The Charm of Sandwiches

In a weblog post about sandwiches, no American or Canadian can fail to mention Dagwood Bumstead and his impossibly high Dagwood sandwiches. Chic Young (1901-1973) created the comic strip Blondie 1930-09-08. It relates the adventures of flapper Blondie Boopadoop both before, but especially after, her marriage to Dagwood, and their life together with children Alexander and Cookie and dog Daisy, in Joplin, Missouri. In my childhood, this comic strip was required reading.

In this weblog post, the topic is the vegan recreation of iconic meat based sandwiches including tuna, clubhouse and BLT – bacon, lettuce, tomato. It is inspired by an article in the Guardian, about upcoming vegetarian makeover at Pret a Manger: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/oct/17/pret-a-manger-gives-blt-a-vegan-makeover

Some common ingredients: Cheese, at Cliff Cottage, refers specifically to just one variant – Cheddar, which was the only type of cheese its residents actually grew up with; Roasted shiitake mushrooms are used to imitate rashers of bacon; mayonnaise can be regular or vegan, depending on whether or not the consumption of eggs is a dietary consideration.

Cheese Fantasy (a Cheese Dream, but without the bacon)

Open-faced grilled cheese sandwich with roasted shiitake mushrooms.

FLT (Fungus, lettuce, tomato)

Pret a Manger refers to their equivalent as VLT, as if mushrooms were vegetables. Roasted shiitake mushrooms, with sliced tomatoes, green salad and mayonnaise. The mayonnaise can be filled with finely chopped tofu.

Funa (fake tuna)

Kabuli chickpeas aka garbanzo beans, can successfully mimic tuna. They are crushed then flavoured with chopped pickled onions, capers and seaweed mixed with vegan or regular mayonnaise, depending on whether or not the consumption of eggs is a problem. The precise formulations are left as an experimental exercise.

Gladys sandwich

This sandwich is named after Gladys Love Presley (née Smith; 1912 – 1958) who made these sandwiches for her son, Elvis (1935 – 1977). It consists of toasted bread slices with peanut butter, sliced or mashed banana. Originally it sometimes contained bacon. Where this taste is wanted, roasted shiitake mushrooms can be substituted. Honey is sometimes used as a condiment.

Hangout (is the new clubhouse)

Wikipedia tells us that vegetarian club sandwiches often include hummus, avocado or spinach, as well as substitute the real bacon with a vegetarian alternative. Mustard and sometimes honey mustard are common condiments. The sandwich is commonly served with an accompaniment of either coleslaw, or potato salad, and often garnished with a pickle. Due to high fat and carb content from the bread, bacon and dressing, club sandwiches have sometimes been criticized as unhealthy.

Waterloo Sandwich

Food writers James Beard (1903 – 1985) and Evan Jones (1915 – 1996) believed that the Denver sandwich was created by Chinese chefs who cooked for logging camps and railroad gangs in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was probably derived from egg foo young. The first written reference to a Denver sandwich appears 1903-04-07 in the, Semi Weekly Iowa State Reporter (Waterloo, Iowa), pg.  6, col. 1. In honour of this, the hamless equivalent of a Denver sandwich, has been renamed the Waterloo sandwich. It features shiitake mushrooms, onions and green peppers in a cheese omelette.

Conclusion

Reducing red meat consumption in sandwiches doesn’t seem to be a major problem, as long as one appreciates roasted shiitake mushrooms!

Milk

These are the ingredients that are the basis of my breakfast during six days of the week. From the left, four grain cereal – the four grains being oats, rye, wheat and barley, then there are containers with hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds (container courtesy Sun-Maid Raisins), almonds and pecans. Culture milk is available in a 1 liter carton. I usually eat an orange or half a grapefruit (alternate days) before the cereal, and sometimes a banana after it. I drink one cup of green tea with breakfast.
This is what the bowl of cereal looks like after culture milk has been added.

Welcome to yet another weblog post about Norwegian culture. All three definitions used, apply here. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, culture can refer to “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.” It can also refer to, “the act or process of cultivating living material (such as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient media.” A third definition refers to the, “acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills.” This will be done by introducing some norske ord = Norwegian words.

Wikipedia tells us, “Milk is a nutrient-rich, white liquid food produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for infant mammals (including humans who are breastfed) before they are able to digest other types of food.”

The average Norwegian consumes about 90 liters of melk = milk annually, along with 11 kg of yogurt = yogurt, 10 kg of krem = cream products and about 20 kg of ost = cheese. There are about 10 500 dairy farms in Norway, each with an average of 25 cows. Altogether there are about 230 000 dairy cows in Norway with each cow producing an average of 7 500 kg of milk each year. In addition, there are about 35 000 goats producing about 20 million liters of goat’s milk each year.

Sweet milk must be kept cool so as not to become sour. Without cooling technology, it was impossible to transport milk long distances, whether it was from farm to customer, from farm to dairy or from dairy to shop. The market for milk production was primarily in the cities. Therefore, the production of milk to drink was initially a niche for urban farming or for farms situated on the outskirts of the cities. Farmers who were farther away from the cities produced milk that could be processed into more durable and more easily transportable milk products such as smør = butter or cheese. Refrigeration technology has become increasingly important since the mid-1900s.

Until the middle of the 20th century milk in Norway was sold by the churn or pail. The dairies transported span = churns (milk containers) out to shops. The customers brought their own milk pails to the shops where the serving clerks poured milk from the large dairy churns. The customers also had their own smaller cream pails.

In the 1930s, provisions were made that all milk sold in stores should be pasteurized. Milk bottles were used in the interwar period, first in the big cities. Around 1960, clear glass milk bottles were replaced with brown bottles that better protected the milk from light. The milk bottles were returned by the customers to the stores.

