Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Monday Musical Offering Manual Mauling edition

Farm work is physically taxing, and there are many, many ways to get injured.  I have so far managed to escape anything serious (frantically knocking on wood), but I do ding myself up pretty regularly--a mashed thumb from a misdirected screwdriver, a glorious bruise from a dropped piece of wood, and so on.  I especially worry about my eyes (I wear safety glasses a lot) and my hands (I wear leather gloves a lot).  I think of this cartoon very often:

(Note that Schulz always used real music in his cartoons.  That's Beethoven's Fur Elise.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wednesday Words, Mood matters edition

If you are apologizing, do not use the subjunctive.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday Flora Memorious Orchid Edition

Friday’s Flora is a striking hybrid orchid, Sophrolaeliacattleya “Red Berry.”  According to the tag in my Mom’s neat script, it cost $35 at Santa Barbara Orchid Estates on October 2nd, 2010.

If you look back through this blog far enough, a line you’ll see pretty often in the first few years is “My mom’s garden is better than yours.” (Here's some examples)  For a very long time, that was definitely true.  Now, I can’t say that so absolutely.

My mom’s garden reflected the passion of more than a single lifetime.  She was the granddaughter of a horticulturalist who literally wrote the book on citrus in California (and had the linguistic distinction of introducing the word clone into the language).  She was the daughter two botanists, one of whom was head of the California citrus research station, and the other a PhD who also wrote and illustrated children’s science books.  For a long time, when my brothers and I were the sort of kids who could carelessly wreck a garden, I’d say that my Grandmother’s garden was better than yours—a canyon slope in the Berkeley hills, with a majestic live oak and a wondrous array of natives and exotics growing in its shade.  The porch was lined with Epiphyllum and other cacti in pots.

Although she was not a professional botanist, her background was such that my mom could not help but be knowledgeable about plants.  Living in coastal Los Angeles, she had a brilliant climate in which to indulge in plant collecting as a hobby.  So, while I remember a garden that had plenty of “mundane” plants such as roses and a fair amount of lawn, I also remember as a lad spending Sundays going shopping:  to Lohman’s Cactus Patch and Grigsby Cactus Gardens and Abbey Gardens (all closed, alas) or to the sale days at Huntington Gardens to find a new Rebutia or Lobivia or something really odd like Lophophoria or Oberegonia.  Her interest would meander—for a while, it was cacti that would be happy in a pot and produce a nice flower; then, perhaps, Asclepiads, relatives of milkweed that produce flowers that smell like dead meat; then, Aloes.  And so the garden ended up having patches—a mass of one type of succulent here, a whole mess of another type of succulent over there.  Eventually, my grandmother’s Epiphyllums found a home in her garden.

This pattern continued all her life—and the mundane plants, the lawn, the ground-covering ivy all got squeezed out and replaced with a class that would seize her attention for several years.  Sometimes her choices were guided by travel.  A Lapageria lily and a Palo Barroche were sentimental reminders of postdoctoral years in South America.  A sabbatical year in Australia kindled a passion for Banksias and Grevillias.  A trip to South Africa sparked a consuming interest in Cape bulbs and Aloes, which came to occupy a large area.

Although though new interests would be kindled, old flames would never be forgot.  A few plants died out; some were just too fussy to be bothered with, or if they grew boring they would be exiled to the nether reaches of the garden.  There, some might get buried in leaves, while the near-ideal climate of coastal SoCal would let others thrive in neglect.  It’s also worth noting that my mom not only grew so many plants, but painted them.  So, while the Ceropegia tribe may have moved from the center of her attention, the dining room of her house still has a beautiful painting that she made of them.

Even though her location was about as good as possible for growing a wide variety of plants outdoors, her garden was by no means a low-maintenance affair.  Some plants did well let alone, but others required precise watering schedules or other maintenance.  In addition to the bookshelves full of botany books, there were lots of notes on the provenance and maintenance of every plant.  Keeping the garden going was most what she did in retirement, and the garden kept her going.

So, there is that orchid.  My mom had always had orchids, mostly Cymbidium varieties.  However, the last genre that took over her attention was small orchids.  I remember her describing trips to Santa Barbara Orchid Estates starting in the 2000’s, and went along with her for a couple when I was in the area. (True story—when we were checking out, the proprietor saw the name on my dad’s credit card and asked if he was related to David Appleman.  It turns out that my grandfather taught the man botany at UCLA.  When my dad noted that I was David Appleman’s grandson, he was amazed—“no way.  He was only that tall!” He said, pointing at my sternum.)  Trips to “SBOE” grew less frequent as my dad’s descent in to dementia accelerated.  This orchid was bought in 2010, so it would have to have been a trip where one of my brothers or I took her along.  I don’t know the date of her last plant-buying trip; I think there may have been only one after my dad was bedridden, in 2011.

