From the Bar and the Back Room: nostalgia on my part – Blennd and a new beer

Like most regions, humans come up with foods that are beloved locally but pretty much unknown outside of a day’s travel. I grew up in western PA which has this stuff called Reymer’s Blennd. This is a orange and lemon fruit based syrup that you mix with water to your taste.

It’s been around for a long time and now is made by Byrnes & Kiefer (B&K) Manufacturing, in Callery, PA, just north of Pittsburgh.   It is a bit hard to get a hold of, (horrors, amazon doesn’t carry it!) but one can still get it in various grocery stores in western PA. I have yet to find a place that you can order it from online, without paying a crazy amount for it or having to get an industrial sized quantity.

Blennd is a unique thing. Orange juice concentrate and lemon juice are its flavorings (it contains 15% actual juice, and it’ll give you quite a hit of vitamin C). Despite the acidity of these, Blennd doesn’t have a harsh aftertaste like a lot of juice based beverages, that are marketed as healthy or for kids. Something that is close to the taste, and is a wider distribution is Turkey Hill’s Haymaker Punch in the lemon flavor. If you’ve read the Little House on the Prairie books, you’ll recognize that punch as something Laura and Pa drank when working in the fields. Along the lines of these types of drinks are shrubs, which are vinegar and fruit syrups that one mixes with water. We also indulge in just vinegar to sip, and have tried a lot of infused ones.

just like this one!

Blennd has a very smooth consistency, thanks to some of the chemical thickeners in it (sodium hexametaphosphate, xanthan gum and propylene glycol) . And it has high-fructose corn syrup, which may frighten some people, but heck, if this is going to harm a human, I certainly should be feeling some effects thanks to the gallons of Blennd I’ve drank over the years. It was the go-to drink for any church picnic or family reunion, kool-aid was a distant second.   An aunt had a huge galvanized steel drink cooler that found its way everywhere from the barn when hay was being baled, to weddings. I probably got my zinc quotient for my entire life from that thing.

Since we hadn’t had it in a while, I asked my parents to bring some along when they visited recently. And since we have quite a full liquor cabinet, I decided to figure out what was the best mixer. I think anejo tequila is the best (I use Lunazul) since it works well with the citrus flavor.   Vodka is a close runner up, and Blennd really hides the alcohol, which can be a good or bad thing. Bourbon is okay, but reminiscent of a rather redneck blend of Mountain Dew soda and whatever kind of whiskey one might have. And rum makes what amounts to a very smoothly textured variant on a daquiri.

Blennd, along with chip chopped ham (a loaf of ham bits sliced raggedly and as thin as possible), are archetypical of the western tail end of Appalachia. For me, it’s comfort food. Indulging in a bit of nostalgia can be a remedy for how crazy the world is.

We also made a new beer kit. The kit was Northern Brewers White House Honey Porter kit (ours was a partial mash and it seems they only have the extract kit now). This was from a recipe from the White House during President Obama’s first term (I think) when it was nattered about having a beer with the president. It is a very good porter, but I honestly can’t tell that honey has anything to do with it. Ours is as dark and transparent as a cola soda.   A definite one to make again. And a reminder that there can be decent people as president and not that orange idiot that we have now.

I also bought NBs Don’t be Mean to People: A Golden Rule saison kit. They got together with a bunch of North Carolina breweries to make this to point out that North Carolina’s HB 2 was pure discrimination against the LGBT (and I’m sure I’m missing a few letters) community. NB is donating proceeds from the sales of this kit to the NC LGBT community, which I very much like. Not sure if I’ll brew that soon or if I’ll wait until this fall.

NB also has this nifty, and expensive, toy, a pico brewery!   Ah, to have won the lottery and play with this stuff.  🙂

That’s all. Eat and drink well!

(I don’t get any recompense from any of the companies mentioned.  I just like their stuff!)

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation: where we find “religious freedom” meaning no more than fear and bigotry again

Today, our not so very religious but very ignorant president of the US has signed an executive order allowing religious organizations to get more politically active.  I think it is disgusting for all of the pandering by the GOP and the receiption of such pandering by TrueChristians but honestly, it’s a great thing for those of us who like to show how much of a fail most religions are.

Imagine, if you will, this scenario:

Church A will claim that its followers should vote for “x” because they will claim that their god is totally behind this person.   This will start in the primary season for every candidate.  Candidate “x” fails. So they have to revise their claims of who is this god’s anointed and move on down the line.   Hmmm, were their holy messages from their god wrong? And how does one explain how each church claims that their candidate is the right one when the next church makes a different conclusion from their also holy messages from purportedly the very same god?