In the 1960s, the melkekartong = milk cartons came into use, and with this, disposable packaging was introduced. By 1980, all Norwegian dairies had replaced bottles with milk cartons.

Since the 1970s, the selection of dairy products in the Norwegian grocery trade has multiplied. Yogurt was introduced around 1970, including yogurt flavored with fruit and berries.

Around 1960, skummet melk = skimmed milk came on the market. Lettmelk = low fat milk was not on sale until 1984, and in the 2000s, extra low fat milk was introduced to the market. Since the 1980s, low fat milk has accounted for an increasing proportion of the drinking milk volume.

Kulturmelk = cultured milk was originally a general type designation for soured milk, but from 2005 (together with skummet kulturmelk = skim cultured milk) it became protected by the Norwegian agricultural industry’s public labeling protected food names and belongs to Tine SA. Cultured milk is referred to by many as surmelk = sour milk as opposed to søtmelk = sweet milk, ordinary whole milk.

In contrast to North America, where similar types of milk can be made through acidification, pure lactic acid bacterial cultures are used to make cultured milk and to give it a distinctive taste and consistency, in contrast to regular homogenized milk. Regular cultured milk contains 3.8% fat, while skim cultured milk contains 0.4% fat.

Cultured milk is consumed as a drink, poured on assorted types of breakfast cereals, and is used as an ingredient in baked goods.

In Norway, one finds many other soured milk products. Tettemelk = dense milk and skjør are old varieties of Nordic cultured milk. Kefir is undoubtedly even older, but its use in Norway is more recent, as is that of yogurt. Cultura and Biola, which are Tine brands, are flavored cultured milk. Kesam or kvarg = quark, is a fresh cheese made from skimmed cultured milk.

I consume cultured milk almost exclusively, despite having to read the carton in Nynorsk = New Norwegian, the second and less popular Norwegian language that originates along the West Coast of Norway: Kulturmjølk. Syrna mjølk med lange tradisjonar. Heftig og frisk smak – ikkje ulik naturen mjølka kjem frå. (Nynorsk) = Kulturmelk. Surmelk med lange tradisjoner. Sterk og frisk smak – ikke ulik naturen melken kommer fra. (Bokmål) = Cultured Milk. Sour milk with long traditions. Strong and fresh taste – not unlike the nature, milk come from.

An irritation: Tine insists on telling me that cultured milk is traditional. I disagree. It is a modern, bacteriological enhanced milk product that has some superficial similarities to historic varieties. I also object to statements about milk being a natural product. It is a product from industrialized agriculture.

More information about milk (in Norwegian) can be found at: melk.no

An aside about food security

“Food security exists when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe food for an adequate diet that meets their nutritional needs and preferences, and which forms the basis for an active and healthy life.” United Nations definition

The term is sometimes used indiscriminately to cover also food safety, which means that the food does not contain microorganisms, environmental toxins or additives that negatively impact health, when food items are prepared and consumed as intended.

Norway is a net exporter of sea food. It produces more than enough of everything needed domestically, and its sea food exports significantly exceed its sea food imports. Norway is self-sufficient in milk. It is largely self-sufficient when it comes to meat. However, where it fails is its considerable – and increasing – deficit with respect to plant produce. It is now able to provide considerably less than 50%.

It is this lack of sufficiency in plant materials, that is prompting me to build a community greenhouse, with other members of Friends of the Earth, Inderøy, and to experiment with hydroponic gardening.

At this point, I should probably add that I do not have anything against gene modified organisms in principal. I would have no objection to using an artificial milk that is produced through bacterial processes, in vats. It seems much more humane than keeping cows. This does not mean that I support other gene modifications, such as Monsanto/ Bayer and their use of glyphosate herbicides. However, I have studied genetic engineering and microbiology, and see both fields as important contributors to increasing stocks of nutritious foods, if done properly.

Thrive Market

Thrive Market was launched in November 2014 to address the geographical and monetary challenges that bar communities from healthy food.

I’ve known about Thrive Market since 2019-03-08 at 07:20, about ten minutes before I started writing this web-log post. It happened when I read my daily Innovation of the Day email from trendwatching.com : “A plant-based version of canned tuna made by vegan food company Good Catch became available at Whole Foods and Thrive Market grocery stores in the US this quarter. The vegan ‘tuna’ was created in response to the issues of overfishing (around 90% of the fish supply has been overexploited or entirely depleted), bad conditions in fisheries and contaminants often found in real tuna, including mercury and plastics. Good Catch’s tuna is made from legumes, seaweed, and soy, and has approximately the same nutritional content as real tuna.”

That sounded interesting, but I also realized the Whole Foods had become a subsidiary of Amazon, which is a company with far too much influence in the marketplace to be of long-term benefit to consumers. I though I would look at Thrive Market, and see if it was a more suitable supplier for someone of my sensibilities.

According to Wikipedia, Thrive Market is an American e-commerce membership-based retailer offering natural and organic food products at reduced costs. It was founded by Nick Green, Gunnar Lovelace, Kate Mulling, and Sasha Siddhartha. By 2016 they had raised $141 million across three rounds of funding following their launch in November 2014. For every paid Thrive Market membership, a free membership is donated to a family in need in the United States.

Company values are expressed in their Thrive Five. These are: 1. Organic, “We’re committed to organic farming – for the sake of your health and our planet’s. If a product can be produced organically, you’ll find that option on Thrive Market.” 2. Non-GMO, “Genetically modifying our food damages our soil, our water supply, and our health. You’ll never find food containing GMOs at Thrive Market.” 3. Sustainable, “We dig into the supply chains of every product we carry to be sure it’s been produced sustainably.” 4. Non toxic, “We’ve compiled more than 450 chemicals that meet FDA standards for safety, but not ours. Because questionable ingredients don’t belong anywhere near our homes or bodies.” 5. For you, “We all have different health goals. That’s why we’ve tagged every product according to 140 different diets, allergies, and lifestyle factors—so you can easily filter by what matters most to you.”

