Paris – Solidarité

Paris – Solidarité
By Ben W. | BlueCatShip

I woke up and went online and have just seen the news. Terrible.

Why Paris, or France? Good question.

As a broad generalization, French people tend to react passionately towards social justice issues, philosophical issues, and so on, on a somewhat different level or manner than do Americans. Are they any more or less passionate or idealistic or realistic? Well, probably not, but there are differences in national character in how French people express themselves.

This is my impression as a French-speaking American. If I were to live in a natively French-speaking area, I’d have to learn a lot of vocabulary and review some things, but my French is still pretty fluent, thanks to several semesters in college.

Paris is a large international city and a center of commerce as well as the national capital. It’s older and more historic than, say, New York City. This makes it a target for people who want to cause disorder and terror.

France also has a long history, both as a colonial power, but also as an exploratory and trading nation, and a long history of contact with northern Africa and the Middle East. So there’s a long history of both friendly and unfriendly feelings going on between those nations and France. France and French-speaking areas tend to have tolerant relations with these areas, but that isn’t to say that there isn’t also prejudice and tension between French-speaking and north African / Middle Eastern peoples.

So while France has a minority population of people from the area, Muslims and others, Arabic-speaking people and others, there are still tensions, despite tolerance. And that leads some to want to put a wedge in and use those sore spots and prejudices on both sides as a way to drive people further apart or to get what a given person or group wants, disorder, terror, as a way to grab power, wealth, beliefs, and so on, while people are looking the other way. By giving both sides more reasons to dislike (or hate or fear) each other, the people behind such attacks want to gain for themselves and their beliefs.

So never mind an overall history of relations between France and north African / Middle-Eastern nations, any tendencies towards tolerance and peaceful relations, trade, and so on. Never mind that there’s a minority population throughout France. Instead, people bent on causing hate and fear as tools would rather cause hate and fear and try to make people believe what their group wants, to grab what they want to get, make some political or religious statement, further divide and stir people up, and so on.

—–

One of my professors when I went back for my associate’s degree was an immigrant, a Syrian and Muslim, fluent in English, working toward citizenship for himself and his wife, with a child born here in the US. When someone had asked him, during an informal class session, about the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, about perception of Muslims, and so on, he gave an interesting answer.

He said that it’s one thing to be over here and hear about the conflict going on. But it’s another to be over there and have one group fighting another group, back and forth, this group, that group, another group, both within one’s own religion or nationality and outside it from neighboring countries or from minority or majority groups within one’s own country. That is, if someone attacks your neighborhood, your friends, your relatives, assaults a woman you know, kills or maims kids, etc., attacks buildings, monuments and historical sites, sacred areas (mosques, temples, churches, synagogues), then of course people get angry and retaliate. They take things into their own hands to protect themselves. Or they get angry and fight back and cause more violence against whoever they think hurt them. That goes back and forth, on and on. It causes animosity and hate and division, over generations, even if people want to be moderate or peaceful. People can only take so much, and then they react, whether it’s wise or justified or not. And the cycle continues on and on, over and over — because no on stops it and keeps it stopped. No one says enough’s enough, I won’t do that anymore.

He said also that you could either stay in all that and live as best you could and do what you can, as a moderate person, peaceful, religious or secular — Or you could decide enough was enough, and take yourself and your family and move somewhere else, where there was more opportunity and a peaceful life and some more degree of tolerance for differences of religion, ethnicity, and so on.

He chose to move to the US, study here, live here, become an American citizen, and to marry a young woman from his country who had come here, where she was working toward citizenship too, and where they married here and had their first child, who was therefore an American. His English was good, he was mostly moderate both in religious views and in secular views. He was a professor, so an academic, and education and intelligence were important to him.

Be it noted, I didn’t always agree with him or how he did things. Heh. But he was an OK guy, a reasonable person, I thought, and someone you could deal with. He sincerely wanted that American life and ideal for himself and his family. — I can also say he had the worst handwriting I think i’ve ever seen. I can’t vouch for how his Syrian and Arabic writing were, but his English handwriting? Awful. LOL. I relied on taking notes from his speaking, not from what he was putting on the board, which I could hardly read, even knowing what it was. Heh.

But I took his points, his experience and perspective, as key in understanding what it’s like to live in an area where so many very different groups are often in armed conflict and competing for beliefs and ideas, for worldly goods and land to live on, for their perceived ways of life. — And his demonstrated choice, to move out of that and seek a new life elsewhere, even while keeping his own beliefs and his family contacts (of course), that spoke to what he thought, believed, how he viewed things, and his ultimate goals.

—–

Around the same time, my mom and I also often ate at a local restaurant that served mostly “Italian” dishes. We were regulars and got to know the owners a little. When we asked where they were from, the answer, carefully, was that they were Persian. (Note that. Not stated as Farsi, not stated as Iranian.) My mom and I both knew “Persian” is “iranian, Farsi.” They said that they put it that way because of so much prejudice against Middle Easterners, especially Iranians, and Muslims. (They were Christians.) They stayed in business a few years before closing the restaurant. But this shows how people’s perceptions and ignorance and prejudices can operate. Tell someone they were Persian, and most people would think that was wonderful. Tell the same someone they were Iranian, and the perception would’ve changed, for most people, because of preconceived notions of what Iranians (and Muslims) are like, versus the romantic notion of what “Persian” is. As someone who knew a little (very little) about history and language, like myself or like my mom, it was as frustrating for us, as mainstream, majority Americans, to run into that from people who only wanted to build a new life in America, assimilate, and leave that old life behind. They had left their home country to escape the bad situation over there.

Later that same semester, I learned from another professor (white American) that a fellow professor in her department was Farsi / Persian / Iranian and having real trouble, because she and her family had had to leave Iran to be safe, and yet she (and family) was (were) facing prejudice over here, due to prejudices about race, nationality, and religion. (Whether the other prof was Muslim or Christian wasn’t stated, but she may have been Christian instead of Muslim.)

So — The problem is ongoing from both (or multiple) sides.

Where does it stop? When do enough people stop and say they’ve had enough of the endless cycle of violence and intolerance, and they don’t want to fight with their neighbors anymore?

When and why does it become acceptable to hate so much over religious beliefs or some other ideology that you and your group think that hurting and killing people who live nearby, neighbors, is justifiable, or even a good thing?

How can anyone believe in any god and claim to want tolerance, peace, love, forgiveness — and yet actively hate and exclude and hurt other people, just because they are different, or believe or act differently?

Note: I don’t exempt my own country or my own religious background from those questions. I am just as offended by that as any “foreign” actions.

The level of ignorance, of prejudice without thought, of outright hatred and greed and intolerance, instead of a willingness to live and let live … offends me greatly. But I don’t therefore want to go out and hurt or kill or drive out or shun anyone because of it. You go your way, I’ll go my way. If we interact, then be decent and civil. Treat the other person like you’d want to be treated. Don’t be awful to someone, just because they are different or believe differently. Why treat someone badly for that? And how is that going to influence them to listen to your ideas, to think about them, and maybe to change their minds to agree with you? It won’t. It only drives people apart. I want a better world than that.

“We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
— Benjamin Franklin

“I may not agree with you, sir, but I shall defend to the death your right to disagree.”
— Voltaire (very) paraphrased

“They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
— Benjamin Franklin, 1755, to the Pennsylvania State Legislature

 

Chicken Fusion Recipe

Chicken Fusion
Preliminary, to be Adjusted
By Ben Whisman | BlueCatShip
2015-01-21

This recipe got its start in a very roundabout way from a batch of chicken strips I fixed with too much pepper in the lemon pepper to suit my taste.

I made stir-fried rice and added a little sour cream, before eating it all.

Then inspiration struck on something else to try. The result is a preliminary recipe based on that, which I’ll modify after testing it out.

* Determine measurements on spices, cans, bags;
* Determine amounts for optional ingredients;
* Determine mix for Cajun gumbo veggies, if people can’t find pre-packaged;

* Instead of Season Salt, try:
{
1x salt
1x black pepper
2x basil
2x oregano
1x powdered cloves
1x cinnamon
1x allspice
1x nutmeg
2x cilantro
}

* Consider a dash of Curry Powder.

Ingredients

1 pkg. (?? oz.) chicken strips, uncooked, no breading, thawed
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 dashes Season Salt (Lawry’s or other) — how many tsp.?
2 or 3 dashes Lemon Pepper shaker mix — how many tsp.?
2 oz. Lemon juice
2 to 4 oz. Mango nectar?

