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Luddites, look out. April 10, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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It’s not a coincidence that our friend Ben and Silence Dogood call ourselves Luddites, technophobes who have no interest whatever in technology for its own sake. We think technology should serve us—flip the switch, hit the button, voila! whatever it is is up and running—rather than that we should have to serve it by constantly learning new programs and the like.

So when Microsoft announced that it would no longer support its Windows XP system, which we both use, we were rattled. We also easily saw through all the smoke Microsoft was pouring out about why it was going to stop supporting the most widely used computing system in the world. Obviously, it had failed to discover any way to continue making money from it. By forcing everyone to switch to its newest system, Windows 8.1, or even Windows 8 or Windows 7, it stands to make a great deal of money. Simple as that. Pigs!!!

Silence and I live and die by our computers, so we took our laptops in to our local “computer wizards” to be cleaned up and fitted with the best antivirus and antimalware software and the best cleaner. We also got a new laptop capable of powering (and fitted with) Windows 7, as everything we’ve heard about Windows 8 has been horrible. (Windows 9, coming out in September, is supposed to be good, but that’s a 5-month wait after support for Windows XP has been discontinued. Thanks, Microsoft.) Anyway, for safety’s sake, we recommend that our fellow Luddites upgrade to Windows 7 and install strong antivirus, antimalware, and cleanup software ASAP.

Then there’s the bleedingheart bug, which has apparently infected literally millions of websites, including our own e-mail site, Yahoo. (Thank God sites like Google, Wikipedia and Amazon, which we also use regularly, are supposedly safe.) What this means is that ordering anything online is extremely unsafe, as is posting any personal or financial data, i.e. paying bills or banking online. Being Luddites, we still file our taxes on paper, so I’m not sure what this means for the millions who file electronically through services like TurboTax.

What’s a Luddite to do? Well, we were planning to order a butterfly bush named after our beloved golden retriever, Molly, to plant over her grave. The website offering the butterfly bush, ‘Miss Molly,’ was giving a special discount to customers who ordered online this week. In light of the bleedingheart bug, we guess we’ll skip the online discount, call the nursery, and pay full price. We’d rather get a discount, but not if it means compromising our security.

Stop bashing Tolkien. April 9, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood are fans of the HBO hit series “Game of Thrones.” We don’t get HBO, so we’ll have to wait a year to see Season 4, but we own the other three seasons and have been re-watching them as Season 4 takes hold of the popular imagination.

We’ve also tried to keep up with the new season vicariously by reading press releases, interviews, reviews, and plot summaries. My favorite characters are Tyrion Lannister and the Hound, with Tywin Lannister a close third; Silence favors Lord Eddard Stark, Stannis Baratheon and Mance Rayder. (But then, she loves Sean Bean, Stephen Dillane and Ciaran Hinds, so I’m not sure what this is really saying.)

But I digress. Point being that we’ve noticed a really ugly trend in the reviews: Tolkien-bashing. It seems as if reviewers can only say good things about “Game of Thrones” if they say bad things about “The Lord of the Rings.” This is like comparing James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans to Tony Hillerman’s Navajo mystery series, or, as Silence points out, Gulliver’s Travels to Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations.”

Think “A Song of Ice and Fire” author George R.R. Martin, on whose novels “Game of Thrones” is based, decided to see how J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic of Middle Earth would play out in real time? Fine. There are plenty of interesting parallels. What’s not fine is to gleefully shriek “A stake has finally been driven through Tolkien’s heart!” or “Tolkien is dead; long live Martin!” as we’ve seen in recent reviews.

As we’re sure many of you have, Silence and I grew up with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I used to read the whole cycle once a year, until it finally dawned on me that the characters in LoTR were so wooden and, unlike The Hobbit, there was no humor in it. But Professor Tolkien wasn’t trying to become famous or rich by writing a hit series. He was trying to make his life’s work—the study and translation of early to mediaeval Norse, Anglo-Saxon, and Celtic myth and literature—relevant to his generation.

