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Monthly Archives: December 2021

Upgrading our masks

As the pandemic wears on, we need to consider switching to better masks. The simple pleated masks, or homemade fabric masks, no longer cut it. N95 masks are certainly an upgrade. But from an article last week in the Economist, I learned about an even better mask, the FFP2 mask. The FFP2 masks are available […]

Hidden Figures (the book)

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. Margot Lee Shetterly. HarperCollins, 2016. 348 pages. Margot Lee Shetterly writes that, when she was working on this book, people repeatedly asked her why they had never heard this story before. There is a related […]

Local pecans!

One of my friends here in Stokes County is a horticulturist who used to work for the county’s agricultural cooperative extension service. He was here a couple of days ago for my winter solstice fire. He brought for me a couple of pounds of pecans, which were grown in a pecan orchard only a few […]

Can this old machine be saved?

The eBay portrait of the machine I bought With apologies to non-nerds, this is a nerd post. I have written in the past about a quirk I have — empathy for mechanical things. Seeing a beautiful old machine (or any beautiful machine, for that matter) abused or falling into ruin is painful. Like abused or […]

Tit for tat

Gavin Newsome: payback as justice. Source: Wikipedia Gavin Newsome, governor of California, deserves great credit for what may be the most inspired political tactic of the year. He slammed both right-wing Texas and the right-wing hacks on the Supreme Court in a single move. Newsome will work with the California legislature to enact a law […]


One review described “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” as comfort food. I’d agree but go a step further: It’s a confection, very suitable for the holidays. If you have an annual tradition of watching “Love, Actually,” at Christmas, then you might consider taking a break from that this year and watching “Guernsey” […]

That nutmeg time of year

Nutmeg shortbread If obliged to name my favorite spice, I’m pretty sure I would say nutmug. Everyone likes cinnamon. But there’s a kind of magic in nutmeg that no other spice can match, especially during the winter holidays. My nutmeg shortcake was less than perfect. I used this recipe. Though the egg yolk makes the […]

Gun sales are slowing down

Wikipedia photo The Economist reports that gun sales are now declining after record sales of guns and ammunition last year. The Economist doesn’t say when the peak was, but it may well have been January 2021, when — surprise, surprise — Donald Trump left the White House and Joe Biden moved in. According to the […]

Why have cafeterias died off?

Under the turkey there is cornbread dressing. I was at a K&W Cafeteria today for the first time since pre-pandemic days. I found myself wondering why cafeterias are so endangered, given that they are so practical. When I got home I did a little Googling. Wikipedia has a nice article on the history of cafeterias. […]


Oyster soup, more or less Louisiana style. The sandwich is a winter-style BLT — lettuce from the garden, but no tomato. Oysters are magical somehow. They’re also slightly creepy. Picky eater that I was as a kid, it’s surprising that I even liked them. But I did, either batter-fried or in a creamy stew. We […]