Sunday, November 30, 2014

Old Lessons and New from Sharing the Preparing of Thanksgiving Dinner

Old Lessons and New from Sharing the Preparing of Thanksgiving Dinner

Arppie made an easy dip (cocktail sauce)  stirring together  a cup of all natural ketchup and a tablespoon or less (according to your taste) of all natural prepared Gold's Horse Radish (found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, the only one with no preservatives), a dip we've been making ever since we learned about it, a quick, easy, and healthy appetizer consisting raw vegetables (carrots, celery, scallions, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet baby peppers, miniature tomatoes)  arranged on a large platter surrounding the dip.

Marash Girl tried to prepare kale -- the new favorite vegetable in our family, by sautéing fresh onions in olive oil and adding fresh, washed, chopped kale . . .  much to her dismay, no matter how long she sautéed the kale, it remained unchewable, unchewable, that is,  until she added salt to the mix and voilá! As if by magic, the kale was suddenly tender.  Later, daughter Lorig advised using tamari (the all natural variety, of course) to tenderize the kale . . . Next time!

Another trick Marash Girl learned on Thanksgiving was how to cook any vegetable -- in this case, cubed sweet potatoes.  Nisha  washed and chopped the sweet potatoes, (leaving the skin on ), sprinkled them with a bit of olive oil and coarse salt and pepper, and baked them at 450 degrees for five or ten minutes. Absolutely delicious.

Marash Girl followed suit with fresh whole asparagus -- washed and placed on tray and sprinkled them with a bit of olive oil and coarse salt and pepper, and baked them at 450 degrees for five or ten minutes.  A favorite, hands down!

Please share any kitchen tricks you may have tried this Thanksgiving in the comments below . . .

Saturday, November 29, 2014

We miss you, Mommy!

Mommy, Grandma Jennie,  died on Saturday, November 30, 1991, twenty-three years ago.

Marsha Girl was awakened by the sharp shrill of the telephone very early on that morning of November 30, 13 years ago.  Who would be calling at this hour of the morning? she wondered sleepily, still exhausted from her Thanksgiving spree.

It was Johnnie, Cousin Johnnie, Dr. John B., calling to tell Marash Girl that her mommy was dead, had died in her sleep.  Marash Girl can hear the scream, her own scream, a scream without end, a scream that seemed to be coming from elsewhere, but yes, it was her scream, and her scream of NOOOOOOO!  It couldn't be.  Mommy was too young.  She was too healthy.

Marash Girl threw on a shirt and pants, her coat, and, grabbing her car keys, hurried out the door.  Driving as fast as she could over to the house on Lowell Avenue, she finally (it seemed an eternity) arrived at her childhood home, her face covered with tears.  She ran up those steep stairs,  the stairs she had climbed every day of her young life, every step an eternity. Throwing open the front door, she ran into her mother's bedroom.  There was her mother, a look of joy on her face, joy the like of which Marash Girl had never seen.  Grandma Jennie had seen Jesus . . . Jesus had come in person to take this woman, Mommy, her mother, her saintly mother, to eternal rest.

That night, Marash Girl dreamed that she went to the family house and walked into the hallway through the front door.  There was Grandma Jennie, standing over the stove preparing dinner.  

"I knew you weren't dead!"  Marash Girl exclaimed in her dream.

We miss you, Mommy.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Can a pill or a drink improve your cardiovascular health?

Thinking about all that wine you drank yesterday?  Here are some more thoughts on wine . . . 

Here is the link for a podcast in which Dr. Nisha Charkoudian, Research Physiologist, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, interviews Dr. Michael Joyner, Professor of anesthesiology and Physiology, Mayo Clinic and Dr. Lasse Gliemann, postdoctoral research fellow, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, for the American Journal of Physiology.  . . .

Dr. Charkoudian writes, "I'm serving as 'guest editor' with the journal for a few months, and this is one of the projects they asked me to be involved with ... it's an interesting discussion about resveratrol, one of the components of red wine that is thought to contribute to its health benefits."  

To listen to the podcast, go to When you get there, scroll down to the podcast entitled "Angiogenic Response to Exercise and Resveratrol", click the link, and listen up!  You'll be surprised at what you learn!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks . . . with Corn Bread

Celebrating the giving of thanks by sharing food can be great fun, especially when those of us who don't consider ourselves cooks are given the opportunity to experiment.  Marash Girl doesn't expect you, dear reader, to stop reading and go and try this recipe today, as you have (hopefully) already planned and executed most of what you are going to serve for today's special meal. . .  Nonetheless, Marash Girl would like to share her secret for the best corn bread ever . . . 

