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The Curse Of Not Enough Pies

It’s the day after Thanksgiving. That means pie for breakfast. It’s just not enjoying it as much as I have in the past.

We broke the rules this year.

The one cardinal rule for our Thanksgiving meals is

More pies than people

This year we planned on nine pies. Unfortunately we planned on about 21 people. And the rules of Thanksgiving are not to be broken lightly.

First to cancel was my daughter. Her kids’ cousins were sick and then her baby got sick and then her mother-in-law had an issue. Scratch 7 people.

But, it wasn’t enough, We still had 14 people and nine pies.

Next to cancel was another daughter. Her kids were also sick.

Scratch three more.

Down to 11 people. Still too many. Not enough pie.

Another daughter’s husband is out of town. She’s pregnant and has a 1 year old. . .it’s just too much.

And that put us down to eight. . .and nine pies.

And that’s how we ended up with just the eight of us for Thanksgiving dinner. My kids and grandkids will recover. The real lesson?

Next year, more pie.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Book Review: The Hubris Of An Empty Hand

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was approached about reviewing The Hubris Of An Empty Hand with an email. Writers write. I decided to write.

On first glance this book seems like a collection of short stories. And it is. There are 8 distinct stories, starting with “Tell Me More” and finishing up with “What Happened To The Spenta Story.”

But, that’s where the similarity to a collection of short stories stops. Because it’s not just a collection of short stories. It’s a collection of stories set in the same “universe,” filled with common people.

It was challenging at first and even after reading sometimes to keep straight people and their relationships and especially their timeframe, since the stories jump backward and forward in time.

The story starts off as a contemporary story set in San Francisco. However, the story quickly descends into madness. But, it’s a carefully mapped out madness. Author Magyar A. Amouzegar weaves a series of interconnected stories that take us from San Francisco to New Orleans to ancient Persia to the Swedish Prison that exists outside of time.

Amouzegar gives us an eclectic cast of characters. We have mortals and gods. And Death turns out to be a pretty interesting guy when you get to know him.

What I Liked

The characters were genuinely interesting. And by mixing point-of-view, we both see the inside of a character’s head and also what other people see. He plants a seed in the first story that we loop back to dozens or even hundreds of pages later. It makes for a fascinating read. And the details! Amouzegar goes into great detail on food. I almost feel I could cook some of the meals, he describes them in such detail. And I have this feeling that if I understood the history and culture of Persia, the story would mean even more.

What I Didn’t

While the story was well laid out, occasionally, I got lost. This is not a book that should be read causually. It must be read deliberately. And because Amouzegar plays the capricious narrator, dropping in and out of people’s point-of-view, the reader gets the feeling that the author has a secret and is only showing glimpses at a time to tease the reader.

What It Means To You

Definitely an engaging story. If you enjoy stories about gods playing in the lives of humans, you’ll like The Hubris Of An Empty Hand. If you have time to devote to it and if you enjoy a thoughtprovoking tale, the book is well worth the attention. And, learn the personal side of Death, his favorite drink, and who he hangs out with.

My Rating

Three out of four stars

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

The Bear And The Lady

Have you ever gotten credit, WAY too much credit, for something you didn’t really deserve?

I have a friend. My friend’s name is Bear. Seriously. That’s his name. He has ID and everything.

Anyway, Bear and I have been good friends for a long, long time. Bear is one of the nicest guys I know. But, if you were to meet Bear, you might make some initial guesses about him.

He looks a little like a bear. Big guy, given to jeans and t-shirts. He’s remodeling a house. A house that he’s also living in. It belongs to his mother. It’s a nondescript house with many things stacked in the front yard. When he gets done remodeling it, he intends to move out of the house and into a bus.

A 25 passenger bus.

In January.

It gets cold in Utah in January. I explained to Bear that I think this is a bad plan. But, Bear does what he thinks is right.

Bear is a man of many talents. . .I think most of them are legal. Bear also collects things. Not intentionally. But, have you ever noticed how leaves, for example, tend to collect in certain areas? Bear’s house is like that. I don’t mean he steals them. Nothing could be further from the truth. But, Bear just ends up with “stuff.”

Hey, Rodney, do you need a generator?

Excuse me?

I have like six portable generators. A couple need a little work.

That’s how I needed up with a portable generator.

I was visiting with Bear last week while retrieving my rototiller. . .which I originally got from him.

Do you need another car?

No.

I’ve got this 2002 Saturn that is in good shape. I’m asking $3500, but you know, friends and family rate applies. I also have a 2001 Saturn. It needs an engine mount and it needs the new tires mounted.

How much for that one?

If you buy the 2002 I’ll throw this one in for free.

Nope. Got plenty of cars.

I really want them to go to someone who needs them.

I spent a lot of time at my local auto parts store. I don’t go to bars. But, if my lovely wife ever was looking for me on a Saturday, Pleasant Grove in O’Reilly’s might not be a bad place to look.

