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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Like a Muslim on 9/11

Some asshole went into a church in Wichita this morning and dispatched George Tiller. You might think, me being pro-life and all, that I'd think this was great news.

Think again.

First off, let me say I don't expect to sway your opinion about abortion at all. You're either wrong or you agree with me, but either way, nothing I say is likely to change your mind.

My opinion of Tiller is he was a worse vermin than Fred Phelps. Phelps is a scumbag, sure, but he hasn't killed anyone as far as I can tell, and his whole 'God Hates Fags' thing is so over the top as to provide a certain level of comic relief. Tiller, on the other hand, specialized in the slaughter of innocent life, and spent a lot of money on politicians of both parties to protect his interests as he played fast and loose with the few abortion laws that are on the books.

However, shooting him is going to prevent how many abortions? Oh, that's right ZERO because the law hasn't changed. It may be bad law, but some sociopath with a medical degree will be in that clinic sucking babies into sinks in Tiller's place before you know it. The murder of Tiller may have caused a few appointments to be rescheduled, but that's it.

Plus, now George Tiller gets to be a martyr for the other side.

And on the flip side, what does this do for the cause? It hurts it across the board. Pro-choice friends of mine were on Facebook before I could even learn of his death through normal news channels ranting about pro-life ideology and how we're all a bunch of hypocrites.

Sorry, but me and the guy who did this are not a part of any 'we.'

As for the evangelical and Catholic pro-life types I know, and I know plenty (especially the former category), most of them part company with me when I say I hope Tiller's murderer gets the death penalty. As I see it (my pro-life ideas are humanistic in nature, not religious), there is a distinction between innocent life and, say, an asshole bringing a gun to church to commit premeditated murder against an unarmed man, even a despicable unarmed man.

But the evangelical argument I've encountered over the years goes like this: we are all damned but for the grace of God. George Tiller is no more or less in need of redemption and forgiveness than your pastor, the guy who runs the homeless mission, or anyone else. We are all sinners, and there is no sliding scale: you can be saved by Jesus' sacrifice or not, but it is not up to you to take the life of another on God's behalf. And in fact, it's blasphemously arrogant to assume you know God's will and to enforce it by homicide. Or the death penalty.

So a lot of pro-life demonstrators will be protesting outside the state penn when Scott Roeder gets executed when and if he is.

As for this supposed member of Operation Rescue who was arrested on the highway not a mile from my house? Well, if I wanted to harm the pro-life cause in a big way, I'd join Operation Rescue and then shoot a prominent abortionist in church. That's about as much harm to the cause as one guy could do. Because here I am, trying to explain why any 'real' pro-life person would not assassinate anyone feeling like millions of 'real' Muslims must have felt when a big chunk of America thought the 19 hijackers were exemplary of mainstream Islam.

Pizza & Bag Party

Mo's small group leader from church hosted a shindig for the girls in her group. This is the same one who hosts pumpkin carving parties in October and all that, one of the neatest people I've ever met.

There was pizza, snacks, and then each girl got to decorate a bag. There was more to come, but by this point Mo was fried and it was already almost her bedtime. And that bed was a good 45 minute drive away, so we bailed.

It was fun. Mo wrote her name in puff paint, then went over it with glitter puff paint, and it kind of became a puddle. Thick enough I wonder if it'll ever dry.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Em has been into the Horror genre lately, including finally convincing me to watch the Amityville Horror with her. Both the 1979 version, which she found utterly unbelievable and fake, and the 2005 remake, which she found amusing because I startle so easily. She laughed at me every time it got me. And she's the one that believes in haunted houses.

But anyway, she drew this in the car today while we were looking for Serbs. I think we're going to make an attempt on Clive Barker's Hellraiser this evening, can't wait to see her drawing Pinhead.

Serb Fest

I took the girls to the Serb Festival. I'd looked it up online and clicked on a link to directions. But whoever it was at the site (not St. George's, some list of community activities I found) had the wrong address.

