- Sandbar Returns
- Weak Systems
- Empowering Nepal
- Mendocino Bay
- Ed Notes
- Missing Crop
- Foot Surgery
- Why MTA
- Old Ukiah
- Yesterday's Catch
- Pianist Concert
- Anger Issues
- Art Gifts
- Human Compassion
- Reel Mower
- Indicting Trump
- Responsible Engineering
- Party Overlap
- Social Security
- NPR Temps
- NYC Lament
- Sako Cookies
MSP’S EYE ON THE NAVARRO RIVER
'Sacred Cow Sandbar' Has Re-Formed
Well, this isn't good news with rain on the way. The breach in the sandbar at the mouth of the Navarro River reformed and is once again blocking the river flow. Coast photographer Nick Wilson sent along a photo with the caption, "Here's a shot taken in twilight Saturday evening."
Viewers will be reminded CalTrans had to shut down Highway 128 for 10 hours earlier this month (Friday November 30th 7:30 pm - Saturday, December 1st 5:30 am) because when the sandbar is in place the roadway floods just east of the Highway 1 bridge when the river level reaches 4.5'.
The current conditions (Sunday 10:30 am) of the River from the (upstream) USGS river gauge were:
River Level - 1.75'
Estimated Discharge rate (the amount of water headed toward the sandbar):
13.4 cubic feet per second or
99 gallons per second
5,950 gallons per minute
356,976 gallons per hour
NOAA isn't predicting the river to rise to 4.5' - yet. But we have rain coming in tonight as well as Tuesday which may be problematic.
As always, we'll be keeping an eye on the rover forecast.
MSP also noted CalTrans placed a "car counter" Wednesday on Highway 128 where the roadway floods. We have an email in to see why - to know how many are inconvenienced when they close the roadway ?
FOG AND LOW CLOUDS will give way to some partial clearing this afternoon, with overall cooler temperatures compared to the weekend. Another weak system will arrive on Tuesday and Tuesday night with generally light rain, followed by a couple of days of high pressure and dry weather. A more vigorous front will then push through on Friday. (National Weather Service)
ADVANCE POWER’S NEPAL PROJECT, Part 2, Samagaun Village
by Pete Gregson
First: The systems we did for Kwajalein Islands seemed very difficult at the time, mainly because of the location. Kwajalein Islands are the last Guam atoll just prior to Japan. But, they are a military base after all, so the logistics of getting equipment to the location was not as bad as we thought. All we had to do was co-ordinate with regularly scheduled military supply schedules. Kodiak Brown Bear Center, located on an island in the middle of a lake on Kodiak Island was another logistical challenge. The closest we could get with large items, was a mountain range away. We had to helicopter all of the large system components from a waterway over the mountain to the location. This meant we also had to secure and strap this equipment to assure even weight distribution on the helicopter. Once on site, it was another challenge — only one piece of equipment, a small track loader. If we were lucky it sat four of us, but usually only three. We were installing two, 10 kw VAWT with hydraulic lift towers (turbine blades alone were over 20’ in length), a large 240 vdc Lithium Ion battery system plus a 50 kw inverter. Serious issues.
This system is now one of the premier power systems in Alaska.
* * *
The Samagaun Village system in Nepal is the most challenging system we have ever done. A six-day trek from Kathmandu including a helicopter flight at close to $5,000 for a limited weight trip. Samagaun Village is very remote, just below the eighth tallest peak in the world (Manaslu). It is not only difficult to get products there; it is also difficult to find competent installers.
Samagaun Village is in the Nubri Valley in Nepal. (You can find many pictures on the internet.) Nepal has an import tariff of over 100%. They are paying more than $1.40 per watt for solar panels. China is right next door and if it were not for the import tariffs they should be able to purchase solar panels for under 50¢ per watt. You might ask yourself, why would Nepal do this? And then you might ask yourself, why would California also be doing the same?
After visiting the village and looking at many of their solar and hydro systems, we decided it would be best to bring one or two of the villagers to the US. We need to train them. We need to show them how to install and assemble solar systems; bring them to our warehouse and physically have them put together small 12 vdc systems, then 24 & 48 vdc systems, with multiple inverters, and ultimately Lithium Ion systems. We also want to bring Seseg, the architect and person in charge of this project. We want to teach her how to design energy systems. How to do wire calcs, system sizing, Mppt and Pwm circuits. We need to teach her how to do simple wiring diagrams for the installers to follow.
There is no one in that part of Asia who can do this. The best people can do is about what we could do here 40 years ago. All they can do is MAYBE purchase solar panels, wire, batteries and try their best to assemble it. But most of the time it is not good, in fact very, very bad. No fusing, improper wire size, very, very inefficient and going through batteries like there is no tomorrow. So, if we can pull this off, it will possibly change many parts of Asia, hopefully for the better. We know we cannot help them, they can only help themselves. All we can do, is assist them, guide them to a better direction.
One of the mostprominent Buddhist Lamas to come out of Samagaun Village is the Very Venerable YongeyMingyur Rinpoche. His grandfather’s lineage dates back to the early Lama familieswho settled in Samagaun. Mingyur Rinpoche resides in the Tergar Osel Ling Monasteryin Kathmandu and teaches worldwide. The school where the solar power system is beinginstalled is under Rinpoche’s guidance and direction.
MENDOCINO BAY photos by Dick Whetstone (click to enlarge)
Eyes Only, Boonville:
Laura Diamondstone posted this jewel:
Re: Full Service ATM for the valley.
Redwood Credit Union is willing to provide one.
We need to locate a rent-free space with the following requirements. Please comment with ideas and preferably with landowner contact info.
Suitable site for an ATM needs to meet the below criteria:
- Provided approximately 50 square foot of space for the machine
- Has adequate power
- Has access to either wired internet services or 4g Cell Service
- Is safe and secure
- Is accessible to the public
- Is in a serviceable area (cash delivery & ATM servicing)
- Is supported by the community (members)
* * *
BUT WHERE TO PUT IT? Fairgrounds? Redwood Drive-in? Boont Berry? Seems from here that RCU ought to pay something in the way of rent, given they'll turn a nice profit on it. Also, what will be the hours of operation?
* * *
HULBERT'S XMAS TREES next door to the Yorkville Post Office will sell you a yuletide centerpiece at a reasonable price during regular office hours, I think.
