I went in for a chocolate chip cookie and ended up thinking I went fishing

It had been 18 plus hours since I had eaten, and my hunger was beginning to urge me on to eat something. As I did not bring a lunch, there were no thoughts of eating until I went home. That was until I ran across a plate full of homemade chocolate chip cookies. I had to dive in and poach two.

The initial look was of your typical chocolate chip cookie. It was full of chips and had a nice brown look. It was not rock hard like my Mom’s would be. She loved granite-like cookies. They had flattened out considerably, but for me, it was a cookie and cookies, unless they’re store bought, taste good. I was in for an interesting experience.

Chocolate chip cookies typically have chips, flour, sugar, butter, baking soda, and eggs. You can alter the recipe by using a combination of sugar such as brown and white sugar. The flour could be varied. The biggest changes are typically made to the chocolate and oil, hence the butter. There is nothing like butter in cookies as they impart what I believe is the best flavor. Margarine detracts and I wouldn’t recommend canola oil. These oils also affect how the cookies browns and flattens out. These cookies I was consuming gave me all of the information for me to determine what I experienced.

The cookie was soft and upon biting I could tell it broke apart differently from what I normally make and eat. This hinted at a butter substitute. The chocolate chips were okay as I typically do not notice a difference between the cheaper brands and do not mind it. The immediate feeling of eating these two cookies was one of satisfaction. Not as good as I have eaten but good enough to eat more as I was now considering looping back to grab a few more. That is when it happened.

I tasted fish. I felt like I had eaten some week old fish. Initially, the aftertaste wasn’t bad, but it was beginning to build. When I reached my desk I was grabbing for mints and my hunger was gone as was my desire to eat cookies. Now I have eaten strong fish and generally, do not have a problem with it, but when you add a chocolate flavor with a sweet taste, it became problematic. These do not mix. I sat down and began to go through the typical ingredients to see what was wrong. I dismissed the fish ingredient as I do not think anyone would ever think it nice to add fish to cookies. The joke idea did not fit. It was then I thought of canola oil. For me, the worst ingredient for a cookie. It leaves me wondering if the canola oil was also on the older side of its shelf life.

I do not recommend using canola oil for cookies. I know there are recipes using this, but if butter is a better choice then use it. It is not that much of a health issue to use butter. If butter is that big of a deal for you, then you really shouldn’t be eating cookies. There are instances where canola oil can be used, but be careful as the taste and texture changes. The key to any type of cooking is the quality of ingredients. For me, canola oil is a step down from butter in most instances. It will be a while before I want another cookie, but I will take this as an opportunity to relieve myself of unnecessary calories.

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Relationship

Observing relationships bloom and whither has driven me to introspection about romantic relationships. Even more, my view on what makes a relationship work has become more clear, however, this does not help me much as I have been married for over two decades and do not expect to become single again. I like the position I am in, thank you.

There are typically three points that can kill a relationship you hear about all of the time: finances, religion, and intimacy. I would like to add a fourth to this – children.  These four predict the success of a relationship. It does not mean both couples need to be of the same religion or have the same financial views, but a careful understanding is needed when considering a long-term relationship such as marriage. Afterall, marriage is for the growth of the couple and procreation. The modern culture may say otherwise, but the fact does not change that these are the two reasons.

Another factor I hear now is equality between the couple. I strongly disagree with equality will lead to separation or one will dominate the other and provide an unhappy relationship. Couples cannot have equality in their relationship as this is an impossible expectation. My wife and I are hardly equal at anything. My strengths are her weaknesses and her strengths are my weaknesses. We are equal in some areas, but for the most part, we are different. This is why I believe equality is a relationship killer but compromise is the great bonding agent.

Without compromise, the first four relationship elements I mentioned are difficult hurdles for a long-term relationship. Compromise comes with the understanding that one person in the relationship may do the bulk of the work on a specific task while the other may do the bulk in another area. One point to keep in mind is that it is very likely and realistic that one may do the bulk of the tasks throughout the entire relationship for the life of the relationship. This is perfectly normal and fine especially when coupled with love. You meet your significant other’s weaknesses with your strengths and vice versa.

In my relationship, my wife does the bulk of our laundry, say 85% while I do the ironing 100%. This developed not because we sat down and ironed the duties out, but it was to our mutual benefit that this happened. As for meals, early on she did 95%, but as we have aged, the meal ratio is now more like 60% of her doing the meals. Again, it is to our mutual benefit. Since I get home late and she is home earlier than me, she can prepare the entire meal or start the meal and allow me to assist when I arrive home. Looking at me, I do 100% of the vehicle maintenance. First, she isn’t interested in doing this while I most of the time do not mind. The fact that I do all of the maintenance allows her to work on another task. If I were to write down the percentages between us, it may very well be uneven in my favor. This is where the key to compromise comes in. We are not trying to be equitable. We are trying to continue to grow our relationship, support one another, and maintain a happy environment. Afterall, when she is sick I do the bulk if not all of the work around the house. I will always pick up the slack when needed as will my wife. I do not expect some equitable payback as it

Compromise isn’t all about tasks as it is about pleasure. We prefer different foods but compromise on what we eat for meals. Vacations are a compromise and even the tely is a compromise. Yes, even sex is a compromise but that is one of the four elements from above. Compromising has allowed our values to merge. When we move towards an equality relationship, stress and discourse follow, but with compromise, there is no stress and any discourse is brief and followed by love.

Finances, religion, intimacy, and children require compromise in order to be overcome and equality will not do it. If you cannot find a compromise with these four, it is best to go your separate ways. Compromise requires work as the levels of work and play are dynamic. Compromise also requires love and with this, your partner will be placed first in the relationship thus allowing for a happier relationship between the two.

 

I would like to say that several words have inspired me. These are Charity, Faith, and Hope. Now all we need is a Hug in there.

Carbonara

This is a dish that I have purposely avoided for years. They thought of having eggs as part of a sauce pushed me away from even attempting it. This changed when I watched a video of several chefs or cooks make this dish. Listening to a few Italian chefs discuss how they make it provided me with a change of heart.

Carbonara is a simple dish with guanciale, eggs, cheese, pepper, and pasta. Pasta water can be added. As the one Italian chef said, “Italians are poor” so they don’t put many ingredients into the dish. I took his advice and did not add garlic or olive oil as well as no green garnish. Oh, forget the egg-based noodles as you’ll already have eggs in the dish and you don’t want it too heavy.

My ingredients were:

.50 lbs of pancetta (an Italian bacon) Don’t use the cheap American bacon.

4 eggs (I added a fifth once my son said he was starving)

Freshly ground black pepper (Don’t overdo it)

1/3 cup of pecorino Romano (have additional cheese to put on top of each dish once served)

2 oz of Pamesan cheese (I just winged it and likely added more than I should. Same with the Romano)

1 lb of spaghetti (I saved my pasta water)

Now for the steps:

I started the water boiling for the pasta. Next, I whisked the eggs and cheese together. Placing my sauce aside, I began to saute the pancetta in a skillet. Don’t overcook this like I did. You want to cook this until the fat renders and the pancetta isn’t crispy yet. I drained the fat and put the pan to the side until the pasta was ready. Once the pasta was ready, I put the pancetta back on some heat and added my pasta with some of the pasta water. You really don’t need much. I added the pepper and then the sauce. It is here where you do not want high heat but a low heat and you need to constantly stir this sauce until you have covered the pasta and heated it thoroughly. You’re actually cooking the egg in this step.

As I stated earlier, I overcooked the pancetta and added too much cheese. Even with these issues, it was beyond my belief. The Carbonara was delicious and one that I actually crave to try once more. Maybe tonight! You have some saltiness with a unique flavor from the egg. The color was a wonderful yellowish to gold color.

This should be a simple dish with few ingredients. There is no need for garlic or even olive oil. Stay away from the green garnish. The preferred pork is guanciale. I was lucky to find pancetta in my area. We need more Italians here. American bacon is too thin and really isn’t the right type, so I recommend paying more for a better meat. Same with the cheese. Don’t buy the wood shavings Parmesan cheese. Get a good quality cheese and grate it. You will not be disappointed. Quality ingredients make the dish.

Categories: Recipe, Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Science is not without Religion

Many atheists would have you understand that science and religion do not mix, furthermore, that religion is the antithesis of science. Take a look at Seth MacFarlane’s Cosmos and you’ll see the biased myths perpetuated by atheists to denigrate religion. The following will show that indeed religion has been if not at the forefront of science then near the front.

The first flaw is to believe religion and science are incompatible. There needs to be understood that these two can support each other. Religion can indeed be seen as the foundation of sciences and this can be viewed with the religious men that discovered. The attacks so often shown as the ignorance or evilness of religion have nothing to do with the science but with theological elements that the atheists tend to ignore. Giordano Brune and Galileo, two of the more championed martyrs or victims of the Catholic Church, are in reality complex stories that are not explained away with a simple the Church hates science or are trying to cover up. No, their stories are very complex and have less to do with science and more with the understanding of doctrine. Without spending the time and effort studying these two, you cannot come away with some simple statement.

We can look at the Catholic Church for evidence of the union between science and religion where there is no conflicting issue. We can review father Jean Picard, a French priest and astronomer, who determined the size of the earth. Continuing on with astronomers, we have the Italian priest and astronomer of Giovanni Battista Riccioli whose work Almagestum Novum deals with fixed stars, the moon’s phases, eclipses, gravity and falling bodies and many other ideas. Francesco Grimaldi was an Italian priest as well as mathematician and physicist who worked with diffraction of light. Finally, there is Father George Coyne who received his doctorate in astronomy and has a number of papers published. If I move away from the stars, there is always Gregor Mendel or Father Pierre de Chardin who was a paleontologist and geologist.  With a little research, you can find so many more Catholic priests who contributed to science without any issues to the theological doctrine of the Catholic Church.

The point I am trying to make is that religion and science need not contradict but actually blend together. Who knows that the Big Bang Theory was formulated by a Catholic priest? Seth MacFarlane doesn’t know. Religion does not oppose the sciences and in fact, strongly supports science. Religion supports science more than atheists wish to believe. Whether you are religious or not, you should accept that religion is not the antithesis of science.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Theology Tags: ,

Teaching Textbooks Scores

I thought I was finished with discussing homeschooling, but I was wrong. As my spouse sells our material, she cannot get rid of Teaching Textbooks, and the reason she is told are the test scores. Apparently, the scores have dropped. This leads me to wonder if it is the parent and child and not the curriculum. Here is why I think this.

My sons switched to Teaching Textbooks (TT) beginning with algebra. Prior to this, my sons used Saxon Math, a very nice curriculum for the lower maths, but not very impressive for the upper level. We tackled Algebra I with Teaching Textbooks and carried on through to Pre-Calculus. How did my sons do?

On the standardized test, my youngest score perfect scores in math. My sons scored very high on the SAT for math and one had the option to test out of math for college. Taking calculus at the major university as an early to college student, the lowest grade was a B, and I blame my oldest for his attitude and not applying himself. In fact, I would say only 2 B+’s were worst grades my sons achieved at the university. This is a total of 6 or 8 math classes. Forgive if I forget how many the oldest had taken as he has just graduated from college. This data does not fit well with the idea of Teaching Textbooks producing poor testing scores.

We had one demand on my sons with TT as well as the other curriculum. They had to complete ALL of the problems for math. Work had to be shown and explained if required. All problems that were incorrect had to be reworked until correct. Any major issue in comprehension meant that WE, parent and child, went over the lesson and problems. This meant 50+ problems had to be done each day and corrected each day. We did this with Saxon math as well.

Going from verifiable data to anecdotal or information provided to me by parents, the child never did all of the problems and few if any corrected what was wrong. The parent may have gone over the problem instead of having the child redo it. I do not think this is the primary issue as I believe parents do the same with other curricula. TT provided an out for the parent whereas other curricula do not. The child doesn’t require the parent as the solutions to the homework and tests can be viewed by the child without the parent being present. THIS is the major flaw and it is on the parent! Parents routinely allow their child freedom to do use the answer keys to check their work without the parent’s supervision. Doing this does not allow for an understanding of the material. It is a common theme amongst homeschooling parents to allow their child to educate themselves whenever possible. TT is viewed as a digital instructor where no parent is needed. That is the flaw.

Of course, this is my opinion based on the limited data I have, but it should be considered as a potential reason for TT’s failure in the test score realm. Parents are limited on time, especially the larger families, and this allows for shortcuts to be taken. These shortcuts hurt the education of a child. TT allowed the parent to believe they could effectively shortcut their parental-educator role. The solution is for the parent to become involved with the education.

The Curious Case of John Punch

We do not know much about John Punch other than to say he was of African descent and was an indentured servant under Hugh Gwyn, a wealthy landowner and a member of the House of Burgesses. How he came to be a servant of Gwyn’s is not known or at least has not been well documented. He would go from being simply an indentured servant to the property of Gwyn based on one court decision.

At some point during the early 17th century, John Punch became an indentured servant to Hugh Gwyn along with at least two other men, a Scotsman named James Gregory and a Dutchman name Victor. These men provided cheap labor for four to seven years in exchange what was likely passage to the new world for James and Victor along with food, clothing, and shelter upon arriving. As for John, it may have been that he was rescued from a Pirate ship, thus was indentured in order to pay off his rescue and safe passage to North America, likely not the destination of his choosing. The freedom dues for these three men could have ranged from land, yearlong supplies, gun, clothes, and a cow. If these men were able to endure the harsh treatment of indentured servants, they stood to gain more than any new immigrant crossing over the Atlantic Ocean to the new world.

Life as a servant was harsh as the servant required permission for nearly everything from leaving the plantation to doing work for others. They were unable to marry or have children. They could be whipped for poor or unruly behavior. Living conditions were poor as some indentured servants struggle to acclimate to the new climate and succumbed to disease so that many of the servants never survived beyond their servitude. Escape was an option for servants in unbearable environments as it was easier for white servants to escape as they could blend in with society and typically spoke the language.

These three men represented just 3 of the 96,600 indentured servants sent to the English American colonies. Reasons for this system range from the English Poor Law of 1601 or the sentence placed upon convicts. It is possible that James Gregory was a Scottish felon found guilty by an English court.

Whatever their treatment and life was on Gwyn’s property, it had become unbearable enough for the three to run away in the Spring of 1640. We are not aware of whether or not the three transpired to depart together or if they ran at separate times, but it can be safely assumed they likely left together as the ran to Maryland. As early as June 4, 1640, Hugh Gwyn made a petition to the Council and General court of colonial Virginia to have his servants returned to him and the servants were to “received such exemplary and condign punishment as the nature of their offense shall justly deserve and then be to be returned.”

On July 9, 1640, the court ordered that the three servants of Hugh Gwyn “shall receive the punishment of whipping and to have thirty stripes apiece” and that Victor and James would “serve out their times with their master according to their Indentures, and one whole year apiece after the time of their service is expired. By their said indentures in recompense of his [Gwyn’s] loss sustained by their absence and after that service to their said master is expired to serve the colony for three whole years apiece.” Victor and James had an additional four years of servitude added for their act. For John, the sentence deviated after the whipping. John was not as fortunate as the other two as he had to “serve his said master or his assigns for the time of his natural life here or elsewhere.”

There has been an argument stating that Punch was already a slave, but this is very unlikely as the court’s decision specifically stated his punishment to serve his master until death. Had Punch been a slave, it would have been not only senseless but a waste of words to state the obvious or as one historian stated, Punch’s punishment was less harsh than the two white men. Historians have also argued over the different punishments meted out in terms of skin color as Tom Costa suggests. On the surface, this seems plausible, but the documented information is too erratic to provide a clear satisfactory solution.

One possible and likely reason why Punch received a lifetime of servitude is based on religious views. It has been suggested that Christians, under a law or common law, could not enslave a Christian. This is plausible even if there is no law against enslaving fellow Christians. It may have been an inherent belief that it was wrong or Christians would be doomed to hell if they were to enslave a Christian. As for Punch, it is very likely he was not Christian even if he were exposed to Christianity. Again, this, too, is more subjective as the information is limited and did English society have this stigma of not enslaving Christians?

One final factor of this could be the relationship between Punch and Gwyn. Was there a certain hostility between the two or had Punch stolen specific items that would enrage Gwyn enough to push for a lifetime of servitude? Like the previous two reasons, there is not enough information to say if this is what happened or not. As a member of the House of Burgesses, it is very conceivable that Gwyn dictated some of the punishment. We simply do not know.

I hold the view that John Punch was likely not Christian, thus alleviating any fear the Christian men would have about enslaving Christians. There is also the other factor at play and that is James Gregory and Victor were white and could with relative ease, in comparison to John Punch, assimilate into white society, especially farther North. Being Christian and white may have prevented the two from becoming enslaved for life. As for Punch, not being Christian may have been his worst enemy. At best, historians can only speculate as to why Punch received the punishment he did.

 

 

 

 

Little Known Facts About Slavery

Listening and talking to people about slavery in the United States, I have discovered erroneous beliefs about slavery in the United States. Their history books, teachers, and media emphasize one aspect of slavery and at time deny facts that happened. Because some of what is true is hidden or ignored, most people are not aware of the facts as they are thought to not help in some type of ideological fight. I’ll list five facts that people either deny is true or have never been told.  The following five facts should not minimize what happened in North America or expunge the guilt of those supporting slavery.