Starting with a box of Quaker Yellow Corn Meal, Marash Girl reads the recipe on the back of the box for Easy Corn Bread.  Though the recipe calls for 1-1/4 cups of all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup Quaker Yellow Cornmeal, Marash Girl changes the proportions for a closer to authentic taste, and more crunch -- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1-1/4 cups corn meal.  Next the sugar.  Marsha Girl substitutes 1/4 cup brown sugar for the 1/4 cup white sugar that the recipe calls for.  And, rather than 1 cup of skim milk, Marash Girl substitutes  (at the recommendation of Boston's suspense writer Robert Parker) 1 cup of buttermilk (which is, by definition, the milk left after the butterfat is skimmed off!)

So here's the Quaker recipe for Easy Corn Bread with revisions by Marash Girl and Robert Parker :

1 cup all purpose flour             1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup Quaker corn meal           1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup brown sugar                 1/4 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)
2.5 tsps baking powder             1 egg

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease an 8 or 9 inch (square to be more traditional) baking pan.  If using a glass baking dish, reduce oven to 375 degrees F.  Combine dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center and add milk, oil and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened.  DO NOT OVERMIX!

Pour batter into greased pan.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the cornbread is a light golden brown and a wooden "tooth" pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Serve warm.  Makes 9 servings (cut in squares, two cuts in each direction).


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Day Before Thanksgiving

What self-respecting "Dandigin" (տանտիկին = "Lady of the House") has the time to write a blogpost on the day before Thanksgiving?  Not this one!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Speaking of the Kyrgyz . . .

Haroutun Kyrgyzian, (later Haroutun Haroutunian), was attending Tarsus College during the 1895 massacres, the massacres that left his parents slain in their home and his little orphaned sisters (Yepros & Mayry) placed in the German Orphanage Bethel in Marash, Turkey (then Ottoman Empire). Whether or not Haroutun knew about the family devastation at the time is unclear, but after attending Tarsus College, he left for the United States. The family legend goes that at U.S. customs, he was told to use his father's name as a last name, as the customs officers couldn't understand the pronunciation of the last name he had given them (which was probably Khyrghyzoghlu). Haroutun travelled to the United States (probably with the guidance and assistance of missionaries and his professors at Tarsus College),  and enrolled in Boston University's Medical School with the dream of becoming a doctor.    How, we don't know, but once arrived in the United States,  (we surmise in Newtonville, Massachusetts,) he met the beautiful Makrouhi Nargesian, fell in love, and married.  Although he had wanted to become  a doctor, she wanted him to be with her and their children, for her Harry not to have to leave in the middle of the night for medical emergencies, leaving the family with no man in the house (understandable as she probably had experienced the horrors of the devastation to Armenians in the Ottoman Empire),  so Haroutun gave up one dream for another, gave up the dream of becoming a doctor and became a husband, father, and barber working out of the back of his brother-in-law Moses Bilezikian's pool room, so that he could live happily ever after with his beautiful wife, Makrouhi, sister of Khosrov Nargesian.
Uncle Harry Haroutunian  (on left), Zabelle Haroutunian on his lap, Makrouhi Nargesian Haroutunian in center, Unknown woman on right.  Photo circa 1920, Newton, Massachusetts
Photo courtesy of Ben Haroutunian

Monday, November 24, 2014

Where's the cheese?

Ordering a cheese pizza from Bertucci's? Think again . . .  Recently Marash Girl had a yen for pizza but it was after 10 PM.  Where could she go to get pizza at that hour?  Bertucci's!  What a mistake!
If she hadn't asked for extra cheese, there would have been no cheese! She was so outraged by the deminimus cheese on the pizza that she purchased at Bertucci's, that she just had to write this blog post.  Once warned is twice armed, folks!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Murat: Allahaısmarladık

Monica shares her first taste of raw oysters with her husband Murat as they celebrate Murat's last day in Boston at Boston's oldest restaurant: The Union Oyster House

"Benjamin Franklin" (center) bids farewell to Monika and Murat on their last day in Boston 
at Boston's Union Oyster House.

                                      Farewell, Murat, and God be with you!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Thanks giving to the Creator whence all things come . . .

