Random Conjectures

"Act locally; bitch globally."

Progress Report, October 2017, Month 2

Well, it’s been a month since I restarted my program of Remedial Education. Since then, I’ve made the following progress: Read the rest of this entry »

Uncle Boris’ Voodoo Saloon

Well, here I am again, peddling some more food porn. Part of the reason, I suppose, is some of the things I have been reading lately. One of those things has been a recent article from the Harvard Business Review. The take-away idea from that article is that only 10% of the American public likes to cook, while the other 90% is about equally divided in either actively loathing the process, or just being indifferent to it.

In typical Harvard Business School logic, what the author of this disquieting article wants his audience to conclude is that supermarkets and grocery stores should re-organize, and exclusively give the people what they want, and good and hard too: only pre-packaged crap that can be quickly reheated and put on plates. The author even goes so far as to praise this Reuters’ article, which in turn is an encomion of the latest food technology, in which packaged, sterilized food-like substances with unlimited shelf life will replace that nasty real stuff that tends to spoil and reduce market value. Even better, this stuff can be shipped by Amazon drones, and we can cut the middle-man of the local markets right out of the picture.

I dunno about you, but two images which immediately come to my mind are visions from that demented genius, Terry Gilliam, who turns his jaundiced eye toward the immediate future. The first is from his movie, Time Bandits, where one of the running gags in this delightful piece of mockery is The Moderna Wonder Major All-Automatic Convenience Center-ette”, an automatic kitchen which the young hero’s mum praises as being able to ‘turn a block of ice into Boeuf Bourgignon in eight seconds.’

The second image comes from Gilliam’s somewhat darker film, Brazil, where the only existing haute cuisine in that alternate future is several scoops of… No, I can’t bear to say it. You’ll just have to watch it for yourselves, all seven or eight of you. Read the rest of this entry »

Dinner for Sixty



-Boeuf Bourgignon (bacon free, gluten free) for 20;

-Coq au Vin (ditto) for 16;

-4 Quiches (9″, mushroom, onion, shallots, and bacon and shallots) for 16;

-Uzbeki lamb pilaf for 8;

-Basmati rice side dish for 60;

-Hand roasted, freshly ground Colombian coffee for 60.

It’s a long story.

For the past two years since my wife Beth died, my one live entertainment has been to listen to these guys, Simon and James, when they play the local pub at Pedro, about twice a year, in the summer and the winter.  It’s about a mile from where I live, so I usually get a reservation at the bar, tip the bartender a ten at the beginning of the affair, with the promise of another if the service is any good. It always is, for some reason.

So, between the food, which is okay, the beer, which is better but more expensive, the cover charge, and the tips to the musicians, it comes to quite a bit. As I am rather impecunious, I doubt that I could afford such more than twice a year. But Simon and James play a variety of trad music that I seldom hear in LaLa Land, so I find it to be worth it.

I’ve gotten to know Simon somewhat these last two years, and I wanted to buy some of his CDs before he performed the next time. So, I messaged him on Facebook to ask how I could do that. He told me that he would be in LA in early August, and we could meet at a mutual friend’s house to do the deal.

“Why can’t we do it when you’re at the local pub?” sez I.

“Because the pub hasn’t picked up my gig for this summer,” sez he. Read the rest of this entry »

The Blood is the Life: An essay regarding a diagnosis of the ills currently plaguing the Roman Catholic Church


Many of us have noted that not all is well with the Roman Catholic Church. Some are rejoicing over its supposed schism, heresy, or apostasy. Others of us sorrow over its sickness, as one would the illness of one’s mother. We wish there were some way it could be cured. Still others sorrow, but conclude that there is no cure: the only thing left now is to abandon ship, leave the impending shipwreck, and seek refuge in a Church which still lives, wherever that might be found.

Since I for my part believe that the Church of my youth both can and should be cured, I offer the following meditation. I would ask that those who read it consider what I have to say, accept it to the extent that it is true, and correct it where it is false. Read the rest of this entry »

A New Year: Progress Report

Those six or seven of you who have been following this wretched little weblog, especially during the month and a half gaps between entries in it, will probably recall that I have been making attempts at a Remedial Education. Briefly, I’ve been attempting to construct a modern Trivium of Grammar (Linguistics, Language Acquisition, and Philology), Dialectic (Deductive and Inductive Logic, Algorithmic, and Heuristic), and Rhetoric (Classical and Modern Rhetoric and Poetics).

