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Thanksgiving Sunday Dinner at Our House

I'm making two new dishes for my family's Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday.

The first is "Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish," sure to be recognized by NPR Morning Edition fans:

  • 2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
  • 1 small onion
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar ("red is a bit milder than white")

    Grind the raw berries and onion together -- a chunky grind, not a puree.

    Add everything else and mix.

    Put in a plastic container and freeze.

    Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. It should still have some little icy slivers left.

    The relish will be thick, creamy, and shocking pink. OK, Pepto Bismol pink. It has a tangy taste that cuts through and perks up the turkey and gravy. Itís also good on next-day turkey sandwiches, and with roast beef.

    Makes 1-1/2 pints.

  • I couldn't resist! I've been listening to NPR since 1997, and 2005 is the year I made my family unwitting guinea pigs for this wacky recipe.

    The second recipe is a dessert, but a departure from my traditional decadent chocolate holiday desserts. This year I'm making tapioca pudding. REAL tapioca pudding, the kind with those squishy, eyeball tapioca pearls! Why tapioca? Earlier this year, Rachel made a slow-cooker recipe that called for tapioca. We had communication issues regarding the tapioca, and I brought home a huge 3/4 pound bag of tapioca pearls from the Indian grocery store for Rachel's recipe that called for 1 tablespoon of minute tapioca. We've aggressively pursued opportunities to use the stuff ever since.

    :: Bryan Travis :: 11/26/2005 @ 18:38 :: [link] ::
    ...


    Term Paper Blues

    I'm writing an 8-10 page double-spaced essay paper for my graduate elective class, "Overview of the U.S. Health Care Delivery System." The professor requires 7 literature citations. A few hours of keyword searches on Medline and Lexis-Nexis turned up 83 articles, which I'm reading tonight to prepare to type the paper.

    With so many other school-related things to worry about, I don't know why I'm investing so much time in an assignment that accounts for 20% of my grade in a class that I find ridiculously easy. With a modest amount of effort, I got a 100 on the mid-term exam and an "A" on my presentation. I wish my pharmacy school classes were so generous and forgiving, and if I spend too much time on this paper, I'm really going to bemoan that sentiment.

    The paper will discuss the healthcare system's strategies for dealing with increasing prescription drug costs. One-third of the paper will discuss the present situation, the next third will discuss the "future per literature," and the final third will be my opinion. I'm going to divide healthcare recipients into three groups and discuss cost containment strategies of each: employer-provided insurance recipients, state and federal government-provided insurance (Medicaid and Medicare), and the uninsured (cash and drug assistance program recipients). So that's three sections (present, future, opinion) and three groups of recipients. If I devote one page to each combination of section and recipient, I will have a 9 page paper.

    Seems reasonable enough... but must... fight... demons... of... analysis-paralysis... and... procrastination!!!

    :: Bryan Travis :: 11/24/2005 @ 21:49 :: [link] ::
    ...


    Nuclear Family Holidays

    The third round of block exams is over, and I'm enjoying a short respite before having to go 110% throttle to finish the semester. In the weeks ahead I have a term paper due for my elective, a parenteral compounding lab practical, video counseling, a practice station exam, finals, and a job. Thankfully, it'll all be over exactly four weeks from today, after my final final exam on December 15.

    There's a lot of family holiday stuff going on between now and then. I might have to duck out on some stuff because of school, which really frustrates me. When I express my frustration, I unfortunately tend to take it out on the people closest to me, but what I'm really frustrated about are the demands of school and my inability to manage them as well as I'd like. One thing I'd like to change about myself is how I respond to the internal strife I feel when I can't do it all, and then I'd like to change myself so I don't experience that strife in the first place.

    The 3 hour roundtrip drive to and from family events is a major factor in the family vs school conflict. One way to avoid the time-consuming drive is to host events. We're having dinner at our house on the Sunday after Thanksgiving for 8 people: my brother and his wife, my mother and her boyfriend, my dad and his girlfriend, and Rachel and me.

    An ironic, funny thing just struck me. In the traditional nuclear family, one expects the parents to be married and the children to have boyfriends and girlfriends after they reach puberty. But in the family unit I grew up in (my parents, brother, and me), the relationships are reversed. The two sons are married, and the parents have boyfriends and girlfriends.

    Another oddity in our family unit also occurs to me. One expects the siblings to argue and fight incessantly, but in my family unit, it's the parents who can't get along. It's like my parents are allergic to each other. Someone allergic to peanuts has a violent, life-threatening reaction to the tiniest amount of the offending substance. As far as my parents are concerned, each thinks the other is a nut. But instead of my parents being nuts for each other, they just go nuts around each another.

