November 15, 2013
Yes, Folks, it has been a while since I posted a new and useless to the average user Microsoft message. Here is one that started to pop up on my laptop recently. And, despite a tune up and clean by my local nerd shop, persists. Weirdly it does not seem to affect any of the programs and procedures I am using regularly. However, I feel quite sure that it will deteriorate, morph and in a few moths begin eating something valuable.
there was a problem starting c:\users\BobSterry\AppData\Local\Conduit\
What one wants to know is, OK so I have an error, what am I supposed to do about it? Why is there no recommended path of action, no recourse, not even a whisper of an idea. It is like getting a message from the City saying, “Our engineers have recently discovered that your house is situated over a large node of Uranium ore” No details, just that.
Your comments and suggestions (don’t say buy a MAC) please, on the back of six fifty dollar bills to an address I will give you.
November 2, 2013
My mother, my aunts, my grandmother and nearly every grown up I knew as a child made mince pies for Christmas. Served hot with custard or cold with a dusting of confectionary sugar they were a standard item for the season. Nobody cared where the filling, that dark, moist and sometimes boozy material, came from.
Of course it was from jars and tins! Very few people made the filling themselves or even used any of the original recipes from the long distant past. No; it was easier to open a Crosse and Blackwell jar and voila! instant success. It was the pastry crust that gave those pies the aura of being genuinely homemade. It is that crust that I have been trying to duplicate for nearly forty years with occasional success.
I have had more success with making what I call ‘Bambi’ filling. I can almost hear your sharp intake of breath. Bambi? Yes, folks. Good and genuine mincemeat is just one way of using up and preserving the delicious venison that you hunted, shot and dressed yourself on that amazing trip into the Idaho woods with Bo, Red, and Jake.
Now that you have a freezer chest full of Venison you are ready to make mincemeat the old fashioned way. Here is the recipe I use. Naturally you can increase the amount of Venison in proportion.
ORIGINAL PACIFIC NORTH WEST BAMBI BRAND PIE FILLING
3 cups golden raisins
3 cups raisins
3 cups currants
2 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples
1 pound of lean Venison. Braise till still rare and pink in the center,
mince but not too fine.
1/2 Cup Lemon Peel, finely chopped
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1 and half tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mace
3 Cloves whole
1/ 2 Teaspoon ground clove
2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
3 cups brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons salt
1 quart apple cider
1/2 pound beef suet, minced, or Crisco
1/2 cup Cognac
Roughly chop the dried fruit.
Peel, core and chop apples into half inch dice.
Put all ingredients, except for brandy, into a 8 quart pot.
Mix well, and bring to a simmer.
Cook, uncovered, until apples are soft, stirring frequently.
When softened, cook for 30 minutes, partially covered.
Season with half cup Cognac. Not the good stuff!
Use immediately in pies or pack into sterilized jars.
If you want to store for longer than a few months you must sterilize the filled jars. If you are going to use your filling sooner a shallow layer of Cognac on the top surface will do the trick.
Whether you put this filling in small hand pies, large dish pies, or open flans I almost guarantee that no one will ever guess that it contains Bambi until you tell them. One of my friends eats it with ice cream. No crust, just ice cream.
Let me know how you get on.
August 16, 2013
Another local Church has agreed to stage our production of JB by Archibald MacLeish. This means I get to play SATAN again. Some folk remarked that I was perfectly cast. I am taking it as a compliment. After all do you really think it is easy to play evil almost perfectly? Here’s the poster with details:-
August 13, 2013
If plagiarism were to be outlawed the artistic world would dim considerably. Following the success of a similarly named show I thought why not? And indeed it does fit the general idea for my show. Which is…
“Everyone has their own book, rarely opened, which contains all the songs and words they wish they had sung or said”
And so we have The Book of Bob, September 21st at 2.30 PM, in the Performance Room of Portland Piano Company. . I will open my own ‘BOOK’ for you and you may be surprised at what jumps out.
Check out the poster. You can buy tickets at Brown Paper Tickets event #435526 or at the door.