I use an assumed name. Well, not exactly. But, my neighbor, years ago, set up a corporate account, Cooper Automotive. Occasionally it saves me a couple of bucks on an alternator. It also gives me big official looking receipts rather than just the paper tape.

I went there today.

So, what are you working on?

Just an oil change.

I collected the filter and 5 quart of 5W-30 conventional oil and made my way to the counter.

Cooper Automotive isn’t a used car lot, is it?

.

No. Just a couple of backyard mechanics. Why?

.

The bank is taking my Jeep.

.

Sorry to hear that.

.

Yeah, I need another car and I really don’t have a lot of money.

It took a little work to convince her his name really was Bear.

Bear called me a few hours later.

I talked to Jessica from O’Reilly’s.

.

I thought she might call you. Were you able to make a deal?

.

Well, she put the manager on the line. He’s going to take care of the registration and the engine mount. Guess he really wants to keep her working there.

.

It was the 2001?

.

Yeah, we settled on a price of free-ninety-nine. I wanted to thank you.

.

For what?

.

You know I don’t need the money. I really wanted it to go to someone who could really use it. I just appreciate you helping me do that.

So, Jessica got a new (used) car.

Her manager got to keep a valuable employee.

Bear got to feel good about helping someone in need.

And me? I got WAY too much undeserved credit.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

I’m Not That Good Of A Writer

Good writers can pick a topic, research it and then write about it.

Great writers can follow that pattern regardless of what else is happening in their world.

I’m not that great.

I had a whole topic laid out. It was all about the benefit/harm of stress. It was all about how stress makes life while the lack of stress, is (possibly) not as a fulfilling.

Ha ha. Jokes on me.

My mother called tonight. My older brother Charles Bliss passed away in his sleep. Charles lives alone. My mother checked up on him. It was a classic case of “Haven’t heard from him.” The police did a wellness check and discovered he’d passed in his sleep.

Stress?

You bet! This is the part that I was going to describe as really living. My sister, Jennifer Bliss passed away last September 2020. Just over a year ago.

Yes. The stress, conflict and drama are what define us as having a life.

I just didn’t want to be reminded of it today.

It’s still raw. No doubt I’ll find something clever to write about later. It’s what writers do. We write. We write when we get a new job. We write when we get fired. We write about the snow and we write about the sun. The world is our canvas and we have no end of words to describe it. We write when we are happy.

And we write when we are sad.

Rest In Peace, brother. Your pain is at an end. Hug Jennifer for me and may the loving arms of Jesus hug you both.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Beating The Supply Chain Issues For Christmas

It’s Thanksgiving week. And it’s one of my favorite holidays. But, there are no presents given at Thanksgiving. No pretty wrapping paper. And no trips to the store. . .or Amazon, to order gifts.

But, you might want to give it some thought.

Supply chain issues are going to make ordering Christmas gifts or finding them in stores more difficult this year.

I have a plan to beat them.

My garage.

Well, what’s in my garage. Piles of boards. Numerous wordworking machines.

This year, I again intend to build most Christmas presents from scratch. In the past I’ve made footlockers, names that could be hung on a wall. Shelves. Cabinets. I made toy cars. I made block letters for my grandkids. I made wooden building blocks.

So, if you intend to order online, you will want to do that soon, maybe even before Thanksgiving.

As for me, you’ll find me in the garage.

What’s your plan for Christmas presents?

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Mostly Useless

I own a tow dolly. It’s a broken tow dolly.

A tow dolly is has nothing to do with dolls. And the spelling is deliberate. Nothing to do with toes. You use a tow dolly to tow cars. My tow dolly is broken. That’s fine, I’m fixing it.

Well, not all of it. I’m working on stripping the paint. . .and the rust. I’ll then prime and repaint it. But, my tow dolly needed more than a new coat of paint. The previous owner had driven a car off the dolly without lowering the ramps. As a result it broke the steel ramps.

BROKE steel ramps.

Okay, it was a car rolling off that did it.

I cannot fix broken steel ramps. In fact, with few exceptions, I can’t fix most things made of steel. I’ve been working on stripping the old paint and rust. Last week my son-in-law stopped by. He brought his portable welder.

I didn’t even know there were portable welders.

My job was to hold the work steady why he did the important bits.

Welding is a fascinating process. . .you just can’t look at it.

When he was done, there were 1/4″ pieces of steel angle iron.

I’m pretty sure we won’t break the steel plates in the future. Now I just have to strip off the rest of the paint. . .and rust.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Pics Or It Didn’t Happen?

Okay, first, who goes to this much work to cosplay? And second, what the odds that they could get kids that looked that much like young versions of the actors.

Pretty poor, as it turns out.

The above picture is fake. Everything about it. The kids don’t exist. It never happened. But, it LOOKS real.

