Saturday, August 28, 2010

Peach Cobbler

Recipe here.  LOTS of other peach recipes here.

I am visiting my parents in New Jersey this week, and decided to make something tasty.  Peaches were on sale at the Trenton farmers' market, so I chose this Peach Cobbler from Tasty Kitchen.

I started by blanching the peaches.  "Blanching" is the process of putting something (usually fruit, veggies, or sometimes sweetmeats) in boiling water for a short time (references differ on whether it should be as short as 30 seconds, or as long as 2 minutes), then removing them immediately to an ice water bath to "arrest the cooking process" according to Joy of Cooking.  Blanching fruits and vegetables allows their skins to be removed easier than otherwise.  While I found this to be true-- some of the peach skins came off easily-- it was not entirely effective.  Some of the peach skins were still stuck on tightly, and it was a big hassle to remove them.  I ended up using a knife on most of them.  Anyway, once they were blanched and de-skinned, I sliced them and tossed with 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Millions of peaches...
I saved the skins and pits, by the way.  I'm not entirely sure what I will do with them, but I might try making peach juice or syrup or something with the remains.
Sorry James.  There went your house.
While I was doing all this blanching, peeling, and slicing, I had the butter in the pan in the oven.  I mixed up the batter real quick and poured it in.  It looked like this:
My mother's kitchen is much better equipped than mine!  Note the gas stove and miles of counter space above!
When the peaches were finally sliced and ready to go, I spread them out over the batter mixture.  Apparently you're not supposed to stir them in, so I didn't.
... peaches for me...
After 50 minutes in the 350 degree oven, it looked like this:
I then sprinkled some cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves over the top... but I don't have a picture of that.  Just imagine the one above looking a little more brown, and smelling even more amazing.

Grade: B-.  Very tasty, but needs some improvements.  1.a) Use canned peaches because doing it this way was WAY too much work.  1.b)  Get better at blanching and/or removing peach skins.  2.  Add oatmeal to the batter, for a little extra chewiness.  3.  Mix the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into the batter, to achieve a more uniform spiciness.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Book Review: Peter and the Starcatchers

Peter and the Starcatchers
by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

I loved this book!  Such a good adventure story.  If you've never heard of it, it's essentially the story of how a boy named Peter met a very mean captain and ended up on an island called Never Land.  It is certainly aimed at older children and younger teens, but it's one of the best in that genre that I've read.  The villain(s) are perfectly abhorrent, the heroes are brave yet vulnerable, and the stupid characters are laughable.

My favorite line occurs when one of the villains is trying to find out what he's being attacked by:
"Coconuts.  Children are beating me senseless with coconuts."

I was reading this on the plane from Minnesota to Philadelphia, and I actually laughed out loud when I read that.  My seatmates gave me strange looks.

Grade: A+.  Recommended to all children's-adventure-book-lovers.

Apparently, this is only the first of a series of FOUR.  Guess what three books are going on my "to-read" list?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I just registered to attend the Minnesota Homeschoolers' Alliance annual conference in New Brighton on Saturday, September 25th.  For readers who don't know me, I should point out that
1. I was not homeschooled; I was a (mostly) successful graduate of entirely mainstream public school
2. I have no children of my own, nor any specific plans to obtain them in the near future, because
3. I am not married, nor in a relationship likely to lead to marriage (okay, let's be honest: or any kind of relationship at all).

All of this might lead you to wonder why I would attend a conference on homeschooling.  As someone entering the teaching profession, I have come to dislike many of the precepts that public schools, and public school teaching, entail.  The emphasis on testing, especially, has (or originally had) a noble goal of making schools and teachers accountable for student learning, but this goal has been buried beneath a lot of finger-pointing ("Poor student performance is the teachers' fault!" "It's the parents' fault!" "It's the government's fault!") and the asinine and short-sighted idea of attaining "proficiency".

Anyway, specifics aside, the system is broken.  I do not want to be a part of a broken system; I'd be happy to try to help fix it, but I think it is difficult to get into a public teaching position without at least pretending to support the system, and then once in, it is tempting to support the status quo that pays one's salary.  I have been looking into alternatives to public school teaching, including charter schools, private schools (although these have their own issues), TRiO programs, and, yes, homeschooling.

