From the Editor

Thankful

 

 

In Maine, I am a Facebook “fan” and I follow the police department, from the town I live in. We have had some interaction with the police here, who have always been kind, courteous and helpful; most specifically when Kate fell from that evil tree, which is now a table and stools, thanks to Derek, the Tree Guy.

For some reason, the children in our town trick-or-treat the day before, not the day of Halloween. There is a parade downtown, where they get to show off their costumes, before they begin to knock on doors, of houses lit to welcome them; they offer the proper “trick-or-treat” greeting, and then say thank you.

This year, Kate dressed like Winnie the Pooh, her favorite fictional character, to pass out candy. Everyone she greeted got such a kick out of her joyful costume; who does not love Pooh?

It was nice to see so many cheery people, parents standing at the end of the driveway or sitting in their cars, which is the way my Mother used to take us trick-or-treating; and close behind, we would see the police patrolling the streets.

Truly, it was one of those Mayberry RFD moments; okay how many of you have I lost with that cultural reference? Mayberry is a fictional small town, in the south, from the world of television, in the 1960’s.

There is also a parade at Christmas, the ball fields in town are full of parents and children, on the weekends, and while we are in a bit of a forested world up here, people generally keep those lawns mowed. This is a town trying to hold on to the American ideal, of what life should be; and whether or not they are succeeding; there is something comforting about the attempt.

What we all know, according to the ideal, is that Halloween is our segue into Thanksgiving; that very (North) American time of year, when we set aside at least one day, of the year, to be thankful.

In theory, we gather around the table, with our family and friends, and share a meal consisting of turkey, many delicious carbs, at least one odd vegetable dish, salads that do not get eaten, and pie.

At many tables, though not all, there is a time set aside where grace is said, and people take turns voicing their gratitude. The givens of Thanksgiving is that we are grateful for the bounty sitting on the table and the people we are sharing the meal with; while thinking about those loved ones miles away, with whom we cannot break bread.

The day is modeled on the pilgrims and Native Americans interaction to celebrate the bounty of their harvest, friendship, and survival; all things worth being thankful for.

I wonder, can we properly celebrate Thanksgiving, if we are not living up to the ideal of being grateful?

Are we still a thankful people? If it was your turn next, at that Thanksgiving table, what would you say? Would it be difficult for you to rattle off a list of things or people for which you are grateful or would you struggle to think what to say?

I am completely aware of the heartache and sorrow impacting our world today. I would like to think there have never before been such dark days, but my trusty Wikipedia says that the Spanish flu pandemic, of 1918-1920, killed between 50-100 million people; exact figures are unknown. It also says that the outbreak of the Plague, from 1347-1351 killed between 75-200 million people. At least with all of the acts of God and man upon us, we are not looking at causalities in that range; for which I am thankful.

In fact, I am thankful for a great deal, as the season of gratitude is upon us; mostly I am thankful for the people in my life, and the opportunity to interact with each and every one of you this year.

Yes, we have had our share of losses and heartaches, and grieve with a world in such disarray; but nevertheless, I am thankful and I hope you too find occasion, as you sit down to share a meal, to reflect on what you have to be grateful for, and by all means, let us collectively say a prayer for our world in need. We wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving; That Is All for Now.

Food

Sharing with Patty
And all Connoisseurs
Of Great Food

 

I love food and cooking and entertaining and sharing my love of food, cooking and entertaining. I have often said that I relate everything to food; and time and again it proves to be true. There is little which matches the joy of preparing a meal for those we love, except  sitting down to share it with them.

For many years now, I have shared my love of cooking  with Patty. Though her life is incredibly busy and demanding, she will periodically send me a picture of her creations, which truly brings me delight.

On my travels, I love going to markets and grocery stores and trying things which are new to me and unavailable at home. When I find something that I like, Patty is one of the people I try to share it with; like my recent find of garlic chips – she is also the only one who seems to have enjoyed them as much as I do.

I have wanted to share the wonder of Badia Ground Bay Leaves with her for a bit, as I was cooking lunch, I thought I will make this a column, because you too may be wondering about such things!

This column will be updated on occasion, with products which I think you might enjoy. As with everything else on these pages, there are no monetary incentives attached to the information I am sharing; these are just products I like and think you may as well.

If there is something which you enjoy in your kitchen, by all means let me know; I will try the product and pass on the information to Patty and all Connoisseurs of Great Food!

I thought I would begin this column with a gift from Nancy!  Williams-Sonoma’s Chocolate Croissants, pictured above, were sent to us from our Dear Friend Nancy, who has exquisite taste in everything.  I of course love croissants, and chocolate croissants are a true decadent indulgence.

I have never attempted to make a croissant; something about all of the folding and counting scares me, but they are delicious and it is hard to find croissants that live up to the expectations, these will not disappoint.  The directions to bake them at home, on demand, are easy and deliver the kind of results you expect.