Organic foods are positive because: herbicides, pesticides and artificial growth hormones are prohibited; the entire production process – and not just the final product – is evaluated; food tastes better and provides better nutrition, given increased ripening times and a decrease in additives; cost savings from not using expensive chemicals; less chemicals seepage into the ground, resulting is less soil and water contamination. On the negative side, organic foods are more labour intensive; cross breeding with GMO-crops can occur.

There is a lot of discussion about genetically modified organisms. Having studied genetic engineering at the turn of the millennium, I am much more open to genetically modified organisms than much of the population in Europe. In particular, I support the production of Golden Rice, a variety of Oryza sativa produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in the edible parts of rice. It produces a fortified food for populations facing a shortage of dietary vitamin A. This deficiency is estimated to kill 670 000 children under the age of 5 and cause an additional 500 000 cases of irreversible childhood blindness, each year. Golden Rice 2, developed in 2005, produces 23 times more carotenoids than golden rice. So far, no Golden Rice or Golden Rice 2 has been produced for human consumption except in clinical trials. I am open to consuming other genetically modified organisms, that have been modified to improve nutritional characteristics.

Sustainability is a difficult subject to encompass in a single paragraph. The document that comes closest to expressing my views is the Earth Charter. Among the organizations supporting it, are the two religions that I feel closest to, The Unitarian Church and the Baha’i Faith. A copy of the charter is found in an appendix to this weblog post. Thrive Market claims to have become the country’s first e-commerce company to go zero waste, making 50 plus improvements to warehouses to reach this standard. They then open-sourced the template so that other e-commerce companies could follow it. They also claim that they use 99% post-consumer recycled packaging, and are carbon neutral with respect to shipping.

Non-toxic. This is the area where I probably agree strongest with Thrive Market. Many additives are unnecessary, and definitely not worth the health and environmental problems they cause. Here are some, Bisphenol-A (BPA), a hormone-mimicker found on tincan linings, is linked to breast and prostate cancer, reproductive and behavioral problems, obesity and diabetes. Food preservatives BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) have reputations for being carcinogens, disrupting hormones and impacting male fertility. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH/rBST) can be a factor in breast, prostate and colon cancers. Sodium Aluminum Sulphate and Potassium Aluminum Sulphate are linked to adverse reproductive, neurological, behavioral, and developmental effects. Food preservatives Sodium Nitrite/ Nitrate, are linked to many types of cancer.

Having food information linked is always a benefit. To test this value, a product was selected to learn about the features provided. Broccoli was entered, but did not return any edible vegetables. Carrots was then entered, and the only thing resembling a vegetable were some small 1.4 ounce (40 grams) pouches of carrot sticks costing $3.49. San Marzano tomatoes was entered, and out came Thrive Market Organic Marinara Pasta Sauce. Not a bullseye, and not good enough for a meal, but close enough for a test about product information.

The sauce came in a 25 ounce net weight (708 g) glass jar, and cost $4.99. It was listed as having the following 21 characteristics: certified kosher, certified organic, recyclable, sustainably farmed, gluten free, organic, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, cholesterol free, dairy free, dye and color additive free, grain free, low fat, low sodium, no added sugar or sweeteners, Non-GMO, pesticide free, preservative free, soy free and yeast free. Ingredients were listed as: Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes, Organic Fresh Onions, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic Fresh Garlic, Sea Salt, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Fresh Basil.

Nutritional information provided: Serving Size: 1/2 cup (125g); Servings Per
Container: About 6; Amount per serving as a % of daily value: Calories 70, From fat35; Total Fat 4g or 6%; Saturated Fat 0g; Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 0mg 0%; Sodium 400mg or 17%; Total Carbohydrate 7g or 2%; Dietary Fiber 2g or 6%; Sugars 3g: Protein 2g; Vitamin A 8%; Vitamin C 4%; Calcium 2%; Iron 6%. Not a low calorie food.

Conclusions

Trive Market has considerably greater appeal than Amazon. However, it may not have enough appeal to encourage main-stream people to use them. Many cooks will be irritated by Thrive Market, for not providing basic ingredients, raw vegetables, for example, essential to their kitchen. A prepared sauce is not the same as a raw ingredient. It means that instead of being able to engage in one-stop shopping on the internet, one has to find alternative sources.

Appendix: The Earth Charter

Preamble

We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.

Principles

The four pillars and sixteen principles of the Earth Charter are:[

I. Respect and Care for the Community of Life

1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.

2. Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion and love.

3. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable and peaceful.

4. Secure Earth’s bounty and beauty for present and future generations.

II. Ecological Integrity

5. Protect and restore the integrity of Earth’s ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.

6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.

7. Adopt patterns of production, consumption and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights and community well-being.

8. Advance the study of ecological sustainability and promote the open exchange and wide application of the knowledge acquired.

III. Social and Economic Justice

9. Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social and environmental imperative.

10. Ensure that economic activities and institutions at all levels promote human development in an equitable and sustainable manner.

11. Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care and economic opportunity.

12. Uphold the right of all, without discrimination, to a natural and social environment supportive of human dignity, bodily health and spiritual well-being, with special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities.

IV. Democracy, Nonviolence, and Peace

13. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision-making, and access to justice.

14. Integrate into formal education and lifelong learning the knowledge, values and skills needed for a sustainable way of life.

15. Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.

16. Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence and peace.

For further information see: http://earthcharter.org/

The Charm of Lemon Pudding

This web-log post is a co-operative venture between Patricia Joyce McLellan née Commins, and Brock. Trish has done all of the hard work needed to publish a recipe. As purchasing agent, she has selected all of the ingredients. As cook, she has transformed the ingredients into something edible. As administrator, she has written out the recipe, and sent it onwards to Brock. Brock’s role, in addition to that of dishwasher, has been to photograph the final product, and to transform provided information into a blog post.

Of all the deserts in the world, Brock’s favourite is lemon pudding. He ate it as a child and continues to eat it as long as it is regularly made for him. This recipe serves six. However, there is a difference between hot lemon pudding, out of the oven, and cold lemon pudding served the next day or later, out of the fridge. Both have their own special charm.

This is what lemon pudding looks like, out of the oven

At this point I should be pointing out all of the dangers involved in making lemon pudding, including: be careful with sharp knives, hot ovens, oven dishes (filled with hot water) set out to cool. These dangers don’t end even when the pudding is served, especially if someone has allergies/ sensitivity to: eggs, milk, flour (gluten). General caution: Living involves innumerable dangers, and will ultimately end in death. If you are reading this you have not gotten to this point yet.

Equipment needed: oven, mixing bowl, juicer, grater, rubber spatula, measuring cup, mixer for beating egg whites, pan of hot water, trivet.

Ingredient Metric amount American amount
White sugar 2 dl 1 scant cup
White flour 0.5 dl ¼ ample cup
Melted butter or oil 2 tbsp 2 tbsp
Grated lemon rind From one lemon From one lemon
Lemon juice 5 tbsp 5 tbsp
Egg yolks 3 3
Egg whites 3 3
Milk 4 dl 1.5 cups
Oven temperature 160 degrees C 325 degrees F

Preheat oven to the correct temperature.

Measure, then combine sugar, flour, and butter/oil in a mixing bowl. 

Use a grater to remove lemon rind. Cut lemon in half and use a juice squeezer to collect lemon juice. Add lemon juice and rind to the flour/sugar mixture. 

Add combined egg yolks and milk.  Mix well. Fold in beaten egg whites.  Pour into greased baking pan or individual cups. 

Put the baking pan or individual cups in a larger pan where you add hot water.

Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a trivet.

Why?

Why was this post written? The main reason is to encourage others to start their own blogs, to write posts about interesting topics, and to distribute them to a limited group of family and friends. Putting the recipe into web-log form took about five minutes, it involved copying a table from an email, along with the instruction. The photograph was taken with a mobile device (aka cell phone), downloaded and added to the post. Additional time was taken researching and writing about lemon pudding.

People who are interested in the history of lemon pudding can look at: https://researchingfoodhistory.blogspot.com/2015/07/mrs-goodfellow-lemon-pudding-before.html

Fika

The Swedish Fika

The adjective Swedish is used deliberately, as potential substitutes, such as Scandinavian or Nordic, are far too generous in describing the affected geographical area, unfortunately.

Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall, authors of Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, comment, “Functioning as both a verb and a noun, the concept of fika is simple. It is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it. You can do it alone, you can do it with friends. You can do it at home, in a park or at work. But the essential thing is that you do it, that you make time to take a break: that’s what fika is all about.”

Wikipedia, under the heading Coffee Culture, notes the following: “Swedes have fika (Swedish pronunciation: [²fiːka]), meaning “coffee break”, often with pastries, although coffee can be substituted with tea or even juice, lemonade or squash for children. A sandwich, fruit or a small meal may be called fika as the English concept of afternoon tea. The tradition has spread through Swedish businesses around the world. Fika is a social institution in Sweden and the practice of taking a break with a beverage and a snack is widely accepted as central to Swedish life. As a common mid-morning and mid-afternoon practice at workplaces in Sweden, fika may also function partially as an informal meeting between co-workers and management people, and it can even be considered impolite not to join everyone else for fika.”

Coffee entered the English language in 1582 via the Dutch koffie, from the Ottoman Turkish kahve, from the Arabic qahwah. It entered Swedish as kaffe, about one hundred years later.

Wikipedia also notes that the English language term coffee break dates from 1952. The Swedish term, fika is considerably older. Equally close to American English as it is to Swedish, it is probably closer to Arabic. The first reference to it, dates from 1910 – 13. Yes, sources differ. Take the English word coffee (kaw-fee) then turn the syllables around (fee-kaw) or fika. Its origins are that simple. Where, precisely, in Sweden this first happened, and why, are questions left to etymologists, and will not be addressed here, except to say that not all sources agree.

The Universal Fika

At formal meetings, almost nothing new is ever said and the importance of messages imparted, is always in doubt. Informal meetings are much more effective, when communication is the goal. Yet, things cannot be left to chance.

I have often argued that e-mails are a much better substitute for meetings. Unfortunately, on the one occasion that my employer tried this, I neglected to read the pertinent e-mail. Thus, one day I drove the 45 km to work, only to be told that we would be going on a course at a hotel 10 km in the opposite direction from our house.

The physical meeting place for a regular fika should be designed. One has to take into consideration how people group, and interact while engaging with each other over coffee. There can be various approaches. Anthropologists use ethnographic observation, and interaction designers have similar techniques. One might even want to consult with architects and engineers, as well as other people who have an understanding of materials and the environment.

Sound is a particularly fascinating factor in the design of meeting spaces. An excess of polished surfaces may cause needless reverberation, while an excess of textiles may absorb and deaden too much sound. With computer simulation, as my own specialization, I will take the opportunity to encourage the use of simulation models in designing any environment.

