Monday, December 30, 2013

Pets des Nonnes

These are a tasty fritter commonly called nun's farts. They're called beignets in Louisiana. The recipe makes about 40.

6 tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoon sugar
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
4 eggs
1 cup of flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon rum or bourbon, dark;

Oil; for deep-frying
Sugar, confectioners

Put the butter, sugar, salt, and lemon rind together with 1 cup water in a saucepan and warm it all slowly to a boil. When the butter has completely melted, remove the pan from the heat. While the pan is heating, break each of the eggs into a separate custard cup or similar small dish and have these ready. When the pan is removed from the heat, add all the flour at once, stirring, first carefully, then, when the flour is absorbed, vigorously with a wooden spoon.

When you have a thick paste, turn the heat to medium high and put the pan back on it. Cook this mixture for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the sides and bottom, until the batter clings together in a solid mass, leaving the bottom and sides of the pan clean, and has a glossy appearance. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove.

Beat in the vanilla, and the rum or bourbon if used, giving the batter a chance to cool a little. When it has done so, make a well in its center, pour in 1 egg, and beat this into the mass. When the booze is incorporated, beat in another egg and proceed until all the eggs are used. The resulting pastry should be flexible and soft, firm enough to hold its shape and not at all runny. Set it aside and let it rest for about 45 minutes, or for the duration of supper.

When ready to make the pets des nonnes, fill a deep skillet or deep-fat fryer about two-thirds full of oil and heat to 360 degrees.F (not too hot, or the exteriors will brown before the center is cooked). If you are using a deep-fat fryer, do not use the basket, but a slotted spoon or wire mesh skimmer instead. Drop the batter into the hot oil a teaspoonful at a time, dipping the spoon into the oil after each scoop. Don't overcrowd the pan, since they puff up to about four times their original size. Nudge them to roll over, so that they color evenly on all sides. When golden brown, drain on paper towels and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Serve hot.

The story of how these pastries got their name is that they were accidentally discovered in a French convent in earlier times. A young nun, working in the kitchen, accidentally farted and dropped the piece of dough she was handling into a pot of hot oil. The dough fried; and an old nun fished it out and tasted it. She found it delightful.

Ever since then these are referred to as 'nuns' farts, or pets des nonnes.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hang Loose

A weekend is a gift that should not be taken for granted.  It's a time to charge one's batteries and just discover your rhythms anew.  The girl in the picture offers both advice and a good wish with the shaka sign: hang loose.

"Hang loose" is an expression that apparently originated in Hawaii and in California among the surfers; but strangely took hold in Southern Louisiana sometime in the past as well.  It's a quirk of linguistic adoption: you don't ordinarily think of surfer dudes and Cajuns doing something alike, but it happens.

Hang loose means, roughly, take it easy.  Let life flow, relax.  Open a Coke or beer or something.  Beaches and coastal cheniers are so lovely because the offer blue horizons and the gentle undulating of the waves or the roaring of the surf.  In both cases their periodicy induces relaxation and a tranquil frame of mind.  There are no rules to hanging loose: you get to find your own mini-nirvana.

This is a time for a mini-vacation.  It's time well-spent for your spiritual good.

Giving the hang loose (shaka) sign.

The Shaka sign consists of extending the thumb and little finger pointing outward and your palm upward.  When you have reconnected with your tranquility, some stretching or yoga exercises can be enjoyed.  Or maybe just another beer.  Screw your cares . . . .

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Having a Memorable Hissy Fit

A hissy fit is more or less defined as a temper tantrum over something trivial.  Apparently, this term is used primarily in the South, and is most often thought of as a feminine excess.  Unfortunately, as males have been able to have their equivalent while flying under the radar and their emotional display not be labeled a "hissy fit."

I did a little internet into hissy fits, and mostly it is of the definitional type.  However, Wikihow does give some pointers on how to have a good hissy fit:

In my opinion, this was just a bare framework, hardly sufficient for its purposes.  It's obvious that the writer did not put a lot of work into it.  Having a good hissy fit is a social art in itself, don't let me kid you!

So here are some working points:

1.  Find some issue to get emotionally labile about.  It doesn't have to be trivial; anyway, "trivial" is strictly in the eyes of one person only.

