The Silencer

Too many worlds have collapsed beneath its feet. Its fist always the decider, and always the final silencer. Each new day brings fresh blood, spilled upon mountains of decayed flesh and bones that have collected over the centuries. Yet, this was not its choice. This was not its decision. This was the doing and the plight of the smallest minded sentient creatures it has even known. Humanity sickens it sometimes, even as it intrigues it so. So, again and again, it has settled and repeated on the worlds whim, looking for new reasons to spare them.

Some call it god, some call it devil, but it is neither. It is alone, unseen and unheard in the eyes and ears of humanity. It is neither male or female nor son or daughter; it claims no identity as trivial as this. It knows what the truth is, the truth that these humans refuse to accept. The world is without reason. The world is random, and without cause. Even it cannot control the world, but only to occupy the cleansing alone.  Yet, the humans place blame and praise on it without fail, and sadly, without the knowledge that they even do so. It now just wants to rest. It wants to let go of the chains tying it to this duty. It goes to slumber thinking this, and in dreams wishes it were true.

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Rock Star Chili

chili by Warren
Now that the colder months are upon us, most of us are going to be looking for hearty foods that warm us up, and there is one staple food across the USA that we can all get behind, Chili! Luckily, I have a great recipe for you, with just the right amount of kick. 

 

 

 

First things first, the list:

1 pound of meat (turkey or beef)

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of olive oil

14 oz tomato paste

1/4 cup red wine

2 cups cold water

2 tablespoons of butter (optional)

1 white onion, diced

2 sweet peppers (I mix it up with different colors), julienned or diced, your call

1/2 Teaspoon – Cayenne powder

1/2 Teaspoon – Crushed red pepper

1 Tablespoon – fresh oregano

1 Tablespoon – fresh basil

1/2 Tablespoon – fresh parsley

1 teaspoon – onion powder

1 Tablespoon – chili powder

1 teaspoon – paprika

2 cups of softened kidney beans or 2 cans

3 stalks of celery, diced

1/2 Jalapeno (keep seeds for a stronger bite)

Two carrots, julienned

Cheddar cheese, chives and sour cream for topping

Note: When I last made this, we were out of sour cream, but we did have some vegetable cream cheese. My wife tossed it on top and BAM, it was weirdly awesome!

Cook it up!

Grab a large sauce pot/pan and a frying pan. Put the large sauce pot on medium heat and add the oil. Add meat to the frying pan on low/medium heat with a little salt and pepper and cover. Go back to the large sauce pot when the oil starts to heat and toss in the garlic and onion and cook until fragrant. Add in your veggies (the Jalapeno, too) and stir to coat for a minute or so. Now add the beans, red wine and spices, and mix. When the meat is mostly cooked through, add to the large pot with the two cups of water and stir in the tomato paste. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, salt and pepper to taste and serve with your favorite toppings.

I hope that you like this one! Comment and let me know.

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Dubbya D’s Pumpkin Pie!

PumpkinPieWhen I was younger, I wanted to go to culinary school, but my choices, along with life itself, drove me into a different direction. A few years ago, I started to move away from pre-made and processed foods that so many of us lean towards because of convenience. Much of this decision came from my doctors pushing that I needed to eat better. The other side of that issue, was that I started to pay attention to how the good restaurants in Buffalo cooked their food. I admit, I used to think that all food was the same and that it didn’t matter much if you used a can of tomatoes or fresh tomatoes for your sauce. While, the science can be argued when it comes to how organic and industrial farming products affect your health, the taste cannot be denied. Fresh foods and farm fresh will always satisfy the palate in a superior way.

So, I started cooking at home more often. It can be time-consuming, but there are always ways to speed up the time by planning ahead. For example, if you are pressed for time after work, just cut and prepare your veggies the night before or even for the week. This way when it’s time to cook you just toss it in and go. Make sure to seal them as tight as possible, a vacuum seal is best. It saves flavor and it keeps longer. In my opinion, the best marinades are achieved via a vacuum seal.