Mom was able to keep up things in the garden for a while, no longer expanding or diversifying, but at least holding decay at bay.  Her own health started failing, the first hints of dementia and frailty showing up about seven or eight years ago.  Bits of the garden started getting somewhat less taken care of, with some weeds starting to crop up.  The bit of the garden that was on the slope of the canyon, down a rickety stairway and out of sight of the house, became neglected.  A balcony perched on the edge of the canyon started tilting down the slope.  It was festooned with bromeliads and vining Ceropegia and Hoya succulents, which mostly did well despite a lack of tending.  The Cape bulbs—Freesia species and so on—did fine, because bulbs are hard to eradicate once they’re settled; but a couple of years of drought did damage some of them.

The one constant chore in all the garden was picking leaves.  There were established trees—Avocado, Gingko, Liquidambar—that were always dropping leaves, and they always needed to be picked out of this densely populated garden.  My mom kept at is as long as she could.  As dementia and frailty worsened, it was all she could do to get a bucket and toddle out, with a home-care nurse alongside, and fill the bucket with leaves pulled one by one out of a thicket of aloes or orchids.  The nurse was always surprised by her endurance and drive to do it, but my brothers and I were not.  But she pretty much stopped doing even that early last year, as health and mind failed.

Starting last year, every time I or one of my brothers went to visit, we’d take away as many plants as we could find room for.  I’ve given homes to such orchids have survived, and a handful of other plants: we can grow some indoors, but Roseburg is not as hospitable to delicate flora as Pacific Palisades.  Still, I cherish what I can.

My mom died earlier this year, in February, not a great time of year for gardens, but it was still possible to find some flowers to put in her room.  My brothers and I reconvened in the spring, and remembered her by taking a trip out to Anza-Borrego State Park, where years ago we had followed her on quests for Elephant Trees and unusual hybrid cholla cacti.  We managed to catch the tail end of a “superbloom,” which was wonderful.  And, of course, we found a good, if diminished, supply of interesting flowers in my mom’s garden.  Which, in my memory, will always be better than yours.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tuesday Tool caseous microtome edition

I think the tool today is...
The cheese plane.

Six months ago, after milking the goaties, I took the twelve liters of milk into the kitchen and got it to about 30 degrees C.  I inoculated it with a mixture of mesophilic bacteria--some specialized in fermenting lactose to short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), some specialized in fermenting lactose into SCFAs but also some interesting ketones and aldehydes and whatnot.  After letting them do their thing for an hour, I added some coagulant--a protease from a fungus that has the same specificity as the major component of rennet.  Over the course of about an hour, the combination of acid and coagulant curdled the milk.

I cut the curd up into chunks about a centimeter on a side, and slowly warmed the curds and whey up to 39C.  After about an hour, I removed half of the whey and replaced it with cool water, bringing the temperature down to the mid-20's and removing much of the lactose from the mix.  A half hour later, I removed all the whey and put the curds into a form, and pressed them with ever-increasing pressure for about ten hours.  The curds mostly stuck together, but preserved some of their individuality.

I removed the nascent cheese from form the next day, and immersed it in a saturated brine solution, and let it sit there for twelve hours.  As far as salt is concerned, cheese is a liquid, and it dissolved into the cheese.

Then, I let the cheese dry out for a bit, and then put it into a wine 'fridge in my basement, set to about 12 C.  And there it sat; I'd turn it every so often, and brush off the mold.  The exterior turned a golden yellow color, and turned hard and tough and horny.  The interior lost some moisture, becoming quite firm.  The curds, having been "washed," did not stick together as completely as they might in other cheese processes, leaving a few gaps or "mechanical spaces" in the cheesemaker's parlance. As it aged, organic compounds in the cheese became further oxidized and recombined; though the bacteria were mostly dead, their enzymes lived after them and continued their work.

Today, I dug the cheese out of the basement, brushed off a bit of mould, halved the 2 kg wheel with a cleaver, and then cut one of the halves in half.  I shaved off a bit with the cleaver and tasted it--it was very, very good.  The taste had elements of a tangy cheddar, elements of Parmesan, a little carmelized sweetness, a pleasant salty buttery-ness, and a firm texture.  What one should do with such a cheese is serve it after a nice dinner with some fino sherry, some membrillo or raisins and almonds...and cut it with a cheese plane.

Tomorrow I will go out and thank the goaties for their miraculous ability to eat spring grass and alfalfa hay and water and turn it into such amazing milk.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday Musical Offering Not Instant Dislike Edition

I am always glad to discover music with which I was unfamiliar, and that gives me new pleasure.  Last week's new thing was not disappointing, inasmuch as I fully expected to hate it just as much as I did.  A few weeks ago, though, I heard something that I wouldn't have even suspected existed, and I liked it.

Every year, on or about Yom Kippur, every classical music radio station will play Bruch's Kol Nidrei. Our local station, KWAX, played Kol Nidrei by...

...Arnold Schoenberg.  No, really.  And it's from well after his embrace of the 12-tone system.  And I really liked it.  I liked a piece by 1930's Arnold Schoenberg.

Here's a linky-thing with lots more about it. Check it out, if you feel like you need a clean slate to face up to a new year.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

I Believe the Women

"I Believe the Women"--Mitch McConnell, on Roy Moore's accusers.


