Why I Am Leaving Facebook

Posted on 31 December 2014 | No responses

I originally posted this to Facebook on November 29, 2014 but re-posting here as a way to re-start Anthurian.com. I do not know what this site will turn into or how often I post but the bigger experiment is how long I can away from social media, Facebook especially. Here’s to 2015 and new starts…

After nearly a decade of sharing my life on Facebook, on January 1, 2015 I plan to step away. I will not close my account but it is time to make a change and leave the conversation. An early adopter, I came to Facebook using my gatech.edu account and was astounded at the connections I could make; amazed by the friendships rekindled. Far and wide, around the world, we’ve met, re-met, and kept in touch through the powers of the Internet.

All the while turning ourselves into data points. Commodifying human interaction and turning our relationships into single drops of water among the massive sea of Big Data. Spending our time with Likes and Pokes and forgetting that it’s the face-to-face and true companionship that makes friends, ties bonds strongly, and creates shared memories.

Instead, Facebook has turned into a world that splits and sequesters us into ever more polarized demographics. Like our country, we gravitate towards the feedback loop that seems most comfortable. Exchanging memes and eCards like a burning pestilence, political thought, religious views, and family events intermingle in Zuckerberg’s hot zone waiting to bleed out – both good and bad — until we go through de-friending purges and isolate ourselves further and further.

I am Generation X. We grew-up and made our lives with the Internet. We were the Dotcom Boom and its bust. We are the ones who’ve brought preceeding and successive generations together on the Web. But, thousands of years from now, each bit and byte will be worthless without context. Facebook provides no context. Facebook is not life. Despite the countless hours spent updating my timeline and sharing life’s events, it is still a simulacra.

I hope that this sparks me to return to writing on Anthurian.com. I am not a Luddite. I understand the advance of technology but ask all my friends to please stay in touch with me via other means.

On Hero Worship and the New Reality in Athletics

Posted on 18 November 2013 | Comments Off on On Hero Worship and the New Reality in Athletics

If I am reading this correctly then Lance Armstrong admits to doping but contends he was allowed to get away with it due to complicity among the higher-ups. Basically the UCI, USPS, (and NBC?) was covering up Armstong’s doping (to increase American viewership of the Tour de France?). For me the story isn’t about who did what but the plain facts that Armstrong – and others – cheated, it doesn’t matter WHO allowed him and his team to get away with it – especially when others were doing it and they got banned or fined while Armstrong got away with it. Cheating is cheating but, if we have to look at all this through the lens of the MLB and NFL then we should just stop banning doping altogether and admit that there’s nothing natural about world-class athletes anymore. They’re (mis)treated like race horses except that, as humans, they made the choice to allow the drugs into their systems.

Nor can I feel pity for Armstrong and his cancer now that I know he doped. He’s not an East German athlete who had no idea what was happening because they were ordered by the state. No, Armstrong turned his “tragedy” into a full-blown cause and non-profit, making money off his cheating and — let’s face it — drug use.

The worst part is that he was a role-model and played-up that fact. Just like the NFL, NBA, MLB, and other players that dope and cheat: they may say kids shouldn’t look up to them but, in reality, kids (and parents) do. Going after others, pointing fingers, laying blame, and filing court cases just continues to set bad examples and precedents. MLB has had to admit we’re in a post-doping world just like America’s image (in cycling) is forever tarnished by what Armstrong did, even if others were complicit. I don’t put it past his sponsors, the media (especially NBC), and the sanctioning body to try and cover the doping up “for the good of the sport” because it increased the popularity of cycling as a whole. But, even if that’s true, I find it hard to excuse Armstrong, the man, for what he did. Unfortunately, there aren’t (m)any William Mulholland’s left in the world who take full responsibility for disasters they helped create.

Think about this as you tune into the Winter Olympics this February and hear the announcers praise the athletes over and over again as records are broken and their abilities are marveled at. Yes, there ARE true athletes but from all reports, their numbers are decreasing in favor of the chemically-enhanced superhumans. Whether it’s Lance Armstrong, Ben Johnson, or José Canseco…cheating is cheating, plain and simple.

Baked Cheese Grits

Posted on 15 December 2012 | No responses

Colleen is not a big fan of plain grits but, when made with bacon and cheese, everyone loves grits! This is a fairly easy recipe to make and serves about 6. It’s great for taking to a holiday dinner and is easy to double.

To double, I suggest making up a batch of grits the previous day. After Sabina and I each have a breakfast bowl full, refrigerate the leftovers then, when making this recipe, mix with the hot grits to warm up.

I’ve also found that sprinkling and dusting the casserole dish with bread crumbs (after greasing) gives the grits a subtle crunch around the edges after baking.

