Tag: 2020 December Group Writing

Member Post

 

January 6 is the twelfth day of Christmas, so I am not out of season with Christmas music. Yup, the Twelve Days of Christmas are not part of Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas. Rather, the Christian church, both east* and west,** commemorate this ancient feast day twelve days after commemorating Christ’s birth. To […]

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Group Writing: Fish’s the Season

 

To outsiders, Cambodia has two distinct seasons: the wet season and the dry season. But to the Khmer people, there is a third one, rdauv prohok, a prohok season. Prohok is a fermented fish paste. It is the heart and soul of Khmer and Cambodian cuisines, and yes there is a difference between the two cuisines, but that is a topic for another day. Prohok season generally starts in December and ends in February, coinciding with the fishing season (November to March). This year, the first phase of the season began on December 20 and ended on the 29th.

To understand why a fermented fish paste is so important to our food culture, one has to understand Cambodia’s geography and its dependency on fish. I mentioned Boeung Tonlé Sap, also known as the Great Lake, before in one of my posts here. As the largest inland fishery in the world, the lake has been sustaining the Khmer people since the beginning. It is integral to Khmer food culture (we eat 140 pounds of fish per capita annually, compared to the global rate of 64 pounds). Lives in Cambodia essentially revolve around this abundance of fish, with 45% of the population working in fish related employment during this short peak fishing season. People from all over the country travel to the Great Lake, the Mekong, and every waterway to buy or trade rice for fish to make pha’ak (fish fermented with sweet fermented alcoholic black rice), sun-dried salted fish, smoked fish, and of course to make prohok, to ensure that fish products are available throughout the year.

Group Writing: Happiness Is a Warm Panettone

 

…At least to some, it is. The traditional Italian Christmas fruited bread is moist, buttery, light, and next to sublime when toasted and slathered in butter. But not to all. And not to one in particular-my brother Larry.

We are a big Italian family with Italian traditions at holiday time. Our traditional dinner for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter was always homemade ravioli, braciola, sausage, and meatballs. Turkey and ham were served later in the evening, at the second supper which was just for sandwiches and pickings. Homemade wine and Italian pastries were served alongside the generous number of pies and cakes.

Despite the distinct Italian flavor to our celebrations, I don’t ever remember encountering a panettone at our holiday celebrations when I was young or seeing one at all until at least my late teens. But some time in the early ’80s, when gourmet Italian food was going mainstream, panettone seemed to pop up everywhere, not just in the Italian specialty stores. Also at this time, they started to appear reliably at our house at Christmas, as someone invariably gave one, or two or four, as gifts to my family. My father loved them but my brothers and I did not. Perhaps the first ones we had were poor quality or stale. I eventually came around when I discovered that they are quite delicious, and that toasting them took them to an entirely different level. But my brother Larry would not be moved. The very sight of that iconic rhomboid box annoyed the heck out of him and he would go into a rant about how they were worse than fruitcake.

‘Tis the Season for Evictions [Updated]

 

justice and COVID-19Mitch and the Gang, along with the leader* of the House Republican’ts, happily played Grinch to all but their paymasters in the corporate elites. They continued to willfully extend the pain and harm to all the Americans they not so secretly hate for electing President Trump twice. The forgotten Americans must be shoved back down the memory hole if the GOPe is to rise again to its lucrative faux leadership role. So, the uncounted Americans facing eviction from home or loss of a small business got only a Life Saver pealed off from a Life Savers® roll into their stocking.

The federal moratorium on home evictions was only extended to the end of January 2021. It was to be left to the 2021 Democrat-controlled new House and Senate to leverage the government-created personal and business debt crisis into a leftist bloodless revolution. Thankfully, President Trump has effectively vetoed this insult to non-elite Americans. He should do more than demand $2,000 per person; he should answer more of the pork-barrel with a non-partisan populist demand for government to assume some of the private debt imposed by government edict.

Tis The Season For . . . Taking Stock

 

I’ve written a few times, during my tenure on Ricochet, of my late December penchant for coming up with twelve words (one for each month) to describe the year that’s on its way out. I can’t remember a year that I’ve been gladder, or more anxious, to see over the side than 2020. So, without further ado, here we go:

January“Weird.” It was warm. Not like winter at all. I barely used any hay, and as a result, at the end of the year I have a barn half full of old hay that, although not spoiled, because it’s been under cover, is old and which the sheep aren’t all that anxious to eat. Sigh. Rumblings of a virus from China. Trump has shut down travel. Wonder what that’s about.