In a searingly emotional joint press conference held at their home in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the embodiments of Truth and Research laid out a history of unrelenting abuse at the hands of many members of the Trump administration and Republican Party.  Their revelations are only the latest in a growing number of accusations of indecent, immoral, or illegal acts committed by members of this and previous administrations.

Speaking without a lawyer—as she pointed out, Truth needs no lawyer or explainer when she speaks plainly—but backed up by one of her half-sisters Clio, muse of History, Truth recounted in detail examples of President Donald Trump abusing and molesting her.  In a calm and unemotional voice, she described occasions on which Trump had violated her in full view of other elected officials, political appointees, the media, and the general public; indeed, she noted that these assaults were part of the public record.  As Clio nodded vigorously in agreement, she noted that these instances have been broadcast and reported widely, though not on all networks, noting that she has been effectively banned from speaking on Fox News.  She described the harm that had been done to her as damaging to her reputation, career, and even her very existence, noting that some have described the current era as “post-Truth,” as if she were dead. 

Clio then joined her half-sister on the podium and distributed annotated lists of all known events when Trump had violated Truth since he was sworn in as President.  The list was long; Clio pointed out that Trump violated Truth on average more than five times a day.  Truth then came back to the podium and made further charges, against members of the President’s administration and staff, saying that they had treated her no better, and indeed, that they had willingly assisted the President in violating her on a daily basis.  She cited the President’s Press Secretaries as a group as being particularly bad in this regard.  Clio drew the assembled reporters’ attention to video of former Press Secretary Sean Spicer talking about inauguration crowds and Presidential Advisor Kellyanne Conway introducing “alternative facts.”  Truth, visibly shaken, asked the assembled reporters to “make it stop.”  She then introduced her assistant, Research.

Research spoke very quietly, apologizing and explaining that her ability to speak clearly has been harmed, possibly permanently, by the current administration.  In fact, she said, many members of the administration “seem to have a thing for gags,” and that in the course of her employment she had been subjected to such humiliation with grim frequency.  The President, she indicated, seemed not to be actively harassing her; she hypothesized that it was simply that Mr. Trump was unaware of her existence.  However, she held him partly responsible for a workplace environment that enabled her abuse.  

President Trump was at fault, Research said, for appointing individuals well known for histories of assaulting, brutalizing, humiliating, and even torturing Research.  She cited as particularly appalling EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and the nominated USDA Chief Scientist Sam Clovis.  Research noted that she had never heard of Clovis before he was nominated and that he was “obviously totally unfamiliar” with her, but within minutes of their introduction, “it was clear he was into abuse and that business with the gagging.  EPA Administrator Pruitt has been exactly the same way,” perhaps even worse; again, Clio came forward and distributed printouts of  examples of torture resulting in permanent distortion and numerous instances of gagging, all part of the public record.  Clio, as she handed out the printouts, was overheard by some of the reporters present to be mumbling “do your goddamned jobs!”   

Supporting documents produced by Truth, Research and History showed that President Trump and his administration are intensifying a campaign against both Truth and Research of disregard, abuse, assault, and gagging engaged in by many previous Republican administrations for almost half a century, with then-Governor Reagan abusing both Truth and Research by blaming trees for air pollution.  

When asked for comment, Presidential Spokeswoman Sarah Hucakbee Sanders stated “These are just allegations.  Look at the accusers, and you’ll see.  I mean, look at the way they’re dressed, they are inviting it.  And besides, Truth has a well-known liberal bias, Research is often found at our liberal universities, and both Truth and Research have long histories of lying and producing fake news,” and asked reporters to simply watch the Fox News Network for more information.  

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. 


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.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Musical Exhortation

Get it right!

In some parallel universe, I am a radio announcer for a classical music station.  In this universe, I'm not, for several reasons:  insufficient breadth of musical knowledge due to an education based primarily on the liner notes from LP's, an inability to correctly pronounce umlauts, and I would probably quit on-air rather than play Pachelbel's Canon or Ravel's Bolero are among these.  But, perhaps because of that parallel-universe Appleman, I get irked when announcers screw up something that they really should get.

So, the other day the announcer queued up some music, and told us it came from Richard Strauss' opera about the question of which is more important in an opera--the words or the music.  He went on about some of the details of the opera, Capriccio, and how it elides the question, and then played the music: selections from Ariadne auf Naxos, which if it is about anything, is about the difficulties of creativity in the real world and just how pelvic new love is.  I had a bit of whiplash, as it was kind of like hearing somebody talking about a good friend of yours, and then pointing them out--and it's somebody else entirely.

Oh well, not really a big deal.  But, since he didn't play it, here is some of the best music ever--the opening sextet from Capriccio.  Enjoy.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Enzymes and Food

I spent the afternoon teaching a class on cheesemaking for the Douglas County Master Food Preservers.  It went quite well; they are a group that knows about food, fermentation, some biology and food chemistry, and yet for most of them dairy products were terra incognita.  This made them ideal students, engaged, intelligent, and naive.

