HALLOWEEN – A WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Photo Challenge Halloween


PIZZA WITH PINEAPPLE AND CRISIS ACTORS – Marilyn Armstrong

WEEKLY Word Prompt: Question


The answer to most serious questions is another question. Serious things don’t have simple answers. For example, “Does this pizza require a longer time to cook or will it dry up?” There are no quick answers to any questions pertaining to pizza.

Pineapple pizza
Credit: Getty

Let’s discuss pineapple. Whose idea was it to put fruit on a pizza and why does anyone actually order it? I can understand anchovies, even though no one can force me to eat one. Salty is okay on pizza, but FRUIT? Seriously?

And then, there are politics. How can you look at yourself in the mirror when you are caging children … for any reason? How can you face a kid who survived a mass school shooting, tell him or her that “it didn’t happen” and “he/she is a ‘crisis actor'”?

What’s a crisis actor?  How do you recruit them? Do you advertise in a special “Help Wanted” section of some undercover actor’s journal?



HELP WANTED – CRISIS ACTORS FOR FAKE SLAUGHTER

Are you the kind of actor who plays dead really well? Can you stay very still while buckets of blood pour out of you? If you are under 18, white, and ready to play dead, we want you. Resume required. Non-union.



You’d need a second advertisement, too. For families. Grieving parents, friends, and teachers.



HELP WANTED – GRIEVING FAMILY FOR MURDERED KIDS

Can you cry on cue? If you can convey deep sorry and heartbreak on camera, we need you to play the devastated parents of crisis actors for mock, mass school shooting. Standard rates apply. Send headshots, color only. Ability to cry with real tears mandatory. Non-union.



So many questions, so little time!

HOW THE POTATO CHANGED HISTORY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

When we celebrate the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus on Columbus Day, we should also be celebrating Columbus’s discovery of the potato. More accurately, Columbus’s introduction of the potato from the New World to the Old World. This introduction of New World foods to Europe and the east is known as the “Columbian Exchange”.

Christopher Columbus

The potato, and other native American plants “…transformed cultures, reshuffled politics and spawned new economic systems that then, in a globalizing feedback loop, took root back in the New World as well.” This quote is from an article in the Washington Post on October 8, 2018, titled “Christopher Columbus and the Potato that Changed the World.” The article is by Steve Hendrix.

An example of the potato’s earth-shattering impact is that it helped eliminate famines and fueled a population boom in parts of northern Europe. This made urbanization possible which, in turn, fueled the Industrial Revolution. This population explosion also helped several European nations assert dominion over the world from 1750 to 1950. Thus the potato is also responsible for the rise of Western Europe and its colonies, including America.

But let’s get back to the initial introduction of the potato to skeptical Europeans. The potato spread slowly. At first, it was viewed with suspicion and plagued by misinformation. Initially, some people claimed that the potato was an aphrodisiac. Others believed that it could cause leprosy. When Sir Walter Raleigh brought potatoes into the Elizabethan court, the courtiers tried to smoke the leaves!

Sir Walter Raleigh

It took a while for people to realize what a nutritional bonanza the potato is. It’s filled with complex carbohydrates, amino acids, and vitamins. It is a nutritionally complete diet when paired with milk. It also took time for people to take advantage of the superior productivity and sturdiness of the potato over other agricultural products, like grains.

In the 1600’s, Europeans finally figured out how to successfully cultivate potatoes. The effect was dramatic – the population of places like Ireland, Scandinavia, and other northern regions, increased up to 30%. In a 1744 famine in Prussia, King Frederick the Great ordered his farmers to grow potatoes and ordered the peasants to eat them!

Famines were prevalent in Europe. France had 40 nationwide famines between 1500 and 1800 as well as hundreds and hundreds of local famines. England suffered 17 national and regional famines just between 1523 and 1623. The world could not reliably feed itself.

Enter the potato. Because potatoes are so productive, once everyone started planting them, they became a diet staple. In terms of calories, they effectively doubled Europe’s food supply. For the first time in Western European history, the food problem was solved. By the end of the 18th century, famines almost disappeared in potato country. Before the potato, European living and eating standards were equivalent to today’s Cameroon or Bangladesh.

Another benefit of the potato is that it is easily portable and stays edible for a relatively long time. So potatoes could easily be transported to the cities, fostering their growth. This created an urban factory workforce. Hence, the Industrial Revolution.

