Pork pie – for vegetarians

I promised I would post a picture if I managed to make anything that came out reasonably tasty, and so here you go.  This is the Pork Pie recipe from A Feast of Ice and Fire, but made with a “Ground Sausage” from one of those companies that make meat substitutes.  It came out delicious, despite my inability to do the top crust correctly (hopefully do better next time).

If Samwell could fly, he'd be back at Castle Black having a slice of this.
If Samwell could fly, he’d be back at Castle Black having a slice of this.

Anyway, I think I might try something else this week.

Happy Thankgiving everyone!  And happy Hannukah too!



My family and the Kennedys

Wow.  Fifty years.

JFK in state at WH
President Kennedy’s body lies in state in the East Room of the White House on November 23rd, 1963. His honor guard in this photo includes one member of each of the five armed services. His coffin rests on the same bier that held President Abraham Lincoln’s coffin in 1865.

It’s hard to describe the relationship I have had with a President who died before I was born, or the way that relationship was shaped even as I grew up in Alabama.  But there was, and still is, a relationship.  It led me to make  speeches in high school that evoked Kennedy’s own speeches on public service.  It led me to defend JFK vigorously even when I was still a dumb young Reagan Republican.  And it led me to make a point of visiting his grave at Arlington when I finally had the opportunity on a class trip.  Where I wept.

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Music Jobs and Concerts You Should Know About

We’ve got people hiring and people concertizing.  Check these out, Boston area folks.

The Old South Union Congregational Church, of Weymouth, Mass., is seeking a part-time Director of Music (10–12 hours per week) to oversee organ and choral music for worship services and special occasions. Old South is a large, vibrant and growing church on the South Shore with a history of exceptional organ and choir music of many styles and is seeking a candidate with prior experience as Music Director. The candidate should have knowledge of choral and organ literature, and the ability to play the organ and piano at an advanced level. The senior choir numbers 30-40 and the instrument is an Austin organ, Opus 2739 with 3 manuals, 31 ranks and antiphonal stops.

The primary responsibilities of this position are:
1. Coordinates organ and choral music appropriate to the liturgical calendar for performance at weekly and additional services.
2. Direct and play at weekly worship services.
3. Coordinate and oversee rehearsals, direct and accompany the Senior Choir and summer soloists.
4. Provide leadership and support for all aspects of music at the church, including supporting the Youth Choir Director and the choir section leaders.

The salary will be commensurate with the candidate’s education and experience.

Please send inquiries and resumes to Lauri MacKinnon at alexben -at- comcast.net

And next, the performance.  This is TONIGHT!

More details can be found here.


The Joy of Medieval Cooking

Thanksgiving is next week, and for those of us who love to cook, this is one of the absolute best times of year.  And ever since I decided to explore medieval cuisine, I have been wanting to try new dishes, and so I have been collecting books on the subject (and not just Chelsea and Sariann’s awesome Game of Thrones cookbook).  Thank goodness for ABE Books, or else I would never have been able to find many of these, or afford them once I did find them.

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A few more stores decide to keep Thanksgiving

Both Apple and Radio Shack have decided to not open on Thanksgiving.  Good for them.

Like Kelly had mentioned earlier, too many stores are trying to maximize their profits by extending hours as much as possible on Thanksgiving weekend.  And they are doing it at the expense of their lowest-paid employees.  It’s not like the CEOs are going to pull a late shift themselves that day.  But the CEO class really can’t relate to their employees most of the time anyway.

And the supreme irony of this is that being open longer this Thanksgiving weekend is not likely to make the weekend more profitable.  Things sold on Thanksgiving are generally done at the expense of Black Friday sales, rather than generating new sales.  It’s not like people who avoid shopping that weekend or on Black Friday will suddenly decide to go shopping on Thanksgiving Day itself.

Of course, I don’t see a lot of people asking the question “what would happen if ordinary people had more money to spend?” either.  In fact, there’s no shortage of people who complain about the lack of consumer spending without asking “how are regular people supposed to increase their spending when they are broke?” These same people trash talk the idea of raising the minimum wage while talking about how tough a time the very wealthy have with their taxes.  Actually, not so much – especially when you look at the historical patterns.

As one of the broke people, I can definitely say that yeah, if I had a better paying job (or jobs), I would be able to spend more.  And we’re trying to get that better job or jobs.



Tacloban, Samar Island, and two very different storms

After more than a week, many survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines are still struggling to get basics like food, water and shelter.  And places like Samar, Leyte, and Tacloban are now getting mentioned in the news all over the world.  Samar and Leyte seem to have been hit the worst from the typhoon.

I know these place names.  Not because I have ever been there (I haven’t), but because of their famous place in history – specifically, in the fall of 1944, when the Allied invasion of the Japanese-occupied Philippines led to what was the largest naval battle in all of World War Two, and possibly the largest in recorded human history.

Continue reading “Tacloban, Samar Island, and two very different storms”

Little boy becomes superhero for a day

This story is just amazing.  It still seems like one of those things that happens in after-school specials or in one of those Hallmark channel movies.

Miles Scott, who at age five has already been fighting cancer for three years, lives in California and like many kids his age he loves superheroes.  He especially loves Batman and would apparently wear the costume quite a bit.  So the Make-A-Wish Foundation decided to turn Miles’ dream into reality by transforming San Francisco into Gotham City for a day.

But the most amazing part to me is how many people, many of them random strangers, became involved.  Literally thousands of people.

One of Batman’s creators drew the little boy a comic featuring villain Bane retreating from Miles as Batkid.  The mayor, the chief of police, the TV news, the San Francisco Chronicle, even President Obama, all got involved.  And thousands of strangers (many of them carrying Batkid signs and such) showed up to cheer him on as he “rescued” people from villains that included the Riddler and the Joker.

The links I included have a lot of good photos and video.  Watch, read, and try not to tear up.  I dare you.


Thanksgiving: A Guide

In the United States Thanksgiving is a holiday that is supposed to be about celebrating bounty.  The bounty of friends, family, togetherness, and food.  It’s about the end of summer and fall, the harvest, and making one last big get together before the coming winter.  (There are others who celebrate/mourn it differently, that’s not what this post is about.)  It is about giving thanks for what we have before we might lose it to the cold, the dark, and the winter.

While Thanksgiving might be about conspicuous consumption of the food variety, some people choose to celebrate it in other ways.  Some give back at churches, food pantries, and soup kitchens to those without a bounty to celebrate.  Some get together and play football, roast marshmallows around a bonfire, or prepare for Christmas.  Lots of people watch the parade or the dog show after eating too much.  While there may be a lot of conspicuous consumption going on, Thanksgiving is patently not about the shopping variety.  If you’re shopping on Thanksgiving, you’re doing it wrong.

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Happy Birthday Shakay

Happy Birthday to the best man at our wedding, Geoff’s best friend, and the guy who has stuck by him through everything.  We are lucky to have you in our lives, and we appreciate it more than you know.  You are a member of our chosen family, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.  May this year be better than all that have come before it.

~Kelly & Geoff

Happy Anniversary

Today is our 2nd wedding anniversary.  Over the past week or so we’ve received cards, emails, voice mails, texts, and calls from family and friends wishing us a happy anniversary.

I suspect that some portion of this has to do with the fact that 1) Geoff was recently hospitalized and 2) our wedding is on Veteran’s Day weekend.  Be that as it may, I’ll take it.

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