An essential part of making most cheeeses involves rennet.  One can use animal rennet, which is a crude extract of the stomach lining of a young ruminant.  One can use (as I do) a microbial rennet, which is a single enzyme extracted from the fungus Mucor miehi.  One can use an extract from the flower of the cardoon thistle, which doesn't work as well as normal rennet and is only used in a handful of unusual cheeses.  Or, these days, one can use recombinant rennet, which is an enzyme extracted from bacteria that have been given the genes that are expressed in the stomach lining of a young ruminant.  In all cases, the active ingredient in rennet is a specific protease.  This enzyme cuts proteins between two specific amino acids, and in a specific amino acid context (to make an analogy to language, it would be like a text editor that only cuts between the letters "x" and "t" but only if they occur at the end of a word--not very common).  Almost all the protein in milk is casein, which happens to have the target for rennet; and when rennet cuts casein at that spot, the casein sticks together so that cheese can be made.  No rennet, no fromage. All praise to rennet!

This set me to thinking.  Are there other examples where a specific enzyme, with a specific target, is absolutely essential for making a food?  Here's all the others that I can think of, after mulling on and off for a day.  

1.  Candy with syrupy centers.  How do they put liquid in a chocolate shell?  They don't.  They put a solid disaccharide sugar and an enzyme, invertase.  Invertase cuts the disaccharide into two monosaccharides and a molecule of water; the sugars dissolve into the water, and there you are.  The ingredients on the package will say "invert sugar."  
2.  Chicha. This is a maize-based beer like product from the Inca empire.  Beer requires some sugar to ferment, but corn, which the Inca grew, only has starch.  Fortunately, starch can be hydrolyzed to glucose by the very specific enzyme amylase.  Where would an Inca find amylase?  In spit.  There were people whose job it was to chew corn; the amylase in their saliva would act upon the starch in the corn, and they would spit the pulp into a jar.  The pulp of chewed-up corn, spit, and glucose liberated from the starch by saliva amylase would then ferment into a beer, which the Inca would drink.  Yum!  (You can do the same trick; put a little bit of raw potato in your mouth, and eventually it will start to taste sweet.)
3.  Not essential, but interesting--papain and bromelain for a tender steak.  There's a couple of enzymes, derived from papayas and bromeliads (pineapples), that like rennet, are proteases.  However, their specificity differs from that of rennet, and it turns out that they are really good at breaking some of the tougher fibers in muscle proteins.   It's not essential for preparing meat, but if you buy meat tenderizer, most likely you'll be getting one of these two plant enzymes.

I would love to hear of other examples of specific enzymes, independent of an organism, being essential for the production of a particular food.  There's zillions of examples of specific species being required for a food, but a single cell brings hundreds of enzymes to bear.  A single, purifyable enzyme?  That's much rarer.  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wednesday Wordage Rough 'n' Tough Stuff Edition

German may be difficult for a foreigner to learn, but at least making the move from written word to spoken language is uncomplicated:  if a letter is there on the page, it is pronounced, and only in one way.  English?  Good luck.  A friend of mine had a visitor from Germany who suggested that they go out for some "coffee and duffnuts."  Perfectly understandable, given the myriad ways that "-ough" can be pronounced.

This is a curse for radio announcers, who have to read wire reports and record labels and try to guess at names.  For instance, I have a bunch of albums by Stephen...well, here's a challenge.  How do you pronounce the following?

1.  Hough (Stephen, outstanding British-Australian pianist/composer/blogger)
2.  Gough (Gough Whitlam, Australian Prime Minister 1972-75, famed for wit)
3.  Pough (Richard, founder of the Nature Conservancy)
4.  Brough (a town in Cumbria, England; also, a brand of motorcycles named after a racer)
5.  Blough (a town in southern Pennsylvania)
6.  Sough (a rather poetic verb describing the movement of wind through trees)
7.  Chough (a corvine bird)
8.  Lough (a body of water)
9.  Slough (a body of water)
10. Slough (to shed skin, or the shed skin of a reptile)

Answers will eventually show up in comments, where you are also free to add your own ways to confuse those for whom English is a second language.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday Fauna Green and Blue Edition

This guy was in one of the goat's water buckets--he's got a bug in his maw, yum!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday Wordage Inadvertent Oxymornic Edition

The Real Doctor, explaining why she was printing out the NY Times crossword puzzle, which she does in pencil using her left hand:  "I'm trying to build up my left-handed dexterity."

Thursday, June 8, 2017

mixed gratitude

A thank you to James Comey, late director of the FBI, for coming out and plainly stating that the president is a liar.  Not that the president misspoke, fudged, shaded the truth, or spun.  Not that the president lied, as a one-time thing that could be an anomaly.  He said the president is a liar, one who lies, and that lying is essential to his nature.