He included heroes and monsters, trolls, elves, dwarves, goblins, dragons, and wizards as well as humans in his series because they were all in the lore and legends of the cultures he studied. For those peoples of the North, as for the Starks in Westeros, winter was always coming, and it was always long, dark, and brutal. And he wove the great mediaeval myth of chivalry, the noble knight, Sir Gawain, Sir Lancelot, into his epic as well, that honor will triumph, that weakness will be defeated. Aragorn and Gandalf win. Saruman and the Nazgul lose. Does anyone actually like Aragorn, or Gandalf, for that matter? To me, the only likeable characters in LoTR were Gimli son of Gloin, Samwise Gamgee, and Pippin. The rest were place-holders for a myth JRR Tolkien chose to weave and populate.

George Martin chose to bring this mythical world kicking and screaming into our modern age, sort of a bastard child of Tolkien and “Rome” and “The Tudors.” He has no education in the original works, unlike Tolkien. He also sets his action in a mediaeval world, and peoples it with mythical characters (giants, white walkers, dragons, witches—think Melisandre, the Red Witch—warlocks and wizards, as well as those like Bran and Rickon who are “wargs,” able to see through the eyes of others). But he brings the myth to the present with clever spins, from making the mythical dwarves of Tolkien into an actual physical dwarf, Lord Tyrion, to turning chivalric heroes into brutal sadistic monsters like Ser Gregor Clegane.

All this, and the ambivalence that pervades “Game of Thrones,” that makes a character like “The Spider,” Lord Varys, a hero, and a hero like Lord Eddard Stark a loser, is great plotting, great writing. But it is no excuse for reviewers to bash the books of someone long dead, someone who had a very different agenda: to make the past come alive for a new generation. True, there was no sex, there was no nudity, there was no sexual ambiguousness or titillation in Tolkien’s books. There was no gratuitous torture or violence. That’s because in his heart, Tolkien was a knight.

He lived what he wrote, all of his life. At 17, he fell in love with a 19-year-old girl at his boarding house and wished to marry her. The priest in charge of him (Tolkien had been long orphaned by then), afraid he would waste his brilliance, demanded that he leave his sweetheart without a word of explanation and not dare to approach her or any other woman until he reached his majority at 21. Tolkien felt honor-bound to agree. The day he turned 21, he rushed to London to propose to his true love, and they remained married and passionately in love until her death. He based one of his most astonishing stories on their love, and had the names of the characters he created for them carved into their tombstones.

Is this the world of “Game of Thrones,” where sisters and brothers have sex and murder anyone who might have found out their secret? Where scenes in whorehouses are as common as scenes on the battlefield? Hardly. Yet, George Martin has benefited from JRR Tolkien’s world, if only to use it as a ball to bounce off of. For reviewers to rush up to take pot shots at Tolkien now is despicable. Let “Game of Thrones” be “Game of Thrones,” and Tolkien be Tolkien.

Shortcut: Lemon juice. April 6, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. So many recipes call for fresh-squeezed lemon juice. But fresh lemons don’t keep well, and unless you squeeze them through a sieve, the chances of getting seeds and pulp in your dish are about 99-1. If you do squeeze them through a sieve, it’s yet another utensil to wash, an added pain if you hand-wash your dishes as we do.

But there’s a reason recipes call for fresh-squeezed, which anyone who’s used prepared lemon juice from one of those lemon-shaped bottles can attest: That doesn’t taste like lemon juice! It tastes like some acid/chemical abomination. Eeeeewwww!!! Who’d want to put that in their food?!

Searching for a bottled lemon juice that tasted like lemon juice rather than a chemistry experiment, one that would keep effortlessly in the fridge and be ready whenever you needed it, for margaritas or guacamole or to brighten a salad dressing or some asparagus or broccoli or a soup or pasta or rice dish, finally led me to Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key West Lemon Juice. I’ve been using their Key lime juice for years, as Key limes are never available in my area except in the highest-end grocery stores (all far from our rural home), and then only for a very short season. I’ve found that Nellie and Joe’s Key lime juice, while certainly not as good as fresh-squeezed Key limes, is way better than any other bottled lime juice and is ready for use at any time, in any season.

