February 23rd, 2021



Today is sunny and much milder, in the mid-50s.  Most of the snow has melted, leaving the ground squeeshy.

I fed the birds.  Earlier I heard a woodpecker and managed to make visual contact, which is rare -- usually they hide behind branches.  I also saw a squirrel.  After I put the food out, some sparrows came to the hopper feeder. 

EDIT 2/23/21: I replaced the dog dish under the basement drain pipe with one that looks more like a rock.  It took a bit of extra digging to get it placed well, but I think it works.

Poetry Fishbowl on Tuesday, March 2

This is an advance announcement for the Tuesday, March 2, 2021 Poetry Fishbowl. This time the theme will be "Alternate History," which actually has two aspects: history that went differently for natural reasons, and history altered by time travel or other external means. I'll be soliciting ideas for historians, famous figures, obscure people who made a big difference, adventurers, diplomats, traders, inventors, families, nomads, loners, hermits, superheroes, supervillains, social engineers, alternate artists as warmongers, college selection personnel have more historic influence than anyone realizes, urban planners, failure analysts, ethicists, activists, rebels, wild young things, other people who make history, building or using a time machine, making a historic discovery, arguing over what history was really like, changing things, missing an opportunity, spotting an opportunity, picking fights, making friends, solving disputes, troubleshooting, improvising, adapting, social engineering, cooperating, bartering, speaking, listening, taking over in an emergency, discovering yourself, studying others, testing boundaries, creating connections, coming of age, learning what you can (and can't) do, sharing, fixing what's broke, upsetting the status quo, changing the world, accomplishing the impossible, recovering from setbacks, returning home, time travel nexus points, Jerusalem, Londinium/London, Cahokia Mounds, lost cities, traditional ethnic structures, alternative building styles, multigenerational homes, apartments and complexes, intentional communities, cohousing, caravans, nonhuman accommodations and adaptations, wilderness, rural areas, supervillain lairs, other places where people live, alternate history main topics, alternate history sitemap, types of timeline, the butterfly effect, linchpins and ripple points, points of divergence list, alternate agriculture, metaphors about time, metaphors of time travel such as time is a stream, fixed points in time (which either can't be altered like a volcanic eruption or shouldn't be altered because it's too dangerous), ethics of time travel, negotiation, mediation, cooperation, enemies to friends, enemies to lovers, truces in improbable contexts, unexpected bonds, symbiosis, innovation, problems that can't be solved by hitting, teamwork, found family, complementary strengths and weaknesses, independence, interdependence, values conflict, solitude, personal growth, and poetic forms in particular.

Among my more relevant series for the main theme:

Artists as Warmongers is a new idea I want to explore, positing how our world's famous artists might be some other world's infamous tyrants.

Beneath the Family Tree is a community of three different hominid species in prehistoric Europe.

Clay of Life is historic Jewish fantasy.

Los Conquistados features mishaps in Spain's attempt to conquer the Americas.

Fiorenza the Wisewoman is historic Italian fantasy.

Frankenstein's Family includes humans, werewolves, vampires, a mummy, and two doctors in historic gothic fluff Romania.

Hart's Farm is a free-love community in historic fantasy Sweden.

Lacquerware is Edopunk about the development of alternate computer technology in historic Japan.

Polychrome Heroics has ordinary humans, supernaries, blue-plate specials, superheroes, supervillains, primal and animals soups trying to live as best they can.  This includes many divergences from the timeline of local-Earth.

The Steamsmith is historic British steampunk.  The Arc of Joan uses the same setting but an earlier time, in which Joan supports the English instead of the French.

The Time Towers posits that there is no such thing as a fixed point in time, because time works like a Jenga tower: some blocks are loose and easy to move, while others may require many moves to alter the pressure dynamics enough to move the one you really want to move.

Or you can ask for something new.

I have a linkback poem, "Of Gold and Standards" (9 verses, standalone).

If you're interested, mark the date on your calendar, and please hold actual prompts until the "Poetry Fishbowl Open" post next week.  (If you're not available that day, or you live in a time zone that makes it hard to reach me, you can leave advance prompts.  I am now.)  Meanwhile, if you want to help with promotion, please feel free to link back here or repost this on your blog.

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moment of silence, candle

Moment of Silence: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Poet and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti has passed away. He was known for his collection A Coney Island of the Mind. He also launched City Lights, first as a bookstore and later as a press, to promote the kind of literature that upsets applecarts.  I have reviewed a number of books out of there.  

So if you want to remember him, go write something radical, or if you don't write, recommend or buy some instead.

Sinking Fertility

Reasons likely include less marriage, economic pressures, and women lowering their reproductive goals due to suboptimal circumstances. People take what they can get, not what they want or need.

The replacement rate tends to be slightly above 2 children per woman, but many developed nations have a rate below that, and some far below it. While it is great for the planet to have fewer humans, it's not great for humans. Look at any area where most of the kids move away from home, consider the problems it causes from loneliness to shortage of abled workers, and multiply that by a nation. :/

For all the bitching about unplanned pregnancies and people who can't keep their pants zipped, that stuff turns out to be necessary. When people have the ability to think ahead about the pros and cons of reproducing, and the power to choose whether or not to do so, that cuts the rate by a lot -- and the pattern across developed nations indicates that it usually falls below replacement level.

Today's Cooking

Today I made grilled chicken and topped it with the leftover soy-molasses sauce, which was better when not burned, though still not spectacular.

I also made a batch of Sour Cream Cornbread from Recipes: American Cooking - The Eastern Heartland.  (This version is fairly similar.)  Unlike most sour cream cornbread recipes I've seen before, which only used a small amount, this one called for 1 cup, making it the dominant wet ingredient.  So that was a bit challenging to mix compared to milk-based ones, more like dough than batter, but I got it in the pan. 

It turned out fantastic, but it's very different than previous cornbreads I have had.  There are two common types:

* Dry cornbread is crumbly, and savory not sweet.  It is ideal for crumbling over chili, making stuffing, or serving with wet dishes where sweet cornbread would clash.  It's usually too dry to eat by itself, but good when slathered with things like butter, apple butter, or barbecue sauce.

* Sweet cornbread is moist and holds its shape together, almost cakelike.  It's great for eating alone and doesn't require a spread.  It makes a good side for foods that are a little sweet or tangy.  However, it's not good for crumbling over chili and can be too sweet with a spread that is very sweet.

This one came out somewhere in between.  It's a little tangy, but you can't taste the sour cream much.  It's slightly moist with a faint sweet note.  Not too dry to eat by itself,  not so sweet that it clashes with other things.  Just a really nice batch of cornbread that's more versatile because you can do pretty much anything with it.  If you only want to do one thing, bake a batch suited to that purpose; but if you want to do different things, this recipe gives you much more range.

We also like the fact that it's a small recipe for an 8x8" pan, not the big 9x13" size.  This is a good fit for two people.

I also noticed that the sour cream was pretty different than what I'm used to: much thicker and tangy rather than tasting almost spoiled.  It was kind of like a cross between cream cheese and yogurt, and I liked it a lot better than the gloppy, extremely sour kind I've had in the past.
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Alternate Artists as Warmongers

Previously I got onto a train of thought about how Adolf Hitler was almost an artist, but after rejection from art school, became a genocidal maniac instead, so logically some of our artists are probably warmongers elsewhere.

What if every eccentric artist is a walking linchpin?  What if they hold equal capacity for great art or great devastation?  What if there's a hidden group of people causing atrocities, but they don't know it, because they're college admission staff blindly toggling between Artist/Warmonger?

This seems like something that would be interesting to explore for the Alternate History theme.