I don't know how I could be of use to the homeschooling community, but I'd like to offer my services.  I would also like to see if anyone has done any thinking/writing/experimenting with incorporating homeschool learning and teaching styles into conventional classrooms.  That would be my ideal task; the students who most need our help are those whose family situations do not allow the possibility of homeschooling.  Those are the students I want to help become lovers of learning.

So, if anyone reading this will also be at MHA, leave a note and maybe we'll meet up.  If you're not going, but have some advice or insight on the whole "public schooling in the form of or modeled after homeschooling" idea, I'd love to hear it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Book Review: The Problem of Pain

The Problem of Pain
by C.S. Lewis

I really enjoy Lewis's writing.  He makes logical, well-supported arguments, but using language and syntax that are eminently understandable and natural.  I feel like I could read his work out loud without tripping over myself; parsing his sentences is effortless.  Even beyond the loveliness of his writing, however, is the intelligence and care with which he treats his subject.

For example, when he wishes to make distinction between two related ideas, he very clearly outlines what it is he is not talking about, or not trying to prove.  He makes it very clear that pain, and Hell, are not good, nor tolerable, but necessary according to the laws of free will and God's love.

Augh, I can't even do justice to a review without quoting most of the book to you.  Lewis explains things better than I could summarize them.  Here's just a few of the quotes I enjoyed:

"We are... a  Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character."

"Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal."

"If, when walking on slippery pavement, you neglect the law of Prudence, you suddenly find yourself obeying the law of gravitation."

"For you will certainly carry out God's purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John."

"Be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you.  The mould in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key: and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock.  Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions.  For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you-- you, the individual reader, John Stubbs or Janet Smith.  Blessed and fortunate creature, your eyes shall behold Him and not another's.  All that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you will let God have his good way, to utter satisfaction... God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love.  Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were  made for it-- made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Today's Lunch

Baked beans and rice.  Yum!

Baked Beans

This is what happens when you get distracted toward the end of cooking baked beans:
In case you can't tell, that's beans that are burnt onto the bottom of the pot.  There's a lovely smokey aroma filtering through my apartment now, but alas, I cannot post that on my blog.

However, the beans that did not get burnt actually taste pretty good.  They have a smokey flavor to them that I actually like-- almost as if I had added liquid smoke or something.
These started as dried pinto beans-- an ingredient I had never attempted to use before today.  Actually, last night-- I soaked them in water overnight.  This morning I drained, rinsed, and started cooking with some chopped onion and garlic.  After about an hour, I added chopped, cooked ham (the recipe called for bacon, but all my bacon is frozen and besides, ham is healthier), brown sugar, cayenne pepper, Cajun seasonings, and, alas, too much cumin-- it totally overpowered the lovely onion/garlic flavor that was happening.  A little while later I added ketchup, honey, and chopped green pepper.  There was too much water in the pan (I didn't know how much I'd need), so I was in the process of letting it cook down when it got away from me and burned.

BUT!  Virtue has triumphed; the sword of retribution has... wait, nevermind.  Anyway, the salvaged beans look (and taste, and smell) like they'll be pretty good.  Hooray for fiber!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Calorie Counting Conundrum

About a week ago, I started using Everyday Health to keep track of what I eat, how much I exercise, and my weight.  It's much more convenient (at least for me) to keep a food journal online than by pen and paper, but I've run into some difficulties.  I cook most of my food at home, myself, and I try not to buy packaged, mass-produced, chemically-engineered food except when I have to.  This makes finding the foods I've eaten on EH's list difficult.  They have all kinds of name-brand varieties of pre-made dinners-- you know, the ones that advertise "Just heat and eat!"-- but more natural ingredients are harder to find, and less specific about their serving sizes.

It's even more difficult when I make my own food.  I recently made pulled pork, including my own barbeque sauce.  When listing this food, I had to settle for "Cripple Creek Pulled Pork" (whatever that is) with generic barbeque sauce, since I had no way of knowing the caloric content of my homemade stuff.

