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Here comes the Hokey Hookie Parade

If you were impressed by the Sore Losers Against Democracy march in early 2017, where hypocritical whiners convened in DC to complain about a defect in one man they had gleefully celebrated in the multiples when another man was in the Oval Office, then you are in for a big treat this March 24th.

Following Nikolas Cruz’s illegal and totally avoidable murderous rampage in Parkland, Florida, the same hypocritical whiners are gathering once again in DC.

This one is the Hokey Hookie Parade.

And though this includes a bunch of school kids forced from school by activist teachers, the parade is very much the same old gun prohibitionist groups we have all come to know in various guises over the years. The same T-shirts, signs, posters, and demands as the past. Americans rejected them before, so maybe a new tack will help, these activists think.

The fake moral outrage is building. It’s getting bigger and bigger. The mainstream media are hyping it.

Instead of asking how Cruz’s dozens of failed encounters with local, state and federal law enforcement resulted in his massacre of his classmates, and instead of asking how the Obama-era PROMISE program deliberately shielded violent kids like Cruz (and Cruz specifically) from being held accountable and thus actually permitted him to get the gun and combine it with his publicly advertised lunatic fantasies, and instead of asking why gun control groups create the conditions for and then welcome these massacres so they get the blood in the streets that fuel their emotional appeals for more government control over free citizens, the whiners are blaming law-abiding gun owners, a civil rights organization (the NRA), and even inanimate objects (guns).

The NRA did not pull the trigger, Cruz did. The NRA did not create the “Gun Free Zone” filled with violent criminal students, the gun prohibitionists and Obama’s PROMISE program did. The gun did not kill those kids, Nikolas Cruz did.

And how does limiting law-abiding gun owners do anything against crime?

Law-abiding gun owners use guns every day to defend themselves and others from violent criminals. And yes, they even use AR15s.

Armed law enforcement officers actually stood outside the school, with their firearms drawn, listening to Cruz murder his classmates. They failed to intervene, and they could have easily killed or wounded Cruz and stopped his massacre. They had no idea what he was armed with, and in any event that is irrelevant: As Cruz walked through the Gun Free Zone with impunity, any armed person who showed up could have easily stood behind a wall or door and waited for Cruz to walk by, and then shot him. Or they could walk up behind him and shoot him.

These are all dramatic failures. Adult failures, government failures, bureaucrat failures. None of these have an atom in common with regular every-day gun owners across America or their chosen organization, the NRA.

I once worked with a deeply unhappy lady who would invent office conflicts and problems out of thin air, so she could then heroically swoop in and impose dramatic and totally fake solutions. No problems existed but what she had created, or simply alleged. No solutions were needed. But she was not after solutions, she was after control. And half the time she got it, through administrative acts or by sheer bullying. She apparently needed this process to satisfy a hurtful, dark craving in her soul, and only late in her career, long after she had committed tremendous damage to many people and the institution itself, did a brave boss eventually step in and end her tyranny.

Such a situation exists here and now with America’s gun prohibitionists.

They created the conditions for Parkland to occur, and they have hijacked this emotionally loaded and most avoidable massacre to suit their purpose of imposing an unpopular and unneeded solution.

Like the alcohol prohibitionists and racial segregationists before them, gun prohibitionists are control-freak fanatics who believe they are on a mission from God. Nothing they do is ever wrong, and every fakery they commit is acceptable, in their minds. The end-goal justifies every method, right or wrong, moral or immoral.

The gun prohibitionists bully and bluff their way into imposing a solution that has zero connection with the actual crime itself, or with the cause of the crime.

Hopefully regular Americans wake up and confront them, stop them, hold the failed bureaucrats accountable in Parkland and Broward County, and end the PROMISE program.

Stealing freedom from everyday Americans is not an answer, it is just one more big problem, leading to yet more problems.

One of the future problems is going to be a lot of young children scarred by the hype and fake moral outrage surrounding the Parkland events. God knows where that then goes. One answer is to send a bill to CeaseFirePA and its affiliates for all of the emotional counseling needed after their fake drama plays out with all these impressionable young kids.