My experience of fikas is in work and educational settings. For me, a fika is an informal meeting, disguised as a break. During a fika, the situation confronting each and every participant can be discussed in a friendly and helpful manner. Bosses have to put away their titles, and open their ears. Even the most timid are expected to voice their opinions. In this way group consensus can be explored and developed.

While there can be clusters of people, who have cluster-wide communication, there must also be wider forms of communication that allow conversational topics to seep between clusters. It is also important that participants (to some degree) rotate their cluster membership. As in any meeting, some topics are generally avoided. On the other hand, there are usually some people who are willing to break any taboo. This results in fluid transitions, rather than sharp demarcations.

Far too much discussion of fikas revolves around food. Obesity is a major problem in Western countries. Many people suffer with gluten related conditions. Brones and Kindvall are far too concerned with baked goods, and do a disservice in encouraging their consumption. I have come across some institutions that provide free waffle batter (and iron), along with assorted sweet condiments such as syrups, honey and jams. I wonder why these institutions hate people. I will end this tirade by noting that processed foods bring with them more disease than health, and have no place in a modern workplace.

Personally, I would like to encourage the consumption of more fruit and vegetables. These can take many different forms, but I will mention both salads and soups. There are people who cannot consume various types of fruit and vegetables. For example, more than one person I know has problems after consuming raw apples and raw carrots. Yet, they are able to eat apple sauce and carrot cake without problems. The lesson here, is that if anything is to be served, there must be a variety. One size does not fit all.

Every workshop needs space and time for discussion. At Cliff Cottage’s Unit One, we are attempting to develop our own fika tradition. Unfortunately, it still occurs more often in theory than in practice. On Friday, at 12:00 tools are put down, cups are picked up, to be filled with coffee, tea, infusions or just plain water, along with a choice of fruit. For the next hour people are expected to contribute their opinions about workshop activism, or any other topic of mutual interest. The one sin to be avoided is gossip.


Down to Earth

V1 2018-06-24 18:09; V2 2018-06-24 23:37 Some minor changes, including names/descriptions of courses.

English version, Norwegian version follows

The Intergalactic Rocket Science Academy (IRSA) has hovered over everyone’s heads, in outer space, far too long. Now, it needs your help to launch a one week workshop, Down to Earth.

Target group: Earthlings, especially those with physical or mental health issues. OK, that includes all of them.

Earthling at a café in Prague, Czechia (photo: Anders Nord 2018 in Unsplash)

Principles: Fun First! “If it ain’t fun, it ain’t part of IRSA.”

Location: Space Station Straumen [that is Inderøy’s municipal centre. More specifically, at Hastighet, Inderøys teknogarasje = Velocity, Inderøy’s techno garage,  being constructed – at least in theory – as this weblog is being written. It has received a grant of NOK 250 000, about CAD 40 000 to equip a 70m2 former classroom with production machinery, such as 3D printers and a laser cutter, not to mention electronic equipment.]

Arrival Sunday evening; Departure Saturday morning. Information about the specific movement of space shuttles from various planets will be provided later. [Actual dates and years? Petty details like those will be worked out later.]

Groups: There are three groups earthlings can choose between.

Clothing: Functional clothing for everyone [Replaces: Fashionable and functional adaptive clothing for the elderly and disabled.] At the end of the week, each participant will have one garment that they can take with them to their home planet.

Food: Tasty and nutritious food for everyone [Replaces: for the elderly and allergic.] At the end of the week, each participant will have (at least) five recipes they can take home with them. They will also prepare food for the evening meal.

Technology: Home automation for everyone [replaces, for the elderly and disabled.] At the end of the week, each participant will have one device that they can take with them to their home planet. Involves programming, electronics, 3D-printing.

Notes:

Earthlings have lost the ability to photosynthesize, and must “eat”. They gather together for a “meal” several times during an earth day. Earth friendly food will be served, and a food group will be formed in advance to make sure that all participants are able to eat the food served.

Earthlings need to “reflect”, “rest” and “sleep”. These are time periods when they need to be alone. To put it in terms a robot would understand, they need to recharge their batteries.

Remember, Earthlings are primitive. They cannot theorize, practicize and exercise simultaneously, but need separate sessions devoted to each one. They have no capacity for brain to brain communication, but must rely on “speech” (sound making) and “hearing” (sound sensing) for communication. Because of variations in sound sensing capabilities, sound makers have to use artificial amplifiers, especially in the presence of old earthlings.

Earthlings use “breaks” for informal communication, and fluid exchange. Fluid intake of water, coffee or tea is public. Fluid outtake is private, and is undertaken in rooms especially designed for the purpose.

Daily program

Morning meal 9:00 – 10:00.

Theory session: 10:00 – 10:45; break; 11:00 – 11:45; break.

Time for reflection: 12:00 – 13:00.

Common main meal: 13:00 – 14:00.

Practical session: 14:00 – 14:45; break; 15:00 – 15:45; break.

Time for reflection, exercise (walk): 16:00 – 18:00.

Evening meal: 18:00 – 19:00.

Optional cooperative projects: 19:00 – 20:00.

Theory sessions:

First hour

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: Coping with life. Strategies for enhanced survival as an earthling.

Wednesday: Clowning. Expressing emotions without words. Extends over two hours.

Second hour

Separate sessions for each of the groups, every day but Wednesday. Here, theoretical information related to the specific group will be presented.

Practical sessions:

Separate sessions for each of the groups. Here, earthlings will use their hands to make things related to the goals of their specific group.

Exercise sessions:

Walks need to be selected, so that people, either alone or with others can walk sufficiently.

Stop the Press!

