Titanic Musings: The Day After The Great Bird Feast

Another year, another Thanksgiving. This year some retailers decided to open to get early shoppers in. They hope to cash in on the pre-Black Friday crush that is often the case. Out here in the San Francisco Bay Area, a cold blast from the north has sent temps down to freezing in some places. It is cold enough that produce growers have to work covering plants to prevent frost from ruining the citrus crop. Many though decided to brave the very cold temperatures to camp outside of stores that open early in Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). People were camped outside the local Target store for two days so that when it opened at 4 a.m. this morning, they would be one of the first inside.

Of course the local media was excited. They rolled out with their vans and cameras to show people at home the spectacle of grown men and women choosing to sleep outside a store to be the first inside when it opens. Stores are not displeased hoping the attention will bolster sales. Some even handed out store maps so that shoppers will know exactly where to go when the doors open. Sometimes it does get out of hand. A jerk tries to sneak ahead causing tensions and even a minor altercation. Or worse, someone brandishes a weapon threatening anyone who gets in their way.

Turkey is the center of a Thanksgiving feast. Long ago these flightless birds roamed around in flocks and had to be hunted. Now you just go to the grocery store and decide fresh or frozen. Or organic and free range. Heritage turkeys are being bred and available either online or through speciality retail stores. Those birds cost more and can be less fatty than their cousins in the store. When I was a kid, most people roasted their birds using butter, herbs and other seasonings. Getting a moist bird was an art but today brining has become the preferred method. This presoaking allows the turkey to retain moisture as it cooks allowing for a moist and tender bird.

Another fad is frying the whole turkey. This is popular in the south but requires lots of preparation and care. It requires a large container full of hot oil (usually peanut or vegetable). You cannot do this indoors, on a balcony or fire escape. Too many people have tried it resulting in fire departments coming out to put out fires. You must do this outdoors and away from any structure. And never ever think of putting a frozen bird into the hot oil! The results are explosive and life threatening. And you have to set up a system of lowering the bird in and out of the oil to avoid oil splattering out of the pot. Is it worth it? Many say yes but I have heard people complain kosher birds do not come out as well. Since you cannot brine a kosher bird (it already is salted) it may not be as tender as a bird brined before frying.

Mashed potatoes are a favorite. The trick is getting them light and fluffy. America’s Test Kitchen believes Yukon Gold potatoes are the best to use for this. After trying both Russets and Yukons, they are right on. For light and fluffy, put down the hand masher and either use a hand ricer or food mill. I use a food mill and the results are terrific. Warm not hot milk (you choose the type but half and half is decent but for out of this world use heavy cream) and melted unsalted butter are then added. For those practicing Kosher, warm turkey or chicken broth (or stock if you have it). Then lightly fold it all in and taste for seasoning (usually salt and pepper). I sometimes add a scallion and prepared horseradish for extra zing.

While enjoying the turkey feast with all the trimmings, I remarked how back in the days of Titanic this would at least a seven course meal. Perhaps even more depending on the restaurant and its clientele. You would have the appetizer, salad, several meats, breads and sauces, a palate cleanser, followed by fruits, cheeses and sweet desert items (with coffee or tea). You can only imagine the food nannies going crazy if this was done today. They would go ballistic with the fat, calories, and decadence of it all. I wonder sometimes if the food nannies were deprived as children since they often dislike so many popular foods! 🙂

One tradition after dinner, and usually with dessert, is watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Every year I watch this show and always enjoy it. We learn the meaning of Thanksgiving and also forgiveness as well. Charlie Brown has to come up with a quick Thanksgiving meal. Thanks to Linus, Snoopy, and that strange bird, they come up with one with toast, popcorn, and pretzels. Patty gets angry but later apologizes when she realizes she imposed on Charlie to come up with a meal. It all works out in the end since Charlie’s grandmother invites them all to her home for Thanksgiving dinner.

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the Christmas season is right around the corner. Already the music is in the air and decorations are going up. Children are getting excited in many parts of Europe. The feast of St. Nicholas is coming up (6 December) and he brings good kids presents heralding in the official start of Christmas season. Time to get the pans out and make Christmas favorites for the holidays. And prepare for some happy times ahead.

President George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

President Geoge WashingtonWhereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

Titanic Musings: Titanic Ghosts, A Really Bad Cruise Experience, And A Pastor Who Compares Himself To Captain Smith

Over the years there have been a variety of supernatural claims around Titanic. Some have claimed Titanic was doomed right from the beginning or that an cursed Egyptian mummy was to blame. Haunted relics of Titanic are claimed and even a reproduction of the famous Titanic stairway might be haunted. My criticism of those going out to seek Titanic ghostly voices got some reaction. So far no one has conclusively proved (under scientific conditions) that such recordings are ghosts.