It’s a great way to show that the claims of religion are no more than the claims of humans who want control.

Then we have another scenario, which is far more unpleasant:

Church A says that Candidate X will win.  And he doesn’t, but Candidate Y does.  Now, will Church A support the new winner because, at least in the Christian bible, it is claimed that their god chooses the winner every single time, no exceptions?  Every leader is in place because this god supposedly wills it. And will the winner now accept that churches stood against them?  What would or could he do against those who have declared that he was not this god’s chosen?   Are they a “true” religion in his/her eyes?  What will become of that lovely “faith-based” funding if you aren’t part of the true religion?

TrueChristians will make up some excuse on why their claims of someone being divinely ordained to be elected fail.  They have before, witness the fail of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and the usual passel of failed prophets (who never seem to get stoned to death as per this god’s requirement).

Of course, this also allows people to discriminate as long as they have a “religious” reason to do so. I wonder, how long will it take for Protestants to discriminate against Catholics, for Christians to discriminate against, well, anyone else, etc.   I’ve read such pitiful complaints on how Trump “betrayed” the LGBT community. The naivety to assume that this liar would follow through is unfortunate.

Alas, the antics of the ignorance and the antics of the religious will harm us all with the schadenfreude that they will bring upon themselves.  But in any case, thanks theists, for showing that your claims of entities supporting you and only you are false.

As for the passing of the TrumpCare “healthcare” bill by the US House of Representatives, it does to show that the GOP doesn’t give a damn about people but only party. Trump doesn’t want it called TrumpCare because he knows it is shit and doesn’t want his name on it, just like the legislators gave themselves an exception to it because it is shit.

For all of the claiming of how great this bill would be, how it would be even better than the ACA, we see a bill that removes protections for pre-existing conditions, removes the requirement that insurance cover maternity care, and removes the funding to support special needs kids who can go to school with the appropriate medical support. So much for the miner who has black lung as a pre-existing condition, so much for the woman who is pregnant and who has a high risk pregnancy where it risks here and the fetus, so much for the kid with spina bifida. Considering how much these idiots tout the bible, they certainly forget one of the few decent remarks in the bible: Matthew 25“45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

It still has to get through the US Senate.  There still needs to be the evaluation by the Congressional Budget Office on how much this nonsense will cost and what the real impacts it will have.  We can hope this is ended there.  But there is no reason to think that Trumpty Dumpty and his minions won’t be just as stupid in the future.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – They can’t even get egg rolling right

(as an aside, look like I was wrong about North Korea being the first tail to wag the dog in my last post, see postscript).

In this atmosphere where the clown Trump and his circus are threatening the world with destruction thanks to their incompetence, one wouldn’t think that a story about the annual White House Easter egg roll would have much play. However, it underlines that this self-proclaimed great manager and his buffoons can’t even get things right that have been done for years. The New York Times has an article on the ineptitude again being shown.

Now, it is hard to arrange a public event of any kind, and especially one for tens of thousands. One has to start planning for such events months, if not years, in advance. Orders have to be placed, people have to be hired. And Trump, Melania, Ivanka (daddy, bomb them because they make me feels bad but screw the refugees) and their staff have done none of this. They blame others for their incompetence as usual, underlined by them trying to blame the manufacturer of the commemorative eggs by saying that the manufacturing time was cut and that is not true at all. They were told when they had to get the order in and they ignored it.

One might think that Trump is afraid of failing at the egg hunt too.  “I got more eggs than anyone.  My eggs are the best eggs.  No one’s eggs are better than mine!”

What’s even more pathetic is that Trump et al, also asked that PBS supply them characters for the event, when doing their best to kill PBS Kids, culture and the arts.   PBS seems to be providing *one* character, and at this time, it’s not known which one. I hope it’s Oscar the Grouch, who can tell the pointed truth about these idiots.

Postscript: On the subject of bombing Syria, it’s most curious that Trump’s son said this ““If there was anything that [the strike on] Syria did, it was to validate the fact that there is no Russia tie.” Hmmm, so we have a president who is facing an investigation for ties to Russia, and who ordered an attack on Syria that did little damage, and we have his son saying “look, look, we did something that Russia didn’t want us to do, so that means we’re not Russia’s pawns.”  One gets this ploy and the attempt for Trump to say “think of the children!” all in one package.