Eating healthy and fresh at home is a great change in dynamic in your household, too. With three kids, it gets a little hectic and crazy, but when I cook, they all want to help. It is truly a great way to get the kids involved at home and spending some quality time with the family. It also helps them see that veggies and fruits don’t have to be boring or gross. Letting them get creative with you in the kitchen also helps them to really enjoy and appreciate the time and science in making their food.

When I first started on this change, the kids would grumble and fuss at eating homemade Chinese or Indian style foods. Now I can make any style of food and they are (most of the time) excited to try it. Cooking at home should be a journey of learning and fun. Speaking of fun, why not try making some pumpkin pie at home with your kids. Here’s one recipe I use:

My Holiday style Pie Crust:

All Purpose flour – 2 1/2 cups

Cinnamon – 1 tablespoon

Fresh nutmeg – 1/2 teaspoon

Sugar – 4 teaspoons

Butter – about 14 tablespoons (diced and cold)

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of water

Add dry ingredients stir together thoroughly, add butter and chop into flour. When the flour and butter start to combine and lump together, add egg liquid and work dough with your hands. It should become yellowish, sort of like corn meal Note: If the dough mixture gets warm, pop it in the fridge for 10 minutes before continuing. If the dough is dry, toss in another tablespoon of cold water.

Then flatten the dough a little and cover in Saran wrap and place in fridge for 10 minutes. Cut it in half and flatten out the dough until it is a little larger than the pie pan. Roll lightly into a cylinder shape making sure to not press the dough too hard against itself, because you will need to unroll it to place it in the pan. Again, wrap in saran wrap and place back in fridge for 20 minutes. This will make it easier to form the pie crust in your pie pan, while waiting you can start to make the pie filling. When you bring the crust out it should be a little stiffened, work it into the pan slowly softly pressing it against the sides on the pie pan, make sure to cut any excess crust from the sides, and pattern your crust as desired.

Pumpkin Pie filling:

1 medium sized Pie Pumpkin

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup of white sugar

1/4 cup of brown sugar

Sugars can be substituted with a cup of honey

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves or allspice

1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/4 cup of melted butter (half a stick) can be substituted with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

There are three choices of liquid for the pie. I recommend using 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream, but you can use 1 cup of half and half or 1 1/2 cups of evaporated milk, instead.

Make sure to thoroughly clean the pumpkin and then steam, boil or bake it.

remove the seeds and innards, and then cut pumpkin into halves for baking or quarters for steaming or boiling.

If boiling or steaming, do so until the pumpkin flesh is tender when pulled with a fork, let cool after cooking, then scoop the flesh from the peel.

If baking the pumpkin (my preferred method), heat oven to 325 degrees F, slightly oil the pumpkin, then place the pumpkin, cut side down, on a lightly oiled non-stick cookie sheet. Again, we will cook the pumpkin until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork, about 40 minutes, let cool after cooking, and then scoop flesh from the peel.

Now that we have our softened pumpkin, we can puree it. After the puree is done, grab a sauce pan on low heat and add the pumpkin puree along with the spices, the eggs, milk and whipping cream, wisk briskly to mix. Stir occasionally while it heats to allow the sugars and spices to blend. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.

Lastly, we add the mixture into our pie crust and bake at 400 degrees F for about 50 to 55 minutes, or until you can stick a knife in and it comes out clean.

That’s it! I hope you like the recipe and have fun with the kids while making it. Let me know how it came out!

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We are all Ethnocentric and love to stereotype

Large Blog ImageWe all know of, or have, stories of college and high school clicks, those small societies in which we all fell into or were excluded from, and in many ways helped to build the stereotypical beliefs of those unlike ourselves. When I think about the general populace, I always keep a general rule at the back of my mind, and that is this, in many cases we tend to judge and assume things about others rather than take the intellectual path and try to understand that outward perception is, quite often, inaccurate. The majority of the human race falls into this outlook based in logical fallacy, one that only deals with minimal information, and an inaccurate belief that first impressions are everything. Sadly, even the most intelligent of our race fall victim to these seeming logical, but ultimately irrational, assumptions, and this is why I consider this to be one of the hardest intellectual breakdowns to overcome, especially since it is continually perpetuated by leaders within the government, academia, the business world and even our personal lives.

