Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Why Senn stinks (hint: look at her record)

Attorney General candidate Deborah Senn says all the right things about being the consumer's friend in government, but try turning down her blaring audio and taking a look at her record as state Insurance Commissioner. She managed to chase most major health insurance providers right out of the state of Washington and virtually eliminated any competition among the few surviving institutions. For consumers in many parts of the state, there isn't even a choice of healthcare insurance plans any more--it's one-size-fits-all, and the fit is tight and skimpy.

Seattle Times columnist Bruce Ramsey does a great job of analyzing Senn's modus operandi on today's editorial page. I urge you to read it if you plan to vote for an Attorney General candidate this year.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Professional Cats

Isn't it time you put your cat to work?

Hot...on the trail

My mother brought me the July 5 issue of The Nation because she thought I'd like the cover (that's an essay in itself--my mom's criteria for judging things) and I started to leaf through it. "Sex and the Stepford Wife" by Katha Pollitt is a real treat. Pollitt is up there with Calvin Trillin as one of the most stylish polemicists around, and this essay is an absolute gem. Her light touch softens you up, as she describes the shop windows in upper West Side Manhattan ("where the standard femine garb has for decades been Hot Sicilian Widow") sudden being filled with "frilly getups straight out of a Stepford shoppe."

Then Pollitt goes in for the kill. "Women have learned to describe evereything they do, no matter how apparently conformist, submissive, self-destructive or humiliating, as a personal choice that cannot be criticized because person choice is what feminism is all about. Women have become incredibly clever at explaining these choices in ways that barely mention social pressures or male desires."

While I agree with her, I also feel strongly that she's seeing things through an upper West Side, or at least an East Coast, lens. Out here in Seattle there is no Hot Sicilian Widow look on the hiking trails or at the home improvement stores—but there are plenty of women, and far more than you'd have found there 40 years ago.

BTW, have you checked out the game all the Democrats are playing? Sign up (free) to play Republican Survivor.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Getting (rid of) your goat

My friend Barclay sent me this excerpt from a recent posting on eBay:

Featured by my auction house is a ART DECO World War II STANGL Goat Ram Unicorn looking vase . THe history of this vase is that it was in my grandmother's house since the War, and my father says he always remembered seeing it around. Now this is what happened. When my father married my mother, the mother in law, Evelyn, gave the green goat to my mother, Hilda. But Hilda always hated the green goat but knew since it was her husband's mother that she was stuck with it because every time Evvie came to visit she was asking where she was placing the green goat unicorn in the house. So Hilda always had to have it displayed in some fashion around the house, and it served as like a migratory goat all over my mother's house since she could not throw it out.

So you are asking why is it on Ebay?

Well, now that Evvie is up in New Jersey, and now she is in an assisted living facility, my mother is now free and in the clear to get rid of the goat. She is cleaning out the house of all the stuff she could not stand but which she did not want to offend Evvie. WE ARE IN THE CLEAR!!! EVVIE WON'T FIND OUT!!

I think most of us have a green goat or two of our own around the place. Mine is a rooster. Specifically, a Restoration Hardware silverplated rooster cocktail shaker someone gave us as a wedding gift. A few years ago, I was rummaging around in the basement, preparing for a yard sale, and found the cocktail shaker, still in its original box. "Do we want to keep this?" I asked Brady. "What is it?" he asked. I explained, and for a moment we both tried our damndest to imagine that Bertie Wooster might come over for dinner and we'd need it to make martinis. No luck.

The silver rooster cocktail shaker was sitting happily on the table at the yard sale when my sister-in-law's car pulled up. A few moments later I noticed she had picked up the shaker and was waving it around under my husband's nose. Since there was no gin it it, and it didn't seem, from her tone, that she was planning to buy it, I figured we were about to find out where the rooster had come from.

Rats! Back it went into the house, and into our little china cabinet--where it has yet to be used for anything. Though my current plans are to migrate it gradually back down into the basement.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Waring Ice Cream Parlor instructions

Here, by popular request, are the slightly edited and abridged basic operating instructions for the circa 1972 Waring Ice Cream Parlor ice cream machine. The Mysterious Traveler urges anyone in need of the original instructions with the full set of recipes to contact Waring.