Well, it was the right address until a few years ago. Back when I was still married, I tried to take the girls to St. George's one time so they could see the beauty of an Orthodox liturgy. I went to St. Theodore's Russian Orthodox Church in high school, not out of religious conviction but because it was beautiful and I liked the music. I even sang in the choir, which scandalized at least one of the faithful, that a pagan who made no bones about his paganism would be singing in the church choir. But the congregation was good people, and I hard second hand that the parish priest had told the openly scandalized woman that 'This is a church, not a country club.'

So anyway, Orthodox churches being small and rare, they'd sometimes get together for a service, especially if the Bishop was in town or something. So I've been to at least one service at Holy Cross Russian Orthodox and at St. George's Serbian Orthodox. Never done the Greek, I understand they sit down instead of standing to chant for an hour and a half.

Anyway, the time I took the girls to St. Georges, we lasted about two minutes with Mo's vocalizing 'Look at the Christmas!' and all that. Then we were locked in the parking lot and had to wait through the service for someone to move their car so we could leave.

Anyway, we went to 1119 Lowell Ave in KCK, where the map said to go, where I remembered the church being, and there wasn't a soul in sight.

A few phone calls to find someone online or with a newspaper and I found out St. George's built a new church 20 miles closer to home. So we back-tracked to it.

I'm told they sold the old facility to an Ethiopian Orthodox congregation, be curious to see how that differs. The Orthodox never did embrace Latin the way the Romans did, so they've always done the liturgy in the vernacular. At St. George's, at least 20 years ago when I went, that mean the priest and choir were doing it in Slovanic, St. George's being a mainly immigrant Serbian church. St. Theodore's, while officially Russian, had hardly any Russians in its congregation, being a hodge podge of Syrian, Polish, Greek, and I don't know what mixed into a large group of former Episcopalians who founded the congregation when they felt the Church of England had gone too far astray. So St. Theodore's was an English service. I think Holy Cross did it in Russian, but I could be wrong.

Ethiopian, though. I don't even know what language that ends up being.

So anyway, we got to the Serb Festival at last, and mostly it's food. Same as the Ethnic Engorgement Festival, but mono-ethnic. I bought a couple of samples, a Cevapcici and a Raznjici, neither of which I can pronounce even vaguely. I know the first one has the accent on the second syllable, and I know it's basically like a hamburger in the shape of a little smokey. The Raznjici is a pork kebob. I couldn't get the girls to take even a test bite of either.

The thing I like about the Ethnic Engorgement Festival is my daughters get to refuse to try a wide variety of foods. The thing I don't get about their fear of Serb food is how American Serb food is. I mean, this is basically just grilled meat, food a Midwesterner would recognize. This isn't some out-there curry with 15 spices they haven't heard of or whatever.

Serb teens dancing to Serb music from Chixulub on Vimeo.

I wish I'd kept the camera going longer on the dancers in the video. No ethnic clothing, and it appeared to be spontaneous, this group of four teenagers who knew the dance that went with this particular song. It builds from what I got on video, and was really pretty cool.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Total (Literal) Eclipse

My friend Rachel posted this on Facebook. Wow.

Might Not Be Rocket Science...

Robert Goddard, the father of the liquid fueled rocket, was famous for his disasters. He single-handedly got rocketry banned in Massachusetts during his early career. He was known to have said, 'we learned things today.'

So who says pizza isn't rocket science? I made the Alton Brown pizza dough, but this evening making the pizza I still managed to learn things.

If you don't give the dough the rest period he shows, you get a super thin, crackery crust. Which is fine. But also, his dough recipe is smaller, 2 cups of flour in 3/4 cup water compared to the Lovely One's recipe of 3 cups flour and 1-1/2 cups water. The longer kneading, though, and you get it pretty darn stretchy. I stretched these out as big as ones I've made with half again as much flour and double the water, in other words.

