Thursday, October 18

Random thoughts on Time Travelers and our history

What if history has already been heavily edited by the meddlings of time travelers?

Most people would say this is preposterous. They would point to the Nazis, the Rwandan genocide, the terrors of Mao, etc. and say why would someone with the ability and will to control history allows such evil to exist?

We see the terrors that have existed, and we see them as ultimate evil. Yet we don't see and consider the terrors that our timeline was blessed enough never to encounter.

As I alluded to, the butterfly effect makes any historical revision essentially random. You change the past by merely stepping into it. Travel to 1900, and your very presence there will disturb minute air currents, thus completely changing history's weather. This alone will completely change all of history when you travel to a point significantly far in the past.

As such, temporal modification isn't an exact science. Hell, it's not even an art. It's just going back and hitting a great big "reset" button in the hope that the timeline that results is better than the one that you came from. You re-roll the cosmic dice and hope for a better outcome.

What if our timeline is actually one of the best possible timelines out there?

This sounds unlikely, but think of the twentieth century. The twentieth century saw the end of colonialism and the introduction of truly historic weapons, weapons capable of decimating the entire human population in a matter of hours.

How have often have chemical weapons been used? How often have biological weapons been used? How often have nukes been fired in anger? Compared to every other weapon that has ever come before, these unholy tools of mass death have been used incredibly rarely.

We don't think about biological weapons much, but American and Soviet scientists cooked up some pretty nasty stuff back in the day. Artificial diseases that make smallpox look like the common cold. Yet these weapons have never been used at all.

Sure, we had Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, but the damage could have been a lot worse. Hell, World War Two, as horrific as it was, didn't even reduce the total human population. Even as Stalingrad was raging and Auschwitz was running at full capacity, natural global population growth was still canceling out these horrific atrocities.

What about the conflicts we didn't see?

The first obvious one is the US-Soviet Cold War. In numerous timelines, the Cold War ended with a nuclear exchange of 10,000+ hydrogen bombs, chemical weapons, and plague-tipped missiles. In numerous timelines the USA, the USSR, and their allies suffered 95% population loss from the blasts themselves, radiation sickness, famine, and social collapse.

Another obvious one is if the Germans had won World War Two. Maybe Hitler can finish off Britain before attacking the USSR. Maybe he can somehow invade the USSR first before invading Poland, portraying himself as a grand crusader against Communism. Without a two front war, Nazi Germany takes over continental Europe, Britain, and the Soviet Union. Instead of the Holocaust being remembered as the murder of 12 million Jews and others, it's remembered as annihilation of 200 million Slavs, Russians, and Eastern Europeans. The Jewish deaths are but a footnote.

On even more divergent timelines, atrocities not even comprehensible on our timeline occur.

For instance, imagine a timeline without the world wars. Instead of being smashed as anachronisms, the ideas of colonialism, white superiority, and nationalism only continue to grow. Instead of the British empire disintegrating, they use the full fury of modern technology to preserve their empire.

The Indian independence movement, championed by Ghandi or someone like him, isn't met with reluctant acceptance. Instead, the British decide to simply annihilate the "rebelling savages." In our 1950, this is inconceivable. In an alternate 1950, 400 million Indian civilians are brutally murdered in British VX nerve gas attacks. Survivors are rounded up and taken to death camps very similar to those of our Nazis. The empty subcontinent is then repopulated by settlers from the rest of the Empire.

What about the great French vs Russian Empire War of 1978? In this timeline, the Tzars never fell and Russia modernized. Additionally, Germany never unified and the three major continental powers are France, Russia, and the still present Ottoman Empire. In this war, both sides refine their biological weapons. A cold war develops that eventually becomes hot. The multiple horrific plagues released from by both sides don't stay within French and Russian borders. They spread across the globe and wipe out 99.6% of all human life on Earth. It's like the post-Columbian introduction of European diseases to the New World, but on a global scale, with all the speed of modern transport.

