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Bret's Blogisphere

I like to use my BLOGS to keep my friends informed of the daily Mess(es) that are going on with us and adding items of interest others might find enjoyable. Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to leave a comment. Bret

Posted:Jan 22, 2019 8:14 pm
Last Updated:Jan 23, 2019 8:18 am

If you're not a candy nutcase you may not have noticed there's something missing this year. Sweethearts first began making conversation hearts in 1866. A 152 year tradition is broken. The operation was taken over by Necco in 1901 and since then they’ve become the most popular Valentine’s Day candy in 21 states. Last year, The Candy Store reported that Sweethearts Conversation Hearts were the most popular Valentine’s Day candy in America.

So what happened? Until 2018, Necco was the oldest continually operating candy company—but in July, the company abruptly closed and announced they needed to sell. Someone either needed to buy all of Necco or purchase the brands individually. In September, Necco was purchased by Round Hill Investments, who then sold the Sweethearts brand to Spangler Candy Company.

Because of the time it takes to create the supply of conversation hearts, Spangler Candy Company didn’t have enough time set up the operation to make the hearts for 2019. It took Necco 11 months to produce 8 billion conversation hearts—all of which would be sold in the 6 weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day.

Necco produced about 100,000 pounds of Sweethearts every working day. That amounts to 8 BILLION Sweethearts a year. It requires 11 months to produce sufficient quantities that sell in a 6 week period leading up to Valentine's day. Spangler’s CEO has already announced the hearts will be back on shelves for 2020

140 years ago Today
Posted:Jan 21, 2019 8:55 pm
Last Updated:Jan 22, 2019 6:45 pm

Many of you are familiar with the Michael Caine movie ZULU set in 1879 Zululand, South Africa. The British are fighting the Zulus and one of their columns has just been wiped out at Isandlwana. The Zulus next train their sights on the small British outpost at Rorke's Drift. At the outpost are 150 British troops under the command of Lieutenants Bromhead and Chard ( played by Michael Caine ) . In the next few days these 150 troops will fight about 4,000 Zulus in one of the most courageous battles in history.

The movie Zulu is the filmed account of the Battle of Rorke's Drift during the war against the Zulu nation in the part of South Africa known as Natal. It's not an explanation of policy as to why the British were in Africa, just an account of 150 brave soldiers successfully holding off 4000 to 5000 Zulu warriors, the fiercest fighters in that part of Africa.

To put it into American terms for the rest of us "Yanks", the British army was facing the same kind of odds the Texans did at the Alamo. They also were not certain any kind of relief was coming because the day before, on January 21, 1879 the army had sustained a cataclysmic defeat against those same Zulus at the Battleof Isandlwana. Out of 850 soldiers only about 50 of them survived, in no shape to give aid to anybody. It was the British equivalent of The Little Big Horn which had taken place on the American frontier three years prior. However, on January 22-23 of 1879 the best of that generation in the United Kingdom performed to the max for Queen and country. Stanley Baker and Michael Caine play the two lieutenants, the engineer and the shave-tail from Sandhurst who commanded the troops at Rorke's Drift.

With a brief bit of research on the internet indicated to me that I saw a fairly accurate account of just what went on for those two days. The movie Zulu combines what is sometimes impossible, good history with good entertainment.

About a year ago a story in the Express caught my attention. A War hero's medal from 'Zulu' Battle of Rorke's Drift came up for auction The MEDAL honoring the bravery of a young soldier from the Battle of Rorke’s Drift was expected to fetch up to £40,000 at auction. It was awarded to Driver Charles Robson, the right hand man of commanding officer Lieutenant John Chard, who was played by Stanley Baker.

Robson received the South Africa Medal – also known as the Zulu War Medal – for his courage in helping defend the small Army garrison against 4,000 tribal warriors. The Londoner Robson was one of just 150 British troops who somehow held out against those overwhelming odds in the battle during the Anglo-Zulu War.

“Chard and Robson were hailed as heroes when they returned to Britain and were greeted by huge crowds when they went on an unofficial tour of the country.”

You want to watch Zulu Dawn, the 1979 prequel about Battle of Isandlwana, to appreciate the dire straights of the situation. The film’s cast is stellar – it includes Peter O’Toole, Burt Lancaster and John Mills – but the historically accurate result is dreary. Few wanted to watch a painful British defeat unfold over two agonizing hours. Not many people, apparently. It was a box-office flop. (The only stirring moment is when Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill die trying to save their regiment’s Colours.

I have attempted to work 15 volumes into a 5 minute blog covering a military disaster that transpired 140 years ago from January 21st to the 23rd , 1879. The passion, pathos, and pain of those few days from those momentous battles I am unable to render in such a brief space nor give it it's just rewards.