I have also been attempting to construct, at least for myself, a modern Quadrivium of Arithmetic/Algebra/Number Theory, Geometry/Topology, Astronomy/Physics, and Music/Theory/Voice/Composition.

On the other hand, I have been afflicted by several impediments, including but not limited to what appears to be a case of C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) secondary to witnessing the death of my first wife, Carolyn, 23 years ago, and nursing my second late wife, Elizabeth, at her sick bed and then her death bed just two years ago. Oh, that, and losing a liter and a half of blood because the ER was too busy and/or incompetent to stop a bad case of abdominal bleeding for TWELVE HOURS after check in, back in late April.

In consequence, it has taken me nearly four months to recover from the blood loss. During most of that time, I was unable to pursue ANY of my studies. I have only now begun to resume them.

And, on what Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle would call the Gripping hand, according to the weird little religious cult I belong to (Eastern Byzantine Christianity), September 1st is the beginning of our liturgical year. So, at least for me, now is the time to make New Year’s resolutions. As it is also a time of harvest, it is also time to review what accomplishments I have actually made. So, here goes… Read the rest of this entry »


T’was Brexit, and the slimy coves
did troll and google on the ‘net.
All WTF were the frontal lobes
‘Til we’d as soon forget

‘Beware the Donald Trump, my son:
The tweets that bite, the memes that catch.
Beware the JebJeb Bush and shun
The Benedict Cumberbatch.’

He took his Blackberry in hand.
Long time the orange foe he sought.
Then linked up he to the CNN feed
And labored at his thought.

And as in upload mode he stood
The Donald Trump, with eyes of flame
Came barging through the neighborhood
And MILO’d as he came!

One-two! One-two! And through and through
The Blackberry went shatter-crack!
The lede fell flat, and on his prat
He went a-tumbling back!

‘And hast thou muffed it one more time?
Get out of here!’ the editor said.
‘Our ratings fall! O, woe to all!
We might as well be dead!’

T’was Brexit, and the slimy coves
did troll and google on the ‘net.
All WTF were the frontal lobes
‘Til we’d as soon forget.

Some musings of a morning

Rumors of my demise being just a tad exaggerated, I suppose that I will have to toddle along. And, while I can not yet undertake the studies that I would like, I still seem to have made some progress.

It used to be that I loved reading in bed in the morning during summer vacation, when I was a boy. I have rediscovered that pleasure, and I am getting reacquainted with some old friends: H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft, Jules Verne, and John Bellairs, among many others. If I can manage to excavate my old copies of Lord of the Rings,  that is next on my list. But I still have enough in the way of books that have not been packed away to keep me occupied. Read the rest of this entry »

One step forward, four steps back

Well, here I am of a Saturday afternoon, stuck in bed. Much of the day has been spent sleeping, and what little time I’ve spent up has been involved in attending to either end of my alimentary canal, in the kitchen or the loo. If I had the strength, I’d probably be bored. But now, I’m spending what little strength I have on the adventure of trying to recover my former strength. That’s one step back. Read the rest of this entry »

Combating Stupidities


Having suffered from a certain amount of stupidity in my life, both that of my own doing, as well as that which I have suffered at the hands of other people, I have decided that it is time to try something new: to study the basic laws of stupidity, and to arrange my life so as to minimize my own stupidity, and the effects of others’ stupidity upon me.

To that end, I have looked into a little essay by the late Professor and Doctor Carlo M. Cipollo, entitled ‘The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity‘. Read the rest of this entry »

Another rant

Through the kindness of Fr. Ivan Moody, who posted the above YouTube clip on Facebook this afternoon, I have been listening to and greatly enjoying the above album from Harmonia Mundi. Not only does it have the whole Missa Viri Galilaei of Palestrina, but also the chant propers of the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The album closes with a motet by Palestrina based on the chant Introit of the Feast, ‘Viri Galilaei’.

I suppose that I should be happy with this, and the fact that this evening I shall be helping to sing and to serve the Feast today, according to the Byzantine use of the Russian Orthodox service.

But I am saddened to consider that for most of my sixty-four years, and quite likely for the remainder of my life, most of us, myself included, have been and will continue to be deprived of the liturgical and spiritual treasures of the West. Read the rest of this entry »