Mostly you get, no pun intended, dead air when you record nothing, You get whatever ambient noise is going on, traffic sounds (if near a street) and animal sounds (if recording outside). Weather plays a factor as well if recording outside. Ghostly voices, such as they are, could be people talking nearby whose sound carries just far enough to be picked up by the recorder. Consider it even more so out in the rarely peaceful North Atlantic. All that noise (waves, wind etc) which you have to filter out if ghostly voices of torment can be heard. Providing of course they are there. I doubt it and most who skeptics who study such things offer more plausible explanations for hearing the occasional word(s) on these recordings without resorting to the supernatural.

A Bad Cruise
Most cruises are pleasurable and offer lots of distraction. Unless of course you recently were aboard the Carnival ship Splendor. A fire disabled its main engines forcing them to use auxiliary power for navigation. That meant no hot water for cooking or bathing, toilets that did not work, dimmed lighting (emergency only) or no lighting, and uncomfortable rooms without air conditioning. Without power much of the food spoiled quickly leaving them with whatever the staff could pull together. The U.S. Navy did render aid with supplies and—gasp!—spam. Actually spam is not that not bad (Hawaiian’s love it) but with little options but eating it cold, not that great either.

According to CBC News the Urban family from Edmonton was aboard. When asked about the fire, Rosalie Urban is quoted as saying:

[I had] thoughts of the Titanic, I’m like, ‘Did we hit an iceberg or something?’ But we were down south, so I didn’t know what was going on.

Fortunately it was not an iceberg but they did have to spend several uncomfortable days at sea being towed to San Diego with cold showers and cold food. It was at least memorable and something years later one can laugh at. Needless to say they are not laughing at Carnival since they had to refund all the passengers fares and give them vouchers for free cruise in the future. Travelers rebooking on Carnival will not want to sail on Splendor again.

Pastor Feels Like Captain Smith

Biloxi’s Church of the Redeemer is relocating after many decades on the beachfront. It withstood two hurricanes and probably seen a lot of history. Now it is relocating to Popp’s Ferry and of course parishioners are sad to see it go. According to WLOX , parishioners have been helping to paint the new place and move items. As they move to abandon the old church, church leader Fr.Dr. Harold Roberts said (in jest):

“I keep telling people, I feel like the captain of the Titanic.”

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‘Titanic’ Pervert Faces Jail

Sometimes you read things that make you want to barf like this news story. According to Halifax Evening Courier , Alfred Lenin Knapton (age 70) was convicted of eight counts of rape, three counts making indecent images, and three counts of sexual activity with a child. The Courier reports that his victims were two teenage girls and the ordeals lasted years.

The court was told the girls were subjected to the attacks on a regular basis. One of them said they happened weekly for five years until she turned 18, including one on her 14th birthday. The abuse of the second victim lasted two years.

The Titanic angle is that Knapton admitted taking indecent images but claimed they were recreating a scene from the movie. Fortunately the news does not describe the contents of those photos. Knapton faces serious time in the grey bar hotel and has to register as a sex offender when he gets out. One hopes he never gets out except feet first.

Spooky Titanic: Are Titanic’s Ghostly Voices Ready To Be Heard?

mp3-playerAs an occasional listener of the old Art Bell Coast-to-Coast (now done by George Noory), I learned of something called EVP. Ghost hunters go to cemeteries, homes, and anywhere where ghosts may be lurking about. They then tape dead air–literally. Later they play it back to determine if they can pick up ghosts talking on lower frequencies. Sometimes they do pick up an occasional word, perhaps a phrase but rarely anything more. Mostly you get a lot of nothing.

But what about sunken ships? Well according to a recent article in the Orlando Sentinel ghost hunter William Brower believes that voices of Titanic’s doomed passengers are just waiting to be heard. In the spring 20 paranormal investigators plan to mount an expedition to where Titanic sank. They hope to pick up the wails, moans, and cries of the doomed from using special microphones.

The Titanic Endeavor Tour, headed by Matthew “Sandman” Kelley, a paranormal researcher from Markleysburg, Pa., will charter a boat to the shipwreck 960 miles east of New York and try to invoke the spirits of those who died there. Expedition members will dine from the Titanic’s menu, observe a memorial service and strain to detect, through psychic sensitivity or special equipment, traces of souls who haunt the site.

One problem with EVP is suggestion. Many want, if not believe, they will hear spectral voices. This can make you think that you hear words when there is nothing there. Or there really is something being heard but has a more mundane explanation: radio chatter that ends up going down into the lower bands. You just get bits and pieces but not the whole thing.

Another problem is why ghosts would communicate this way. It is hit or miss for the ghost. After all they have to hope someone comes by with recording equipment. And even then they do not communicate directly; it has to be played back and analyzed for speech. Even then it is hard to discern coherent patterns due to background noise. Perhaps the ghosts are pulling one hell of a prank on sincere ghost believers. After all you have to buy or get the equipment to do this, go out to a place where you think ghosts may be, and then hope they have something to say. All that for the occasional word or seeming sentence like “Get Out!.”

Orlando Sentinel, Coral Springs Man To Join Titanic Ghost-Hunting Trip, 30 Oct 2010