June 17, 2013
I was persuaded to audition for and play the part of SATAN in ‘JB’, a verse drama by Archibald MacLeish. It was a one night production and it turned out very well. People are now telling me I was perfectly cast and may have a career ahead playing the dark one in future productions. I can’t deny that I enjoyed playing the role opposite my friend Dick Norris who was playing God. But, late in life as it is I would not want to get typecast unless there is some material reward involved. SATANIC? Of course!
In the meantime I am now focusing on my readings for the Summer Concert of ViVoce, the Portland revel’s Female Ensemble. I am really impressed with the poems director Antonia Forster has chosen for the two performances. As usual I know that the choir will produce some spine tingling moments singing some music that does not often get an airing in Portland. What poems? What songs? Included are pieces by Simic, Tennyson, and even Irving Berlin! Better come and see.
April 25, 2013
Somehow I got cornered into writing a poem about Rhubarb. You can read the result below. It is less about rhubarb than it is about things passed but easily recalled with the right stimulus.
I learned about Oxalic Acid
When less than anxious for yet more information
More notes on a chalkboard
In a malodorous sulphurous school room.
Furiously copied in pencil
Scribbled first, and required to be transformed,
Later, into copperplate, almost textbook pages.
To be judged as adequate; or not,
By a dyspeptic misanthrope in a black gown.
Oxalic Acid; not as deadly.
But in a close league,
To the clear viscous liquids
Held in dusty skull marked bottles
Within easy reach of any manic schoolboy.
Dusty bottles in a rack
In a rack on a bench
On a bench where I sat
Where I sat wondering why my mind
My sharp juvenile mind would never grasp
Valence Bonding Theory quite as well
As the taste of a girls lips
The smell of her hair
The ring of her laugh
The answer to a question in her eyes.
When that girl had gone
I read that Oxalic Acid is found in Rhubarb leaves.
Pie making always brings such fascinating memories.
March 18, 2013
Sometime in the late 1950’s and halfway through the Sunday roast pork dinner and my Brussels sprouts are mixing nicely with the fresh apple sauce, crackling and a curious mixture of mashed swede, potato and margarine that my Mother often produces as part of this meal. It is a moment to relish in any English schoolboys meal. Still plenty of good stuff left on the plate, and the promise of apple pie for dessert, or ‘afters’ as we called it. And even before we get to the pie there is also a likely fight for my father’s leftovers. He often does not finish what he has on his plate and seems to enjoy watching his three sons jockey for an extra portion whilst my Mother tut-tuts her disapproval of this crude display. But she is outnumbered.
And in case you are wondering, no, we were not cannibals, and did not eat people from Scandinavian countries, however tastily prepared. However, Swede, or Swedish Turnip or what Americans call Rutabaga was and still is a frequent part of my diet, and a recent article in the Food Day section of the Oregonian which while not disrespectful of this fragrant and nutritious vegetable was not as fulsome as it deserves, has prompted me to do a little more research into ’brassica napobrassica’.
I had barely touched the keys and I discovered that in Ithaca, New York, every December there is an International Rutabaga Curling Championship, and closer to home the Advanced Rutabaga Studies Institute in Forest Grove, Oregon. The Wikipedia entry for the Rutabaga let me know, amongst many fascinating pieces of information, that the preparation served by my dear Mother so long ago is called, in Scotland, ‘clapshot’; a delicious schoolboy term. “More clapshot for you, dear? It contains 42% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C!”
From the Wikipedia entry I discovered the physiological reason why many people find Rutabaga intolerably bitter. Poor dears they are cursed with especial sensitivity to the glucosinolates which it contains, as do watercress, mustard greens, turnip, broccoli and horseradish. It is in their DNA. Nothing can be done. Nothing can be done except invent recipes that attenuate or mute that characteristic; which brings me by a circuitous route to a recipe which does just that. I have been making ‘quattro radice purea’ since I was introduced to it at a relatives Thankgiving Dinner some twenty years ago. Their version contained Parsnip, Turnip, and two other mystery roots niether of which were Rutabaga. My version, of course, is a nostalgic nod and homage to my Mothers unwitting Clapshot, and contains constantly variable proportions of the following:-
- The flesh of baked Potato (keep the skins!)