There was a time when pictures didn’t lie. In fact, photographs were considered so accurate that they were accepted as evidence in court. At least they were if you had the negatives.

I suppose you could fake a negative, but you’d need very sophisticated equipment. Negatives WERE the picture. They were the gold standard for security and verification.

That was before cell phones, and digital photos. Digital photos, of course, can be faked. There’s even a word for it, “Photoshopped.”

The above picture takes it a step further. It’s not just photoshopped, it’s based off a real photograph. The actors really posed like these kids. In fact, this photograph is NOT of kids. It’s a picture of the actual actors.

Here’s the original.

The internet brought us the world’s information at our fingertips. All of history lies open to us. The most obscure piece of movie or science trivia is a click away. The sum total of scientific knowledge is within our grasp. . .literally if we are using a cell phone.

But, nothing is free. Along with the real, we get the fake. With the truth we get lies. And if we don’t know truth from lies, we suffer at the expense of whomever will tell us the best, most convincing story.

In many ways we are worse off. We have to decide for ourselves if what we are seeing is true. And how do we know? How can we tell?

We can’t. The best we can do is reverse google image searches. We can investigate. But, ultimately we are left to guessing.

I remember when photographs didn’t lie.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Not Making Eight Gallons Of Grape Juice

I decided to not can grape juice this year. My aunt has about 100 feet of Concord grape vines. Each Fall she lets me know when they are ripe. In years past my kids have gone with us. This year, it was just too much. I’d just started a new job. My son was leaving on a mission. Life’s was complicated. I finally told her,

I’m sorry. We’ll just have to leave them for the deer this year.

The grapes typically last anywhere from a few days to a week after they are ripe. But, this year we’ve had a wonderful Autumn. It’s been warm with beautiful mild nights. Imagine my surprise when my aunt let me know that the grapes were still there. In fact, the leaves are gone but the grapes have been ripening up for the past few weeks.

So, we decided to go ahead and can grape juice.

We picked two of these bins full of grapes. That’s about two bushels.

The grapes go into these juicers. They each produce about a gallon from a single hopper full of grapes.

Then, they go into jars and into the canners.

The grape juice is much thicker than grape juice you’d buy in a store. In fact, my kids will no longer drink the juice you get in the store. Apparently we’ve spoiled them. All the jars are dark purple. This picture has the sun directly behind the line of jars.

Two empty bins and 27 quarts of juice.

Grape juice is nearly as strong as ink. A simple spill can leave permanent marks.

They go back in the boxes for the trip down to storeroom.

They’ll sit on the shelves in our storeroom and be brought out for parties and picnics. We’ll give them as gifts and mix them with Sprite to make our own version of sparkling grape juice.

These canners sit in my storeroom most of the year. In fact, they get used exactly one day every year. If we don’t do grape juice one year, they get used one day every two years.

I tried to think of anything else I own that is so vital and I use so infrequently.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Free Is A Lot Of Hard Work

There’s an orchard not too far from my house. It’s an apple orchard, but the apples weren’t harvested this year. The owners said we could glean what we wanted.

We picked a couple of bushels of apples. But, “free” apples don’t become applesauce. . .for free.

First step is to wash and cut up the apples.

If you are doing applesauce, you can pretty much use any apples. You have to cut them anyway, you cut out the bad parts.

We ended up with bins and bins of cut up apples.

Next you cook those apples. They cook for about 45 minutes until they are very tender. That’s a lot of cooking and a lot of pots full of apples.

On the positive side, the house smells DELICIOUS!

Next, all those cooked apples go into a strainer. You turn and turn and out comes applesauce. Big bowls full.

Cooked apples ==> Sauce ==> jars

The cooking pots are replaced on the stove with canners.

After 45 minutes you finally end up with jars of applesauce.

We ended up with 77 quarts. The shelves will fill up even more when the rest get stored.

There were a LOT of dishes to wash. Most of them were washed and used several times over the last couple of days. But, the cleanup is finally done.

Well, ALMOST all the cleanup is done.

I’m not sure I can handle much more free apples.

Tomorrow I take a quart to the orchard owner. He’s entitled to some free food as well.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Wine And Cider? Or Juice and Sauce

It’s been a long weekend. I spent a fair amount of it in orchards. There’s an ancient practice called gleaning. It’s after a harvest is done, to allow others to come through the field and take what’s left.

I didn’t exactly glean, since the orchards I was in didn’t have harvests done. But, I was able to get a couple bushels of grapes and several bushels of apples.

Grapes make wine and apples make cider. I’m not making either. (Which kind of rhymes with cider, although that wasn’t my intention.)

It’s been a lot of time spent over a stove or a steamer, or a canner. I did manage to take pictures.

We will end up with a couple of shelves full of canned jars.

But, all of that is for tomorrow.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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