    We plan to employ the Offspring strategy - You gotta keep 'em separated.

    :: Bryan Travis :: 11/17/2005 @ 11:25 :: [link] ::
    ...


    Virginia Wedding

    Rachel's best friend was married last weekend, November 5, 2005. The ceremony was at the Kingsmill Resort and Spa in Williamsburg, Virginia. When her friend first set the date, we thought her crazy - I mean, come on, a November outdoor wedding in Virginia? Crazy! But she picked the warmest November on record for her wedding, and the guests were basked in the warm, golden glow of the sunset over the James River as they exchanged vows.

    I flew into Norfolk. I rented an "economy" size from Budget, which turned out to be a Ford Crown Victoria (aside - Crown Vics are unwieldy boats with horrible turning radii; after returning to Louisville and reuniting with my Prius, I made 33 foot-turning-radius donuts in the airport parking lot before driving home to Lexington). I-64 connects Norfolk to Williamsburg, with a couple mile long tunnel under Chesapeake Bay between Norfolk and Hampton. Amazingly, the radio never lost the station. On the return trip, I pulled out my cell phone and watched the signal strength: 5 bars all through the tunnel, underwater, beneath steel-reinforced concrete, several feet below sea level. How do they do that???

    :: Bryan Travis :: 11/15/2005 @ 07:06 :: [link] ::
    ...


    Pat Robertson and Mental Illness

    The point I'm trying to make is that if a random, unknown person said some of the things Pat Robertson has, they'd be dismissed as irrational or insane. But because Pat Robertson said these things, it's supposed to be a wake-up call from God, or something. It's wake-up call to Pat Robertson to be evaluated for Alzheimer's dementia. These are actually warning signs of schizophrenia, a mental disorder than usually onsets between the teens and early 30s, so schizophrenia is probably not a concern at Pat's age, but he is ripe for AD.

    Some Early Warning Signs of Mental Illness vis-a-vis Pat Robertson:

    • Irrational statements
      Pat Robertson has said feminism encourages women to "kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

    • Unexpected hostility
      Robertson made headlines this summer when he called on his daily show for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

    • Extreme preoccupation with religion or with the occult
      Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town [Dover] Thursday (11/10/2005) that disaster may strike there because they "voted God out of your city" by ousting school board members who favored teaching intelligent design.

    • Extreme reactions to criticism
      Later Thursday, Robertson issued a statement saying he was simply trying to point out that "our spiritual actions have consequences. God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in his eye forever," Robertson said. "If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."

    Early Warning Signs of Schizophrenia.

    Pat Robertson Warns Pa. Town of Disaster (also here)

    VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town Thursday that disaster may strike there because they "voted God out of your city" by ousting school board members who favored teaching intelligent design.

    All eight Dover, Pa., school board members up for re-election were defeated Tuesday after trying to introduce "intelligent design" ó the belief that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power ó as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

    "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city," Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club."

    Eight families had sued the district, claiming the policy violates the constitutional separation of church and state. The federal trial concluded days before Tuesday's election, but no ruling has been issued.

    Later Thursday, Robertson issued a statement saying he was simply trying to point out that "our spiritual actions have consequences."

    "God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in his eye forever," Robertson said. "If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."

    Robertson made headlines this summer when he called on his daily show for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

    In October 2003, he suggested that the State Department be blown up with a nuclear device. He has also said that feminism encourages women to "kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."


    :: Bryan Travis :: 11/11/2005 @ 00:03 :: [link] ::
    ...


    One Tuesday Night in the Pharmacy

    The other night, an 8 or 9 year-old boy walked up to the grocery store pharmacy counter where I work. The conversation went something like this:

    BOY: Hey, how are you all doing tonight?

    PHARMACIST: We're fine. How are you?

    BOY: I was wondering if you could give me something to make me look this this? (Shows us a muscle magazine turned to a full page spread of some steroid-enhanced body builder)

    PHARMACIST: (Temporarily at a loss for words)

    BOY: As you can see, I'm rather small, so I was wondering if you had any protein supplements or drugs you could give me so I could look like this?

    PHARMACIST: Well, we'd need a prescription from your doctor to give you anything that'd make you look like that.

    BOY: Oh, okay. Good night! (walks away)

    US: (after sharing looks of bewilderment, hilarity ensues)

    :: Bryan Travis :: 11/09/2005 @ 00:21 :: [link] ::
    ...