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Via Debby the Corner’s link gal comes this history of curry:

[T]he original curry predates Europeans’ presence in India by about 4,000 years. Villagers living at the height of the Indus civilization used three key curry ingredients—ginger, garlic, and turmeric—in their cooking. This proto-curry, in fact, was eaten long before Arab, Chinese, Indian, and European traders plied the oceans in the past thousand years.

I don’t have much to say about it – I can take curry or leave it alone – but thought I would put it up in case Sistah happens to be reading.  She’s the big Port Swiller Family curry expert, having spent some time herself on the Subcontinent, and I’m sure would have plenty of opinions and observations.

I also put it up in order to have an excuse to use the headline, which is the name of the final Chorale from P.D.Q. Bach’s grand oratorio, The Seasonings (Schickele No. 1/2 tsp).  Do we have the tape?  Yes, yes we do.  (Starting at about 9:05):

300px-Sailing-Alone-Around-the-World-coverI mention below that one of the pleasures of blogging is a sort of stream-of-consciousness trivial pursuit.  Another is when friends of the decanter are kind enough to think of me when they come across something themselves that might seize my interest.

Thus, this morning, on checking the ol’ Llama Tasty Bits Mail Sack™ as I still do because I haven’t got round to setting up a dedicated Port Swiller mail account, I discovered a recommendation from the lovely and talented Sarah G. of a new-to-me book, Sailing Alone Around The World by Cpt. Joshua Slocum.

Captain Slocum single-handedly took a sloop, the Spray, round the world in the late 1890’s.  A first, apparently.  This book is an account of his circumnavigation and ought to be of interest to anyone who considers the Deep Blue, either from the deck or from his favorite comfy chair.

Of course, I immediately had to scurry off to the devil’s website to snap up a copy.  (That’s ol’ Robbo – talk about yer low-hanging fruit and temptation!)  And I’ll let you know what I think, although I doubt there will be any surprises.

I also checked the wiki entry on the book.  Of particular snort-worthy note is a comment made by a certain Arthur Ransome, who himself wrote childhood adventure stories.  Said Mr. Ransome in an introduction to a 1947 edition of Sailing, “Boys who do not like this book ought to be drowned at once.”

Yo, ho!

200px-Hakkapeliitta-1940One of the reasons ol’ Robbo enjoys blogging – and especially enjoys commentary from friends of the decanter – is that he just never knows when the process is going to turn up some new, interesting-but-utterly-useless piece of trivia.  Such nuggets are little grace notes to me.

Por ejemplo, in comments to my post just below about driving in the ice and snow, regular swiller Captain Ned mentioned the name “Hakkapeliitta”.  Frankly, I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about.  A quick google-search reveals that this is, in fact, a brand of snow tire, which makes sense in the context.  But it also reveals that this was originally the name for a particular historickal Finnish Light Cavalryman.  I swipe a portion of the wiki entry for your amusement and edification:

Hakkapeliitta (Finnish pl. hakkapeliitat) is a historiographical term used for a Finnish light cavalryman in the service of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the Thirty Years’ War (1618 to 1648). Hakkapeliitta is a 19th century Finnish modification of a contemporary name given by foreigners in the Holy Roman Empire and variously spelled as Hackapelit, Hackapelite, Hackapell, Haccapelit, or Haccapelite. These terms were based on a Finnish battle cry hakkaa päälle (English: Hack on them; Swedish: hacka på), commonly translated as “Cut them down!”

The hakkapeliitta-style cavalry was first used during the Polish-Swedish Wars of the late 16th century. In the early 17th century the cavalry led by the Field Marshal Jacob De la Gardie participated in campaigns against Poland and Russia. The Hakkapeliitta cavalry men led by Field Marshal Gustaf Horn were vital to the Swedish victories in Germany during the Thirty Years’ War.

Finnish military march Hakkapeliittain Marssi is named after hakkapeliittas.

The Hakkapeliitta [….] excelled in sudden and savage attacks, raiding and reconnaissance. The greatest advantage of the fast and lightly armored Hakkapeliitta cavalry was its charge. They typically had a sword, a helmet, and leather armor or a breastplate of steel. They would attack at a full gallop, fire the first pistol at twenty paces and the second at five paces, and then draw the sword. The horse itself was used like another weapon, as it was used to trample enemy infantry.

The horses used by the Hakkapeliitta were the ancestors of the modern Finnhorse; despite their small size they were strong and durable.

So there you are.  The next time you’re at the tire store, suddenly yell “Cut them down!” and see what happens.  If the sales rep cottons on, you’ll know you’ve found a fellow loony spirit.

