Tag: 2019 June Group Writing

Member Post


July 1st was National Wine Cooler Day. This called to mind Bartles & Jaymes. Others hear “wine cooler” and think Bruce Willis for Seagrams Golden Wine Coolers. “Cooler” led to “cool” and then to “Kool,” and therein lies a policy puzzle. Reflecting on where the market has gone since those days, an apparent contradiction emerges […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Group Writing: Hot Labs and Health Physics


When people in my line of work refer to something as “Hot” we are not generally talking about temperature. We are talking about radioactive contamination.

This is a hot lab.  It has the shielding to protect the researcher or technician (this appears to be a nuclear medicine setup), radiation signage, the absorbent padding on the counter, lead pigs for moving around radiation sources, and a Geiger counter/survey meter for detecting radiation. Radiation and radioactive materials are very useful, while requiring special precautions.  Thus was born the field of Health Physics, the science of radiation protection.

The name Health Physics is derived from the Manhattan Project.  It was a way to disguise the nature of the program with a title that did not reference radiation or radioactive elements.  Nowadays, health physicists work in the medical field, nuclear energy, and research.  While I am not a health physicist, I sometimes feel like I play one on TV.  I’ve been interested in radiation since I was a little kid hearing my father’s stories from the nuclear power plant.  I learned my alphas, betas, and gammas along with my As, Bs, and Cs.  This knowledge has come in handy surprisingly often.

Hot Arts


My father provides ideas for stories from time to time, or the core of the tale itself, upon occasion. Beyond the similarity of our speaking voices, our storytelling and argumentation resonate harmoniously, making for easy writing. The nub of this tale starts with an email from the senior Colonel, in which he offered two images of heat: a blacksmith and an angel standing on the sun. This prompted reflections on people working with heat to create things.

My father grew up in the countryside, outside of Philadelphia. Sure enough, in the 1940s there was still a blacksmith in the community. The blacksmith has lived on in my father’s childhood memories, like the inquisitive postmistress, and his favorite childhood toy. Blacksmiths create things both practical and aesthetically pleasing through the application of so much heat that iron or steel becomes malleable. For some great pictures and description of the process, you should read Scott Wilmot’s “Homesteading: 3 Days of Blacksmithing.” Blacksmiths work in close proximity to extreme heat and can only create with metal heated to such a temperature as could inflict devastating injuries in case of accidental contact. 

Other artisans work in softer metals, melting their work materials in a sort of pot, skimming off impurities and then pouring off some of the molten metal into a mold, from which the cooled solid forms may be further manipulated into a final design, for ornament or practical use. I have an early memory of my father practicing one such art.

Member Post


Where do I begin? Well, here’s a thought: Ricochet member @kentforrester’s recent post, “My Ten Favorite Poems,” easily won promotion to the Main Feed, broke the 100-comment mark, and is still going strong. Proof positive (as Kent himself intimated) that title, title, title on a blog or social media site doesn’t presume to fill the […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

My Spicy, Saucy Love Affair


Everyone has a preference for spicy food. Some love it spicy, some just want it mild. I wouldn’t say I preferred spicy food ever since I was a wee child, because really, I think I mostly ate spicy food because Dad enjoyed it, and like most young boys I wanted to be like my dad. Oddly enough the first spicy food I remember enjoying was the hot cinnamon salt water taffy. Like a mad scientist, I’d try the regular cinnamon and the hot cinnamon to test my own reactions to the delicious taffy. Sure enough, the hot cinnamon was spicy and I couldn’t eat another right away.

I also discovered Tabasco Sauce from my dad who used it generously on his breakfast eggs. Again, I’d try the same thing and again I discovered I could only eat a few bites at a time at first. Of course, as others have noted, one develops a tolerance for these things and soon Tabasco was a regular part of my breakfast meals with nary a second thought. From there I’d enjoy the hot salsas like my dad. I suppose I may have stopped there and been perfectly happy if it weren’t for the late nineties.