* * *
YES, two crab feeds are scheduled for the Anderson Valley. The Senior Center will throw the first on January 19th at the Fairgrounds, happy hour at 5:30, cracking 6:30. The Catholics are on for the middle of February, date and time to be confirmed.
* * *
WALKING PATHS for the Boonville area would be most welcome, although Anderson Valley Way, Lambert Lane all the way to the end, even Peachland for the more strenuously disposed are pretty much car-free. A path up and down Mountain View would definitely get your aerobics charged, but I have to agree with Jeff Pugh: “The problem with something like this is that it is highly unlikely you are going to get landowners on board. I believe that a state highway is actually owned by the state which gives them some wiggle room. Mountain View road is a county right of way through privately owned property. Most landowners are scared of losing control of their property and liability issues. I think that you could go to the county and find out who owns those properties. Good luck.” But Jeff Malnick adds, “Once we get agreement of who is in, then we can design where it will go, then we can build it. I think the first part is going to be the most difficult. That being said, I have 13 acres on MVR that border Faulkner part to the east. We have an access road that connects up with Faulkner and runs parallel with MVR. I'm more than happy to make that available for this effort.”
* * *
LAUREN KEATING of Lauren's Restaurant, does much good for the Anderson Valley community, insofar as it is a community in the old sense. Like much of America, forces greater than us mere citizens have left us stranded as a series of unrelated, except for our shared geography, affinity groups clustered around this or that shared pursuit. Or simply growing old in a place where we want to stay but, as we weaken and the wolves circle, we need help staying where we are. Lauren Keating is now also the prime mover of a local village, a national movement wherein older people, for a small annual stipend, are in regular contact with persons in similar circumstances to get the services and help they need to stay where they are instead of being shuffled off to full dependence in some strange, uncaring place.
IN THE WORDS of Susan McWhinney-Morse, the founder of the neo-village concept, "It's a grass-roots movement on the part of older people who do not want to be patronized, isolated, infantilized. That's what we felt was out there for us. And we felt quite competent in taking care of ourselves and staying in our own homes, which in 2000 was absolutely revolutionary."
LOCAL PERSONS interested in the Village meet the second Sunday of every month at 4pm, Lauren's Restaurant, Boonville.
THINKING about the people I know who live alone, and prefer to live alone, I could list twenty or so I know of who are Valley old timers but prefer what to most of us would seem like isolation. I keep track of a few I've known for many years, and I will encourage them to signup for our local village when it's underway if, for no other reason, than their own physical safety.
TWO SAD instances of local isolatos will always remain vivid to me. The first was an elderly woman living not far from me whose home gradually became overrun with cats. I only knew her to say hello. At first acquaintance, she and her premises were orderly, but then a sort of slow motion deterioration set in. She became more and more reclusive, and I saw more and more cats. One morning I knocked on her door. An alarming screech, "No! Go away" came from within. Accustomed to violent rejection, I went away assuming she knew it was me knocking on her door, but mentioned my experience to other neighbors. As it turned out, I wasn't the only person noticing that the old woman was no longer capable of caring for herself, and then, to my utter horror, and I think I was the only witness, a couple of youngish persons soon showed up and forcibly removed my neighbor as she screamed at them to leave her alone and go away. They weren't relatives but, I'd guessed, geriatric social workers identified by the County car they drove. I didn't even want to think about Mendocino County's dispatch of the dependent elderly, but a grimmer fate is hard to imagine, and similar ones cross all our minds when we reach that certain age.
THE SECOND CASE was a man I'd known for a long time, a man lots of us knew, but an impossible man, impossible in his unrelenting unpleasantness, over which he spread a progressive political coat. No one, however, least of all the editor of the local paper, met his lofty standards, which weren't standards at all but random slogans unsupported by real knowledge. But always unyielding and devoid of even pro forma social graces (which were bourgeoise of course) the guy was to be avoided, avoided to the point where he apparently, and maybe on purpose, starved himself to death and lay undiscovered in his bed for at least two weeks before it occurred to anyone that he hadn't been seen for some time, and maybe someone should have a look.
* * *
OUR TWO NEW SUPERVISORS might, if they're serious, and if they have anything like a grasp of how local government might be wielded in a way of much more real use to Mendocino County residents, consider a public bank, or at least a public fund out of which public housing could be built. Otherwise, all we're going to get out of Official Mendo is endless wishful thinking along the lines of, "I sure do think we should house the houseless," as shmoo-like smiles from people who have no idea and less willingness how to do it light up the room. I think lots of Mendo people would go for a public bank, the desirability of which has often been locally discussed and, believe it or not, has been successfully done in the great world outside!
MENDO'S money is presently stashed in several banks and the stock market where, we're constantly told, it makes mucho interest. Uh, for whom? And, uh, what kind of evil is lots of the money invested in? Why not keep Mendo money, or a portion thereof, at home where it could be put to work for the benefit of Mendo people? Over the long haul, an investment in local housing would not make spectacular interest but it would be a lot sounder investment than the stock market or commercial banks, both of which are likely to go south any time now.
* * *
A SIGHT I couldn't quite believe, but there it was on Highway 101 at Petaluma, a billboard announcing ounces of marijuana for $59 which, I'm told, is a good price for California, routine in Oregon.
WHAT’S MISSING IN THE CROP REPORT?
by Jim Shields
Just a quick observation on this week’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting where the annual Crop Report was released.
I was looking forward to reading what the county Ag Department had to say about its role as a primary administrator of the county’s cannabis ordinance.
Imagine my surprise when I was unable to find a single mention of the words cannabis or marijuana in the report. I even did a word search, and no match for either word.
That’s rather odd since for the past two years the county has spent more time and resources on its cannabis ordinance than any other issue.
The Crop Report did list under the caption “Million Dollar Crops” the following:
- Wine Grapes—$120,080,200
- Bartlett Pears—$14,556,400
- Cattle & Calves—$9,113,400
Is this some sort of bizarre historical revision of Mendocino County history?
After all, for a quarter of a century, pot has been recognized — on one occasion even in the Annual Crop Report — as the county’s number one cash crop.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Ag Department did report on the status of the cannabis cultivation permit application process. As usual the data is confusing to the degree that it conceals more than it reveals. For example, 1,123 applications have been received, while 198 of those have resulted in “issued” permits, and 39 of those have been “approved.”
What does that mean?
The bottom line is less than 10 percent of the estimated 10,000-plus cannabis farmers in this county have come forward to make application under the ordinance.