Thanks giving -- a few (or many) simple heart-felt words of thanks.

That was the Pilgrim's first Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2014

THE FIRST THANKSGIVING: Kathy Rudder from Plimoth Plantation talks with Karen Given of WBUR's Only a Game

Kathy Rudder, “Colonial Foodways Artisan” for Plimoth Plantation

Johnny Cakes

Beer brewed by Mayflower Brewing Company, "a craft beer microbrewery located in historic Plymouth. Founded in 2007 by a 10th-great grandson of John Alden, who was the beer-barrel cooper aboard the Mayflower, they are dedicated to celebrating the history and legacy of the Pilgrims by creating unique, high-quality ales for the New England market."

Kathy Rudder, an historical interpreter at Plimoth Plantation, (Plymouth, Massachusetts) visited WBUR yesterday evening to talk with Karen Given of WBUR's Only a Game and an audience of several hundred about the first Thanksgiving, a thanksgiving that is as far away from today's celebration as Europe is from North America. 
Rudder, a foodways artisan and historical interpreter at Plimoth Plantation, came attired in the simple dress of the time and mingled with the audience as they test-tasted the brews (Mayflower Ale, Autumn Wheat, IPA India Pale Ale, and Porter) brewed by the Mayflower Brewing Company and bottled in Plymouth, Massachusetts) and the tasty tidbits of blue cheese and cheddar made by the Plymouth Cheese Company of Plymouth, Vermont, (yes, Plymouth, Vermont), freshly prepared Johnny Cake (small pancakes made with corn meal, flour and real tidbits of corn), caramelized onion souffle spread on crackers, squash spread on crackers, and for the tee-totalers, coffee -- both de-caf and high test.
According to Rudder, we have very little information about that first thanksgiving.  For the pilgrims, Thanksgiving was a concept -- a day of fasting and prayer, not a harvest feast, though as the Pilgrims became more established, harvest feasts were not uncommon. Rudder noted that the Pilgrims would not have called that feast a thanksgiving, as thanksgiving was prayer.  [By the mid-17th century, the settlers were established enough to be able to feast at harvest time.]
Did the Pilgrims have pumpkin pie at their first harvest feast?  Pumpkin definitely, but pie, probably not, as wheat did not grow well and because maize corn has no gluten, it would have been impossible to create a pie crust. Sugar, as well, was a rarity; early on there was no maple syrup or honey for sweetening.  Perhaps they had stewed pumpkin or stewed squash (mashed into a paste), stewed turnips, cranberries (but again, with no sugar).  The first recording of sugar in Plymouth was in 1627.   They may have cooked cranberries with duck or goose, or spit roasted a turkey with root vegetables such as parsnips, semp (grits - ground dried corn), boiling it with herbs to be savory, not sweet.  Pancakes, duck, goose . . . perhaps the first thanksgiving had a tableful of fowl, as meat was most prevalent. One pot meals were typical -- Turkey pottage with onions, turkey drippings, semp, herbs, root vegetables (a perfect solution for "leftovers", to use a contemporary concept). Or a fricasee, boiling the leavings, then frying them and serving with a sauce of egg yolk & vinegar or bear juice.  Although fish and shellfish were available year round, fish was not mentioned in the diaries as a celebratory food.  In the early days, the Pilgrims were drinking water, which is probably why so many died in those first years.  They didn't have beer or tea or coffee or chocolate.  (Actually not in England either. The Dutch & Spanish had it, but it hadn't reached England yet).  
George Washington declared the first day of thanksgiving in 1789 as a day of fasting and prayer.  Abraham Lincoln, in gratitude for a the victory at Gettysburg in 1863, declared a thanksgiving of fasting to be the 4th Thursday of every November. Sarah Hale, the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, wrote to five presidents to get them to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday in an effort to bring the country together. (At the time, William Bradford's manuscript had just been uncovered.)
Turkey on Thanksgiving was a regionalism until the late 1940's when the National Turkey Federation came into being.  (Rudder made reference to the Ostrich Thanksgiving celebrated on radio by Jack Benny in the 1939. You can still hear it on You-Tube.) 
Rudder made little mention of the Natives except to say that at the first "harvest feast" were  53 colonists and (among others) 90 natives  carrying many deer.
When asked by Marash Girl if Native Americans still observe a National Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Rudder simply answered, "Yes."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Are you Native American?