What you need:

Four trays of ordinary ice cubes
One 26-oz box of ordinary table salt
Two cups of cold water
Ice cream mix of your choice

What to do:

Place the ice bucket onto the motor and base assembly and rotate the bucket until it drops down over the raised stop lugs on the base and sits firmly.

Pour ice cream mix into the cream can. For most desserts, the liquid level will be below the "fill line" stamped into the can wall. This is so the mixture will have room to expand. Some desserts, like sherbets, expand less so the liquid mix can be above the fill line when you start.

Stir mixture, then insert the dasher into the cream can so that the rounded ball end of the dasher's shaft sits in the matching indentation in the cream can.

Place the transparent plastic can lid over the top end of the dasher and snap it into place over the rim of the cream can.

Place the loaded cream can into the ice bucket, making sure that the drive socket indentation in the bottom of the can engages with the drive shaft protruding from the bottom of the ice bucket.

Sit the socket located on the underside of the support arm onto the hexagonal tip of the dasher shaft that extends up through the can lid. Grasp both ends of the support arm and rotate it until the ends drop into the cutouts in the rim of the ice bucket. Press down lightly on the ends of the support arm and rotate the support arm\ counterclockwise until it is securely locked into place.


You are ready to fill the space between the cream can and the ice bucket with ice, salt and water, which will lower the temperature of the contents of the cream can.

Start by plugging in the Ice Cream Parlor. The cream can and cover should now rotate counterclockwise while the dasher remains stationary.

With the motor running, pour 1 cup of cold water into the ice bucket. Follow with a layer of ice cubes, one cube deep. The sprinkle 6 level tablespoons of salt evenly over the layer of ice cubes. Continue layering ice cubes and salt, layer by layer, until the ice bucket is full. Add any remaining salt, and then slowly pour the remaining cup of water evening over the top layer.

The processing time and volume of the finished product will be influenced by factors including:
1. Initial temperature of the mix being processed
2. Variations in the composition of mix ingredients
3. Amount of salt, ice and water used

Processing time will take between 20 and 50 minutes. As the mixture freezes, thickens, and expands, the motor will begin the labor and slow down. It will come to a near or complete stall and that indicates that processing is completed. The Waring Ice Cream Parlor should never be allowed to operate more than 50 minutes before unplugging.

When processing is completed, but sure to unplug the Ice Cream Parlor. Remove the ice bucket from the base assembly. Remove the support arm from the ice bucket by pushing down gently on both ends, rotating clockwise and lifting off. Wipe any ice or salt from the can lid, and lift the can out of the ice bucket with lid and dasher in place.

The processed mixture can be served immediately, or put in the freezer to harden. Use a wooden spoon or plastic or rubber spatula to remove the mixture. If you wish to harden the mixture, stir it to blend hard and soft portions. You can harden it in the cream can, or spoon it into plastic freezer containers, allowing 1/2 inch for expansion. Pack mixture down to exclude air pockets, and place waxed paper or plastic wrap over the mouth of the container before putting a lid in place.

Place covered can or containers in the freezer for 1-2 hours. It may be necessary to temporarily lower the freezer temperature to get the mixture to set firmly.

More salt (up to a full box) = faster processing and coarser texture
Less salt (down to 1/2 box) = slower processing and finer texture

Be sure to wash the cream can, dasher, can lid and support arm in hot soapy water before and after each use. Parts are not dishwasher safe.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Once upon a time, there were three aliens...

When I was a little girl growing up in the D.C. suburbs, my dad and his friends would sit around late at night in the summer, drinking martinis and gin and tonics, and talking about their work.

One of my dad's friends, George Hoover, was studying UFOs. He'd given my dad a copy of a report called "The Blue Book," which I found in a box of files and enjoyed reading. The Blue Book was a photocopy of a book about UFOs that had been annotated. Apparently George and other folks suspected that the annotations were written by aliens commenting on the validity of various passages in the book.

It made for fascinating reading! One evening George, who was also investigating ESP and psychic phenomena, told my dad that the next time he visited us, he was going to walk right through the wall of our new family room. "I wouldn't do that," my dad said. "That's where I put all the wiring."

My folks have moved several times since Virginia, and I suspect my mom dumped the Blue Book somewhere along the way. This page on has a summary of the Blue Book project that is very much the way I remember hearing about it during the 1960s.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Which type of blogger are you?

My hat is off to kpaul at Kuro5hin who classifies the types of bloggers. Read it and blush!