While it might be fun to start off with a five-day workshop, the entire event might also turn out to be a catastrophe. Perhaps the correct approach is doing what the IRSA does best: build a three stage workshop rocket!

Y0 (Year Zero)

Stage 1. An experimental session. Each teacher makes a lesson plan for a single 45 minute theory hour, plus a single 45 minute practical hour. These two hours are offered as a separate event.

A teaching session should be more than a single organism, creating sound bytes in front of other organisms. The teacher will have to assess whether materials should be read, before the session starts. If so, what is the teacher going to do if there are students with reading difficulties (hint: make audio files of the materials.) Photographs, illustrations, videos, simulations and demonstrations may all be used to enhance learning.

A quiz at the end of the session, can help determine if participants have learned what has been expected of them. At the end of this event, participants are asked for feedback, about the event they have just attended.

Stage 2. A course over several weeks. The feedback from the experimental session will allow the teacher to make adjustments to the lesson plan for the first session, or scrap it entirely. The teacher can now make continue to make lesson plans for the entire course, along with assorted aids, and to implement them on a weekly basis, making adjustments each week as needed. At the end of the course, participants – once again – are asked for feedback.

Stage 3. A workshop! Now we are back to where we started from, but with one major difference. The teacher has experience and, hopefully, confidence.

Y1 (Year One)

If one decides that the workshop has value for other people than the initial participants, additional workshops can be made. These can be located in different cities and held in different languages.

At the same time, new topics can be developed for different target groups. Three of these groups could be 1) parents, 2) immigrants and 3) youth.

If you would like further information about workshop participation, or if you would like to host a similar workshop on your planet, contact brock at mclellan dot no.

Ned til Jorden: Den norske versjonen/ Down to Earth: The Norwegian version.

Intergalaktisk Rakettvitenskaps Academy (IRVA) har svevet over alles hoder, i det ytre rom, altfor lenge. Nå trenger den din hjelp til å starte en ukes workshop, ned til jorden.

Målgruppe: Jordboerne, spesielt de med fysiske eller psykiske problemer. OK, det inkluderer alle av dem.

Prinsipper: Moro først! “Hvis det ikke er morsomt, er det ikke en del av IRVA.”

Sted: Romstasjon Straumen [det er Inderøys kommunale sentrum. Nærmere bestemt Hastighet, Inderøys teknogarasje konstruert – i det minste teoretisk – da denne bloggen blir skrevet. Det har mottatt en gave på NOK 250 000 for å utstyre et 70m2 tidligere klasserom med produksjonsmaskiner, for eksempel 3D-skrivere og laserkutter, og ikke minst elektronisk utstyr.]

Ankomst søndag kveld; avreise lørdag morgen. Informasjon om de nøyaktige bevegelser av romskip fra de ulike planeter vil bli gitt senere. [Faktiske datoer og år? Små detaljer som disse vil også bli utarbeidet senere.]

Undervisningsgrupper: Det er tre grupper jordboerne kan velge mellom.

Klær: Funksjenelle klær for alle. [Erstatter, Fasjonable og funksjonelle, adaptive klær til eldre og funksjonshemmede.] På slutten av uken vil hver deltaker ha ett plagg som de kan ta med seg til deres hjemme planet.

Mat: Velsmakende og næringsrik mat for alle. [Erstatter, til eldre og allergiskere.] Ved slutten av uken vil hver deltaker ha (minst) fem oppskrifter de kan ta med seg. De vil også tilberede mat til kveldsmåltid.

Teknologi: Hjemmautomatisering for alle [Erstatter, for eldre og funksjonshemmede.] Ved slutten av uken vil hver deltaker ha en enhet som de kan ta med seg til deres hjemmeplan. Involver programmering, elektronikk, 3D-utskrift.

Merknader:

Jordboerne har mistet muligheten til å fotosyntetisere, og må “spise”. De samles sammen for et “måltid” flere ganger i løpet av en jorddag. Jordvennlig mat serveres, og en matvaregruppe vil bli dannet på forhånd for å sikre at alle deltakere kan spise maten.

Jordboerne trenger å “reflektere”, “hvile” og “sove”. Disse er tidsperioder når de trenger å være alene. For å si det som en robot ville forstå, må de lade opp batteriene.

Husk at jordenboerne er primitive. De kan ikke teoretisere, praktisere og trene samtidig, men trenger separate økter viet til hver enkelt aktivitet. De har ingen kapasitet til hjernekommunikasjon, men må stole på “tale” (lydfremstilling) og “hørsel” (lydfølelse) for kommunikasjon. På grunn av variasjoner i lydavkjenningsegenskapene, må lydprodusenter bruke kunstige forsterkere, spesielt i nærvær av gamle jordboerne.

Jordboerne bruker “pauser” for uformell kommunikasjon, og fluidutveksling. Væskeinntak av vann, kaffe eller te er offentlig. Væskeutslipp er privat og foregår i rom spesielt egnet til formålet.

Daglig program

Frokost 9:00 – 10:00.

Teoriøkt: 10:00 – 10:45; pause; 11:00 – 11:45; pause.

Tid for refleksjon: 12:00 – 13:00.

Felles hovedmåltid: 13:00 – 14:00.

Praktiskøkt: 14:00 – 14:45; pause; 15:00 – 15:45; pause.

Tid for refleksjon, mosjon (gange): 16:00 – 18:00.

Kveldsmat: 18:00 – 19:00.

Valgfrie samarbeidsprosjekter: 19:00 – 20:00.


Teori økter:

Første time

Mandag, tirsdag, torsdag, fredag: Løft med livet. Strategier for forbedret overlevelse som jordboende.

Onsdag: Klovne. Å uttrykke følelser uten ord.  Strekker seg over to timer.

