Remembrance

Greetings, loyal minions.

Your Maximum Leader looked at the date and realized that his late mother would have celebrated her birthday this week had cancer not taken her last year.

Gus am bris an latha agus an teich na sgailean.

Carry on.

Rutger Hauer - RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader reads that actor Rutger Hauer has shuffled off his mortal coil, aged 75. Your Maximum Leader first became aware of Rutger Hauer when he played his iconic role of Roy Batty in “Blade Runner.” He remembers watching that film in the small cinema at Beacon Mall on Route 1 in Alexandria (Fairfax County actually), VA in 1982. He loved the film when he saw it, and loves the film to this day. It is on your Maximum Leader’s personal Top Ten Films of All Time list. Your Maximum Leader loves the original cinematic release (with all of its cuts and with that voice over). He loves the “Director’s Cut” even more. (Some scenes were added in, the voice over narration was removed, and the “happy ending” was removed.) And he loves the “Final Cut” most of all. (With the “infamous” unicorn dream sequence.) Oddly, or not so oddly, your Maximum Leader didn’t care for “Blade Runner, 2049.” Cinematically, “2049″ was gorgeous. Then again, your Maximum Leader expects visual magnificence from Ridley Scott. In the end, your Maximum Leader felt that the “2049″ story didn’t need telling. The sequel is, in his mind, pointless. So, there is that.

One of the things (one of the many things) that made Blade Runner work was the stellar performance of Rutger Hauer. His brilliance in this role shows in this, Roy Batty’s final scene:

Your Maximum Leader has seen many other Hauer films, and films in which Hauer appeared. He was always as good as the role allowed him to be. He was, your Maximum Leader would say, a solid character actor that could be a leading man in the right role.

Rutger Hauer died last week (apparently) after a very brief illness. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, and children, and grandchildren. Gus am bris en la, Mr. Hauer.

Carry on.

Some Randoms

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has some random thoughts that he will share here, rather than on the olde tweety-box.

You know, baseball is a hard game to explain to someone from China. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t recall that it was as hard to explain to his own children as they grew up as it is to our exchange student. There are, apparently, many things that don’t make sense to him about the game.

By the way, baseball is everything to which America should aspire. Football is everything that America is.

It is damned hot out. Really damned hot out. Walking a few blocks around downtown is enough to make your Maximum Leader think that he has sweat off 5 pounds.

The metric system is quite easy to use and understand. It is something of a pity that it never caught on here. (By the way, it is 32C outside right now.)

Your Maximum Leader ordered a biography of Aelfred the Great and it should be here today.

Your Maximum Leader has been quite fond of the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” He really enjoyed Season 1. He also really enjoyed Season 2. He is watching Season 3 now (1 or 2 episodes to go - he forgets). He feels that Season 3 is weak and disjointed. There is also a plot line that he has real difficulty stomaching. So last night your Maximum Leader was talking about this hang-up in Season 3 with a friend. At one point the friend said, “So let me get this straight. You are just fine with mind flayers, demi-gorgons, and the whole ‘upside down,’ but an underground base filled with Russians is too much for you to handle?” To which your Maximum Leader replied, “Yes. That is it. I don’t know how the Soviets could move millions of cubic yards of dirt to build that base in Indiana without attracting attention. And how many uniformed Soviets do they have down there and how did they get to Indiana without causing a stir?”

Speaking of Stranger Things… Your Maximum Leader has always had a soft spot in his heart for Winona Ryder. He described her last night as his “secret, wonderfully-wacky, Oscar-nominated, shoplifting, hippy commune loving, girlfriend.” Your Maximum Leader seriously does love her.

Sometimes, dealing with “customer service” departments of large corporations can be a pain in the ass.

Did he mention it is hot out?

And in the TMI department, tomorrow morning your Maximum Leader is going to get a haircut (7:30am) and swing by his parish for some “time in the box” as Robbo would call it. Your Maximum Leader is always amazed at the line for Confession at 8am on Saturday mornings…

There it is. (As Emperor Franz Joseph might say…)

Carry on.

Disrupted.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been disrupted. Very disrupted. Allow him to explain.

Since moving into the Villainschloss, he has had a downstairs room as his “office” or “study.” Your Maximum Leader prefers study himself, but office seems to be more common with Mrs. Villain and the Villainous Offspring. So, his study… The room contained many bookshelves, filled with books (though one shelf of one bookshelf was filled with tchotckes). There was also an old antique leather chair. Next to the chair sat a small side table. The table was big enough to hold a book, cocktail glass, and a candlestick. Then he had his Queen Anne desk in the room as well. He may have shared a photo or two of it on the Twitter at some point in the past.

Well… Your Maximum Leader is past-tensing all of this because he’s been run out of his study beginning today (effectively) and running through the end of June 2020. Why you may ask? Well… For a person… Specifically, a Chinese exchange student who is a classmate (of sorts) with the Wee Villain.

The Wee Villain attends a private school here in Fredericksburg. This school as a good reputation among a circle of wealthy Chinese around Shanghai. So at any given moment there are one or two students from the Shanghai area attending the upper school (aka: the high school). One of these young people is an 18 (soon to be 19) year old senior. He has been living with a family with much younger children (5th grade is the oldest in fact). But that family alerted the school that they could not keep him for his senior year. This caused the school administrators to go into a frantic search to find a family to house and care for this young man for his senior year. The Wee Villain plays two sports with this young Chinese man and they take Spanish together. They get on pretty well and knowing this the school administrators called your Maximum Leader and made the pitch.

Well… We decided to help out and take the young man in. Mrs. Villain was desperately trying to figure out how this was going to work (because at the moment all the Villainous Offspring are at home). It was in this moment of crisis that your Maximum Leader determined to step up an offer up his study to be converted into a bedroom. And so it has been done. It has taken a fair amount of work this weekend to get everything readjusted for the young man’s arrival (tomorrow). Most of the prep work was done by Mrs. Villain, Villainette #2, and the Wee Villain. But today your Maximum Leader has been working all day to get things right. The largest challenge has been related to technology. You see, the primary drop point for internet, phone, and television has been in the closet of the study. This was not going to work out for a number of logistical reasons - chief among them is that your Maximum Leader’s computer (and one or two other tech items) are hard wired only. None of this crazy wi-fi stuff for this. So some equipment and wires needed to be moved through a wall into your Maximum Leader’s “new study for the next year.”