Why couldn't this be said by any other similar serious person any sooner?  Why was it not something that was in every report about the president before the election?  It is as plain and honest a statement as pointing out that he's got weird hair and wears his necktie too long.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wednesday Wordage time to retire a word edition


Now, the Real Doctor is an ophthalmologist, so optics is a real thing that is wonderful.  However, that poor word has become abused, dragged into political arguments.  Firing your FBI director while he's investigating you is "bad optics."  Having zero women on your panel trying to devise health care policy is "lousy optics."  Meeting with Russky bigwigs while you are being investigated for unseemly doings with the very same bigwigs is "questionable optics."  I think it's time to come up with a better word; these things have nothing to do with refraction or reflection or interference or angles of incidence; they are, really, about morality, and so should be framed in such language.  They are "villainous" or "immoral" or "stupid"--so please say so.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Monday Musical Offering Mahler Edition

We are lucky to have a transmitter for KWAX radio nearby; they have very good, 24/7 classical programming, and are commercial free/publicly supported but not NPR or OPB.  This gives their programmers a bit more latitude than most, so recently they've been going through the Mahler symphonies during the early afternoon.  

So, last week I was happily shifting fences in the goat pasture and getting a genuine frisson from the 3rd in a stirring performance led by Leonard Bernstein.  The symphony reached its triumphant conclusion.  As the last chord was still barely ringing, but before the announcer could speak, Aileen--one of our louder sheep, who had been watching me from the other side of the fence and looking longingly at the fresh new pasture I had opened up--let out a jarring BAAAAAAWWWW.  But you know, Mahler was fond of juxtapositions of the the goofy and the serious (I mean, look at all those klezmer bands sprinkled throughout the symphonies) and also loved the pastoral.  So, it kind of worked.

Today I was shifting fences, again (for the sheep, this time) and listening to the 7th with Jimmy Levine and the CSO.  I think I was a freshman at college when I realized that the opening notes of the original "Star Trek" theme are the same as the opening notes of the Mahler 1st.  Well, just then I realized that the horn call that introduces the second theme of the first movement of the 7th is the prototype of the horn theme in the original "Star Trek" theme.  Interesting, at least to me.  I have to wonder if it was a conscious choice by the TV show's composer.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday Wordage, Occam's Razor Edition

It's been over 100 days that Lord Damp Nut has been my president.  Pretty much every one of those days, I have listened to some news on the radio, or read some in the paper or on this very screen.  About as often, some commentator or analyst or wise person has been interviewed about the latest outre behavior of our president, and the answers have always been pretty wild.  He did this crazy thing: well, perhaps it was a strategic move to keep his opponents off balance.  He said this bald lie: well, perhaps he misinterpreted this actual, obscure, and irrelevant fact.  He proposed this egregious policy:  well, there's no doubt that that will appeal to his base, and strengthen his position for further bargaining.

The commentariat spend a lot of time and effort finding polite and acceptable ways to explain our president's behavior.  There is generally the assumption that he is a rational actor, has some strategic vision, intelligence, and understanding.  A myriad of erratic behaviors and statements have generated an equal number of inadequate explanatory hypotheses.

As a body, the folks who try to explain Lord Damp Nut's behavior on the radio have either forgotten or chosen to ignore Occam's Razor, which urges us to avoid unnecessarily complicated explanations (I know this is not the original formulation, but it will suffice).  All the questions asked of these learned analysts, political insiders, journalists, and talking heads--all of them--can be answered by one statement:  Our president is ignorant, unintelligent, willfully uninformed, a narcissistic pathological liar, and a bigot.  Seriously, I have heard hours of radio where dozens of people have danced around these questions, and seem to be unable or unwilling to point to the elephant in the room, indeed, even adamantly deny the existence of the elephant ("There's no doubt that President Trump is a very intelligent man" is one statement I have actually heard from a pundit, despite all evidence, and which has led me to write this).  It is frustrating.

So let us remember William of Occam and his razor, and let us cut through the next four years of BS. Keep it sharp.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Monday Musical Offering out of sorts edition

It's been a busy couple of weeks here on the farm; kidding season has started, and with it milking season.  Until a couple of weeks ago, morning and evening chores meant nothing more than making sure that everybody had hay and water, and not even too much hay, since the pastures are so lush.  If I was feeling relaxed, I could do the rounds in twenty minutes.  Now, a minority of the animals only get hay and pasture; the mother sheep get a silage and grain mix, the orphan lamb needs her bottle, the senior mother does need their grain while they're on the milk stand, the milking does need to be let in for their nightly alfalfa, then need their grain/silage on the milk stand while I milk them and clean up, and the kiddies need their bottles.  A couple of the moms who had difficult deliveries need shots and vitamins, and all the animals who have kidded or lambed in the last three days need their individual servings of feed, hay, and a fresh bucket of water.  So at a baseline, chores take almost three hours.  On top of this, we can add the occasional overly-dramatic delivery--we've had to take animals to town for a C-section twice this year--or sheep who have figured out how to push their way into the goat pasture and vice versa or any of the myriad mini-crises that crop up on the farm, and the result is dinner at 11:30 PM on a fairly routine basis.

