The Blognak

About a bilingual, bicultural life at sixty degrees north.

That rather ridiculous Clinton-has-a-seizure video....
One of my sons has epilepsy. He's an adult now, so I try (and fail) to step back and let him and his doctors take care of things, because, well, he's an adult and he has to learn to manage his condition just like he has to learn to do a thousand other things adults do. But along the way I've learned some things about epilepsy and seizures. So when I saw the video that claimed Clinton was having a seizure and was injected with diazepam (trade name Valium) by an aide, parts of my brain started screaming in protest.

I'm going to try to avoid politics here. I'm also not going to address the claim that this aide, or Secret Service agent or whatever other function he had, has not been seen since, because I don't know if that claim is true or not, or if it is true what the reason is. I'm just going to focus on the alleged seizure and the claims of an injection of diazepam.

1. Let's start with the biggest problem: that doesn't look like a seizure. That looks like she's focusing on something happening in the audience, out of range of that particular camera. There are many kinds of seizures, but one thing you can't do when having any one of them is *focus*. The Clinton campaign says there was a protester in the audience, a story that fits her behavior better than the claims of a seizure.

2. The man who comes up and stands next to Clinton briefly touches her back. This is when the makers of the video claim he injected her with the drug. From our point of view, her clothing doesn't appear to move. So either this man is such an expert that he can lift up her clothes in the back, give her an injection, and replace the clothes, one-handed, in a matter of seconds, with no sign of anything happening from the front... or the auto-injector has a needle long enough and powerful enough to go through her suit jacket and blouse.

3. Clinton doesn't react. You know what it feels like to have a needle inserted into you, now imagine it being driven in at speed. And yet, she doesn't flinch or appear startled. She also doesn't show any signs of being discombobulated or even mildly confused when she comes out of the alleged seizure.

4. Diazepam would never be given to someone who had a single seizure. It's used for a condition called status epilepticus, which means either the person is having a single seizure that lasts for five minutes or more, or they're having repeated seizures without coming back to themselves in between. For that particular situation, diazepam can be a miracle cure, even life-saving, but it also has serious side effects. You're introducing a huge dose of brain-altering chemicals, after all. (Incidentally, in spite of the name, most people who experience status epilepticus do not have an epilepsy diagnosis or a history of seizures. It's a sign of something else going very wrong in the brain.)

5. Because some people are known to be at risk of status epilepticus, there is an auto-injector of sorts for giving a dose of diazepam when needed. But it's not like an Epipen. The drug is in the form of a gel meant to be inserted rectally. As in up the butt. There is just no way the man who supposedly had the syringe could have accessed that part of Clinton's anatomy without anyone noticing.

So either Clinton is suffering from a previously unknown type of seizure, and her doctor recommended a dangerous drug therapy for the first sign of any seizure, and prescribed this in the form of an auto-injector or syringe treatment not available on the open market, and this found its way into the hands of a man with unusual injection skills -- or something much more mundane is happening. I suggest there's a protester or heckler in the audience and the man who comes to Clinton's side is concerned about her safety, nothing more.

There are a lot of old misconceptions and superstitions about epilepsy - we should be fighting them, not using them as political weapons.

I think everyone has seen the Great Seal of the United States, the one with the bald eagle with the shield on its chest, if for no other reason than that Hollywood loves using as shorthand for "the people you are about to see work for the US government". And many people will have noticed that among the many symbols on the seal, the eagle clutches 13 arrows in one of its talons. What I don't think most people are aware of is the symbolism behind those arrows. I mean, yes, of course part of the symbolism is a show of strength, a message that "We are prepared to fight" even as the other talon clutches an olive branch, a traditional symbol of a wish for peace. But there is a reason arrows were chosen even though they were not state-of-the-art when the seal was designed.

Arrows are surprisingly strong, although they are very slender. Arrow makers figured out early on that certain kinds of wood have the right sort of strength for the arrow to do its job; a weak arrow is of no use for hunting or war or even target shooting. But most people could break a single arrow if they tried.

Breaking two arrows at the same time is a lot harder.

Breaking thirteen arrows all in one go? Essentially impossible.

The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy used a bundle of five, later six, arrows as one of its symbols for exactly this reason, and the designers of the seal for the young United States chose to copy it.

So if you're wondering why people feel the urge to "show support" when something horrible happens elsewhere - well, maybe we're instinctively trying to thicken that bundle of arrows to make it stronger. It's conceivable that a terrorist group can bring one country to its knees... though France is a bad choice to start with (see, for example, the First World War) and Russia is a TERRIBLE choice to start with (see much of European history, paying special attention to the sections marked "Napoleon" and "Hitler").... but if they have to attack everyone at once, they're doomed.

60N: Shoo-fly pie
A regional specialty from my old stomping grounds. Also Kenneth's favorite pie, and possibly favorite dessert, in the known Universe. This makes a proper, wet-bottomed shoo-fly pie. A dry-bottomed shoo-fly pie is not only not as good, it is an Abomination before the Lord. I feel very strongly about this.

You will need an unbaked pie crust to start with.

Make the top layer first:

1 1/2 C flour
1 C brown sugar
1/4 t salt
3/4 C shortening or butter

Mix the flour, brown sugar, and salt together. Then cut in the shortening or butter to make coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Now you will make the bottom layer. Don't waste time on this layer - it will turn into a sticky mess if it cools too much.

1/2 t baking soda
3/4 C boiling water
1 C molasses (this is most of a tub of mørk sirup)

Place the baking soda in the bottom of a bowl. Pour the boiling water over it, then immediately stir in the molasses. Pour this into the pie crust.

Top the molasses layer with the crumbs.

