Tag: Hot Stuff

Friday Food and Drink Post: A Nice Recipe and a Memory of Good Times


I’ve written before, in this series of posts, about my fondness for “hot stuff,” at least in the culinary sense. But I haven’t written much here, other than perhaps in a few comments, about my fondness for Thai food. That’s been a staple ever since my stepson Sam introduced me to it decades ago, and ever since I visited some of Pittsburgh’s Thai restaurants (Thai Me Up, on the South Side Flats, the Spice Island Tea House in Oakland (not CA, but PA), Pad Thai (was that where I enjoyed a delicious lunch with @jamesofengland a few years ago, or do I have that wrong?), and perhaps my favorite of local establishments for SE Asian food, The Golden Pig, just a few miles down the road from me, not far from where those icons of American music, Perry Como and Bobby Vinton, were born. (Funny, that.)

If I hadn’t come by my love of Thai food honestly over the years I’d have fallen for it hard during a visit to the country a couple of years ago, and most especially during the course of a day-long cooking school during which I concocted several authentic dishes with the assistance of an authentic Thai chef. Everything I made that day was delicious, aesthetically appealing, and winsome.

But that wasn’t the sum total of my experience of the country or the food. The tastes of the walk-through markets, the sai oua (northern Thai sausage), the green papaya salad, perhaps the most delicious dish I’ve ever eaten. The pineapples, the bananas, and the mangoes. (Lord. I used to pick mangoes off the trees in northern Nigeria when I was a child. I’d forgotten how absolutely delicious such things are when they come straight off the tree.)

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.

A Philosophy of Werewolves


One of these days, I keep telling myself, I will write the quintessential werewolf story.

There are quintessential tales for golems (Frankenstein) and vampires (Dracula) because those stories offer more than mere entertainment. They dig into the darker side of human nature not just for cheap scares but to make us reflect on pride, lust, and daring.

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


Well, actually, soldering on, but I thought that title would be a turn-off. And besides, solder is indeed ‘hot stuff’ According to Wikipedia, “solder is a fusible metal alloy to create a permanent bond between metal workpieces and the word comes from the latin word “solidare” meaning to make solid. Although it is used for […]

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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:

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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 […]

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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.

Make Your Case For Home (Group Writing: Hot)


If you’ve ever flown into Alaska, the first thing you notice as you peer out the airplane windows are the mountains, row upon endless row of snow-peaked ruggedness. The best word to describe them is a word often overused to describe lesser things: majestic.

Majestic should be reserved for the sort of rare and surpassing beauty that generates awe, like those mountains, especially around 3:00pm in the winter when the set sun casts a purple blanket across the snow. The moon rises behind them, a glorious, massive pale-yellow celestial that captivates, and causes you to stare regardless of how cold it is.

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:”

Group Writing: Summer in the City


The New York City of my youth was a fading star. We grew up on my parents’ stories of New York in the ’40s and ’50s; its heyday many would say. The glamour of Manhattan, the Waldorf and the Plaza, the bustling of its industries, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Yankees, Broadway hits coming one after the other. But all that started to unravel in the ’60s and by the time I was fully conscious in the early ’70s, NYC was on the brink of bankruptcy, the Dodgers long gone, and my parents pretty much abandoned going into the City, as we called it on Long Island, for anything but the Christmas Show at Radio City. But the City was still a major destination for school field trips and the sight of the NY skyline still reminded us that NY was the center of the world. From far away, you couldn’t see the City fraying at the edges.

My best friend in high school loved the theater, and starting around 1975, we would regularly take the train to Manhattan and walk up from Penn Station to Times Square to buy half price tickets for Broadway shows. Sometimes we’d even buy tickets for the Saturday matinee and then an evening show. Twenty dollars went far in those days. I was under strict orders not to wander far from Midtown, even though Midtown by that point was peep shows and massage parlors, interspersed with restaurants, camera discount stores, and theaters. Once I told my mother I had walked through Central Park and remarked how pretty it was.  She told me not to ever set foot in Central Park again. I never told her that sometimes we took the subway.

Group Writing: The Curse of Summer Heat


Few people I know like the heat of a Florida summer. In fact, if people say they enjoy it, we assume they have a screw loose. Part of the culture requires that you complain about the heat at least once in a conversation. And when summer starts early, as it seems to have this year (today it will be 98 degrees), the moaning and groaning are cacophonous.

So, I commiserate with others on the weather; it’s always a good conversation opener. When I meet someone new or am not feeling fully awake, the weather is always a reliable topic. And something we can all agree on.

But quite honestly, I’ve come to realize that commenting on the weather for me is just a lazy habit. For example, I have never paid a lot of attention to the weather when we have made decisions about where we will live. We’ve lived in Massachusetts (humid summers, nasty nor’easters), Colorado (where in the 1980’s we were snowed in for several days), California (which has many more problems that negate the mild weather), and now Florida, the lightning capital of the US (with its humidity and thunderstorms). My husband hates the cold, so no matter how hot it gets, he rarely complains. He knows when he has a good thing.

Hot Tunes?


Y’all went and made me do it. You knew I would go to Charmin and outhouses if pressed. So, here we are: disco.

The Rolling Stones went disco with “Hot Stuff” from their 1976 Black and Blue album. The lyrics are simple to trite, and the music a repetitive dance track. It did not make the Top 40, unlike the ballad “Fool to Cry.”

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For me, a post on Hot Stuff is a total no-brainer. I can’t hear that phrase without thinking of Hot Stuff, the movie from 1979. Basely extremely loosely on police files, it’s the story of a squad of detectives who set themselves up as fences in order to catch burglars. Starring Dom DeLuise, Jerry Reed, […]

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Hot Stuff!: Serving Temperature


ThermometerHow hot is too hot? How does “too hot” compare to “too cold?” We all have our own preferences and our own experiences, coloring the debate. Yet, it is worth noting that people, given their druthers in a modern society, with cost-efficient building and vehicle climate controls, choose warmer over colder climates. So “too hot” has meaning within the context of our ability to modify our experience of the local environment.

Back in the day, before the invention and wide availability of home and commercial property cooling systems, people who could escape the Desert Southwest heat did so by decamping for the summer to higher altitudes. Indeed, the wealthy citizens of Tucson, Arizona would trek up the nearest mountain to a seasonal community they named “Summerhaven.” They essentially closed up their primary residences, leaving a caretaker servant presence in the frying pan of the desert valley floor.

Because of the very low humidity, and the development of reliable municipal water systems, the denizens of the desert developed an energy efficient cooling system long before compressor-driven air conditioning became affordable. Informally, and sometimes derisively, called “swamp cooling,” evaporative cooling systems made dry summer heat into breathable and cool interior air.