All this makes me tired.  Things can get kind of hazy and dream-like.  I can't say I've had hallucinations yet, but a couple of strange things happened.  I was milking last night and listening to the radio and the station was playing one of the Bruckner symphonies--I can't remember which one, and I'd say it makes no difference because they all sound the same: dum dum da-da-da, dum dum da-da-da, dum dum da-da-da, dum...for twenty five minutes.  Then,  dum-da-dum dum dum dum dum, dum-da-dum dum dum dum dum for fifteen minutes, then the same thing only faster with horns for twenty minutes...Ordinarily, if I'm in my right mind, I find it to be the musical bastard child of Philip Glass and Richard Wagner.  But oddly enough, I found myself liking it, and finding beauty and structure in its expansiveness.

Worse, speaking of Richard Wagner, I was obligated to drive to Eugene, and as usual I was listening to the Met Opera on the satellite radio, which I was disappointed to hear was playing Wagner's Flying Dutchman.  Ordinarily, if I'm in my right mind, I can't stand Wagner.  Tedious, tendentious, hours of meandering declamation, weird plots, and moments of glory that you have to slog through hours of mud to get to.  And the plots!  Dutchman is one of the worst.  I mean, Senta, the heroine, is a human being who exists completely and entirely for the sole purpose of redeeming one man with her pure love.  The title character is a sinner, cursed to sail his ghostly ship forever, only touching land every seven years; he lands, meets a guy for the first time, and the guy says sure, I will give you my daughter.  Senta, the daughter who seems content to have no independent existence as a human being, agrees, but somebody says something that gets misinterpreted, and the cursed guy sails off.  Senta throws herself off a cliff to demonstrate the purity of her pure love.  The guy is redeemed.  Fin.  I find the plot wholly objectionable, verging on disgusting.  And normally, I can't stand the music--but there I was, in my sleeplessly addled state, actually enjoying it.  I felt kind of unclean afterwords.

Well, we are nowhere near done kidding season.  As I type, I am baby-sitting a doe that should be giving birth any moment now, but has spent the last two hours just grumbling, a complainy wheeze on every breath.  By the time kidding season is over I will probably start liking disco or 90's country.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tuesday Tool Straight Outta Serendip Edition

The job for Tuesday of last week was a bit of reclamation.  We had a chunk of one pasture that was very difficult to use.  It was next to what had been a decrepit barn, and there was a lot of discarded stuff in the ground--the remains of a couple of feeders, hoses, wire, glass, and so on.  Also, when we did the foundation work for the new barn, the excess soil had been dumped in the area, and then driven over while wet.  The result was a barn-sized patch of pasture, situated in what should be a high-transit area, that was riddled with foot-deep ruts, rubble, and weeds.  The plan was to drag out the larger chunks of metal and then level the damp and workable soil with a box grader and then smooth it with a screen.   The screen--a heavy "horse panel," would break up clumps and put a nice finish on things, though really, a harrow would be a much better tool.

So, I started work, digging up some chunks and hauling them out.  There was about half a foot of an old rail protruding from the side of one of the ruts, and it did not come out by hand.  So, I got the tractor bucket underneath it and lifted--and nearly flipped the tractor.

I dug a bit more with the bucket, saw that there was a chain welded onto the rail, and that it kept going.  I got some heavy chain, wrapped it around the tractor's bucket, and started tugging and yanking and digging and wiggling at it, and more and more rail and more and more chain started appearing.  It was starting to wiggle a little, but it was still not coming out, despite almost flipping the tractor a few more times.  The simple first step of the morning's work was becoming considerably more complicated.

After two hours of hard exertion by both myself and the redoubtable Kubota, it became clear that I was looking at a heavy drag harrow that had been buried underneath everything, I don't know how long ago.  I don't remember seeing it when we bought the place, five or six years ago now.  A few of the cast iron connectors had broken, but the welding was still good.  And heavy!  Lifting it with the tractor bucket caused the rear wheels to lighten noticeably, and that was with the box grader riding on the back!

I set the harrow aside, and set myself to work with the box grader.  I'm not skilled with it yet, so what would take an adept earthmover a half hour took me two hours, and I was still looking at a lot of wrinkles and ridges.  (If you ever want to learn humility, try to do something that a tradesman does easily.)  I thought to myself that a horse panel really would not do the job, here.  What I wish I had was a nice, heavy drag harrow...and hey, I have one!
So, that part of the pasture is returning to usefulness; here's Eleanor inspecting it--she has since decided that she needs to dig halfway to China there, marring its smooth surface, but still, it's much better than before.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday Wordage Galloping Edition

I got a call from the Gallup Organization today, asking me some very general questions, and then inviting me to be part of a Select Group that is tracked and polled every two weeks that would provide Reliable Data for businesses and the government and big, important Decision Makers.  I declined.  I have grown exceedingly tired of polls, and feel that we are at a point where they are actively harming the world.

