Monday, February 22, 2016

Soviet Responses to Catastrophe: War, Holocaust, and Cultural Production in the Soviet Union

Today I attended a talk titled Soviet Responses to Catastrophe: War, Holocaust, and Cultural Production in the Soviet Union. This talk was mostly about Jewish writings, in Yiddish, in the Soviet Union during the period when the Red Army was fighting against Hitler. The speaker talked about two collections of songs, short stories, and Jewish folklore that were unpublished. They were unpublished because the Soviet censors did not approve them, but the writings were kept in a collection someplace, back East I think. The "Cabinet of Jewish Culture" was the Soviet group that put together one manuscript. Later, that group was disolved and members were sent to the Gulag, since any kind of Jewish ethnic, or national, unification wasn't an ideologically correct viewpoint. Overall, I'm happy I went to this talk. The speaker had an interesting subject matter.

I'm getting a new phone soon... 

The Presenter - and the backs of two people's heads.

The original documents were pretty cool looking - you could see censor stamps on some of them, others were written on the back of whatever paper scraps Jews could get inside concentration camps or ghettos. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016


When I was in high school, I took a home economics class my final year. This was mostly because I completed basically all required classes, and I didn't really want to have a completely open period with nothing to do (since I lived like 40 minutes away from the school, and I was my sister's ride) and there were not any academic courses offered during that period.

The home economics class turned out to be really, really fun. We learned how to cook many different dishes, and had a small cafeteria where people could come and eat for lunch (for about $3.) At the end of the year, we used all that money we earned from the cafe and went to a REALLY fancy four star restaurant in Phoenix (there were only about seven of us in the class and I was the only guy.) After cooking for half the year, the teacher decided we should learn to sew. The sewing did not go as well as the cooking. I patched all of my screwed up work clothes, put buttons on everything, and then started making a shirt. The shirt looked like a tunic, and generally sucked. Most of the class had a similar experience - useful patching / repair work, and then crap. After taking a look my shirt/tunic, the teacher asked if everyone would like to get back into cooking, and we all said yes. So we went back to cooking, and our small cafe. Thanks to that class I have some basic cooking skills, and can avoid starving, eating out all the time, or malnourished due to a steady intake of Ramen Noodles.

One of my favorite things to cook is pretzels. I still have the physical piece of paper recipe from high school. 

My girlfriend and I think it's fun to prepare meals together, since it's an activity we both can do, contribute to, and then we have something nice afterward. I like working on projects. She never made dough before, so the rising of it was a bit surprising to her.

(White flour version)

We made pretzels together twice. The first time we followed the recipe exactly, and the second time we added whole wheat flour instead of wheat flour, for slightly less than half the flour. If you want to substitute flour, I highly recommend doing so with way less than half, since half wheat flour makes the dough much more difficult to work.

Her little brother LOVES these pretzels, and eats most of them whenever I bring them over.