There's not much left to show of the battlefield nor reliable accounts from the Zulu side of the equation. The horrendous losses to both sides in the light of 140 years are merely marked by piles of rock strewn across a hillside. The legend and myth of those who died for Queen and Country are fading fast in the 21st century.

Breakfast Special
Posted:Jan 21, 2019 6:39 pm
Last Updated:Jan 22, 2019 6:51 pm

This morning we had a breakfast special!

JD went to bed early last night so I stirred up a quick batch of sweet bread dough.

I had some leftover peach slices from the prior breakfast that we put on our cereal. I diced them up and mixed in with a half jar of applesauce that I'd served along with a pork roast. I added some additional sugar then thickened it with cornstarch.

After the bread dough had proofed I rolled it out on a pizza pan.

I allowed the dough to rise a bit before I applied the peach/apple mixture to the entire surface.

I baked the fruit pizza in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. The crust came out a beautiful golden brown and the peach/apple mix settled nicely over the entire surface.

While the fruit pizza was still warm I drizzled an almond glaze made with melted butter/milk/almond extract and powdered sugar. When JD woke up and was coming up the stairs for breakfast he said "I don't smell and bacon or sausage?" then he seen the fruitpie with hot cocoa and did the "OH W0W! "
NEVER EVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted:Jan 20, 2019 6:45 pm
Last Updated:Jan 21, 2019 6:47 pm

I am just a little PISSED OFF at JD.........
The Way It Should be Forecast
Posted:Jan 20, 2019 6:28 pm
Last Updated:Jan 21, 2019 11:20 am

The snow is no joke ― the real weather graphic looked like this.

According to Newscast Studio, WPVI meteorologist Chris Sowers tweeted the image ."This is crazy," Sowers told after the image went viral. "Just so everyone knows, this was Photoshopped. I didn't actually go on the air with a graphic like this. I can't believe how quickly this is spreading."

The unusual weather reminds us of a storm that hit around this time last year — which led Chris to come to the rescue with some essential information. He supplied a helpful guide to how much wine you'll need to weather the blizzard:
Posted:Jan 19, 2019 10:53 pm
Last Updated:Jan 22, 2019 6:54 pm


You won't be graded!

What do you think about toys in the bedroom?
Posted:Jan 19, 2019 6:14 pm
Last Updated:Jan 22, 2019 9:58 pm

On January 20-21, we’ll have the first full moon of 2019, and the first lunar eclipse of 2019 ( this is an eclipse-heavy year, with three solar and two lunar eclipses). It can be viewed from North and South America, Greenland, Iceland, Europe, northern and western Africa, plus the Arctic region of the globe. More details – and eclipse times for North America; The eclipse will happen on the night of the year’s first of three straight full supermoons, meaning the moon will be nearly at its closest to Earth for this January, as the eclipse takes place.

Here are the eclipse times for Canadian and U.S. time zones:

Atlantic Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 11:34 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse begins: 12:41 a.m. (January 21, 2019)
Greatest eclipse: 1:12 a.m. (January 21, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse ends: 1:43 a.m. (January 21, 2019)
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 2:51 a.m. (January 21, 2019)

Eastern Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 10:34 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse begins: 11:41 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Greatest eclipse: 12:12 a.m. (January 21, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse ends: 12:43 a.m. (January 21, 2019)
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 1:51 a.m. (January 21, 2019)

Central Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 9:34 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse begins: 10:41 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Greatest eclipse: 11:12 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse ends: 11:43 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 12:51 a.m. (January 21, 2019)

Mountain Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 8:34 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse begins: 9:41 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Greatest eclipse: 10:12 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse ends: 10:43 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 11:51 p.m. (January 20, 2019)

Pacific Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 7:34 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse begins: 8:41 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Greatest eclipse: 9:12 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse ends: 9:43 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 10:51 p.m. (January 20, 2019)

Alaskan Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 6:34 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse begins: 7:41 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Greatest eclipse: 8:12 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse ends: 8:43 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 9:51 p.m. (January 20, 2019)

IF you don't wanmt to brave the cold... just peek out the window to enjoy!
National Popcorn Day
Posted:Jan 18, 2019 7:34 pm
Last Updated:Jan 20, 2019 12:03 pm

Popcorn, which is celebrated January 19th, is one of four types of corn—the others being dent, flint, and sweet—and it is the only one of the four that can pop. Its hull is thicker, which allows steam pressure to build up inside before it explodes. When it bursts open, starch comes out, and as it cools it turns into the shape we are familiar with. Popcorn kernels with between 13 and 14.5 percent moisture are ideal for popping, and 13.5 percent is the best. If 98 kernels out of 100 pop, it can be looked at as being good popcorn. Popcorn is a whole grain food, being made up of the germ, endosperm, and pericarp—which is the hull. It is low in fat and in calories; there are only about 31 calories in a cup of air-popped popcorn. It is also high in fiber, and is inexpensive.