Still Cooking with Fire After All These Years


Happy Birthday to Ann Wilson of Heart, born 19 June 1950. She and her younger sister, Nancy, are the heart of Heart, a band that burst onto the world stage from the Pacific Northwest in the mid 1970s. They were part of the soundtrack of my youth. Wait a minute. 2019-1950= . . . 69. That just can’t be right.

Ann Wilson was the distinctive lead vocalist, while Nancy provided great harmony and kicking guitar licks. Their debut album, Dreamboat Annie, was released in America our bicentennial year, with “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You” propelling them up the radio play charts. They struck while the iron was hot, releasing Little Queen in 1977 and Dog & Butterfly in 1978. These women did their own thing, playing neither the tough girl nor the pop tart. They did not need an image manager, as they actually had musical and songwriting talent.

Here is the title track from their first album, performed live on BBC’s music television series The Old Grey Whistle Test:

Member Post


My parents have gardened for many decades. While not really “granola,” they have generally moved from synthetic fertilizers to compost and manure. A perennial favorite fertilizer is composted steer manure. All three words matter: manure, from steers, that has been composted. Straight steer manure, like certain other domesticated animals’ waste, is not recommended, in part […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

A Hot Mess: Climate of Confusion


Our betters had better get a grip on their narrative. We have been assured that the science is settled. Wicked men have offended Mother Earth and she is getting hot under the collar. To deny this is heresy. Heretics must be cast out, silenced, deplatformed, unpersoned. We must unite to denounce and deny the deniers…at Newsweek!

Newsweek is certainly a member in good standing of the church of correct thinking. So how could it possibly be that they would blaspheme Anthropogenic Global Warming? Yet here is the evidence that they have transgressed [emphasis added]:


Group Writing 20190604: Désirée


“…Then came the Fourth of June
On that sleepless night,
Well, I tossed and I turned
While the thought of her burned
Up and down my mind…”

I almost always have a soundtrack going in my head. Anything can trigger a new song. Even a pattern of syllables can pop something into my head that has a matching rhythm. Or, songs can morph from one into the next in ways that make perfect sense to me, but nobody else.

Hot Stuff: It’s a Little Spicy


People get reputations. Sometimes they work to create a certain reputation. Sometimes it just happens. When I was growing up, I was exposed to spicy food often. One of my daddy’s favorite phrases was, “It’s not hot until it makes your hair sweat.” And he meant hair, not just your scalp. Hair doesn’t have sweat pores? Then up the heat until they grow some. Looking back, this was certainly an example of his trying to create a reputation for himself of being tough and manly. He had been in the U. S. Army. Later, he was a railroad detective and then a municipal policeman. He was surrounded through most of his adult life in an atmosphere of what some now call “toxic masculinity.” Were I to try to analyze him, I would guess that having had polio as a boy might have been a driving factor for him to be tough and do manly things, to overcome physical limitations. But whatever his motivations, it meant that I grew up learning that real men do not use the mild salsa, but go for the hot sauce. I became inured to the heat. I expected the heat. Mild Mexican food? Who would bother to eat that?

As I got out on my own and was cooking for myself, I was always interested in new peppers. Back in the early 1990s, the hottest pepper known in the US was the Habanero. It had some Cod-awful level of heat that was up to 350,000 Scovilles. The Scoville scale is a measure of how hot something is as measured through dilution. They start out by diluting a bit of pureed pepper with water, such as at a million to one ratio, to see if someone can still detect the spiciness. If not, they cut back on the dilution until the spiciness is detected. In the case of the Habanero, it can be detected at a dilution of between 350,000:1 and at the mild end at about 100,000:1. To give some scale for a normal human, a Jalapeño runs between a mild 3,500:1 to a hot Jalapeño at 8,000:1. Thus a Habanero is between about twelve and a hundred times as spicy as your average Jalapeño. Cayenne pepper runs between 30,000 and 50,000 Scovilles for another comparison. Since the 1990s, more peppers have become known or developed that are over a million Scovilles, such as the Carolina Reaper at 1,569,300 Scovilles, but even up to 1999, Guinness was recording Habaneros as the hottest pepper cultivar in the world.

