Hmm Weekly for April 13, 2021

Tuesday Is Promised To None

GUIDED MEDITATION DEP’T.

SOMETIMES (NOT ALL THAT OFTEN, for me, personally) you can't get to sleep at night, or someone else, such as a child in your care, can't get to sleep (this happens more often, for me), and they need your help. As an experienced sleeper, I have developed a method to share with those who may be struggling. It goes like this:

Lie down and relax, for your own sake or to provide an example for your sleep subject. Take a breath—just a normal, slow breath, not an exaggerated or extended meditation-breath—and at the end of the exhale, say "one," either mentally to yourself or softly to the sleepless child. Then take two more breaths and say "two." Three more breaths, and say "three." Four breaths, "four." Keep going, adding another breath to the count each time. If you're still awake at "ten," go on to 20. If you're still awake at "twenty," at least you've been lying still and thinking very boring thoughts for 20 minutes or so, which is almost as restful as being asleep.

DEP’T. OF CORRESPONDENCE

IN RESPONSE TO our “clobbed-together rice” recipe in VICTUALS DEP’T. (Hmm Weekly for March 23, 2021) we received the following correspondence.

I've enjoyed the continued trend of this newsletter becoming more about food. The entry from the 23rd about clobbed-together rice was a great read, and my brain thought it was an excellent name for fried rice. Later I started thinking about why anyone would need a recipe for fried rice. As a Chinese-American from a mixed race household, fried rice was just part of the meal ecosystem. Fried rice is something that grandma would throw together when she had too many bits of leftovers that weren't enough food on their own. I'm used to people having their own spins on fried rice, and I think it's the kind of thing that you just need to figure out what makes it good for you.

The idea that this wasn't just a thing that everyone by default knew how to make threw me. It makes sense in my brain. I have taught people how to make fried rice, and I know plenty of people that have never and would never make it. This, apparently, has not stopped my implicit bias being that everyone that cooks has an approach to make fried rice. It's been a really awful and weird few weeks after an awful and weird year as an Asian-American, and this short item has me feeling extremely existential about it all.

Anyway, this has been a rambly and self-centered way of saying thank you for this amazing newsletter. I really love it.
—Thomas

Thanks for writing! In our household meal ecosystem, which involves lots of leftover rice, fried rice is a different (and quicker) process than clobbed-together rice. The key distinctions are: active stirring instead of letting the rice sit and form a brown bottom crust; using a splash of shaoxing wine and soy sauce instead of simmering in leftover roasting juices; and scrambling in eggs instead of no eggs. Both have been necessary to get through all the pandemic lunchtimes.

Another Week, Another HMM WEEKLY

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VISUAL CONSCIOUSNESS DEP’T.

Spring!

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DISPOSSESSIONS DEPT.: Uninterruptible Power Supply, Interrupted

I WORK AT home, on a computer, all day, I’m on the computer, doing my work. A while back I thought how ridiculous and fragile it was to depend on wires running into my house for my wages, to wit; the wire from the Cable Television company providing me with Internet, vital to my work, and the wires running into my house from the Power Company, enabling me to operate a machine connected to my Internet supply—a machine plugged in to a grubby “power strip,” with a fuse in it in case of a lightning strike or power drop/surge from the Power Company. A house of cards made out of, like, three cards!

So I dropped a few hundred bucks on an Uninterruptible Power Supply, a/k/a “backup UPS,” an insanely heavy black box full of batteries and a high-tech assemblage of wires and fuses and breakers and chips designed to protect my computers from power surges and also to provide 15 minutes of backup power, so I wouldn’t lose whatever work I had in progress. I felt good about my investment in Security as I made the hard choices as to which parts of my work array would be plugged in to the UPS-machine’s backup power supply ports, as opposed to other plugs simply providing the vital buffer between electronic destruction and the vagaries of Maryland’s summertime weather.

Two weeks into my newfound Security, I’m sitting at my desk pecking away at my computer keyboard, and the power-thing, inches away from my feet, snap-crackle-popped, and I mean SZZZ-NAP! CRACKLE! PZZZ-OPP!!! This was followed by an alarming electro-chemical burning smell and some smoke. I froze for a sec in terror, looking at my computer screen, which was dark, along with all the little telltale lights on my various external drives and disk drives and the cable modem thing, and then I reached down and yanked out all the plugs from the back of my interrupted power supply, which was emanating heat and faintly crackling.

I picked the thing up—and this thing is “remember to lift with your legs” heavy, and ran outta the basement with it and sat the traitorous box in the backyard away from anything in case it, I dunno, exploded? The backup box is in a box at the recycling center, and my computer and all the attending boxes that enable me to earn a paycheck are back on the grubby Power Strip.

ADVICE DEP’T.

THE SOPHIST is here to tell you why you're right. Send your questions to AskTheSophist@hmmweekly.com, and get the answers you want.

BRAIN ITCH DEP’T.

DodgeCoin!

SANDWICH RECIPES DEP’T.

WE PRESENT recipes for sandwiches from Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing Dish Recipes, Copyright 1916, by David McKay, Publisher, and now in the public domain for the delectation of all, written by Marion Harris Neil, M.C.A., former Cookery Editor, The Ladies’ Home Journal, author of How to Cook in Casserole Dishes, Candies and Bonbons and How to Make Them, Canning, Preserving and Pickling, and The Something-Different Dish.

DATE AND NUT SANDWICHES
6 ozs. (1 1/2 cups) nut meats
6 ozs. (1 1/2 cups) stoned dates
Butter
Lemon-juice
Thick cream
Whole-wheat bread

Put the nuts and dates through a food-chopper, add lemon-juice to taste, and enough cream to make it of a consistency to spread. Butter a thin slice of bread, then spread with the filling, and finish with an un-buttered slice. Cut into fingers.

DEVILED HAM SANDWICHES
Buttered bread
Deviled Ham
2 eggs
1/2 pint (1 cup) milk
Paprika to taste
Hot melted butter

Spread thin slices of bread with butter and upon half of the buttered slices spread some deviled ham. Finish with the other slices of buttered bread and cut in halves.
Beat up the eggs, and the milk and paprika to taste. Soak the sandwiches in this mixture until they are saturated, then cook in hot butter until browned, first on one side and then on the other. Serve hot. Grated cheese may be used in place of the deviled ham.
Another Method.—Beat the yolks of three eggs in a small saucepan, add one tablespoonful of salt, three tablespoonfuls of sugar; mix well, then add one teacupful of vinegar, and stir and cook until it boils. Cool and mix with a can of deviled ham and spread on crackers.

DUTCH SANDWICHES
Smoked ham sausage
White or brown bread
French mustard
Sliced gherkins
Butter

Cut very thinly the required number of slices of smoked ham sausage. Butter some thinly cut slices of brown or white bread, spread over each a little mustard, and then add a layer of of thinly sliced gherkins. Lay the slices of sausage between each two slices of buttered bread, and trim and cut into the desired shapes.

If you decide to prepare and enjoy any of these sandwiches, kindly send a picture to us at hmmweekly@substack.com.

HMM WEEKLY IS written by Tom Scocca, editor, and Joe MacGherkin, creative director. If you enjoy Hmm Weekly, please let a friend know about it! If you're reading this because someone forwarded it to you, we invite you to sign up for a copy of your own right now. Thanks for reading, and any time you want, email us at hmmweekly@substack.com.