Seventy percent of popcorn is eaten at home. Of that, about 90 percent is purchased as unpopped kernels. Of the thirty percent eaten outside of the home, much of it is eaten in theaters, sports stadiums, and schools. The main states that produce it are in the Midwest, and most of the popcorn eaten throughout the world is grown in the United States. Americans eat more popcorn than anyone else. About 13 billion quarts of popped popcorn are eaten annually, which is about 42 quarts per person. Another account even puts this figure higher. About two tablespoons of unpopped popcorn makes a quart of popped popcorn. It is most eaten during fall, and a lot is also eaten during the winter months, but not as much is eaten during spring and summer.

Popcorn has been used for thousands of years, and was first used by Native Americans in both South and North America. The oldest popcorn that has been found is between 4,000 and 5,600 years old, and was discovered in the Bat Cave in west-central New Mexico in 1948. The Aztecs were using popcorn when Cortes invaded Mexico in 1519, not only for food, but to decorate their headdresses and statues of gods. Kernels were also found in South American burial grounds in Chile. Some Native Americans believed that spirits lived inside popcorn kernels, grew angry when they were heated, and then escaped.

Early colonists called popcorn "parching corn," "rice corn," and "popped corn," and it wasn't known as popcorn until the 1820s. It became popular during the holidays, especially with children and during Christmas, where besides being a snack it was also hung on Christmas trees. An early popular way of making it at home was cooking it over an open fire in a wire box with a long handle. In the 1870s, molasses was added to popcorn and popcorn balls began being made. They became one of the most popular confections, they were given as gifts, and ended up in recipe books.

Cracker Jack began being sold in 1896, and consisted of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses. It actually had been sold without the name at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. It soon became a staple at baseball games. The mobile popcorn machine was also first introduced at the Columbian Exposition, and became very popular with street vendors over the next half century, who sold popcorn at fairs, parks, and expositions. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries popcorn also was eaten for breakfast, similar to how cereal is eaten today.

As popcorn was cheap, it could easily be afforded during the Great Depression, and sales actually increased during the time period. It also became popular at movie theaters during this time, and continued to increase in popularity during the years of World War II. As television became popular in the early 1950s, less people went to movies, and less popcorn was eaten as well.

Percy Spencer discovered that popcorn could pop from microwaves, and by the early 1980s, many brands were producing microwave popcorn. One of the first brands to produce it was Golden Valley Foods in 1971. The invention of microwave popcorn greatly increased the consumption of popcorn at home.

Celebrate the day by eating popcorn! Make it with a hot air popper, with oil on the stove, over an open fire, or in the microwave. Have it at home or at a movie theater or sporting event. Make it into popcorn balls, or use it to make something else. Have some friends over and guess the amount of popcorn kernels inside of a container. Then count to see who was the closest, and pop the popcorn. In any event just enjoy some of that fresh popped goodness.

Christmas Past
Posted:Jan 17, 2019 5:01 pm
Last Updated:Jan 18, 2019 7:09 pm

I FINALLY got around to getting one of JD's Christmas presents framed.

An 1863 Confederate States of America $1,000 bond.

With all it's little clip and spend coupons. Every six months you'd get $40 interest. From the sounds of it even the little coupons were accepted in many places as currency.
NOT covered in the Lamestream Media
Posted:Jan 16, 2019 7:27 pm
Last Updated:Jan 17, 2019 3:51 pm

Back OFF if you're not into the political fray because this is a bombshell to the current US Government shut down. I will be copying and pasting direct from the article so that there are NO screw ups or misrepresentations.

The Daily Caller took the rare step of publishing an anonymous op-ed two days ago at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity was known to them and whose career would be jeopardized by its disclosure.

Federal employees are starting to feel the strain of the shutdown. I am one of them. But for the sake of our nation, I hope it lasts a very long time, till the government is changed and can never return to its previous form.

The lapse in appropriations is more than a battle over a wall. It is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.

On an average day, roughly 15 percent of the employees around me are exceptional patriots serving their country. I wish I could give competitive salaries to them and no one else. But 80 percent feel no pressure to produce results. If they don’t feel like doing what they are told, they don’t.

Why would they? We can’t fire them. They avoid attention, plan their weekend, schedule vacation, their second job, their next position — some do this in the same position for more than a decade.