I learned you can still tear a hole in it, no matter how well developed the gluten. And I learned that a pizza this thin does not take seven minutes at 550ºF like the ones I've been doing, five is plenty.

At seven, it's starting to be a big, flat cinder.

The pizza I didn't burn was topped with onions caramelized with fenugreek, bay leaves and fresh thyme, along with bleu cheese, bacon, dates and jalapeños.

Five minutes. Not seven. Seven is for a much thicker, bigger pizza. Which does make me wonder about the claims that a pizza oven should be 900ºF. This sounds like bachelor cooking logic, instead of 10 minutes at 250 degrees, why not 30 seconds at 5000 degrees?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Alton Brown-Style Crust

I've made eleven batches of dough using variations on Jill Santopietro's NYT Magazine formula as a basis. It's a very wet dough, creates a very light textured crust. I like it.

But I have bad luck hand tossing it. So I'm taking a few tips from Alton Brown, as he actually shows it done. Which means using his dough recipe as a starting point.

Big difference besides the proportions of stuff, he uses 'instant' yeast instead of regular active dry, and I figured out from his description (yeast plus ascorbic acid) that he was talking about what's labeled 'bread machine' yeast in the brands I can find. That, and he kneads in the KitchenAid for fifteen minutes. And finally, he goes straight to the fridge with his, no rising on the counter and punching down.

That's a lot of kneading. Before it was done, I thought at one point the machine had torn itself up. It started making a horrible clunking noise, and when I stopped it I found a metal disc at the bottom of the dough. Which turned out to be the cover for the attachment port on the nose of the machine. It had vibrated out.

I did, indeed, get a reasonably spherical dough ball, and I did get a good windowpane (where you stretch a sample to see if you can get it paper-thin without tearing.

Alton's Dough
Add to bowl in order:
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
1 cup bread flour
1 tsp. instant yeast
1 cup bread flour
Knead 15 minutes on medium
Let rise covered in fridge 24 hours cut in half roll into balls and rest for 30 minutes covered.
If it won't stay stretched, let it rest 5 minutes.
Optional rest of 30 minutes after stretching for a fluffier crust.

We'll see how the pizzas turn out on this one. The pizzas pictured here are not from this crust, they're from my most recent variation on Jill Santopietro's crust.

One pepperoni, one half black olive & one half black olive with jalapeño. Both with Alfredo sauce.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Buried Alive

Don't ya just love bucket boobies?

Took the girls to the park yesterday evening after pizza. Mo actually let us bury her almost completely, but then before I could get the picture she jumped up.

Then we piled on Em.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Been Ages Since I Had Pizza (Okay, Not Ages)

Dictates of my children's palates, tonight. I made a pepperoni-Alfredo pie for Mo and me to share (mozzarella and some parmesan/5 cheese shreds), and a bacon-black olive-Alfredo for me and Em.

I had a piece of each and figured what we didn't eat tonight would be leftovers for lunch the next couple days.

I've learned a new trick from Alton Brown, how to make the pizza dough into a better ball. As you're shaping, move your hands together under the ball, turning it. The dough ball comes out much better, and you get a rounder pizza. I haven't gotten a perfect sphere yet, maybe there's another trick for me yet to learn.

I'm going to try Alton's recipe once I find the 'instant' yeast he raves about. The one I've been playing with the past eleven batches is great, but if his turns out better...

Em doesn't really want to help, but she likes to keep up appearances by getting flour all over herself.

Deanna Rose Farmstead

My, but this place has grown since last I was here. I asked the girls if they wanted to go to Deanna Rose, expecting Mo to say, 'No no' (she always doubles it these days) and Em to protest that it was 'boring.'

Instead, they both wanted to go. So we did. I tried to feed a swan from my hand, and he bit my thumb. The thing they don't tell you about swans is they're assholes.

The goats are a tad greedy, too. Mo wanted to go in the pen to feed them, so we did, and they were climbing on her and trying to eat my shorts. A goat will bite a man on the but if they think there's food to be gained.