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Below are 10 entries, after skipping 10 most recent ones in the "nancylebov" journal:
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Seafood Cream Soup with Saffron and Asparagus
I was surprised at how self-conscious I felt about posting about this really rather moderate sort of a luxury, so there's going to be somewhat about money as well as cooking.
1 half pound each of shrimp, salmon (cut into fork-sized pieces), minced clams, and bay scallops
most of a pint of heavy cream
most of a quart of (store-bought) chicken stock
about a pound of asparagus
about half a cup of sliced almonds
about half a pound of oyster mushrooms
some white pepper
2 good-sized shallots, maybe a half cup when chopped up
about a teaspoon of saffron which was probably older than it should have been
some Pouldre Forte: Black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, galangal, cardamom, nutmeg, long pepper
First step, research! I looked at cream seafood soups and cream of asparagus.
I got one very valuable piece of information-- shell your shrimp, then simmer the shells for 15 minutes. The result had an amazing amount of flavor.
While the shrimp shells are simmering, I used enough butter to gently fry the almonds, asparagus, shallots, and mushrooms in a good sized aluminum pot.
When the shallots were done, I dumped in the cream, chicken stock, salt, pepper, pouldre forte and saffron, and simmered for about half an hour. Then I put in the salmon and shrimp (the largest pieces of meat-- bay scallops are tiny and minced clams are, well, minced) for a couple of minutes. When they were barely done, I put in the clams and scallops for something like a minute and turned off the heat.
It was a little bland, but when I added some hot sauce it was really excellent. On a second meal (a bowl of this soup is quite filling), I added an anchovy and that also worked well. This suggests that it mostly needed salt, but I'm going to try adding hot mustard in a future meal. More and/or stronger saffron would be a good idea.
It probably would have been better with the toasted almonds added as a garnish, but I just didn't want to bother.
OK, money. This cost about $50 or so, and I'm going to get at least five meals out of it. In other words, pricewise, it's just a little more expensive than fast food and highly competitive with low end restaurant food. Still, part of the theme was expensive ingredients.
So I'm going to look at modifying it to be cheaper and to be more expensive. And to look at what it would need to be kosher.
The most expensive part is the seafood (and I could have cut the price some by buying at the Italian Market instead of Whole Foods). The cheapest seafood was the clams. And I think spinach is cheaper than asparagus. I used oyster mushrooms because it was a seafood soup, so I went with the name. In retrospect, I think portobella mushrooms would have been better, and I'm looking forward to clam/spinach/portobella cream soup at some point. I'm not sure what spices or herbs it should have.
When I thought about increasing the luxury level, my first thought was pheasant stock-- pheasant seems to be about $25/$30 per pound in the US. dcseain pointed out that it's much cheaper in the UK, and a little research suggests that it's more like $10/pound there. Pheasant is very tasty, and I have no idea why no one has farmed it on a reasonably large scale in the US.
Other than that, there's upgrading the mushrooms. I think black trumpet and morel would be very nice, and both of them are visually interesting. Truffles are very expensive, but I've been disappointed by truffle products. I had a slice of truffle at a gourmet restaurant and it was wonderful, but I'm not sure whether it would go with the soup.
Macadamia nuts might work well.
I'm also unsure about good choices for more expensive seafood. Sea scallops at least have the virtue of being larger and more noticeable. I've had wonderful conch once (chewy and tasty). It might be a good idea. I can't see any point in getting larger shrimp.
As for kosher, all that's needed is for all the seafood to be fish rather than shellfish. I'm interested in suggestions for other sorts of fish. Bass? Trout?
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1026417.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
Leonardo's Viola Organista|
The viola organista has now come to life, thanks to a Polish concert pianist with a flair for instrument-making and the patience and passion to interpret da Vinci’s plans.
Full of steel strings and spinning wheels, Slawomir Zubrzycki’s creation is a musical and mechanical work of art.
‘‘This instrument has the characteristics of three we know: the harpsichord, the organ and the viola da gamba,’’ Zubrzycki said as he debuted the instrument at the Academy of Music in the southern Polish city of Krakow.
The instrument’s exterior is painted in a rich midnight blue, adorned with golden swirls painted on the side. The inside of its lid is a deep raspberry inscribed with a Latin quote in gold leaf by 12th-century German nun, mystic and philosopher, Saint Hildegard.
‘‘Holy prophets and scholars immersed in the sea of arts both human and divine, dreamt up a multitude of instruments to delight the soul,’’ it says.</a>
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1026228.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
I might just reread Macroscope|
This discussion is of some nastily sexist sf by Randall Garrett, and I was thinking, "but that's his minor stuff". What people actually liked was the Lord Darcy stories, which probably weren't good about women (I found the stories boring-- the only thing that stuck was something about using magic to iirc reconstruct cloth for magical purposes), but presumably had something interesting about them.
In general, I don't think authors' most prejudiced work becomes their most famous. It might just be the odds, but I suspect it's because prejudice is fundamentally less interesting than paying attention to the world. Prejudice is of great practical interest because of the damage it does, but artistically, unexamined prejudice is just rattling through a bunch of habits.