One of the questions I was asked by the pollster was my opinion of how the economy is doing--the possible answers were excellent, good, fair, poor, or bad.  I asked for some clarification, and apparently I--who don't know very much, and certainly less than, say, a businessman--was being asked to evaluate the entire U.S. Economy in one word.  And, worse, this was supposed to be meaningful, and even more horrible, it was supposed to influence big, important Decision Makers.

Is it possible to describe the state of the entire U.S. Economy in one word, other than "complex"?

I will plead mea culpa to being an elitist, in that I really believe that folks who have studied complex problems have more insight into their solutions than folks who don't have much book-larnin' and go by their gut.  Also, probably best to refrain from describing things like the state of the world's largest economy with one word.  So, I politely declined to play in that game.

'Course, they'll probably find one of my neighbors to replace me, maybe the one who writes letters to the editor of the local paper, citing Bible verses to support Donald Trump.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Monday Musical Offering Running Flat Edition

I love me some Schubert.  Pleasant, lyrical, often sight-readable...until you stumble onto a section in A-flat minor.  I mean, come on!  Seven flats!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Monday Musical Offering Post-flu edition

Coming off of a bout of the 'flu.  Could go with "poi a poi di nuovo vivente," which is descriptive but does not adequately convey the sentiment.  Having spent almost two days pretty much abed, and another day where I was able to be up and about for a half an hour followed by an hour of recovering,  I was just grateful to be able to do stuff for an entire afternoon (to say nothing of being able to eat).  So, a heiliger dankgesang is appropriate.  

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Flicks, dreamy edition

This from a hundred and ten years ago was unfortunately appropriate last night:
So, there I was living the bachelor life last night while the Real Doctor was away, and because I wanted some comfort food I made Welsh rarebit and broccoli.  And, because I'm used to cooking for two, I made slightly too much.  And, because it was a long day, I ate it late, and went right to bed.

Ugh.  Such dreams...such awful dreams.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wednesday Wordage Euphemistic & Epistolary Edition

I have not been able to write the name of our current president along with his title.  I just can't.  I don't like even referring to him.  It's not like Voldemort in the Harry Potter books, with everyone referring to him as "he who shall not be named."  It's not fear.  It's just disgust.

There have been many, many epithets proposed for the twerp (the Scots have been particularly creative in this regard).  Some have seized on one and made it their preferred usage--such as President* or Cheetoh Benito.  But I haven't really liked any of them to make them my preferred usage.  I think, though, I may have found something I can get along with.  It carries a title, is sufficiently insulting, belittling, and is made from the clown's own name, by anagramming.  You can even say it with a mocking intonation, sarcastically aggrandizing him like Voldemort:



In other news, I have written my first angry letter to the editor, about which more later.  An unusual, and public step for me, as it is my habit not to make known my politics to strangers.  But, it is today, and I am going to have to do more.  Thirty years from now, when I am asked "what did you do during the coup d'etat?" I will have to have a better answer than "I wrote a sternly worded letter to the editor."

Circle of life and all that

Farming throws life, all of it, all at you all at once.  So you find yourself taking a phone call to set up mortuary arrangements for your mom, who is on hospice, while you are hanging on to a doe is not totally enthusiastic about the buck that you're breeding her to.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Scrambled all my plans and spent all morning dealing with a 3x1 dichtring and a 0.52 d├╝senscheibe.

(Partial explanation)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tuesday Tool Primitive Pete edition

Today's tool is probably either the first, or the second, tool an anthropoid ever used.  It's a stick.

I guess it's four years now that we've been heating our house with wood.  Got our nice, efficient fireplace insert, got cords and cords of wood from the trees that were crowding the house, and we had piles of kindling from the remodeling and upgrading that we've done--lots of lath and pulled-up floorboards and subflooring.  What we did not have was a fireplace set: a nice poker, an ash shovel, maybe some tongs.  But, you make do with what's at hand, and what was at hand was a one-foot-long section of rough-cut subflooring that had been busted up to make a piece of kindling.  And, because it did, we kept making do--it got more and more charred (or perhaps fire-hardened), the "handle" end became more and more polished, and at one point last year a chunk split off of it.  Still worked, though.

Well, we finally got ourselves a fireplace set.  It's nice, and it actually works significantly better than the stick.  But I haven't had the heart to burn it yet.  It's just sitting by the fireplace, behind the "real" set, and occasionally, when I'm building the fire, I grab it instead of the iron poker, without thinking.  Some primitive, atavistic streak, I guess, "Mmmggggg, Thag poke fire with stick!"

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Friday Fauna Pussy Hat edition

Wedge expresses his solidarity with the hundreds of thousands [edit--millions] of humans who marched all across this country and around the world in protest against pussy grabbing and more.

The news lately has got me down, way down.  I live in an area where many of my neighbors--good people, really good people, as long as you are not too different from them--are giddy about Trump's election.  I am not yet well-enough established in this community that I feel safe outing myself as a person who holds liberal views, but I think I am going to have to find the courage* to do so.

Meantime, I salute the people who marched today, Anne and Angie and Susan and Val and all the others, and so does Wedge.  Their actions give me a glimmer of hope in a dark time.  And now Wedge would like to be fed.