2.  Start off slow . . . . but start to hyperventilate.  This might cause reddening of the cheeks or a feeling of dizziness.

3.  Start off with your voice low, and gradually increase its volume.

4.  Changing the octave of your voice is particularly effective, especially if it increases a notch or two or three!

5.  Cuss.  But in a lady-like way.

6.  Throw small objects.  It's even more effective if they're breakable.  Throwing your shoes carries a particularly dramatic touch.  Your bra, not so much.

7.  Flounce out of the room.  Note -- It is a good idea to practice your flouncing to prefect its expression.  There's nothing less effective than a lame flouncing out of the room.

8.  Give your audience a little time to think that the storm is over, then blow back into the room.

9.  Be really loud.  Babble.

10.  Throw yourself on the floor and kick wildly.

11.  Feign a faint.

12.  Pay attention to your audience.  It is important to keep them surprised and off balance.

Having a hissy fit can be an art form.  It is well-worth perfecting.  Guys can have them too.  As a matter of fact, some are jedi masters at hissy fits:

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas full of peace and love.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Des Moines

The origins of the name of the Iowa city Des Moines has an amusing set of origins. The city, of course, was once named Fort Des Moines because of being on the Des Moines River. That place name was in turn based on a Native American term. When Pere Marquette and Louis Joliet explored the upper part of the Mississippi, a tribal leader of the Peorias told them that the tribe living in that area (their rivals) was named the Moingoana, which became the root of Des Moines.

But it turns out that Moingoana was really the Peoria word for "shitfaces," according to cunning linguists Michael McCafferty and David Costa. Perhaps the Peoria tribal leader was pulling Marquette and Joilet's Gallic jambes; or he was taking a gratuitous shot at a rival tribe.

Possibly this suggests a more ancient origin to the concept “shit-faced drunk,” although the earliest documented usage of that expression dates from the 1950s.  It would be helpful if we had some insight into that tribe's penchant for alcohol.  Or Des Moines citizens'.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


I must admit that I'm in favor of sex education.  But, in my opinion, the present-day approaches are more oriented toward birth control and family planning -- treating it like it's something dirty and embarassing.  It's almost as if there's an assumption that teens and unmarried persons will do it; but we just don't want any bébés to result from them doing this dirty deed!  In that way, they are very similar in outlook to the moralistic, religious opponents of sex-ed.
It seems to me that there should also be instruction on how to make it more enjoyable!   What a fantastic idea!  Surely even the most benighted educators and legislatures have encountered that possibility.  Why not instruction in how to perform foreplay better?   Or, how about considering some noncoital forms of sex?
I mean, the average Catholic girl picks these up from other girls' talking about their experiences.  Are the people who design curricula that dense or inexperienced that they cannot find information of this type properly?  Apparently, some guys could use some pointers, like our politicians.  But holders of Ed.Ds should know how to do the rudiments of basic research!  They need to do it, and put it in their curricula!


Friday, December 20, 2013

Fashion Advice for Textbook Salespeople

I confess that I was a textbook company representative for a brief period.  I wish I had done something wild and reportable, instead.  Nevertheless, it was a source of money when I seriously needed it.  I spent each day, into the evening, calling at professors' offices.  And I picked up some pointers in the meantime:

