Saturday, August 13, 2011

3331 Color

Saturday, August 13, 2011

“In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.”
-- Terry Pratchett --


I'm reading a book now wherein the events take place in the early '60s in the south. I had forgotten how it was then. Weird.

It was a tradition in my tiny Pennsylvania mountain high school that the senior class took a trip (after the graduation ceremony but before the diplomas were given out, to ensure that no one got too wild on the trip), a ten day bus tour of Philadelphia, Washington, Raleigh, Richmond, and points south, which included a tour of a cigarette factory, Luray Caverns, Skyline Drive, Natural Bridge, and some dead presidents' homes (Washington and Jefferson).

I'm not sure who paid for it. I know that few of the families of the kids in my class could have ponied up the money, and I remember only one class money-raising scheme wherein we sold light bulbs until the local shopkeeper objected that we were taking away his business. But back then, who paid for what was not something I thought about a lot.

Those kids, being mountain folk, behaved well on the trip. The only chaperone for the 30 of us was our homeroom teacher and his (or her) spouse, also traditional. Even our "hoods" were good. The only time anyone got out of line was when we stayed one night at a motel with a decent pool, and we all broke curfew for a midnight swim.

Anyway, back to "how it was then".

The graduating class before us, Obie's class, 1961, had the only African-American kid in the school, Rosetta, the daughter of a sergeant on the base. When they found out that on the traditional tour, Rosetta would not be allowed to eat at the same counters or dining rooms, or stay in the same lodgings, let alone share a room with other girls in the class, the class voted to change the itinerary. Instead of Virginia and North Carolina, they'd go to Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, and points between, and they were all excited about it.

Only one catch. Rosetta was not excited about it. She wanted the southern tour, and refused to go if they were going northeast. I don't know what she was thinking. That she wanted to make this her personal Freedom Riders bus, or that she didn't understand that it would be much more difficult to coordinate and much more expensive? With Rosetta, either was possible. Anyway, with that Catch-22, the class ended up going north-east, without Rosetta. There were a lot of people who were very angry about it.

So, the next year, it's our turn.

I don't think anyone other than me in my class of 30 had ever been out of the county, let alone stayed in a hotel. Of the 30 of us, I think there were maybe four or five who had indoor bathrooms, and three who had a real furnace. Most had woodstoves for heat and cooking, and bathed once a week in a steel tub in the kitchen. They ate a lot of game.

I know now that we stayed in some of the rattiest hotels and motels ever. Green scum on the pools (if they had one), paper peeling off the walls, mold in the bathrooms. And we ate in places with cracked and curling linoleum floors. But back then, for most of those kids, it was luxury.

One place we stayed somewhere in southern Virginia was billed as a resort. It was perched on the edge of a cliff. Coming up the drive it looked beautiful, three stories, with a two-story portico with tall fluted columns and spreading curving steps, and leaded glass doors. The bus driver went around the back, and parked at a two-story wing with peeling paint, and rickety stairs up to a tilting balcony. That's where our rooms were. The dining room was on the ground floor, cafeteria steam tables, peeling linoleum floor, Formica tables with napkins under the feet to keep them level. I think we stayed there two nights.

At one point, the boys decided to explore. There was a door at the end of the upstairs hall. We opened it, onto a hallway papered in white and gold flocking, with a double curved staircase with marble treads, and gilded banisters, and a crystal chandelier hanging down the middle. Below was a lobby with a marble fountain.

The door had opened in, so we were able to read the sign on it.


I suspect now that everywhere we stayed, everywhere we ate, we were in the colored accommodations. Oddly, there were never any other guests wherever we went. We always had the whole place to ourselves.

I don't know if that was true of every trip every year, or if it was just the reaction of the tour company to the previous year's fiasco. "Ok, you want to play that game? We'll fix you."

Interesting to think about it now.

About the differences.

Interesting to think about traveling with The Man. Then or now.

He does get nervous in Virginia, oddly more nervous than when we were in Florida or the Carolinas.

Interesting how we forget. Some of us, anyhow. Some of us don't.


I found out what the "whoop whoop" sound is that I hear so often at random times. It sounded so much like a ship that I thought maybe it had something to do with a drawbridge. Turns out it's the emergency "siren", for the fire department and EMS folks. The number and pattern of whoops indicates which area is being alerted.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

3330 Nuts

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The trouble with political jokes is that they get elected.