I also have no way of knowing if their calorie values for unbranded food (most of what I buy) are accurate for the specimens I am eating.  For example, the calories in cherry tomatoes are "per item".  My cherry tomatoes may be larger or smaller than those EH bases its calorie values on.  I buy pastured eggs, which have been found to have 1⁄3 less cholesterol, 1⁄4 less saturated fat, 2⁄3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, 7 times more beta carotene, and 4 to 6 times more vitamin D than regular eggs.  So when I'm watching my cholesterol, do I go by the 211mg in a single egg, as EH suggests, or should I go with a third less than that, 141mg?  That's a pretty big difference.

I know, I know.  To resolve these issues, I could consult other online calorie and nutrient counter sites, compare their values, and either choose which one I think is most accurate or take the average.  But the whole point of a site like EH is its convenience in not having to do that.  For now, I'm just estimating based on the EH guidelines, and trying to make sure that my estimates are likely higher than the actual values, so I may be pleasantly surprised someday.

What do you think?  How does one count calories (or any other nutritional content) on food items that don't come in a package?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Raspberry Crisp

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

I didn't actually measure my raspberries, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they were less than the required 2.5 cups.  Oh well.

I also forgot to take process photos.  Sorry.  But really, this was pretty easy.  Mix the berries with cornstarch, sugar, and vanilla extract, and set aside.  When you mix them, the berries tend to lose their structural integrity; I've decided that's okay, as they probably would lose it during cooking anyway.

The topping is oatmeal, sugar, brown sugar, flour, and butter all mashed together.  Normally I would have left it in the oven a little longer, to get the top nice and brown, but this is a housewarming gift for some friends who I am helping move tomorrow, so it will get some more time in the oven then.  [Should that have been "whom" in that last sentence?  My ear says yes, but my grammar logic says no.  Help!]

I also made some chocolate syrup to give them.  Really easy; just cocoa powder, sugar, and water in a pan on the stove.

In this photo, the syrup is cooling in a water bath.  I made sure my jar was relatively warm when I poured in the hot syrup, and now I am slowly cooling it in lukewarm (later to be refreshed with cool) water.  Don't ever put a glass jar of hot stuff in the fridge or freezer!  The extremes of temperature may cause it to break, resulting in loss of food and a giant, nasty, mess for you to clean up.

Aw man, now I have to avoid the temptation to try some of this before tomorrow.  It smells so good!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Want This for my Birthday

At my brother's suggestion, I have been reading Questionable Content.  One of the funniest quotes in the strip is "Baking is like science for hungry people."  If you'd like to get me a birthday present, here's a good idea.  Please?

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Perseids: Part II

Last night was a no-go.  Tornado watch in effect and thunderstorms out the wazoo.  Not ideal for meteor-watching.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

DC Library Flash Mob

Linked via Christina:

Awesome.  I may have to steal this idea and the lyrics at some point in my life.

The Perseids: Part I

I drove out toward Hastings to find a spot dark enough to see some meteors.  There's a park there, Schaar's Bluff, which of course was closed since it was 10:30pm.  But I thought it might be really dark.

Alas, it was only sort of dark.  I could see the Milky Way, but not as brilliantly as I'd hoped.  The Rosemount oil refinery lights, and the light pollution from Hastings and the twin cities, were still visible.  But I did manage to see several meteors, including one that was greenish in color and shot all the way across the sky, lasting a nice long while.  I'm hoping that tomorrow will be even better; I'm going to go up to Stillwater (north of the TC) and meet a friend to watch some more.

And then, on the way home, I almost hit a skunk.  I think I may have run over its tail-- there was a slight bump, but the critter managed to hurry away, off of the exit ramp.  Not, however, without first spraying my car with noxious scent.  Ugh.