 

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – No, many conservatives really are this ignorant

I haven’t had a Pennsylvania politician post for a while.  But oh this one deserves it in spades.  Scott Wagner, a Republican (what else?) state representative from the district to the south of me, has said the following about climate change:

I haven’t been in a science class in a long time, but the earth moves closer to the sun every year–you know the rotation of the earth. We’re moving closer to the sun.” [WITF-FM, Harrisburg, 3/28/17]

And not satisfied with this, he also said:

“We have more people…you know, humans have warm bodies. So, is heat coming off?”

No, despite the date, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.

Keystone Progress is looking to send this pathetically ignorant man to school to learn the basics about reality.   Hmmm, I wonder if I still have college books for astronomy, meteorology, geology, etc. If so, someone’s getting a package!  Indeed this man is a great example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, as is that clown Trump.

This is why everyone who can should attend the March for Science, write your legislators, and always *always* counter the ignorance and outright lies of those who would try to ignore science in favor of their ignorant ideology.  No one has the right to take away the ability of people to make an informed decision.

This stupidity makes the kitty angry. 

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Why climate change is a state/church issue

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has an excellent news release on this.  I am a member and I recommend that you be one too.

Trump has appointed an active climate change denialist, religionist Scott Pruitt, to head the EPA. The New York Times documents in an article boldly titled “Denialists in Charge” how federal posts are now filled with officials “who have a record of openly denying the established science of human-caused climate change.” These include the fundamentalist Christian Rick Perry, our secretary of energy, known for mocking climate science.

Denying anthropogenic climate change is based on the rejection of facts and reality in favor of blind faith, wishful thinking or willful denial. Many of the climate denialists in politics, such as Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. James Inhofe and former Senators Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, deny climate change for explicitly religious reasons.

There seems to be a correlation between religiosity and climate denial. While other factors, such as political party affiliation, race and ethnicity are stronger predictors of views about climate change, Pew Research found “it is the religiously unaffiliated, not those who identify with a religious tradition, who are particularly likely to say the Earth is warming due to human activity. . . White evangelical Protestants stand out as least likely to have this view.”

Sen. Inhofe, R-Okla., cited Genesis to bolster his denial of reality: “my point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.” Inhofe, who wrote a 2012 book, “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,” serves on the Senate’s standing committee on science. That’s outrageous.

A few months ago, the conservative Christian radio host Bryan Fischer tweeted, “Jesus would be for whatever is best for the poor. A warmer climate—if it’s even happening—is better for the poor.”

– See more at: https://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/29062-why-climate-change-is-a-state-church-issue#sthash.omwVox8Y.dpuf

That last quote just takes the cake for pure selfishness, ignorance and stupidity.  I guess Jesus doesn’t give a f@ck about the islanders losing their homes, the folks on the coasts who will lose theirs, and suffer worse storms, etc.

Attend the March for Science in Washington, DC on April 22, 2017, or find one in your area.  Marches do work, perhaps not quickly or exactly the way you want but they do work.  It’s to support the sciences, widen the diversity of those in the sciences and to stand against the clown and circus in the White House.

 

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a new poll indicating a more secular America, and a hardening of evangelicals

The Public Religion Research Institute has come out with a new poll on the religious attitudes in the US, specifically about gender and sex: “Majority of Americans Oppose Transgender Bathroom Restrictions”    It indicates that attitudes are changing, with white evangelicals losing ground for their claims of having a divine “truth”.   Curiously enough, this group voted overwhelmingly for Trump, a man who ignored them until it was politically convenient.  This does show how much a promise of returning people back to a time when they felt in control can get their support.

A Salon article about the research, says the following: “Despite all the conservative posturing about how their movement represents “real” America and liberal political attitudes are restricted mainly to the “coastal elite,” new research from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) suggests that, at least in political terms, most Americans are secular in their orientation. While many Americans may still hold conservative personal beliefs, when it comes to the issue of church-state separation, large majorities reject efforts by the religious right to use the power of the state to impose conservative Christian values on others. 

In fact, the polling data shows that there’s really only one group of Americans that rejects a secular society: White evangelical Christians. And this study is just further evidence that a lot of the political polarization in our country is the direct result of white evangelical Christians realizing that they are no longer dominant majority, and lashing out angrily in an effort to regain the levels of dominance they used to enjoy.”

The need for no change and obedience to their demands is what many Christian conservatives evince.  They need that external validation for their beliefs; the mere existence of anyone who doesn’t agree with them (and isn’t being punished by some god) shows that their beliefs are not quite what they claim.  If they do not get this obedience and agreement, they often seem to act out like a three year old who isn’t getting her way.

For additional information on the actions of those who need to imagine that they and theirs are in authority, I recommend Bob Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians.