Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday Tool Cream of the Crop edition

This week's tool is the Slavic Beauty hand-crank cream separator.  Krassnaya!

On the one hand, it's pretty mundane.  Milk goes in, up to three gallons at a time; vigorously turn the crank for fifteen minutes, and the cream comes out one spout while the skimmed milk comes out the other.

On the other hand, it's pretty darn cool.  It is a home preparatory centrifuge.  You crank it by hand, about 60 rpm, And the gearing takes the rotor to over 10,000 rpm.  From my life in biology, I'm used to sample centrifuges--a sample is loaded into a bottle or tube; after spinning, the tube or bottle is removed, and the partitioned sample is decanted.  You do one sample at a time. But preparatory centrifuges are magic; they can be continuously loaded and unloaded as they are spinning and separating.  The magic is in the rotor, the bit that spins so fast.

Milk is continuously fed into the port on the top of the rotor and subjected to an intense gravitational field.  Just as continuously, the cream is ejected from one escape port, on the left of the neck in the picture, and the milk escapes through the port lower down on the neck.  Even cooler, the heart of the rotor is a series of "cones."  These divide the volume of the rotor into a dozen stacked sections.  This has the effect of taking a sample of milk and subjecting it to an extreme gravitational field once; then taking the upper portion of that, and subjecting it to an extreme gratiational field; then, taking the upper portion of that, and repeating over and over again.  To get the same effect with a rotor with only a single compartment, the rotor would have to be meters in diameter.  (Interestingly, the technology dates to the 1800's; before, "skim milk" was the result of letting milk stand for quite a while and then skimming the top layer off.)

So, one of today's jobs was separating some cream, with which I will make mascarpone, which I use in place of butter.  I started with two gallons/eight liters of milk from our Nigerian Dwarves; it is relatively late in their lactation, and their milk is averaging about 7% butterfat.  I ended up with a bit shy of a quart/800 mls of very, very, VERY heavy  cream.

Yummers.  The skim milk has been mixed with whole milk, and is turning into a tomme as I write.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday Musical offering Instant Dislike edition

I was reminded of this:

By this:

I don't much care for Glass' "pure" music (his film scores/operas are sometimes OK), and I don't much care for the harpsichord (I still hold with Sir Thomas Beecham's impression that it sounds like skeletons copulating on a tin roof), but I tried listening to it.  I did not like it.  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Make "Lance the Abscess" the new "Drain the Swamp."

The news this week has given me a faint glimmer of hope.  There has been a certain repudiation of Trumpism in the Virginia gubernatorial election.  Karma started collecting some overdue bills: the state rep who was proud of his homophobia and wouldn't address his trans opponent as a human...lost to his trans opponent; a selectman who wondered if the women who marched against Trump would be home in time to cook dinner...lost his seat to a woman who was pissed off by his comment and so decided to run against him.  There was a gratifying scattering of immigrants, minorities, and other voices that won in local elections.

There has also been a growing number of women (and men) calling out those men who committed sexual offenses as a way to assert power.  The list of powerful people being undone by their own appetites keeps growing, adding show biz moguls and politicians daily.

I find myself wanting that number to grow.  It is impossible to credit that there aren't many more people who have such a distorted view of how society works.   I don't think that society will advance until more of their number are taken out of positions where they can do harm.  The process is, hopefully, reaching a stage where it is autocatalytic, where revelation emboldens revelation.

It feels like we, as a society, may finally be lancing an abscess, one that has disfigured us for so long that we may account it as a normal part of our physiognomy.  Lancing it will be disgusting, things will come to view that will make us gag and vomit.  But, if we don't, we will grow ever sicker and the toxins will poison us.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wednesday Wordage Extreme Euphemizing Edition

If you've followed the news at all over the last year, you'll know that Wells Fargo Bank is a criminal enterprise--setting up accounts for clients without their knowledge or approval, and using those to extract money from them and make their lives miserable.  You'll know that they've been doing it for years, and it was essentially official policy, and that people who tried to stop it were punished.  It was only caught last year.  

For historical reasons, the Roseburg Dairy Goat Association has its money at Wells Fargo, and as nominal Treasurer of the Association, I get notifications, etc, from them (we are planning on moving the money to a credit union, or some more reputable bank).  Here is the intro to today's email:


Dear Wells Fargo Customer,
Customers like you have told us they want to hear more about what we've been doing to address our challenges over the past year. 

"Challenges."  

That's a pretty boggling abuse of the language there; I can't even think of anything sufficiently witty to say about it..."Noted bank challenger John Dillinger...". Just doesn't do it.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tuesday Tool: the Ballot.

Election day, here.  The one issue on the ballot has to do with changing the county charter, basically de-professionalizing county government.  It's brought out much of what I don't care for in local politics.  When I first heard of this issue, it struck me as an expression of the generalized all-government-is-bad sentiment of the area, as well as the no-expertise-or-knowledge-is-necessary-for-governing sentiment one sees nowadays, especially on the conservative side of the spectrum.