The real bottom line is there is clearly massive overproduction of pot here and the resulting plummet of market prices endangers the survival of mom and pop growers.
County officials have no idea of what is happening outside of the county seat. They have no idea of how much pot is being grown, who’s growing it, where it’s being grown, and what are the impacts of growing on our watersheds and natural resources.
It’s no wonder that the Crop Report was devoid of any marijuana content. They literally have nothing on the subject to report.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, andis also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District.Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
NOYO HARBOR photo by Susie de Castro
MY LEFT FOOT
by Anne Fashauer
At the time of this writing it has been just over a week since I had surgery on my left foot to remove a broken sesamoid bone. I am not sure exactly when or how this break happened, though my suspicion is that it involved a horse about 20 years ago. But however it happened I have had pain in that foot for about the last decade. It increasingly got worse; for a while it would hurt, I would stop my daily hikes, it would get better. Then I’d start hiking again and it would start hurting.
I finally, about four years ago, decided to see a podiatrist. He guessed it was arthritis from some trauma and gave me a cortisone shot. I felt great for the next year, then it started to bother me again. Back to the podiatrist who gave me another shot; this one only lasted six months. At this point, he started talking about doing surgery. Another six months or so went by and the foot swelled up and acted like it was broken after skiing for a week in rental boots. Another cortisone shot and a surgery was scheduled.
I decided to talk to a couple other foot doctors before proceeding with the surgery. One said he’d do the same surgery, the other said he would have to know more before he would do anything. Since I was pain free due to the cortisone shot, I decided to hold off. Another year passed. I walked a 5K early this calendar year and at the end of it my foot pain was back. I decided to see the more cautious doctor, who ordered an MRI. This proved that I had no neuroma (one possibility) but that I did have a chronic fracture of my sesamoid bone. We chatted about the surgery and other possible directions and I decided once again to hold off.
In the meantime, I started riding my mountain bike (as reader of this column/blog know) because that didn’t hurt my foot. It wasn’t until I had a bad fall a few months later and my foot swelled up after a two mile hike that I decided enough was enough. With the grape harvest coming, a trip to New York and Thanksgiving, my surgery wasn’t scheduled until the 29th of November.
The days before the surgery were spent getting ready - setting up the house, getting easy to make foods and organizing my office to deal with my absence for a least a week. I also got in as many bike rides as I could knowing it could be some time before I would be riding again.
The day of the surgery I was ready. My husband, on the other hand, was a wreck. He was so nervous he almost made himself sick. I was completely unworried and just anxious to get the procedure over with. I remember getting to the surgery center, the new facility on Mark West Springs Road, getting ready to go in, going in and then waking up post-surgery. I was definitely heavily drugged but I had to do nothing except get in the car and eat the frozen yogurt Van picked up for me. I ate and slept the rest of the ride home and much of the afternoon once home.
The first days I stayed on the pain medication and stayed on the couch as much as possible, with my leg elevated, per doctor’s orders. I weaned myself off the hard stuff and onto ibuprofen and a day later I wasn’t using any pain medication. I treated myself to my first cocktail in nearly a week.
I have had to be very dependent this past week and a half. I am not used to that. Because I am using crutches, I can’t carry anything much and nothing breakable. I have to get from point a to b and have someone following me with whatever food, drink or reading material I need. At first I had a very sore right leg, but it has gotten stronger and my balance has improved. I hop more, which allows me to carry small things. I am tired of not being able to stand on two feet; that should change this coming Wednesday when I see the doctor for my follow up visit.
I’m not sure what my next few weeks or months will be like. I know that I will gradually be allowed to put weight on the foot and start to do some walking. I was told I would not be skiing this season and it will be a while before I can ride my bike. I will be going into the office some this week but showing property may take a bit longer. Thank goodness for our good crew of agents, with Colleen Kobler and Jimmy Humble really picking up the slack. The timing of this surgery was somewhat on purpose, with the holidays and the weather providing a natural slow down of the real estate business. I’m hoping to be up and ready for the Spring when things pick up again.
THE ETERNAL MYSTERY
This is actually directed to the “Powers That Be” at MTA. Once again a “Black Friday” (the day after Thanksgiving) goes by without bus service. Not having bus service on the busiest shopping day of the year is a distinct disservice to your ridership. Who thought up this goofy idea anyway?
If you really want to do something constructive then reroute the #9 bus to include Hospital Drive, it shouldn’t be that difficult. I realize that hoping for innovative thinking on the part of Bureaucrats may be a stretch, especially when it involves changing routine, but I thought I’d give it a shot. Question: How many MTA Board members actually ride the bus?
WELCOME TO WEEDLES
Struggling Town In California’s San Bernardino County Bets Its Future On Cannabis
NEEDLES — Jeff Williams, the incoming mayor of this small desert city near the Arizona border, arrested a lot of people for selling marijuana in his days as a county sheriff. He voted against legalizing the stuff in a 2016 statewide referendum. But Williams also knows the city he has called home since he was in second grade has seen better days. The railroad jobs have mostly gone away. And people don’t stop off on the old Route 66 as they used to. So Williams, a slender 54-year-old, has become the unlikely leader of Needles’ unlikely effort to turn itself into a new kind of industry town dedicated to the growing business of cannabis.
In 1980, after the mixing of cultures in Chicago started the riots and fires, I gave up my limo service between Chicago and the Mayo Clinic for folks who would not fly.
I had read an article that Ukiah, California, was the best small town to retire in so I bought an old moving van and, with my rusty, fenderless Honda, did a “California or Bust” to Ukiah. I did find my three acres overlooking Lake Mendocino. I built a little two bedroom with a big view. Life was good. True to the article I read about Ukiah, it had the following: $5 weekly senior dance, a $7 Sizzler steak with endless salad bar and ice cream bar, all you want. On Perkins, an all you can eat Chinese restaurant, $6, Wendy’s had $1 baked potato and $1 mild chili. Kmart had a $1.50 senior breakfast, egg, bacon, pancakes and bottomless coffee.
The $2 Grand Slam at Denny’s was good and Club Calpella had 12″ salad plates for the bar, plus prime rib for $8. Nice Smorgasborg on South State Street, a Sears Roebucks and Montgomery Ward; two Thrifty’s Drug Stores with double dip ice cream cones $.35. One restaurant I have waited for but we haven’t gotten yet is Long John Silver’s, great fish place. Lower Lake is the nearest one. I would go every week if Ukiah had one. A Skunk ride to Mendocino, always fun. I was an extra in the filming of Murder She Wrote; parking on the ocean was free north of Fort Bragg, good place to cool off.