Yes, they are expensive, but there are moments when we all splurge, thank you again Nancy!

https://www.williams-sonoma.com/shop/food/croissants-bread-pastries/?cm_src=OLDLINK&Kenshoo=c5799de9-1ae8-4412-96c6-da2cc9ecc80b&cm_cat=MSN&cm_ite=william%20sonoma%20chocolate%20croissants&cm_ven=BrandSearch&msclkid=2c2a9cc0a4df1c24b0adc17552ecafa2&cm_pla=Brand_Search_Generic_Exact

Garlic Chips

As I have previously shared with you, it was the woman at the Welcome Center, in Gilroy, California, which first told us about these garlic chips.  She said that one of the women who worked there, used them as croutons; they do work wonderfully well in salads.  But I have enjoyed them as a snack, almost as if I were eating nuts.  They are delicious; again, a little expensive, but not something for everyday use, like the affordable ground bay leaves!

https://store.casadefruta.com/garlic-chips-4-oz-p1118.aspx

Ground Bay Leaves

I love bay leaves! I especially like using fresh bay leaves, off of my tree; but the intensity of this product is outstanding! I found these on my own, looking through a spice rack in South Florida, they were only ninety-nine cents; I could not more highly recommend them. They have become a staple on the tray which sits on the counter, near the stove top. Where whole leaves need to be used in sauces or roast, allowing them time to release their aroma, the ground counterpart acts the same way as salt or pepper, instantly imparting their flavor to the food.

https://badiaspices.com/product/bay-leaves-ground-121-75-oz/

Poet’s Corner

Fleeting

 

Why do I find this tree more beautiful now
Than when it bloomed in the spring
And was then covered by leaves
Bursting with life
In the summer sun

Is it simply because I know
That the rain drenched berries
will soon surrender to the night’s frost
And be forever gone
As the tree falls prey to winters grasp

But why do we appreciate what is fleeting
More than what is permanent
It does not seem right
That we value what we cannot have
But disregard what is every present

The world is littered with spent leaves
From trees that once flowered and bore fruit
Before flashing a brightly colored palette
And tumbling to the ground in surrender
Leaving their naked branches behind

~ Cristina Jill Mosqueda ~

Connected

Our Smart Phones are Listening

 

Tech-016-300x225

 

Lately, I have noticed that I am receiving adds for items, that I have spoken about but have not searched for on the Internet. At first, I thought it was just a coincidence, but it has happened too many times for us to ignore. It has led me to wonder; are our smart phones listening to us?

When smart televisions were introduced to the market in 2008, they came with speech recognition so they could comply with human commands, such as increase volume without touching a remote. However, the privacy policy of smart televisions actually came with a warning stating that all spoken words would be captured and transmitted to a third party, so that your voice commands could be converted to text. Additionally, all data that is collected would be used for research to assist with additional improvements in their products.

However, in 2017, Vizio would pay over two million dollars to the FTC to settle a complaint that Vizio collected data through a built-in spy device using image recognition technology. Vizio televisions would capture data once every second from a segment of the screen. The data would then be compared against a database that contained other media content such as films, television shows and advertisement to ascertain what was being watched and correlated with the IP address. The IP address would also then know the demographic of the household, which was then used to sell to businesses that needed to understand their audience.

We have also invited Alexa, Google Home and Siri into our homes and we have found out that they too are listening, not just to our commands but to our conversations. While the companies have stated that they use humans to help improve their artificial intelligence, it remains troubling that the consumer is not able to choose which conversations are reviewed. And how do you protect from the rogue insider who has access to very sensitive information?

While it may seem that I have gone off tract from the topic, regarding is our smart phone actually listening to our conversations, the truth is, that they are using the very same technology that manufacture our digital products today, of course they are listening to our conversations.

In fact, the latest software update for iPhone resumes the use of humans to review Siri commands. In August, Apple had stopped and apologized for using people and not just machines to review audio files. Wow, a two month break.

Jill has been saying for a while that her new smart phone is listening to her. While I would play with the settings, targeted ads continued to show, not only on the phone, but also her computer.

How to we reverse the trend to our privacy and digital devices?

First, we need to take steps to turn off permissions to applications that have access to our microphone. This is not an easy task because I found when denying the microphone permission to the app, it would prevent the entire app from working. I then decided, how much do I use this app, and is it worth it to have the microphone on. I was able to only grant the microphone permission to two applications on Jill’s phone, yes I started with Jill’s phone.

If you have a phone that uses Android, go to Settings and then Apps. In the upper right hand corner you will see three vertical dots, touch the vertical dots and a menu appears. App Permissions is listed in the menu. Touch App Permissions, and go to Microphone. You should then see a list of applications that have access to your microphone.

Apple iPhone is similar in that you need to go Settings, but then go to Privacy. In the Privacy menu, you will see Microphone. Touch Microphone, and you will see the applications that have access.

Second, each manufacture of smart televisions will be different but basically you will look for Settings in the Menu and then System. Within the System Menu you will either find: Expert Settings or Smart Features and then find Voice.

We need to be the ones deciding the price we are willing to pay for privacy verses convince. The only way to stay safely Connected is to be in control of your devices, not the other way around.