When I first saw that they were bottling lemon juice as well, I confess that I was skeptical. After all, Key limes are a specific type of lime; there’s no such thing as a “Key lemon.” Was the company just slapping an elite name on the usual chemical cocktail? Turns out, the answer is no, and the secret of this lemon juice’s delicious flavor is its comparative lack of acidity, its mildness, which lets the lemon flavor shine through without clutching your throat in a death grip. (This is why so many recipes call for lemon zest, the top, colored layer of lemon peel, which imparts lemon flavor to a dish without the bitterness of the white pith underneath.)

Both the Key lime and “Key lemon” juices are found bottled in the fruit juice aisles of our local groceries. See if your local grocery carries them, too, and if it does, check them out and see what you think! How wonderful to have such essential ingredients at hand whenever you need them, and to know that you can count on them for great taste.

‘Til next time,


Our Founding Fathers speak. March 27, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
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It’s me, Richard Saunders of Poor Richard’s Almanac fame, here today to share some wisdom from our Founding Fathers. Normally we quote our hero and blog mentor, the great Benjamin Franklin. But the other Founders had a lot to say for themselves, too. So today we’re featuring quotes from George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. Note especially the last three quotes by Madison; maybe he had a crystal ball and could see into our times.

From George Washington:

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

“If freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.”

“It is better to be alone than in bad company.”

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

From Alexander Hamilton:

“Those who stand for nothing will fall for anything.”

“A well adjusted person is one who makes the same mistake twice without getting nervous.”

“Nobody expects to trust his body overmuch after the age of fifty.”

“Man is a reasoning rather than a reasonable animal.”

From James Madison:

“Philosophy is common sense with big words.”

“It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.”

“I believe that there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”

Are you a genius? March 25, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben’s mother always made it a point to say that however high your IQ was, if it wasn’t genius level, it wasn’t high enough. This wasn’t very encouraging to a child who didn’t, and still doesn’t, understand how to calculate if a cyclist is going along a train track at X mph and the train is chugging along towards the cyclist at X mph, when or where will they intersect? (And please ask me if I care.) But I suppose it did give me a lifelong interest in IQ tests.

The average IQ is estimated to be between 85 and 115, typically rounded off at 100. Genius IQ is usually said to begin between 140 and 145. Einstein never took an IQ test, but his IQ is estimated between 160 and 180. The highest estimated IQ was between 250 and 300, held by William James Sidis, born in 1898, an American who graduated from grade school after 7 months and tried to enroll at Harvard at age 9. (They made him wait until he was 11.) But again, this is an estimated IQ; IQ tests didn’t come into being until long after Sidis’s death. The highest confirmed IQ, 225, is held by 31-year-old Japanese-American astrophysicist Christopher Hirata. Other well-known greats include chess master Garry Kasparov (190), Leonardo da Vinci (estimated 180-190), Marilyn Vos Savant (190), and Stephen Hawking (160).

Could you be a genius? The most astounding thing our friend Ben has discovered in my readings on the topic is that it’s estimated that 25% of the population fall over the 140 IQ line. Twenty-five percent!!! That makes your chances pretty good, in my opinion.

I’ve enjoyed taking online IQ tests and comparing the results to my real-life IQ test, and have found the results (at least from the company I took them from) comparable. I initially took them to see if my IQ had declined over time since being out of school, or if it had improved from all the things I’d learned since then (algebra, alas, not being one of them). Just pitting your brain against a variety of questions in a set time strikes me as a good way to make sure the machinery is still well-oiled and operating. In short, it’s fun.

One of my favorite films is a documentary about, of all things, origami, called “Between the Folds.” It shows among other things how mathematical geniuses now use origami—paper folding, as in the famous Japanese paper cranes—to work out incredibly complex theories. One of its subjects, Erik Demaine, a child prodigy and now a professor of computer science at MIT (having been made their youngest professor ever at age 20 and received a MacArthur Fellowship, aka “genius award,” at 23), was asked why he did origami. He replied simply, “Because it’s fun.”

