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 3, 2020
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
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
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 advocation 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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