Apel Mjausson

Start where you are, not where you think you should be.

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Catamount and Bald Peaks Panorama
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Bald Peaks Panorama
snail, november
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Rancho Panorama from last weekend
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Salvia canariensis var. candidissima
Sun, 4-6’ tall & wide.

Salvia sclarea 'Piemont'
Sun/Pt. Sun, To 5' high & 1.5' wide.

Phlomis purpurea
Sun/Part Sun, 4-6’ tall & 4’ across

Graptopetalum paraguyense 'Pinky'
Sun/Pt. Sun, 3-10" tall and up to 3' across.

Happy Solstice!
Happy Solstice
Happy winter solstice to all my LJ friends! All the best for the returning light!

Rice cookie and crackers experiment
Update, August 26, 2013: Changed ingredient proportions.

In my quest to find food I can actually eat without getting sick, I've made rice cookies and crackers today. The main ingredient is white rice flour from Bob's Red Mill. On the back of the package, there's a recipe for a pie crust that I used as a starting point.

Makes 18 mini muffins, baked for up to 10 minutes at 425F.

1.25 cups rice flour (was 3/4 cup)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon canola oil (was 1/4 cup)
1 cup water (was 3/4 cup)
10 packets SweetnLow

Cookie flavorings
Cocoa powder
Vanilla essence

Cracker flavorings
Lemon thyme
Coarse sea salt

The results were edible, if a bit gooey. I could definitely use less liquid next time. Perhaps as little as 1/2 cup. Or I could just double the amount of rice meal and increase the baking powder by 50%.

Among the cookies, the cinnamon was the outstanding flavor. They were delicious. As suspected, the cocoa both didn't taste enough and wasn't sweet enough. The anise got noticeably better within the half hour that it took to finish them. I think that's because of the fat content.

Among the crackers, or savory mini scones, or whatever they should be called, the lemon thyme was fantastic but would have been even better if I had ground the leaves. They're larger than normal thyme leaves. The regular thyme and basil were great too. Although the crackers suffered more from being gooey. Somehow I have a stronger preference for firmness when it comes to savory foods.

The dash of coarse sea salt on top of each savory rice scone definitely helped.

Cookies before
I mixed the flavorings into the batter after I'd poured it into the holes. That gave me more control over dosage. Next time I'll probably make only one flavor and mix the flavoring into the batter before pouring it into the muffin holes.
Rice cake experiment: cinnamon, anise, cocoa

Crackers before
As you can see, it takes quite a lot of flavoring for each cracker.
Rice cracker experiment: thyme, basil, lemon thyme

On a plate after baking
A bit gooey, but all definitely edible.

Scones experimentation
Roughly based on an egg-free recipe for Petite Vanilla Bean Scones.

20 small scones cookies
1 cup all purpose gluten-free flour
1 cup other gluten-free flour, e.g millet or oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil or nut butter
1/3 cup sugar (can be replaced by sweetener?)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup lactose-free milk

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together oil and sugar/sweetener until light.
Add vanilla extract to butter and sugar mixture and beat to incorporate. Mix in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk.
Stir in remaining flour mixture until the dough comes together into a firm, slightly sticky mass.
Divide dough into 5 equal pieces and roll into tennis ball-sized rounds. Place them on a lightly floured surface and flatten each ball into a disc about 1/2 – 3/4-inch thick.
After all balls have been flattened, cut each into quarters and arrange on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 11-15 minutes, until scones are light golden at the edges.

Further experiments, May 5, 2013
Cookies. Recipe on apel.livejournal.com/tag/recipes
Oatmeal on the left, orange on the right

Orange cookies
Ground rind of a small orange
2 cups all purpose gluten-free flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
A little sugar
2.5 teaspoons saccharine
12 oz LF sour cream

Oatmeal & almond butter cookies
2 cups oat flour w/ a little all purpose gluten-free flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
A little sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2.5 teaspoons saccharine
0.5 cups almond butter
0.5 cups rice milk

Anise rice meal cookies
2 cups rice flour w/ a little all purpose gluten-free flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
A little sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2.5 teaspoons saccharine
1 tsp anise, whole
0.5 cups cashew butter
0.5 cups rice milk
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Muffin Experiments: FODMAP edition
I need to bake something yummy and low-FODMAP for tomorrow.