These kids should be in school  on March 24th, not being used as cultural revolution cannon fodder by prohibitionist zealots.

Twenty-five years of sitting by the warm fire

Our family burns a lot of firewood every cold season. Usually beginning in late October and going through February, sometimes into March, we burn split oak 24 hours a day.

Nothing heats up a room better and takes the chill out of the air than a fire in a modern wood or coal stove, and nothing provides a better centralized gathering place for people to read, doze, study, or talk than a fire place or stove. It is a real comfort, and if we think about it, humans sitting by a comforting fire goes back what, 100,000 years? Or six thousand? Either way, a long time.

We are back at it once again today, tending a fire, having now endured Winter’s recent biting return without a fire the past week or so.  Something about this late season chill just works its way into the bones. Maybe we kind of let down our guard, anticipating Spring, eager to shed the heavy coats and boots, and enjoy the warm air and freedom to lounge outside once again. Whatever  the reason, the harsh cold issues a strong call for the fire today, and so we lit one. We will run it constantly until we are fully out of Winter’s grip, and enjoying the comfort of the warm sunlight.

There is another sort of fire, however, and this one will never die out.

It is the fire of human passion, and love, and friendship.

It is that kind of fire which two people share after twenty five years of happy marriage together.

Sure, there are some tough times along that twenty-five years, some hard words, some bruised feelings in that period. Birthing and then raising three kids in that time means some disagreement and frustration are inevitable. But these things are part and parcel of living a committed life. And in a way, resolving the disputes makes the fire hotter, Polonius’ hoops of steel stronger. There is no walking out or walking away, quitting when the going gets tough. There is only commitment, fire. Ebbing, flowing, sometimes blazing hot, sometimes a bed of coals, but always a lit fire.

As a much missed now-deceased life advisor used to say to me, two married people are like two knives, constantly rubbing against one another, sharpening one another’s blade. The knives are working tools, cutting through life, getting work done, and by working together side by side, they also continually sharpen each other’s blades, their cutting edges, the working parts. Once in a while they nick one another. That is just the nature of the tool, the nature of married life. The little nick goes with the territory of work.

It is a good analogy, good enough for me. Because when I look back on twenty-five years of good marriage, as marked today, I feel like we are both still sharp, the Princess of Patience still looks sharp, and our cutting edges are holding up strong.

Said  the other way, I have been sitting by a particular fire now for twenty-five years. Once in a while, while tending it, it has singed me, or given me a minor blister, reminding me of its inherent powerful force. Given that I am klutzy, it is logical that I earned those little burns.

But usually this fire is my friend, my best friend, in fact. I am looking forward to another twenty-five years of her warmth and comfort.


My pickled egg recipe

Lately the raving feedback on my pickled eggs has inspired me to post here the home-made recipe I use.

What are pickled eggs?

They are a Pennsylvania Dutchy native food, originating from the pre-refrigeration time, when salting pork and beef, and soaking vittles in salt and vinegar, was the only way to preserve food, to keep it from going bad.  Only so much food could be kept cool in a spring house, or hanging cured in a smoke house.

So pickled eggs are hard boiled eggs that are soaked in a salty brine with various flavors tossed in to suit your own palate. One thing I have not tried are deviled eggs made from pickled eggs. I will bet they’d be mighty tasty.

You need a sealable one gallon glass jar; I re-use an empty (repurposed) pickle jar with a steel lid.

Into the empty and cleaned jar empty one can of sliced beets in beet juice. Brine or citric acid in the beets is fine, but just keep a running tally in your head or on a slip of paper of how tangy or savory the brine is going to taste.

Then either from the hot sink tap or on the stove top heat up four to six cups of water in a pot, and add two tablespoons of salt and a table spoon of granulated white sugar. Mix in the salt and sugar in warming water until it is dissolved.

The hardcore Germans among us will want more sugar. A lot more sugar. A sickening amount of sugar. Don’t ask me why, it’s just one of those odd sweet tooths that people brought over from Europe. I myself like my eggs savory, not sweet.

Turn off the heat. No need to boil or simmer. Just get it hot enough to turn the salt and sugar into a solution, and then pour half to 2/3 of it into the big jar. Reserve the rest; it might be needed.

