New and changing traditions – skillet apple pie

Mrs. Adamu and I are in Connecticut for Thanksgiving this year. It’s the first time we have been back at this time of the season for several years and I must say it’s been refreshing. New England is cold at this time of year but the air is crisp and the night sky very clear. I do not remember seeing this many stars for a very long time.

I’ve been listening to a lot of NPR on this trip and was inspired by hearing this story on Morning Edition about popular Thanksgiving dishes that have come and gone. So inspired, in fact, that I tried to make one of the dishes, skillet apple pie. I highly recommend listening to the whole story as it gives you an interesting feel for how different Thanksgiving must have been in generations past. Anyway here is what the dish is supposed to do:

Apple pie is an essential dish for Thanksgiving, yet it’s perhaps the hardest dessert to master: making two layers of pie crust; getting flavor into the apples; making the filling sliceable but tasty; making the bottom crust crispy instead of soggy. Here’s our quick and easy answer to the Apple Pie Problem.

While this wasn’t a vintage dish (it was an invention of the person interviewed for the story), it sounded pretty damned good. I’ve never had apple pie with apple cider and maple syrup before. My own variation on the dish did nothing to solve the “apple pie problem” however. I transported the sauteed apples back into a traditional pie plate and used a top and bottom crust. I haven’t tried it yet so we shall see if it works out. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

“Successful entrepreneur” offers free video on how to make money… obviously not a scam

This “press release” for “infinite cash secrets” is datelined from my hometown.  Google helpfully sent this to me in the form of a News Alert. Looks like since I left Somers has become a hotbed of multi-level marketing scams:
Shawver has achieved his online success by using the principles found in a program called The Infinite Income Plan.

“The Infinite Income Plan allows members of our team to consistently earn $5,000-10,000 dollar weeks by combining its state of the art back office with it’s vast array of cutting edge tools, with even more advanced and state of the art tools we provide to our team,” according to Shawver.

Shawver recognizes that just being handed a plan doesn’t mean that people will put that plan into action, and if they aren’t willing to put some time and effort into it, they won’t succeed.

How far does the economy have to tank before we are all Nigerians?
On a related note, I am totally in love with this site Skeptoid, a podcast (with transcripts) dedicated to debunking pseudoscientific junk like Reiki and homeopathy. While the site is generally a gold mine (see my favorites on how to argue with a creationist and the myth of peak oil), most relevant to the topic at hand is his take-down of pyramid schemes called “Bend Over and Own Your Own Business.” To wit:

Here’s a typical way this works. You see an ad in the paper or on the Internet promising financial freedom, owning your own business. For some fee, say $500, you can become a authorized sales agency for XYZ Company, which sells timeshare condominiums or some other product or service. In exchange for your $500, XYZ Company will provide you with qualified leads, and you are free to pursue those leads however you see fit. Call them on the phone, knock on their door, chase them down on the street and make dramatic flying dive tackles, do whatever you can do (at your own expense, of course; you are self-employed), and hopefully get some sales. You, of course, do not have any timeshare condominiums yourself, XYZ Company does; so you need to spend a portion of the money you earned from the sale to have XYZ Company provide the product to the customer. Everything works out swell for everyone. The customer got his timeshare; you earned a profit; and XYZ Company made a sale. So what’s the problem?

Well, your friend Bob was applying for a job at ABC Company at the same time you were selling your old record albums to raise the $500. Bob was given a nice office at ABC Company, was freely handed the same list of leads that XYZ Company made you pay for, and he proceeded to make phone calls on ABC Company’s phone bill until he made a sale. ABC Company paid him a handsome commission, deducted nothing from it, and Bob went home for the day, secure with his employee benefits package. Bob is not only $500 richer than you, he incurred no costs of his own, and ran no risk of being poor since most salespeople like Bob are paid base salaries.

