A Curated Collection of Commentary, Culinary, and Literary Posts
Below is a curated collection of some of my commentary, cooking, and creative writing posts. While diverse and perhaps even unsettled, in my defense, I’m a simple engineer muddling through unsettling times. If you’re interested in more focused topics, I invite you to visit
- Writing to peruse novel excerpts, essays, and short stories
- Commentary for an Engineer’s perspective on current events
- Culinary to find recipes so easy an engineer can make them
- Poetry in case you want to explore your inner you.
July 17, 2022
Short Story: The Dangling Conversation
The Dangling Conversation is a story of park bench philosophies shared between an old man and young woman. Wes has just reconnected with a love he thought was forever lost, while Mandy is still trying to come to terms with a love that ended one year ago. Together they explore the challenges and barriers of surviving both love and happiness, often in conversations that are seemingly unconnected. . . . READ MORE
April 30, 2022
Poem: Nine Hundred
Nine-hundred times I replay our last good-bye. That last kiss before you climb out of bed. That farewell hug at the train station as you stand uncertain, about to board. That final wave, my desperate plea to the train that disappears down uncaring tracks converging at the coldness of forever. . . . READ MORE
February 25, 2022
Essay: At the Risk of Revolution
Every man has his moment, and in that moment, he learns the mettle of his manhood. And as people stand up to be counted, we often discover it’s women leading the way. While the free world watches like timid mice cornered by a crazed alley cat, the peaceful people of Ukraine hold on against the savagery of an immoral Russian army. Meanwhile, an anonymous group of international hackers, known mostly for their anarchists exploits, have rallied to the cause of freedom by declaring war on Russia. . . READ MORE
February 18, 2022
Essay: The Curious Case of Unaccounted for Corpses
It’s time to don your thinking caps as we investigate some rather startling inconsistencies in CDC reported death data, make some assertions, and use a little bit of something I call mathematical logic to make a rather fantastic deduction. Beside the fact that the truth is out there, the most surprising thing about the way we reason through the available evidence is that it’s all so . . . well, elementary. . . READ MORE
February 8, 2022
Essay: Legend of the Fall: How Truckers Killed COVID
Ladies and gentlemen, boys, and girls, gather around as I tell you a tale as tall as Paul Bunyan in the North woods, as bold as Underdog battling the evil Simon bar Sinister, as twisted as Dudley Do-Right targeting the wrong Snidely Whiplash. This drama is about bravery and courage, and how a small band of patriots save the world from being taken over by a diabolical group of despots determined to establish one global kingdom where citizens are forbidden from owning anything. Our story begins at that same critical crossroad every such tale throughout history reaches, a juncture whose ultimate direction depends on you, the audience, and your consent to be governed. READ MORE
February 6, 2022
Essay: Emmett’s Fix-it Shop: It’s Time to Wake the Woke
Something I look forward to whenever I visit my Dad, is ending our day together watching episodes of the 1960’s classic comedy, “The Andy Griffith Show.” The humor is fun, family friendly, and harkens back to an idyllic time when every problem has a solution. The ensemble cast includes a diverse cross-section of small town characters, including one a rather gruff guy called Emmett, who runs a fix-it shop. Fix-it shops have gone the way of the dinosaur, but back in the day, every town had one. Lately I’ve been wondering if Emmett may be a metaphor for the profound misdirection of our ailing civilization? READ MORE
January 29, 2022
Essay: Missile Crisis 2.0
Most Americans incorrectly assume that the The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, started when the Soviet Union (i.e, Russia) attempted to place nuclear weapons in Cuba. While that is perhaps the short answer to a very complex problem from an American perspective, what triggered the Russian aggression was the United States deploying nuclear missiles in Turkey and Italy, that were within striking distance of the Soviet Union. READ MORE
January 29, 2022
Essay: Supreme Court Math
Under pressure from aggressively abusive liberals, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer this week announced his retirement. President Biden quickly issued a statement saying his pick as a replacement would be a black female, while seeming to dismiss the goal of finding the best justice to protect our constitution and serve the nation. President Biden’s assertion is that the Supreme Court should represent a cross section of our country, which seems noble. So let’s assume this assertion, and because liberals like identity politics, do the math. READ MORE
January 22, 2022
Essay: Why Nations Wage War
In times of war, sacrifices must sometimes be made . . . and to save a presidency, nation’s must sometimes be sacrificed.
A tale as old as time, and sadly not our nation’s first. Wars are fought for many reasons, although in my lifetime, I can only think of one that was likely just. So what is the purpose of war? There is of course the propaganda we’re feed, but what are the real underlying reasons?