HPLovecraft might be an exception on this, but I'm not familiar enough with his work to give the individual stories prejudice ratings.
Anyway, Macroscope. It's a big (for its time-- 1968) ambitious novel by Piers Anthony. I read somewhere that he compared the sales figures for Macroscope and A Spell for Chameleon and gave up on ambitious novels.
I liked the book when I was a kid. My most recent rereading (10 years ago or so, maybe 20) left it looking kind of sickening because of the genius male character and his beautiful girlfriend who just isn't smart enough. (This is from memory and may not be accurate.) Even in the beginning when I read Cthon (his first novel), I was vaguely aware that there was something off in his stuff about women, but I don't think it's possible to convey to younger people just how vague that awareness was. I've had people flat out disbelieve me to my face when I talk about what I didn't notice. I don't think people realize how communal reading has become for people follow book discussions on line, and how it didn't used to be like that.
Edited to add: I've reread a little farther, and Afra is quite intelligent. I'm wondering if I was completely wrong, or if I'm remembering something about her and Schon.
(In my forties, I was metaphorically grabbing people and shaking them and saying, "The world changes!". Eventually, I got bored with that, but really, the world changes, and I suspect that theoretical knowledge of the fact is very different from how it feels when things you thought were obvious and stable turn into something else.)
I've been meaning to reread it because there's a description of an information gift economy during an era when there's easy interstellar communication but not ftl (?) travel, and I want to see how it compared to the net. I'm not promising to reread the whole thing (the astrology symbolism section was kind of dull except for the descriptions of the constellations), or even to post about as much as I read, but let's see where this goes.
Just as a general point, the fact that I'm writing about this book and there are things I like about it doesn't mean I think someone who hasn't read it should read it. There are interesting things in it (I think Anthony's best point is his unending imagination) and annoying things in it, but it's not essential either for your enjoyment of life or understanding the history of the field.
I'm 42 pages in of 480 (small print, lines close together-- much longer than was typical at the time). We've been introduced to Ivo, the main character, who's multiracial (iirc, this is explained later as the result of a breeding experiment). I'll let more qualified people take on the handling of race in the novel if they feel like it.
It seems to me that the beginning of the story is heavily influenced by van Vogt-- there's a lot of hints of conspiracies and fears about what might be going on, not to mention the mysterious Schon, who can only be reached by Ivo.
There's a little about the relief of spending time with an old friend who's got the same high intelligence level and a similar sense of humor.
The main cool thing in the novel is the Macroscope, which can use subtle changes in gravitons to perceive details of what's going on at great distances. This may be one of the earliest examples in sf of using immense amounts of computation to pull signal out of noise. People don't have efficient methods of finding exoplanets-- so far as I know, that mostly didn't show up in sf until it happened in the real world. (Exceptions: Doc Smith (I think), and David Lindsay, who had it in a completely fantasy style).
One of the big fears is overpopulation, and I believe it continues as a theme.
The book has more poetry (mostly? entirely? by Sidney Lanier) than is typical in science fiction.
One of the nice bits is Ivo being shown images of alien landscapes, and a discussion of the subtle differences which can make a place look alien. In one case, there are double shadows, but (pause) they aren't from a double star, there's light from a reflective cliff.
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1025990.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
Destructive toy dinosaurs|
Parents use children as an excuse to get really ridiculous with toy dinosaurs.
I usually don't approve of parents lying to children for the fun of it (kids are so naive when they believe what you tell them!), but the amount of energy and skill that goes into those dioramas.... not to mention being willing to make a mess and even sacrifice a good vase!
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1025571.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
"There's So Much Energy in Us" by Cloud Cult-- I apparently had a vague impression that no one was making new, pleasant rock music, but Cloud Cult calls what they're doing experimental indie.
I'm not sure what's experimental about it, I'd call it completely accessible, but this probably just shows how far I am from the music scene.
Link thanks to gwern.
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1025398.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
How do you know you're you?|
In a recent discussion of whether you can tell that someone has been resurrected accurately enough*, I said:
"I may be kidding myself, but I think of my identity as being at least as much tied up in something about how my experience usually feels as it's tied up with my memory.
I do care a lot about my knowledge of golden age sf, and was upset when I lost access to it after trying welbutrin briefly. (I don't know how often this sort of thing happens, but it damaged my access to long term memory for months. It was bad for my short term memory, too.) However, I think I'd still be me in some important sense if I cared about something else the way I care about sf, and wouldn't be me if I cared about sf in some other way. This is getting hard to define, because when I think about, I'm not sure about other ways of caring about sf. There are other people with much better memories of the details, and I wouldn't mind having that. I'm pretty sure I'd still be me if I could put a lot of work into trying to figure out who Severian's parents are. (Gene Wolfe, Book of the New Sun). I'm not sure I'd be me if I developed a huge preference for science fiction vs. fantasy or vice versa.
Here's one: a major thing I want from sf is the feeling of spending some time in a world which is different from and more interesting than this world. I can enjoy nitpicking the world-building, but it's not a primary pleasure.