2 cups cooked brown rice
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 eggs
4 tbsp. sour cream
1 large pkg. (?? oz.) Cajun style gumbo vegetables, thawed (available in the frozen foods aisle)
1 can (12 oz.?) diced or chopped tomatoes

Equipment

Wok or Skillet
Wok Spatula
Butcher Knife (to dice chicken strips and optional mangoes)
Measuring Spoons
Measuring Cup

Procedure

Dice chicken strips into bite-sized pieces, about 1 inch (2.54 cm).
Add olive oil to pan. Coat chicken pieces with olive oil, season salt, and lemon pepper.
Bake or fry, stirring occasionally to coat and brown evenly, about 15 minutes.
Add lemon juice and mango nectar to brighten flavor and keep from drying out. Cook 5 minutes to reduce down.
Reserve.

In wok or skillet, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil. Add pre-cooked brown rice, stir to heat.
Creat a small well in center of pan. Break 2 eggs, scramble, keep stirring, and mix into the rice, so you have bits of scrambled egg among the rice.
Add 4 tbsp. sour cream and fold into rice to cream it.
Add gumbo vegetables and can of diced tomatoes. Stir to cook and have rice absorb tomato juice.
Add reserved chicken pieces. Stir to combine. Cook about 2 to 5 minutes to heat all and combine flavors.

Notes and Suggestions:

Add more mango nectar if desired. Add bite-sized mango pieces, if you have them.

If desired, you may wish to add a little garlic, shallots, and onions, sautée before adding chicken pieces to cook.

Add 2nd bag of gumbo veggies and more rice, to extend the recipe. This would still give each person enough chicken. Or simply double the recipe.

Serve immediately. Approx. 6 servings.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year’s Eve!

My day yesterday began with a most ambiguous arrival by message cylinder. One was quite sure for a while that perhaps one’s financial situation was very badly in error, a mistake on the part of the sender, or else a most infortuitous change in its situation of some kind.

After wondering how I could (at all) survive such an outcome, great calamity, dread, and near panic…one calmed down and resolved to take the beast by the tail, to call and find out what in the lowest mahen heck was going on. One did not expect to discover this or get to speak to a real, live person before a holiday.

However, there was an intrepid and congenial and intelligent young lady on duty, and prompt, and one was quite, quite surprised to get quick and smart answers to one’s (rather stunned) questions. One is sitll extremely grateful to have encountered a smart worker, as one has too often encountered the opposite at times.

The young lady looked things over and gave a very satisfactory and inexplicably fortunate (for one) outcome. One is assured, however, that this was likely a one-time adjustment, and that one’s monthly proceeds might not increase any; and further, that if any further adjustment occurred, both positive or negative change was possible. However, the item one had received, in one’s favor, was not in error, most astonishingly; though one had not received any message cylinder with any missive explaining or announcing this eventuality.

One had further questions, to be sure of what was going on. One received good, courteous, thorough explanations. One thanked the young woman profusely. One remained quite stunned the rest of the day, having gone from expectation of extreme catastrophe to equally unanticipated good fortune.

Once the item is cleared, one may pay off some debts, and one need not worry about keeping one’s home for the coming year. One may possibly have certain repairs done. One may actually put into savings for a while. One shall have sufficient time, one earnestly hopes, in order for other income to begin, from font production still in progress, or from other things, such as possibly ebooks or audio work.

So…one is still quite, quite overcome. For the first time in years, one has breathing room for a while. It is not an absolute nor a permanent solution. It only takes care of things for a while. But the effect is quite, quite needed.

Meanwhile, current production has been having some mild upswing in inspiration and productivity. One is continuing to learn, at least, and to create, which is much better this month than had been. So one has a good chance, perhaps, of making the most of one’s good fortune.

So…this has one very much in relieved good spirits. Never mind that the unexpected result will be mostly or completely taken up by paying off some things and perhaps a repair or two. But those, one could not have otherwise done in a great many months. So even though more temporary, it is still…most greatly appreciated. It is…whether it’s random chance or a blessing, one no longer cares to guess such things. But it was most needed and will be very well used and appreciated.

Just…unimaginable for such a positive change to have occurred. But so, so needed, and so very welcome.

So…one goes into the New Year in a much better situation than one has had in some years, and one is both glad and yet still astonished and not quite able to fathom it.

Happy New Year, to all and sundry. Here’s hoping things will improve for everyone in the coming year.

Here’s also hoping all will find someone special, friends, new family, loved ones, a partner, pets, with which to share and enjoy life, as one is still convinced this is a needed and welcome thing. One wishes to find same also, as one remains too lacking in these matters.

Nappy New Year, peace and prosperity and love, for these three are in too short supply amongst all humankind, and are to be cherished and encouraged when so rarely found.