times to wonder what people were thinking when they did certain half-assed things. I mean, I haven’t done all that I can in the painting of the two rooms I’ve done thusfar, but I haven’t don’t a shitty job on anything.

Also, nearly three weeks after getting my wisdom teeth removed, I pulled a shard of bone from one of the upper sockets. I’d felt a little hard nubbin up there for awhile, but wasn’t able to get it out until today during the Use Case class I’m taking in Independence, right down the street from my old job.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Physical Therapy II

I had my second physical therapy appointment today. The therapist put heat on my bicep for ten minutes and then gave it a massage for a bit more. She thought that it might be tightened and preventing my arm from full extension. She was right, a bit. I’ve made good progress with the exercises already, only 10° [the hardest ones to get back] from normal on extension, and about 20° from bending it in half. Pretty good considering that I have four more sessions to get the rest back on track.