The “new study” is a large unfinished room that has been used for storage. As it has had to be fitted out to house a desk, desk chair, and books. The room, as any good storage room does, has lots of shelving. But the shelving was filled with stuff. Lots of stuff. Before they could house books, the stuff got a sorting. By sorting your Maximum Leader means a purge. As often happens in convenient, roomy, storage rooms things get saved that probably should be discarded. In this case, approximately 2/3 of the stuff on the shelves of the storage room was disposed of, and the remaining 1/3rd was distributed to other areas of the house where it made more sense for the stuff to reside. There was one large casualty of this purge. It was a dresser and side table. They hadn’t been used in a number of years, and were deposited at Goodwill earlier in the process.

The contents (well most of them - one large built-in bookshelf couldn’t be moved and wasn’t emptied - so our exchange student will have at his fingertips a wide array of books on: American History, Western European History (not including the UK or Ireland - which are in another area of the Villainschloss in their own space), Asian History (more Japan and Korea than China), and Political Philosophy) are now in this former storage room. It is from the “new study” that your Maximum Leader types these words to send them into the ether for your reading edification. If there is a benefit to being in this “new study” it is that it is cold. There are no windows. The room is below grade. And there is one HVAC vent that opens fairly close to where your Maximum Leader’s chair is located. So he’s got that going for him.

Wish your Maximum Leader luck for the next year. We hope this all works out… More tales of exchange student adventures will surely come…

Carry on.

Happy Independence Day!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes you all a very happy Independence Day. He believes it is important to remember, especially on the Fourth of July, that we, Americans, are lucky to live in the greatest nation in the world. For all that divides us, we are still blessed with abundance in so many ways they are hard to enumerate. Let us ignore the New York Times Opinion page for a little while and focus on the positive.

Allow your Maximum Leader to pontificate on why July 4th is best of all holidays.

Here is the list:

1 - Secular
2 - Good weather
3 - Cookouts
4 - No gift giving
5 - Fireworks
6 - Women in swimsuits
(And Liberty, of course.)

He will expand on these point for your edification.

Some may argue that Independence Day celebrates the “secular religion” of American Liberty. Some of those people may be correct. But in this context your Maximum Leader wants to make sure we all know that there is not true religious association with American independence. It isn’t Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist (to name a few). While we can all express our freedom to exercise our religion freely, the 4th of July is not associated with any particular religion or religious festival. It should be able to unite us all as Americans without regard to our religious (or atheist) preferences.

Good weather is always a plus when one has a day off and is going to celebrate something. As much as your Maximum Leader does love Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, they are cold. They are often wet (or snowy). They also aren’t commonly associated with doing outdoor things. Everyone is cooped up together in a house somewhere and getting all in each others business. On the 4th of July you can go outside. You can get away from others. You can sit under a tree in the yard and watch your other relatives carry on without having to be too near. You can plan a walk. Or go camping. Or go to the beach. Or any number of things that don’t require you to sit around in the house. This is a good thing.

With good weather comes cookouts. Cookouts are great. It doesn’t matter if they are on your back porch, front porch, in a parking lot, on the beach, in the woods (NB: Only you can stop forest fires), or anywhere. Cookout food is fun food as well. Hot dogs. Hamburgers. Ribs (which is what your Maximum Leader will be having this Independence Day). Chicken. Fire, smoke, and fresh air are a winning combination when it comes to eating. Cookouts are fun as well. Again your Maximum Leader will direct you to being outside, having space, doing things.

Does “no gift giving” really need much explanation? There is no expectation that you are going to have to think about, purchase, wrap, and deliver a gift for all your closest family and friends on Independence Day. If someone invites you to celebrate with them good manners, not the day itself, dictate that you bring a little something. But it could be some beer, or a bottle of wine, or hot dog rolls, or a nice bottle of Makers Mark (which is what your Maximum Leader would prefer if you come to the Villainschloss for any reason whatsoever). Your Maximum Leader is all for stimulating the economy with consumer sales, but he is generally offended when he’s told he must purchase gifts for one holiday or another…

Fireworks are the best! THE BEST! About the only thing negative your Maximum Leader can say about fireworks is that they often upset the harmony of our canine companions. Otherwise there is nothing more fun that sitting back and watching colored explosives detonated to music for your viewing pleasure. (Okay, there are some more fun things. But your Maximum Leader has already been graphic in one recent post, he’s not going to push his luck on this.) Fireworks make the day better. They are fun for all.

Women in swimsuits. As a heterosexual male that appreciates females, this should be self evident. But if you need evidence, here is some: Click here for images of American Flag Bikinis. Or looky at these:
flaggirl1.jpgflaggirl2.jpg
‘Murrica!

And of course there is the enduring fact of Liberty. We often take our Liberty for granted. In recent times many on the left and on the right would like to circumscribe our liberty to advance their own political view of the world. We should celebrate our liberty and defend it. It is the abstraction that makes the United States of American unique in the world and worthy of preservation.

And now, the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson, as ratified by the Continental Congress:

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for
one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected
them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the earth,
the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and
of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions
of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which
impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,
it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute
new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing
its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect
their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments
long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;
and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed
to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing
the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and
usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce
them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw
off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now
the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated
injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment
of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts
be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary
for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate
and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation
till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended,
he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of
large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish
the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right
inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual,
uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their
Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them
into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing
with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions,
to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers,
incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large
for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed
to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States;
for that purpose obstructing the Laws of Naturalization of Foreigners;
refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither,
and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent
to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure
of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of
Officers to harass our People, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies
without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of
and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction
foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws;
giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders
which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring
Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government,
and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once
an example and fit instrument for introducing the same
absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws,
and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves
invested with Power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection
and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns,
and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries
to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun
with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the
most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas
to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of
their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has
endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers,
the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare,
is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress
in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered
only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked
by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler
of a free People.

