Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Of Tires and Donuts

At one point today, I thought that the most stressful thing this evening was going to be coughing non-stop through rehearsal. Who knew that I would have come to look upon this vile anticipation with wistfullness.

Somewhere around 5:30pm, I got a call from my son. The sight of his phone number in my caller i.d. filled me with dread. Normally, the reverse would have been true. However, in this instance, I knew that he and his posse were driving back from Florida where they had spent a fabulous couple of days at Universal and Harry Potter land (or whatever it's called). The fact that he was calling me in mid-drive filled me with foreboding.

"Hi. When I drive the car fast, the car makes a weird bumping and when I drive slowly, it still makes it, but not as badly."

I knew that he had neglected getting his oil changed before the trip and I mentally assigned the knocking to this. I advised him to stop and check his oil levels. This seemed to be the case as his call 20 minutes into rehearsal confirmed. But, they were parked by the side of the road and it was still running and it was quiet but it had made a funny noise. They started it up when I said that it might take a while for the oil to completely relubricate..

A little while later, came another call. (Really good thing I have a minor part in this show.) Funny thing, but the tire had exploded. It seems that the bumpetyn bump of the car had been the tire in the process of going bad., but none of them had ever been in a car with a bad tire before. BUT, I had made sure that my kid knew how to change a tire. At this point, I think I will allow the text message I sent to my sister take over.

"The bumpety thumpetty turned out not to be the oil...which WAS low. It turned out to be the tire going bad and then it exploded. So, they managed to put the donut on and because none of those children had ever apparently been in the vicinity of a flat tire, it never occurred to any of them that just because the tire was bad and unrepairable...that they might...oh...need the tim. So they left the whole thing by the side of the road in the dark in southern South Carolina when they went on their merry way."

They drove along for another 45 minutes til they found someplace open that might be able to sell them a new tire. It was at this point that I became aware of the whole rim debacle and I explained in not quite the most patient of tones that it was going to cost probably $450 to replace a rim and a tire if they could even find a rim that quickly (bear in mind that we are talking the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day). I was just a little irked because a) I couldn't fathom not realizing they would need the rim and b) feeling helpless because I'm 600 miles away.

The dude told them that he couldn't put a full sized tire on a donut rim and that the donut tire was apparently fine. At this point, I'm sure my child was feeling guilty and the 4 of them piled back into the station wagon and backtracked with flashlights and the kind of enthusiasm only a roadtrip can engender in search of the missing rim. They did find it and tossed it into the back of the wagon.

At this point they were 240 miles away from their overnight destination and reckon that because they are going to drive the thrice-recommended 50 mph that they ought to arrive at some 4 in the morning. Wednesday morning, The Boy plans on getting to Wal-Mart at the instance they open and replace the donut and then they will continue their drive on the busiest travel day of the year.

I guess the lesson is this: each one of these kids are knowledgeable, intelligent college seniors, but the event was out of their respective experiences so they dealt with it...incorrectly. It's one of those things that's hard to anticipate. How do you tell someone all the potential ramifications of a situation if they a) don't occur to you because they seem obvious or b)you fear the Look of Extreme Patience. Do your best to prep your kids for life, but be prepared for them to look at life from a different angle than you.

However, at some point, he will be home and we will have Thanksgiving Dinner and we will all be thankful that we are together.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas and Bouillabaisse

Every year on Christmas eve from at least 1964 until really not that long ago in the Grand Scheme of Things, my parents would play host to the Christmas and Hanukkah Caroling Party in which a good chunk of NY science fiction fandom would turn up at their 13 room house in Brooklyn and then proceed to meander about the Ditmas Park neighborhood singing sectarian, non-sectarian, and (in some cases) highly irreverent songs. It was such a joy.

While the singers were out, my mother and a core of us enthusiastic assistants would stay behind and cook for the masses. As time progressed and I got older, I took over a lot of the grunt work. As more time progressed and my parent's aged and fandom changed, the Christmas eve event became more of a in-house holiday party for 20 of our closest friends and I pretty much did most of the cooking with my sister, my daughter and my hubby pitching in. The past few years, it became a half dozen people who couldn't let go. Last year was the last of Christmas in Brooklyn.

This year my parents are down here living in an assisted living facility and my sister and I are trying to sell the house. My mother has severe short term memory loss and won't even know really that she's missing Christmas although the decorations in her facility will reminder her something's happening. But, my sister and I will bring her and my dad over to one of our houses and try to recapture... something.