February “Better.”  More like winter. Still no snow, though. Lovely respite in Florida with a Ricochet friend.

Member Post

 

Since President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump now have some level of natural immunity, having experienced a bout of the Chinese virus, it fell to Vice President Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence to lead the nation in the Warp Speed vaccination program. They did so, in a public event, a ceremony of sorts, […]

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‘Tis the Season for Bad Christmas Music

 

The Christmas season brings with it holiday music: some quite good, some not so good, and some wonderfully bad. Every wave of popular music brings with it eventual Christmas singles or albums. Singing stars, and others, seem drawn like the wise men following the star. Consider a few examples, but do set your beverage down before listening, as some are inadvertently merry and bright.

We start, of course, with disco. At the tail end of the disco craze, you could expect orchestras to show they are with it. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra did not disappoint, recording a medley, “Hooked on Christmas” in 1981. The Universal Robot Band released “Disco Christmas” in 1977, straddling street cred and sentiment. Then there were the combined efforts of various session musicians and disco labels. Salsoul released the 1976 album whose cover art you see here. I think the Salsoul OrchestraChristmas Medley” is better than the philharmonic attempt. All of these are better than the perhaps earnest attempt by Charo: “Mamacita, Donde este Santa Clause.” Then there is the album by Mirror Image, a group of studio musicians, turned out Disco Noël with “Silver Bells” as you’ve never heard it before:

‘Tis the Season to Reminisce, and to Put Up the Tree!

 

I first started commemorating the years I’ve spent here with number six, in 2016. (If you’re younger than me in RicoYears, and you’d like a rundown of what the site looked like on that first day, you’ll find it in that post.)

I found out about Ricochet in August of 2010 on PowerLine, a site I discovered as a result of the Bush/National Guard memo story. (The typeface/font controversy interested me even more than the politics, because it spoke to my professional expertise and wheelhouse.) And I lurked here for a couple of months before the earth-shattering announcement from “Busy System Admin” that members would be allowed to start their own conversations! (Yes, Virginia, for the first six months of Ricochet’s existence, there was no member feed, and even when I joined ten years ago, on December 12, 2010, there was neither personal messaging, nor groups, nor a number of other features and bells and whistles that, to a greater or lesser extent, we all enjoy today.)

Although I was forward enough to comment on my first day here, it took me two full years to work up enough nerve before I dared to write my first post. It took me four-and-a-half more years to get to post 100. Now, a mere three-and-a-half years after that, I’m at 420. Go figure.

Member Post

 

One hundred fifty five years ago, the 13th Amendment became part of the United States Constitution, with Georgia’s ratification vote. This year, there is still involuntary servitude around the world, and not as punishment for crime. Indeed, President Trump’s State Department highlighted the well-documented problem of women forced into marriages, shipped into Communist China for […]

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‘Tis the Season, but…

 

Traditions linger on…for a time. I had a friend, I have been known to call him my Mentor, even though at times the lessons went the other way. Sherm was born on the exact same day as Alex Trebek. He retired from his corporate job back in maybe 1995 to run a couple of small businesses that he and his wife had. We would go up and visit them. They were closer to the country, probably a good sixteen miles north and ten east of us. Their businesses were complementary: an ice cream shop and a candy factory and retailer. The candy had big days from September through May, and the ice cream was big during the summer. At some point, they decided to buy a place for the candy factory. They had intended to keep the ice cream and candy retailer in the same place but their landlord at the old shop got wind they were looking around, so he tripled their rent. They moved into the new factory and took the retail candy business there as well, but closed down the ice cream business. They sold all of the ice cream equipment.

Somewhere along the way, maybe even before Sherm had retired from his corporate job, my wife and I started giving out gifts of half-pound boxes of chocolate from Sherm’s factory for Christmas. We gave a box to each family member, brothers, and sisters, step-brothers, step-sisters, parents, nieces, and nephews. The box count went between twenty-five and sixty over the years. Then we might get larger boxes for various places, such as a two-pounder for our chiropractor’s office. Everyone in my family plus people at church and other friends have looked forward to that little half-pound box every year, it was really very good chocolate.