Jackfruit And Parmesan Cheese

2017-08-04 Meijer jackfruit

I have been seeing this unusual fruit in the produce section of the grocery-store lately. But for the first time, I noticed directions attached to it. They say: “Wear latex gloves, cover the cutting board with plastic wrap.” I wondered if something that you had to protect your skin and your cutting board from was something you should be eating. After watching a you-tube video online, I found out that 1) it’s very sticky and hard to remove from surfaces, even from the knife you use (the chef recommended coating the knife with oil), and 2) it takes about 20 minutes of careful work to get this monstrous fruit cut up. Hmm, don’t think I’ll be using this in my fruit salad anytime soon.


2017-08-04 Meijer parmesan cheese unrefrigerated

The other thing I noticed while shopping was that the grocery-store has moved all of their Parmesan cheese from the refrigerated area to the regular shelves. Curiously, the Kraft brand containers were still in a box that said in large red lettering: keep refrigerated. So I checked Kraft’s website, and they said it was safe to store unopened grated Parmesan cheese in the cupboard, although temperature variations might affect the quality. In fact, it’s even okay to leave it at room temperature after it’s opened. And all these years I’ve been storing mine in the fridge. Ha, you learn something new every day.

Dragon Teeth – by Michael Crichton (2017)

Dragon Teeth

The newest Michael Crichton novel, published by his wife almost a decade after his death, is a gem of a book. However, don’t expect “Dragon Teeth” to read like most of his other books. Instead of technology, you will find a young man growing up. Instead of pure fiction, you will find a story based on real people who feuded with each other in the 1870s. Instead of the future, you will find the past.

The tale begins with William Johnson, a pampered young student at Yale University in 1876. When another student says he would never survive in the Wild West, William impulsively joins Othniel Charles Marsh’s archeological team to search for dinosaur bones in Indian territory. Part-way through the trip, he is abandoned, and joins a rival paleontologist Edwin Drinker Cope. What began as something fun for William turns into life and death, and by the end of the story the Wild West has made him tough as nails.

I loved the fast pace and the simple plot of the story. There was nothing complicated about it, no great mystery, just a great historic novel about human rivalry and the challenges of growing up.


Great Reading Month

Summer Reading
Photo credit: http://www.christianstudentsoncampus.com/

July was a really, really good reading month for me. I just couldn’t seem to stop reading, and whipped through nine books, doing book reviews on seven of them. Books from my local library, downloadable audio-books that I listened to on my phone, even one book that was fetched from the Melcat state-wide lending program. Yes, it was a very good month!

The only thing wrong with a great reading month like July is when it ends. Tuesday morning I turned over the kitchen calendar page to August. Suddenly we’re starting to focus on the kids going back to school, and doing those projects we’ve been meaning to do this summer. In a few weeks, the easy-going lifestyle of summer will switch to a more rigid routine. Routine’s not a bad thing, and keeps us from inertia. But as I like to say, there’s always time to squeeze in a good book.

The Death Of Walk-In Stores

Best Buy

I don’t often stop in Best Buy, but today my 10-year-old external DVD burner gave up the ghost. Ah well, I thought, no gizmo lasts forever. So I popped onto Amazon’s website to see how much a replacement would cost. Hmm, so many of them looked cheap. And why did they all seem to have no power cord? I wanted a burner that was sturdy and didn’t need to siphon power from my old computer. After looking at different brands and models, checking the requirements for each, and reading feedback from customers, I decided to stop in an actual store, and took off for the closest Best Buy.

The store was surprisingly empty. Memories flashed through my mind of times when I had taken the kids there years ago. That was in the days before Hulu and Netflix, tv on demand, and high-speed internet. Yes, a trip to Best Buy was a treat! We would look at the new video games, check out the DVD section, listen to music with the display headphones, and drool over the large-screen TVs. (Wow, look at that huge 44-inch screen!) The aisles were crowded with others having the same fun experience. Happy store clerks bounced around, asking if they could help us find anything.

But today, when I pulled into the parking lot, there were so few cars there that I wondered if they had just closed for the day. Only a handful of customers floated about, and the staff seemed lethargic. I looked over all the burners, and selected the one that would work with my older computer.