*Yes, I know; I wrote about courage in political expression earlier, and I didn't think too highly of the valor of those who espoused a popular view in front of a supportive, powerful audience.  The folks who marched today had a better quality of courage.  Their cause is popular and they had plenty of internal support, but it is still not accepted by the majority or the powers that be, nor is it truly ingrained in the culture, as evidenced by their need to state the case, again and again and again.  A still stronger degree of courage, which I have heretofore been lacking, is needed here in Douglas County, where 2/3 of my neighbors enthusiastically voted for a racist, sexist, xenophobic charlatan.)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday Musical Offering Alla Breve

Not so much about music as the uses thereof; when I started milking the goats, a couple of years ago now, I thought it would be nice to have some music playing.  I started an album, and by the time I had dealt with an inefficient barn set up, a bunch of naive and recalcitrant first-fresheners (and my own inexperience with milking), a not-very-ergonomic milking set-up, and a kludgy cleaning system, I had played two full CD's worth of music and started on a third.  Today, I started a CD, fed all the animals in the barn, milked a dozen goats, cleaned the milking equipment and swept the barn, hanging up the last thing to dry as the last track ended.

So, progress is possible.  I will have to remember this in a couple of months, when I have over 24 goats to milk, and about half of them will be first fresheners.

CD was Bach, transcriptions for piano by Russian composers, played by Hamish Milne.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Flora small world edition.

To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour...

(Blake, of course.)

Hmmm, that didn't work.  Need to figure out how to get pix up here from the eye pad...the blogger interface is ultra-kludgy.

Why I am not feeling optimistic, in two quotes.

Kurt Vonnegut

“And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.”

― Kurt VonnegutA Man Without a Country

TOP STORYDouglas County libraries slated to close April 1 Ten branches with the Douglas County Library system will close on April 1 this year.

The branch closures are part of an overall plan to ramp down library services by the end of the fiscal year in June.
The 10 closures include branches in Canyonville, Drain, Glendale, Myrtle Creek, Oakland, Reedsport, Riddle, Sutherlin, Winston and Yoncalla. The main library in Roseburg will have a tentative closure date of May 30...
...voters turned down a taxing district in November that would have kept the library afloat, the county has been struggling to find a means of funding it.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Monday Musical Offering, Mikado edition

Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, or the Town of Titi-Pu is still one of my favorite things in all the world--for pure, human joy, it's hard to think of anything that comes close to the end of Act I.  That said, there are moments that make me, child of the late 20th century, really very uncomfortable.  

So, as you should know, Mikado is obviously about England, not Japan, but all the same, it is set in Japan and keeps making crude, stereotyped reminders of its setting, as seen from the haughty position of Victorian England.  The racist caricatures are genuinely offensive, and the cringes they induce do detract from the modern listener's enjoyment.  There's a fair bit of that in G&S--just about all of Princess Ida, which mocks the idea of educating women, for example.  So what to do?

Some say, don't perform it.   That's a non-starter.  The music and words, when not tainted by offensive antique attitudes, are priceless.

Some take the approach of ignoring it; you can go to you tube and watch a production by the English National Opera, with Eric Idle as the Lord High Executioner, which sets the events in a 1920's English seaside resort.  Fine as far as it goes, but the lyrics are still there, and it's kind of disorienting to have people singing that they are "gentlemen of Japan" when they are clearly gentlemen of Brixton or Leicester.

I would be interested to see this, New production. It keeps things as G&S intended; but, it frames it by Gilbert getting bonked into delirium, and having the whole production be his personal dream.  A nice way to insulate the audience, and make it clear that the racism really truly belongs to Gilbert, not us.

Perhaps the way is what opera buffs call "regietheater," where the director takes a stiff dose of LSD before deciding on the staging.  So, set it in an insane asylum in Nazi Germany, or make the characters all rats in a behavioral scientist's laboratory.  I don't know what's best, or how to dissolve away the stuff that really is offensive.  I do know that the music and almost all of the words give me so much joy, and that the world would be a much darker place without them.  Oh willow, tit-willow, tit-willow!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future

But I will make one, and here it is: Donald Trump will name Martin Shkreli to be the head of the FDA.  You heard it here first.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Now More Than Ever

History keeps on echoing in the most unpleasant way.  It wasn't too long ago that I saw that some candidate for political office used the slogan "Now more than ever."  I don't know if the candidate was being ironic, or ignorant, but that slogan carries some heavy baggage, perhaps not as heavy as "Ein volk, ein reich, ein fuhrer," but it was used for electing Richard Nixon.

Now Nixon is back, more than ever it seems.  We have a president-elect's spokesperson insisting that if the President does something, it is by definition legal.  And then news came out that Nixon worked to scuttle the 1968 peace talks aimed at ending the war in Vietnam.

In a just world, there should be a line a mile long of people waiting to piss on Nixon's grave.  There should be a similar line waiting to piss on Kissinger, who, unlike the tens of thousands of people who died in Vietnam, is still alive and well and seemingly respected.