What about the timeline where Japan never allies with the Nazis and attacks the US? In 1947, the Japanese Empire, tired of fighting an endless guerrilla war against the Chinese resistance, decides to take a cue from the Nazis and just flat out exterminate the entire Chinese population. With the US committed to isolationism and all other powers occupied in Europe, the Japanese have free reign in China. Death toll? 600 million innocent Chinese, Mongolians, and Vietnamese in Japanese gas chambers. Etc.

What if our timeline is literally one in a billion? What if our timeline, for all its horrors, is really one of the best possible outcomes? Compared to the global mass death that could have resulted, we actually got off very, very lucky.

TL;DR: Just read it damnit. I had way too much fun with this. =D

Don't forget to share and vote in my Halloween poll! I'll see you all on Sunday!

Sunday, October 14

Recipe Sunday - Lasagna

This week was busy, this week was bustling. I didn't have the time to make a post earlier in the week like I planned but that just means that I have to make this post ten times more worth your while. Sad note: I was too into serving the dish and eating up that I forgot to take a picture of the final product. So let's just imagine the most tantalizing, mouth watering, Garfield worthy pan of lasagna and lets go with that. 

On a side note, this Mountaineer is not happy this week. While I understand that the Mountaineers were really not playing as well as they needed to be and the team was really getting lucky in some instances, we got beat to hell at the Texas Tech game. It's upsetting. Our beautiful number 5 ranking was pulled out from under us and now the team needs to work their asses off to pick up the rest of this season. Moving on to what everyone is here for now, the recipe!!

Lasagna can be a very easy recipe. It can be fun to make but it is a little time consuming. You need to be willing to invest at least an hour or two (maybe three) into the making of this dish. Lasagna is also very rewarding and can leave you with a few days worth of leftovers which are just as good as the day you made it. Me and my little sister/best friend Kelli made this lasagna for 7 people total. Now we also made extra (we made 2 pans) so we would have leftovers after all of us ate our fill. So, knowing that, adjust your ingredients accordingly. And this is not an exact science, mess with it a little. You want a meatier sauce? Add more. You like vegetables? Chop up those bitches and throw 'em in. So let us get this going.

Gather your goods:

  • Box of lasagna noodles
  • 1-2 lbs (or more) of hamburger (turkey burger, etc. Whatever tickles your fancy.)
  • 2 big jars of tomato based spaghetti sauce (Can you say Ragu)
  • Any fresh vegetables that you like i.e., mushrooms, spinach, peppers, onions.
  • 2 cans of diced tomatos, drained
  • ricotta cheese
  • cottage cheese, drained
  • 1 egg
  • dried parsley and any other seasoning that you like to use in your cooking.
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • Cheese.

Get your oven preheated to 375°. Now while you don't have to do this right at the start, I like to go ahead and get it going because I tend to forget about it until I actually need the oven if I don't. You're going to want to pull out a pan that is big enough to handle the amount of burger that you want to put into your sauce. Or cook your meat in two separate parts. Brown your burger up and season it to your liking.

Get a nice big sauce pot on the stove and dump in the spaghetti sauce, cut up your vegetables in it, and season accordingly. This is the part that you can go wild with, put whatever you want in to your sauce. Want mushrooms? YES! Onions?! uh DUH! Zucchini? Why the hell not?! So now you have your sauce started with red sauce and veggies making sweet love in your pot, is your meat done? Good! Throw that in there too! After you have everything in your pot cover it and let it simmer. When I say simmer, I mean simmer. We aren't trying to cook down the sauce, and we aren't trying to soften the vegetables. Do NOT forget that your sauce will be cooking for over 40 minutes in the oven and you don't want your veggies to be mushy. No one likes mushy veggies.

Now it is time to get your noodles cooked up. Don't you dare use the cheater pre-cooked noodles. That is blasphemy and punishable by death in these parts. Get a box of lasagna noodles and set them in some boiling water. Protip - put oil and salt in your water to make sure that your water doesn't boil over and to lightly season your noodles. Boil your noodles making sure to swish your noodles around every once in a while to make sure they don't stick. You're aiming for al dente noodles. Click the link if you don't know how to do that.