A review of wars going back to the Greeks would reveal one primary reason nation’s wage war, which not surprisingly is the same reason individuals do evil, to get more stuff. America, for the last eighty years, is one of the few countries that doesn’t wage war to acquire more stuff, we have other reasons. READ MORE
January 6, 2022
Essay: What If The Cure Is the Cause?
One of the perks of working at a place like the Los Alamos National Laboratory, is that you’re surrounded by highly educated, intellectually curious people; true scientists who question everything to get at the truth in a pure unbiased way. People unafraid to raise their hand to contradict whatever “consensus opinion” is currently prevailing, even at the risk of running head on into reductio ad absurdum. And you don’t just find these folks at work, they’re everywhere in my remote mountain town. READ MORE
January 3, 2022
Charcuterie: Canadian Bacon
Canadian Bacon is , or perhaps is not, bacon depending on how much brand loyalty you have. While traditional bacon is made of meat from pork bellies, Canadian bacon is from a pork loin. Traditional bacon is cold cured, while Canadian bacon is hot cured. Normal bacon is mostly fat, while Canadian bacon has little fat; so you decide. Canadian bacon is a salt cured pork loin soaked in a spice brine for five days. It is then hot smoked for a few hours and is then ready to eat. At least that’s the American version of Canadian Bacon, and while we Yanks may not have invented this non-bacon bacon, we certainly don’t have any qualms about helping our neighbors to the north improve on their recipe.
Canadian bacon is actually only called that in America, the Canadian’s call it “peameal bacon,” which is a name so obviously in need of rebranding, so you’re welcome Canada, your southern neighbors are tossing you a solid with the whole deal about marketing under the pseudo name Canadian bacon. The origins of Canadian bacon probably date back to the early to mid 1800’s when there as a shortage of pork in England, and the Brits needed meat to go with all those potatoes they were confiscating from the Irish. So, the Brits started importing cured pork from their loyal colony that had yet to break away like those damn rebel Yanks to the south. A distinction between American Canadian bacon and Canadian peameal bacon is that the Canadians don’t smoke or hot cure the meat, they just brine it and then cook the semi-cured meat before eating. The reason Canadians call their bacon peameal is that after the brine process is complete, they roll the pork loin in corn meal. So you’re probably wondering, why not call their bacon cornmeal bacon? Well, like any good historical conundrum, there’s a story….back in the day, there was not much maze growing in the provenances, keep in mind, corn is a southwestern American crop. So what the Canadians did, because they have a lot of time to think about stuff in those long winters of isolation, is they dried and crushed peas into a meal and coated the pork loin in that to help preserve it….at least that’s the story they’re standing behind. READ MORE
December 25, 2021
Charcuterie: Cold Smoking Considerations
For thousands of years, smoking perishable foods has been a method for extending shelf life as smoke contains antibacterial preservatives. Today food is smoked as much for flavor as for preservation and the two primary methods are hot and cold smoking. Cold smoking infuses smoke flavor in the absence of heat and is primarily used in foods that don’t need to be cooked, like cheese, cured fish or salami. It’s also used to impart a smoky character to foods that will be cooked, like marinated meat or sauteed vegetables. Cold smoking does not heat the smoking chamber, so the challenge becomes how to burn the wood chips without generating heat. The answer, which Occam would find a stroke of genius, is that you don’t.
The trick to cold smoking food is to burn your wood somewhere else and duct the smoke into your smoke chamber. Initially I was going to build a cold smoking chamber because I thought it would make a nice woodworking project. In doing research, I found a lot of people doing a lot of things wrong, such as using plywood or OSB for a smoker box. You don’t want to use processed wood for a smoker box, unless you’re into poisoning your body with chemicals because processed wood contains formaldehyde and other nasty shit. I also know from my days running a distillery that you should avoid pine as the sap has nasty toxins, which is why wine and spirits barrels are never made from pine. Likewise, you want to avoid using galvanized metal as a liner because it too can release toxins when warm or in contact with meat.
If you plan on making a smoking chamber, think about the woods that have for centuries been used to store food, like oak, hickory, maple, alder, cherry, etc. Using hardwood is expensive, but so is a trip to the hospital with food poisoning. In reading about early American smoke houses, I found that cedar was often used. At first, I thought it was a matter of availability, but then realized it’s about cedar’s aroma and how it is a bug resistant wood. Redwood is heat resistant and good against bugs, which is why it was a popular siding. Redwood holds up well to weather, which is why it’s used for decking and in saunas. It is not particularly strong, but a smokehouse doesn’t need to be uber structural. As with anything in life, the solution to any challenge is observable if you take the time to logically observe.