I took relatives to Crescent City redwoods all the time. Ukiah was Emily Posts’, English only, place to be. No crimes, a lady was safe anywhere, good jobs at Masonite Company.
Today? Addictive gambling, food stamps for sale, entry level drugs made legal. We chose welfare dependency socialism instead of capitalism that does work. All the affordable restaurants I mentioned are gone. Most people like me on social security end up living in a trailer park. So far, not me. Ukiah is divided in two by the haves and the nave nots.
I repeat - what happened to my Ukiah?
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 9, 2018
JOSE ALTAMIRANO, Fort Bragg. DUI, suspended license (for DUI), probation revocation.
VICTOR BARCENAS, Richmond/Ukiah. Under influence.
JUAN BECERRA, Calpella. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
MARVIN BUCKMASTER, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, controlled substance for sale, large capacity magazine, probation revocation.
WILLIAM EDWARDS, Redwood Valley. Hit&run with property damage, concealed weapon in vehicle, leaving handgun in unattended vehicle.
ERIC FOSTER, Willits. Hit&run with property damage, suspended license.
CAMERON HAMMOND, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, failure to appear, probation revocation.
PETER KLOTTER, Ukiah. DUI.
LEVI LEON, Willits. Reckless driving.
TAMARA LOPEZ, Lakeport/Ukiah. Under influence.
DESTINY MCCARTY-WHIPPLE, Covelo. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
KAYLA MILES, Hopland. Unlawful taking of bird or fish.
SUNEE MITCHELL, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
CHRISTOPHER NASH, Manteca/Ukiah. Under influence, vandalism.
TREVER RAWLES, Redwood Valley. DUI.
LATOYA REYES-CAMPOS, Ukiah. Probatioin revocation.
ERNEST SALO, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
SHEERY VEALS, Clearlake/Ukiah. Disobeying court order, probation revocation.
27TH ANNUAL PROFESSIONAL PIANIST CONCERT
On January 11, 12 & 13, 2019 the 27th Professional Pianist Concert will hit the stage with three concerts featuring eleven different pianists at the Mendocino College Center Theatre in Ukiah. Performers letting the keys fly this year are Spencer Brewer, Elena Casanova, Wendy deWitt, Gabriella Frank, Frankie J, Tom Ganoung, Chris James, Elizabeth MacDougall, Sam Ocampo, Ed Reinhart and Charlie Seltzer. The musical styles range from classical to jazz, boogie-woogie to Cuban, Broadway to ragtime.....each performance will be different!
This utterly fun and stimulating series features the finest regional pianists on stage in a living room environment throughout the performance trading stories and melodies with two pianos on stage to accommodate impromptu collaborations. The event is an annual sellout because of the diversity, quality in a multitude of styles of music and humor that takes place throughout the evening. A special sculpture art show benefitting fire victims featuring Spencer Brewer and Esther Siegel will also be on display at the Mendocino College Art Gallery throughout the weekend…not to be missed!
Friday, January 11th at 7:00pm will feature Spencer Brewer, Elena Casanova, Chris James, Elizabeth MacDougall, Ed Reinhart, Sam Ocampo and Charlie Seltzer. Saturday, January 12th, 7:00pm performance features Spencer Brewer, Elena Casanova, Wendy DeWitt, Tom Ganoung, Elizabeth MacDougall, Ed Reinhart and Charlie Seltzer. Sunday afternoon’s 2:00pm performance will feature eight pianists for the 1st time in 25 years! The afternoon performance will include Spencer Brewer, Elena Casanova, Wendy deWitt, Gabriella Frank, Tom Ganoung, Chris James, Frankie J and Elizabeth MacDougall. No two concerts are the same, so if you love piano and piano music, enjoy more than one performance.
The concert benefits the Ukiah Community Concert Association, Mendocino College Recording Arts & Technology Program and the Allegro Scholarship Program. Tickets are on sale at Mendocino Book Co. in Ukiah, Mazahar in Willits and online www.UkiahConcerts.org. Tickets are $20 general admission and $30 "I ‘Wanna’ See the Hands" limited seating. For more information call (707) 463-2738.
Sponsors are Sparetime Supply, Ken Fowler Auto, Savings Bank of Mendocino, Mendocino College Recording Arts, Willits Furniture Center, Waterman Plants, K-WINE/MAX, KOZT-The Coast and KZYX/Z. Wine & refreshments will be provided by Ukiah Community Concert Association. The Center Theatre is at 1000 Hensley Creek Rd in Ukiah. There will be autographed CD's by the artists for sale in lobby.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The East Coasters and especially the big city dwellers have serious anger issues with the areas of the country that supply them with all of their food and water. I believe whether they know it, admit it or understand it at all, it angers them to be so dependent on “non-urbanites” for their very existence. In all my years I have never seen any “Manhattan” raised beef for sale in the supermarket, have you? For all of their high rise “high class” self images, inside they know that they are as dependent upon Johnny Hayseed as a newborn is on it’s Mother (or Nanny or Daycare worker, or significant other, or whatever).
THE ARTIST'S COLLECTIVE IN ELK
For the month of Dec. The Artist's Collective in Elk with hold its annual Christmas Gift Show, with an art reception on 2nd Sat., Dec. 8th, 3 to 5 p.m. We will be featuring less expensive, hand made arts and crafts, appropriate for Christmas gifts. We also have cards and ornaments. Come enjoy food, drink and art, and meet some of our artists. The Artists' Collective in Elk is located at 6031 S. Highway 1 in Greater Downtown Elk between Queenies Roadhouse Cafe and the Post Office. Original art makes wonderful holiday gifts! For more information call 707-877-1128.
"HUMAN COMPASSION IS THE CROWN JEWEL OF EVOLUTION."
In the darkness of today's benighted world, the above words lose no significance, validity, truth or value. They gain!
They are Eleanor's words. I've heard her say them time and again, and I get a pleasurable shock every time she utters them, because she's right, fantastically right, and the observation is so against the foul wind that seems to blow from everywhere at once.
To stay in her good graces, this: She has added a codicil that pins it a little more sharply: "Human compassion, when it's in place and functioning, is the crown jewel of evolution." The added words are important and sharpen the statement, but I like the thunderclap quality of the shorter version.