This guy: not the skunk I almost hit.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Barbeque Pulled Pork

At the farmer's market last week, I bought a 2.6 lb pork shoulder in anticipation of making pulled pork.  Prairie Pride Farms also makes their own pulled pork, which I have bought before and is amazing, but this time I wanted to try my own.  I had heard from a friend (thanks Sami!) that pulled pork is very easy to make in the crock pot: just cook whatever cut of pork in water for several hours, drain, pull meat apart with two forks, then mix with barbeque sauce.  (Why does Mozilla insist that "barbeque" be spelled "barbecue"?  Wikipedia says both are acceptable.  Hmph.)  Sounds fun.

Here's the pork shoulder, wrapped, in the sink.

I had read somewhere online that instead of just water in the crock pot, you should use water and vinegar in a 2-to-1 ratio.  I added a little apple cider vinegar, but didn't come close to that ratio, as well as some kosher salt. Here's the uncooked pork in the pot:

See my nice crock pot liner?  I love these things-- they make cleanup SO easy!
So then I left it there for about 7 hours on high, during which time I made barbeque sauce and forgot to take pictures or record my ingredients.  But it was basically a bunch of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, a little apple cider vinegar, honey, cumin, garlic salt, and cayenne pepper, with some cornstarch/water paste to thicken it up a little.  If you're looking to make your own BBQ sauce, I wouldn't worry about following a recipe, just add stuff you think would taste good and keep tasting it along the way until you like it.

When the pork was ready to come out and be pulled, I forgot I was going to blog about it, and so there are no pictures.  Alas.  Anyway, what I did was took out the pork (which fell apart, of course) and put it on a big plate.  Before I pulled the meat apart, I tried to separate the big chunks of fat and connective tissue, because no one wants those in their sandwich.  I saved the fat on a separate plate.

Once the pork was separated and pulled, I poured the cooking liquid into a my stock pot, added the fat and half of a large onion, cut into quarters, and started it on the stove for pork stock.  If I'd had some carrots and celery, I would have put them in also, but since I didn't, this will have to do.

Pretend you can't see how messy my stove is.  Focus on the pretty stock!
I put the pulled pork back in the crock pot, poured the barbeque sauce over it, and mixed it around.  I turned the heat setting down to "Warm", since I didn't want to cook anything, just heat up the sauce and let the flavors, as they say, "meld".  Here's the finished product:

I apologize for the awkward angle on this photo.
Now it's 6:06 pm, and I have just realized that I have no bread or rolls on which to serve pulled pork sandwiches.  Oh dear.  Maybe I'll do some mashed potatoes on the side instead.

Grade: A+.  Will definitely make again.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Garlic Crackers

[Note: please forgive the poor quality photos.  My digital camera is on the fritz (again), so these were taken on my cell phone.  So sorry.]

I like crackers.  They make me feel like I'm not really eating, at least not in the way I would be if I had a sandwich.  Plus the *crunch* is lovely and makes me feel fulfilled.  But I don't like paying $3 a box (yes, I know you can get them cheaper, but then they have HFCS and other nasty things in them.  So I buy Triscuts, which have none of those, and cost $3 a box.)  I've been toying with the idea of making my own-- after all, how hard can it be?  But I kept putting it off, and I finally figured out why: I have an irrational fear of making foods that require rolling.  I think it's really a fear of my own inadequacy; my mom and several of my friends are capable of making amazing pie crusts and fancy breads and pastries of various kinds.  I'm generally more of a "whatever" kind of cook, never worrying about if the food will look good or come out exactly like the picture.  Anyway, yeah, fear of rolling.  But having started to overcome this fear by making my own tortillas, I figured I was ready for crackers.  I found this recipe online, and it seemed easy enough, so I gave it a try.

My first try was a few days ago, making plain crackers with half the dough from the recipe.  They came out so well that I ate them all in a matter of days.  This time, I used the other half of the dough that I had kept in the freezer:
Check out my adorable little rolling pin!

You may notice that the cookie sheet is upside-down in the photo.  That's because I was going to try using the back of the sheet this time, to avoid stuck-on bits that I got last time.  Alas, it was too difficult to roll on the back of the sheet, so I flipped it back over.