Andre time

Separate økter for hver av gruppene, hver dag bortsatt fra onsdag. Her vil teoretisk informasjon relatert til den spesifikke gruppen bli presentert.

Praktiske økter:

Separate økter for hver av gruppene. Her vil jordboere bruke hendene til å gjøre ting relatert til målene til deres spesifikke gruppe.

Treningsøkter:

Vandringer må velges, slik at folk, enten alene eller med andre, kan gå tilstrekkelig.

Stopp pressen!

Selv om det kan være morsomt å starte med en fem-dagers verksted, kan hele arrangementet også vise seg å være en katastrofe. Kanskje er riktig tilnærming det som IRVA gjør best: bygge et tre-trinns verkstedrakkett!

Y0 (År Null)

Fase 1. En eksperimentell økt. Hver lærer gjør en leksjon plan for en 45 minutters teori time, pluss en 45 minutters praktisk time. Disse to timene tilbys som et separat arrangement.

En undervisningssesjon bør være mer enn en enkelt organisme som produserer lydbyter foran andre organismer. Læreren må vurdere om materialet skal leses før sesjonen starter. Hvis så, hva skal læreren gjøre hvis det er studenter med lesevansker (hint: lag lydfiler av materialet.) Fotografier, illustrasjoner, videoer, simuleringer og demonstrasjoner kan alle brukes til å forbedre læringen.

En quiz i slutten av sesjonen, kan bidra til å avgjøre om deltakerne har lært hva som er forventet av dem. På slutten av denne hendelsen blir deltakerne bedt om tilbakemelding, om hendelsen de nettopp har deltatt på.

Fase 2. Et kurs over flere uker. Tilbakemeldingen fra eksperimentell økt vil gi læreren mulighet til å gjøre justeringer til leksjonsplanen for den første økten, eller skrap den helt. Læreren kan nå fortsette å lage lektionsplaner for hele kurset, sammen med assisterte hjelpemidler, og å implementere dem på ukentlig basis, foreta justeringer hver uke etter behov. På slutten av kurset blir deltakerne – igjen – bedt om tilbakemelding.

Fase 3. Et verksted! Nå er vi tilbake til hvor vi startet fra, men med en stor forskjell. Læreren har erfaring og, forhåpentligvis, tillit.

Y1 (År Ett)

Hvis man bestemmer seg for at verkstedet har verdi for andre enn de opprinnelige deltakerne, kan det opprettes flere workshops. Disse kan lokaliseres i forskjellige byer og holdes på forskjellige språk.

Samtidig kan nye emner utvikles for ulike målgrupper. Tre av disse gruppene er 1) foreldre, 2) innvandrere og 3) ungdom.

Hvis du vil ha mer informasjon om workshopdeltakelse, eller hvis du ønsker å være vert for et lignende verksted på din planet, ta kontakt med brock på mclellan dot no.

Life under Late-Capitalism

Mike Small describes himself as a social ecologist, Scottish socialist and republican.  Others describe him as an activist, writer and publisher, having  founded Product magazine: https://www.productmagazine.co.uk/ , launched as Red Herring in 1998. He is also editor of Bella Caledonia. Mike is from Aberdeen, Scotland.

At the end of April, Mike left us some guidelines for living under late capitalism: https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2018/04/28/guidelines-for-life-under-late-capitalism/

He begins by stating that we will buy all of our goods. There is no mention of making them, or bartering them. There are only two sources: Ikea big boxes and Amazon online. The quality of foodstuffs is questionable.

The interested reader is still free to read the original document, with many comments reflecting current events. At 660 words and 2 photographs, it is a fairly short read. Yes, big brother is there, using Facebook, or equivalent, to herd everyone to an acceptance of their fate. Celebrities deserve their fame and riches!

The rest of us, “…will be connected to a global ‘network’ which will monitor your activities, provide you with leisure, sexual stimulation and steer your political actions. This will be provided for free. You will at all times hold a device which will give you ‘notifications’ from the network. It will bleep and ping when you are to take notice. You will be provided with several platforms to express your views and chatter with others. This will be the last thing you do a night and the first thing you do  in the morning. Your children will also be attached to the network where they will be provided with games.”

Foodstuff activism, may have to join workshop activism, as a high priority activity. Imagine, secret covens of people dirtying their hands toiling with soil, with spades and hoes, producing food for themselves, their families, friends and others. Others may prefer hydroponics, geodesic dome greenhouses, LED lights and Arduino microprocessors. Will vegetable gardening become a crime? Will the acquisition of animal protein become a capital offense? I am not sure that I could enjoy producing protein from insects, but if necessary I could produce escargot, as an act of defiance.

If it becomes compulsory to wear devices, rest assured that my highest priority will be the design and manufacturing of a robot to simulate (read: “fake”) human existence. Perhaps the time has come for everyone to detach themselves from their devices … before it is too late!

Se also: https://gardenwarriorsgoodseeds.com/

Yup, here it is – a logo. Not sure who to credit for it. “this tentative logo was created by Winona [LaDuke]’s staff.”