After a long walk with Daughter and the Nugget, and after the shadow of the house covered the front yard, I weeded the lawn. I don't bend or crouch or kneel. I lay on my stomach, and crawl like a commando going under barbed wire. It's the only way.

I have solved the mystery of what's going on in Andrew Weith's "Christina's World". She's pulling nutgrass from the lawn.

3329 Ripoff

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Interviewee I-missed-the-name, Kingston Freeman: “If prayer is out of the public schools, it is simply because those in attendance have chosen not to pray. Individual freedom to pray is still intact. What is rightfully missing is the authority to force prayer on those who do not wish to participate.”


I now have a Kindle. I decide to purchase a certain book. I go to The paperback version of the book is $7.15. The Kindle version, taking up no warehouse space, needing no human packing, downloaded wirelessly, pure profit after the first x copies, is $9.99!

I don't understand.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

3328 Catching up

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A totalitarian government tolerates free speech only as long as
it does not offend those in power.
A free society tolerates speech even when it offends.


I bought a double boiler, a candy thermometer, and a container of plain yogurt with nothing but milk and culture in it. So I'm all ready to make yogurt --- except --- I forgot to buy milk. Story of my life.


Finally got together with The Man. Yeah, he's working out of state (several states) and traveling a lot. And I have concluded that he definitely is Aspie. He told me he was way back in the beginning, but I said no, that he can converse with strangers without boring them. But yeah, now I think he simply learned how to do that. The other Aspberger Syndrome stuff is there. Among other things, it doesn't seem to occur to him that someone else would want to know what's going on.

He'd also told me back in the beginning that almost every woman he'd had a relationship with eventually broke it off because she felt neglected.

Uh, yeah. Aspie.


The Nugget is teething, and rolling over. And she's got the right arm and leg motions to crawl, but she arches her back so she ends up just rocking on her stomach. "Gotta get your tummy off the floor, kid."


I hear Dick Cheney has invited his stock broker to go hunting.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

3327 Yogurt

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Faith is fear.
The fear of what might happen if you don't have faith.


I got an interesting comment from a Chobani rep on my earlier post about yogurt, #3325. She explained that Chobani doesn't contain preservatives, and that the company doesn't have control over conditions once the product leaves their hands. Yeah, ok, I understand that, about not having control, BUT my old favorite yogurts didn't have preservatives either (ingredients list: milk, cultures, nothing else) and I've NEVER found mold or alcohol in my yogurt before, even when I had taken containers on three-day unrefrigerated hotel stays. Because I was unhappy, she has offered me coupons.

Thank you, Chobani folks, but I won't be collecting my coupons. Actually, I'd rather just get my money back. Or coupons for Dannon, who has earned my trust. (Or used to have my trust, before they started adding junk to their yogurt. Sigh.)

This morning I looked into making my own yogurt. It's easy, just takes time and attention, and some equipment. First you get a double boiler and thermometer and heat milk over water to 185 F to break down the proteins, then chill it quickly to 110 F. Mix in your starter (a few tablespoons of a purchased live culture yogurt), and keep it warm (a heating pad will do) for seven hours or so while the cultures grow, then stir to smooth it out, and decant into whatever you want to store it in. There are excellent "hold-your-hand" directions at

Well, I don't have a decent thermometer, or any large pots (not here - they're at the old house), and my attention span is famously absent, so I thought I'd look at yogurt maker appliances.

They're certainly not expensive, BUT! All they do is that last step - keep warm - the easiest and least precise step. You still have to heat the milk and cool it to the specified temperatures before putting it in the "maker". Sheesh. The last step is the only one I'm sure I can do. If I screw that one up, the yogurt just gets thicker and more tart, and I like it thick and tart. Far as I'm concerned, yogurt makers are useless. Why can't they make one that heats the milk, cools it down (maybe a separate cooling unit?), goes "bing" when you have to add the culture, and then sits there warm for a few hours. Is that so difficult?

So. I'm going to make my own yogurt. Without a "maker". As soon as I get a thermometer I trust. And two pots that will fit one inside the other. And a bag of ice. And some purchased yogurt that doesn't have anything in it but milk and culture. Good luck with that last item, getting very hard to find anything that hasn't been competitively fancied up.


Oh, almost forgot. The Chobani rep found my post through a search for "Chobani mold". Hmmm. Can't help wondering if they're aware they have a problem. One doesn't pick search arguments out of the air.