Nor have We been wanting in attention to our Brittish brethren.
We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their
legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.
We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and
settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice
and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our
common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably
interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been
deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore,
acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them,
as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America,
in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of
the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name,
and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies,
solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are,
and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States;
that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown,
and that all political connection between them and the State
of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved;
and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to
levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce,
and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may
of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm
reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge
to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Happy Independence Day fellow Americans!

Carry on.

Founders - Top 5

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has, from time to time, shared with you his lists of the “greatest” Presidents of the United States. Well how about a short list of his favorite Founders of our great Republic? Here is a top 5 list of the greatest Founders of the United States of America.

1 - George Washington. Please just accept that in your Maximum Leader’s eyes there is no greater American than George Washington. (He is followed closely by Abraham Lincoln.) First in war. First in peace. First in the hearts of his countrymen. If it were not for Washington leadership the Continental Army would have dissolved into nothing and the British would have retaken their North American Colonies and history would have been a lot different.

2 - John Adams. This was a tough one for me. Not that Adams isn’t deserving of this place. He most certainly is. But I also like #3 a lot. Without Adams’ tireless political work, the actual business of creating a coalition of colonies and factions within those colonies and forming them into a nation would certainly not have occurred. He is an overlooked founder because of his not-so-successful Presidency and political feuds with Thomas Jefferson. Americans owe more to Adams than we collectively remember. That is a shame. (And in the current political climate one would think Adams’ star would be more ascendant as he never owned slaves. Since that appears to be the litmus test for everything.)

3- Benjamin Franklin. Of all of the Founders, you Maximum Leader thinks he would most like to be real buddies with Benjamin Franklin. Yes, Washington is the best, but your Maximum Leader thinks that there would always be distance between Washington and everyone else. Washington was a reserved guy to all but his closest friends. It seems to your Maximum Leader that Franklin could become fast friends with anyone he liked and would a blast to hang out with. Talk about politics, science, philosophy, nature, history, travel, and women. His familiarity with Britain (from years as the colonies agent there) and his world-view was a great asset to our fledgling nation. He also seemed to be able to take the edge off tense situations - a talent sorely lacking in his Nation today.

4 - Thomas Jefferson. One might think that, as a Virginian, your Maximum Leader would hold Jefferson in much more esteem than he does. Jefferson’s words are immortal and resonant to this day. He understood and could capture in words the idealism upon which our Nation was founded and which have served as our inspiration for over two hundred and forty years. But Jefferson was a morass of contradictions and impracticality. It is hard for your Maximum Leader to cozy up to Jefferson.

5 - Robert Morris. Who? Yes, Robert Morris. Without Morris’ tireless work in the Continental Congress (and later the work of his friend, but not relation, Gouverneur Morris), it is unlikely that the young United States would have been able to acquire money, arms, and ships with which to supply the Continental Army and continue the fight against the British. We all owe Robert Morris a great debt of gratitude.

There you go. A revolutionary top 5 list. Enjoy your Independence Day America!

Carry on.

The Procedure (In Which He Details Too Much)

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader may go a little off brand here. He is going to drop the 3rd person, and he is going to go graphic. If you don’t want to read about a recent “procedure” performed on your Maximum Leader’s person today you may want to skip this post…

You were warned…

So, like men men of a certain age, I had a colonoscopy today. It was my second actually. My first was 5 years ago. As I write this I am a little light-headed now because the general anesthetic is still wearing off. Honestly I don’t know if my being tired was just the anesthesia wearing off, or the fact that I was just really tired because I didn’t sleep well (or hardly at all - more to come).

If you haven’t had a colonoscopy, the actual “procedure” isn’t bad. It isn’t bad because you are knocked out at have no memory of it. It is the colonoscopy prep that is misery. In fact, it is the worst part of the whole ordeal. I don’t know, dear reader, if you have had a colonoscopy yet. If you haven’t, you should if you have turned 50. (NB: If there is a history of colon polyps or colon cancer in your family you need to take the age of your closest relative when the polyps/cancer was discovered and subtract 18 years and get your first colonoscopy then.) As I have stated, the prep is awful. I will say that I did better this time than five years ago, but it is not fun on the ole hiney-hole.

Let’s get gruesome in our description now shall we?

The preparation began 5 days ago when I stopped eating raw veggies and all leafy veggies. 3 days ago I stopped eating any veggies or fruits that contained any small seed or pits (including those little pips on strawberries - whatever they are called). (NB: Google tells me that those little “pips” as I called them are actually achenes. Achenes are the ovaries of the plant with a tiny seed within. Who knew?) After dinner on Monday it was all clear liquids for me until after the procedure.

So, on Tuesday it was all tea, apple juice, and water for me until about 4 pm. At 4 pm yesterday afternoon, I drank 10 ounces of a really nasty (cherry flavored) stool softener. Specifically, the stuff was magnesium citrate. Then I waited. The process began at 5 pm when I had a really big nasty slimy shit. At 6 pm I started the “poop juice” as I call it. I should look up what it actually is called. Glaxflow. Glaflix. Gla-something. (NB: It is actually Gavilyte.) I got a 4 litre bottle of the stuff and had to drink 3 litres of it in three hours. You are supposed to drink roughly equal measures of the stuff every 10 minutes until you have consumed the 3 litres. As I said, I started drinking the infernal liquid at 6 pm. Sure enough, within thirty minutes the jet-like evacuation from my bottom of contents of my digestive tract had begun. The worst part of this phase of the prep is that every time you think to yourself, “Self, this is just a wee tiny fart” it is actually about a cup of fecal-infused liquid shooting out of your asshole at about 60 mph. Needless to say you spend a lot of time on the throne waiting for little visitors that don’t feel all that little.