Bake at 350F/175C for 30-40 minutes, or until set. Cool before serving.
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60N: Cornbread (sweet)
Our cornbread recipe, made with coarse polenta from our local Asian grocery.

1 3/4 C flour
1 1/4 C sugar
3/4 C cornmeal (the coarse polenta)
1/2 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder

Mix these in a large bowl, and make a well in the center.

Then in a small bowl or measuring cup, mix:

1 C milk
1/2 C cooking oil
2 eggs

Pour the milk mixture into the well in the flour mixture and whisk until everything is wet and the largest lumps are gone.

Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch cake pan and bake at 375F/190C for 25 minutes or until the top has just started to brown.
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Luksusfellen (on behalf of Kenneth)
Kenneth wrote this post. He's having a bit of trouble accessing his English-language blog at the moment, so I agreed to post it for him.


For reference: one Norwegian krone is valued to roughly 6,3 USD at the time of writing.

Scandinavians love a good reality show. At any given time, three or four will be airing on TV. They are widely varied as well – we started with Big Brother, have also gone through all the big talent competitions, and have at this point also created an imperial butt load (larger than a metric butt load) of lifestyle reality programs. Today’s blog post will describe the only reason the author still watches TV3: Luksusfellen – translated as “The Luxury Trap”. This program was created in Sweden (under the name Lyxfällan) in 2006, and has since been spun off both Norway and Denmark. It is massively popular in all three countries and has survived for fifteen seasons – which is noteworthy for a reality show. The author, as an amateur economist, thinks the concept of the show is brilliant and should be spread worldwide as quickly as possible for the common good.

Read more about bad economics and The Dread Budget BoardCollapse )

To Connecticut, from Oslo
I know how you feel. I wish neither of us knew that, but we do. And I'm very sorry. Nothing anyone can do or say will help at this point. But perhaps your road ahead will be easier if you know what's coming. If I could hug all of you and give you some advice, this is what I would say.

Take care of one another. It won't make anything better, but it's how you keep things from getting worse.

Give yourselves time. "Closure" is a myth. Slowly you will realize that things feel normal again, and it's a new normal, and you won't like it as well as you liked the old normal, but it will feel normal again. That's what healing is. The broken places will heal and be strong again, but just like old people tell you their old injuries ache when there's a storm coming on - the broken places will hurt when bad things happen.

Don't pay too much attention to what is said these next days and weeks. Rumors will fly, people who want attention or even just want to help will say things that aren't true, and all of this will be reported by news media anxious for The Story. Over time it will become clear what is true and what is not, and what is simply unknown and forever unknowable. Right now, 50% of what you're hearing is nonsense.

People will say stupid and even hateful things. It's okay to be angry with them, but try not to give them too much of your energy. You need your energy for you.

And finally, the world will be finished with this story long before you are. It's sad but it's inevitable. You will feel a little confused and maybe even abandoned when they move on to the next big thing. It won't be as important as your story. But it will be new and therefore interesting.

I wish you peace.

Flodfood: Thai beef and noodle
This is not high-class food. If you are looking for high-class food, what are you doing reading this blog?

But this is one of Steinar's favorites, and it was what he requested for supper on Father's Day (which was this past Sunday here in Troll Country).

4 T cooking oil
2 T sugar
2 T lemon juice
2 T white vinegar
2 T soy sauce
2 T sweet chili sauce (OR a suitable number of dashes of your favorite hot sauce)

Mix everything together in a bowl. Thinly slice about 400 g of beef and mix into the marinade. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Dice and onion. Drain the beef, reserving the marinade. Fry the beef and onion together.
Prepare four packs of beef-flavored ramen noodles according to package direction.
Cut up whatever vegetables strike your fancy and mix them in with the reserved marinade. Also toss in a good large handful of cashew nuts and a healthy pinch of dried mint. Add the meat and the drained, cooked noodles. Toss well and serve piping hot.

Flodfood: Baked beef taquitos
Not authentic, but healthier and GOOD. This is as much a process as a recipe - you can make them with beans, or chicken, or whatever you like in place of the ground beef.

Flodfood: Hamburger Roll-Ups
A comfort food from my childhood. My mother would heat up a can of cream of celery (or sometimes cream of mushroom) soup to pour over these, but they're good with gravy or even ketchup - or just as they are. This was originally a 1970s, stretch-out-the-meat sort of recipe from the back of the Bisquik box, adjusted for what is easily available in Norway and for a household of meat lovers.

First, make the biscuit dough:
3 C flour
1 ½ T baking powder
1 T sugar
¾ t cream of tartar (optional) - this is called "vinstein" in Norway, and the dough works OK without it
½ t salt
150 g butter
1 C milk

Stir together the dry ingredients. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter to make coarse crumbs. Make a well in the middle and pour in the milk. Stir by hand just until the dough sticks together.
Roll out into a large, thin rectangle.

Now, make the filling:
2 med onions, chopped
2 T oil or butter
800 g ground beef
6 T flour
1 t salt
1 t butter
1 C milk

Fry the onions for a few minutes in oil or butter. Mix in the ground beef and fry on high heat until it is completely brown. Mix in flour, salt, and butter. Slowly add the milk, stirring all the time. Bring to a boil and boil for about one minute, then allow to cool for a few minutes.

Spread the filling over the biscuits. Roll up like a jelly roll and slice into 12 pieces. Place in a lightly greased baking pan and bake at 215°C for 15-20 minutes until the biscuits are fully baked.

Flodfood: Chicken with Mustard-Cream Sauce
Recipe from the Pioneer Woman website

I'm serving it with couscous (cooked in chicken broth for a little extra flavor), salad, and steamed carrots.


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