1.  Don't wear pink unless you're Reese Witherspoon.
2.  Beanies with propellers are so 1930's, and a guy thing -- wear them not. 
3.  Plaid sports jackets are for Sports Central, not for textbook selling calls.
4.  If wearing a décollété sundress, have sufficient décolletage so that there's no doubt that you're a woman; but sufficient modesty that there's also no doubt that you're a lady.
5.  Drindle is risky, unless you work part-time in a bierhaus.  Make mine Lowenbrau.
6.  Your choice of footwear should not suggest that you moonlight as a dominatrix.
7.  Pastel colors are okay only if you're Hello Kitty. 
8.  A purse with a kitty cat on it does not go with a business suit.
9.  Shorts and halters are okay in Southern California, but not elsewhere; and only if you are calling at University of California for Strippers.
10.  Miniskirts are generally not a good idea, as many profs are women who won't approve and a small percent who would too readily approve.
11.  Adopt neither Lindsay Lohan or Avril Lavigne as your fashion examplar.
12.  Don't wear open toed shoes.
13.  Don't wear heels above 2 inches; you might have to run the 440 to get across the campus.
14.  Don't wear sports jerseys when making business calls, especially if they are for rival teams.
15. Don't ever wear an Ole Miss jersey or sweat shirt while calling on clients: people might think you're admitting to advanced age for sympathy purposes.
16.  Flip-flops are risky footwear unless you plan to shower with the client.
17.  White shoes should not be worn after Labor Day.
18.  Bowling shoes should not be worn, except in New Jersey.
19.  Don't wear hoodies unless you're a vendor in the 'hood.
20.  Don't accessorize with sporks on a chain, even if silver plated.
21.  Berets are allowable only if calling on clients in liberal arts colleges.
22.  Wearing a trout for a tie is permissible in Minnesota.
23.  T-shirts and cargo pants make you look like a used textbook buyer.
24.  Wear hose, not gym socks, unless selling P.E. texts.
25.  Don't wear anything that makes dogs or Deans sick. 
26.  Only Babar the Elephant can wear a suit with a becoming shade of lime green. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Cruise from Hell

A few months ago, there was a flurry of news items about the plight of the Carnival Triumph, a ship which due to power failures was uncooled, unable to move, and had nonfunctional toilets.  And cold food from the buffet.  It was variously styled the Poop Cruise or the Cruise from Hell.

Anyway, the ship had to be towed back to the U.S., before docking in Mobile.  A further indignity for many passengers.

It was a hot, miserable experience for the passengers.  I wonder why they had to sail back all the way back to the U.S.A.   Couldn't they land at some nearby port and charter flights for the passengers back home?

But, like other nautical misadventurous smaller than the Titantic class, this faded from public consciousness due to other, more current news.

But how did a cruise of this type affect the passengers?  I suspect that some might have sworn off sailing forever; but there would be others who might have seen it as a "unique experience," one to provide a topic of conversation in the future.  After all, humans do enjoy reliving past experiences; and their memories of adverse ones are sometimes softened with time, provided  they are not too traumatic.  They may come to see it as a test that they passed.

And, who knows, maybe there will be Cruise from Hell reunions in the future.  As a matter of fact, a canny cruise company might employ that for one of its currently popular theme cruises.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Well-Endowed Organist

St. Cletus Church had a well-endowed organist named Reneé.  Although she dressed properly on Sunday, her movements in playing the organ caused a distracting jiggle in them accompanied by an embarrassing nipple erection.  The men of the parish in particular found this attention-drawing.

The ladies of the Altar Society were appalled at this unseemly display.  They didn't know what to do, so they asked the Prophetess Madeline to intervene in her role as a traiteur.

When told, Reneé was mortified at this state of affairs.  Although she did always wear a bra, when the spirited moved her as she played the organ, she still showed.  Reneé did not want to undergo breast reduction surgery; feeling it was ungrateful to the LORD to do so and besides her boyfriend liked her that way.  The Prophetess agreed: whatever size boobs you got was part of God's cosmic plan.

So Madeline, the Prophetess, suggested an alternative approach: that Reneé try rubbing her breasts with green persimmon juice; that sour juice would cause them to pucker and they would become less noticeable.  She also told Reneé not to taste the green persimmons, as they would make her talk funny.

And it worked.  The next Sunday, her breasts minded their manners while she played the organ. 

But then, at the time it was to do the sermon, the priest said,  "Dew to thircumthanthis bewond my contwol, we will not have a sewmon today!"

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Brief and Inglorious Career as a Model

"You too can be a model!  Travel!  Meet exciting people!  Excellent hours!  Great drug plan!"

Well, maybe not the latter . . . .

Anyway, on a whim, I answered the ad by telephone, gave them some particulars, and emailed some facial shots to see what came of it.

I got a call, amazingly enough.  But in the meantime I had mentally set some limitations on what or how I would model.  Nothing nude, topless, or thongy. Nothing involving too much exposure.  No boudoir shots.  Only something in good taste.

I would not be a "before" in a weight loss ad. Oh, pleeze! The indignity of it all!  I'm slightly underweight.

Okay, I submitted to some test shots while wearing a bare midriff outfit. I thought, "Is the retro look coming back in swim suits?" The photographer asked me to clutch my stomach and give a pained look. I gave my four-star, pained, pouty Angélique-is-unhappy look that would prompt a statement from the National Weather Service.