In the mid-1700’s, a French man named Antoine-Augustin Parmentier took it upon himself to launch a PR campaign on behalf of the potato. He created publicity stunts to draw attention to his miracle product. For example, he presented an all potato dinner to high society guests. One of them, it is claimed, was Thomas Jefferson. Parmentier also convinced the King and Queen to be seen wearing potato blossoms. His biggest stunt was to plant 40 acres of potatoes at the edge of Paris, knowing that the starving population would steal and eat them.

Antoine-Augustin Parmentier

The potato took such firm root in Europe that by the end of the 18th century, roughly 40% of the Irish people ate no solid food other than potatoes. That was also true of 10-30% of other countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Prussia, and Poland.

In the mid-1800’s, catastrophe struck. Blights started wiping out the potato crops. In 1845, in Ireland alone, one half to three-quarters of a million acres of potatoes were wiped out. The following years, up until 1852, were even worse. The Great Potato Famine was one of the worst in history in terms of percentage of population lost. Over a million Irish died. A similar famine in the U.S. today would kill 40 million people!

Potato blight

Within a decade, over two million people fled Ireland, over three-quarters of whom came to the United States. That changed the history and demographics of the U.S. And it began the phenomenon of the Melting Pot.

A major commemoration of the potato exists in Germany. A statue of Sir Francis Drake was erected in 1853, although Drake did not, in fact, introduce the potato into Europe. The statue depicts Drake with his right hand on his sword and his left hand holding a potato plant. On the base is the following inscription:


Sir Francis Drake

Dissemination of the potato in Europe
In the year of our Lord 1586.
Millions of people
Who cultivate the earth
Bless his immortal memory.


Drake statue in Germany

So, as Steve Hendrix said in the Washington Post, “…a small round object sent around the planet … changed the course of human history.”

WITHOUT A PARTRIDGE IN SIGHT – Marilyn Armstrong

Pears of the Day – October 9, 2018

My vision isn’t as good as it used to be. I can see but only wearing exactly the right glasses which these days, is nigh unto impossible. I can get close, but never exactly right. I can read with no glass. Middle vision, I use computer glasses but right now, they are a bit too strong and I need a new checkup and new eyeglasses — for which I don’t have money.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Without sharp middle vision,  I can’t clearly see the LCD on my camera. If I wear my distance glasses, I can’t even read the dials on my camera, let alone focus a lens.

Pear in a tree

So I am dependent on autofocus. Which, fortunately, is a lot better than it used to be — depending on the camera I’m using and of course, the lens.

So here’s the story of the pears.

More pears in the tree

Garry and I are at River Bend Park. It is part of a long string of parks surrounding the Blackstone River, all loosely titled “the Blackstone Valley Historic Corridor.” One step to the left of a national park.

All the parks are linked by the river or the adjacent canal, or one of the river’s many tributaries. Then there are the streams, swamps, other smaller (and sometimes nameless) rivers, lakes, and ponds. This particular section of the park includes a big barn build during the 1700s on land that was a farm. Hence the name River Bend Farm.

I’m looking at a big tall tree which, as far as I can tell, is full of big yellow flowers. And then, while I was trying to find the flowers, I heard a “thunk.”

Thunk? Flowers do not make a “thunk” when they fall. Flowers are inclined to float gently to the grass. This “flower” hit the ground solidly. Realizing that I wasn’t looking for yellow flowers, I pulled out a small camera with a really long lens and eventually realized that all those big yellow flowers were actually bright pears. It was … a pear tree.

I took pictures. I was not sure I got any sharp ones, but I shot anyway. It turns out, I got more than a few and they are pretty good.

Later on, Garry said that he knew it was a pear tree because he narrowly avoided getting bonked on the head by a falling pear.

Funny about it being a pear tree because I used to have a huge old pear tree in my backyard in Hempstead. That was at the first house I lived in as a married woman. The pear tree was a cross between a Bartlett and a Bosc and produced the best pears I’ve ever eaten. It produced tons of them.

The neighbors all came by with baskets to collect pears. I still had tons of them remaining. I made pear pies, pickled pears, gingered pears and of course, we ate them. Despite that, there were bushels of pears remaining.

Pears by the river

In the course of events, we all learned a great truth. Do not sit under the tree when the pears are full-grown. Because one of those big babies — completely unripe and hard — falling from the upper branches could knock your head in.