But then, somebody noticed that this charter would have allowed citizens to block or delay logging on certain county lands.  Indeed, one of the people who proposed the new charter was involved in protests against the logging of a county park.  That led to a county-wide blossoming of signs urging us to STOP EXTREME ENVIRONMENTALISTS! And vote no on the charter.

Then our county sheriff jumped in.  He's absurdly popular around here, because during the Obama administration, he sent a letter to the Vice President--apparently because the President wasn't legitimate?--saying that he wouldn't enforce any gun regulation laws.  (He also had on his Face book page a link to a video suggesting that Sandy Hook was a "false flag" operation.  Trucks all around here have stickers saying "I SUPPORT SHERIFF HANLIN").  Well, the new charter could possibly be interpreted to possibly maybe limit his powers, so he came out against it.  So, a picture of him making a Mussolini face is now up on the "no" posters, which urge us to SUPPORT SHERIFF HANLIN VOTE NO!

And then there's the letters to the editor in the local paper.  Hoo boy.  "Fight Communism--vote no!"  "New charter is first step on road to Nazism."  One of the originators of the charter (a woman) apparently has been subject to menacing, grotesquely threatening phone calls, mail, and social media.  Around here, if somebody says they're coming after you with an AR-15, it's believable.

I don't think the charter will pass.  Backers have been massively out-spent (by a hundred to one), out-postered, and have no support from the business or education community.  I don't care for the charter, because government requires skill and professionalism, and nobody worthwhile will serve as a volunteer county commissioner.  But geez, it sure has brought out the ugly in Douglas County.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Monday Musical Offering of Thanks

This has been a rotten year for practicing--a combination of farm work, family stuff, stiff hands and other excuses.  When I am in good shape, I try to keep three or four pieces in practice.  There has to be some Bach, a Classical piece (Mozart/Haydn/Beethoven/Schubert and their ilk), something from the Romantic repertoire (Mendelssohn through Rachmaninov), and one or two other things, maybe something by Shostakovich or Byrd or whatever.  As my time (and hands) have withered, it's gotten pared back to just Bach, and nothing big, maybe an Invention or a number from the WTC.  Right now, I am working, piece by piece, through a French Suite, but a few pages of music that have taken me months to learn.  I am just starting the Gigue.

I could not survive this age without Bach.

The news, day in and day out, is awful.  Horrible.  The night of the election, I could not sleep--the demons of the future were gibbering in my head, warning me of all the terrible things that were to come.  Well, those demons were understating the case, and every day the news fills my head with excrement.  It is getting to be that one of the only things that can silence those demons is playing Bach.  I am chipping away at it, and by focusing very hard on moving my fingers in the way my brain wants them to, I can buy myself--or maybe steal--a half hour a day of peace, in which my neighbors and my government are not trying to poison the wells from which we all drink.  Bach is still the pure spring.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Incoherent rant

Last week's news should have been all about Puerto Rico dealing with the destruction of a hurricane.  Instead, too much of it was focused on the rantings of a bigot who has spent his life wiping his ass with the American flag, complaining about people who have a legitimate problem respectfully exercising their right to protest.  The bigot confused respectful protest with disrespect for the flag and the soldiers who fought under it.  The bigot also thought that the soldiers fought for the flag and not for the values it represents.

The bigot, and the party of whom he is the leader, are dedicated to the primacy of the second amendment to the constitution, or specifically one phrase thereof.  To the bigot and his party, this one isolated phrase, stripped of its modifying companion in its sentence, is sacred.

Last night, facilitated by the bigot's party, a guy armed with military weapons (and not acting as part of a well-regulated militia) opened fire on a crowd in Las Vegas, killing (as of this time) 59 people and wounding hundreds.

As I drove through town today, the flag at the National Cemetery was at half-mast, per the bigot's orders.  As I listened to the radio recounting the night's events, I had to wonder if the people now interred under those ranks and ranks of tombstones were really serving, fighting, and dying so that a guy could legally arm himself with a platoon's weapons and kill and injure so many citizens.  Would any of them be moved to rise from the earth and yell like banshees at the bigot and his party?  Could they shamble out of their graves and trouble the dreams of the bigot and his party?  Could one of them gesture at regiments of the risen dead, and point out the bit of the constitution that mentions a well-regulated militia?

I don't think that the dead at the National Cemetery can do this, and I don't think that the dead from Las Vegas this week can teach the bigot or his party either.  Nor can the dead from Roseburg, two years ago, or Sandy Hook or Columbine or Aurora.  I don't think anything can teach the bigot or his party.  I don't think anything can teach half of our country, either.  I am not feeling optimistic tonight.