Unlike my last procedure (when I thought I could “tough it out - I was wrong by the way), I was prepared this time to care for my bum. I was equipped with warm, sensitive skin, baby wipes to clean up. Those help a lot, but by about 10 pm your anus has pretty much had enough and is a raw, swollen, painful mess and the only thing coming out of you at this point is yellow-tinged liquid. The flow stopped around 11:30 pm. But then one is worried about going to sleep and shitting the bed because you fear that your body thinks you need to fart, but in reality your farts are really blasts of poop juice yearning to be free. I didn’t get to sleep until a little after midnight. I slept fitfully until my alarm went off at 4 am. Why 4 am you ask? Well… If you recall, I was given 4 litres of poop juice to consume, but only consumed 3. You have to finish that last litre three hours before you check in for your procedure. My check in this morning was 7 am. So there I was a few minutes after 4 am, in the kitchen, drinking the last of the vile stuff. You would think that there wouldn’t be anything left in you after 5 hours of shitting out the contents of your digestive tract that had just ended a few hours before. But you’d be wrong. Some odd small fibers came out right away. And then the piece de resistance came at 5 am this morning, in the midst of all the clear fluid there was one lone piece of crap. It was slightly larger than a piece of corn. And it was a smooth sphere. It was like a perfectly manufactured ball of fetid chocolate that somehow survived the first wave only to succumb to the follow-up assault. I admit I was shocked to see it there. But that was the last bit of anything inside me. I was perfectly clean after that. (The doctor told me so.)

So I went to the surgery center and checked in (with Mrs. Villain there to bring me home). They took me back and got me ready. They had trouble finding a vein for the IV. It took 2 nurses three tries before they got me. I have my mother to thank for that. She had “slippery veins” and getting an IV in her was a miserable ordeal. I wouldn’t say it was misery for me, but it was uncomfortable until they got it in.

After they got me all prepped, I sat around until it was my turn. Once it was my turn, I got wheeled in and then knocked out. Oh yes. Knocked out with the sweet, sweet propofol. I joked with the anesthesiologist during the pre-op process that I was looking forward to the “Michael Jackson milk.” Sadly, the anesthesiologist didn’t think this was nearly as funny as I did. (NB: During my last “procedure” I knew the anesthesiologist, we are friends socially. I made this joke to him and he went with it. The “milk” jokes flew for a few minutes. It was great. This time, I was semi-scolded and advised that there would be no funny stuff with the propofol.) I woke up a bit later (probably about 30 minutes later) and had some fruit juice and crackers. Then I got dressed and came home. Upon return to the Villainschloss, I went to bed and to sleep for about 90 minutes. After my nap, I have been up and around, but still a little light-headed from time to time. I attribute this to needing real food more than anything else.

In the aftermath, it looks like this will be an every five year thing for me. All was well. 2 small polyps were removed. I should have biopsy results in about 10 days. My doctor said they didn’t look bad. Last time he removed 3 polyps that were all a bit bigger. I’ll keep getting checked to make sure no polyp grows up in my colon.

Fun times…

Thanks for reading, if you are still reading… And do get yourself checked out if you haven’t been. Colon cancer is lethal and also easily preventable with regular checks.

Carry on.

Billy Connolly

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is trying to post a video. It is a little snippet from a Billy Connolly special that aired on BBC2 a few months back. It is the genesis of your Maximum Leader now adding a piece of profanity into his lexicon.

Billy Connolly Jesus Suffering Fuck

We’ll see how it works.

Carry on.

Bleh

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is feeling quite ‘bleh’ of late. He is taking a few days off to celebrate a milestone birthday. Indeed, this milestone birthday will be a sort of re-visiting of another milestone birthday. This is a veiled way of saying that for his 50th your Maximum Leader will be doing pretty much the same thing he did for his 10th birthday. Perhaps stories and photos will ensue.

Until then, he hopes the bleh feeling passes.

Carry on.

The Gene Man

Alberto Martinez was the 24th wealthiest person alive according to the news reports in 2089. He liked breaking into the top 25 list. He was high enough up to feel an inordinate amount of public esteem based solely on wealth, but he was far enough down that he could still go out and have dinner in public and not be recognized by everyone.

Years ago Alberto, Big Al to his friends and close colleagues, parlayed a genius mind and newly-earned medical degree into a moderately lucrative job in a small but robust lab that had a corporate entity that sold its services to the masses. That service was genetic mapping. Want to know your ethnic background? Send a saliva or blood sample. Want to know if you have genetic indicators for various hereditary diseases? Send a saliva or blood sample. Will your children be gay? Send two saliva or blood samples. We’ll send you a report with all the details.

Telosgene International, Big Al’s company, was a hugely successful. First hundreds, then thousands, then hundreds of thousands, then millions of people voluntarily sent saliva swabs or blood from pin-pricks to Telosgene for mapping and testing. Big Al was one of the leads in Telosgene’s labs. He made up new methods of testing and mapping people’s DNA. Faster methods. Cheaper methods. He worked with programmers to create databases filled with DNA records. After a time Telosgene would find your relatives for you based on your DNA.

Big Al moved from position of importance to position of more importance in the company. After a time he leveraged buyouts of other companies. Before long Telosgene was not just into DNA mapping services, but was producing custom-made cancer treatments based on a patient’s DNA and the DNA of their cancer.

Then Big Al pushed the envelope. He got a permit in Guatemala to start genetic modification of fertilized human eggs. Want your kid to have blonde hair and blue eyes? We can improve the chances - even when there were none to begin with. Want a boy over 6 ft tall with good musculature and a better chance to be a star athlete? We can do it! Want to rid your progeny of that family balding gene? No problem! Now pay $5,000,000.00 US for each egg we work on and hope implantation works out okay.

The move into genetically modified humans was what put Telosgene on the proverbial map. But Big Al didn’t put himself on the board or give himself a fancy title. He just kept his plurality ownership of the private firm working for him on the down-low.