Then pour into the jar two cups of apple cider vinegar. You can spruce this up with balsamic vinegar, malt vinegar, a bit of white or wine vinegar, and you can always put in more or less to suit your own taste buds. But for the sake of starting out, let’s just begin with two cups of apple cider vinegar, which Heinz sells in gallon and two-gallon jugs.

Now add 12-18 hard boiled eggs (peeled!) to the jar.

[Note: Eggs boil best when the water is a roiling boil and the eggs are added quickly, boiled high for five minutes under a lid, and then kept under lid for 30 minutes after the heat is turned off. Eggs boiled this way will peel easily and perfectly]

A table spoon of mashed or minced garlic, a quarter teaspoon of dill weed, and a dash of basil into the jar will together give a nice flavor.

At this point your jar should have some room in it before the liquid reaches the very top, just below the lid. You can throw in a couple sliced carrots and some sliced onions. Now, there will be a tiny bit of room left at the top, and you should fill this in with more vinegar and \or the reserved brine, depending on your taste buds.

Close the lid tightly, go to the sink, and slowly turn the whole jar upside down, then back, then upside down again. A few of those turns and everything inside is mixed up. In the winter time you can put the jar in the pantry or mud room for a few days to let the eggs pickle. In the summer you will have to have a very cool basement corner, or else put the jar in the fridge for a few days.

After 2-3 three days, the eggs and vegetables are pickled. The eggs will be colored reddish-pink throughout, even into the yolk. The vegetables will be yummy. Use a spaghetti strainer to reach into the jar and pull out a couple eggs and some vegetables. Put them on a plate and serve cold. We also put them sliced into salads.

Yum. Big treat.


Is Robert Mueller Obstructing Justice?

Knowing what we know now, that the entire Trump-Russia collusion thing is totally fake, that in fact the Hillary Clinton campaign was up to their eyeballs colluding with Russia in their attempt to undermine Trump’s campaign, and that the Clinton campaign paid former British spy Steele to work with Russian spies to create and circulate the fake “dossier” about Trump, and that the fake “dossier” formed the basis of the now-illegal FISA warrant the Obama administration then obtained and used to illegally spy on the Trump campaign, and that the FBI agents and DOJ staff involved in the FISA warrant and all subsequent activity emanating from it were politically opposed to Trump and supportive of Clinton, and that these FBI agents and DOJ staff used their official positions to illegally promote and protect Hillary Clinton and to undermine and then attempt to frame Trump…and so much more…so

…knowing all this, why is special investigator Robert Mueller doing anything at all? He knows full well, especially after a year of “investigating” this fake issue with nothing to show for it, that the entire premise is false, and that in fact someone ought to be investigating the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton for obvious crimes.

So one must then ask the logical question: Is Robert Mueller now himself actively obstructing justice? How much information implicating Obama and Clinton has Mueller encountered in his investigation, and which he has not disclosed to FBI investigators?

All Mueller has to show for his political witch hunt is the mis-use of his position to wrongly bully and threaten three political opponents into crying “uncle,” one of whom, Michael Flynn, has been bankrupted by all of the fake legal assaults on him by Mueller’s office. And now Flynn is going to reverse his phony guilty plea, because it was utterly false – the FBI has said that he committed no crime. So with what crime was Mueller threatening to prosecute him?

Mueller is building a house of cards with all of his Clinton-donor associates. He has assembled a clearly political anti-Trump, anti-Republican group of investigators, all of whom have been publicly shown to be political activists using their positions in this kangaroo investigation for political payback.

Mueller is knowingly standing in the way of real justice, and he is knowingly implementing injustice. It is time that Robert Mueller be arrested and charged with criminal conduct and obstruction of justice. Take his law license, put him in jail.

Mueller is a one-man wrecking ball aiming to destroy America’s form of government. Hold him accountable

Stop Sacrificing Our Children on the Altar of Gun Control


Making schools gun-free just turns them into killing fields | Opinion

Updated Feb 27; Posted Feb 27, 2018

By Guest Editorial

By Josh First

If public schools are dangerous sitting duck areas, falsely called “gun-free zones,” it is solely the fault of the myriad gun-control groups that have tried to stigmatize firearms to the point of demanding that historic reenactors use sticks and brooms, instead of historic muzzleloaders.