(Oh, and speaking of the Thirty Years’  War, if you’ve got a couple hours to kill one snowy day when you don’t feel like being out on the roads, you might check out an old Omar Sharif movie called The Last Valley.   It’s got Michael Cain and Brian Blessed in it as well and is almost a kind of Northern European Seven Samurai.)

A fascinating article about Soviet geologists stumbling across a completely isolated and self-sufficient Siberian family in the late 70’s.   It immediately made me think of this old favorite:

I remember the squawking this and other anti-Soviet digs provoked among certain Western elites back in the day.  And frankly, I reveled in it.  Collectivist Utopianism must be firmly mocked wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head.   (No kidding – I firmly hold that the various manifestations of the belief that Man is capable of perfecting Himself on this here Earth (and damn the fallout) are the works of the devil.  And one thing he can’t stand is being laughed at.)

I may have told this story before.  If so, bear with me.  When I was a lad at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, I lived in a residential college that was more or less Collectivist Ground Zero.  Don’t come away with any notion that ol’ Robbo ever went through a hippie phase himself.  It’s just that the school in general and this dorm in particular trumpeted “Diversity” as the summa of all socio-political achievements.  Since, as I looked about, it was readily apparent that every other person there had virtually identical tastes in politicks, musick, dress and, ah, recreational activities, I would only be doing  the Big D a favor by inserting myself into the mix.

Of course, here “Diversity” did not have its ordinary dictionary meaning, but instead, due to the inevitable perversion that attends all such politicks, actually meant rigid, lock-step, Soviet-style conformity.  (See above.)  They, meaning the kulturny, knew it was a crock.  I knew they knew it was a crock.  They knew I knew they knew it was a crock.  We were a very knowledgeable family.**

Anyhoo, we had a cafe of sorts in the basement of one dorm that served lunch to those who didn’t feel like shlepping over to the dining hall.  This cafe sported an ice cream bar.  I rarely went myself, but one day when I wandered in,  an Earnest Young Thing who had long since identified me as the Other took up station by said bar and started saying in a loud voice, “I’m a Capitalist! I’m going to take all of the ice cream!”  She repeated this several times, shooting side-long glances in my direction.

Finally, I sidled over and said softly, “I’m a Communist.  The People will decide how hungry you are, Comrade.”

I didn’t make many friends that day.   But I always wondered whether I actually got anybody to think.   If so, I’d count it as a win.

** Spot the near-quote.

Oh, and a glass of wine with Arts & Letters Daily!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

A couple years back, ol’ Robbo was out in the Midwest in December on biznay when he and his colleague got caught in the Quad Cities area in a ginormous blizzard.  The next day, after it had passed, we had to drive out to Des Moines for some additional depositions.  Davenport, IA to Des Moines is about, oh, 180-odd miles of interstate.  In the aftermath of the storm, we counted something close to 100 wrecks over that distance.  (It was after dark, too, so I’m sure we missed a few more.)

I was reminded of that little adventure this morning, as an Alberta Clipper descended on the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor and began to drop moderately heavy wet snow right at the start of rush hour.   I’m not exactly sure how they go about apportioning the sanding/salting duties, but evidently whoever was in charge of the stretch of Mrs. Madison’s Road and the “Gee, Dubya!” that I normally drive had dropped the ball.  Cars spun out and in the ditch everywhere.  Not quite as spectacular as the twisted, pirouetted, mangled hulks I saw in Iowa, but enough to wake the memory.

Mrs. R was supposed to bring brekkers treats in to the Middle Gel’s chorister practice this morning, traveling along much of this same route.   After but a few minutes I called and waved her off because even my beloved Wrangler, which in 4WD has the sure-footedness of a chamois of the Alps, was beginning to display that kind of hesitant shimmy that a wicked-minded horse does just before trying it on, and we’ve discovered that the family Honda Juggernaut® does about as well in these conditions as does a brontosaurus on an ice floe.  (Mrs. R has already announced that when the lease is up she’s going back to an SUV.  And Algore can go to hell.)

As I was crossing one bridge over Complicated Run, the ol’ Jeep started to yawl more than usual.  “What? What’s got into you?” I asked.  Then I noticed that the 4WD light was not lit.  Once re-engaged, I had no more problems.  But I’ve noticed more than once in recent weeks that I seem to have thrown the lever to turn it off without being aware of it.  I put this in the same category as forgetting what gear I’m in, which also happens from time to time, particularly when I’ve a lot on my mind.  Anno Domini, I suppose.


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February 2013