I encourage you to try one of these tests for yourself every now and then and see how you fare, assuming you find them fun. And never fear if you fall into the 75% who don’t rate genius level. Some of the most clueless people our friend Ben has ever known have been the most brilliant, but would get a commonsense IQ score of close to zero. Given any two choices that would either benefit or harm them or their loved ones, they inevitably, and repeatedly, make the wrong choice. Nor do they ever seem to learn from their destructive and damaging experiences, they just keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome, the classic definition of insanity.

Which is not to say that they’re insane, or to cast doubt on their theoretical intelligence. But in terms of common sense, they’re just plain stupid. It’s when common sense and genius are combined that true magic happens, a happy life and the potential to benefit all the world. For ultimately, if you have no understanding of what a happy, fully human life is, how can you hope to benefit the world? And to be happy, you need to be able to enjoy and interact with the people around you and make the choices that benefit you and them, not float away and hope that somebody’s holding the end of the balloon string and taking care of all your earthly needs.

Like Erik Demaine, whatever your IQ is, try to do what’s fun for you.

Starlings: Love them or hate them? March 25, 2014

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“Listen to that wonderful birdsong!” our friend Rob announced while visiting us the other day. Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood were appalled: Rob was referring to the unmusical but deafening cacophany of the starlings that had taken up temporary residence in our tree canopy. These nuisance birds appear here in great numbers every spring, beating out all other birds at feeders and pooping all over the place. OFB suggested that Rob check out his car, which in fact was now liberally streaked with starling poop. “Yes, aren’t they just wonderful?”

Starlings are perhaps the best-known example of non-native species deliberately introduced to America by well-meaning idiots who didn’t understand what the consequences of their actions would ultimately be. (Multiflora rose and kudzu are others.)

In the case of starlings, some jackass was determined to introduce every bird mentioned in the works of Shakespeare into Central Park. In 1890, he released 60 pairs of starlings, and the rest is history: Their number is now estimated at 150 million. Ditto for the house sparrow, introduced also in New York in 1852, which has spread across the continent and displaced native sparrows and other birds.

These are deliberate introductions that have wreaked havoc with our ecology, not escapes like the Quaker parrot (aka monk parakeet) colony in Chicago or accidental introductions like the Japanese beetle and the brown marmorated stinkbug or, say, the Norway rat. Mercifully, most people now know better than to try to introduce non-agricultural species to the great outdoors, and there are regulations in place to try to prevent invasive species like the Asian carp, now in the Great Lakes, and Burmese pythons, now in the Everglades, from entering the country.

The house sparrow is a very handsome bird, to our eyes the most attractive sparrow. The starling, in its spring plumage, is spangled with a constellation of white stars on its dark feathers. The same could be said of multiflora rose with its mounds of white flowers or kudzu, which is prized in its native Japan for its nourishing and medicinal properties. It’s not their fault they’re here, it’s ours. Let’s hope we’ve finally learned our lesson. All that glitters is not gold.

The cheapest form of hope. March 24, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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“He that can have patience, can have what he will.”

—Benjamin Franklin

Our friend Ben isn’t sure that I agree with our hero and blog mentor, the great Benjamin Franklin, on this one. The ugly old guy is unlikely to get the beautiful young girl unless he’s rich and powerful and she’s shallow and greedy, however patient he is. The person who can barely add 2+2 without a calculator is unlikely to become the next Einstein, however patient he is. A techno-idiot like me is unlikely to become the next Elon Musk or Larry Page or Mark Zuckerberg, however patient I am. Patience will not make an aspiring writer into a bestselling novelist or even get them published (not even talent can do that, it’s all about platform, but I digress).

Perhaps Dr. Franklin would have hit closer to the mark by saying “The person who truly knows himself can have what he will.” I know a 90-year-old widower who wanted to go out with a bang. He bought a Camaro, started throwing his money around, doubtless stocked up on Viagra, and let it be known that he had $2 million in assets. Then he went after a much younger woman in financial distress who liked to wear vulgar clothes that showed every inch of cleavage and was, in complete opposition to him, totally uneducated. He’s been happily married and getting exactly what he wants ever since. He knew himself, much to the surprise and distress of his family, who only thought they knew who he was.