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This intellectual breakdown is used very well as a divisive tool of control within the political field, with issues ranging from gay marriage and abortion to capitalism and socialism. Pundits and politically motivated persons will constantly skew the perceptions of the ill-informed voter with false perceptions and stereotypes. Take some time studying Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump while on the campaign trail and this will be pretty obvious. Moving on to education, we can see that the educators of our children are not immune from this irrational thought process. A perfect example showing this is that of the young high school student, Ahmed Mohamed. In this instance, the stereotype fostered by our countries leaders and the ethnocentric views fueling them caused this high school student to be treated like a criminal for attempting to show his teacher his accomplishment of building a clock. This could have been avoided had these educators not been a victim to their own battle with ethnocentrism and a certain stereotypical thought process.

Every single person in this world has, at one point, fallen victim to basing how they feel about someone on this ethnocentric view or some other stereotypical view, and the more closed they are to change it, the more apt they are to buckle down and rely on these views in all their interactions with those who are perceived as different. Take a second to think about this, how many of you, faithful readers, can recall in the conversations you have had where someone said something along the lines of “Aww man, you get it, you and me are the same. They are different than us.” For me, this is when I usually create a very awkward pause, and silently shake my head while changing the subject, but for the one making the statement it’s a logical assumption. No matter how illogical these assumptions can be, they will never seem illogical to the one stating them until they are forced from their bubble of comfort and open their thought process to change. It is a lofty goal, I know, but one we will eventually reach. It may not be in our life time but this cumulative understanding must occur or we are destined to destroy ourselves.

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Someone will always point out that you need to “lead by example”, but sometimes it is hard for us to do so. If our leaders continue to perpetuate these views, so will we, and if we allow it so will our children. Yet, we can make these changes through a conscious and concentrated effort of continued self-education, diversity education, and working on changing the way the citizens of our society interact with each other. We can change. We can become better, we as the human race, we as one. Change in the heart, much like change in the law, takes time and is hard to notice at first, but it is up to each one of us to be better than those who came before us. It is time to fight against the intellectual falsities and vapid self-righteousness of our ids, and accept that there is always more to the story of the man or women standing in front of us than what our vision and thought limitations tell us.

 

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Economics in a blender vs Societies pettiness

One can debate, over and over, the resulting negatives of both free trade and government intervention within the economy, but you may be wasting your breath by arguing for either side. No matter what moral or fiscally responsible argument you make, in the end, the economy will rise and fall as it has always done. So, first and foremost, to all the politicians out there with zero economic teachings in your pockets, and the ideological economists who ignore the need for an intellectual bipartisan stance, shut the hell up! You are the problem. While, I may not be an economist (right now, anyway, maybe someday.), I sure as hell, made it a point to make economics 101 a priority course. So, I am going to rant about what I learned, and how I pieced that together to simplify and better understand our complex economy. Remember though, I do not claim to be an expert nor do I expect these words to be taken as text-book answers. I would be surprised and even let down if you, the most elegant reader in the world, did not question everything you read.  

One of the hardest things for us to do as citizens and humans in general, is to ignore ideologies and look at the actual situation in front of us. So, my assumptive conclusion is that the biggest hurdle we face is not the system but those within it, those who choose to fight over ideological differences, which in turn creates frictional issues that hurt us all. Now, while this is nothing new to anyone who pays even the slightest attention to the way our society is run, it still continues to be one of our biggest hurdles, or more accurately, failures.

Lets go back to basics, a business (a vehicle of private profit) is allowed by, and given special privileges by, the government, and these vehicles of private profit help to solidify, strengthen and or weaken a nations economy by their activities. It is also correct to state, that the government positively and negatively affects the flow of the market and overall economy, and much more so in some cases. But, one can not forget that the populace comes into play as well. So, ignoring outward influence from foreign inputs, let us focus on the roles of these three entities – government, our citizens and the private sector.

The U.S., which, of course, is run on free market principles (capitalistic endeavors), but also uses bits and pieces of socialistic governance to control output and input of trade and national economic flow (to an extent), provides us with a unique look at the detriments of lack of understanding. At any given moment, you can speak with a citizen within this country, and they will know very little to zero information on the actual effects of policy and private sector growth, nor will they care what the actual truth is. And oh, for shame, America! But, I don’t hold it against you, the cushion of a rich society is not without merit, and I would be a hypocrite if I acted as if I didn’t enjoy the spoils of our over indulgent society.  

