Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Blame Hastert

Speaking of Political Dirtballs

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and teanderthal soccer mom and political gadfly Sarah Palin, from TheBlaze.com

Along with his bizarre misinterpretation of Dr. Seuss and much other random shit during his Senate blabbathon in September, Texas Sen. Turd Cruz worked in a quote from another Teanderthal douchebag, Wayne Hoffman, president of the Gem State nutball hate-everything progressive Idaho Freedom Foundation. Hoffman is one of those folks who would rather see the poor starve to death in the dark of winter than participate in anything that might bring nourishment, warmth or light. He has joined those Teapiddlers who say they would rather opt out of the insurance coverage aspect of the Affordable Care Act and pay the fine than buy health insurance. That is, of course, his right. And, if the television report I saw on this topic is correct, Hoffman makes $100,000 a year, and can thus afford to have the courage of his convictions.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out here that I have never met Wayne Hoffman and wouldn't recognize him in a police lineup. But I dislike him as much for his snarky writing style and Cruz-like bogus evangelical libertarian political views as for his claim to be some kind of authority on journalism.
Anyway, the Affordable Care Act is designed to encourage or coerce or somehow convince people who don't have health insurance to GET health insurance. Republicans used to like it at least in part because it has already been a tremendous boon to the insurance industry, which, if you had not noticed before, is also one of the most powerful and influential groups of institutional investors on Wall Street and other world markets.
Hoffman and his addled followers also put forth the notion that people in Idaho who rely upon the federal SNAP program for subsistence are somehow moochers, despite the factual reality that most Idahoans who qualify for SNAP are in fact employed, but living at, and mostly below, the poverty line. Hypocrisy is bad. Lying and hypocrisy are worse. Hoffman is a lying hypocrite who depends upon the sheeplike ignorance of his flock. Cruz is even worse, because he is actually a lying hypocrite who draws his paycheck from federal taxes and his health care coverage under his wife’s Goldman Sachs family plan.
So, in short, I would say that if Wayne Hoffman and those who sail under his flag can indeed afford to pay cash for their own health care, and promise to not ever so help them god show up at a hospital emergency room expecting to be treated at the expense of the rest of us, I wish them good luck and good health. And I also wish he and his ilk would henceforth keep their stupid retrograde views on both the Affordable Care Act and everything else that has to do with making the world a better place instead of the let-'em-eat-dog-food, everybody for themselves, I've got mine, the rest of you can go fuck yourselves world he and his crappy little dirtball organization stand for.

More of the story: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/the-absurdity-the-hastert-rule. For the entire ad-nausea Cruz sillybuster transcript, via the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2013/09/25/transcript-sen-ted-cruzs-filibuster-against-obamacare/

Sunday, November 03, 2013

It's My Fault

Some people think it's strange that I continue to keep a close track on earthquakes, even though I'm in Idaho. But it's kinda cool to be one of the few in Idaho who knew about the loss of the rubber duckie created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman after the pump faltered during a late October quake in Taiwan. But beyond that, southern Idaho actually has its own little "ring of fire," in which we've had 16 minor quakes (the biggest was a Magnitude 3.3) in the past month and 120 in the past year.
The loss of the rubber duckie was tragic to the point that there was an official “moment of silence” to mark the event. But the timing was also noteworthy on my side of the ocean because it came within a couple of weeks after many folks in southern Idaho reported feeling the shake of a Magnitude 3.6 temblor in the foothills near Victor, followed by two aftershocks in fairly quick succession. That was on Oct. 18.
And that naturally got some of the folks who have been here much longer than me talking about the Borah Peak Quake of Oct. 28, 1983, in which two children were killed by falling debris. Now regarded as the second most powerful quake along the North American Plate in recorded history, it was initially registered at a Magnitude 6.3, but has since been studied further and is now calculated as a Magnitude 7.3, followed in the next 10 months by at least 20 aftershocks of Magnitude 4.4 or more. Although the epicenter was in a sparsely populated area, it was enough to rip a trench in the earth, send rockslides tumbling, and displace the nearby ridges along the fault line by as much as 3 meters (9 feet). Landslides, rockfall and shaking strong enough to rattle buildings were commonly reported and recorded in a 1,600-mile radius of the epicenter.
Perhaps more significant was the disruption of the underground water table, more correctly the “hydrologic systems” in the nearby Salmon River, Thousand Springs Valley, and even the springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park, powerful enough to alter the cycle of Old Faithful. In the area closest to the epicenter, ground water levels rose as much as 13 feet in a well, then subsided at a post-quake level about 5 feet above pre-quake levels. At Chilly Buttes on the day of the earthquake, seismic shaking produced a flow of groundwater from fractures in the limestone buttes that flooded the valley, and water levels in the underground Clayton Silver Mine rose enough to halt mining operations until pumps could be brought in to handle the increased post-quake flow.
South of Challis, at Ingram’s Warm Spring Creek, the quake had an opposite effect, drying up the spring and leaving hundreds of fish flapping to their death in the newly dry creek bed. Eight days later, however, the spring started flowing again, but much stronger, to the point that 46 days later, the flow rate was nine times its pre-quake level. The Salmon River and other streams draining the quake-affected area also flowed at much higher volumes for several months.
All this is a reminder that Idaho, despite outward sturdiness, is actually the fifth most seismically active state in the 48 contiguous states. And, as most of us folks with some time in Japan are aware, “seismically active” also means volcanically active. This should not be surprising, given that the state, while most famous for its potatoes, sugar beets, and a gold rush that out-yielded that of California, is sitting above one of Earth’s hottest hot spots. All around the Pacific Ocean, and extending to just a few blocks from my apartment, we find these areas in which the intense heat of earth’s core is transferred to the surface. One of the most noteable examples of this volcanic presence is not far northeast of Boise near Arco, at the Craters of the Moon National monument and Preserve, a convergence of three major lava fields along the Great Rift of Idaho, encompassing nearly 3,000 square kilometers (1,117 square miles) of high desert and sagebrush, including the deepest known open rift crack in the world – 800 feet deep – among many other impressive volcanic features that are the result of more than 25 distinct volcanoes, of which the most recent were within the past 2,100 years, and are recounted in native Shoshone legends that tell of a serpent on a mountain who, angered by lightning, wrapped himself around the mountain and squeezed it until the rock turned to liquid, fire shot into the air and the mountain exploded.

