Sunday, November 23, 2008

Penguin Video of the Day

The video title calls him "One Lucky Penguin." I lean toward "Smart."

Tip of the beak to Emp. Peng. for his judicious use of emailing humorous video.

The Great Stuffing Debate

It has recently come to my attention that there is a debate about whether the tasty bread-based substance served alongside the turkey on Thanksgiving is "dressing" or "stuffing." Well, I'm here to settle that. It is quite simple. "Dressing" is what you put on a salad. "Stuffing" is what you put inside poultry. Just take a look at what you are eating. If it is beige, you have stuffing. If it is green, you either have dressing or the makings of a fun-filled afternoon of, as my family used to put it, offering sacrifices to the Porcelain God. End of debate. "Dressing" does not come out of the body cavity of poultry unless you have just slaughtered said poultry and need to extract the giblets, which I am told do not actually grow in the paper pouch.

Proper stuffing, however, does come out of the body cavity of poultry, no matter what those nay-sayers say about bacteria and raw poultry juices. Poultry juices are the secret to the best stuffing. Properly cooked to 165 degrees, in-bird stuffing is just fine to eat and one of the best things about Thanksgiving, right up there with the annual ability to get cranberries that haven't been bogged down in sugar. The one downfall of stuffing a bird is that it takes longer to cook, and the breast meat tends to dry out before the stuffing is thoroughly cooked. Never fear, though. I have a stuffing-based solution to that--amazing how many Thanksgiving problems can be cured by stuffing. Simply work your hand between the turkey breast meat and the breast skin, and give the turkey breast implants by shoving a few handfuls of stuffing between the meat and the skin. This gives the meat a layer of protection, so it cooks a bit slower than it otherwise would. The turkey isn't quite as pretty, but that really doesn't matter. Anyone who is crazy enough to actually carve a turkey at the table soon finds that the aesthetics of it are highly overrated.

The only reason to cook stuffing in a dish outside the bird is that turkey breeders and geneticists have not yet managed to engineer a turkey with the body cavity capacity necessary for an adequate amount of stuffing. The shortfalls of out-of-bird stuffing (wince) can be partially ameliorated by mixing in at least a full stick of melted butter along with the broth when moistening the stuffing, and covering the stuffing dish tightly with foil, pressed down to make contact with the stuffing surface so there is no head space in the stuffing dish.

And to clear up another stuffing misconception, Stove Top is neither stuffing nor dressing. It is the Velveeta of the stuffing world.

In case you need it: Best Stuffing Recipe Ever

Friday, November 14, 2008

For Your Consideration

I fully expect that not all of my readers will agree, but please consider it anyway. It's only six and a half minutes. If you have time for a Bugs Bunny cartoon, you have time for this.

Really consider the question: what is it to you?

Emp. Peng. and I lived together for two and a half years before we got legally married under the auspices of the State of Nebraska (and immediately adjacent to Traffic Court...I have photos). For all practical purposes during those two years, we lived as husband and wife. The only real clue to the outside world that we were not was that I still had my maiden name, but nowadays, that does not necessarily mean much.

Two and a half years in, having been booted off our parents' respective health insurance plans, there was no longer a reason not to legalize things, so we arranged for a judge and a vacant courtroom, and had a dozen family members watch as a guy whom we had never met before said a few words none of us remember and signed a form. After dinner at an all-you-can-eat buffet, we went back home to the same apartment we had shared before that afternoon, and continued life pretty much as it had been the week before.

Things felt different, though. Even though all that had changed was that we had a piece of paper on file in a courthouse in Nebraska and I traded out my surname for something phonetic but equally frequently misspelled, things felt different. We were married. For some reason, that seemed to slap a coat of respectability on our relationship that had been absent the day before, when we were living in sin.

Almost all of the legal rights of a married couple can be cobbled together with the expensive help of a good lawyer (by contrast, it cost us $40 to get them: $15 for the license including certified copy, and $25 for the judge to sign off on it). Certain ones, like survivor's benefits and being able to file a joint tax return, are hopeless outside of a marriage recognized by the federal government, but one can generally get inheritance, co-parentage of children (at least in most states), medical decision-making and the like through separate legal agreements between the parties.