Judging from previous experiments, these are roughly the right proportions for muffins:

Dry Ingredients
1.5 cups Flour
6 packets Sweet'nlow
0.25 cups Brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons Baking powder
0.5 teaspoons Salt
0.5 teaspoons Cinnamon (optional)

Liquid ingredients
1 cup Water
2 eggs, beaten
0.5 teaspoons Vanilla

Makes 20 mini muffins at 400F for 15 minutes.
Makes 15 normal-sized muffins at 400F for 18 minutes.

Meatloaf experiment
I'm making a FODMAP-friendly meatloaf in the slow cooker. It's extremely loosely based on a recipe from AllRecipes.com.

2 lbs lean beef
~1 cup crumbs of sunflower bread rehydrated in lactose free milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dried basil
1 lbs baby carrotts
peanut butter for glazing

Probe 170F
Low heat for ETA 6-8 hours.

Rehydrate breadcrumbs in milk for 10 minutes or longer. Add basil and salt.
Spread baby carrots across the bottom of the slow cooker.
Beat the egg. Add the breadcrumbs to the egg and mix.
Add the meat and mix everything.
Place the well-mixed meat on top of the carrots in the slow cooker.
Spread peanut butter on top.
Insert probe and program slow cooker.

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Friends list cull
Comment if you're still reading.

California indoor winter
someecards.com - Let's go out into the scorching heat wave to avoid frostbite from our office air conditioning.

Physical therapy: Standing 2
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PantheaCon Gender Conflict
san jose
This is a response to Yeshe Rabbit's post about the conflict between trans gender and cis gender women at PantheaCon this year. This isn't the first time the issue has come up at PantheaCon. The Wild Hunt has more background.

Disclaimer: I'm cis-gendered and I wasn't at PantheaCon this year. Having said that, I'm afraid that this blog post sounds patronizing to me. I have no doubt that it's well-intentioned but it hits too many points on DerailingForDummies.com.

Some examples
Commitment 1: Denying people the right to express their anger at perceived injustices, or circumscribing their anger with unrealistic rules.

Commitment 2: Leading with study material for the relatively under-privileged group, even though they are likely to know much more about us than we do about them.

Commitment 3: The under-privileged need to be patient.

Ending: Denying the reality of trans people by individualizing their perceptions.

I have no doubt that Rabbit wants to work toward healing but when we're the relatively over-privileged group in a conflict, we need to take more responsibility for moving toward a solution than the relatively under-privileged group. That includes becoming aware of common pitfalls in this type of asymmetrical power conflict.

My impression is strengthened by the fact that others who were present perceived the attempt at witnessing very differently from the intent.


London Riots
Gordon White said:
"Whatever happens to the world happens to London. Terrorism, banking crises, racism, class battles, wealth, food trends, art, immigration concerns."

Look at British stamps. Notice anything? Anything missing? It doesn't say "United Kingdom." There's not even a little "GB" in the corner. The reason is that the British were first with that too. No need to put the name of the country on the stamps if you're the only country that makes stamps. Gordon is spot on about that.

On a less trivial note, riots happen in London and the UK with disturbing frequency. As much as I agree with Gordon's socio-political sentiments, this isn't the first time it's happened and it won't be the last time either. If it's not income disparities worthy of the Middle Ages, it's institutionalized racism, poll taxes, miners' strikes... you can take it back through the decades. There's always a reason and often a good one.

But after a couple of years they all blur together unless you were affected directly, or you only lived in London when a riot happened. I think this time Twitter is exacerbating the effect. That is a pattern. The immediacy of other large-scale events at certain junctures was sharpened by new-for-the-time technology. First it was the telegraph, trains, radio, TV, color TV, mobile phones. The Loma Prieta earthquake was televised because there was a baseball game of national interest at a San Francisco ballpark at the time.

