Doing Rich Lady Things Like Using Uber and Seamless Are the Modern Way of Giving to the Poor

I feel guilty when I order takeout. Why? Because that’s money I could be saving for a rainy day. The frugal American we-don’t-have-servants mindset is that anything you can do for yourself, you should, and paying others to do something because you’re too lazy, is wasteful. 

When my sister’s washing machine broke, she had to send out her laundry for a while as they waited on repairs. She said, “Olive, it’s great. I may never go back. I know it’s such a Rich Lady thing to do, but….” 

I began to think: The services that we consider Rich Lady Things–Uber, Seamless, laundry service, etc.–put money in the hands of the poor. If I tip the delivery guy generously I’m putting money directly in his pocket, much more efficiently than a government entity or charity could do. 

As much as I love the church, she doesn’t take care of the poor like she’s supposed to. Mainly because the government has stepped in to do her job for her, and made her irrelevant when it comes to taking care of the needy. Church budgets primarily go for buildings, and salaries, so there’s not much left over to give to the poor anyway. 

But could paying for services that I could theoretically do, but don’t have the time or inclination, be the modern way of giving to the poor? Those who are perfectly willing to drive me to the train station, or cook my food and bring it to me, are depending on my generosity. Could it be that I actually owe them their commission and tip? I’m stingy if I have the money in my hand, but don’t give them the opportunity.

The Biblical model of giving and helping the poor is outlined in the Old Testament in “not gleaning to the edge of the field.” At harvest time, the righteous were commanded to leave a little bit of crop around the edges so that the poor could come after the reapers and gather what remained.

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 23:22

This was the wealthy man’s field–his grain, his land, his laborers–but in the Biblical sense, he owed it to the poor to not reap every single inch of produce his land yielded. Leave a little bit. Around the edges. For the poor. After all, that was there only chance at gathering–they didn’t have their own land or crop.

Yes, you could rightfully command your workers to gather every single stalk, every head of grain, but don’t do it. Leave a little bit around the edges. For the poor.

Today, I could insist on doing my own cooking and cleaning, but why? In one sense it’s a way of being rigid and greedy.

When my brother goes to the bank, he gets $100 in singles, in order to tip his baristas every morning. The idea of tipping as a way of giving comes from him, who declares he does not give to charities generally. But if you go out to eat with him, you will see that he gives generously to the poor.

Thoughts? Are there any Rich Lady (or Man) things you do, that may actually benefit someone?


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Korean Nucular Threat Averted

I’ve written before, in “Two Pineapple Grenades”, about what can happen when you forget something in the pantry.  But that usually happens slowly and requires serious neglect (which programmers can easily summon).

Ever since I discovered it in the early 1970s, I’ve loved that spicy Korean treat, Kimchi: fermented cabbage seasoned with garlic, ginger, and chili peppers, among other spices.  It’s difficult to obtain in Switzerland, so when I’m abroad, I sometimes bring some back.  In January of 2016, I packed this in my suitcase to savour later.

Kimchi package, after opening

Kimchi is fermented and, if properly prepared, continues to ferment after you take it home.  I took the package out of my suitcase and put it in the frigo, and went on with my life.  Around a week later, I happened to notice that it had swollen up into a spheroid of adamantine hardness.  I was almost frightened to handle it.  I did what any self-respecting programmer would do: throw it in the freezer to deal with later.

Two years and a couple months later, I’m clearing out the freezer and there it is!  Well, it should have been in biostasis after having been frozen, but the doggone thing is still hard as a rock from internal pressure.  Gingerly, orienting the snip toward the drain of the sink, I cut the bag.  There is a release of gas, but no geyser.  Opening up the package, I extract the following bolus into a glass casserole.

Kimchi, extracted from frozen bag

This is now in the frigo, thawing out.  There was no disaster, but despite everything having been frozen, most of the house now smells of kimchi.

When it thaws out I will give it a try.  If it seems off, I’ll consign it to the poubelle, as there’s a rumour that overly-aged kimchi was what made Kim Jong-il before his final demise in 2011.


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This Week’s Book Review – How to be a Bourbon Badass

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.

Seawriter

Book Review

‘How to be a Bourbon Badass’ an educational, brown spirit book

By MARK LARDAS

April 3, 2018

“How to be a Bourbon Badass,” by Linda Ruffenach, Red Lightning Books, 2018, 175 pages, $24

Bourbon is a uniquely American liquor. Born in Kentucky in the 18th century, it is the trendy drink of the 21st century.