But, Big Al’s power in the company was challenged by people with a different vision. A vision that was more cautious. Had more ethical review committees. Wanted transparency and public oversight. It was then that Al remembered that he had personally done some work for a Russian. A Russian with an unsavory reputation, an unlimited bankroll, and a family disposition towards obesity, heart disease, cancer, and bone density problems. Pavel Igonov was the head of a huge crime syndicate and Al reached out to him. What would it take to make Big Al’s ethical headaches disappear? Pavel was happy to solve his problems for $5,000,000, or a daughter with blonde hair, blue eyes, perfect figure, and none of the family’s hereditary problems. The deal was struck. Pavel took care of Al’s ethical problems, and Al personally worked on the egg that would grow up to become Nadezhda Pavelova Igonova, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, girl with a knack for languages, and a body like mortal sin.

But, as the old saying goes, in for a penny, in for a pound. Big Al found Pavel asking for help for others in his organization. In exchange Pavel would do Al favors. Licensure in some European nations wasn’t as much of a hassle. Inspectors at Telosgene facilities became more accommodating and less eagle-eyed.

After a time Big Al wondered how far, or how little, he could really trust Pavel. That was when he had a brainstorm and set a plan in motion. It started by offering one of Pavel’s bodyguards some pheromones that made Nadezhda’s teeth chatter, her cheeks flushed, and her body filled with desire for the bodyguard. Once Pavel’s angel started to secretly disobey daddy’s orders to avoid the bodyguard, Al gave the bodyguard a new pheromone. It filled Nadezhda with lust, and Pavel with rage. The problem resolved itself when Pavel found Nadezhda and the bodyguard in the pool house together. Guns, knives, and table utensils were all used the most merciless and inhumane ways. When it was over all three were dead, and Al found himself the power behind a huge Russian crime syndicate.

Over the next few years, Big Al used his power to expand his company’s wealth, influence, and power. He was careful to stay as far under the radar as possible, but eventually his avarice compelled him to formally run the company and direct its board. That was when the real wealth, the almost unimaginable wealth, flowed to him.

He had all he’d ever dreamed of, and more. He even made himself a Nadezhda and groomed her just the way he wanted her to be. In secret of course, his long-time wife, Carley, wouldn’t have approved. Big Al figured that he would have Carley meet with an unfortunate accident when his Nadezhda 2.0 was ready to turn 18.

What Big Al didn’t know was the Carley Martinez had figured him out years ago and had plans of her own.

(This is not the story I mentioned previously in this post. That story still is a work in progress.)

Safe, Legal, and Rare

Greetings, loyal minions. We seem to have come a long way from the days when Democrats wanted abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare.” Haven’t we? I have contemplated writing a post on abortion for a while now. But I haven’t. It seems like this might be the time to do so in light of recently passed laws in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, and Kansas.

For those of you who might be reading, this post will have the following form: I’ll discuss my own personal views on abortion, then I’ll discuss what my views are about abortion in America. These views are in conflict with one another, and are the cause of some intellectual distress within my own conscience.

To begin. Simply put, my own view is that abortion is the willful killing of an innocent human life and is wrong. There isn’t much subtlety to that position. It is as starkly absolute as it looks in the words on your screen right now. It is a clearly stated and forceful statement.

I wasn’t always as clear on this personally. Though raised Catholic, I went through long portions of time away from the Church. Certainly my Catholic upbringing has always influenced my thoughts on abortion, it would be an overstatement to say that my views were always in line with Catholic teachings. (Or are now…) There was a time in and around college, where my views on the subject were better described as “well, it seems wrong to me, but I just don’t really care that much.” I feel a certain amount of shame in that supreme ambivalence given the words I just typed a few short sentences ago. But that was where I was. I didn’t think about abortion much and deliberately avoided thinking about it for quite a while. But I was forced to think about it one afternoon while walking in a park with a girl.

We were friends in college. We never dated each other. It frankly never occurred to either of us that we should date each other. It was a plain old friendship in which sex rarely came up as a subject. I was dating others. She was dating others. And everyone seemed pretty cool about it. We didn’t talk much about sex at all. A rude joke here and there. Perhaps some clumsy innuendo once and a while. Innuendo that was always a little forced between us.

One day, shortly after we graduated, we were walking in a park near my house. We chatted about all the normal things we talked about. Then she stopped at a small playground in the park and sat on a swing. I sat in the swing next to her and there was silence. She didn’t look at me when she plainly stated, “I’m pregnant.” I wasn’t sure how to react. I looked at her and I’m positive my confusion in how to respond was plain on my face. She looked at me, and with tears welling up in her eyes she said, “I don’t want to be.”

The circumstances that lead her to that point are as unimportant as they are common. Not paying attention. Messing around. Accident. Knowledge of what was happening. Realization that the boyfriend is all wrong. Their relationship is all wrong. She isn’t ready. She doesn’t want to be ready. She doesn’t know exactly what to do.

So she tells me.

I was the only person she had told. That sort of surprised me. I would have figured I was down the list of people she would confide in. But I was at the top of the list. I didn’t know what to say. So she did the talking. She thought she was going to abort the baby. She wasn’t 100 percent yet, but she was 85 percent. She was telling me because she wanted me to take her and be with her and if needed stay with me a day or two after.

I admit that I am told by my friends that I am a pretty loyal friend and will do what I can to help a friend in need. My first reaction to being “asked” to help my friend get an abortion was that I would take her, and be with her, and let her stay with me after if she wanted. She seemed greatly relieved by my answer. We sat for a while, then continued on our walk in silence. We parted with kisses on the cheek, but few words. She said she would let me know.

I didn’t sleep much for the next few days. Her boyfriend didn’t know. Should he? Should he be given some say in the matter? How would he react? Shouldn’t he help her out? What about my friend’s brother with whom she was especially close? Wouldn’t he be more appropriate? After going through all the others in my mind I started to reflect on my role in all this. What was I doing? Should I counsel her to seek another choice, or at least investigate another choice? If she wanted my help and I gave it what would I be responsible for doing?

In that moment I realized I was against abortion. Why would I worry about the moral consequences of an abortion to which I was tangentially a part if the whole act wasn’t wrong? Is driving a hitman to a hit and letting them stay in your house to lay low for a few days after not morally wrong? In that moment I had terrible misgivings. I was conflicted because now I realized I didn’t want to do what I’d agreed to do. I was a wreck. And if I was a wreck, I could only imagine how my friend felt.