While building a wood smokehouse remains on by “to do” list, I have for now modified my hot smoker to do double duty as a cold smoker. The advantages are that it is insulated, has heavy duty racks, is already seasoned, is sealed from insects and rodents, and has good natural air flow. The disadvantage, as my Sous Chef here constantly points out, is that the smoker could be bigger. But, as I remind him, life is, if nothing else, about compromise. READ MORE
December 25, 2021
Charcuterie: Cold Smoked Salmon
Cold smoked foods are either already cooked, are intended to be cooked, or are in the process of being cured. This cold smoked salmon recipe is for fresh fish that is cured with a Kosher salt and brown sugar rub. The reason Kosher salt is used in cold curing recipes is that it is coarse grained and has no added iodine like table salt. Kosher salt is also a low cost salt, which is good since you use a lot. Cold smoked salmon is a partially cured meat, which means after smoking you need to keep it refrigerated or frozen. The good news is that it will last for weeks in the refrigerator and indefinitely in the freezer.
At this point I’m sure you saying to yourself, “I’ve seen smoked salmon that is not refrigerated?” All I can say is yes it is possible, with the right combination of chemicals and flavor destroying techniques but both sort of defeat the purpose of eating salmon in the first place. This recipe provides you a chemical-free way of making smoked salmon for a fraction of the price you’d pay in the store. Another important recommendation is don’t cheap out and buy farm raised salmon, not only is it not healthy (wrong omega fats), it’s dyed, and here’s the show stopper, farm raised salmon is literally feed chicken shit. Wild salmon is naturally pink because of their diet of shrimp. If shrimp turns wild salmon pink, imagine what chicken shit does to farm raised salmon.
The farm raised fish industry has devised all kinds of ways to deceive you, for example, labeling their fish as Pacific Salomon or Atlantic salmon, or ocean salmon. If you think about it, salmon are not native to the Atlantic, so an Atlantic salmon is obviously farm raised. You are looking for “Wild Caught” salmon. The two ways you’ll know is first, wild caught salmon has a rich red color and stronger fiber that frame raised can’t match, and second is the price, which can be from 25% to 75% higher than farm raised salmon. READ MORE
December 23, 2021
Charcuterie: The Meat Curing Process
Charcuterie is a broad term used to define turning fresh meat into meat that is preserved in a process called curing. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where you still have neighborhood deli’s making sausage, the butcher would be a Charcuterie. For centuries, charcuterie was an art form and butchers were known for their specialty sausages just as chefs today are known for their cuisine.
When I was working on my PhD at Purdue University, I would routinely fly through Chicago when going and returning from West Lafayette. I always planned my itinerary for a long layover at O’hare, for two reasons; one was to buy handmade Perogies from the ladies at the nearby Ukrainian Orthodox church, and the other was to visit a Polish deli on Chicago’s North Harlem Avenue that made the best Krakowska. The only problem was that no matter how carefully I wrapped the Krakowska, my overhead compartment always reeked of garlic by time we landed.
On one trip between Chicago and Albuquerque, I was carrying two kilos of Krakowska and wasn’t paying attention when the cabin steward helped an elderly woman put her expensive fur coat in the overhead beside my backpack. When we landed and opened the overhead, the plane filled with the smell of garlic and passengers were less than hesitant to express disapproval. As I profusely apologized to the elderly woman while tentatively handing her the expensive garlic infused fur coat, she gave my arm a tender squeeze, smiled fondly, and said in a thick Polish accent, “it reminds me of Krakow as a small girl.” These days I have to drive all the way to Denver to find the fine art of charcuterie still being practiced, and the best places there are the Russian delis. If you’re ever in Denver, I recommend the M&I International Market to get your homemade salami and gourmet dessert fixes. Read More
December 18, 2021
Essay: The Logic of the Irrationally Illogical
I listened with a bizarre mixture of despair, disbelief, and disillusionment as President Biden, along side his most trusted confidant, Anthony Facui, laid out their assertion that the Omicron strain of COVID would kill us all by spring. To be precise, Biden didn’t say we’d all be dead by spring, just those of us who won’t get the COVID boaster. However, if you follow the logic that’s been promoted throughout this political pandemic, COVID is coming for us all.
According to Brandon, I mean Biden, the Omicron strain of COVID is defying all known laws of virology – FYI, that’s science to you liberals. Also according to Brandon, I mean Biden, and his menacing minion, COVID is the first anti-attenuating virus in the history of viruses, which means it’s the first virus in recorded history to get stronger and more deadly with each mutation.