A while ago, I tried D-phenylalanine, and I dropped it because I didn't feel like me. Sorry, too long ago to remember details.
I have a sense of rightness which drives the way I do calligraphy. I wouldn't want to lose that, but having a sense of rightness is an important part of how I approach creativity and I'd want to have something else it applied to. I'm not sure everyone else does it that way.
It's not that memory or physical continuity are nothing to me, but I can tell I'm me because I feel like me. If I became someone who found their identity in their memories, I'd be someone else. And if you resurrected someone who looked like me and did calligraphy like me, but who found their identity in their memory, you've gotten it wrong, at least by my standards. Not that the pseudo-me would necessarily care, and I'm not sure about whether you're obligated to care."
How can you tell you're you?
Possibly one of the ways you can tell I'm me is that I'm not taking a crack at the possibly harder question of what you'd want from resurrecting someone else.
*Edited to add: I don't think the summary was quite accurate. The link is about trying to even figure out what you mean when you say you want the same person back.
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1025039.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
Update on the tipless restaurant|
For a while, a detailed explanation of why it was better to have a no-tips restaurant was being posted and re-posted where I was hanging out.
It was an intriguing piece which claimed that the number of transactions and risk of betrayed trust between the servers and the lack of inclusion of the kitchen staff damaged morale, that servers neglected all customers except for white males because they tipped the most and the biggest tippers were playing out sexual fantasies about waitresses, that good servers didn't track tips individually anyway, and that customers generally tip whatever they usually tip so that service doesn't get fine-tuned by the incentive. Instead, the best strategy for the servers to get more money from tips is to snipe extra tables from other servers, even if service suffers.
The restaurant closed, and it didn't have good service. More exactly, the service was very uneven and apparently, the food varied from excellent to eh.
I don't know what's to be learned from this, except to be a little cautious-- perhaps very cautious-- about cool ideas that you hear about from their proponents. I don't habitually follow up on cool ideas. I only found out about the closing of the Linkery because I wanted to make a point about the cost of trying to fine-tune prices.
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1024840.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
A general theory of abuse and recovery|
I've been online since the 90s, which is a great opportunity to observe human behavior a little from the outside.
One thing I noticed was the huge amount of energy a fairly large proportion of people put into being abusive. This is amazing, considering how little they get out of it according to more usual ideas of human motivations.
This led to thinking about in-person abusers, and what drives them. While I don't understand all the reasons for ongoing abuse, some of it is obviously status enforcement. I believe the reinforcement for in-person abuse is seeing the other person being stressed by it. The advice to not let them see they've hurt you is of moderate value-- it helps sometimes, but not everyone can conceal the signs of emotional hurt completely, and (as with trolls on the internet) I'm pretty sure that some abusers can keep themselves going by imagining they've hurt their target.
In any case, I'm pretty sure abuse isn't just intended to cause hurt, it's intended to prevent the target from feeling good. If the target feels good, they might leave or shove back effectively.
From which it follows that someone who's been a target of extended abuse has been trained into the pattern that feeling better leads to feeling worse.
Recovery involves developing a gut-level belief that it's safe to feel better.
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1024545.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
Tags: abuse, recovery, self-hatred
Some methods for combating psychological inertia|
While I'm not exactly zipping along, I'm not as stuck as I was. Aside from general work on self-hatred, there are some specific things which help.
I paid attention to what it felt like when I wasn't having problems doing things, and I reminded myself that doing something useful didn't get me struck by lightning. This is also a way of changing my focus from "there's something wrong with me-- look! everything isn't perfect!" to "there's something right with my life as I experience it".
Sometimes, paying attention to counting fifty breaths in a row would get me out of bed. I'm not saying this is necessarily good for everyone (I'm probably better than average at keeping count), but it's worth playing around to see if there's something. I'll also note that counting fifty breaths is a challenge for me, and not always possible. It's possible that it's the right level of challenge for some moods.
Alison Brosh's brilliant Hyperbole and a Half:Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened has a couple of comics about using shame as a motivator. Depression Part Two is available online. "Motivation" is only in the book, and is probably clearer about how using shame as a motivator looks when one isn't in the depths.
I declare Brosh a Hero of Introspection. She should get a medal with ribbons and a pension.
In any case, I've got what I'd call sufficient evidence that shame (the idea that one is a bad person for not doing whatever) is a very dangerous tool to use as a motivator. I'm not going to say it never works, but it tends to create resistance and eventually destroy motivation. I think it's worse if it includes an attack for not wanting to do whatever. An attack for not having already done whatever is bad, but not quite that bad.
I find it can help to ask myself what my reason for doing whatever is. That sometimes gets me moving with amazingly little friction.
A recent realization that's still in progress is that I have to get a grip on my imagination. It's much easier to imagine what it would be nice to have done without thinking about what resources I've got for doing it, not to mention actually doing those things. If I let the "it would be nice" list take over, then I just feel bad because I haven't done all those things.
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1024429.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
Dog Rube Goldberg machine|
Link thanks to Geek Press.
This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1024115.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comments so far on that entry.
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