Thursday, March 25, 2010


(After reading this. . .)

In the face of opinion polls showing the American public divided about the healthcare law, Obama and fellow Democrats are mounting an aggressive effort to gain credit for passage of the overhaul and to put Republicans on the defensive.
 Don't worry.  We know who passed it, and most of us aren't likely to forget any time soon.

Republicans, who unanimously opposed the bill, have vowed to make repealing it a major issue in congressional elections in November.

"Well, I say go for it," Obama said, goading his critics. "If these congressmen in Washington want to come here to Iowa and tell small business owners that they plan to take away their tax credits and essentially raise their taxes, be my guest."
 *insert bitter laugh here*

I think many small business owners see through those "tax credits". . . and really, Mr. President, should you be the one admonishing others for taking away tax cuts and raising taxes?  It seems unwise. . .

Obama acknowledged the bill was "not perfect". . .


Very generous of him to admit it.

Looking relaxed and upbeat, he mocked Republicans for acting as if the bill would lead to "Armageddon."

"After I signed the bill, I looked around to see if there were any asteroids falling, some cracks opening up in the earth," Obama said, adding it turned out to be a nice day and "birds were chirping, folks were strolling down the mall."
I don't know what to say to that.  Let's start with an extreme eye-roll, shall we?  Then we'll just mention that it wasn't just the Republicans who had have serious concerns about the bill.  So. . . are you also mocking a majority of Americans, sir (because-- remember-- before it passed, a clear majority disapproved of the bill)?  Not that it'd be the first time we felt the sting of that arrogant tongue, of course, but one wants to "be clear" on such matters. . . 

Oh, and dude, ease back on the "folks" stuff, will ya?  Please?  I'd consider it a personal favor.  (Seems like he says it every time he refers to the people of this nation, and I for one do not find it charming.  It's just annoying-- more so than "nucular" ever was.)

Support for the law seems to be growing, according to a poll released by Quinnipiac University on Thursday. Before the House passed the bill, 54 percent of Americans surveyed disapproved of it, while 36 percent supported it, the poll found. After the vote, the disapproval rating dropped to 49 percent versus 40 percent. 
Possibly this is because (sad as it is) people are not so well-informed as they should be-- especially when the administration and the media are spoon-feeding them jam-- and jam without the pill in it-- yet.  How will they feel about it when it actually goes into full effect?  That remains to be seen, and we'll have to wait quite a while to see, since those who put it into place took care to postpone as many as possible of the negative "side effects" of the bill.  (Wouldn't want a multitude of disillusioned citizens to vote them out of power in November of this year or 2012!  That would not suit them at all.)

(I'm probably preaching to the choir, here, but I thought these points might be worth looking back at, someday.  They deserve at least a mention. . .)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Recipe for Tomato Catsup"

A few months ago, Donald was looking at an old (published in 1821) book we have-- Practical Observations on Cold and Warm Bathing; and Descriptive Notices of Watering Places in Britain by James Millar, M.D. (Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and Lecturer on Natural History and Chemistry).  He found this recipe written in pencil on one of the flyleaves.

"Recipe for Tomato Catsup"

Here's a transcript, to the best of my ability to decipher the handwriting:

Recipe for Tomato Catsup

from the American Gardener of 1826. --

Take a quantity of ripe Tomatoes (say 2 gallons)
cut them in small pieces, put them in a clean
earthen pot or jar, about half a pound of salt, a table
spoonful of alspice, the same quantity of pepper
and a quarter an ounce of mace; tie the jar
up close, put it in an oven after the Bread has
been taken out, and let it stand all night, and
reheat it three times when you make bread;
Then strain it and bottle it up.  This is much better
than Mushroom Catsup for all culinary purposes.

Donald thought this was interesting-- especially that it was probably jotted down back when tomato ketchup was still something of an innovation-- so he's been telling me I need to blog it.  (See?  I'm doing it! (g))

After taking the time to carefully wrangle out the words from that sometimes faint handwriting, I thought, "Hey, why don't I google 'catsup' and 'american gardener'?"  It was a brilliant idea.  Too bad I didn't think of it at the beginning of the blog entry.  I could've saved myself a little trouble.  Yes, that's right.  Look what I found at Google Books:

(You can even read the whole book, if you'd like.)