The person who truly knows him- or herself has something the rest of us lack, which is focus, as well as patience. The person who lusts after a scientific breakthrough like that 90-year-old lusted after a young, hot wife will spend a lifetime looking, and will not feel that one second has been wasted. Instead, they will feel a continuous rush of hope. Every day, when they get up, they might find the Higgs boson or the gravitational waves that followed the Big Bang and established our universe and so many others, or a cure for cancer. What a great motivation to get out of bed and get going!

Our friend Ben is not big on getting out of bed, especially in the ongoing cold and dark. (Curse you, Daylight Saving Time.) But one thing helps, and that’s lottery tickets. Every day, I have one lottery ticket, and it could buy me and my family and friends financial freedom for the rest of our lives. I always buy the ticket for the biggest payoff of the day, and I always buy just one, which means I spend $11 a week on lottery tickets. Many of my friends ridicule me for this, since to their minds it’s a total waste of money.

But for me, it’s priceless, since what I’m buying is hope. Sure, I could spend $11 a week on soda or convenience-store hotdogs or candy or gum or some other trash. (I’m not sure if you can even buy a pack of cigarettes for $11.) I could spend it going to a movie if I didn’t buy anything additional from the concession stand. I could spend it on a drink at a restaurant. And then it would be gone.

To my mind, waking up each day with the possibility of financial freedom before me, for just $11 a week, is the cheapest form of hope. As Ben Franklin says, I’m happy to be patient, for each day offers the same promise as the last. It’s hope I’m paying for, not a financial windfall. It would of course be fantastic to win. If I won enough to support myself and Silence Dogood and those we love, that would be a dream come true. To win more than that and be able to support or found causes we believe in would be a lifetime goal achieved. But even if we never win more than $2 or $5 or $11, it’s still a great reason to get up in the morning, because every morning brings a new opportunity for all the world to open.

Signs of spring. March 23, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, gardening, homesteading.
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Finally! Spring is here, though it’s hard to believe here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home our friend Ben and Silence Dogood share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA. We still have patches of snow on the ground. Ugh!

However, spring is making its presence felt. Snow geese and Canada geese are migrating overhead, filling the air with their distinctive calls. Our trees are full of squawking starlings (alas). We’ve yet to see the first robin, but it can’t be long now.

And, an annual delight, the first of our spring bulbs—the winter aconites and snowdrops—are in bloom. Winter aconites have small, starry, glossy buttercup-yellow blooms born on glossy green feathery foliage just a few inches tall. They’re bulbs in the genus Eranthis, not to be confused with the perennial aconites (genus Aconitum) with tall spires of purple flowers that look like upside-down foxgloves, giving them the name monkshood. These perennials are deadly poisonous, also giving them the name wolfsbane and many another referring to their poisonous attributes. But they’re still great perennials for the late-summer garden; just don’t feed them to your wolves!

Anyway, getting back to the cheerful little winter aconites, they couldn’t look less like the perennials and aren’t even related to them. How they acquired the same name is one of those botanical mysteries our friend Ben will have to look into. But I’d recommend them to anyone; the joyful clumps of yellow flowers slowly grow bigger every year, and seeds will give you new clumps nearby.

Best of all, they bloom at exactly the same time as snowdrops (Galanthus spp.), another small bulb with strappy leaves and downturned white flowers. These bulbs also spread, and grown with winter aconites, they create an Easter patchwork of yellow and white, cheering winter-worn eyes before the grass turns green or even the hellebores bloom.

They also require absolutely zero maintenance from you after you plant them. We started with a shovelful of snowdrops from a colleague that just happened to include a couple of winter aconite bulbs. We planted them in our shrub border, and over the years they’ve grown into the cheerful display that reminds us that spring really has arrived and many more glorious blooms are yet to come.

Streamlining Crock-Pot mac’n’cheese. March 21, 2014

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Silence Dogood here. My Crock-Pot (aka slow cooker) mac’n’cheese is simply the best. Based on a recipe from my friend Delilah, it’s incredibly rich, succulent and creamy, but the top is golden and crispy. Unfortunately, it’s also a mess.