I speak, as most of you know, of Eleanor Cooney, whose Facebook page is far funner and funnier than mine.
BTW, Ellie was never tainted by religion and considers all religions foolish (so do I), but she also says, "If people followed Jesus's words, it would be a wonderful world."
In other words, humanity has it -- has the potential, the privilege -- I would add, the DUTY -- to be this planet and solar system's fairest creation an adornment instead of a bane.
FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR ANDREW MCCARTHY thinks President Trump will be indicted in Manhattan Federal Court on campaign finance charges. McCarthy, a contributing editor at National Review who had worked as chief assistant U.S. attorney, made this prediction during an appearance on Fox & Friends Weekend, when discussing Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation. Citing the Southern District of New York’s sentencing memorandum in the case of Michael Cohen, the one-time Trump lawyer who will be sentenced Dec. 12 for making illegal pre-election payoffs to two women. In the memo, prosecutors state that Cohen acted “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” who has been publicly identified as Trump. “They are clearly going after the president on campaign finance violations,” McCarthy said. “And I think if you read the sentencing memo the Southern District filed in Cohen’s case, it’s clear that Trump is the target and will be indicted eventually.” “I can’t come to any other conclusion,” he also said. McCarthy also penned an op-ed posted on FoxNews.com expanding on this position. He did make clear, however, that Justice Department policy is not to indict a sitting president. (Daily Beast)
NEW BOOK ABOUT ETHICS & WHISTLEBLOWING for Engineers Affects Us All!
by Ralph Nader
It’s tough to be an engineering student these days, with so many new developments in modern technology and technological knowledge. The course curricula are more crowded than ever and the impact of emerging technologies is monumental. Some engineering professors worry that their students’ busy course schedules prevents them from adequately exploring the liberal arts. Without exposure to the liberal arts, engineering students will lack the broad context that will help them approach their work as a profession, not just a trade.
Pressed as they are now in their undergraduate and graduate courses, engineering students may not appreciate the pressures and challenges they will face in their work after graduation. More than handling the stress that comes from needing to meet commercial or governmental deadlines and standards, they will need to understand the ethical ramifications of their actions. Existing industry standards rarely measure up to the necessary health, safety and reliability requirements in the workplace, marketplace and the environment. Moreover, the news media and social media create an environment that shines a spotlight on the personal responsibility of the engineering professions and the obligation to blow the whistle on misdeeds.
The core curriculum for engineering students must include courses and seminars that explore the ethical responsibility of engineering. Understanding economic and political pressures and, if necessary, whistleblowing obligations are all important matters for engineers. This is the subject of Ethics, Politics, and Whistleblowing in Engineering (CRC Press), a new book edited by Rania Milleron, Ph.D and Nicholas Sakellariou, Ph.D (Rania, my niece, is a microbiologist at the Texas Department of State Health Services and Nicholas is a lecturer at California Polytechnic State University).
One of the goals of Ethics, Politics and Whistleblowing in Engineering is to make technology inclined students realize at the very beginning of their careers that the best kind of engineering comes from a foundation in the applied sciences and the humanities. This engaging book – which will interest anyone interested in professionally applied ethics, regardless of field, is full of short renditions of individual engineers as heroes or bold advocates of changing hazardous procedures and ways of doing business.
The engineers featured in this book are professionals who cannot abide working in corporations where common candor has to be called courage. They demand the right to take their conscience to work.
There are sections in this book on whistleblowing around the world, and on the too passive standards-setting roles of engineering societies (like the Society of Automotive Engineers or the Society of Mechanical Engineers). Novel interviews with deep thinkers and beloved, creative professors, such as Princeton’s David P. Billington, who combined history and art in his rigorous courses, make a deep imprint on the reader.
Part I, titled “Engineering Leadership,” is meant to stimulate engineering educators to experiment broadly and open-mindedly in liberal education curricula, to promote unpopular but fact-based viewpoints, and to encourage students to learn about the heroic roots of engineering.
Part II recounts stories about engineers having to make excruciating decisions affecting their careers and the public safety when they take on their profit-obsessed corporate bosses or government officials.
Part III – Raising the Bar, “offers creative, concrete, and sustainable engineering solutions. In an age of designs generated by committees or computers… some think that technologists are losing their creativity and imagination.”
The appendix offers abundant resource material for engineering students and teachers. In the 1950s and 1960s, I was pushing the top executives of the auto companies to liberate their engineers to build life-saving, cleaner, and more fuel-efficient motor vehicles. As I learned more about the industry, it became clear that engineering integrity was subordinate to short-term profit goals, frivolous styling, and excessive horsepower.
Providing a climate of conscientious engineering work, instead of the all-too-frequent self-censorship that comes from top-down or myopic dictates, can save corporations from serious trouble – litigation, public anger, and subsequent loss of sales. In the U.S. auto industry, authoritarian corporate bosses presided over technological stagnation that resulted in shrinkage and bankruptcy.
The development of biotechnology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence industries has occurred without an effective legal or ethical framework. As a result, we are ever reliant on the first-responders. Unfortunately, many engineers working on the front lines have abdicated their role as sentinels. Their long silence must end.
In the coming years, engineers will need a deep wellspring of professional self-respect. And our society will need to expand the laws and institutions to protect engineers when they do step up and do speak out?
This unique book, for which I have written an introduction, argues in many intriguing and compelling ways that we cannot afford to neglect the ethical dimensions of engineering.
The stakes from climate disruption to the military arms race to our public infrastructure to the health and safety of posterity and our planet are so high. So must be the expectations accorded the engineering profession everywhere in our midst.
(There are feasts of abundant references in this book for any reader to dig deeper).
For more information visit: ethicalengineering.org
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!
by Tim Flannery
According to Thor Hanson’s Buzz, the relationship between bees and the human lineage goes back three million years, to a time when our ancestors shared the African savannah with a small, brownish, robin-sized bird—the first honeyguide. Honeyguides are very good at locating beehives, but they are unable to break into them to feed on the bee larvae and beeswax they eat. So they recruit humans to help, attracting them with a call and leading them to the hive. In return for the service, Africans leave a small gift of honey and wax: not enough that the bird is uninterested in locating another hive, but sufficient to make it feel that its efforts have been worthwhile. Honeyguides may have been critical to our evolution: today, honey contributes about 15 percent of the calories consumed by the Hadza people—Africa’s last hunter-gatherers—and because brains run on glucose, honey located by honeyguides may have helped increase our brain size, and thus intelligence.