I don’t recall praying, or asking advice of others, or doing anything to work through my impending moral dilemma. And then the weirdest thing happened. My friend and I never spoke of it again. About a week later she gave me a call and suggested we meet for a quick dinner and a walk. I agreed. I had decided to play it by ear not bring up the subject and see what she wanted to do. We had dinner. We walked. We got ice cream. We parted company. About two weeks later she told me she was accepting a new job in Pittsburgh. She asked if I would help pack up her truck. I said yes. I helped pack her up. Her brother was there too. She told me that the boyfriend wasn’t in the picture any more. She went to Pittsburgh. We talked for a few months after, then we truly parted company. We haven’t spoken since. I heard about her for a few years through mutual friends. There was no single parenting talk. I don’t know what she did or how she did it. I don’t know if she sensed my misgivings and decided not to ask me afterall.

And that is the story of how I came to have the views on abortion that I hold. As you can read, my view crystalized pretty sharply back then. It hasn’t changed too much over time. I still think abortion is wrong because it is the killing of an innocent, defenseless, person who deserves a chance at life.

In light of this, one would think that I would applaud the recent changes to the laws of Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, and Kansas. Well… That is where I run into problems.

I realize that we live in a constitutional republic. I also want the maximum amount of liberty possible under that government. I am suspicious of government and am often suspicious of the motives of others. I also realize that though I believe what I believe about abortion strongly, I can’t help but also believe that others don’t share my beliefs in this matter.

One would think that I wouldn’t have a problem with abortion in the public sphere. If I believe in liberty, and the sacrosanct nature of the individual as an individual entitled to the protection of and from the state, then I should support abortion rights. I get hung up on the fact that there are two people in this equation and how should they be treated. How, in fact, should they be treated? Does a woman have the same, more, or equal rights as a baby within her?

At this point I find myself falling into a legalist mindset, or perhaps it is a type of etymological/verbal sophistry. I want to find terms from which the argument can flow. This is likely some sort of latent attempt at Socratic reasoning or just some sort of self-justification to assuage a guilty conscience.

I can tell you where this mindset on the issue of abortion started in my brain. College, some time in early 1988. I went to a fascinating (and horrifying) debate. The debate was between a Philosophy professor at my school and a visiting Philosophy professor. It was a dispassionate and intellectual exchange. No heated words. No protesting. No finger pointing. It was just two smart people exchanging thoughtful arguments on a hotly debated issue. The professor from my school set out the “Pro-life” position. It was the visiting professor that was most memorable to me however. She set out her “Pro-choice” position. I was young and dull-witted and didn’t see where she was going when she started off. She started with cognitive abilities of various apes. Then got into human language and reason. Then proceeded into conscious thought and ability to express complex abstract ideas. Before I realized it, she had set up an argument in which she had gotten many of us to accept the position that in order to be fully human one had to have some apprehension of language and reason in order to be fully human. Then next thing you know, she is arguing that one should be able to commit infanticide of children up to about 6 months old because prior to that point they weren’t fully human and thus not entitled to full protection of the state.

In retrospect, it is interesting that back in 1988 a rational, and horrifying, intellectual debate suggesting infanticide could be viewed as an academic exercise that was dismissed by everyone who heard it as “going too far to make a point.” Now in 2019 there were bills being introduced in my state legislature that wanted to codify roughly the same point. And the Governor of my Commonwealth went on radio and seemed to advocate for the very position that was seen as “too much” 30 years before.

So people have differing opinions on abortion and it seems to be advantageous to find some consensus under which we can all live. But the problem is in the definition of terms that no one can agree upon. If that fertilized egg has become a human, then it is entitled to the protection of the state. If that fertilized egg is just a “fetus,” or an “organism,” or a “parasite,” or a “clump of cells,” then it seems pretty clear that it isn’t a person entitled to the protection of the state.

For many years, I (and others) wanted to try and define “viability.” If we could decide when that “pre-human” became viable outside the womb then we could establish a point at which one could say “A-ha! The pre-human is now fully human and shouldn’t be aborted as it is a person with rights and entitled to the protection of the state.” Viability was a thing I really tried to figure out with an earnestness that amuses my more cynical self today. Do you want to know what I came up with? I figured out that with technology and medical advances “viability” doesn’t mean anything. I would almost be willing to wager that in my lifetime (I’m 50 now) we will have artificial wombs into which we can put fertilized eggs and have them develop until they are grown into babies ready to be born in the traditionally understood sense. I am certainly willing to say that the point during a pregnancy that a baby becomes viable outside the womb keeps getting pushed closer and closer to the time of conception. So viability is a moving, and thus meaningless, target.

The current fashion of law seems to be the “heartbeat” standard. When the “pre-human” has a heartbeat it changes into a human and is entitled to the protection of the state. A fetal heartbeat can start after about 4 weeks. As is often said in the news, the fetal heartbeat can begin before most women know they are even pregnant. The upstart of this argument is that a woman needs time to learn she is pregnant so that she can decide if she wants an abortion. There is something in me that wants to see both sides of this argument. If you want to allow abortions, you need to allow a woman sufficient time to realize she is pregnant. But if you want to make sure you are protecting innocent life, then the heartbeat seems like an objective and observable milestone at which one can set a benchmark. I am not sure if the heartbeat is the benchmark I would set, but I fully recognize that any benchmark at all is arbitrary.

Do I support the “heartbeat” laws? I’m not sure. I certainly don’t support unlimited abortion on demand. I am left wondering where did “safe, legal, and rare” go? I also would like to know where the rape, incest, and life of the mother exceptions went.