Then a young clerk asked me if I needed help finding anything, so I asked him if they had any fire-wire cables. His mouth hung open, and he said he didn’t know what that was. (Really?) Another clerk walking by heard the conversation and jumped in to tell me no, they didn’t carry old stuff like that anymore, but check online. He asked what I used a fire-wire cord for, and I said it went to my external hard drive for back-ups. The clerk advised me to simply back up my files to “the cloud”. I wanted to say: hey, what happens when those cloud storage services get hacked or they lose your files? But I was polite and refrained from giving a commentary on internet safety, as well as privacy concerns.

Well, I took my sturdy DVD burner home and unpacked it. Much to my surprise, it had its own power cord! Ha – the store clerk said they didn’t have burners with their own power source anymore. Maybe he needs to take a closer look at the inventory they sell. I tested out the new burner, and it worked flawlessly, without hassle, just as old faithful had.

I don’t really mind shopping online, but sometimes, just sometimes… I get nostalgic and want to walk into a store and have the experience of yesterday. But that is unlikely to ever happen again.


The Racketeer – by John Grisham (2012)

The Racketeer

If you love novels that involve lawyers, wrongful imprisonment, murder mysteries, and hiding from the government, you’re going to enjoy this Grisham book. It begins with Malcolm Bannister, a lawyer who has been stripped of his license, serving a ten-year sentence in a federal facility. Convicted of money laundering- which he did not do – he now spends his time as an informal jailhouse lawyer, looking at other inmates’ cases to see if they have any basis to appeal their sentences.

When a federal judge is murdered in his mountain cabin get-away, Malcolm believes he knows who did it. If he can just convince the FBI of the identity of the murderer, he may have the rest of his sentence commuted. But as it turns out, the story isn’t quite as cut and dried as first thought. Does Malcolm have the right man? If he’s wrong, what are the consequences?

59% Really Okay With This?

BBC news


Yesterday I read an article on the BBC’s website about the first company in the U.S. that is in the process of putting RFID chips in their employees’ hands, and shared my thoughts on the topic:
Today I noticed the same story on the front page of a local news website, WOODtv.com. WOOD offered a survey to see how people in our area felt about being chipped at work. A whopping 94.19% said they would have concerns about it, while only 5.81% said they would do it! (See screenshot below.) This is a sharp contrast from the company in the BBC article, in which 59% of the employees were willing to be chipped.


WOOD-tv survey b


I’m pretty sure that there’s something we’re not being told in the BBC article. Either a) the employees have been promised a bonus, b) they think it will lead to advancement in the company, or c) they are just plain crazy.

Doing Things “By Hand”


Today I was reading about a U.S. company that is asking each of its employees to have an RFID (radio frequency ID) microchip implanted in their hand. (At this point it’s voluntary, but how long until it’s mandatory?) The chip is supposed to make life easier – it’ll log you onto your work computer, spare you from having to physically put coins in the employee vending machine, and allow you to go through certain doors without having to scan a key-card or punch in a code.

I looked out the front window, and observed my husband hand-watering part of the front lawn. He looked relaxed, and appeared deep in thought. He says this way he doesn’t waste water, and the lawn gets an even watering. I started thinking about things our family still does “by hand”. Like hanging the laundry out on the line (clothes smell like sunshine and I enjoy the meditative time). Like washing up the dishes by hand at least twice a day (it’s faster than the dishwasher, and gets them cleaner).  Like dipping a thick sponge into warm soapy water to hand-wash the car.

I was not surprised to see this story. Everything from pets to library books to factory inventory to nearly every item on store-shelves has RFID chips in them. Now that the manufacturers of these devices have us accustomed to them, they are progressing to the next step – putting them into humans. The purpose of RFID chips is to monitor, and to control. They say there is no GPS tracking involved, but might that come in later editions of the chips? And how would the employees know if extra chip features had been added? How truthful are the manufacturers?

I’m not suggesting that we go back to a more primitive time when everything was back-breaking work, but at some point we have to stop leaning on technology to do every little thing for us. Surely we are still capable of punching in a code or swiping a key-card at a work door. Surely we are smart enough to type in passwords at our work stations. And if we’re not smart enough to hand-feed coins into a vending machine to get a candy bar, maybe we don’t deserve that candy bar.