Bees evolved from wasp ancestors around 100 million years ago. Most wasps are sleek carnivores, but bees are flower-loving, long-haired, and often social vegetarians (the branched hairs that cover their bodies trap pollen, which, along with nectar, is their principal source of food). Their shift to a vegetarian diet had a profound effect on the evolution of flowering plants. If we want to know what a world without bees looks like, Hanson writes, we should visit the bee-less island of Juan Fernández off the coast of Chile, where, despite varied vegetation, almost all flowers are small, white, and inconspicuous. But it is not just gloriously colored flowers that we owe to bees, for many of our crops rely on them for pollination. Both our world and our brains, it seems, have been profoundly shaped by bees.
There are around 20,000 bee species, classified into seven families. The most familiar are the apids, including bumblebees, carpenter bees, and honeybees. The most primitive bees, largely restricted to Australia, are classified into two families that only experts would recognize. Mining bees, which dig nest tunnels nearly ten feet deep and inhabit arid regions, represent another family; oil-collecting bees and a family including leafcutter bees and mason bees make up two more. Sweat bees comprise the final group. In addition to collecting pollen and nectar from flowers, they drink mammals’ sweat for its moisture and salts: as thousands of tiny bee tongues lick deep inside a person’s ears, nose, and other sensitive parts, they can inflict maddening torture; if brushed away they deliver a sting like an electric shock.
Around one fifth of all bee species are parasites on other bees, prompting some bee researchers to recognize parasitism as one of the major evolutionary adaptations of the lineage. The parasites survive either by stealing honey or wax from other bees, or by tricking them into raising their young, much like cuckoos do with birds. And not all bees are social: many are solitary or are flexible in in their degree of sociality, depending on temperature or resource availability.
For all their evolutionary diversity and behavioral flexibility, bees are in trouble. In the fall of 2006, honeybee hives across the US “started winking out en masse,” Hanson writes. Apparently healthy bees that set out on foraging trips never returned, leaving behind neglected combs full of honey and broods that became infected with bacteria and other pathogens. Named Colony Collapse Disorder (and colloquially “the Beepocalyse”), the phenomenon triggered the biggest bee research project in history. To date, no single cause has been identified, but several facts, parsed by researchers as “the four Ps” — parasites, poor nutrition, pesticides and pathogens — have combined to make bees very vulnerable.
A READER WRITES: A quick shout-out to FDR, America's best president (thus far). I just received my first check from Social Security, and what an enjoyable experience that was! After a lifetime of various jobs, mostly self-employed, this is as close to a retirement pension as I'll ever get. I took the benefit early (62 years of age) for a number of reasons, one being the fact that the oligarchs are always gunning for it. I figured I better get some while the getting is still possible. The next question is whether Medicare (thanks, LBJ) will still be available once I reach the age of 65.
It's a shame so many people in this country have allowed a small, greedy ruling class to effectively brainwash them against their own best interest. If we, the people, are collectively dumb enough to succumb to such obvious manipulation, I suppose we deserve to lose it all. Yet here's hoping there are still enough clear-headed citizens to stem this horrible national tide that has been in ascendance my entire adult life. One would think the pendulum is long overdue to swing the other way, but history also teaches us that these things can take an awfully long time to happen (if ever). And with money power now so deeply entrenched in this country, it's going to be a very difficult hurdle to overcome. The battle will be long and intense, the gnashing of teeth will be great (SOCIALISM! they will cry, as they did when both Medicare and Social Security were brought into being). So we watch and wait. Meanwhile, I'm thankful for my modest monthly benefit.
At NPR, An Army Of Temps Faces A Workplace Of Anxiety And Insecurity
by Paul Farhi
WASHINGTON - Julia Botero was happy to catch on, and determined to stay on, at NPR. After completing an internship at the public broadcasting organization in D.C. in 2013, she began a year-long stint as a temporary employee, moving between producing jobs at NPR's signature news programs, "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition."
Botero quickly realized what she was up against. As a "temp," she floated among unfamiliar co-workers and faced an ever-changing set of responsibilities, some of which she'd never been trained for. Her work contracts were sometimes as brief as two weeks, at the end of which she'd have to persuade a manager to extend her.
Worse was the sense of constant competition among her fellow temps, many of whom were angling to be hired for a limited number of permanent positions. "The only person I felt I could trust," she said, "was the person I was dating, who was in the same position I was." After a year of such uncertainty, she left, taking a job as a reporter for a group of public radio stations in New York state.
What's surprising about Botero's experience is how unsurprising it is at NPR.
For decades, the public broadcaster has relied on a cadre of temporary journalists to produce its hourly newscasts and popular news programs. Without temporary workers - who are subject to termination without cause - NPR would probably be unable to be NPR. Temps do almost every important job in NPR's newsroom: they pitch ideas, assign stories, edit them, report and produce them. Temps not only book the guests heard in interviews, they often write the questions the hosts ask the guests.
And there are a lot of them. According to union representatives, between 20 and 22 percent of NPR's 483 union-covered newsroom workforce - or one in five people - are temps. The number varies week to week, as temps come and go.
NPR's management cites a somewhat lower figure, 16 percent, although its count reflects managers and interns and other employees in departments that aren't represented by the union. NPR says the overall ratio of temporary workers to permanent employees has remained more or less stable for several years.
Resentment among temps about their status has boiled beneath the surface at NPR for years, but the tensions have begun to bubble up over the past several months. Some temporary employees raised complaints in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal involving Michael Oreskes, the former head of NPR's newsroom. Oreskes was accused by several women, including a then-temporary employee, of misconduct. Oreskes was forced to resign by NPR last year; several women said his behavior highlighted the vulnerability of temporary employees, who fear they could be blackballed for complaining or resisting an overly aggressive manager.
The outrage over Oreskes coalesced into a broader employee inquiry into the status of temps at NPR. Following a series of "listening sessions" conducted among 40 current and former temporary journalists, NPR employees produced a report in May detailing a number of grievances and allegedly abusive practices.
Among them: Temps were often left in the dark about how long their assignments would last, how much they'd be paid, who they were reporting to, or what their title is. They also said they received little feedback from supervisors after completing an assignment, and were "routinely" overlooked in NPR's recruiting efforts.
Several temps interviewed for this story use the same word to describe NPR's temp system: "Exploitative."
By any measure, NPR is unusual among broadcast media organizations in the size of its temporary workforce.