So that I am clear, I realize that, intellectually, how a baby was conceived shouldn’t affect the baby’s legal status as a person with rights. But I freely admit I have a real problem making a woman (or young girl) carry a child to term that was conceived by rape or incest. I can’t do it. It seems wrong to even consider it in fact. Forcing a woman to bear a child that will end up killing her also seems too far to go for me. So removing the exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother seems to be going too far for me in our society. (NB: Another dear college friend of mine, Ashley, was faced with the choice of having a baby or taking cancer treatments. She chose to have the baby and delay cancer treatments. She died shortly after delivering her son. I don’t know how I would have dealt with my wife having to make that choice. I’m glad I never had to. But I do know that I pray for Ashley, and her surviving family, all the time.)

I don’t pretend to have answers for society at large in this. I know that there is a point after which abortion should be prohibited. I just can’t articulate in a meaningful way where that point is that doesn’t seem completely arbitrary and thus irrational.

Broadly speaking, I would like to prevent pregnancy so that abortion isn’t the primary focus of our arguing. To that end, I wouldn’t mind if birth control became more widely available. I know some of you out there are saying to yourselves, “What? As if it isn’t already widely available.” I know what you are saying, but making some birth control pills over-the-counter wouldn’t upset me in the least. So many places give condoms away it amazes me that people buy them. And “day after” pills exist in this morally gray area that I don’t contemplate much. Mostly out of a selfish desire to leave a morally gray area for me to hide my conscience within like an ashamed shadow.

I wish that we, as a society, on this issue could get a commission together of intelligent and rational people on both sides and lock them in a comfortable, isolated, hotel somewhere and have them come up with a compromise that everyone hates but agrees to live with for the sake of civility towards one another. Sadly, civility isn’t valued and both sides prefer becoming more intractable in the hopes of “winning” the argument once and for all. But this is one of those issues for which there is no real winning at all.

Carry on.

Writing Is Hard

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wanted to log in and just state on the record that writing is hard. Well, some types of writing are hard. He could write some drivel on this site (as the archives have proved he has in the past) rather quickly. But he had an idea for a short story. Your Maximum Leader has been reading (and re-reading) some short story collections lately. He figured he’d try to flesh out this idea he had and publish it here. He sat down about 2 weeks ago and typed words on a screen for 3 hours. Then he was tired and saved the work and went back to if a few days later. It wasn’t very good. So he has been opening up the file and reworking, and editing, and rewriting what he has. But it still isn’t very good. He’s been debating how much more he should work on it, or if he should abandon it. Right now he is strongly supporting more work because to abandon it seems metaphysically damaging.

So there will be more work and hopefully something mediocre will come of it…

Carry on.

Graduation

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader notes that it is college graduation season. He attended one today. His nephew was graduated today from the University of Mary Washington. (NB: Which he still thinks of as Mary Washington College. Because that is what it was for ever and ever. Just like his own alma mater, which went from Longwood College to Longwood University.) This graduation will be the first of a number of them over the next few years. Villainette #1 will be graduating from university next year. Then another nephew from high school the year after that. Then Villainette #2 from university in 2021. Then the Wee Villain and a niece from high school in 2022. Over the next few years your Maximum Leader is going to be compelled to sit through overly long ceremonies in questionable weather listening to people say doubtful things.

All in all, today’s graduation at UMW was very good. We had excellent, and shaded, seats. The ceremony was relatively quick (in that no one spoke for very long - the featured speaker was allowed 10 minutes). Your Maximum Leader was informed that due to a new staff member reading the graduates names in a more crisp and speedy fashion a full 40 minutes was trimmed off last year’s graduation. Your Maximum Leader doffs his bejeweled mylan cap to him. (He did do a fantastic job.)

Your Maximum Leader isn’t as sure that he’ll be as lucky with Villainette #1’s graduation next year. She is a student at Virginia Commonwealth University. VCU is the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginny. She will have two ceremonies. The main one with the main speaker and all the graduates. Then a “smaller” one (of about 4000) for just her college within the university. It will be the same when Villainette #2 graduates from Virginia Tech. That is a lot of sitting and listening for your Maximum Leader in the month of May to come. He probably ought to buy a nice cushion to bring with him…

Carry on.

Stir Fry

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, as some of you may know, is of British extraction. His ancestry is mostly Scottish and English. There is a smattering of Welsh, Irish, Norse, and German (Bavarian, he’s told) thrown in to complete his Northern European genetics. And like any good person with both British ancestry and a love of British history, he is all up for some cultural appropriation. In this case, culinary appropriation in the form of stir fry.

Your Maximum Leader loves to stir fry. This is not to say that he is authentic in any way whatsoever. In fact, your Maximum Leader would dare to say that no self-respecting Asian person would recognise or condone some of the things that are prepared in your Maximum Leader’s wok. Speaking of the wok, that piece of cookware is likely the best $35.00 he ever spent. In 1991, your Maximum Leader bought a Wally Nash endorsed “Great Wok of China” from a department store in Richmond, VA. (NB: It might have been Miller and Rhodes, but he can’t recall.) He still uses this wok to this day. (He still has the spatula, ladle, and wire strainer that came with the set - though he had to buy new bamboo steaming baskets.) He has affectionately called this the Wally Wok ever since…

So, your Maximum Leader loves his wok and he loves stir frying in it. There is something that appeals to him about the style of cooking. Get all your ingredients together. Do all your prep work. Then the cooking is actually rather quick and you can get down to eating. Additionally, if you prep right, there isn’t a hell of a lot of clean up. Then there is the eating. The food can be eaten in one dish - again, keeping clean up to a minimum.

As your Maximum Leader said, he loves to stir fry though he freely admits that he rarely makes anything that an Asian person might recognise as a traditional dish. Your Maximum Leader’s approach to his style of appropriate stir frying goes something like what happened tonight. Allow him to weave the story now for you…

So, it has been rather busy in the ole Villainschloss over the past few days. This morning Mrs. Villain left early, and your Maximum Leader (and the Wee Villain - who is not so wee any more as he is 6 feet tall at 14 years old) was running late. The hounds haven’t been feeling well either (one of them has been vomiting - though not near meals which is confusing). Needless to say, this morning was a rush and nothing was taken out of the freezer to serve as a major protein for dinner this evening. So, upon arriving home tonight your Maximum Leader had to improvise. Tonight, he knew, was going to be a stir fry night because your Maximum Leader was cooking only for himself and the Wee Villain. Both of whom are fond of stir fry.