Let me put forth a crazy notion, into a statement for you to ponder: For a nation to truly function, and prosper in the global market, it must concede some, or even much, of its economic independence. In fact, there are no true independent nations within this world. Even those countries, that the west so deems as rogue nations, are not completely independent from the world economy, international trade and business, and the pressures of money flow. Okay, done. If you read that statement and said, shit, I already knew that, than congratulations my oh so awesome reader, in my not very humble opinion, you’re on the right track. Damn, that was a lot of commas. Anyway, back to business. Did you ponder that statement? Good!

So, if our nations are not truly independent of one another than what is up with all this insanity throughout the world? Is it resources and religion, or maybe it’s greed and power lust, whatever the case is (and there are many), humanities differences hinder us from meaningful mutual existence and true mutual economic benefits.

Stop! Before you grumble and humbug about, tra la la, whatever, here comes another – lets all be friends and eat cheesecake together – tirade, think again. Breathe and exhale. Are we good? Okay. Let us pause for a moment, and return back to the economy at hand, America. But, I want you to remember the above statements going forward.

Think for a moment then how the populace acts within our nation. We have many different types of cultural influences, perceptions on government actions and inaction, types of family focus, types of career focus, this list can go on to many things. Add media coverage geared to swing the thoughts of this large bucket of differences, and you get confusion. From a populace stand point, it is easy to get wrapped up in the differences and  ignore the larger effects on the overall health of the economy. It is our job as citizens to not exploit or marginalize those differences.

The main thought process that all Americans share is a suspicion of those in power. There are varying degrees to this but it is there. This seemingly innate thought process is another difficulty that we add to the mix. Yet, this does not burden our economy it enhances it. The burden is us and or inability to remove fear of what is different from us. This fear hurts the economy. On the other hand, fear of other nations boosts our economy because it is a stepping stone to war, and war makes the national economy money. Yes, I am saying fear in, bad and fear out, good. However, I do not condone this approach. It is ethically immoral and will ultimately lead to the demise of our country, but that is for another time.  

We needn’t fear capitalism as Marx said, although his fears were correct in theory and in some ways we see the truth of his warnings in front of us, but we wouldn’t be here enjoying all that we have if it wasn’t for the freedoms gained through the use of capitalism. The idealism of returning to a barter system or creating the perfect ‘communist’ system is fantasy. The barter system would cause society to regress and would send us into economic shambles. As far as communism, In our current intellectual capacity, as a societal whole, we are too infantile and filled with greed for such a utopia to exist, so this to is fantasy.

Oh capitalists, you’re not getting off the hook here, you too have your fantasies. Pure free markets and perfect competition are currently improbable theories, and have ethical compromises that are just as harmful as those resulting from the theories of Marx. This is where Marx was right, without regulation and the intervention of socialism to combat the negatives of capitalism, there would be large amounts of inequality and frustration in our society. Classical economics tells us, things will work themselves out but unfortunately in the interim there would be issues like that of the great depression. The markets may not return to their equilibrium in time to avoid heavy damage to the populace. In the business world, this may be an acceptable trade-off, rather than being forced to deal with government intervention, but for the societal whole it is ethically irresponsible to allow that. Hence, Keynes approach to short-run economics.

Compromise, there must always be compromise for the economy to succeed. When you watch or read these arguments on economic ideological beliefs, you are experiencing intelligent people who are ignoring the big picture. The fact is they are all right, and all wrong, at the same time. There are many reasons for the why, some may be malicious, some truly think they are doing good, but they all want you to think they alone are right. The truth is in front of us. The economy runs on both the freedom of private business and the ability for the government to regulate the inadequacies of the private industry. It of course falls to us to fix the inadequacies of the government. In the end, it is our failure as citizens, because we fall prey to the divisive arguments that are meant to sway us one way or the other. There must always be a measure of control over both business and government if the economy is to stay stable. The utopias either side looks to create are fantasy and we as citizens are the only cure to reign in the insanity.        

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