Baked Cheese Grits
Ingredients
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup bacon grease
4 cups water
1 cup grits
1 egg
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 slices bacon — cooked crispy, and crumbled
1 cup grated Gruyere or Asiago cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup cheddar cheese
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 °. Grease a 2-quart casserole with 2 tbsp butter.
  2. Combine bacon grease and water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. When mixture comes to a simmer, add grits and stir until thoroughly combined. Continue cooking grits until thickened, stirring frequently. About 15-20 minutes.
  3. While grits are cooking, whisk together egg and cream.
  4. Stir egg mixture into cooked grits along with bacon crumbles, Gruyere, and Parmesan cheese. Pour mixture into prepared casserole. Sprinkle top with cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake for until set, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand (at least) 5 minutes before serving.

Pound Cake

Posted on 9 December 2012 | No responses

There’s a stack of recipes sitting in a pile, waiting to be written down and/or updated. I tend to print them off and then keep writing notes all over the pages. This means everything is covered in scribbles and all manner of cooking ingredients splattered liquids. Someday — somehow — I’d love to figure out a way to organize things.

I’ve had this recipe for awhile and it has always been a favorite. Through experience I’ve found a few things out: all-purpose flour and cake flour are not interchangeable in this recipe; make sure you sift the flour, and; this tastes amazing toasted.

Let me repeat that last point: this tastes great toasted. Cut-off a thin slice and toaste until lightly browned, spread with butter while warm, and enjoy!

Pound Cake
Ingredients
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 sticks (softened) butter or margarine
6 large eggs
3 cups cake flour
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325°. Grease and flour bundt pan.
  2. In large, deep-sided bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  4. Sift flour into mix, adding 1/3 at a time, alternating with 1/3 of milk. End with flour.
  5. Bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes. After baking DO NOT OPEN OVEN for at least 1 hour!
Variation

This variation came about when Colleen had 4 egg yolks leftover (she baked another cake which needed the whites). This version is a bit denser and won’t rise as much but it’s still tasty. Baking in the loaf pan slices of this cake relatively easy to toast.

Ingredients
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 sticks (softened) butter or margarine
4 egg yellows
2 whole eggs
1 1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325°. Grease and flour loaf pan.
  2. Follow directions (above) for mixing ingredients.
  3. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Again, after baking DO NOT OPEN OVEN for at least 1 hour!

Final note: I’ve tried doing variations using lemon juice and lemon extract (replacing the vanilla and/or milk) but they haven’t quite worked out. I may do some more tinkering but, right now, this recipe is a favorite without any tweaks. Enjoy!

Arroz con Pollo

Posted on 1 November 2011 | No responses

This recipe has evolved from my mother’s easy-to-follow (and wonderfully yummy) original. This is based on the original recipe my mother sent me in college. I’ve carried the it around with me for years and, stapled to it, a recipe from my Aunt Argie. I’ve run out of room for more notes on the worn and creased original print-out from 1996 or so.

As always, suggestions and other arroz recipes are welcome in the comments below.

Arroz con pollo
Ingredients
4 tbsp olive oil
2 lb (boneless) chicken thighs
1 lb (boneless) chicken breast
1 large onion, diced
1 satchet Sazón Goya (Sazón with Coriander and Annatto)
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp epazote
2 cans diced tomatoes, drained (2 x 14.5 oz)

1 can chicken broth (14.5 oz)
1 lb white rice (2 cups)
1 jar pimento-stuffed olives, drained (4-5 oz)
1 jar capers, drained
Directions
  1. Cut-up chicken into large cubes, removing bones if necessary.
  2. In 10-12 qt pot or Dutch oven, heat 4 tbsp olive oil over medium heat for 3 mins. Add chicken and onions and cook until chicken is lightly browned and onions are translucent.
  3. Add Sazón Goya, garlic powder, black pepper, turmeric, and epazote. Stir well and increase heat to high.
  4. Over hight heat, add tomatoes and chicken broth, and heat to boiling.
  5. Stop, take a breather, and kibitz for a bit.
  6. When boiling, reduce to low; cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add rice and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 20 minutes (or until rice is just shy of al dente).
  8. Stir in olives and capers (smart people would never have drained the olives or capers!) and heat through.
  9. Serve with a hoppy beer like Terrapin Rye Pale ale, Ellicottville Pale Ale, or Ithaca Cascazilla.
Kidney Beans
Ingredients
1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 can red kidney beans (16 oz)
Directions
  1. In small stock pot, cook onion and bell pepper in oil until onion is translucent.
  2. Add beans and warm through.
  3. Serve alongside rice.

I hope that you enjoy eating this as much as I enjoy cooking it!

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