President Brandon, I mean Biden, claims your only hope of surviving until spring, is to take the jab, but here’s where the logic of the illogical veers off the rails. The drug big Pharama is making billions from in injections, I mean is providing as a benevolent modern medical miracle, was developed pre-Delta and pre-Omicron, which means it’s twice removed from two mutations that have politically transformed the common COVID into Super-COVID. We already know big Pharama dropped a goose egg with their modern medical miracle because those who took the jab are still expected to wear Fauci Face-masks and are still getting breakthrough COVID. One reason the vaccine doesn’t work is because it was never a vaccine – as vaccines are something you take once and are protected for life. FYI liberals, that called logic, but at least the nonvaccine vaccine provided you comfort.
We’ve been inundated all year with the media’s positive proof the nonvaccine doesn’t work, and as further evidence of it’s efficacy, just query a Democrat politician or profit motivated medical professional. According to political logic of Brandon, I mean Biden, because the COVID virus is getting stronger and more deadly with each mutation, something that has never happened in the history of viruses, we’re all dead by spring. The unboasted are dead because they disobeyed orders and refused the DNA altering injection of the nonvaccine vaccine. The boasted are dead because the anti-attenuating Super-virus is now two mutations removed from what the nonvaccine vaccine couldn’t protect in the first place – their logic not mine. So our only hope now is finding COVID’s kryptonite, which I’m pretty sure is just a phone call to China, and the Big Guy’s overlords, away.
I wish all of you well as you face the existential demise of humanity because according to Brandon, and I mean Brandon, all you can logically do at this point is put your head between you legs and kiss your sweet ass good-bye. . .
December 14, 2021
Cuisine: Meat Processing Equipment Review
In French cooking there’s an expression called “Mise en Place”, which translates to “setting up”. The principle of Mise en Place is to measure and prepare all your ingredients prior to starting. That works in a fully established kitchen, but for our journey into the fascinating world of Charcuterie (i.e., cured meats), we must start by stepping back and reviewing all the equipment we need just to get started with preparing cured meats. Read More
Note: if you are familiar with this device, you know it has a common name, unfortunately, the thought police who monitor web postings have decided the name is offensive and prohibit its use. It took me weeks to figure out the reason I couldn’t post this blog is because I was using a word that has been banned. I don’t know what that word means in Hindu, but the internet monitors that greedy media moguls hire for pennies per hour to monitor us, must find it extremely offensive……believe it or not, the word is “m i x e r”
Essay: The Journey Away From the Politics of Science
It was inevitable I suppose, the last bastion of free thinking left in a society where increasingly every word must be carefully considered; not from the standpoint of whether it's right or wrong, but from the vantage of how it will be perceived by self appointed thought police. Science was supposed to be different, in science the power of your persuasion is based on facts rather than the righteousness of gender, race, or political affiliation. But that all changed starting with the consideration of global warming where the opinions of liberal arts professors and politicians were given gravitas. It reached its zenith during COVID where the opinions and profit motives of medical professionals were elevated to gospel. Read More
October 16, 2021
Poem: First Snow
I think of Paris, like I always do when life forcefully has me in retreat. It's odd I've been there so many times, but never in autumn. I imagine Versailles in the afternoon as parks and gardens ready themselves for winter. Snow came early here, it didn't stick but nonetheless impressed we have a long season to look forward to.
September 27, 2021
Poem: Desert Rain
- It’s going to rain,
- no big deal for most, but
- special still the same. The smell of a
- desperate desert, the way evaporating air
- draws you into your hoodie consoled by
- careful sips of hot coffee.
- I built a second floor patio to remind me
- of Paris. . . It overlooks the
- mountains where I watch clouds heavy with worry
- wrap their way toward me. I integrate with
- the solitude, causing me to reflect on
- my journey to right now. . .
- on how humble it is to watch wind, accepting
- I’ll never see her, and she’ll never understand
- what it means to be me. . .
September 7, 2021
Short Story: Kyle From Kabyle
Kyle is on a bike ride from Barcelona to Milan when he gets caught in a fierce Mediterranean storm in the mountains between Genoa and Milan Italy. In the mountains, isolated, cold, and exhausted, he comes face to face with fate, at least the part of fate he’s been riding to escape. This is a short story about how tragedy and loss can impact someone’s life, even when they bury it so deep they can pretend it’s forgotten. Read More
August 26, 2021
Poem: I Weep for The World
I weep for my nation as it stumbles, losing slivers of its soul as politicians practice personal power over protecting people. I weep for a country cascading in chaos, where you fear the brutality of your enemy even as who your enemy is grows more uncertain every day. I weep for the children who sleep alone not knowing their parents, as I weep for parents who will never again know their children. I weep for armies sworn to protect, whose leaders were socially promoted to profound levels of incompetence leaving soldiers isolated and vulnerable. I weep for a world growing desperately dark, where the hopefulness of humanity steamrolls toward a catastrophic cliff. A world that can end hunger yet won’t. A world that would end violence if it were only expedient. A world that could stop suffering but has become indifferent. I weep for my world.
