Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Missionaries and the Book of Mormon

I went to Book of Mormon expecting to have a good time and more vindication for my dislike of missionaries. I was really surprised to get a serious plot addressing a lot of major real issues.  Female genital mutilation and the belief that sex with virgins will cure HIV/AIDS (and destructive consequences resulting therefrom) are major plot points.  There is a musical with FGM as a major plot point. I have the astonishment.  I also felt far more empathy with the missionary Mormon elders than I expected.  The group of them sent to Uganda sing that when they have feelings they shouldn't feel, they simply turn those feelings off.  Then they take turns singing about the various abuses they have suffered or about being gay and conclude "turn it off."  Even when they all put on sparkly vests and tap dance at the end of the song, it's never quite just fun because I feel so bad for them. Later, it develops that the elders are largely motivated by avoiding horrifying hell dreams (though the hell dreams contain more tap dancing.) and I can't even be really irritated at the obvious obliviousness as all the U.S. missionaries sing "We are Africa."

The musical does hit on several of my major gripes with missionaries, the complete lack of any meaningful training and accountability, the continuing to go where many missionaries have gone before, promising a better place, and then just leaving to their world more full of luxury and infrastructure.  Also, and related to lack of training and accountability, missionaries can, and do, tell people anything whatsoever and for some reason are often accepted as authorities.  My friend the VA nurse, with whom I was attending Book of Mormon, told me that at one point she was stationed in Honduras and there were a large number of women feeding their babies sugar water in bottles because some missionaries had told them breastfeeding was bad.  So while the musical's solutions to problems like FGM and raping virgiins to cure HIV/AIDS is to use missionaries to just tell people that god says these things shouldn't happen, that doesn't lead to so happy an ending as it could, because, well, this is set in Uganda.  In Uganda, missionaries get people killed for being gay.  Just having some not evil missionaries around is not enough.

As a musical it hangs together very well.  There's a lot of show stopping numbers and funny moments, interspersed with the sad realities of life.   My favorite thing, however, may be that that the Latter Day Saints actually advertise in the playbill.  Multiple times.  They are actually contributing lots of money to this musical. Fabulous.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Triple Orange Spice Cookies with Buxtehude And Gloomy Ruminations In the Cold Dark End of Winter

Put on Buxtehude's ciaccona en mi (BuxWV160) and grate enough orange peel for about 2 tablespoons (2-3 oranges).  Squeeze said oranges for 1/4 cup of juice.  Sigh longingly in remembrance of the heat of the summer sun.

Start Buxtehude's passacaglia en re (BuxWV161) and cream 3/4 cup of shortening and 1 cup brown sugar.  Move on to sonata III en sol (BuxWV261) and mix in 1 egg, 2 teaspoons baking power, 1/4 teaspoon salt, orange peel, orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon orange extract, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon cardamom.  Blend in 2 and 1/8 cup white flour.  Meditate on how Europeans and Americans (non-native) destroyed the peoples of more than half the world in making these spices cheap and readily available and let the chill seep into your soul and your dough (alternatively, use a refrigerator).  Chill dough thoroughly (but do not freeze solid unless you are storing it for later). 
The wealth of the orient.

Start oven heating to 375 F.  Start this playlist of Buxtehude at 3:45, because baroque canons rock.

Roll dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter, dip one side in white sugar, and place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 8 minutes or until just barely browning on bottom.  Angst that you will cook the cookies either too much or too little, hovering anxiously before the oven and wringing your hands inside their oven mitts.  Cookies should still be very soft (although not gooey) when taken out of oven.  Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before removing from baking sheet.   
Eat, reveling in samsara.  For better karma, share.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Mad Person-Who-Stitches: Cat Basket Hood

The cats inherited two heated cat baskets in the fall.  One came with a hood, one did not:


The hooded basket appears to be superior: Tamerlane kept looking enviously at Scaramouche's basket, and would occasionally try to sit in his brother's basket.  Scaramouche would then whap his little brother about the head until Tamerlane gave up and left.  So I made a hood for Tamerlane's basket:

This is a quick hack job.  I sewed together scraps of fleece left from another project, folded the fleece around two layers of flexible foam furniture padding, inserted a piece of coathanger wire for the arched side and whipped on a zipper for the basket edge side.  In the above photo you can see where I still need to add a couple of snaps to the hood, as the zipper wasn't quite long enough.  My sewing machine had no problem stitching through fleece plus foam (I did use the longest straight stitch and a 100/16 needle). Since fleece ravels negligibly, I did zero finishing on the edges.
the patched-together inside surface

the outside

The hardest part was cutting the coat hanger.  My little crafting wire snips were not really up to a coat hanger.  The coat hanger was brittle, though, so once I started a cut I just bent the wire back and forth until it snapped at the weakened point.  A heavy-duty wire cutter would be nice.

There wasn't enough fleece to completely cover the plastic: you can see the plastic lining on the back side.  It's not a pretty job.  But Tamerlane seems okay with it, so I'm calling it good enough. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

"I Am A Hero, and I Am A Librarian!": Baldur's Gate Finch NPC Remarks and Hints

Finch Bloomwhiffler  is a neutral good gnome cleric of Deneir for Baldur's Gate 1:
She wears glasses!  (Yes!!!  I am so tired of the "take off your glasses to be a true hero" trope!  Glasses rock!  Also good for identifying items.)   Finch also carries a bookbag for scrolls and tomes, and, while she has never had an adventure outside of a book before you meet, will conduct herself admirably in your roving up and down the Sword Coast.

If you love Imoen, Aerie, or Alora, I highly recommend Finch.  Her spell set is comparable to Aerie's cleric spells, and her fighting skills are not shabby for a cleric, although not suitable for charging into the center of a battle.  Her dialog is well voiced, she has interactions with other NPCs, and she has one quest for any book-loving player.    

She is a hero, and she is a librarian!  Find her mod here.


I needed a hint for the last part of Finch's quest, and found it remarkably difficult to dig up any on the internet.  So I'm writing mine here for future players.  Spoilers below:

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Caturday Post: Hereby Resolved

For edification and moral elevation (their own), the cats have resolved upon the following for the new year:

1. kill a squirrel (Tamerlane)
2. kill a bird (Tamerlane)
3. sit upon all of the things (all of them) (Scaramouche)
4. eat more green things (Scaramouche)
5. throw up more (and in more inconvenient places) (Scaramouche)
6. sit in big brother's cat basket (Tamerlane)
7. hit little brother whenever he sits in my cat basket (Scaramouche)
8. win against big brother (Tamerlane)
9. not come when called (Scaramouche)