But I understand why you don’t want to turn green with envy. After all, you have your freedom and are self-employed! Bob is not, Bob has to answer to his boss; and that’s a lifestyle you don’t want no matter how nice of a BMW Bob gets on a company lease. Your friend Red feels the way you do. Red is an independent sales rep. He sells products from various companies, and earns a nice commission on every sale. He comes and goes as he pleases, and answers to no man. But when you ask Red how much he had to pay each of his companies for the business opportunity, he looks at you like you’re from Neptune. Red explains “You don’t pay companies to be their sales rep, they pay you.”

And now you see how you’ve been taken advantage of. XYZ Company has sold you on becoming their sales agent, working at your own expense and at your own risk, and also managed to take $500 from you for no good reason. If you wanted to be an independent sales agent, fine; you could easily have gone and represented any of the same companies that Red sells for, and not paid them a dime.

When Robots Are Used for Evil, Nobody Wins (Except the robots)

Somehow, political robotic telemarketing seems even more annoying than robotic telemarketing that’s trying to sell me something. Thankfully, I haven’t gotten any of these calls:

Column: Just a bit of hypocrisy in Simmons’ attitude regarding robo calls

On Politics

Congressman Rob Simmons wants to share a phone number with his constituents in the 2nd Congressional District, and he’s urging people to call it: (202) 393-4352.

The number belongs to “American Family Voices,” the group behind the recent rash of the so-called robo calls — automated phone messages — that have flooded homes in Eastern Connecticut, urging residents to call Simmons’ office and tell him they don’t like his position against federal funding for port security.

Simmons has, in the past, claimed these calls have caused a major disruption of his staff’s ability to do its work as hundreds of constituents have called to complain about receiving the unwanted automated messages. So his solution to the problem is ask residents to call “American Family Voices” — and tell them to knock it off.

According to Simmons — and these are his words — American Family Voices is “notorious,” “a shadowy, partisan” organization using “these sleazy and deceptive” calls to distort his voting record.

I don’t recall the congressman being as equally outraged back in 2002 when another organization — United Seniors — flooded the homes of Eastern Connecticut with automated calls asking residents to call the congressman and “thank him” for passing a prescription-drug bill for seniors.
Continue reading When Robots Are Used for Evil, Nobody Wins (Except the robots)

You’re not for me, punk rock girl

Who can forget the classic song “Punk Rock Girl” from 90s novelty band the Dead Milkmen? I remember buying their tape for 99 cents at an Ames.

I tapped her on the shoulder
And said do you have a beau?
She looked at me and smiled
And said she did not know
Punk rock girl give me a chance
Punk rock girl let’s go slamdance
We’ll dress like Minnie Pearl
Just you and me punk rock girl

OK, apparently my memory/hearing is not that good since I always thought it said “looks just like Minnie Pearl.” But, I wondered after listening to the song, what in the hell does Minnie Pearl actually look like? Here is the awful truth:

I guess the Milkmen used the word “punk” in the broadest possible sense of the term.

Gaining Perspective from Tragedy

Lock your door at night:

Dorm incident may lead to changes in sex assault law

February 3, 2006

STORRS, Conn. — An incident involving three men accused of masturbating over a sleeping University of Connecticut student is sparking calls to change the state’s sexual assault laws.

The men, who are also students at the school, face disorderly conduct and public indecency charges. But they will not be charged with sexual assault because there was no physical contact with the female victim during the September incident, said Elizabeth Leaming, the assistant state’s attorney prosecuting the case.

“It’s a frustration that there is no ability to charge a sex offense for the kind of conduct alleged,” Leaming said Thursday.

The incident occurred after the woman fell asleep in Skvirsky’s dorm room on Sept. 24.

The young woman discovered what happened after she woke up. She filed charges three days later.

I’ve been accused of being both a Japan apologist and a Japan basher. I admit to both readily. I love Japan, but it is screwed up. I have been somewhat hard on Japan, you might say, by translating reports of some fairly depraved activities.

But at times we all need a bit of perspective. That is why am grateful, in a way, that someone from my hometown (Somers, Connecticut) has helped remind me that Americans can be just as perverted as Japanese people, and sometimes the law is caught with its pants down, so to speak, when it comes to dealing with the devious bag of tricks that is the human imagination.