About 5 percent of the staff at a typical TV station was employed on a part-time or temporary basis, according to a survey conducted last year by the Radio Television Digital News Association. Radio stations, which usually have much smaller staffs than TV stations, reported an average of just one part-timer or temp in the survey. The number of temporary workers among stations has declined steadily over the past 10 years as the recession has eased, said Robert Papper, who conducted the survey.
Other kinds of news organizations employ few temps. The only journalists officially designated as temporary in The Washington Post's newsroom are six "extended interns," who are employed with the expectation that they will someday fill a permanent job when an appropriate one opens, Managing Editor Tracy Grant said.
NPR hires temps to address "a range of needs," said Loren Mayor, president of operations. She said temporary workers fill in for permanent staffers when the latter go on vacation, take sick leave or parental leave, or when news events warrant.
"As a media company that strives to be innovative and nimble, we need talented people who can come in on a short-term basis to help us experiment with a new idea or pilot a new program," Mayor said. "As a breaking news organization, we need additional reporters and editors to staff up for targeted news events like elections."
In a lengthy response via email, Mayor made no mention of any financial advantage in employing temps. But the potential seems obvious: Temporary employees are only paid when they work, and only work when managers decide. This gives NPR, a nonprofit organization, flexibility in managing its payroll and broad discretion over work assignments.
In a follow-up interview, a spokeswoman, Isabel Lara, said costs aren't a factor in NPR's employment of temporary journalists.
NPR's temps are guaranteed minimum wages under a contract with the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the labor union that represents most employees. The pay scale starts at around $21.63 an hour, or about $45,000 per year based on 52 weeks of full-time work. Temporary employees also qualify for health insurance and other benefits if they work more than 30 hours per week in a two-week pay period.
But not much else is assured for this group.
In interviews, eight current and former temps described their employment at NPR as a stressful, precarious experience. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity to not jeopardize current or future assignments.
Like Botero, several said they didn't feel prepared for some of the assignments they were given. They also described a sense of vulnerability and insecurity, given that NPR maintains a large pools of temps who can easily replace them.
"I felt like I could never make a mistake because, if I did, they'd just hire someone else," said a former employee, who temped for two years before moving on. "I felt like I couldn't take Christmas off, I can't go to my high school reunion. Because if I do, I'll be out of the loop."
For temps who don't land a longer work assignment, NPR's system all but guarantees financial uncertainty, several said. A week's employment, for example, might be followed by a longer, uncompensated layoff followed by another call to return. A long stretch between assignments not only plays havoc with a temp employee's income, it also threatens to leave them with gaps in their insurance coverage.
"There were many weeks when I wasn't sure if I was coming back," said Becky Sullivan, who temped for 2 1/2 years before becoming a permanent producer on "All Things Considered." Sullivan, who is a union shop steward, says, "It's an experience I hope I never have to repeat."
Under the SAG-AFTRA contract, management can terminate a temporary employee without cause, whenever necessary, and without explanation.
What's more, NPR is under no obligation to offer a temp a permanent job, even after years of employment. Some employees have been temps for so long they're known as "permatemps."
One former temp said she spent three years in various jobs at "Morning Edition," "All Things Considered" and its weekend version before giving up hope of landing a permanent position. Her responsibilities ran the gamut: editing, research, pitching story ideas, writing segment introductions, mixing recordings, doing interviews.
She applied for jobs when they came open, but never got hired permanently. "At that point, I was really frustrated," she said. "You ask yourself, Why am I still doing this and no one will hire me?"
She left, and eventually landed a job as a producer at a podcasting company.
Another temp described her frustrations to union organizers earlier this year this way: "You feel like you have the boyfriend who's never going to put a ring on it."
According to Sullivan, Mayor never responded directly to the group of temps that made the recommendations in the wake of Oreskes's forced resignation. But Mayor said NPR has begun to implement a series of reforms to improve the lot of temps.
The most significant change: NPR in April converted 26 positions that had been filled by temporary employees into permanent jobs (the union said all of the positions were held by temps who'd be on the job for more than a year). Mayor said more temp jobs will be made permanent in the future, although she offered no commitment to a number or timetable.
NPR's union representatives remain guarded, however. They note that during bruising negotiations over a new three-year contract last year, NPR's management proposed eliminating all benefits for temps (except those required by law), including health insurance and holiday pay. Those proposals were withdrawn amid broad staff opposition.
Mayor says NPR's goal is "not to eliminate the use of temps, but to make sure we are employing temps for the right reasons."
She added, "We are aware that it can be challenging for people to deal with the insecurity temporary employment brings and we want to work with our union to find ways to address this."
LATE LAMENTED FAME OF THE GIANT CITY OF NEW YORK
Who is there still remembers
The fame of the giant city of New York
In the decade after the Great War?
What a melting pot was America in those days – celebrated by poets!
God’s own country!
Invoked just by the initials of its names:
Like an unmistakable childhood friend whom everyone knows.
This inexhaustible melting pot, so it was said
Received everything that fell into it and converted it
Within twice two weeks into something identifiable.
All races which landed on this zestful continent
Eagerly abandoned themselves and forgot their profoundest characteristics
Like bad habits
In order to become
As quickly as possible like those who were so much at home there.
And they received them with careless generosity as if they were utterly different
(Differing only through the difference of their miserable existences).
Like a good leaven they feared no
Mass of dough, however enormous : they knew
They would penetrate everything.
What fame! What a century!
Ah, those voices of their women coming from the sound-boxes!
Thus they sang (take good care of those records!) in the golden age.
Harmony of the evening waters at Miami!
Uncontainable gaiety of the generations driving fast over unending roads!
Mighty lamentations of women singing, faithfully mourning Broad-chested men, but ever surrounded by
They collected whole parks of rare human specimens
Fed them scientifically, bathed them and weighed them
So that their incomparable gestures might be perpetuated in photographs
For all who came after.
They raised up their gigantic buildings with incomparable waste
Of the best human material. Quite openly, before the whole world
They squeezed from their workers all that was in them
Fired rifles into the coal mines and threw their used-up bones and
Exhausted muscles on the streets with
But in sporting acknowledgement they reported
The same rough obstinacy in workers on strike
With homeric exaggeration.
Poverty was considered despicable there.
In the films of this blessed nation
Men down on their luck, on seeing the homes of the poor
(which included pianos and leather couches)
Killed themselves out of hand.