March 17, 2021
Short Story: Dominic and Denali – A story of love and loss but not Lost Love
While certainly not a player, Dominic knew the instant he saw Denali fate was forever his friend. Of all the nursing and liberal arts students attending his Statistics for Non-Believers seminars, Denali stood out; trying so hard to understand concepts her brain simply was not wired to comprehend. Dominic appreciated that Denali never cried during tutoring sessions; he never knew what to do with crying undergrads. Read More
January 12, 2021
Essay: Please Opt Out of Inauguration Day
An Father’s open letter to his son living in Washington, DC.
I am sure that you and your friends are still celebrating the fact that the evil orange man, as you call him, has been defeated. I ask you though to take pause and question; at what cost? There is a wise proverb from the bible that says, “Those that have sown the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.“
For the past several years Washington politicians have sown the seeds of hatred; including Mitt Romney who suggested half the country is content to live on welfare, and followed by Hillary Clinton driving division even further declaring Americans who love their country are deplorable. While some thought it was whimsically amusing at the time, a lot of Americans were deeply offended by the smug indifference of the political class and fanatics on both sides saw it as an opportunity to spew hatred. Now, look at how those early seeds have germinated. Read More
November 7, 2020
Essay: Another Nail In the Coffin of American Democracy
I weep for my nation, even while agreeing with Uncle Joe that we are about to enter a winter of dark despair. The first nail in the coffin of American democracy came when the CIA, FBI, NSA, outgoing Vice President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and top military commanders – under the carefully choreographed direction of outgoing president Barry Obama – attempted a coup d’état against a dually elected president. Even though their coup mostly failed, this nail was deeply set after they got away with their duplicitous treason avoiding all consequence. Read More
July 3, 2020
Essay: In the Shadow of Mount Rushmore
I’ve spent today making a batch of Gazpacho while thinking about President Trump holding a fourth of July ceremony at Mount Rushmore. I wish I were there, not to support Mr. Trump; he’s doing just fine without me. Rather, in this time of medical crisis, social crisis, economic crisis, and constitutional crisis, I feel compelled to stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow Americans and honor the four presidents who have meant so much to our Nation while listening to our current President explain his plan for bringing the nation back from the brink. Read More
July 1, 2020
Essay: The Inconvenient Truth in Data and Why States Should Not Shutdown
With June over, it is time to take stock of where we are as a nation, as a society striving to restart, and as individuals wanting to reacquire freedoms that once made America unique. Throughout June, particularly in the run up to July 4th weekend, politicians launched a major marketing campaign aimed at convincing us we are enmeshed in an escalating COVID crisis threatening our very existence. The flaw in their marketing, however, was using the wrong metrics. The inconvenient truth, as I will demonstrate with mathematical clarity, is that there is no crisis. Read More
June 21, 2020
Essay: Celebrating Father’s Day by Being Fourteen All Over Again
Nothing says Father’s Day like a repurposed Birthday Balloon that my kids duct-taped over. I suppose that’s the down side of having my Birthday one week before Father’s Day. My kids get me though, they know that as an engineer and former plumber I appreciate the unlimited uses duct tape has and today I get to add one more to my list. Read More
June 19, 2020
Essay: The Sad Saga of How the Medical Profession Transformed into a Business
We’ve all done it, arrive early on the pretense everyone’s so busy they can’t be kept waiting. But then our fifteen minute wait slowly twitters toward thirty, and as the clock agonizingly inches toward the forty-five-minute mark, suddenly you’re called. Your first reaction is to exhale loudly and proclaim, “finally!” But you do it just loud enough for the impatient woman beside you with her fidgeting child who’s never been properly trained on public etiquette to hear you, but not so loud as to offend office staff. Your moment of premature joy is shattered though when you realize the reason you’ve been culled from the herd is so you can complete your agonizing wait in isolation. Read More
May 25, 2020
Short story: COVID Casual
“Unfreaking believable,” Tara mutters from under the mask she special ordered just for this clandestine rendezvous. Her nervous fidgeting ramps up with the random temperament of anyone pushed to the edge of anxiety by isolation. Even though she has no where to be, the snail’s pace of the numerically short line made long through social distancing wears on her patience, mostly because it’s hard to maintain proper separation when you’re so distracted. “I risk coming out here for this?” she blurts out not realizing her volume’s been ratcheting up. Read More.