The lunar-like landscape in Idaho. From a trip we made in 2011 to Craters of the Moon.

For now in my neighborhood, this translates to the ability to have thermally generated heat in Boise’s midtown and at the Boise State University campus across the river. But this heat migration also melts rock, which is what makes volcanoes. Idaho also sits on the western edge of the North American Tectonic Plate, which converges with the oceanic plate that is somewhat west of us, beneath Seattle. When these plates grind against each other, and past another oceanic plate that intrudes into the southern part of the state – over the hot spot at Yellowstone across the border in Wyoming, we get earthquakes that are the result of both tectonism and volcanism. And we get some warm sidewalks.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Drunken Herbed Chicken 101

One of the many nice things about having a second-floor balcony overlooking huge trees and grass along the Green Belt and the Boise River is in being able to get out and have a barbecue just steps away from the air conditioning.
A two-for-one sale at Albertsons persuaded me (I cave easily) to try some drunken herbed smoked chicken. There was also some bargain broccoli and corn, which made it look more like a real menu and not just a bird bonfire.
So I have here four chicken breasts with skin and bone. This is better for grilling than the skinless stripped kind, because the skin and bone and what little fat there is help the juiciness. For this exercise, you could also use a whole adult chicken, or a chicken cut up into its usual parts (drumsticks, thighs, breasts, wings)
The other trick is the beer. You will need two kinds: A good kind for the chef, and a cheaper "bulk" kind for the chicken. Beer will help break down the chicken a little and help it hold its tender juiciness even over a fire. And beer will also help the chef persevere while standing over the grill on a hot day.
I have four breasts here, so the brine in which the breasts will marinate overnight is made of two cups of water, a quart of beer, 4 Tbsp. of kosher salt, 2 Tbsp. of minced garlic and 2 Tbsp. of ground garlic, 2 Tbsp. of cayenne pepper, 2 Tbsp. of shoyu, and the juice of two limes. Place the chicken skin-side down in a pot big enough to hold it. Pour over the brine mixture, cover with plastic wrap, put on the lid and let it bathe overnight in the fridge.

Two kinds of beer: One for the chef, left, and one for the chicken, right.

Minced garlic, and the juice of two limes.

Fast forward to the next day. We prepare a little foil pouch containing two big handsful of hickory (or your favorite alternative smoking wood) chips, folding over the foil and poking holes in it, which will let the smoke out when the time comes.

Prepare your charcoal grill with a pyramid that will be big enough to provide coals across the bottom, and after the coals burn down, spread them and place the foil wood chip pouch in the center.

While the charcoal is burning down to a nice orange glow, heat your friendly oven to 450F (150C). Take the pot of marinated chicken out, drain away the liquid, rinse the bird, and pat dry with paper towels.
You will have had the foresight to make a nice little rub mixture of your favorite herbs, 1/3 cup of water, 1/3 cup of salad oil, and 3 Tbsp. of vinegar. I used cider vinegar, but any kind will do. My rub mixture includes rosemary, cayenne, a load of basil, oregano, dried cilantro, parsley, dried jalopeno, chipotle powder, black pepper, white pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme and a teaspoon of Lipton onion soup mix powder (which is also great mixed into sour cream for a chip dip.)
The trick with rub is to really try to get it all over the bird, on both sides, and into every crook and nanny. This is easier after patting the chicken parts dry with paper towel, then applying a light spray of olive oil, before smearing the rub over the bird as if applying sunscreen (it rubs the lotion on its skin....etc....)

While you've been rubbing the breasts, the charcoal is working its way to orange-glowing coals. This is the time to put the breasts on a grill lightly sprayed with oil and set on a baking pan lined with foil to catch the drippings. The grill should be the one you will use over the charcoal. Baking in the oven will help bring the chicken meat up to safe temperature (180F) and also help seal in the juices so they will release over the charcoal-hickory on the grill.

While all that smoking is going on, you will naturally have had the foresight to prepare the side dishes. In this case, I have made wild rice with shiitake, adding a chicken bouillon cube and two hefty shots of sake to boost the flavor and fragrance. I got the sake idea from a Chinese-Japanese friend back in the 1960s who had a little Chinese restaurant in Shimo-Akatsuka, Japan. I say a little thank-you prayer to him whenever I make rice!
Where was I? Oh yes, broccoli flowers are blanced in boiling water, then drained and allowed to cool. They will join greens later as a salad.
The other treat is an ear of corn. Put the shucked ear into a pot, fill halfway with water, add a little salt, then add milk to cover. The milk brings out the sweetness of the corn so you won't need to smear on artery-choking butter.
Time on a charcoal grill varies widely, which is another good reason to start the chicken in an oven before moving it to smoke. Mine took about 30 extra minutes to get a nice color. Remove the chicken, allow 10-15 minutes to release the juices sealed in by the heat, and plate over a bed of the wild rice. This, with a little wine or some of that "good" beer should result in a supper that you would be proud to share with someone you really love, which is what I am hoping will happen someday too.