Half-Truths about Healthy Eating

Guest author: Proton Bletchley

Golf courses can be described as green deserts. It is a half-truth. A lot of grass can be grown on them, they are not noted for their ecological diversity, but they aren’t deserts. For the past few days, I have been a regular visitor to a food desert, Cain’s, Your Independent Grocer, in Thompson Country. Again, that sentence contains a lot of half-truths.

independent_01RGB-copy
Franchise operator Jason Cain giving away groceries in a well arranged publicity stunt, 2015-11-10 (photo: http://www.kamloopsthisweek.com/cain-raises-spirits/)

Let’s begin by clearing away some half-truths. Thompson country is Kamloops. Jason Cain is a franchise owner/operator. Your Independent Grocer, is a supermarket chain owned by National Grocers, which is part of Loblaw Companies Limited. So much for independence. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Your_Independent_Grocer

The store isn’t really a food desert. One major challenge of visiting this store, despite its enormous size, is finding something edible to eat. My estimate is that about 90% of their food-category products are processed. This means that they contain larger quantities of sugar, salt and additives, than I appreciate. The other 10% of the store contains fairly healthy food. My travelling companion, Daffy Marmot, was impressed with the fresh produce section. The Blue Menu Bleu assortment seemed to meet our culinary tastes.

bty
Healthyish peanut butter

The peanut butter contained 100% peanuts, which means no salt, no sugar, no additives. We enjoyed the crunchy variety, and didn’t mind the separation of the oil, which had to be stirred in. It was all part of the healthy food experience.

bty

One major problem with today’s food stores is the obesity caused by easy access to inappropriate foods. People succumb to temptation. Physically separate people from food, and many of the problems associated with instant gratification will disappear. This too is probably only a half-truth.

Personally, I don’t want to order food. My refrigerator and storage cupboards should be perfectly capably of tracking inventory, and making purchases from an online supplier. My role should only be to make a few supplementary purchases, preferably only within one hour after eating a meal. Don’t worry. Such dictatorial measures will not happen as long as large corporations are profiting from obesity.

One of the objections made to online grocery purchases is an inability to feel produce, things like apples. Yuck, the last thing I want to purchase is an apple that has been touched by 100 different people.

One solution is the use of collaborative robots (cobots) in the food chain. A cobot is “an apparatus and method for direct physical interaction between a person and a general purpose manipulator controlled by a computer.”  http://www.foodqualityandsafety.com/article/robots-help-boost-food-chain-productivity/?singlepage=1&theme=print-friendly

Market leader is the Danish company, Universal Robots, with about a 60% market penetration. Collaborative robot arms belong to an emerging new class of industrial robotics that can operate outside of safety enclosures alongside employees.

cobotsUR
A Universal Robots cobot moving fresh eggs. (photo: Universal Robots)

Soft Robotics is also making an impression in the market, because their tools can delicately pick and pack food products.

softrobotics-1
A Soft Robotics’ tool picking up a bagel. (photo: Soft Robotics)

London based, but with its Engineering department in Tallinn, Estonia, Starship Technologies has launched a nine-month pilot program to test out the Starship’s robots on public sidewalks in Redwood City, California. It partnered with food-delivery service Doordash to have its robots transport meals from restaurants in Redwood City’s downtown area. Starship’s robots move just slightly faster than walking speed, about 6 kmh, and they have a range of 3 km. During this testing phase, Starship uses living employees to babysit robots on deliveries. Their ultimate goal is to drive down the costs to less than $2 per delivery. If food deliveries are successful, the company hopes to quickly expand its business to handle grocery trips and delivering parcels.

starship-technologies-delivery-robot-768x513
Starship Technologies delivery robot (photo: Starship Technologies)

The Swiss company, TeleRetail, is testing delivery bots in Mountain View. The robots are designed to offer a for-hire service that can be adapted to various tasks. Their business model is based on the Zipcar: anybody can use the robots to run whatever errands they want. They offer a complete logistics platform that enables them to integrate any mode of transportation.

Myrmex is launching an unmanned grocery delivery system using mobile robotic units. It is capable of delivering an online order just seconds after customer arrival at a pick-up point. The system is called CPS for Curbside Pickup System.  Each online order is put into a plastic box which is then placed on a wire frame (pod) with a capacity of 20 boxes. According to Myrimex, more than 50 percent of the online grocery shoppers (young families with children, working people with irregular schedule) are reluctant to choose home delivery because of the challenges in meeting a timeslot. Click & collect gives users advantages in terms of personal time management, and lower costs. http://www.myrmex-inc.com/

Some of the proposed delivery solutions may also turn out to be half truths. Daffy Marmot, for example, feels that many (male) technologists have underestimated the social value of shopping.

About the Author: Proton Bletchley is Chief Scientist at Unit One. He is also heading a program leading to a Wonderment Diploma in Mechatronics & Robotics, from Ginnunga Gap Polytechnic. This is not just a half-truth, it is a non-truth.

 

Life skills

As the world continues its spiral of decline, there will be a greater and greater need for insight into basic knowledge, as more and more families become dysfunctional.

J. D. Vance explained the challenge in a TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/j_d_vance_america_s_forgotten_working_class

Not everyone is blessed with an understanding of hygiene. Because lives may depend on it, The province of British Columbia requires all food service employees to take a “Foodsafe” course, level 1. This ensures that everyone has a minimal level of knowledge about the correct handling of food. http://www.foodsafe.ca/

For some time, male inmates at Verdal prison have been offered a “House Husband” course. Here, they learn the basics of hygiene, food preparation for a family (nutrition, meal planning, setting tables, cooking, serving, using dish washers and washing/ drying dishes), laundry basics (washing, drying and ironing clothes, some minor repairs) and house cleaning (dusting, vacuuming, washing floors, walls, windows and bathrooms).

2010-12-11 Snowblower
Snow removal is not covered in the “House Husband” course. Perhaps it should be, but with a focus on more manual methods. (Photo: Patricia McLellan, 2010)

Dysfunctional families and their members need fundamental knowledge on how to survive. “Life skills” is the proposed name for a MOOC course that provides this fundamental knowledge. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. Those interested in learning how to make MOOCs should investigate: https://www.canvas.net/browse/itsligo/courses/moocs-on-a-budget

Comments are invited as to what such a course should contain, and how it should be divided up into modules.