Drain your noodles and place them on a flat surface to cool slightly so that you can begin to assemble. Now is the time to put together your Ricotta cheese/Cottage cheese mixture. Grab a measuring device, heck it can be a spoon for all I care, you just need to be able to have 2 parts cottage cheese to 1 part ricotta cheese and 1 egg. Mix the 3 ingrediants
The way that I assemble is to put a layer of sauce down first, the noodles, then my ricotta cheese mixture, then sauce, cheese, and noodles. Then keep repeating the process. Usually you can get 2 full layers, maybe 3. 

Soo...We're looking at a formula that looks something like this
 (Repeat steps 2-5 until desired amount of layers):

1. Sauce
3. Ricotta mix
5. Glorious Cheese
6. Noodle

Oh yea, I should mention. The more cheese the better.

Cover that bad boy with foil, bake at 375° for 25 minutes then pull it out and rip the foil off like a crazy person. Bake for another 25 minutes. When the timer goes off pull it out and let sit for 15 minutes to set then eat like a king, or queen. 

Makes: This recipe can make anywhere from a single 13x9 pan that will serve 9 to 12 to as many pans that you can stand to bake and will serve a rather large crowd. This exact making served 7 people with leftovers going to 3 separate households. So a good bit.

Rating: 5/5 Credit must go to where it is due, this is my moms recipe and I grew up with it. I love this lasagna. I know a lot of people prefer nothing but meat and cheese and sauce, and some want theirs meatless with no veggies, or tons of veggies. But, whenever I have lasagna I have tons of veggies and tons of meat. No scrimping here.

I'll be back in a day or two for another post and I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. It was gorgeous here despite the mountaineer loss. Vote in my Halloween poll! Only 2 weeks left! Leave a comment and share! Have a happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, October 7

Recipe Sunday - My World Famous Brownies

The seventh day of the week has arrived and so closes another week in our lives. And what does that mean? Recipe Sunday!! *Cheering* I know, I know, I'll take my bow now. And so along with Recipe Sunday comes another of my most closely guarded recipes, my Brownies. If you've never had my brownies, then get ready because I'm not waiting around for you to tie your shoes!

Gather the following:

  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of Sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Quick note about your ingredients - Use real sugar - I have yet to find the exact mix of everything to get the same taste without being sinfully unhealthy. While the one time that I did use a sweetner/sugar replacement the brownies turned out good but were not as good as they normally are. Next, I prefer to use imitation vanilla because it isn't quite as overbearing and has a slightly more mellow undertone, but that is just my preference. If you're used to cooking with real vanilla then go for it, but use less if you do. And last but not least, semi-sweet chips are best. Dark chocolate chips are too bitter, white chocolate make the final product wayyy too sweet and the milk chocolate make it too rich. Just my opinion, feel free to play around and experiment.

Time to get down to business, get your oven cracking, 350° is the goal here. Grab your 13x9 pan and grease it up. If you choose to use a smaller but deeper pan then you may want to split your batch in to 2 parts because while thick brownies are wonderful and all, make them too thick and you won't have anything but a hot batter-y mess on your hands. Literally.  

Grab yourself a large mixing bowl and throw your eggs, butter, sugar and vanilla in there. Beat it up! Grab your salt and baking powder and invite them to the party, keep mixing! Now here comes the messy part, flour first - keep mixing! Don't throw it all in at once! Be gentle, go slow. Once you have all of the flour in there, it should be smelling pretty tasty. Grab your cocoa powder and SLOWLY mix it in. Stir in your chocolate chips and pour that beast into your pan. Bake your beautiful creation for 20-22 minutes. Keep an eye on them! The key is to not overbake them, and don't pull it out too soon or you'll end up with a batter-y center. Let them cool ever so slighty, cut and serve. 

Obviously these are best with a big glass of milk and served warm. Congratulations you now have kick-ass brownies. 

Makes: 13x9 pan, you control how big you want to cut them and how many you end with.

Rating: 5/5. While I don't make my brownies often they are probably one of the best things I make from scratch.

I hope everyone had a good weekend and you are all ready for this week! Comment, share, and like, and don't forget my monthly poll on the right!

Wednesday, October 3

In honor of Bullying Prevention Month..

In honor of this month being Bullying Prevention Month I thought that I would share a few memories from when I was younger. 