Notice how little counter space I have?
Then, I cut the dough into squares:

And pricked them with a fork.
Does anyone know if this step is necessary?  It makes them look pretty, but otherwise seems pointless.
 I then sprayed them lightly with cooking oil and shook a little garlic salt over them.  Then into the 300 degree oven for a little over 20 minutes.  When they came out...

... you might notice how unevenly browned they are.  I'm not sure if that's due to my having a faulty oven, or having them too close to the top, or what, but it's really frustrating.  Grr.

Cell phone camera is not suitable for macro shots.
Only the deeper brown ones are actually crunchy.  The others are a little too thick and doughy to be crackers.  Like I said above, I'm more of a "whatever" cook, so I'll eat them anyway, but definitely a disappointment.  Maybe next time I'll divide the dough into three or four batches, so they can each be rolled out really thin.

In unrelated news, does anyone need some egg cartons?  I have lots.
Dunno if you can tell, but the one on the bottom is an 18-fer.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Review: Reading Like a Writer

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them
by Francine Prose, (c) 2006

People have told me I should be a writer, because I write coherently and fast.  In high school and college, I nearly always wrote papers the night before they were due, and got As or Bs.  Part of this is because I spend a lot of time subconsciously planning and mapping out the paper, so that when I sit down to write it, most of it just flows.  So yeah, I write well.

I also love books.  Books, books, books.  Even books that I don't like (too long, too boring, too dense) I appreciate because they add to the diversity of the global population, if you will, of books.  (It's the same reason I appreciate radishes, or cauliflower.  I don't like to eat them, but I'm glad they exist.)

For these reasons, I figured this might be a good book for me.  And while I found it interesting, most of what I got from it is that I am not a *writer*.  I cannot stand to spend hours on end obsessively editing and revising a single sentence, or word, in order to achieve perfection.  A little bit of editing, okay, fine, to make sure I don't sound like an idiot, or accidentally repeat myself.  But Prose's book is all about reading literature and noticing how the authors find the exact word, phrase, description, or whatever, that conveys not just the plot but the subtext and the character of the work as a whole.  And I appreciate that, I really do.  I am capable of doing close reading exercises like Prose demonstrates, and coming to the conclusion that these great authors are, in fact, great, and really know how to do their thing.

But close reading, I think, is like hindsight; it is possible to see everything clearly and say, knowingly, "Ah, yes.  The author said this instead of that, which shows x.  How inspired."  But translating that after-awareness that we gain from reading into the forethought and ability to create one's own x is much more difficult, both in terms of time consumption and likely frustration levels.

Maybe someday I will be a *writer* and thus capable of such intentional nuance of language, but not yet.  I don't have the patience.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Book Review: What the Rest of Us Can Learn from Homeschooling

What the Rest of Us Can Learn from Homeschooling: How A+ Parents Can Give Their Traditionally Schooled Kids the Academic Edge
by Linda Dobson, (c) 2003

I ordered this book from Paperbackswap, thinking it would have some good ideas for me, a potential teacher, on incorporating homeschool-style learning in my eventual classroom.  And while it does have some ideas that could work in that setting, both in terms of philosophy and tangible activities, it leans a little more toward being a sermon on how homeschooling is the best for most children.  Dobson seems to take the view that if parents are reading this book, they are on the first step toward homeschooling.  I expected, from the title, that it was more for parents who are not willing or able to homeschool, but still want their children to enjoy the benefits of what Dobson calls the "learning lifestyle".

Again, I don't mean this as criticism, exactly.  Well, maybe a little-- of the slightly misleading title, at least.  But the ideas presented in the book are sound, if sometimes a little touchy-feely or obvious.  But maybe they're only obvious to me because I have encountered those same ideas elsewhere, either in my own experience or in formal pedagogy courses.

I found the chapter on study skills to be the most helpful at this point in my life/career.  While the other chapters included some really interesting games, activities, and events, most were geared toward the family.  As I am not married, nor do I have any children, those sections I will hold until another time.  But the study skills are applicable to all students, and could be taught (should be taught) within the context of the classroom.  ESL students in particular need the kind of structured note-taking and organizational skills presented here.