May 24, 2020
Commentary: Tracking to Target
Our nation reached a noteworthy milestone today as the CDC daily death count was down to 513. This marks the second lowest daily tally since the COVID apex on April 16th. The lowest daily death count occurred on May 12th, at 407, however, that low was bounded on both sides by numbers exceeding 2,000 deaths per day. In contrast, today’s low is part of an ongoing trend. Read More.
May 15, 2020
Essay: The Languishing Lack of Something To Looking Forward To
A subtle mood shift has settled over myself and my family that I initially wrote off as cabin fever; that real condition emerging from being cooped up in confinement too long. Back in South Dakota when I was growing up, we’d deal with cabin fever toward the end of a normal but brutally long winter. I decided though that it’d be hard to pin the mood shift on that since the weather’s been fantastic and we’re getting outside a lot. Read more.
May 5, 2020
Short story: Underlying Conditions
Tara waits for a signal from the traffic control monitor before stepping into the “entrance only” side of the home improvement store. She effectively uses the time it takes the clerk to wipe down the handle of her shopping cart to assess the store’s crowdedness, wondering how close they are the newly revised maximum capacity. Dutifully committed to doing her part to control the spread of contagions, she stoically slips on the cloth cover her sister made as her way of dealing with quarantine manic. Read Rest of Short Story
April 28, 2020
Essay: Children of Thalidomide
Remember when cholesterol in eggs could kill you? That was of course before the “experts” decided eggs are packed with essential proteins and help promote brain function and weight loss. Remember when coffee caused cancer, before they found that it didn’t? It seems health warnings from “experts” come and go as fast and frequently as diet fads. Read More
April 25, 2020
Culinary: Disney Churro Bites
Here is a recipe for this fan favorite Disney park treat. If you haven’t already clicked on the link, there’s something seriously wrong with you. . .
April 24, 2020
Commentary: Opting Out of Quarantine
Dear Governor, we need to talk: It’s been forty days since you so eagerly followed New York and California into lockdown, even though we had yet to have a COVID case. You may recall the story of Jesus’ journey into the desert where he gave the Devil forty days to convince him that a better world was waiting if he’d just do as the Devil demanded. Luckily for mankind, the Devil failed to make his case. I have placidly given you forty days to convince me COVID was as bad as you proselytized, that the world would be better if I just did as you demanded. You have failed to make your case. Read More
April 20, 2020
Essay: Birthday Memories
Tomorrow is Sasha 18th birthday, a milestone meant to hold fond memories she’ll carry the rest of her life. How many of you can look back smiling at memories of your 18th birthday? For me that day remains vivid. I had finished high school midyear and wound up working in Worland, Wyoming, on a plumbing crew sent down from South Dakota, to install the heating system in a plant manufacturing soda cans for Pepsi. The plant was something like six football fields long by four football fields wide, and once operational would produce one million cans a day. The logistics involved in moving pipe and fittings to work areas was so immense, we were each allocated a personal forklift. Read More
April 20, 2020
Commentary: If Mommy Is A Commie Then You Gotta Turn Her In
In 1962, cynical soothsayers known as the Chad Mitchell Trio, released a song called, “The John Birch Society,” that contains the foreboding line, “if Mommy is a commie, then ya gotta turn her in.” Little did they know back then the extent to which they were foreshadowing the danker side of future government overreach. The song lampoons the ridiculousness of the radical right, but ironically in today’s political parlance, it’s the loony left who’s filled with conspiracy theories and avocation of authoritarian behavior. Read More
April 19, 2020
Essay: History’s Most Consequential Prediction – that most never heard of
Soon after the completion of the Manhattan Project, while the devastating effects of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still being assessed, a team of Los Alamos scientists began work on a new kind of a bomb, a thermonuclear weapon, referred to as a hydrogen bomb. At that time no one understood the effects of a thermonuclear detonation, but there was a widely held theory suggesting that detonating a hydrogen bomb could result in igniting the atmosphere possibly destroying the entire planet. Read More
April 17, 2020
Essay: How Do You Choose to Live Your One Precious Life?
Yesterday while installing cabinets in my COVID kitchen, I listened to an interview between New York Governor Cuomo and a local radio host named Shawn. The interview followed the predictable script, with Cuomo explaining information he received as COVID ramped up, and why it caused him to take such aggressive actions. He talked about sharing his information with President Trump, then praised the President for both understanding the severity of New York’s situation and springing into action faster than expected. I respect both Governor Cuomo and President Trump for setting politics aside to work together. I was however surprised that in an era of bitter partisanship that an ambitious Democratic governor would praise a Republican president. From there the interview devolved into the surreal. Read More
April 13, 2020
Commentary: Occam’s Razor in COVID Models
Today was dark and gloomy and it snowed all day. Not the kind snow that requires dropping the truck in four wheel drive, but one that compels you to choose working out indoors rather than going out for a run or bike ride. I still have not signed up for the Iron Horse race in Durango, not really training and not really sure its a go. I like this race, its fifty miles straight up two mountains so pretty much all climbing. Both summits are over 10,000 feet which really stresses the body and lungs and when you are done you really have a feeling of accomplishment.