If the public is angry about lax school security, they can blame groups like CeaseFirePA, who hate guns so much that they would rather see children remain at dire risk than admit guns have a constructive and valuable role in America, and especially in public schools.

Gun control advocates increasingly admit they are anti-gun prohibitionists, who would really like to see guns removed from private ownership, or so heavily regulated to the point where government bureaucrats determine our individual liberties.

These wealthy, control-freak pressure groups are responsible for insane policies like “gun-free zones” at places like Parkland High School.

Time after heartbreaking time we see that a gun-free zone is anything but that, and crime after crime America’s gun control groups pull political stunts and try to blame lawful gun ownership and the NRA for the heartbreaking results of disarming law-abiding citizens and placing them at the mercy of criminals.

A gun-free zone is a foolish, impractical pipe dream promoted by gun prohibitionists.

In reality, it is a killing field, where only the criminal attacker has a gun, and where the victims can at best put up token resistance, like Parkland’s heroic football coach, Aaron Feis (imagine if Feis had a gun, instead of his body, to defend the students with).

Effectively defending gun-free zones, such as schools, is an impossibility that society does not inflict on other public venues, like planes, museums, government buildings, politicians, sports events and music concerts.

Trying to end the problem by blaming guns, the NRA, and then disarming the law-abiding citizenry, is an indication that gun control groups are not serious about finding a solution to Columbine or Parkland. Rather, they are shamelessly exploiting a situation they alone created to advance their unconstitutional and anti-America agenda.

Guns are protected in our Second Amendment for a reason, and not because our founders were afraid of deer or ducks. Our founders knew that an adequately armed citizenry was all that stood between freedom and tyranny. Yes, gun ownership in America is unlike any other nation, with good reason.

It was an armed citizenry that created the unique freedoms we all enjoy today, and that will never change.

It is time for serious people to hold gun control groups accountable for the carnage in our schools and demand that they stop sacrificing our schoolchildren on their altar of gun control.

Dear CeaseFirePA, stop standing in the way of safe schools; schools are not the place to teach children your anti-gun message.

Josh First, a businessman, writes from Harrisburg

[This was originally titled “Stop Sacrificing our Schoolchildren on the Altar of Gun Control,” but the openly liberal Patriot News opinion editor apparently believed that was too persuasive, and changed it]

Billy Graham and America’s Christian Imperative

Nobody did Christianity better than Billy Graham, a quintessential American and American icon. He was definitely a man of God, a rare, beautiful thing to see.

Losing Graham last week released a flood of beautiful and well-earned words summarizing his commitment, passion, energy, focus, humility, earnestness, and non-judgmental effectiveness. These are all good things, and taken in context as just one man, they are an impressive list of achievements and accolades few of us will ever have said about us.

But Graham was more than just one good man we looked to for leadership and inspiration. Graham symbolized much of what America was in its golden age, say the 1950s, and also a great deal of the building blocks our nation is based on:  Biblical at the base, and big-tent-Christianity at the top.

Graham represents America’s Christian imperative. Meaning, it is imperative that America be a Christian nation, and not atheistic or secular.

America is far better as a Christian nation than an atheistic nation. As a religious nation, America is as America was founded. A common morality, shared values. Even if it falls down, a Christian nation can be, always has the potential to be, a moral and ethical place.

On the other hand, the secular atheist nations have been Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union, today’s Red China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and so on. Not good places. Very very bad places. Cruel places. Places with no human rights, no individual liberties, no religious freedom, and unlimited state power.

Unlike Europe, American Christianity in general, and Graham’s faith in particular, did not discriminate nor judge nor exclude. It is an inclusive faith. American Christianity has always been different than the discriminatory Europe, which persecuted, burned alive at the stake, and ultimately drove out the early Protestants, our “Puritans” and Quakers. In Europe, state religions remain, such as the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, and the various Catholic churches of France and Spain and elsewhere.

