Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ronald Reagan, B-movie Philosopher

Ronald Reagan, though considered by many to have had fascist tendencies, is starting to look better all the time in comparison to Our Dear Leader. He said at least a few things that made sense, not necessarily about politics. I find myself quoting him every now and then, despite my view of him as a president.

He once said, in regards to his B-movie career, (paraphrasing) "They didn't want things done well, they wanted them done Tuesday."

This attitude may be acceptable when talking about something as inconsequential as a movie, but when it comes to the products we make at my company, it is less than optimum, shall we say. People here let things slide, pay insufficient attention to detail, and take shortcuts. We pay later in the process. We end up picking up the pieces down the line, when product is shipped wrong, or not shipped at all.

Pay attention to the little things now, details matter.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Another Map

Yet another map of the political landscape these days.

Habitat for Humanity - Katrina edition

I've been thinking about this for some time now, and tonight I put my name in to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity on the reconstruction after Hurricane Katrina. I don't know if I will go through with it, and there will be expenses involved, but I certainly have skills to offer and the devastation people suffered moves me to want to help.

It will be awhile before anything happens, though. They're not quite ready to start building much in the way of permanent housing. As Habitat puts it:
Because house construction must await restoration of basic services and infrastructure following a disaster, Habitat's work comes in the recovery phase. As you can imagine, the time it will take for the relief and clean-up work will be tremendous, and only then can the rebuilding begin. At that point Habitat-along with governments, nonprofit organizations, the corporate community, faith-based groups and individuals like you-will begin to help rebuild the lives of so many families in need of simple, decent homes.
I have done so much work on so many houses for so many reasons. This would be the best reason of all - helping others.

On Vanishing Foods

Nora Ephron (who I may have linked to before, so there you are) has a post on vanishing food.
FOOD vanishes.

I don't mean food as habit, food as memory, food as biography, food as metaphor, food as regret, food as love, or food as in those famous madeleines people like me are constantly referring to as if they've read Proust, which in most cases they haven't. I mean food as food. Food vanishes.
I, too, have lost some favorite foods. Most notable for me is something that the Herman Goelitz Candy Co. calls (or called) Snowballs, and I used to know as Cream Filberts. They look a little like mothballs, and consist of a hazelnut with a creamy sugar coating about 3/16" thick.

I used to be able to get them easily when I was much younger, but they disappeared from view. About 1980 I remember being delighted to find them in a store in Hanover, NH, then we moved away.

A local candy distributor here in Buffalo would have been willing to order a case for me about twelve or thirteen years ago, but that would have set me back forty dollars, and I could not bring myself to spring for that much at the time.

I once stopped in at a big candy store way south of Buffalo, it may have been in Irving, NY. After I described what I was after, the proprietor explained to me that the reason the candy is not sold much anymore is that it is very time consuming to make. The process, he told me, involves rolling the nut around on a sheet of liquid sugar, and thereby building up the thick coating. So it's expensive to make, and not a big seller, and has a limited shelf life to boot.

I found them once in a big candy store south of Cleveland. There was a sign visible from the highway announcing the presence of the store, and after passing it a few times visiting my daughter at Oberlin, I finally stopped in. They had them, and for a few years after I would try to schedule my trips so I would pass when they were open. But they had them only seasonally for a time, then not at all.

Goelitz (now Jelly Belly) made them as a specialty item, and so I wrote to them asking about local suppliers. I probably still have the letter they sent back, but it was not very helpful. They did send me a couple of packages, though. That was a nice treat.

A store in the Maine Mall had them one year when I was up for a visit, so I bought a pound there. That may have been the last time I had them.

Now, I have not seen my Cream Filberts in a few years. Perhaps if I poke around on the Jelly Belly web site I'll find them, but I'm not sure I would order them. There is some fun in the chase, and the finding. I still stop in nearly every candy store I pass, just to see if they have them.

Did I mention my Ginger Altoid quest? You see, said daughter once brought home a tin of Ginger Altoids from said Oberlin. They verily explode in the mouth - and ginger is by far my favorite spice ...

Update: Alas, "Snowballs" are nowhere to be found on the Jelly Belly web site. Although they have a specialty confection group, they don't provide a product list. A quick Google search also found nothing helpful. I'm not even sure what to call them, anymore! I'll have to see if I can find another confection purveyor who can help.

Further Update: I found a recipe in a candy cookbook on my own shelf that may come close. They call them Snowballs, and it's a nut wrapped in fondant candy, which is basically sugar and cream of tartar. Maybe I'll try making them sometime.

Yet another update: I have kept looking, and have found they seem to be gone for good.

See also:
Cream Filberts Forever
No Cream Filberts To Be Found

Late Update:
Cream Filberts found at Vermont Country Store and Stevers Candy
Cream Filberts are Indeed Back
Better Price for Cream Filberts


Received an email today with the signature line :
This email was created using recycled electrons.
Ironically, it forced a second page of paper to print ...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Wolcott Dismantles the Wingnuts

James Wolcott has a particularly good post on wingnuttery and the sadistic tendencies of those who support the One True Party and all of their evil deeds.
It's no accident that it is the rightwing bloggers and pundits who have been avid about defending the use of torture against suspected terrorists. Nor is it an accident that many of them pooh-poohed Abu Ghraib, sluffing it off as no more harmless than fraternity hazing. But what their decapitation odes reveal is that what they'd really like to do is permit torture closer to home. Domesticate it. Trivialize it. Completely destigmatize it as a tool of the state.
Careful, they may be armed.