First, you cook pasta until al dente in a big, heavy pot. That’s one pot to wash. You melt butter. Two containers. You beat eggs. Three containers to wash. Finally, you add all this, along with evaporated milk and tons of shredded cheese, to your Crock-Pot and stir to combine. I don’t know about yours, but my Crock-Pot is pretty narrow with high sides, so vigorous stirring to make sure it all gets mixed well usually results in some of the contents flying out of the Crock-Pot and onto its rim, sides, the counter, and/or me and the floor. Yuck!

We don’t have a dishwasher here at Hawk’s Haven, which means that all of these containers have to be hand-washed by me or our friend Ben. There just had to be a better way, and it finally occurred to me while making the iconic mac’n’cheese to take to some friends for supper last night. Why not mix everything up in the wide, heavy Dutch oven I used to cook the pasta, then just pour it into the Crock-Pot’s ceramic cooking container? D’oh! It worked like a charm, no fuss, no muss, and just two dishes to clean: the Dutch oven and the Crock-Pot insert.

By the way, our friends chose to serve the mac’n’cheese as the main dish with a side of broccoli and a hearty salad. Good choice! But if you’d rather offset the richness of the mac’n’cheese with something more substantial, we recommend a smaller portion served with Bush’s Grillin’ Beans (we like the bourbon variety) and homemade coleslaw.

We make our basic slaw with shredded green cabbage, shredded red cabbage, shredded carrots, pepitas (roasted, salted pumpkinseeds, for crunch), cumin seeds, cracked fennel seeds, crumbled blue or Gorgonzola cheese, and blue cheese or Dijon mustard ranch dressing (just enough to moisten the slaw, not drench it). You could add any number of other ingredients, such as golden raisins and/or diced dried apricots, if you’d like a sweeter slaw. And I hope it goes without saying, salt (we like RealSalt) and fresh-cracked pepper to taste.

Getting back to the stripped-down mac’n’cheese recipe, here you go:

Crock-Pot Mac’n’Cheese

1-pound (16-ounce) box of pasta, such as elbow macaroni or penne

2 cans unsweetened evaporated milk

2 large eggs

1/3 to 1/2 stick butter

2 packages shredded sharp or extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese (4 cups)

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta in a heavy pot until al dente; drain, but leave in pot. Return to heat, add butter, stirring until melted. Add evaporated milk and 3 cups of Cheddar, reserving the rest. Crack two eggs into the pot. Stir very well to blend all ingredients. Add ample salt and pepper, according to your taste. (You can substitute one of our favorite flavored salts, Trocomare, available from health food stores and larger supermarkets, for salt if you wish).

Pour the pasta into the Crock-Pot/slow cooker container. Smooth it out and top with the remaining cup of Cheddar, the Parmesan, and a generous sprinkling of Paprika. Cover the insert and turn the Crock-Pot on low. Cook on low for 4 hours, until the mac’n’cheese is set and the top is bubbly. Yum!!!! Enjoy.

‘Til next time,


Help your laptop keep its cool. March 19, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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If you use a laptop, you’re probably well aware of how hot it gets sitting on a desk or table. The dreaded sound of the fan switching on always makes our friend Ben think an implosion is imminent. But fortunately, there’s a cheap, simple way to keep your laptop cool.

Silence Dogood’s friend Delilah, who’s an absolute genius at improvising, clued her in to this easy trick: Just go to a cookware store and buy a cooling rack. Silence explained that cookware racks are wire racks with feet that raise them up about an inch so air can circulate underneath. They’re used to cool pies, cookies, and the like, because that air flowing beneath as well as around and over the baked goods helps them cool down much more quickly than setting a pan or tray of cookies on the kitchen counter. Delilah found that it worked perfectly to keep her laptop cool, too.

So did we. Now I almost never hear the laptop’s fan activating, and if I touch the front of its top surface, even after a long day of abuse—I mean, use—it’s cool to just warm, as opposed to hot. Problem solved!

Silence and I have been using our cooling racks for years, so I can’t tell you where we got them or what they cost, but I’ll bet they were less than $10 and you can certainly find them on Amazon, and possibly even at your local supermarket. And what a difference it makes! Try it, laptop users, you will definitely like it. Thank you, Delilah, for another great idea.


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