FEAST OR NIBBLES? Marilyn Armstrong

Wednesday RDP – FEAST


We aren’t big eaters these days. A feast can be laid out on the table, but we merely nibble around the edges. I’m surprised when I meet an elderly but really fat person because generally, appetite diminishes with the years.

My son, just approaching 50, eats half as much as he did a few years ago.

Dining

We eat maybe half as much as we did a two or three years ago which is half what we ate 20 years ago.

Why? My best guess is we burn fewer calories and need less food. Garry still exercises regularly, but he doesn’t have a big appetite and when he tries to eat like he used to … usually involving piles of sushi … he will regret it. Very soon

Although we attend feasts — we have an invite to my son’s for dinner on Sunday and there will be enough food to feed most of Uxbridge — but we do not partake of them with the gusto of days of yore. The “getting together” is the more important part of the feasting. The talking and laughing matters more than the perfect dinner or dessert.

I have not determined if this is a good or bad thing. Maybe it is just “a thing” — neither good nor bad. Another one of those “it is what it is” occasions in the moving on of human life.

THREE-QUARTERS OF A POUND – Marilyn Armstrong

I was out of lunch meat, so Garry went to the deli. It was Monday and they were out of everything except (sigh) turkey breast. Not my favorite, but I’m betting today is a delivery day.

Garry asked the newest lady at the counter for 3/4 of a pound of turkey breast.

Like a deer caught in headlights, she was lost. She could probably “do” a pound — or half a pound. But what was 3/4? She obviously didn’t recognize it as 75% of a pound, or even that it’s likely the line between the half pound and full pound markers.

Schools don’t teach math in any way that might be useful to those they have taught. They have gotten into systems so complicated that no one under 40 can do any math in their head. They need a calculator. Even to subtract one number from another. Oh, and they can’t count on their fingers.

Eventually, the boss stopped what he was doing and came over to rescue her.

Garry came home. He commented that there’s a scale and surely the young women (in her 20s) could tell that there was a line between half a pound and one pound and that would be the three-quarter, right?

Wrong. She doesn’t know that 3/4 (of one) = 75% (of one). Have you ever tried to explain to a clerk how to turn 99-cents into a dollar?

“Look, I’ll give you a penny and you can give me a dollar.”

“It says 99-cents.”

“So that means that if I give you a penny, you can give me a dollar.”

“It says 99-cents.”

This is because she doesn’t understand that 100 cents (pennies) equal one dollar. We are worried that our “below age 40” youngsters aren’t going to vote. I’m beginning to worry that they can’t think. Apparently, thinking is no longer taught in any school. So if you don’t get a head start at home with the whole “thinking” thing? You’re doomed.

Vote? If they don’t know that 99-cents plus a penny equal a dollar, how can we expect them to vote? Or have a grip on the issues? Or even know what kind of government we have or want?

ABOUT THAT FOOD YOU’RE EATING … Marilyn Armstrong

Daily Topic Subject – Food Glorious Food
Game On – S2 Created by A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip!

“This twice weekly game will be 21 questions or in truth 16 flexi questions, because there will be five permanent that must stay in place at all times.

But apart from those 5 permanent questions, should you choose to reblog, then you can change any of the other 16 questions or create 16 of your own, that’s down to you, however you must stick to the Daily Topic Subject.

The Rules …
1] Leave the Permanent Questions [PQ] always in place PLEASE.

2] Reblog should you so desire

3] If you do reblog, a pingback would always be welcomed so l don’t miss it.

4] This is a non-tagger/ non-nomination game.

This is quite simply a small questions game. The questions are not that taxing, or they might be if you don’t like questions — as many don’t. If you don’t like questions, why are you even bothering with this? The questions are just here for trivia based fun.” So sayeth Guy


Q1] What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

Snails. It was a French restaurant. Garry said I had to try them. Disgusting. But Garry likes them. He also likes anchovies, so I suppose snails are right next door.

Q2] What was Cheerios original name?

It had an original name?

Q3] What is right when eating Pizza – eating the slice as it is, or folded?

Be free! Live it up! Whatever works for you. I’ve also eaten it with a knife and fork (don’t faint, please).

Q4] In hot dogs which is better Ketchup or Mustard?

The VFW raising money with its own hot dog stand!