My point is that riots don't achieve anything. They make for dramatic pictures on the telly but they are soon forgotten. As Gordon is saying "Rioting is terrible magical target selection."

How many riots did it take before the Met learned that a largely white police force engaging with criminals of other skin colors was a recipe for "community tensions?" Have they even learned it today? I doubt it. The higher-ups say the right things, most of the time. But your local plod? White. His ideas about race? Not pretty.

Remember the Broadwater Farm Riots? Chances are, you don't. According to Wikipedia, they took place in October 1985. They were also in Tottenham and were sparked by similar incidents to the Mark Duggan shooting. The only reason I know about them is that Broadwater Farm is always mentioned when discussing how to police rioters because at that riot a police officer was killed by rioters. The officer was trying to keep firemen safe from rioters while they (the firemen) were putting out a torched building.

Lingering tensions from a riot the previous week in Brixton contributed to the Broadwater Farm Riot.  The Brixton riots were also caused by a similar incident involving white police officers and black people being treated like criminals for being black and living in a poor neighborhood.

(This is one of my rare public entries. As this is a sensitive issue, I'm screening all comments. If that bothers you, feel free to link to this entry and comment in your own blog.)

Incidents: How to be effective in high-stress situations
I liked Duff McDuffy's entry called How to Remain Equanimous in a Difficult Situation. It is based on physiology -- how our bodies react when we feel stressed. No woo-woo, just science and experience.

Based on my own experience, I would add two things.

1. In step 1, when you relax your facial muscles, make sure you also close your mouth. Closing your mouth has many, many advantages. Here are a few:
  • You lose less water by breathing through your nose. In dry environments that can be a life or death decision.
  • You don't get a dry mouth, so if you need to say something, you'll actually be able to speak right away.
  • By not babbling you do not distract yourself from your feelings and/or thoughts.
  • By not babbling, you do not distract other people who may be in a better position than you to fix the problem.
  • By not babbling, you appear cool. Appearing cool not only gives you higher status and makes people pay attention when you do actually say something. In many cases, appearing cool and alert is all it takes to fail a criminal's victim interview.
2. To Duff's point #4, I would add that in many cases simply to watch the situation unfold and remain aware of your surroundings, as well as your own process, is what it takes to "win" in an incident.

Granted, there are situations in which swift action is required to stay alive. Sitting in a car that's about to plunge into a lake, is one example. But there are many more situations that are improved by simply doing nothing and paying attention. It also has the added bonus that it drives jerks crazy when you don't react to their BS by bouncing off the walls. :-)

I couldn't resist

There are more on the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee Blog.

Religion News Service and Paganism
This conversation started with a quote of the Religion News Service on the Wild Hunt. The subject was the Unitarian Universalist Association and an article by Daniel Burke about the denomination. The headline asked "Can a creedless religion make it another 50 years?". Despite the provocative headline, the article was billed as a news story. (In most news organizations it's not the author who writes the headline, so let's not blame Daniel Burke for that.)

Just like Jason Pitzl-Waters, I was pleased that the article highlighted the Pagan involvement in UUA. But what surprised me was that the religion wasn't capitalized. Laurel Mendes was called "neo-pagan" in an article that capitalized other religions: "Christian, Buddhist, Islamic and Jewish" and "God". This kind of selective capitalization is usually employed when a writer wants to convey that Paganism, or Neo-Paganism, isn't a Real Religion™.

So I commented on the Wild Hunt article.
"From the History page on religionnews.com:
"RNS does not endorse or promote any particular religion, creed or set of beliefs or non-beliefs. We are a secular organization committed to an ongoing conversation about the role of religion in public life." ...
"For nearly 78 years, the Religion News Service has been an authoritative source of news about religion, spirituality and ideas."

Capitalization according to RNS (in order of appearance in linked article):
Unitarian Universalism

If RNS aims to be neutral, they need to fix the capitalization rules in their style guide. Otherwise it's hard not to assume that only "valid" religions and spiritual paths get capitalized."