                          Vineyard Sound, Falmouth, along the bike path (former railroad tracks)

Walking along the bike path which skirts Vineyard Sound in Falmouth, Massachusetts, Marash Girl noticed a family of three who had been posing for a photo, suddenly disappointed.  "Need someone to take that photo?"  she asked.  "My iPhone is out of battery, so that won't help," replied the son.  "No problem," answered Marash Girl as she pulled out her trusty iPhone.  "I'll take the photo and text the photo to you," she replied, not believing that she had advanced that far into the world of the 21st century.

"Are you Native American?" asked the father.  Marash Girl grinned, wondering whether he had asked the question because of her offer of assistance or because of her facial structure, the structure she had inherited from her grandmother, the structure she had inherited from her Kyrgyzian ancestors who had come from the little village of Kyrgyz, where, pesumably, the original settlers were from Kyrgyzstan. [Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east.]

"He stops at every powwow he can find, looking for possible ancestors," commented his wife. "He's convinced that he has Native American blood!" Laughing, Marash Girl answered, "Well, you know what they say: it takes one to know one!"  And then to the gentleman, "Did your family come over on the Mayflower?  Yes?  Well, there weren't many white women to go around in those days . . . "

The family nodded thoughtfully.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wondering in New England

Wonder what it would be like to live in a place where the sun always shines and the temperature never goes below 50 degrees fahrenheit . . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Whipped Cream Biscuits a la Boston's Own Spenser

Never heard of Whipped Cream Biscuits before?  Neither had Marash Girl, until reading along in  MORTAL STAKES by Boston's own mystery writer Robert B. Parker, Marash Girl learned that Whipped Cream Biscuits are, in fact, possible to make, and easy to make as well! She decided to look up the recipe on the internet.

At TasteofHome dot com she found the recipe. recorded below  Marash Girl wanted to bake them for Thanksgiving, whipping up double the amount of heavy cream, half to be used for the Whipped Cream Biscuits, the other half to serve over the pies that her guests are bringing for dessert.

The only problem was that when she went to Shaw's Supermarket late last night looking for heavy cream so that she could record the results of her test here today, all she found was heavy cream with heavy preservatives.  Refusing to buy admittedly chemically treated heavy cream, she decided to pass for the moment and simply offer you, dear reader, the recipe (below).  If you're planning to attempt this recipe in your own kitchen, just be sure you read the ingredients printed on the box of heavy cream before you purchase . . .  Marash Girl's recommendation?  Hold out for the pure stuff.  Wonder if Spenser used the pure stuff . . .

Whipped Cream Biscuits Light and fluffy
      1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

Nutritional Facts
1 serving (1 each) equals 173 calories, 9 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 33 mg cholesterol, 248 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein. 

  1. Preheat oven
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in cream. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead 10 times. Roll to 3/4-in. thickness; cut with a 2-1/4-in. round biscuit cutter. 
  3. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm. 
  4. Yield: 5 biscuits.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Spenser Fries Zucchini Circles Dipped in Beer Batter

Reading MORTAL STAKES by Boston's own mystery writer Robert B. Parker,  Marash Girl came upon a new way to prepare zucchini . . . Ready?

Yes, right in the middle of the mystery, Parker's hero/sleuth Spenser prepares zucchini in a manner that may appeal to those of you who make your own beer -- or who simply love beer and always have it around.

Parker makes it simple both for his sleuth Spenser as well as for those of us who would like to try following Spenser's example! And who wouldn't like a new (though tried and true) way to use up all of those zucchini that we get every fall! (We does not include Marash Girl as she was a failure at growing zucchini the last time she tried . . . Either not enough bees or not enough sun or both . . . )

Following Spenser's lead as he prepares zucchini in MORTAL STAKES, simply cut washed zucchini into circles; prepare a batter by pouring some beer into a small bowl of flour and stirring gently until smooth.  Place some flour in a separate small bowl.  Dip the zucchini circles first into the flour, and then dip the floured zucchini circles into the beer batter. Place those dipped zucchini circles directly into a frying pan which has a tablespoon or two of sizzling cooking oil (Marash Girl uses olive oil), and fry the zucchini circles until crisp!

Delicious, according to Spenser!  Marsha Girl can't wait to try preparing zucchini this way.  How about you?

Oh, and if you love Boston, love baseball, and love mysteries, try reading Parker's MORTAL STAKES!  You can skip the part about zucchini in beer batter, though . . .