But, we will make do...and the purpose of this was not to bring anybody down, but to give a backstory. At the center of every single one of these parties was my mother's Bouillabaisse. There were other stalwarts that lasted for several years and then moved on and replaced (her baklava, my fried artichoke hearts, Scandinavian rosettes). But, always there was her Bouillabaisse, beloved of everyone who tried it. I wouldn't know, because I don't like fish. But, once she wrote it down, I followed it slavishly (because I was NOT going to taste it) and I hear it tasted just as good. It is best served accompanied by a crusty piece of Italian or French bread (God, do I miss NY bakeries).

11 years ago, she was finally persuaded to actually take all her little note scraps and organize them into a cohesive recipe so that it was not lost. I will be making it this year for Thanksgiving and I imagine, depending on how Christmas actually winds up going, for Christmas. But, it is a recipe that needs to be shared. Following, exactly the way she wrote it out is:


Perdita's Bouillabaise

These amounts and varieties of seafood are pretty nominal. I practically always use scrod because cod is hard to find these days and expensive when you do. I rarely use any lobster, but I usually use ocean scallops (bay scallops are too small and shrink to almost nothing when cooked). Fresh seafood is better, but frozen can be used if necessary. And, actually, chopped clams have no part in any other recipe I ever saw, but I like them as sort of a filler upper in the soup.

I arrived at this version after looking over several recipes - some much more complicated, some very ethnic, some very American. I concluded that Bouillabaise is a fish soup. Strictly speaking, I guess that this is not really authentic bouillabaise in that it isn't made with the same sorts of fish as those used in France, which like those I use, are what's available. But, the flavorings are authentic and the method of preparation is like many of the recipes I looked at. Anyway, it's what I make, and everybody seems to like it.

Shrimp - 1 lb
Hadddock, cod,or scrod - 1-1/2 - 2 lbs
lobster - 1 c (opt)
scallops,ocean - 1/2 - 1 lb (actually scallops are myown inclusion also)
chopped clams, with juice - 2 6-oz cans
olive oil - 1/2c
garlic chopped - 2 cloves
tomatoes, stewed - 2-1/2 c
thyme - 1/2 t
Parsley, dried- some
bay leaf - 1
saffron - 1/8t
salt - 2-3 T

Boiling water or fishstock - 1 qt (I usually use water. Stock doesn't seem to make enough difference to go through the trouble. Besides, fish scraps from the seafood store always have eyes in them which need to be removed, and I just can't)

1. Shell and clean shrimp
2. Cut fish into 1-1/2" cubes
3. Heat oil, add shrimp, scallops, garlic and onions. Simmer 10 mins.
4. Add remaining ingredients except fish and clams. Simmer 30 mins more.
5. Add fish forlast 20 mins.
6. Add clams for last few minutes.

Perdita Boardman
Dec.17, 1999

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Regrets...I have a few...

I wish just one time that my kids would believe that I have been their age and been where they are now and that I have made wrong choices.

Ultimately, for their sakes, my choices (up to a point) were the right ones..without which they wouldn't exist.

For my sake, though, other choices would have been better or have given me more options. But, at the time, who knew? OTOH, I tended to go with what was easier and less scary. I love my kids and hope beyond hope and beyond prayer that they will make the choices that are right for them.

My one is still in college, so he still has time to think about it...hopefully with just his own future in mind. My other one is so all about what will happen based solely on what has come before and what she perceives should come after. Not taking into account having fun and exploring while she is young and single and still has time to play and explore her options...with no repercussions except those she can slough off in favor of the next adventure.

Me? I don't want to live through them. I'm tired, though, of people thinking I'm going through some kind of depression when I say that my choices (married, kids, age 54) are limited to things I have (in reality) no control over. I just don't want frick and frack to miss exploring all the options and wonderful opportunities they could have if they don't pick the safe and reliable.

I did and regret it more than words can express.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The longest day

So. This morning begins what I anticipate will be a LONG 24 hours.

Warning: implied semi-grossness follows.

Tomorrow, my darling husband has to undergo a certain routine medical procedure that probably most men in their mid-50s are familiar with. As a prelude, he has to be on a clear liquid diet and this evening will be adding certain over the counter medications into his diet to help move things along.

Shortly (or, to be more precise, eventually), my daughter will rise and the guilt/subterfuge will begin. Our plan is to (whichever works):
a) eat when he's on the computer downstairs
b) eat something that has no smell while cooking (pancakes, no bacon)
c) eat something we know he doesn't like and wouldn't be tempted by (artichokes)

He's been up for 2 hours and I've already heard him cheerfully (so far) remark to the cat that he has a rumbly in his tumbly. Entertainingly, he is convinced that Vodka counts as a clear liquid and that with the orange juice he's allowed will help the day go by.