Assuming that Daniel Burke and the Religion News Service wouldn't find and reply to a comment buried in a blog, I tweeted @ReligionNewsNow and asked for a reply:
@Mjausson: Hi , can you respond to capitalization issue I'm raising on ?

I was pleasantly surprised that I got a reply the next day:
@ReligionNewsNow: Like many news outlets, we follow AP style when it comes to capitalization. They lowercase "neo-pagan." Link

I was surprised again for several reasons:
1. The reply came in the form of a Direct Message. DMs can only be seen by the sender and recipient. They're used for conversations that you want to keep private. Why would a news organization send me a private message about their capitalization style guide when I had asked them about it in two very public places? Is their style a secret? My guess would be that they're not aware of Twitter etiquette regarding @-replies and DMs.

2. A news organization that only reports on religious news cites the AP style guide for how it capitalizes religions. I would expect a skateboarding news venue to have its own capitalization and spelling style guide for anything to do with skateboarding, too. In fact, the online version of the AP Stylebook has functionality so that specialty news outlets can add terminology within their field to the stylebook.

Some more surprising finds:
Daniel Burke wrote a news roundup on March 15 in which the Theodism  is capitalized. Full text of the RNS item:
"Two Nebraska inmates have succeeded in getting a pagan religion recognized by state prison officials. The religion, called Theodish Belief, uses for its ceremonies drinking horns, a boar's tusk, a hobby horse and organic food.

The cynic in me suspects that some of these inmate First Amendment claims are desparate attempts to avoid prison food. The hobby horse? Who knows."

Burke is following the capitalization in the AP piece that is quoted by the First Amendment Center. But the snark in the second paragraph is not present in the AP article, it's Daniel Burke's alone.

On the other hand, the lack of respect for some religions is apparently not new to Religion News Service. In a brief article from June 2 about RNS' move from for-profit to non-profit, a charity law blog quotes the RNS mission statement:
"RNS' mission statement is "RNS' first priority is to provide intelligent, objective coverage of all religions-Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Asian religions and private spirituality. RNS also provides commentary from a diverse array of all points of the political and theological spectrum."

Notice anything missing there? Truthfully, I don't know where the Nonprofit Law Prof Blog got their quote from. I left a comment on the blog. Maybe there will be an answer next week or so. I'll update here when/if I find out.

Not Hemming my Bedroom Curtains
This was originally a reply to a blog post entitled Self-Respect: Come to Your Success by Pagan mystic and teacher Thorn Coyle.

For me the biggest obstacles to coming to my success are old commitments and convictions that I've outgrown. Take my bedroom curtains for example.

My current level of success means I have less time and more money but I still hold on to the belief that I am a crafty person so I should hem my own curtains. Why else do I have a sewing machine?

So for over a year I had half a hemmed curtain hanging in my bedroom window. The other half lay, unhemmed, in my crafts box. I finally took down the hemmed half a month ago. The next step is to take both halves to a seamstress and say "Hem this one so it looks the same as the one I've done."

I think I need to let go of beliefs that served me when I had more time than money. Then I'll be ready to hand over my bedroom curtains to a professional. I used to take pride in sewing and other creative, time-intense skills. I don't feel pride in throwing money at a problem, even though the reason I have the money is that I'm skilled at my own profession. Somehow I need to resolve that.

The fact is that I use the limited time I do have for furthering my own healing, as well as the healing of other people. That's something I need to learn to place a higher value on.

Twitter Etiquette for Repeating Links
If you want to tweet a link to your own, original content more than once, you can do it like this:
1. Make it obvious that this is not a new link, e.g. in the evening you want to make sure that the late risers didn't miss your morning blog post so you tweet: "Linking again to this morning's blog post for my fellow insomniacs..."
2. Add something new. This is even better. Still talking about an 8pm repeat tweet of this morning's blog post "My recovery buddy @Mjausson commented with some neat tips on my blog entry about meditation"

The problem with simply automatically tweeting the same thing twice or more is that some people click on most links in their Twitter stream. When they've clicked on your links a couple of times and realized that they can't tell if the link is to something they haven't seen yet, they unfollow.

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