Hot . . . umm . . . Stuff: Adventures in Shoveling out the Barn


Let’s start with the Book of Ecclesiastes. First off, that photo to the right? It has nothing to do with the subject of this post. But before I dig in (so to speak) I’d like to get something off my chest, something which I’m generally not all that moved by or all that privy to, but something which, at the grand old age of 64, seems to have unexpectedly crept up on me. And that’s what the less-charitable amongst us might call, “a bit of vanity.” You see, I’ve written so much on Ricochet over the last nine years about life down here on our little farm, and I’ve figured so prominently and so often in so many of my posts and comments as a sopping-wet figure in hip boots and overalls, up to her knees in mud trying to free the tractor from the swamp it’s axle-deep in; or as the person rolling around in the muck on the barn floor with her arm all the way up to the elbow inside some ewe’s throbbing and painfully constricted cervix, trying to disentangle a set of twins in the womb and lead them out into the world one at a time; or as the person my large-handed or fat-fingered neighbors call, so they can ask me to stick my own dainty digits up into a sow’s uterus to make sure that all the little piggies have safely made their escape; or as the non-licensed veterinarian dealing with any number of disgusting medical calamities; or as the person making and installing a 14′ set of driveway gates; or even as the person mixing her own concrete and digging out and putting in a trench drain, that you may all be excused for thinking that I am always dressed from the charity barrel, that I never clean myself up, and that I am permanently sweating like a horse, covered in filth, and smeared with blood (either my own or that belonging to some other creature).

For some reason, it’s important to me, right now, to dispel that notion. So even though I shun the camera most of the time, and very rarely include a recent, recognizable photo of myself in any of my posts (of which this is the 287th), here’s one where I’m relatively clean and reasonably well turned out. That’s all. Just a moment of vanity. All is vanity. Before I launch into yet another post about my very organic life on the farm.

But I digress (perhaps it’s because my Medicare card arrived in the mail the other day. Ouch). Back to Ecclesiastes. Oh, you thought the preceding paragraphs were the Ecclesiastes bit? Sorry. False flag. The Ecclesiastes bit has to do with the turning of the seasons, and when it’s “time.”

Hot Takes and Fast Breaks


We are in the midst, or at the end, of the National Basketball Association’s championship tournament. The Golden State Warriors are the first team to advance to five straight NBA finals since the Boston Celtics, who were in 10 straight finals between 1957 and 1966. There have been other incredibly dominant teams who went on finals streaks, then missed a year, then were back for more. Yet, this has been a very special team. They also have good reputations off the court but have joined the rest of the NBA in their open leftist contempt for American voters’ decision in 2016. Indeed, they act as if the election was illegitimate while championing every left-wing Democrat cause. Yet, they may well lose this finals series to a Canadian team, the Toronto Raptors. President Trump should have tweets drafted and ready to immediately address either eventuality.

The Raptors were up three games to one when they lost Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals by one point. They need only win one of the next two games to unseat the defending champion Warriors. Yet, Game 6 is in the Warriors’ home arena. Suppose they win, making it one game for all the marbles. It would be seasoned champions against first-time-ever contenders, with all the pressure on the Raptors for letting the series slip away.

Golden State Warriors Win, and “Three-peat:”

Member Post


It’s 67°F. I have the windows open with a nice cross-breeze. I’m sweating. No, it’s not from exercise. I’m barely moving. Just fingers gliding over the keyboard. I would prefer 55-60°F. It’s just the way I’m constructed. Generations of Vikings and Neanderthals living in cold climes are singing songs of ice and cold sea spray […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.