It's funny to think that this recipe has been sitting in that book for possibly 184 years, waiting for us to find it.  How many others may have seen it, along the way?  Did the person who jotted it down ever imagine that someone would painstakingly analyze the words in an attempt to read what turned out to be a recipe?  If I write a recipe for Santa Fe Stew on the blank pages of my copy of Jane Eyre, will someone find it, someday?  ;o)

So then you start to wonder about the person who wrote the recipe.  The name inked on the title page-- "Gavin Yuille 1824"-- leads you on another googling mission, and again you strike gold.  We purchased the book locally, and (lo and behold) there's information about a man by that name who bought 72 acres of land in this very county (in Daphne), back in 1845.  Apparently he was a native of Scotland who moved his family to New York City in 1829, then down through South Carolina (where he may have taught in a school), and finally, in 1834, he ended up in Mobile, where he owned and operated a bakery "at the corner of Dauphin and Jackson Streets" (a spot I can pinpoint on Google Maps).  I can trace the basic facts of his life down to when he became a U.S. citizen (April 1838) and when he died (17 September 1849, at the age of 63).  (After the bakery burned, he rebuilt it on Government Street, and those acres of land he bought in 1845 were for a large family home and a peach plantation.) 

It's pretty amazing what you can find in a few minutes of research, isn't it? 

So he probably bought the book while he was still living in Scotland, yet he thought it was worth brining over here.  (Or maybe books were so expensive and/or the cost of transporting belongings so cheap that it would've been worth bringing it under any circumstances.)

And get this-- on AbeBooks, there's a manuscript for sale-- "On offer is an original 1820 handwritten account giving details of the start of the Curling Club in Hamilton, Scotland. The title page reads "Annals of Curling" by Gavin Yuille."  I don't know how common that name might have been in Scotland at that or any other time, but "our" Gavin Yuille is said to have been born in Hamilton, Lanarkshire (in Scotland), so it's certainly possible.

Anyway-- quite an interesting little expedition from a humble recipe to the history of a person's life!

"Yes We Can", Again?

Oh, are we really going to be to subjected to this "Yes We Can" crap again, on top of everything else?

How about "No, You Shouldn't Have"?
Or even "Oh No, You Di-ent!"?

Whichever you prefer.  ;o)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Back Pain and "Health Care Reform"

I have been a bad blogger lately, but at least I have something of an excuse for the past week or so-- that excuse being we've had company to entertain us-- Thorbjörn and Jocke visiting from Sweden-- and I've been struck (since last Saturday evening) with a bout of mysterious back pain.

(Note:  I probably ought to warn you right away that this isn't likely to be a happy or interesting post.  I'm up late with more of the same pain, and I don't really have anything fun to write about.  This is mostly a "venting" entry and a way to remember a few specifics in case the need to remember them should ever arise.  Once I'm feeling better, I'll try to write something other than a grumble.  Really.  My tender, delicate feelings will not be hurt-- at all-- if you choose to skip this.  In fact, I recommend it.  (g)  Again, really.)

The only reasons I can think of for the pain are one of these:

1)  Saturday, I spent a lot of time standing around and sitting at tables.  When I sit at tables, I probably tend to not have the best posture. . . and maybe somehow that triggered something.  (?)

2)  Possibly during cleaning on Tuesday and Wednesday I strained my back somehow.  I know that it sometimes takes a day or so for pain to begin after a strain, but how likely it is to take three or four days, I'm not sure. . .

3)  Something else that completely slips my mind-- possibly something that I'd never expect to cause back pain.  Or I was just a ticking time bomb of back pain waiting to go off at the worst possible moment.  ;o)

I feel like a little of a sissy-baby for making such a big deal about it, but it's just so frustrating.  I've probably been lucky, but for years and years, I practically never took pain pills, and in more recent years, when I have started taking them for the occasional headache or abdominal cramp, they've tended to work.  Sometimes they work better than others, but I can usually tell a difference, at least, even if I find I need to take the bigger recommended dose.  This time, though, nothing I've taken seems to reliably put a dent in the pain.  (Unless I'm simply a very poor judge of it. . .)

(For future reference:)
The pain tends to sneak up on me in the middle of the evening (though tonight it came earlier).  By the time I'm ready to think about sleep, it's bad enough that I feel that sleep is impossible, so I end up sitting up most (if not all) of the night, possibly able to drift off to sleep on the couch at 2 to 3 a.m. When I wake, the pain is noticeably lessened-- sometimes no longer even perceptible.  I can usually go through the rest of the day (sometimes with some naps to make up for missed sleep) without any recurrence of the pain.  There may be an occasional light "don't forget me yet" twinge or numbness in the general area, but that's about it.