You do not have to be a Christian to feel welcome in Graham’s America, or to be an outstanding American, or even to be emblematic of America. That big-tent-Christianity which our Founders believed in, which Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson so well represented, and which Graham came to represent today, is responsible for that openness, that tolerance. If Europe suffered from religious tests and requirements in order for people to fulfill public roles, America was the opposite: Come one, come all, give your best, we are a meritocracy.

Jefferson’s famous 1805 Letter to the Danbury Baptists contains the “separation of church and state” phrase which is so powerful that many people mistakenly believe is part of our nation’s First Amendment. That may be wrong in fact, but the letter captured and set the tone for the kind of religious belief America would come to represent 213 years later. We may not have had an official church, but most of our early leaders were religious Believers, and they carried that moral code with them into their official positions, where it guided their actions. They carried church around in their hearts, and not necessarily on their sleeves. A uniquely American creation.

American politics has always been about shared values, if not shared beliefs. Traditional religious views, call them the Judeo-Christian pillars of America, are that big tent in which the shared values are assembled. So it is on the shoulders of conservative Catholics, evangelical Christians and Baptists, and yes, even Mormons (please leave us out of endless theological debates, or discussions about dogma) to help right the ship of state now, to rally around the shared values, circle the wagons, and protect our most sacred freedoms and liberties.

In this day and age of confusion in the West, with abandonment of basic human traits and life, Christianity is needed more than ever. It is all-hands-on-deck right now. The Christian imperative is more clearly evident now than it has ever been in my lifetime, and Billy Graham showed us all the way.


The importance of Sunday hunting – come join us

Hunting is more than recreation. It is more than even “making meat,” so your family can survive.

Hunting is one of the few authentically human of activities left to us, we modern humans, shells of our former paleolithic selves that we are.

Today, in America, we hunt to be fully human, to demonstrate that we are still engaged with our ecosystems as the predator we became so many thousands of years ago.

Wild animals are still the cleanest, healthiest source of protein available. Getting your own meat through hunting is the most honest way to get food.

Sunday hunting here in Pennsylvania is nearly verboten. Somewhere in the 1860s a wave of religious commitment (a good thing) swept through America, and with it came “Blue Laws,” a very bad thing. Blue Laws are artificial contrivances to more or less force people to  stay away from commercial activity on Sunday.

Here in PA we still cannot buy a car on Sunday, nor can we hunt for anything more than coyote, crow or fox.

Using the force of law to deprive the citizenry of choice on something like hunting, when it is really a private property rights issue, is simply wrong. Blocking private landowners from hunting on their own land on Sunday is bad law, bad government, and it must be changed, for so many reasons.

Providing more Sunday hunting opportunities will open up about 50% more hunting time for Pennsylvanians, who typically can only hunt on Saturday, if they even have Saturday off from work. We are losing hunters, we need to recruit more hunters, and this is the biggest step we can take toward getting hunters back into the numbers where we are a measurable force for conservation and gun rights.

At 2:00 PM on March 11th at the PA Game Commission headquarters here in Harrisburg, a meeting is being held about how to get the Sunday hunting effort moving forward again. Some may recall I served as a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit several years ago. So much effort was put into that, and then RINO Yvette Kane struck. Kane, now a federal judge who openly accepts valuable gifts of jewelry and cars from law firms doing business before her bench, said that Sunday hunting was not a federal religious freedom issue, and sent us to state court, which said it was a federal issue.

We cannot get justice anywhere.

And this is the conundrum we face. Pennsylvania is one of the very last hold-outs on Sunday hunting in America. All but a few states allow full Sunday hunting, during hunting seasons, which are typically during the Fall and winter. Every state surrounding us is a commie state, and yet they allow meaningful Sunday hunting. Only PA is stopping a million of its citizens from fully realizing their recreational dreams and best family time.

Please come join us on March 11th at the PGC HQ, at 2:00 PM, to work on the political solution to this silly problem. Your grandchildren will thank you.

My date with MSNBC

Yesterday I took the Princess of Patience out for her birthday lunch-dinner. She is 49, again, but looks young enough that a waiter asked what my daughter wanted for dinner. No lie. Clean living apparently has its just rewards.