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Contemporary Autumn in New England

No longer the smiles of folks raking their leaves into piles at curbside, tending their golden fires, no longer the aroma of burning leaves that marked autumn in New England, rather the roaring leaf blowers and the grim faces of unfriendly folks manning the dastardly machines.  

Another neighborhood bonding phenomenon has disappeared.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bill Littlefied's TAKE ME OUT

On Thursday evening at WBUR, (Marash Girl's favorite radio station), Bill Littlefield held court with his long-time friend Stephen Coren (the illustrator of Littlefield's latest book, TAKE ME OUT) before an audience of over 75 admirers.  TAKE ME OUT, a book of doggerel, not a children's book, not an adult book, but a book of rhymes for those who love sports and love fun, a book that Littlefield hopes (in jest or in earnest) will earn a place in the annals of literary history, a place between Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein . . .               Littlefield's joy was infectious as he talked about his writing of the rhymes and treated the audience to selective readings from his latest book, TAKE ME OUT.  
With Thanksgiving soon upon us, and for other reasons which may be obvious to some, Marash Girl has chosen to share with you, dear reader, this piece from Bill Littlefield's TAKE ME OUT, in memory of the Native Peoples of our land.


The Indians and Braves play baseball. Some would say, "Their loss." 
Perhaps those some think Indians and Braves should play Lacrosse.
Lacrosse, I'm told, was played upon the plains across the land.
Before the Indians and braves were made to understand
They had to leave the land they loved for regions quite forsaken.
The barren lots reserved for them, when better land was taken.

Lacrosse is played in high schools now and private schools as well.
It's played at lots of colleges and I suppose that's swell.
Lacrosse requires running, passing, catching, shooting, too . . .
Though not the sort of shooting that the army like to do
When Indians and braves would try remaining on their land,
As if perhaps when told to move they didn't understand.

A lot of people like lacrosse, which I suppose is nice.
To me it seems like slower hockey played without the ice.
But who am I to say what game is worst and which is best?
We each decide which one we think is better than the rest,
And if lacrosse is what you choose, then I will understand,
And hope that in the days to come you never lose your land.

Bill Littlefield (left) andStephen Coren talk about Bill's latest publication, TAKE ME OUT,
at Boston's WBUR on Thursday evening. When asked by a member of the audience, "Do you think women should get into boxing?" Bill Littlefield answered, "I don't think women should, and I don't think guys should either!"
Although not in rhyme, he did make his point!
Bill Littlefield (left) and Stephen Coren signing copies of TAKE ME OUT.
Bill Littlefield inscribes and signs a brand new copy of TAKE ME OUT for an admirer.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Snow Falling on Maple Leaves

First snow kisses the Maple leaves on Maple Avenue                                             Photo by Marash Girl

Thursday, November 13, 2014

On Veterans Day 2014, Newton, Massachusetts

Visiting Blogger Barley Jim submits the following:

Striding into VFW Post 440 on Veteran's Day, a tall and trim TV beautiful Army Major in class A dress blues paused to remove her cap per proper protocol, revealing dark brown hair in a compact bun.  There were rows of ribbons on her chest and diamonds on her ring finger as she carried on her left arm an infant in a plastic baby carrier, and on her right, an overflowing large Louis Vuitton bag.

The Army used to promise "Be all you can be" and she surely is!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Happy Birthday, Anoushig!

 Celebrating at  the Boston Museum of Fine Arts' Bravo Restaurant

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A word to the wise . . .

      Parking his car next to the track at the Newton YMCA, the owner of this car need say no more!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Advice to the Lovelorn . . .

Some sage advice from Grandpa Peter. . .

1) You never marry the person; you marry the family.

Of course, Marash Girl never believed him until his words were proven true! (Family, genetically speaking, if not physically speaking!)

2) You have to love the person for their bad points; anyone can love someone for their good points.

Of course, Marash Girl never believed him until these words were proven true, as well!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pets Allowed in Massachusetts Polling Places?

After observing the fear in the faces of some voters when large dogs accompanied their owners into the polling place this past Thursday, Marash Girl was curious as to whether or not dogs were allowed in polling places. After emailing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Election Division.  she received the following reply:

There is no law pertaining to pets in polling places. Of course, service animals are permitted in polling places, but otherwise it is up to the discretion of the owner or administrator of the building. If the polling place is in a building that does not normally allow pets, the animals may be prohibited from the building.