Saturday and Sunday night were two bad nights in a row.  (I think Sunday wasn't as bad, though.)  Monday, I was able to go to sleep at a normal hour, but on Tuesday night, the pain returned.  For the rest of the week, there seemed to be a pattern of a good night followed by a bad night.  (So, as far as I can recall, Wed. = good, Thurs. = bad, Fri. = good, Sat. = bad.)  Until tonight, since I'm "enjoying" my second bad night in a row.  (Which is what happened last weekend, too, whatever that means, if anything. . .)

I should probably try to describe the pain itself, if I'm writing this complain-a-thon under the pretense of keeping a record for future reference, but I'm bad at describing pain. . .  I'll try anyway.

The pain starts out focused in mostly the middle back (maybe lower middle?), more on the right side than the left.  As it progresses (when it progresses), it seems to gradually spread to the sides and front-- pretty much the same area, only on my front as well as my back.  I'm pretty sure this is just a sign that I'm tensing or putting extra stress on other muscles as a result of the back pain, since it seems only to happen after the back pain has been around a little while.  The lower and upper back can sometimes hurt a little, too, but all this other pain tends to fade earlier in the night than the middle-back pain, and it all seems to originate with that middle-back pain, more to the right side than the left. 

When the pain is at its worst, I feel a little queasy, but I'm almost positive this is just a reaction to the pain itself, not a symptom of whatever's causing the pain.  I've never "been sick" from it-- just felt unsettled, like a mild case of indigestion. 

. . .What else?
As for what kind of pain it is. . . I don't know how to describe it.  It can be fairly sharp at the worst times, but mostly it's not generally at that jabby, "take your breath away" level, just steady, persistent discomfort-- enough to keep me from getting to sleep at a normal hour. 

I've tried a few types of pain killers (ibuprofen, Advil, Tylenol), including some with sleep aids.  The first "good" night after this all started, I had taken some type of generic Tylenol PM as a precautionary measure, so I thought I'd found my miracle drug.  Oops-- not so fast.  I eventually learned that it doesn't seem to make a big difference.  Some nights I took it, I'd sleep fine.  Other nights, I'd never get to sleep until 2 or 3.  Instead, I'd just be groggier as I sat up with the pain.

(Ah, the Pain.  My nightly companion.  Many's the time I'd look at my [nonexistent] watch and op' my mouth with every intention of saying, "Well, look at the time!  I guess I'd better be going off to bed now.  And you!  You must be exhausted after all that work!" only to find myself instantly hushed up.  "No sleep for you yet, silly girl.  Oh, no.  I have other plans for you. . ."  . . .Sorry.  I blame the lack of sleep.)

Heating pad-- sometimes it seems to help, sometimes it just makes me feel like my trunk is burning while my hands and feet are freezing, which makes me feel really queasy and "Ohmygoshwhat'swrongwithme?!"-ish.

Stretching-- It feels at the worst times like if I could just stretch hard/far enough, it might feel better, but it really doesn't seem to make much immediate difference.  

Massage-- Seemed to help for a little while, one time-- but only very temporarily.  The next time, it didn't really seem to make even a temporary difference, maybe because I was in the worst part of the pain the second time, so it was harder to relax.

Tonight, upon some advice from others who have experience with back pain, I tried lying for a while (probably about 45 minutes one of the times) with my back flat on the floor and my legs up (in the seat of a chair).  The idea is that this position takes all the stress off your back.  (Or is it just the lower back?)  Both times, it was not comfortable at first, but gradually became somewhat better.  The pain never went away entirely (not sure if it was even "supposed" to, or if it just gives your back muscles a break), and I didn't notice any marked improvement once I got up again.  It may be that this is meant to make more of a difference over the long term.

I can't tell if this pain is muscle-based or if it's caused by some sort of issue with nerves, but I lean toward muscle-based.  (This is probably immediately obvious to people with more anatomical/pain management knowledge than I have.)

The biggest thing that helps is time, I guess.  Sitting up and waiting, trying to find a decently comfortable position and just doing something to take my mind off it.  Crocheting & listening to music, for instance, or complaining about my lamentable situation on "the Twitter".  Writing long, detailed, and excruciatingly boring medical entries in my blog seems to work, too.  I mean, yes, the pain's still there (Don't panic, my friend.  I feel you, loud and clear.  Calm yourself!), but it's much less. . . well, painful now than it was an hour or however long ago it was when I gave up hope of falling straight asleep and came out here instead.  I might even be able to go to sleep soon, if I try.  (For some reason, I think it's easier for me to fall asleep on the couch than in bed, with this back pain.  I don't know why.  Maybe it's all psychological. . . Anyway, it does seem easier to drift off through a little remnant of pain when I'm in this room.)