In today’s Quarantine blog, I apply Occam’s Razor to COVID modeling to infer that my simple first principles approach to assessing CDC data might actually be better than the fancy high end models being touted by the feds and academics. Occam’s Razor is based on a simple yet profound idea that’s been used by scientist and engineers for centuries. Basically it says that when ideas or explanations exist for something, the simplest is usually more correct.
April 12, 2020
CUISINE: Borscht, Smoked Ham, and What the COVID Experts Are Missing
Early to rise is the mantra of any holiday morning, but especially on Easter. Usually I rely on coming home from Mass to tell me when Lent is officially over. However, in the age of COVID, there is no Mass, so I had to work the timing out with God on my own. For me, the end of Lent signals that the bottle of Boudreaux taunting me each time I’d step into the pantry for the last forty days is about to exist no more. In my ongoing battle against COVID, is it not my duty to drink quercetin-rich red wine (for medicinal purposes of course).
For Poles, Easter morning after Mass is the time to experience the age old tradition of eating Easter borscht, otherwise known as Polish Sausage Soup, or Bialy Barszcz for my Polish homies. If you care to take your palate on journey like none you’ve experienced before, try Bialy Barszcz.
Another Easter tradition is a ham dinner. To get my ham on the pate by a reasonable time, I had to rise early to fire up the smoker. If you haven’t planned in advance to make a smoked ham, its too late, but you can always check out mine.
And of course, what could today be without some thought to the ongoing COVID crisis. In today’s musings, I examine CDC data to show that the federal projection that the pandemic apex would be on April 14th is wrong. In fact, the apex has ready hit and the rate of expansion in the US has been contracting for at least two weeks. Likewise, the global rate of expansion has been constant (i.e., steady state) since late March and has now started to contract. How so called experts are missing this defies rational logic. In fact, so much so one has to wonder what’s up. Read More
April 11, 2020
Culinary: Easter Kukietka and Lamb Cake
Easter is a time for falling back on traditions and memories. For me its Mom making Kukietka (Polish bread) and Lamb Cake. So rather than spend the day obsessing about COVID, I decided to bake.
Kukietka – A Polish tradition since way before me. For we mortals, food is one of those things that can speak to our soul. We all have those certain smells that loft us over precious moments and teleport us to times when life truly was idyllic. Nothing brings back the magic of childhood and the wonderful memories of Easter for me more than the smell of Mom’s Polish Egg Bread baking in the oven, unless it’s Dad whipping up his Easter borchst that I was forced to eat in disgust as a kid but now look forward to. Read More
Polish Lamb Cake – The most important part of making a lamb cake, is having a mold. I can’t seem to find the mold Mom gave me years ago, but did find a replacement on the internet. It’s not the same though, seems to me this new lamb has a sardonic grin, which doesn’t help since I plan on eating him. Successfully making a lamb cake requires both baking and engineering skills. Read More
April 10, 2020
Commentary: The Modeling Malpractice of Fauci/Brix, Persuasion Entertainers, and the Media
The famous scientist Carl Sagan once wrote, “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Read More
Culinary: COVID Peanut Butter Bread Challenge
I was board in quarantine today and found this viral COVID challenge on the internet. Since anything involving peanut butter is good, I figured why not give it a try. I made two versions of this recipe, one using whole milk and chunky peanut butter, and another where I substituted almond milk and creamy peanut butter. Read More
April 9, 2020
Commentary: Difference Without Distinction
The debate over the safety and efficacy of using malaria drugs to treat COVID patients continues as we are five days away from the mythical apex for COVID cases. One emerging aspect of this debate is a growing realization these drugs don’t appear to fight the COVID virus itself, which makes sense since they’re parasitic not viral drugs. That being said, Chlorquine Hydochloride has been shown to help reduce lung inflammation allowing patients to breath on their own. If you’re a patient fighting for your survival, this is a whole lot of difference without distinction. Read More
April 8, 2020
Short story: The Mea Culpa of Shopping
This morning I finally decided to do what I’d been dreading for over a week, take that dire trip to the grocery store; into that epicenter of contagion. My intent was to get there as soon as they opened thereby avoiding anyone and everyone who would be viewed as suspect. Read More
April 7, 2020
Commentary: Facts Do Not Cease To Exist Because They Are Ignored
For the past two weeks we’ve been using COVID-19 data put out by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control to chart not only how the virus has spread, but also to understand projections being made by federal and academic models. Utilizing a simple exponential growth formula, we demonstrated that estimates being inferred by federal and academic models were not aligning with actual COVID data. Read More