Elections Division

Marash Girl got to wondering.  Exactly what types of pets might folks take with them to help them make the correct decisions when voting?  Pet cheetahs? Pet snakes? Pet panthers? Pet fisher cats?  Pet donkeys? Pet anteaters? Pet Wallaroos? Pet chickens? H..m...m...m...m...m

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Can you answer this riddle?

An elementary school teacher posed this question to her class, a question that came to Marash Girl via email:  If yesterday were tomorrow, what is today?

Please post your answer in the comments below.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The passing of Tina Marie (Bilezikjian) Alunni.

We all mourn the passing of Tina Marie (Bilezikjian) Alunni.  Growing up in West Springfield, Massachusetts, she made many a trip to Wilbraham Mountain where we all got to know and love her; she brought sunshine with her wherever she went, whether the sun was shining or not.  Our love and condolences to the family.  May Tina rest in peace.

Her obituary follows:

Tina Marie Alunni (nee Tina Marie Bilezikjian) of Valencia, CA passed away on Tuesday, October 21, 2014, at the age of 45, after a three-year long courageous battle with breast cancer.  Tina was born October 22, 1968 in Santa Monica, CA to Vahe Bilezikjian and Harriett Beltrandi. 

At the age of four, she moved with the family to West Springfield, MA. After graduating from West Springfield High School, she moved back to Southern California where she spent the rest of her life. She graduated with a B.A. degree in liberal studies from CSUN and a M.A. degree in spiritual psychology from USM. She was an employee at Sony Pictures Entertainment for 12 years and an ordained minister in the church of M.S.I.A.

She is survived by her husband, Tony Alunni, their three-year-old daughter, Ava Alunni; her brother, John Bilezikjian, his wife, Marilia, and their children, Ana and Deron.

Her zest for life and unlimited enthusiasm won her lifelong friendships wherever she went.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lack of Voter ID Requirement Irks Newton Voters

"What? I don't have to show my ID?  You mean anyone could come in here and say that they're me and vote?  That's outrageous!"  So spoke a middle-aged woman voting in Tuesday's election in Newton, Massachusetts.  Your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Knitting Needles - Perfect Protection in a Not-So-Perfect World

Yesterday, during a lull at the polls, Marash Girl pulled out her knitting needles and continued her knitting of an infinity scarf, a scarf she had promised to make for Meghan's birthday, the birthday now long past!  But the scarf is not the subject of this blog (as it was completed by the time that the polls closed) . . . 

"Look at those knitting needles!  They look dangerous," said a voter checking in at the polls.  Marash Girl laughed, as she remembered that knitting needles do look dangerous and could (if your grandmother had thought to use them that way) become a weapon to be reckoned with!  All of that dredged up a memory from long ago when Marash Girl used to ride the subway from Washington Heights to the Lower East Side where she was an intern Guidance Counselor at Seward Park High School.  So here's what happened.

As most of you can imagine, the subways and buses at rush hour are packed, and often offer the nefarious the opportunity to snuggle up close to an unwary rider. That was, in fact, the case, when one morning during rush hour on the subway in New York City, Marash Girl reached down and found an unrelated hand reaching up under her skirts.  Grabbing that hand, she held it high into the air, and shouted, "What is your hand doing under my skirt?"
"That's not my hand,"  answered the not so gentle man who was attached to the hand.

It was after that experience that Marash Girl unwittingly and unrelated to the incident (or was it?), decided to carry her knitting in her pocketbook; as the pocketbook was not large, and the needles were long, the knitting needles made their way up and out of her bag.  That very first time that she carried knitting needles onto the subway, Marash Girl noticed that folks made plenty of room for her as she stood on the crowded train.

When she related this tale to the voter who had commented on the needles and by then had  checked out of the polls,  the voter commented, "I'll have to spread the word.  Knitting needles -- the perfect protection in a not-so-perfect world!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Don't forget to vote! It's your birth right as an American citizen!

Marash Girl will be working at the polls today, and she wants to see you there!  If you don't remember where you vote, just call your City or Town Hall.  Polls open at 7 A.M. and close at 8 P.M. so don't miss the opportunity to cast your ballot.  When you do, you'll get an "I Voted" sticker to wear all day as a reminder to all those who haven't yet done so!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sea Gull Guards Beachfront in North Falmouth

Having witnessed this very scene a year ago, Marash Girl had to wait 12 months to capture it on camera.  This time, the sea gull cooperated.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Monarch Butterfly Celebrates Halloween!