On the other hand, I look like hell.

So while she and I were on our date together, celebrating another notch in her gunstock, in terms I can relate to, our eyes kept getting drawn to the TV playing in the sitting area. For whatever reason, it was stuck on MSNBC, a channel I have obviously heard of, but to which I have had very little exposure. Then again, I watch almost no TV, ever.

So, being of open and easily distracted mind, I ignored my wife on her big day, and instead paid increasing attention to the people on MSNBC. It was in truth a date with the TV channel, as I got sucked in so deeply that I forgot entirely to compliment, thank, and engage with the actual human next to me.

Like I said, she is the Princess of Patience. What she sees in me is a mystery. A normal guy would throw rose petals in front of her every morning. She makes me coffee. I am lucky beyond anything I deserve.

But what of my date with MSNBC?

Well, after a solid hour of really paying attention, let us never again call this a “news channel,” nor its personnel “reporters.”

MSNBC is a wholly dedicated political advocacy program. There is no news being reported. Rather, there is news being edited, commented on, subject to opinions from one perspective, one side, one view. No opposing views or analysis are offered, and the questions designed to sound like alternative perspectives are asked of political advocates with whom the interviewer agrees.

The show was totally dedicated to the Parkland High School shooting and to promoting gun control, gun confiscation, and citizen disarmament. The comments made by the guest people, ranging from high school kids to grey-haired retirees, followed a single line of thought. Most of the comments were just factually wrong, and no one challenged them.

Give credit to the two young high school kids who were interviewed, two young men, they stood in front of the camera and answered questions. But their answers were what you would expect from high school kids: Factually incorrect, emotional, without reason or logic. These kids were being used by MSNBC to promote the channel’s political viewpoints, so no one challenged them on any of their nonsense.

For example, both boys kept stating that AR15s shoot “200 bullets a second.”

That is about 199 bullets more than an AR15 actually shoots in one second.

An AR15 is a semi-automatic firearm, not an automatic firearm. Semi-auto firearms shoot a bullet with each manual pull of the trigger, and most have clips holding 20-30 rounds, not hundreds, as the one boy claimed. And very few automatic firearms of any sort, much less hand-held small arms, shoot at that very high rate of fire.

But MSNBC will not allow actual facts to guide their line of thought.

Consider the fact that the armed deputy assigned to protect the children at Parkland WAS HIDING AS THE SHOOTING OCCURRED.

Yes. When the shooting began the school’s paid deputy sheriff, today a retired deputy sheriff, immediately fled the school and went outside, where he basically curled up in a fetal position.

The man abandoned his post, was derelict in his duty, and let the killer slaughter children and teachers, unopposed.

Consider also that the police had been to the shooter’s home three dozen times for domestic disturbances, and at any time could have intervened between an obviously troubled youth and his gun.

Similarly, the FBI had been repeatedly contacted about the young man’s public threats, and they did nothing. Zero. Nada.

But none of these huge adult failures stop MSNBC from exploiting children, living and dead, from promoting their political agenda of gun confiscation.

And the hour went on like this, a parade of fake data, fake outrage, fake news. At the end of my date with MSNBC I understood why adults I know have a similar disconnect as the adults who failed Parkland’s students. Adults who watch MSNBC and believe they are getting actual news, and actual facts, are failing themselves and those around them. You cannot watch MSNBC seriously, because it is an arm of a radical political movement, at odds with American traditions of news reporting, good government, and legal gun possession.

Watching MSNBC may re-affirm your beliefs, but it will not teach you anything accurate or factual.

MSNBC’s purpose is to persuade watchers of one perspective, not to inform them of facts. MSNBC is fake in every way.

I wondered aloud how much of our other media is like MSNBC, feeding watchers inaccurate information from a political perspective?

That question was answered during the live press briefing at the White House yesterday, which was shown real-time on MSNBC, during our “date.”

During the press event, the national media personnel (they are NOT reporters) were openly hostile toward the president and current administration. They are uniformly and firmly of one political mind, and using their positions as would-be reporters to try and damage an administration they personally oppose. They are advocates, political activists, just pretending to be professional news reporters.