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


Someone mentions a book you should read, and a few hours later someone else, from quite a different area of your life, recommends the same book. That happened to me last week. So I ordered the book, Gift of Fear: Survival Signs that Protect Us from Violence, from Amazon, and it arrived yesterday. I'm halfway through it, and impressed--though, like many self-help guides, it's one point followed by numerous anecdotal illustrations. The author, Gavin De Becker, has a point that's a good one (that we need to listen to our fear) and his anecdotes are full of the unexpected, such as why ignoring threats is often the best way to handle them and why it's important to disengage from a threatening situation at the first opportunity. De Becker is not a journalist, but a security specialist, so he brings actual depth to the book.

Though many of the Amazon reviewers were so wrapped up in their own political agendas they could barely spare a few words for the book itself, rest assured this is not one of those "men are evil stalkers, women are saintly victims" screeds. In fact, the best anecdote in the book was the story of how a travel agency owner (male) was approached by a prospective business partner (male) who turned out to be a pest, a stalker, and a filer of groundless lawsuits.

Why were people recommending this book to me? The first recommendation came because of my puzzlement over how to disengage from a casual friend who had tried to make me feel responsible for helping her rehabilitate her screwed-up husband; the second recommendation was from the Seattle police officer who met with our local neighborhood group and was fielding questions about how to protect young children from predators.

In the past (my undergraduate degree is in psychology) I'd read quite a bit about why some people develop into sociopaths. But since I never pursued a career in therapy, I find I'm now less interested in understanding sociopaths than I am in avoiding them. I wish I'd had the avoidance skills 30 years ago, and could have back all the time I wasted trying to deal with these creeps politely.

If you find yourself dealing with a "friend" or colleague who "feels wrong" (you feel sick when they call, you feel like your energy is sucked out of you when you talk with them, you find yourself somehow obligated to do things for them), the De Becker book is a must-read.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Peach ice cream and why I blog

As you've noticed, I'm not running a discussion forum here. (Having belonged to a BBS for many years, and lived through my share of flamethrowing, just the reading phrase "discussion forum" can evoke the gag response.)

I guess I'm in it for one-on-one exchanges, trading information and inspiration on the broadest electronic market possible, via Google. Tonight I logged into my gmail account and found just the sort of message I live for: A woman in Central Texas was writing because she wants to make ice cream with the local seasonal peaches, but can't find the instruction book for her circa 1970 Waring Ice Cream Parlor. I'd blogged about using my vintage Waring, she'd Googled and found the blog entry. I dashed downstairs to my pantry, got the booklet, and typed out the key instructions. Somewhere in Central Texas, someone will be enjoying peach ice cream! And, come to think of it, maybe I'll whip up a batch this weekend, too. The peaches they had at the Ballard Market a couple weeks ago--not freestones, but the clingy, messy kind--had spectacular flavor for desserts.

EDITOR'S NOTE: You can find the full Waring Ice Cream Parlor instructions here.

Little Stripe and Big Stripe

Meet the Stripe Sisters.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Site feed

I've added a site feed link (see list at right). Please send mail to Mysterious Traveler to let me know if you have success (or problems) using the site feed.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Pacific Northwest Blogs

I've joined a blog ring called Pacific Northwest Blogs. Wonder if there are blog rings for cat owners, gardeners, etc.?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

So, what happened?

Here's the follow up to the "Breaking up" post a few folks have commented on:

As might have been anticipated (or recommended) by anyone reading the "Breaking up" post, I had a half-hour meeting with a good therapist before getting in touch with the soon-to-be-former friend. He had some good suggestions, observations and predictions. Among the predictions: That she might contact people, asking them not to tell me she'd been in touch, and give a self-serving and misleading account of our conversation.


The break up conversation itself was very low-key. I told her that the past year of unfolding revelations about her husband's repeated dishonesty in their marriage had made me so uncomfortable around him, and her, that I didn't want to continue the friendship. She said "fine, have a nice life," and "bye." I was greatly relieved, until a few hours later someone came to me asking if it was true that I'd broken up the friendship because her husband was having job difficulties. Of course, she'd asked the person not to say that she'd contacted them with this information.


We discussed how to set her straight for about two minutes, and then it slowly dawned that neither of us had any obligation to get back to her about it.

It was a lovely, lovely feeling.

I've probably used up a large chunk of my allotted karma for June, but it feels like a good investment.