Grade: B.  Recommended for parents of young children in particular, as many of the games etc. are geared toward children under the age of about ten.

Widget Code

Haha, I feel really smart!  I've added widgets at the bottom of the page from Goodreads, so you can see what I'm reading now, what I'm looking forward to reading, and what I've read already.  The reason I feel especially smart is that I managed to edit the code for the widgets to get rid of an annoying link that was unnecessary and didn't fit in my design template.  Huzzah!

Look, I realize this is not earth-shattering news.  You might even say it doesn't count as real editing, since all I did was delete stuff.  But I had to figure out what stuff was necessary and what stuff was part of the annoying link.  I don't speak code, so it was an exercise in translation.

Edit (8/7/10): I've removed the "Currently Reading" and "To-Read" widgets because, for whatever reason, they weren't updating correctly.  Oh well.

Monday, August 2, 2010

TED: Sir Ken Robinson

 I just Stumbled on this, and it says everything I've been thinking about our system of education.  It's very inspiring and I say "Hell yes!" to all of it.  Unfortunately, it offers little advice on how to enact such a radical change in model, which is my current conundrum.

My favorite quote: "A three-year-old is not half of a six-year-old."

Stuffed Green Peppers

[Note: eventually, there will be photos to accompany food posts like this.  Not today though.]

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3-4 green bell peppers
onions (I used green onions, because that's what I had, but you can use whatever), diced
corn (I used fresh off the cob, but again, whatever you have on hand)
cornbread crumbs (Mine were from some old, frozen cornbread muffins, crumbled)
pepperjack cheese
garlic salt
~ 2 T. butter
milk or cream (optional)

Start by cutting the tops off the peppers and scooping out the seeds/membranes.  Set aside.  Cook chicken in frying pan, turning once, until no longer pink in the middle.  Remove from pan, and dice.  (You could also dice it first, then cook it.  I try to avoid handling raw meat as much as possible, so I usually cook first, and cut later.  But it's up to you.)  De-glaze pan with water (or wine, if you're feeling adventurous); add butter, diced onions, and corn.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add diced chicken and cornbread crumbs, and more butter if necessary.  Stir until heated through; add a splash of milk or cream to help hold it together.  (If you don't add the milk, the stuffing will be very crumbly; if you add too much, it will be mush.)  Add cumin and garlic salt to taste (I used a lot because I have a head cold).  Remove pan from heat, and stir in diced or shredded cheese.  (If you use shredded, it will probably melt and help hold the stuffing together.  If you used diced, you end up with tasty little cornbread-coated cheese bits.  Mmm, cheese bits.)

Fill peppers with stuffing mixture; you will probably have some left over.  Place peppers on a cookie sheet or shallow baking dish.  (If you can place them upright, good for you, the stuffing will stay in.  I couldn't, but I didn't lose too much.)  Now here's where I started improvising.  Possibly, when making stuffed peppers, you're supposed to bake them at a certain temperature, or maybe broil them.  I'm not sure which is the accepted method.  I ended up doing both, because I was using my toaster oven to avoid heating up the whole oven for three little peppers.  I think what would work best is bake for a few minutes, then finish by broiling.  If you're really adventurous, you could add a little more shredded cheese on top during broiling, to get that nice browned-cheese effect.  You'll know the peppers are done when the outsides start to pucker just slightly, and maybe turn a little charred-looking.

Remove from oven, let cool, and serve.  They're very tasty all on their own, but I imagine could also be wonderful served with some cilantro-lime rice, or other such sides.


This is the inaugural post of my new blog!  I have been a sometimes user over at LiveJournal since high school, and decided to make something a little more, well, grown-up.  Also, I think Blogger is a bit more user-friendly, although I don't have any experience with it (yet).  I don't have a specific theme in mind yet, but I have been doing a lot of food blogging over at LJ, so that will probably continue.  I'm also going to attempt to document the books I read, and provide some type of response/review of many of them.  I hope you enjoy my meaningless meanderings, and come back for more!