What a lawyer cannot draw up, though, is anything that confers the status of being introduced to a stranger with "And this is my wife..." Socially, that is a powerful sentence fragment. No one ever asks me to prove it. I could, if I had to, dig out our copy of the marriage license from among the birth certificates and life insurance policies, but ever since I changed my ID, no one has ever asked me to. It is enough for me to say I am Mrs. Harriett.

I have long thought that the solution to the issue of same-sex marriage is to separate religious marriage and civil marriage. Remove "the power vested in me by the state of..." from the clergy. If someone wants a legally-recognized marriage for any of the legal benefits of being married, they fill out the license at the courthouse and get a clerk or judge or lawyer to sign off on it, not unlike a business partnership. If they also want to have a religious ceremony to mark the occasion and sanctify the union in the eyes of whatever religion they choose to follow, they can do that, too. It just would not carry any more legal weight than, say, a bris or a baptism.

This might actually cut divorce rates, too. Brides could throw weddings absent the legal binding of getting married. Another one of my long-held beliefs is that there is a not-inconsequential subset of women who get married so that they can have a wedding. These are the women who have been plotting every detail of Their Special Day since they could pronounce the word "tulle," until by age 16 or so, it is Just Add Groom. Any groom will do. They put a year or more's time, energy, and salary into a blowout bash, and once the dress is packed away, they realize they had been so obsessed, usually from a very young age, with getting married that they never stopped to consider being married. Without dress fittings, catering menus, bridal showers and seating arrangements, they are adrift and end up splitting sooner rather than later. These sorts of marriages are the type that some folks seem just fine with, because it involves one each of a bridezilla and groom.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Stupidest. Injury. Ever.

I am sitting here on the couch with my right foot propped up on a stack of pillows. It is not the most comfortable laptop-using position, since it gives one a bi-level lap, but it is what one is supposed to do for a sprained foot. A foot sprain is not, in itself, a notably stupid injury. Spraining one's foot while knitting is. Yes, I said "knitting." Take an activity whose primary equipment is a pair of foot-long pointy steel sticks, done by grannies and pregnant women for generations, and I sprain a foot doing it.

Last night, I passed a lovely evening curled on the couch downstairs watching Emp. Peng. play God of War and knitting away on the second installment of my Doctor Who scarf. As is likely to happen during a four-hour gaming session preceded by two cups of coffee and a cup of tea, I eventually required a bathroom break, so I untucked my legs from under me and stood up. Seems I failed to notice that I had curled up in such a manner that, at some point in the preceding hours, my right foot had fallen asleep--a failure my right foot rectified with the first step I tried to take on it. A memo would have sufficed, but my foot decided to get the message across by refusing to support my weight just as I was trying to navigate around the side of the sofa. A fall, crunch, and searing pain later, I ended up with what we like to call a Grooism, an action so stupid that all remaining brain cells want to commit suicide out of the embarassment of being associated with a cortex that would sprain a foot knitting.

This is not my first sprain, nor my worst, but I at least got the others in a dignified manner: playground tumbles, gym class injuries, taking out a Suzuki Sidekick with a Ford Pinto. But a knitting injury?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


If you muster the will to do anything today, and I include getting dressed and breathing, go vote. Unless you already have or are not a US citizen. Then, you are excused. The rest of you, get your butts to your polling place, wait in line if you have to, and cast your ballot. Well, vote and get dressed. As far as I know, voting in the nude is only legal in Oregon.

Really, what are you doing today that is more important than selecting the leadership of the country?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sweet Mercy, That Was Stupid

With five and a half hours until the official kickoff of NaNoWriMo, I decided I should up and join Facebook. What was I thinking? It is now nine minutes into NNWM, and only one character even has a name. Meanwhile, I already have nine friends on Facebook, some of whom I even know from offline.