Add this media failure to the long list of other adult failures surrounding the Parkland shooting.

I won’t be going on any more dates with MSNBC again, or with any of her silicon sister media friends, either.


Maple Syrup 101

Maple syrup is really neat, a big treat, and a royal pain in the butt to make.

It is expensive to buy, running from $45 to $60 a gallon.

Modern machinery and technology have combined to turn most sugarbushes (stands of large maple trees utilized by the big maple producers) into a maze of blue tubing and pumps, efficiently moving sap from tree to tank to evaporator. No hauling sloshing buckets hooked on spiles in these forests!

The thing is, today’s evaporators are increasingly using reverse osmosis. This is fantastic for efficiency and keeping energy costs low in what is always an energy-intensive process.

However, having tasted a lot of the newer maple syrup production, one thing is missing: Intense maple flavor. Oh, it is maple syrup, for sure. But it seems that the thing that makes the process so costly is also the thing that is so necessary, and that is heat.

We have been making our own maple syrup for the past five years, something I did as a kid each winter out at Penn State’s recreation area, Stone Valley. Each year we have experimented with different fuels, different evaporators, different amounts of sap. And we have finally arrived at  a simple set-up that works well for us.

We use a 28×44 stainless evaporator pan, made well by a young guy in Iowa.

Under it we have two large propane burners.

We gather about five to twenty gallons of sap a day, and when we hit 20 gallons, we start boiling. It  takes about six to eight hours to carefully boil that 20 gallons down to a one-gallon “liquor” that we spirit into the house and carefully simmer on the stove top until it reaches its finished stage.

Final quality is determined by taste-testing by all in the house, though Mom usually has the last say.

Old whisky bottles with cork stoppers are used to store the syrup, usually in a fridge or freezer.

The real lesson we have learned is that heat is one of the factors in giving that old fashioned “Grade B Dark” full flavor. And this is why we make our own maple syrup. It is nigh impossible to find the old dark Grade B syrup any longer, and the darkest now produced, that we can find, is a shadow of a maple syrup’s true glory, a result of death-by-technology.

Heat is necessary to make that rich flavor. And a lot of careful hovering to make sure that heat doesn’t burn that sap.

PA Supreme Court Magically Turns Itself into Legislature

In an anticipated 4-3 partisan decision today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court majority rejected the original and heavily gerrymandered map submitted by the PA Senate Republicans, as well as three heavily gerrymandered maps subsequently submitted in the past week by the PA House Democrats, PA Senate Democrats, and even PA Governor Tom Wolf.

Instead of declaring none of the legislative district maps to be constitutional, because theoretically none of them have met the constitutional tests for compactness and adhering to existing political boundaries, and instead of declaring the governor’s map completely unwelcome because it is not his role to draw voting district maps, the PA Supreme Court has actually drawn its own redistricting map.

No court anywhere has the constitutionally derived role of drawing voting district maps, and no court anywhere can justify doing so. According to the US Constitution, drawing voting district maps is specifically a state legislature role.

I will say that the latest map, drawn by the PA Supreme Court majority, looks better in some ways than the other four maps recently submitted for review. This map is certainly tighter and breaks fewer county lines than the others. In that sense, it is a more reasonable map.

But that is not the question.

The first question is, should Pennsylvania just get on with voting, as we are now running out of time for the primaries, and just use the established map, deficient though it may be?

The second question is, should the US Supreme Court allow the PA Supreme Court to, in effect, turn itself into a legislature, by performing a key function that is specifically relegated only to the state legislature by the US Constitution?

Hopefully, the US Supreme Court will deny the lower court’s power grab, and direct Pennsylvania to go on with the previous voting district map, flawed though it was, the greater interest being in letting voters have a say at all, as opposed to political elites pulling strings to keep themselves in power.

As imperfect as the legislative process is, and as distasteful as the gerrymandering process is, it is what it is, meaning that this is what we’ve got. No court can magically turn itself into another branch of government. So let’s go with the existing map we had six weeks ago, and get on with elections.