I don’t use either of them. Actually, I rarely use either of them on anything, but absolutely NOT on hot dogs. I like a little pickle relish if I have some. Otherwise, nothing is fine.

PQ5] If you had to explain to someone who had never cooked ‘Scrambled Eggs’ in their life – how would you explain that  …. through mobile phone text?

I don’t text. No, seriously, the other day I had to text something to make my car radio work. I realized I didn’t know how. I eventually doped it out, but I don’t text. I make phone calls. I write instructions. I used to write manuals for software and hardware. Sorry, no texting.

Although I make scrambled eggs, I’m not one of the world’s great egg cookers.

Q6] Watermelon – salted or unsalted which is better?

Salted? Seriously? Why? Who puts salt on watermelon? Is that legal?

PQ7] Who in your opinion is the best TV Chef? Explain why and provide links to support your theory.

I have no opinion. Never watched a single TV show starring any chef. Sorry.

Q8] How do you eat your Oreo Cookies – split apart or just bite into them?

I buy the thin ones and I never split them. Actually, until the thin ones came out, I didn’t like Oreos.

Q9] Everyone loves a sandwich, however when it comes to cutting them in half do you do so diagonally or straight?

I usually don’t cut them. I just start at one end and eat straight through. Anything left over goes to the most aggressive dog in the room.

Q10] Spaghetti is best eaten twirled around the fork or cut up with a knife?

That’s a personal choice. There IS no right way. Anyway, I break the spaghetti in half before I cook it, so it’s just easier to eat any old way.

Q11] Pecan – a simple word in itself and yet there is a huge controversial debate on pronunciation – so is it  “Pee-can or is it Pick-ahn?

Everyone I know calls it a pee-CON. Pick-ahn? I don’t know anyone who pronounces it that way. Maybe down south? Or out west? Or  … in Lebanon?

PQ12] What is your most favourite quote with regards food that sums you up the best?

You cook. You clean. I’ll eat and praise your greatness.

Q13] What is the main ingredient to Gingerbread Cookies?

Let’s get quibbly here. There is gingerbread and then, there are ginger snaps. There is no such thing as a gingerbread cookie. I make gingerbread and if I do say so myself, it’s pretty good and smells like heaven.

Gingerbread (mine)

I also bake — or used to bake — amazing ginger snaps. I didn’t invent the recipe — it came from a cookbook, but they are really good. These are a crisp, ginger-flavored cookie and is related to gingerbread by its primary flavoring — ginger.

For both of them, the primary ingredient is flour. In pretty much everything you bake, flour is either the primary ingredient or the second of two equal amounts. Very occasionally, a recipe will call for more sugar than flour, but I don’t bake things with that much sugar in it. I’m pre-diabetic and would like to remain “pre.”

Q14] Which country is the second biggest market for fast food – China or Canada?

I would bet on China simply because it’s huge and contains so much of the human race. Canada is a physically big country with a relatively small population, so I don’t think they’d beat out China for anything except maybe, moose. Canada definitely has more moose.

PQ15] What is your favourite meal to cook and explain why?

I don’t think I actually have one. There are so many things I can’t eat — or Garry can’t eat — a lot of the fun foods are not fun anymore.

Q16] What is venison?

Deer.

Q17] True or False – Beefsteak is a variety of Tomato?

Yup.

Q18] It’s Halloween, and you need to make a Jack-o-lantern, so you need to find a  … ?

A pumpkin that’s the right shape for your art. After that, you would want a knife and a scoop. Preferably a small and very sharp knife. Maybe something like a gouge — a round thing you might use to core an apple (there’s a word for it, but I don’t remember it). A thin line magic marker isn’t a bad idea, either, if you’re getting fancy.

For a final piece de resistance, you’ll want a candle and something with which to light it.

OR, these days, if you are a painter, you can skip the carving and paint the pumpkin. The good thing about painting is that a painted pumpkin doesn’t rot as fast as a carved one.

Q19] Are humans omnivore, herbivore or carnivore?

Omnivore unless you are a vegan. If you are a vegan, you’re a herbivore.

PQ20] Are you deleting any questions, if so which ones?

Nope. Food is not so important to me today. Time does weird things to appetite.

Q21] What is another name for Sweet Corn?

Maize.


And kudos to: https://aguycalledbloke.blog/2018/08/30/game-on-series-2-confidence-2/