“How to be a Bourbon Badass,” by Linda Ruffenach reflects bourbon’s growing popularity. It introduces first-timers to the mysteries of bourbon and offers suggestions for bourbon aficionados to further enjoy the drink.

The author is a Kentucky native. She grew up around bourbon and is on a mission to get everyone to embrace her passion for the brown spirit. Along the way she founded Whisky Chicks, women who enjoy bourbon and using as an opportunity to socialize and learn more about bourbon. (The group uses the “whisky” spelling because it ends in KY — the abbreviation for Kentucky.) While bourbon is viewed as a man’s drink, Ruffenach believes it’s something everyone can enjoy.

The book begins with bourbon basics. What is bourbon, and the elements that make bourbon interesting. This includes discussions of different bourbons. She provides a lineup of bourbon brands recommended for novice bourbon drinkers, enthusiastic learners and bourbon connoisseurs.

The book takes readers through the process of manufacturing bourbon, from growing the grain through bottling. The discussions are broken up with intriguing sidebars. These include discussions of bourbon-flavored chocolates, how to read a bourbon label, the bourbon flavor wheel and exploration of the history behind different bourbon brands.

Ruffenach also introduces individuals important to today’s bourbon industry: leading-edge distillers, the educators at Moonshine University teaching the next generation of distillers and popularizers such as brand ambassadors and event managers.

Another section presents bourbon cocktails, everything from the classic old-fashioned to more daring drinks, like a blood orange bourbon mimosa. (Some are for the very daring. Most would pass on the bourbon cream root beer float.) The book devotes significant space to recipes using bourbon for every meal from breakfast to dinner and for every stage of a meal: appetizers, entrees, side dishes and desserts.

Lavishly illustrated, enthusiastically written, and filled with fascinating detail, “How to be a Bourbon Badass” offers a great opportunity to learn more about bourbon and the ways to use it.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.


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Hog production crisis

There is a crisis, right?

There must be.  Every news report on NPR this week, and I mean every one, morning and evening, has featured a very long feature about the plight of poor pig farmers.  They are in crisis.  Their profits are down, prices are down, their outlook is down.  The poor, poor hog farmers are sorely oppressed.

They are being oppressed by President Trump.  He is mean; he is brutal.  He is waging war against the downtrodden stalwart hog farmers.

This week on NPR was all hog farmer all the time.

Now, I am sympathetic to the hog farmer, but you had to go elsewhere to learn that the U.S. is second to Germany in pork exports to China, and that per capita consumption of pork products has been growing at over six percent per year in China this decade.

And perhaps it informs any conversation on the topic of the economics of pork to recall that the price of corn (a common foodstuff for pig farmers) is inflated by government subsidies of ethanol.   And NPR has a reputation for diving into the details of complexities, and so they have, if you listened very carefully.  They did advise that pork exports to China amount to nearly 11 % of pork exports, but they did not report that this is a recent high mark.

The casual listener would be excused for coming away from this series with only one lesson.  “President Trump has been callous to his agricultural base and is being mean to American farmers with his stupid tariffs on aluminum and steel, which cause American producers of swine products to suffer.”

 


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Easter Supper

Goat for dinner: 2018-04-01I’m thawing out my traditional Swiss Easter supper of goat.  Here’s my recipe.  Take a front quarter of goat, 0.5–1 kg (bone in), rub with garlic in a tube, salt and pepper, place in a glass casserole dish with a tight fitting lid, cut an onion in half and place on top of the meat.  Cover and roast in a circulating air oven at 220° C for 75 minutes.  Serve with Carnaroli or Arborio rice, which you start 15 minutes before the roast is ready.  Add juice from the casserole to the rice at the table.  Divide the cooked onions among those at the table.  Ignore the sharks—they’ll beg for the onions, but never eat them.  They’ll eat you, instead.

What’s your Easter supper?

And, happy Easter, everybody!


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The Spice Must Flow

Today I went to run my errands and what should I perceive when heading to the grocery store at the local mall but the most remarkable odours!  A local lady was selling a multitude of spices, most of which I’d never heard of.

Spices: 1

They ranged from mild, medium, to hot, and everything from chili powder to coconut, and exotic teas.  They were sold by the gram: you just pointed and she’d weigh them and wrap them in paper.  From there it’s up to you.

Spices: 2

Back in the day, I’d probably have gone home with dozens of these, but having a Web site to support, my culinary ambitions have contracted to “If I can’t nuke it, I won’t cook it.”  But still, it was glorious to smell.


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