...on no solid food. This could be interesting.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Fifth of November

And, just because:

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'twas his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence [or By God's mercy] he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Hulloa boys, Hulloa boys, let the bells ring.
Hulloa boys, hulloa boys, God save the King!

Griggs Timeline Aftermath

I guess there really hasn't been a major aftermath, thank goodness. But, I have been concerned if I caused anyone to doubt the crucial series of events which are the initial volley of exchanges between Monica Gaudio and the "editor" at Cooks Source Magazine regarding the magazine's copyright infringement of Ms Gaudio's work as depicted by Ms Gaudio here:

The indignation, scorn, factual correctness and much of the bitter sarcasm heaped on Judith Griggs on the Cooks Source Magazine Facebook page were, in my opinion, richly deserved.

My contention is that, not unexpectedly, after several hours (and much media attention) that sight was lost and the pranksters stepped in to muddy the waters by creating a variety of fake accounts.

First, the status message in question that (as far as I know) is still extant on the (real)CSM's FB page. I will completely join everyone in their opinion of the stupidity/ballsiness/ignorance of Ms Griggs' email to Ms Gaudio. However, I really do NOT believe that anyone who had been attacked and educated so viciously by the interwebs for several hours would have ever posted that status. And, seriously, how could you read that after reading the original and not believe that it was a parody....if nothing else, parody requires imagination which we are all pretty certain she lacks.

Now, faux-griggs. The first faux-griggs account was set up by Ted K (I do not know Ted. But, when the first fake account (and the only one active for much of the afternoon) showed up, Ted was "her" only friend and did not show up on the friends list of either of the real Judith Griggs FB profiles).

His first inflammatory posting came shortly after the status message in question. I had a brief wall exchange with him in which he smugly did not refute my congratulations (something I regret now) on his impersonation and his somehow managing to hack the page status. He kept this up all afternoon, long after the real-Griggs had folded up both her accounts and fled. He would occasionally break character but, all in all, he was both persistent and consistent.

People have asked if it was a hack, why has it never been changed? I don't know. My inclination is if the hacker/troll had kept changing it, it would have been even more obvious that it was not from her and it had accomplished his task.

Last evening, I finally had had enough of the situation. More faux-griggs accounts had been created and a faux-CSM page as well. It was no longer doing anything productive in support of Ms Gaudio and since Ms Griggs had left the building she was no longer reaping its "benefits". Its sole purpose seemed to have become a whole lot of smug self-satisfied "wits" showing off to each other and fanning the flames of the still well-meaning individuals who were finding their way there. I have not been there today and really have no intention of going back.

I hope that Ms Gaudio and the other people/organizations that Ms Griggs and her magazine took such incredible liberties with achieve legal and financial recourse.

If you are interested in the actual original case and other infringements perpetrated by Ms Griggs, Edward Champion researched and wrote (in an incredibly quick time) about this aspect and has examples and updates in his blog here:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Griggs Timeline

Much of this I have from observing. Some of it is inferred from actual correspondence with the faux-Griggs.

The original editor had 2 pages: her "professional" page (J.d. Griggs [sic]) and another FB page for personal stuff (Judith Griggs). They both originally had her picture on the profile and were somewhat loose as to amount of info a non-friend could see. As the day wore on, the woman changed her profile pictures to country-ish pictures of strawberries and quilts and locked down tightly the amount of info available. Finally, she fled entirely and both her legitimate FB pages went away. At NO time did either of these entities directly post or acknowledge the debacle.

At some point in early/mid-afternoon, someone (who I call Ted for a decent reason) created a faux Facebook entity called Judith Griggs (since, obviously, FB has to allow multiple people with the same name). His original profile pic was a plate of pink cookies. As the afternoon wore on, he changed the profile pic to her picture. At around this same time, he figured out how to crack the Fan Page and posted a bogus status calculated to irritate people. He then began posting inflammatory posts/responses on the Cooks Source page, but several times he broke character. Because of the rapid postings on the page, you really had to be paying attention (and for some stupid reason I found this fascinating) to catch all this.

Later in the afternoon, it seems he finally has had the chutzpah to start posting as Cooks Source Magazine.

By now, most people seem to have lost track of the genuine severity, lack of ethics, lack of knowledge and sheer gall of the original situation.

The woman has fled. Her site has gone. Her advertisers have pulled away from her.

The fact that this has by now has almost completely degenerated into sport and people trying to either be "witty" or gross and only for the benefit of themselves since she will not be seeing it is more than reason enough for this page to cease. And, it is being egged on by a Griggs-person who has nothing to do with anything except to be a flame-fanner.