Growing up, like many children I had to deal with a bully or bullies on a regular basis. Because of my weight and some other personality traits that I possessed I tended to receive more bullying than some of the other kids in my grade. I heard demeaning statements and cruel remarks day in and day out and most of the bullying that I received came from between 2 and 5 different girls that were in my grade. I remember that 3 of these girls would lash out at me worse than anyone else that I would deal with. These 3 girls were in school with me from Kindergarten up until I transferred to a new school after tenth grade. 

Now, while I did not have to deal with any physical bullying, the emotional hell that I was put through was enough to scar me. I can recall quite clearly the time in my life that I actually wanted to develop an eating disorder to make myself better, so that I wouldn't have to be so miserable. I wanted to do actual harm to my body because it was not what the kids I spent 8 to 10 hours with everyday thought was attractive or normal. I faked illness (sorry mom), I tried to change myself, I tried to make myself invisible, nothing seemed to work. I tried to learn from what my parents told me or what my family told me, I tried to trust my friends and hide behind them when I needed to. Nothing helped. 

In middle school the bullying only got worse, I was now in a larger school with five times the amount of kids around me everyday. And the bullying went from the basic "fat" to more vulgar comments. I started to hear guys calling girls "sluts" and "whores" Whoa, this was new territory. We were in Middle School. Those kinds of words should never be used to describe a girl, or anyone for that matter, that is that young. Up until then, I had really only dealt with bullying coming from girls. For the first time ever I felt what it was like to be tricked and tormented by a boy. Crushes were no longer something that was giggled about and made us blush. Crushes were ammunition for a boy to tear you down until you felt worthless, and then he laughed about it, and so did his friends and a lot of the girls.

No longer did I not want to go to school because I didn't like my body, I didn't want to go to school now because I hated myself. I wasn't girly enough, or thin enough, or pretty enough. In middle school I also lost my best friend. My closest friend from elementary school. A girl that I spent more time with than I spent with my own family. We did everything together. Hell, we spent almost every night after school together and we talked or texted during every waking hour. We just stopped talking. I felt abandoned. I was no longer able to gain support from my circle of friends, and the bullying didn't stop. Soon I began to hear rumors about myself and felt more alone than ever. It was around this time that my parents separated for the first time. I felt like my entire life was falling apart around me. The bullying didn't stop. My first thoughts of severely hurting myself started around this time.

Along came high school and along came new friends and a few old friends. I can honestly say that high school was better than any of my school years prior. I became more content and worked harder in school. I took classes that I found enjoyment in and I found skills that I didn't realize that I had. I was mostly happy. 

There was only one major event that really hurt me in my first two years of high school, and that was something that a teacher told me. I've always thought that I was relatively good at the arts. I could draw and sketch reasonably well, I was creative, I loved to make things. Until the day that my art teacher told me that I wasn't good enough and didn't have the skill needed to pursue anything in the arts. It felt like he slammed the door to an entire world in my face and hung a "members only" sign on the door. That summer I went to a new high school.

As I've gotten older and pursued new interests in life I have dealt with mild bullying from time to time. But I've grown a lot and matured in the past few years and am able to take the hit now. I no longer let it knock me down and I no longer let it hurt me the way that it once did. But I went through many dark moments in my adolescence to get to the point that I am at now. As adults in this world, as parents, siblings, cousins, and mentors we have to take the initiative to teach the children around us that it is not OK to call that one kid "fat" or "ugly" or a "slut". The best way for us to teach them this important lesson is to practice it ourselves. 

While I often hear the argument that "kids will be kids" and that "It's all in good fun" I want to say honestly that the people that are saying those things were probably bullies themselves, and may still be. Take the initiative and help to end bullying around you. Show your support for kids that have been bullied and immediately correct bullying behavior. Be more than a bystander. Your action could end up saving a child from taking their own life or taking the lives of others.

Support the Stop Bullying initiative by wearing orange on October 10th for Unity Day and for more information visit stopbullying.govAlso, a video that is very relevant. 

Happier posts to come! Comment or Share and vote in my monthly poll to the right!

Sneak peak at this weeks recipe - They are moist, can be a little chewy, very chocolaty, and can be very rich...