 

Film’s Recommended by Marcial


 
 
This is a trading world and men, women and children, who cannot live on gravity alone, need something to satisfy their gayer, lighter moods and hours, and he who ministers to this want is in a business established by the Author of our nature.  If he worthily fulfills his mission and amuses without corrupting, he need not feel that he has lived in vain.
 
~ Phineas T. Barnum ~
 
Casablanca, US, 1942, 102 minutes, drama/romance
 
How to Steal a Million, US, 1966, 127 minutes, classic comedy
 
Beginners, US, 2010, 105 minutes, comedy/drama
 
The Debt, US, 2010, 114 minutes, espionage thriller
 
Larry Crowne, US, 2011, 99 minutes, romantic comedy
 
Ed Wood, US, 1994, 127 minutes, comedy
 
Keeping Mum, UK, 2005, 136 minutes, black comedy

The Mouse That Roared, UK, 1959, 83 minutes, comedy

The Party, UK, 1968, 99 minutes, classic comedy

Fair Game, US, 2010, 108 minutes, political thriller

The Right Stuff, US, 192 minutes, Drama

The Black Balloon US, 97 minutes, Drama

The Tree of Life, US, 2011, 139 minutes, Drama

Shopgirl, US, 2005, 106 minutes, Romantic Comedy

12 Strong, US, 2018, 130 minutes, Military Drama

In Therapy, Brazil, 2009, 93 minutes, Comedy

Soul Kitchen, Germany, 2009, 99 minutes, Comedy

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, US, 1961, 114 minutes, Comedy

Queen to Play, France, 2009, 101 minutes, Drama

Castaway on the Moon, Korea, 2009, 116 minutes, Comedy

Eat Drink Man Woman, Taipei, 1994, 124 minutes, Comedy

Bride Flight, Netherlands, 2011, 130 minutes, Drama

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sweden, 2009, 152 minutes, Thriller

Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi, Israel, 2003, 94 minutes, Comedy

Ladies in Lavender, UK, 2004, 103 minutes, Drama

Paper Moon, US, 1973, 102 minutes, Classic

Outsourced, US, 2006, 103 minutes, Comedy

Stranger than Fiction, US, 2006, 113 minutes, Comedy

Run Lola Run, Germany, 1998, 80 minutes, Thriller

Frida, US, 2002, 122 minutes, Drama

The Hours, US, 2002, 114 minutes, Drama

Garden State, US, 2004, 103 minutes, Comedy

American Beauty, US, 1999, 122 minutes, Drama

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, US, 2004, 108 minutes, Comedy

The Green Mile, US, 1999, 189 minutes, Drama

Rain Man, US, 1988, 103 minutes, Drama

Chicago, US, 2002, 113 minutes, Musical

The Upside of Anger, US, 2005, 118 minutes, Comedy

Scarface, US, 1983, 170 minutes, Thriller

The Notebook, US, 2004, 123 minutes, Drama

Million Dollar Baby, US, 2004, 133 minutes, Sports drama

Good Bye, Lenin!, Germany, 2003, 121 minutes, Comedy

Finding Neverland, UK, 2004, 101 minutes, Drama

Spanglish, US, 2004, 131 minutes, Comedy

The Aviator, US, 2004, 170 minutes, Drama

The Bridge on the River Kwai, US, 1957, 167 minutes, Action

Pulp Fiction, US, 1994, 154 minutes, Thriller

The Magnificent Seven, US, 1960, 128 minutes, Western

Zorba the Greek, Greek, 1964, 142 minutes, Classic

O Brother, Where Art Thou?, US, 2000, 106 minutes, Comedy

La Strada, Italy, 1954, 108, Drama

In Bruges, UK, 2008, 107 minutes, Thriller-Comedy

Whatever Works, US, 2009, 92 minutes, Comedy

Good Morning Vietnam, US, 1987, 119 minutes, Comedy

Awakenings, US, 1990, 120 minutes, Drama

Patch Adams, US, 1998, 116 minutes, Comedy

Captain Abu Raed, Jordan, 2008, 102 minutes, Drama

Bandits, US, 2001, 123 minutes, Comedy

Lucky Number Slevin, US, 2006, 110 minutes, Thriller

The Chorus, France, 2004, 97 minutes, Drama

Butterfly, Spain, 1999, 97 minutes, Drama

K-Pax, US, 2001, 121 minutes, Science Fiction

Winter in Wartime, Netherlands, 2008, 103, Drama, Suspenseful

Elling, Norway, 2001, 90 minutes, Comedy

Il Postino, Italy, 1995, 108 minutes, Drama

 


Public Square

Public Square

The Unites States Navy Memorial     “Any man who may be asked . . . what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.” ~ President John F. Kennedy ~   As we stop to...

Nature

Nature

The Great Salt Lake   The road should be immune from the clock, but...

~ Aristophanes~

High thoughts must have high language.

My Mother’s Favorite Verse

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”~ Jeremiah 33: 3 ~

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