And I finally found out what I was to be a model in.

An antiacid commercial.

I will not be be on-line or visiting any web sites for about a week or ten days.  I'm taking a vacation/family visit.  Anyway, I'm less satisfied with what I've posted lately, and I hope to get some inspiration.  I'll catch up on yours when I return.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Clever Hans

Here's a story of a German horse who was reputed to be able to perform mathematics and other tasks.  He became an animal celebrity, much like Wishbone the dog became one in more recent times.  (But Wishbone had a cuter wardrobe.)

Herr Wilhelm von Osten, a mathematics teacher, was Hans's owner.  With training, and over time, he began to think that Hans could count, solve simple mathematics problems, and solve some thought problems.  Proud of his horse, von Osten put him on exhibit.

Was this an extraordinarily gifted horse, or was it a fraud by von Osten?  Because of the commotion Hans's unexpected abilities caused and because of the the possibility that horses could, on some level, think, some investigators from the prestigious University of Berlin led by psychologist Carl Stumpf looked into why this horse, now named Clever Hans, could do so well.  As a matter of fact, he clomped out his answer with his hoof correctly about 89% of the time when quizzed by his owner/handler.

Of course, one possible thing to look into was fraud; namely, Hans's owner was giving him signals to control his counting or problem-solving performance.  The investigators tried this out by substituting someone else doing the questioning instead of Wilhelm von Osten.  However, Clever Hans did just about as well when von Osten was not visible.

Finally, a graduate student in psychology, Oskar Pfungst, came up with the real reason for Hans's exceptional performances: the human asking the questions was unwittingly providing facial or postural cues that the horse picked up.  For example, suppose the questioner asked Clever Hans how much was 3 + 6?  Hans would dutifully stamp his hoof slowly while watching the questioner.  When Hans had performed the ninth hoof stamp, the questioner might raise his head, change his facial expression, or do something else.

Interestingly, Clever Hans came up with the correct answer about 89% of the time when the questioner, whether it was von Osten or someone else knew the answer.  If the questioner did not, then Hans was right only 6% of the time.

Therefore, Oskar Pfungst concluded that Clever Hans was clever in his detection of subtle nuances of humans' behavior, although he could not do sums or solve simple thought problems.

Is this a matter of horse sense?  Non-human creatures of several species can detect meaning in behaviors emitted by a completely different species.  Dogs, of course, come to mind.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Outmatched Football Games

I'm going to wade into perilous waters with this one; but here's my opinion, anyway.

College football teams have settled into a twelve-game ordinary season; with the SEC having a playoff between the top-ranked teams in the West and East.  Additionally, there's a lot of off-brand bowl games out there, in which  December and early January has these bowls such as the Diet Coke Bowl, the Viagra Bowl, the Daily Star Bowl, and a lot of other occasions to fill up television time and allow also-ran teams to boast that they went to a bowl.

But, the problem, as I see it, is that it is very hard for a university to schedule twelve games with seriously competitive opponents.  So we get such travesties as Alabama playing Tennessee at Chattanooga, Florida State playing Idaho, North Carolina playing Old Dominion, and a few other of these easy wins.

But none of those matched when Georgia Tech destroyed Cumberland College, 222-0!  Thats right: 222-0!  It seems to be that sportsmanship and good taste would have prevailed earlier, and not let the game get that much out of hand.

As a matter of fact, they usually result in the ranked team crushing the opponent.

Is there a point in which that it too much?

In some states, high school sports have a "mercy rule."  It provides that the game can end if one of the teams has at least a 50-point margin by halftime.

Or, two teams can agree to shortened quarters, as North Carolina and Old Dominion recently agreed to play a ten-minute fourth quarter.

Or, both teams can agree to a continuous running of the clock, as in 1988 Auburn and Kansas did when Auburn was leading 49-0 at halftime.  The game ended, 56-7.

Finally, the leading team can play only the bench-warmers.

Shakespeare put it beautifully:

“The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings,
But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings.

It is an attribute to God himself."

In my opinion, there should be some mercy rule when those kinds of margins occur.  The football stadium should not be the Colosseum.