  1. Only 3.6% of all slaves that came from Africa arrived in the United States. 361,425 people out of the 9,918,211 were placed on ships and taken out of Africa and sent to North America. This is an extremely low number. North America was late in the slave business as it did not receive their first slave by ship until 1655, which was nearly 150 years after the first recorded event, and that was rather sporadic until 1683. The numbers early on tended to be less than 200 with a few high numbers of slaves being transported but nowhere near the thousands being sent to the Caribbean or even Brazil. 1811 was really the first year where slaves were no longer being brought in, though there were four years were slaves did arrive but in very low numbers. The Atlantic slave trade was active in North America for a little over 156 years. Contrast this with 1516 being the first year slaves were shipped from Africa to the final year of 1866 which amounts to 350 years. North America was a small player as the Caribbean and Brazilian slave trade far exceeded what the states brought in.                                                                                                                    Most Americans would think that the bulk if not all the slaves coming from Africa arrived in America. Records show that this is not the case. The low numbers arriving from Africa should not marginalize what happened but put into a better historical perspective of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery in North America.
  2. Slavery was initially illegal in Virginia as well as the other colonies. The first charter granted by James I to Virginia claimed that ALL colonists “shall have and enjoy all liberties, franchizes and immunities within any of our other dominions, to all intents and purposes as if they had been abiding and born with the realm of England.” England had no tradition of slavery at the beginning of the 17th century whereas the Spanish were familiar with slavery dating back to the Moors where Muslims enslaved Christians. Blacks arriving in Jamestown were arriving as indentured servants and would gain their independence upon a specified term of servitude. This was no different than any other person within the English realm. Typically, these indentured blacks were taken from slave ships and had to “pay” for their passage. Indentured servitude, though not an easy lifestyle, was not slavery and was a method for the poor to escape their life of poverty in England.
  3. There were blacks that owned slaves. If we consider Saint-Domingue, the Jewell of the Antilles in the Caribbean, a former slave named Toussaint L’Ouverture was a slave owner. He was also a revolutionary who was given over to the French by his own supporters during a power struggle. In North America, there were also black slave owners. In fact, there was roughly 4,000 free black that owned slaves, and that is taking a rough snapshot in time. We can take the case of Anthony Johnson, the famous example used by many Lost Causers.                                                                        Anthony Johnson was a free black man who had been an indentured servant at one time and held a large number of indentured servants while living in Virginia. A dispute arose between Johnson and an indentured servant named John Casor which altered life in North America. Casor believed his time had expired and Johnson held onto to him illegally. Without going into detail, Johnson went to court over this and the court gave Johnson possession of Casor for the remainder of his life. This one event whether legal or not began the period of slavery in North America. Another example is William Ellison, a former black slave that owned slaves in South Carolina and who owned slaves into the American Civil War.
  1. Africans participated in the slave trade and even owned slaves before the Atlantic slave trade began. We can owe some of this to the Muslims but the African communities, like all regions at some point, participated in owning slaves. These were primarily the result of those captured from battle. Antera Duke is one such individual that participated in the slave trade and profited from it.
  2. In a modern sense, you could be white and a slave. The law at the time stated that a child of a female slave was a slave. You could be blue-eyed, blonde but be a slave if your mother was a slave. In our modern eyes, being black typically means dark skin, but the reality of the period was that there were different degrees of being black. Technically, you could be all white and a slave, however, I have yet to find any evidence of a pure European being a slave in this region. It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, but there is no evidence that I am aware of.

These facts should serve as a source for not only further learning but a better understanding of slavery in North America. Slavery evolved over time in North America and was influenced by other regions engaged in slavery as well as indentured servitude. When you learn more about the period and how people thought about life, you gain a better appreciation of how slavery was viewed and how the views changed over time.

Modern history and society purposely exclude elements of history that destroy the narrative that a prevailing group wants to display. Unfortunately, this deception creates distrust and lies which separate us. I would even further state that our society supports division between our black culture and white culture in the form of social justice and other such ideologies. If we wish to engage history then we must be willing to see the faults within all groups and accept the past as no matter how hard we may try; we can never change what happened. We can only affect the present and future and this is done by uniting.