In short (ha ha ha, I'm hiLARious), if I had experienced this pain for one night-- maybe even two nights-- I would have been uncomfortable, but would have just shrugged my shoulders and been grateful when it was over.  When it comes and goes for a week, I start getting more anxious and irritated.  I begin to make mental lists of what I might be willing to do to get the pain to just - go - away.  (Forever.)  I find myself wondering how much longer it will stay-- and what I did to trigger it in the first place.  (And how I can arrange to NEVER, EVER do that again, so long as I may live.)

I also question how bad this pain really is, comparatively speaking.  Do I have a low threshold for pain?  I'd always hoped and even been told once or twice that the opposite was true.  After all, I took only half of one of the prescribed pain pills the dentist gave me after removing-- cutting out, in spots-- my wisdom teeth.  And the women at the orthodontist's office were so impressed by my ability to bite those metal bands into place.  (No, seriously.  They seemed quite impressed.  Maybe they were just surprised I could bite so hard? (g))  Then there was the pain associated with having braces in general.  It definitely hurt, sometimes, but I don't recall taking pain killers.  Somehow it was just manageable without anything.  (Or maybe my terror of swallowing pills had something to do with that. (g)  Hm. . .)  In any case, now I wonder about that. . . Maybe I just have (had?) a high tolerance for mouth-related pain.  Or maybe my threshold has lowered with (ever-increasing) age.  It's troubling.  One of those things you don't often think about until Pain comes around to pay a call and keeps you up at night. 

(And then I also can't help but think of people facing horrible diseases and syndromes and infections.  You wonder how much pain they might be in, all the time, and feel guilty for whining about what you have every reason to hope and believe will be a temporary discomfort.  . . . Of course, it's easier to do that when the worst of your own pain has faded a little. . .)

Anyway, enough on that subject.

In other news, "health care reform" passed tonight.  I have heard so many horribly discouraging things about this bill and where it may take us that that might be enough to keep me up at night even without this back pain.  I'm infuriated, I'm discouraged, I'm. . . frightened-- fearful of what this might mean for myself, my family and the whole country.  I feel powerless.  I cast my vote in 2008, and it didn't do any good.  I'll be voting again, every chance I get, to try to reverse some of what I see as damaging policies, but so many people (who are so much better informed than I am on these issues) seem to think that reversal will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible-- and unless more of my fellow voters have woken up by the next election, I don't have faith that my vote will be of any use whatsoever.  This is why I probably shouldn't follow politics.  (It depresses me.)  This is also why it is so important that more everyday, common-sense Americans do follow politics!  If more had paid attention and acted in previous elections, we might be in a better position today.

I guess there's not much to do now but pray (or keep praying), pay attention (even if it gives heartburn), and wait for November. . . and try not to lash out at those voters who have contributed to the tearing down of our country (brick by brick-- or in this case, wall by wall), because so many of them seem to be clueless as to what they're doing, and it's wrong (not to mention fruitless) to be unkind to dumb animals.  ;oP

The End.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Welcome to Conservative Haven, U.S.A. ;o)

I just read a news story that lists four local counties that have made it on The Daily Caller's list of "the top 100 'most conservative-friendly' counties in the United States".  Our county in particular (where I've always lived, by the way) made spot 63 on the list.  (...Which makes me wonder what the top ten are like.  The website is doling them out twenty at a time, and they're not revealing the top twenty until tomorrow.  Oh, and they're doing a top 100 most liberal-friendly counties, next, in case you're interested.)

Here's what they say about my home county:
There are two main areas of settlement in ---------- County. The bulk of the population is part of the suburbs of Mobile, across the bay from the city itself. The new suburbs are prosperous Gulf Coast towns similar to those around Tampa or Houston. The other thrust of development are the resorts along the Gulf. Beaches like G--- S----- are very similar to the white sand beaches in the Florida Panhandle. The county is about 3-to-1 Republican.”
Well, I must admit that I don't quite like my county being referred to as a suburb of Mobile.  Sure, a good number of people live on the Eastern Shore and commute to work in Mobile, but suburbs of Mobile?  I think that's pushing it.  And as for our beaches being "very similar" to those on the Florida Panhandle-- I'm pretty sure they are the same.  There's nothing but a state line separating them, after all.    

Quibbles aside, I think it's fun that we made the list at all.   One more reason to be happy we live here.  ;o)

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Guide to Taking Better Photos (of Yourself)

Donald showed me this; I thought some of the rest of you might like it, too.  :o)

The funniest part is that I've used a few of those tips, myself. . .  (And they didn't even go into Photoshopping!)  I guess everyone has done some form of this, at some point. . . . Right? (g)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More Sleep, Please

(You can make your own catalog card here.)