April 6, 2020
Essay: Old Otowi Bridge
My planned escape from quarantine yesterday to ride my motorcycle up the Jemez was delayed on account of my bicycle ride taking longer than expected, which was due to the Santa Anna’s being stronger than usual. Turns out whatever calories I should have burned on my ride, spring winds insisted be doubled. The thing about Northern New Mexico is that if you wait for a good time to do something outside, you’ll never go. You learn to do what you planned on doing when you planned on doing it and muscle through whatever nature’s throwing at you that day. Read More
April 5, 2020
Essay: Zinc, Quercetin, and a Curious Minded Engineer
With all the talk about Chlorquine Hydochloride and the brewing controversy surrounding New York Governor Cuomo’s refusal to use it versus President Trump’s insistence that “what have you got to lose,” I became curious about what this drug is, how it works in our body, and why it seems so controversial. But first a disclaimer, I’m not a medical expert in any regard, not my swim lane. I am simply someone who wants to better understand any potential mitigation measure. What follows are “just the facts Ma’am,” as I found them. Read More
April 4, 2020
Commentary: Fundamental Law of Numerical Methods
It’s critical during a crisis for experts to stay in their swim lanes. Could you imagine letting your hairstylist repair a broken boiler spewing hot water all over the house? Would you rely on your lawyer to prepare cuisine on the all important night you plan to propose? Should you trust mathematical projections made by MDs? Read More
In other news, Sasha’s experiment with hair dye has left her with blue, brown and purple hair. Quarantine bordem can be dangerous. On the foodie front, I completed my third French mother sauce last night by making Veloute. Tonight it will be Espagnole. Read More
April 3, 2020
Essay: Critical Care Nurse
Yesterday Nicholas and I escaped quarantine to dirt bike ride in the Jemez Mountains where we had a surprising but interesting encounter with a critical care nurse who’s treating COVID patients. He shared his perspectives about hospital readiness, patient fortitude, and the medical professional’s mounting stress. Read More
April 2, 2020
Commentary: Is President Trump Right or Wrong?
Several days ago I used math to assess whether the Chinese government, as well as other repressive nations, were under-reporting their COVID-19 numbers. Yesterday President Trump suggested that the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) were probably under-reporting. To President Trump I say, welcome to the conversation. Read More
In other news: A person can only take so much obsessing on COVID before having to go do something else so Nicholas and I decided to go dirt bike riding in the Jemez. If you don’t hear from me again, it means the COVID police got me.
April 1, 2020
Essay: Earthquakes, Gypsy Moths, and Trump’s Dire Warning
All of us on this unchartered journey reach a point of our own place and choosing where everything that’s happened, everything that’s about to happen, hits in a deeply profound way. Sure we’ve all be following the drama for months now; slowing doing things to prepare, like building a stockpile of critical supplies and spending extra time reaching out to family and friends. But for the most part, as God allows, we been successfully diverting our minds to other avenues or found ways to successfully exploit denial. I’ve stayed preoccupied with my math, with keeping the kids distracted, and with maintaining a sense of perspective and humor. Read More
The math behind exponential functions used to model earthquakes and gypsy moths can also be used to model pandemics. Read More
March 31, 2020
Commentary: Darwin Would Agree
A curious thing about viruses is that they’re not really alive but not really dead either. They are however, smart enough to recognize Darwin was right. Like all Darwinian entities, viruses seek ways to survive and one way is through attenuation. Read More
March 30, 2020
Commentary: Do The Math
It’s becoming increasing clear that the Chinese government is misleading their citizens and the world. While the official Chinese government reported deaths due to COVID-19 is 2,500, Radio Free China (RFC) estimates that 48,000 have died. The RFC estimates are based on the number of cremation urns that have been dispersed in Wuhan and the capacity rate of the 84 cremation furnaces in the city. Read More
March 29, 2020
Commentary: Hug a Nurse – When It’s Okay To Hug Again
I’m a glass half full kind of guy that tends to go with the positive up front, that way I can pre-balance the teetering other shoe that’s always about to drop. On the good news front, the COVID-19 death rates both globally and nationally are holding firm. This is especially good news for us because the US has a death rate 226% below the global death rate, which is depicted in the lower right chart. Read More
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