Recognising that it was going to be a stir fry night, your Maximum Leader started to think about what he was going to cook. He needed a protein from the freezer that could be mostly thawed quickly in a microwave without destroying the flavour or integrity of the protein by microwaving. He recalled that he had a pound of pork belly in the freezer that was cut into a nice slab that would get mostly thawed, but not cooked, in a few minutes. Your Maximum Leader retrieved the pork belly from the freezer, put it in the microwave, and started the defrost process.

While the pork was thawing, he had started the rice cooker and went to the fridge to get some veggies to add to the mix. He got himself a medium sized onion, 3 stalks of celery, a few green onions (these because they were looking sort of wan and he figured they needed to be eaten quickly), and a nice sized carrot. He also pulled a bag of frozen broccoli out of the freezer. He poured out a nice sized bowl full of broccoli and set about cutting up the fresh veggies. He rough cut the onion. The pieces were small enough so that they would cook quickly, but large enough to be easy to grasp with chop sticks. He did the same with the celery and green onions. He ran the carrot through a mandoline.

(NB: Your Maximum Leader has a cheap and sucky mandoline right now. It is similar to this one. In fact, your Maximum Leader’s isn’t as nice as the one pictured in the link. It is awful. Food gets jammed up in it. The grip piece slips too often. It is a mess. He would prefer a nicer one. Something like this one. Mrs. Villain does not endorse the idea of another mandoline for the simple reason that your Maximum Leader doesn’t use the one he has very often. And even though he explains that he would use one more if he had one that didn’t suck, that argument doesn’t seem to hold water.)

So now your Maximum Leader has veggies prepped and his rice going in the cooker. He took the pork belly out of the microwave and could tell that he had timed it right. The belly was still slightly hard through the middle and the ends had not turned colour (from cooking) yet. So he diced up the pork belly. With all of his mise en place complete he set about getting his spices out.

Your Maximum Leader and the Wee Villain tend to like stir fry with a little heat. When cooking for the whole family the spicy heat has to be kept to an absolute minimum as Mrs. Villain doesn’t care for anything spicy. So, with this in mind, your Maximum Leader retrieved from various places around the kitchen the following: peanut oil, soy sauce, cayenne pepper flakes, garlic/chili sauce (made by the same company that makes Sriracha), hoisin sauce, garlic powder (as he has no fresh garlic), salt, pepper, and some peanuts.

The actual cooking of the dish went thusly… The wok was heated up with some oil in it. Then your Maximum Leader added the cubed pork belly in small batches so that it would brown and crisp up a little. He liberally salted and peppered the meat as he cooked it. When all of the pork was in and had been browned (but not fully cooked) he added the onion, celery, and carrot. He added a little more oil and cooked these veggies until the onions started to become translucent. At this stage he added a few tablespoons of soy sauce to the bottom of the wok and threw in the still mostly frozen broccoli. Now your Maximum Leader knows that this introduction of cold veggies reduces the cooking temperature of the wok and somewhat defeats the purpose of using a wok. But, as your Maximum Leader was a little lazy it worked out okay. The combination of thawing broccoli, with soy, and the oil and juices from the meat allowed for a bit of steaming to take place. Your Maximum Leader let the lid sit on the wok while the temperature rose. As this was happening, he used his time to do a few dishes. When the steam started to escape the wok, he went back to stir fry. Removing the lid and letting the steam escape was the starting point to cooking down and thickening up the sauce in the wok. He mixed everything together and also added garlic powder and red pepper flakes very generously. When most of the liquid had cooked down, your Maximum Leader threw in the hoisin sauce and stirred it around. Then he generously threw in the garlic/chili sauce. He mixed this around and then reduced the heat and added in his peanuts. By this time the rice was done as was the rest of dinner.

All in all dinner was tasty. The meat was good (but it is hard to mess up pork belly - which is awesome in general). The veggies were crisp and colourful. The sauce binding everything together had a touch of sweetness (from the hoisin) at the beginning but ended with significant heat at the end. Your Maximum Leader doubts that any aspect of this stir fry melange was “authentic” in any Asian cuisine. But being the appropriator that he is, it used methods and spices and created something that worked.

Your Maximum Leader would, if left to his devices, probably eat stir fry (of one sort of another) 3 times a week. Indeed, when he was single (something that hasn’t been true for over 23 years now) he did eat stir fry 3 nights a week. Mrs. Villain demands more variety so there isn’t as much stir frying as your Maximum Leader would like.

Anyhoo… Stir Fry for dinner is pretty good…

Carry on.

(Follow your Maximum Leader on the Twitter! @maximumleader)

Non-spoilery Game of Thrones Update

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is a fan of Game of Thrones (and the Song of Ice and Fire novels). He’s made to secret to anyone who wants to listen that his favourite character is Daenerys Targaryen. She has had, in the books, a fascinating character arc. Her arc in the television show has not been quite as in depth, but then again, it is television. (NB: the most interesting character arc in the whole story - books or TV - is Jaime Lannister. But that is a tale for another time.) In addition to her character development, there is the obvious attraction. Your Maximum Leader, as a somewhat nerdy guy, is really turned on by hot women with dragons. Yes, that allure could prove self-destructive, but it is an allure nonetheless.

Until this week’s episode, (Season 8, Ep 4 - The Last of the Starks), your Maximum Leader would have given Daenerys about a 60% chance of “winning” the Game of Throne and sitting on the Iron Throne as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms… Sadly, he is lowering that chance down to 20%. Some of the things said and done in the episode and making your Maximum Leader fear for the Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, etc., etc..

Out of fear that Kevin will read this, that is all your Maximum Leader will say right now. But if it turns out that Dany doesn’t make it to the end of the show, your Maximum Leader is going to be very sad, upset, and destructive. He might even scream “dracarys” and burn his Daenerys Targaryen Funko toy.

Carry on.

(Follow your Maximum Leader on the Twitter! @maximumleader)

    About Naked Villainy

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