- Roasted Onions
- Roasted Rutabaga
- Roasted Turnip
- Roasted Parsnip
- Roasted Carrot
…all mashed and blended with butter, salt, pepper and occasionaly Parmesan cheese, and then baked in a casserole, or stuff the potato skins and bake.
Of course you have counted the ingredients and are questioning my mathematics. But before you get too critical lets just go through them. A Potato is a seed tuber, a Rutabaga is a swollen stem. Turnips, Parsnips and Carrots are roots and the Onion is a bulb. So, perhaps I should call the dish Three Root Puree?
No matter, it is delicious, nutritious, a wonderful conversation point and economic.
February 28, 2013
Last night I saw a short film by Haydn Reiss, ‘Every War Has Two Losers’, which was a tribute of sorts to the pacifism of William Stafford. Even at my age I remain uncertain as to how I should react if something I loved was attacked. The event where I saw the film was a Poetry meeting organised by Tom Hogan in Milwaukie, Oregon. There was a small crowd. After the film an open mike was run and I read two poems. The first by the war poet Wilfred Owen, Dulce et Decorum Est, and the second, my own, a work in progress. Here it is, I welcome any comments politely delivered.
Con Trails, or Hitler Owes Me A Suit!
A young boy is on his back in the damp ferns of a Kentish wood
Sucking a stem of grass, applying a dock leaf to the nettle rash
Watching the con trails of the peaceful silver aeroplanes
Droning from London to Paris and back in the peaceful blue summer sky
Innocent and unaware how busy this same summer sky had once been
With so many trails knitted with the smoke and flames
of falling machinery and screams of dying young men.
And at nightfall came more machines with death
Undiscriminating death, dropping, whistling, from their bellies.
And later still rockets came out of that sky.
Two failed to kill his parents, coming so close,
But did destroy his Fathers new pinstripe suit
The reward of hoarded ration coupons
“Hitler owes me a suit!”
He said now and then.
Now and then when it seemed
A joke about the war would be let go.
The boy gets up and waves to the silver aeroplanes
Droning across the peaceful blue sky.
February 13, 2013
And here is another almost useless message from the bowels of Microsoft…
An error has occurred in the script on this page
Error: unable to get value of the property ‘msie’: object is null or undefined
Do you want to continue running scripts on this page?
…and whether I hit yes or no the same thing happens; the web-site that was loading reappears. Please write in very PLAIN ENGLISH your suggestions as to why I get this message, what can it possibly mean, and what can a relatively sane person do with this cryptic nonsense on the back of a fifty dollar bill and send it to an address I will give you later.
January 17, 2013
We should not expect our sports heroes to be nice people. Not if we want them to be singled minded, focused, dedicated, machine-like beings willing to set aside any other life to win. Winners at this level have to be people we would not want as friends.
Doping in cycling does not guarantee that you will win. In stage after stage in the Tour de France, in the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta d’Espana and other high profile races, scores of men who doped came nowhere and last. The idea that there is a drug that will turn you from nothing to superman overnight in one dose is ludicrous, but many believe it. The doping that modern cyclists use gives them an edge of performance over a long period. But it means they have to dope over a long period. This is why the drug screening system in place now should be dismantled. It does not work because those in charge were complicit.
Cycle racing at this level is the most grueling mind bending undertaking in sport. If you think you could ride a bike at an average speed of 25 mph or more every day for three weeks up and down two major mountain ranges in temperatures ranging from cool to blistering, in humidity ranging from desert to jungle, in the company of others who either hate you or only like you as a temporary teammate, without thinking you could use a little help, without losing your mind, you are not a cyclist, and you don’t know cycle racing.
Lance Armstrong’s ‘crime’ is lying, serially lying, to a large number of people over a long period of time. But doping or not, flawed person or worse, he was one of the greatest racing cyclists to get on a bike. He focused on one race, the Tour de France and so does not rank as high in my estimation as Eddy Merckx or Jacques Anquetil or even Louison Bobet, all of whom won many different races over their careers.
I don’t have to like Armstrong or approve his lifestyle to admire his grit. I do not approve of his decision to take PEDs but my gamblers instinct says he could have won most of those TDF’s even if he had not. And therein lays some shame.