They do nothing that warrants punishment and nothing of external value. That is their workday: errands for the sake of errands — administering, refining, following and collaborating on process. “Process is your friend” is what delusional civil servants tell themselves. Even senior officials must gain approval from every rank across their department, other agencies and work units for basic administrative chores.

Process is what we serve, process keeps us safe, process is our core value. It takes a lot of people to maintain the process. Process provides jobs. In fact, there are process experts and certified process managers who protect the process. Then there are the 5 percent with moxie (career managers). At any given time they can change, clarify or add to the process — even to distort or block policy counsel for the president.

Saboteurs peddling opinion as research, tasking their staff on pet projects or pitching wasteful grants to their friends. Most of my career colleagues actively work against the president’s agenda. This means I typically spend about 15 percent of my time on the president’s agenda and 85 percent of my time trying to stop sabotage, and we have no power to get rid of them. Until the shutdown.

When the agency is full, employees held liable for poor performance respond with threats, lawsuits, complaints and process in at least a dozen offices, taking years of mounting paperwork with no fear of accountability, extending their careers, while no real work is done. Do we succumb to such extortion? Yes. We pay them settlements, we waive bad reviews, and we promote them.

I get it. These are their pets. It is tough to put them down and let go, and many resist. This phenomenon was best summed up by a colleague who said, “The goal in government is to do nothing. If you try to get things done, that’s when you will run into trouble.”

The first thing we need out of this is better security, particularly at the southern border. Our founders envisioned a free market night watchman state, not the bungled bloated bureaucracy our government has become. But we have to keep the uniformed officers paid, which is an emergency. Ideally, continue a resolution to pay the essential employees only, if they are truly working on national security. Furloughed employees should find other work, never return and not be paid.

Secondly, we need savings for taxpayers. If this fight is merely rhetorical bickering with Nancy Pelosi, we all lose, especially the president. But if it proves that government is better when smaller, focusing only on essential functions that serve Americans, then President Trump will achieve something great that Reagan was only bold enough to dream.

The president’s instincts are right. Most Americans will not miss non-essential government functions. A referendum to end government plunder must happen. Wasteful government agencies are fighting for relevance but they will lose. Now is the time to deliver historic change by cutting them down forever.

********************* Boiled down into my words***********

These people are deemed "Non-essential" for a reason. NEXT article is from the American Thinker yesterday.Trump's shutdown trap? By Thomas Lifson


Has President Trump suckered Democrats and the Deep State into a trap that will enable a radical downsizing of the federal bureaucracy? In only five more days of the already "longest government shutdown in history" (25 days and counting, as of today), a heretofore obscure threshold will be reached, enabling permanent layoffs of bureaucrats furloughed 30 days or more.

Don't believe me that federal bureaucrats can be laid off? Well, in bureaucratese, a layoff is called a RIF – a Reduction in Force – and of course, it comes with a slew of civil service protections. But, if the guidelines are followed, bureaucrats can be laid off – as in no more job. It is all explained by Michael Roberts here (updated after the beginning of the partial shutdown):

A reduction in force is a thoughtful and systematic elimination of positions. For all practical purposes, a government RIF is the same thing as a layoff. ...

Organizations must stick to predetermined criteria when sorting out what happens to each employee. They must communicate with employees how and why decisions are made. ...

In deciding who stays and who goes, federal agencies must take four factors into account:

1. Tenure

2. Veteran status

3. Total federal civilian and military service

4. Performance

A lot of procedures must be followed, and merit ("performance") is the last consideration, but based on the criteria above, employees already furloughed can be laid off ("RIFed") once they have been furloughed for 30 days or 22 work days:

When agencies furlough employees for more than 30 calendar days or 22 discontinuous work days, they must use RIF procedures.

An employee can be terminated or moved into an available position[.]

This seems to be what was referenced in this remarkable essay written by an "unidentified senior Trump official" published in the Daily Caller, which vouches for the authenticity of the author and explains that it is protecting him from adverse career consequences should the name become known. I strongly recommend reading the whole thing.


If this was the plan all along, it would explain why President Trump goaded Chuck and Nancy in his televised meeting with them a few weeks ago, boasting that he would claim credit for the shutdown. How could they resist a prolonged shutdown when he made it so easy to blame him?

President Trump has proven that he is a "disruptor" who changes the framework of thinking on major issues by refusing to accept the "givens" – the assumptions of how things always have been done and therefore always must be done.

So who is the "senior official"? I don't know, but I think Stephen Miller is the sort of bold thinker who might volunteer to telegraph the strategy just five days before the deadline. Give Chuck and Nancy something to think about and probably reject as unthinkable. Then they can't complain that they weren't warned once the trap is sprung.

Just Remember President Reagan and his handling of the airtraffic controllers...

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