Monarch Butterfly (lower left) along Surf Drive, Falmouth, Massachusetts.  Photo by Marash Girl, October 30, 2014

Such a gift to see a Monarch Butterfly, albeit on the day before Halloween, in Falmouth, Massachusetts . . . the first Monarch Butterfly that Marash Girl had seen since her days roaming the hills of Wilbraham, Massachusetts. . . There must be milkweed growing along the coast in Falmouth's Salt Pond Bird (and, shall we say, Butterfly) Sanctuary!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nisha Charkoudian contributes to Army's development of app determining body's water needs

Researcher Nisha Charkoudian contributes to Army's development of app which determines body's 

water needs - written by Kelly Field, USARIEM, published October 24, 2014,  reprinted here from
There's an app for that: Army has developed one to determine water needs
Pictured here is the Soldier Water Estimation Too app main screen. This Android-based smartphone application
 is a decision aid that translates a complex sweat prediction model into simple user inputs. The user need only 
estimate the anticipated intensity of the activity (low, medium, high, including example activities), choose 
from among three categories of military clothing ensemble and input weather conditions (air temperature, 
relative humidity and cloud cover) to estimate the fluid intake required to maintain optimal hydration.

NATICK, Mass. (Oct. 24, 2014) -- Clean, potable water is one thing the world universally cannot live without. It hydrates. It cleans. It keeps us alive and well. No doubt, water is very valuable to Soldiers.

However, as many mission planners know, water planning can be a nightmare. Too much water can strain already heavy combat loads, perhaps forcing some Soldiers to pack too little in favor of a lighter pack. When Soldiers don't have enough water, dehydration could set in, decreasing performance and increasing the risk of serious heat illnesses.

"Water is a huge logistical problem for training and field missions," said Dr. Nisha Charkoudian, a research physiologist from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, known as USARIEM, Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division. "Obviously, planners do not want too much, but having too little can lead to serious problems. Dehydration exacerbates symptoms caused by heat and altitude exposure, and makes a lot of things worse, including the ability to perform physical tasks in hot and high-altitude environments."

To help solve this logistical problem, Charkoudian worked with researchers from USARIEM -- Dr. Sam Cheuvront, Dr. Robert Kenefick and Ms. Laurie Blanchard -- and a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory -- Dr. Anthony Lapadula, Dr. Albert Swiston and Mr. Tajesh Patel -- to develop an app that will help unit leaders accurately predict water needs with the goal of minimizing the burden of water transport and sustaining hydration.

"Research into heat stress has been going on for over 50 years at USARIEM," Charkoudian said. "We have been providing guidance to the Department of Defense about sweat loss and hydration, and refining it for many years through TB MED 507. Paper doctrine provides generalized look-up tables generated from complicated equations. The app meets requests from the increasingly digital battlefield for paperless guidance that is simple, accurate, mission-specific and available in real time."

Called the Soldier Water Estimation Tool, or SWET, this Android-based smartphone app is a decision aid that translates a complicated biophysical and physiological sweat prediction model into simple user inputs regarding the anticipated intensity of activity (low, medium, high, including example activities), three category choices of military clothing ensemble and weather conditions (air temperature, relative humidity and cloud cover).

The SWET app has user-friendly inputs and provides the user with the amount of water required for the specified conditions in liters per hour. A separate "Mission Calculator" tab further simplifies planning by providing total amounts of water required for a given unit (number of people) for a given mission duration (total time, in hours). Total water amounts are provided in liters, one-quart canteens, two-quart canteens and gallons.

Charkoudian said this app was designed for unit leaders to determine group water needs. The average amount of water needed per person does not reflect individual differences, but the model error for individuals is estimated to be small. Soldiers should expect to see this app within the year on the Army's Nett Warrior platform.

"This will be one of the first apps rolled out in the Nett Warrior platform," Charkoudian said. "I am so excited to be doing stuff that is directly helping Soldiers in the field. I think that's just so cool."

In the meantime, Charkoudian said that the app has already undergone limited user testing with the Army Mountain Warfare School in Jericho, Vermont, where Soldiers gave very positive feedback. She is looking forward to more feedback once the app goes live, to make updates and possibly explore its uses in the commercial world.

"There is the potential here for future versions of SWET for sports and sports drink companies, for team sports, as well as for humanitarian and disaster-relief organizations," Charkoudian said. "People want apps; that's what they are excited about. It's something everyone can relate to."