What fame! What a century!
Oh we too demanded such broad-gauge overcoats of rough material
With the padded shoulders which make men so broad
That three of them fill the entire sidewalk.
We too sought to brake our gestures
Thrust our hands slowly into our pockets and work ourselves slowly
Out of the armchairs in which we had reclined (as for all eternity)
Like a whole State turning over
And we too stuffed our mouths full of chewing gum (Beech-nut)
Which was supposed eventually to push forward the jawbone
And sat with jaws ruminating as in endless greed.
To our faces too we wished to lend that feared impenetrability
Of the poker-faced man who propounded himself to his fellow citizens
As an insoluble riddle.
We too perpetually smiled, as if before or after a good piece of business
Which is the proof of a well-ordered digestion.
We too liked to slap our companions (all of them future customers)
On arm and thigh and between the shoulder-blades
Testing how to get such fellows into our hands
By the same caressing or grabbing motions as for dogs.
So we imitated this renowned race of men who seemed destined
To rule the world by helping it to progress.
What confidence! What an inspiration!
Those machine rooms: the biggest in the world!
The car factories campaigned for an increase in the birthrate:
they had started making cars (on hire purchase)
For the unborn. Whoever threw away
Practically unused clothing (but so
That it rotted at once, preferably in quicklime)
Was paid a bonus. Those bridges
Which linked flourishing land with flourishing land ! Endless ! The longest in the world!
The men who piled their stones so high
That they towered over all, anxiously watched from their summits the new buildings
Springing up from the ground, soon to overtower
Their own mammoth size.
(Some were beginning to fear that the growth of such cities
Could no longer be stopped, that they would have to finish their days
With twenty storeys of other cities above them
And would be stacked in coffins which would be buried
One on top of the other.)
But apart from that: what confidence! Even the dead
Were made up and given a cosy smile
(These are characteristics I am setting down from memory; others
I have forgotten) for not even those who had got away
Were allowed to be without hope.
What people they were! Their boxers the strongest!
Their inventors the most practical! Their trains the fastest!
And also the most crowded!
And it all looked like lasting a thousand years
For the people of the city of New York put it about themselves:
That their city was built on the rock and hence
Truly their whole system of communal life was beyond compare.
What fame! What a century!
Admittedly that century lasted
A bare eight years.
For one day there ran through the world the rumour of strange collapses
On a famous continent, and its banknotes hoarded only yesterday
Were rejected in disgust like rotten stinking fish.
Today when the word has gone round
That these people are bankrupt
We on the other continents (which are indeed bankrupt as well)
See many things differently and, so we think, more clearly.
What of the skyscrapers?
We observe them more coolly.
What contemptible hovels skyscrapers are when they no longer yield rents!
Rising so high, full of poverty? Touching the clouds, full of debt?
What of the railroad trains?
In the railroad trains, which resemble hotels on wheels, they say
Often nobody lives.
He travels nowhere
With incomparable rapidity.
What of the bridges? The longest in the world, they now link
Scrapheap with scrapheap.
And what of the people?
They still make up, we hear, but now
It’s to grab a job. Twenty-two year old girls
Sniff cocaine now before setting out
To capture a place at a typewriter.
Desperate parents inject poison into their daughters’ thighs
To make them look red hot.
Gramophone records are still sold, not many of course
But what do they tell us, these cows who have not learned
To sing? What
Is the sense of these songs? What have they really
Been singing to us all these years long?
Why do we now dislike these once celebrated voices?
Why do these photos of cities no longer make the slightest impression on us?
Because word has gone round
That these people are bankrupt.
For their machines, it is said, lie in huge heaps (the biggest in the world)
Like the machines of the Old World (in smaller heaps).
World championships are still contested before a few spectators
who have absent-mindedly stayed in their places:
Each time the strongest competitor
Stands no chance against the mysterious law
That drives people away from shops stocked to bursting.
Clutching their smile (but nothing else now) the retired world champions
Stand in the way of the last few streetcars left running.
Three of these broad-gauge fellows fill the sidewalk, but
What will fill them before nightfall?
The padding warms only the shoulders of those who in interminable columns
Hurry day and night through the empty canyons of lifeless stonepiles.
Their gestures are slow, like those of hungry and enfeebled beasts.
Like a whole State turning over
They work themselves slowly out of the gutters in which they
seem to be lying as for all eternity.
Their confidence, it is said
Is still there; it is based on the hope that
Tomorrow the rain will fall upwards.
But some, we hear, can still find jobs: in those places
Where whole wagon-loads of wheat are being shovelled into the ocean
And those who spend their nights on benches are, we hear, apt to
Think quite impermissible thoughts as they see
Those empty skyscrapers before dropping off to sleep.
What a bankruptcy! How
Great a fame has departed! What a discovery:
That their system of communal life displays
The same miserable flaw as that of
More modest people.
BAKING WITH SAKO
Recipe for Mendocino's Favorite Christmas Cookies
Yield: makes 2 to 3 dozen (depending on if you reroll the scraps)
- 2/3 cups vegetable shortening
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon grated orange or lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 4 teaspoons milk
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra forrolling out dough
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
Egg Yolk Glaze:
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 to 3 drops food coloring
- One 2-pound bag powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons pasteurized egg whites
For the cookies:
1.) Using a stand mixer, cream the shortening, granulated sugar, orange peel and vanilla thoroughly, about 2 minutes. Add in the egg and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 more minute. Add in the milk and mix.
2.) Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, and then blend into the cream mixture. Divide the dough in half (thirds if you double your recipe), slightly flatten between 2 sheets of waxed paper and refrigerate for 1 hour (or freeze for 20 minutes).
3.) Roll out the dough 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. Transfer the shapes to lightly greased cookie sheets and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
4.) For the egg yolk glaze: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. While the dough is chilling, combine the egg yolk, 1 teaspoon water and food coloring. Paint the cookies (with a soft brush) with the egg yolk glaze.
5.) Bake the cookies for 6 to 7 minutes. Do not allow the cookies to brown. The cookies will be slightly puffed and the glaze will look crackled. Bake in 2 batches if you don't reroll the scraps.
6.) For the decorative white icing: While the cookies are baking, mix the powdered sugar, milk and egg whites. Make sure that it is thick and somewhat retains its shape.
7.) Remove the cookies from the oven to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.
8.) Then, using a pastry bag or zip-top bag, pipe the cookies with the white icing to decorate.